Home Energy Management Developer Eyes 160-Acre Ohio Parcel for Highly Sustainable Windy Retreat Center

Developer Eyes 160-Acre Ohio Parcel for Highly Sustainable Windy Retreat Center


ASHLAND, OHIO—A 160-acre parcel located just southwest of Ashland, Ohio could soon be the home of the United States’ greenest retreat center. Developer Wendy Kertesz says she hopes to break ground this summer on Windy Retreat Center, a 25,000-square-foot, 16-guestroom facility that will include two indoor conference rooms, one outdoor conference space, three classrooms, great room, dining room, commercial kitchen, fitness center and conservatory. The goal is to open the center by late 2012. Constructed in part using straw bales, Windy Retreat Center will pursue at least Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification and Passive House Certification.

The retreat complex will also include a 4,260-square-foot G.A.T.E. (Greenhouse, Administration, Tools and Education) House and owner’s residence. The G.A.T.E. House will feature two offices, conference room and greenhouse. Unique about the G.A.T.E. House will be it being constructed as a “living building” as part of the Living Building Challenge 2.0. Facilities built to this standard are “Net Zero Energy,” meaning they generate at least the amount of energy they will use. Kertesz says her goal is for all of the buildings on the site to be net zero on an annual basis through the use of solar, wind and geothermal systems.

Kertesz is still working to secure final funding for the almost $9.7 million project. Funding sources could include: federal and state grants, private foundation grants, educational grants, community foundation grants, economic development grants, donations, corporate partners, private equity funds, matching grants, SBA loans/programs, and alternative energy research loans/programs. The land has not yet been purchased; it has to first be zoned commercial.

The land at one time was an old tree farm. “Not a single tree will have to be taken off the property,” Kertesz says.

Living Laboratory for Green Building Concepts  

Windy Retreat Center will not only be geared toward companies looking for a destination to go to for meetings but will also act as a living laboratory to test and refine green building concepts—possibly concepts developed by graduate students at area colleges and universities. Local suppliers will be tapped for as many materials and products as possible.

The Ohio-based project team will consist of Kertesz; Bill Doty, Doty & Miller Architects, Cleveland; Jeff Strung, EMH&T Engineering, Columbus; Jay Myers, Simonson Construction, Ashland; Paul Frederick, Willo’Dell Nurseries, Ashland; Mark Hoberecht, Harvest Build, Cleveland; Brenda Goodnight, Quail Hollow Resort, Cleveland; and Arne Goldman, Marous Brothers Construction, Cleveland.

In addition to the aforementioned LEED, Living Building 2.0, and Passive House certifications, the buildings at Windy Retreat Center will pursue the Energy Star rating. The center will also be part of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, an effort to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.

About the Developer

Kertesz spent a great deal of time in the woods at her grandparent’s Ohio home in rural Geauga County. Three years ago, she read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver and she said she found herself reconnected with the way in which she had grown up. The book took Kertesz back to the simplicity of how living life really should be. It was a defining moment in her adult life because it sparked her desire to move back to the country and begin to live with nature.
Kertesz has a background in marketing and communications. Joining Cohen & Company, a major national CPA firm in 2006, the company immediately recognized her strengths in the people side of marketing, and corporate event planning. In 2007, she was promoted to marketing manager, a newly-created position to capitalize on her strengths. Kertesz was lured away from Cohen & Company in 2009 by the Cleveland law firm of Licata & Toerek which serves as a general counsel to emerging and growing entrepreneurial ventures. It was here that Kertesz learned much about building entrepreneurial relationships and led her to decide to form MarketingSense—and ultimately led to an idea which today is the Windy Retreat Center.
Her sense of giving back to the community runs deeps. Kertesz is vice president of programming for The Press Club of Cleveland and was an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, Cleveland Chapter and Sales and Marketing Executives of Cleveland. She is a volunteer instructor with SCORE, a division of the SBA, teaching marketing workshops to aspiring entrepreneurs. She has volunteered her time and energy for the United Way Day of Caring, the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity’s Woman Build, the Ohio Society of CPAs Accounting for Kids Day, the Arthritis Foundation Walk, and the Little Hero’s Walk/Run.

Kertesz attended the University of Akron where she earned a B.S. in Rhetoric Communications with a minor in Macro Economics. For more information, e-mail Wendy Kertesz at wkertesz@yahoo.com. Click here for the retreat center’s Facebook page.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.