Articles - October, 2006

Jetson Green Thanks the Livestrong Donors!

Tali_n_preston On October 8, 2006, Tali (wife) and I participated in the 40-mile Livestrong Challenge in Austin, Texas, benefiting cancer patients.  We had a great time and were thankful to participate on the GMAC-sponsored TeamMBA, which included others associated with SMU’s MBA program.  In total, our team raised +$62,788.00.  Beautiful Tali raised $635.00, and I raised $750.00, many thanks to you.  I wanted to thank the sponsors and other friends that were so generous with their support.  And I will say, we did see Lance Armstrong (he participated in the 5k run and 40-mile bike; pictured below on the left).  More than that, however, we saw many people of all ages who were riding "in memory of" or "in honor of" loved ones.  It rocks you’re world to feel how many people have been affected/afflicted by cancer, and I was touched by strength and commitment of others in this event.  This is the type of event that if you can just show up, you’re automatically elevated by the warm energy of everyone else.  I just wanna say thanks. 

  • miniHOME – you’ll notice their link on the right.  I blogged about them a little bit back…needless to say, their miniHOME is all the rage in the modern + green prefab movement.  Thanks Lloyd Alter!
  • Ecorrazi.com – their link is on the right as well.  This website is the official location for all gossip green + celebrity related.  Thanks Rebecca Carter!
  • TECS Diversified + Todd Sheets – Todd Sheets is one of the greatest and greenest in the Central Oregon area (Bend, Redmond, etc.).  He’s been working on green renovations, green homes, energy efficient everything, and smart tenant improvements in Central Oregon for a long time and has a history of excellence in his work.  Thanks Todd Sheets!

Thanks also to the rest of you:  Margaret (Texas belle with a West Coast Green heart), Jim (longtime mentor), Les (the real estate Longhorn), Mike (my boss of nearly 4 years), Stacy (comrade on the China trip and MBA group member), and TeamMBA.  You all were extremely kind and generous!

 

Lance Tali_1 Preston

Blog Notes From Leo Marmol Lecture in Dallas (10/14/2006): Prefab + Environmentalism

Other_front On Saturday at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Leo Marmol was kind enough to spend an hour and talk about his firm‘s work in the design-build and prefab context.  I was looking forward to this lecture for about 2 months and was not disappointed.  Marmol lectured on his firm’s work with mid-century modern residences and the four standards (Secretary of Interior Standards) for renovation:  preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, + reconstruction.  Towards the end of the lecture, he started to get into his firm’s prefab work and environmentalism. 

Here are some notes…

  • As a site-build firm, we know very intimately how inefficient and stupid architectural processes are.  We live with that stupidity everyday.  It’s a really inefficient, wasteful, cumbersome process that we use to build today.  There’s a lot of reasons why we still do it, but it’s inherently wasteful, so our goal is to build as much as possible in the factory. 
  • We’ve seen lumber + steel prices climb, and even labor is a little strained.  Materials are getting more and more scarce, more and more, therefore, valuable, and more and more expensive.  That will continue in the future. 
  • We’ve seen the rise in design with the iPod and with Target enlisting Philippe Starke to create a toothbrush.  Design is a marketing opportunity to set your firm apart from the norm. 
  • With Prefab, the goal is to provide clean, simple, modern living and do it as cost-effectively as possible.  So prefabrication is a means to deal with the rising construction costs. 
  • If you’re an architect and a builder, and you don’t have guilt, you’re not paying attention.  We put so much attention on the auto industry, but it pales in comparison to the architecture industry.  Architecture is the greatest polluting force on the planet.  There is no other industry on the earth that uses more of our earth’s resources than construction and there is no other industry to releases so many polluting, bad things back to the earth.  Prefab allows us to deal with this guilt and be more efficient. 
  • Sometimes the media gets it wrong with regards to prefab, but they are enthusiastic about this technology.  That enthusiasm can lead everyone astray.  Prefabs are not manufactured homes.  Prefabs won’t save the world or deliver homes for under $100 a square foot.  Prefab is not a magic bullet.  They are cheap in comparison to custom, architect-designed homes (LA price:  $400-600 sq.ft.), but they are not necessarily cheap.  Building homes is difficult and takes lots of money + materials. 
Back_and_pool Kitchen_1 Bedroom

It should be noted that Mr. Marmol’s prefab division is making a conscious choice to be environmental in the construction of prefabs.  The prefabs are designed to receive LEED certification, made from recycled steel, employ Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), and use FSC-certified wood, low-VOC Green Seal paint, solar panels, etc.  Each prefab is designed with the site in mind so the structure can be attentive to natural light and shading.  And if you’re interested in seeing one, there’s an open house in California (instructions below). 

Open House of the Desert House:
October 28, 1 pm – 6 pm
Desert Hot Springs, CA
RSVP NOT REQUIRED
Navigate the Website for Map

Skyscraper Sunday: LEED Platinum Genzyme Center

Anton_grassl_genzyme_rendering This building is a little old hat for many of the readers here (it was an AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Project in 2004), but I think there are some important aspects of the projects that can be remembered and applied to new green projects.  This building is in the highest eschelon of LEED ratings, the platinum standard (LEED-NC, v2), and if you follow the links below, they’ve been generous enough to explain how they received all the points towards Platinum certification.  You can even take a virtual tour of the building if you’re interested. 

