Articles - September, 2006

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Makes Green Building Insurance Products Available

Real_estate_bld_145x135 Seriously, yet another reason to build green buildings.  The list gets longer and longer.  Lower operating costs, higher resale (appraisal) value, healthier work environment, and better workforce productivity, etc.  Wells Fargo wants to finance green buildings and Hines wants to develop them.  And now, California-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company wants to insure them.  This is a smart business strategy.  If you’re going to insure something, why not insure the top quality stuff?  As insurer, you’re dealing with the elite, upper echelon of building developers, operators, and owners.  It’s really a no-brainer…

The company will provide green coverage for commercial buildings certified as environmentally friendly in all 50 states starting in late October 2006.  It’s the first insurance company to do so and will offer three different forms:

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Northern New Jersey Attached Residence + Spa + Tennis Court Gets Sustainable

Night_court_exteriorTranslucent, shimmery, membraneous, sustainable. When I saw the look of this tennis court in Architectural Digest, I was blown away…and I don’t even play tennis.  (By the way, October 2006 AD is chock full of modern + sustainable architecture!)  At Jetson Green, I talk a ton about residential green spaces or commercial skyscrapers, etc., but I haven’t spent that much time on sustainable structures crafted specifically for sport, hobby, or play.  Architect Robert Rhodes put together a striking, modern tennis court/spa/attached residence for a client that I need to share.

Just a short skip down a slate trail from the main residence is this tennis court embedded in a New York investment banker’s 8 acre, well-wooded property.  The goal for the architect was to conform to the local zoning requirements, apply sustainable building principles, and keep consistent with the surrounding flora.  I think they did a phenomenal job. 

Green Features:
The client + architect wanted the court to "look like trees."  Here’s what they did to keep it green + sustainable.  First, they built the tennis court into the ground so that the structure wouldn’t stick out.  The same principle applied when they decided to use tennis-green, transparent polycarbonate-panels; the panels allow enough light inside for day use and keep out the harsh sunlight for cooling purposes.  Second, the court’s energy is supplied by two geothermal wells.  And third, they used an ipe deck (economic + ecologic) between the attached residence and court.  Also note, there is a subterranean spa below the deck that connects the guesthouse and court.   Investment banker Cribs anyone?

Court_image_1 Spa_court_image Attached_residence

The laminated-wood beams stretch vertically, almost as if they are the actual trees that surround the court.  Aesthetically, the panel and beam design finishes out the structure so that it blends and matches the surrounding environment.  And while I think this investment banker won’t be able to practice his lob, he surely will be able to relax, spa, and play tennis in a court fit for English royalty!

Extra Links:
Robert Rhodes Architecture [picture source]
Architectural Digest Website [article not online]
 

Real Estate Forum Article Interviews Experts + Predicts Future Green Building

Re_forum_september_cover_2006_1 There are still some people out there that don’t believe green + sustainable building will last.  In the September edition of Real Estate Forum magazine, there is a lengthy article with reflections and predictions from some of the most notable names in real estate (for example, Milton Cooper, CEO Kimco Realty Corp.; Richard Camp, Chairman + CEO Camden Properties Trust; and Michael Pralle, President + CEO GE Real Estate).  These are the heavy hitters of real estate–people that make it their business to look forward and understand the trends affecting the industry.  That said, I found two quotes that I had to pass on to the Jetson Green readership…

RE Forum was able to catch up with Jeffrey Schwartz, CEO of ProLogis, and ask him what he thinks will affect the industrial sector.  He said,

Jeffrey_schwartz_prologisIn terms of sustainability, governments and corporations are becoming more sensitive to the environmental impact of industrial development.  It’s amazing the amount of energy you can save with the quality of a facility and the air-tightness of the building.  The costs are slightly higher, but the payback is phenomenal for the customer, from both sustainability and an economic standpoint.  It takes a lot less money to heat and cool buildings if they are properly constructed and more environmentally conscious. 

Later in the article, RE Forum quoted Gerald D. Hines, Chairman + Founder of Hines, with respect to his opinions on the future of real estate development.  He said,

Gerald_hinesIt becomes increasingly clear that improving cities is not only the right thing to do, but good business as well.  Five decades ago, there was a tremendous move to the suburbs; today there is a return to the cities…rather than developing greenfields, … many developers are returning to their urban roots and transforming abandoned industrial sites–brownfields–into new uses.  Therefore, now, more than ever, sustainability has become a key component of development. 

These are seasoned professionals talking about sustainability, green buildings, and environmentally-conscious development.  This is mainstream stuff.  I keep saying this, but it seems that some of the professionals out there aren’t listening:  Green building is the future.  Since 90% of the world hasn’t caught on, you have a competitive advantage to exploit. 

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