The building is the corporate headquarters for a biotechnology firm and houses 900 employees in 12 floors.  Here are some of the many green features:  high performance curtainwall glazing system with operable windows on all 12 floors; steam from local plant is used for heating + cooling; about 1/3 of the building uses ventilated double-facade that blocks summer solar and captures winter solar gains; the central atrium acts as a huge return air duct and light shaft; air moves up the atrium and out exhaust fans near the skylight; natural light is brought in from solar-tracking mirrors above the skylight and reflected deep throughout the building; the building saves water use comparably by 32% by using waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, automatic faucets, and low-flush fixtures; storm water supplements the cooling towers and irrigates the landscaped roof; partial electricity generation is provided by the building integrated photovoltaics (PV); nearly 90% of the wood is FSC-certified; and the building materials were chosen based on low emissions, recycled content, and/or local manufacturing.  Not a bad list!

Anton_grassl_layers_photo_1 Roland_halbe_interior

Really, I think this enormous achievement required the collective efforts of many different players with a similar vision.  Architect and lead designer was Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner, executive architect – base building was House & Robertson Architects, tenant improvements architect was Next Phase Studios, landscape architect was Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects, and Turner Construction Company was the contractor. 

Extra Links:
USGBC Case Study Information
Top Ten Green Projects 2004 [AIA/COTE]
Genzyme Center Building Information + Facts [Genzyme Website]

Dallas' Commerce Street Townhomes Receives Design Award

Commerce_street_front Local Dallas architect, Ron Wommack, received a 2006 Texas Society of Architects Design Award for his work on the Commerce Street Townhomes in east Dallas.  Actually, the site is located on a previously abandoned site, which was the industrial/manufacturing area east of downtown Dallas.  The neighborhood is gradually being renovated and transformed into residential living spaces.  With this project, one of the architect’s goals was to create a place that carried the baggage of location’s industrial past, so the design incorporates materials such as concrete blocks, metal, and wood (in the right colors).  I asked the architect about some of the sustainable features and wanted to relay those to the Jetson Green readership. 

Commerce_street_room_kitchen Commerce_street_bedroom

First, the buildling was designed to utilize natural light and shading (passive solar design), which is especially apparent in the trellised roof deck and the living room clerestory.  Second, you’ll notice, that the roof trellises were made with chain-link fence post pipe, which is easy to recycle and extremely low maintenance.  We’re thinking about the life cycle of the product here.  Third, the metal skins adjust quickly with the temperature changes.  And last, they used an HVAC system with a higher SEER rating (Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Rating – the higher the better…generally speaking, if you spend about $360 annually on AC with a 10-SEER, a move to the 16-SEER will save you $135 a year or so).  So, we’re seeing a little bit of green incorporated in the design, and the place is extremely striking, too.  Projects like this will help move Dallas forward into greener pastures of residential building. 

Commerce_st_condos_6 Commerce_street_roof_loft Commerce_street_roof

Extra Links:
Ron Wommack Website
Texas Society of Architects Award Article [Texas Architect]

3form Releases 100 Percent, A 100% Recycled Decorative Panel

Flakes Low impact, high design.  I just wanted to let the architects and designers know about a cutting edge material from 3form called "100 Percent."  100 Percent is made from 100% post-consumer high-density polyethylene (HDPE).  Basically, 3form collects post-consumer HDPE flakes, sorts them by color, arranges the flake material to create a pattern, and then applies heat pressure to fuse the flakes into a single panel (without using binders).  100 Percent is currently available in one pattern and four colors (shown below), and the company is waiting for Greenguard Environmental Institute certification for low indoor emissions.

Orange_slice Cut_grass Snowmelt Night_sky

While 100 Percent has yet to be installed on an actual project, it’s a very tough material and could be appropriate for high-abuse indoor applications (schools, bathrooms, etc.).  Indoor applications are limited by its UL 94 classification (HB) and outdoor applications are limited by its lack of UV protection.  3form says 100 Percent is "ideally suited for education, science, and health care environments."  This material was innovative enough to win the 2006 NeoCon Gold Award for surfacing materials at the NeoCon World’s Trade Fair.  The company is also well-known in the design world for its Varia materials line (made of Ecoresin–40% post-industrial reclaimed material).

Extra Links:
3form Website
3form Takes Recycled Content to 100 Percent [BuildingGreen.com]

Current Energy: The World's First Home Efficiency Store

Current_energy_map This is not an advertisement or a commercial.  I was going to the iPod store on Knox (in Uptown, Dallas) and noticed this new store right next door called "Current Energy."  Tag line:  "We’ll plug you in."  I liked the design of the store and decided to go in and check the place out.  First impression, these people are very friendly and eager to help.  Second impression, what are they selling?  That’s below.  The store was pretty cool, and the website‘s not too shabby either. 

Here’s what they are selling/explaining/consulting, etc.:  Rinnai tankless water heater, Rainbird irrigation control, Toto dual flush toilet, Honeywell digital thermostats + air treatment systems, Lutron + Crestron whole house controls, Mitsubishi Mr. Slim ductless air conditioner, Neptune cfl + lighting science group LED lights, Trane xl19i Seer air conditioner, Radiant Barrier products, Vista window tinting and solar screens, Owens corning insulation products, etc.  They have a consultation room, kids learning center (using state-of-the-art macs and computer games), and home energy resource library. 

They give you information on switching your electric provider (explaining both the low-cost options (Gexa) and green options (Green Mountain)).  They can talk you through the benefits of Energy Star and you can ask them all sorts of questions.  They provide energy audit services, etc.  I did stump them a couple times with my questions, but they were willing to get the answers.  If you’re thinking about renovating, buying, building new, or whatever, you should educate yourself and go talk to these people.  They’ll open your eyes to new ideas, that’s for sure. 

Blue_current_energy_logo_1 Dark_blue_current_energy_logo

Here’s the address for all you Dallasites:
3103 Knox Street, Dallas, Texas  75205
www.currentenergy.com

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