Articles - October, 2006

Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG) Created with +$120 M Equity Investment

Calpine_center_city_foreground_lres_web In case you haven’t noticed, Hines is one of those smart real estate companies that is leading the way in sustainable real estate.  They’re committed to sustainable building and I recently blogged a quote from Hines Chairman + Founder Mr. Gerald D. Hines where he said "sustainability has become a key component of development."  Well, it looks like they’re throwing more money at that philosophy, and I think this press release should be a wake up call to all those developers out there that are just throwing up non-green buildings, willy nilly. 

Hines announced the closing of a Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG), which is capitalized with +$120 Million.  This equity investment will allow the development of more than $500 M in high performance, sustainable office buildings throughout the United States, certified through the LEED-CS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Core and Shell Program).  What’s even more significant than the amount of money that will be invested in green building development, is the fact that CalPERS is the nation’s largest pension fund.  This is really going to accelerate the tipping point in green development because CalPERS is such a huge player.

Hines Senior VP and fund manager said, "We have long tried to persuade tenants that there are significant bottom-line benefits to sustainable development and build out. Fortunately, the green movement is gaining steam as the public become more conscious of its benefits.  The real estate industry is finally ready for green."  I couldn’t agree more.  If you can’t tell, this is a big damn deal. 

Extra Links:
Hines Press Release [September 27, 2006]
Hines Official Website
CalPERS Official Website

Green Valley Lofts Raise the Bar for Innovative Mixed Use, Sustainable Development

Building_rendering_1 There really, actually, truly, factually, legitimately is a growing interest in living in more environmentally sensitive buildings.  Even still, whether you’re looking for a single family home, urban townhome, downtown loft, or warehouse loft, the players in the green development field are few and far between (but increasing).  I noticed an interesting developer that is building the "first ‘zero energy’ sustainable mixed-use building in Las Vegas."  This green development, called the Green Valley Lofts, is minutes from the Vegas strip and neighbors all the urban amenities one could ask for (gym, restaurants, banks, dry cleaner, car wash, etc.).  It’s lined to be LEED Certified, too. 

Green Features:
The building will have a stainless steel substructure with floor to ceiling Heat-Mirror insulated glass (benefits include improved interior comfortability, reduced fabric fading, and maximum noise control), aka the EAG Facade.  Also there’s a rooftop solar-photovoltaic system, energy-efficient (non-ozone depleting) closet-type water source HVAC system, low wattage lighting, Energy Star appliances, tankless water heaters, eco-space elevator, whole house central water filtration system, programmable thermostats, zero- to low-VOC non-toxic paints, and bamboo flooring.  The company has a nice description of the benefits of these green features online. 

The interior will include all the amenities that a modernist would desire:  imported Italian kitchens, recycled glass countertops, bamboo flooring, remote controlled window shades, and the whole house lighting system.  Note, some of these features are greener than others.  There’s a glass enclosed roof-top spa as well. 

Loft_interior Loft_bathroom Loft_balcony

As far as pricing is concerned, these lofts aren’t cheap, but that’s understandable because they aren’t built to be cheap.  Phase 1 prices seem to range from the low $400s to $1.1 million.  And some of the financial incentives that they offer include the popular energy efficient mortgage, the Nevada Power Solar Rebate Program, the usual Federal + State renewable energy tax incentives, and any other energy tax incentives.  What’s better, there will be an raffle and one lucky owner will receive the New 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid.  Nice business model guys, really. 

Extra Links:
Green Valley Lofts [official website]
EAG Facade [Euro-American Glazing]

Modern LUMI Rainwater Tank Receives Sustainability Award

Evening_lumi_1 I wanted to share this modern + green water storage solution with those of you that are interested in keeping your landscape design project aesthetic.  Katrina Logan, founder of small architectural firm Katrina Logan Architects and design company Full Tank, designed the LUMI Rainwater Tank so that eco-conscious consumers could have a visually appealing rainwater storage receptacle.  LUMI is made of sculptural satin acrylic and can be made in a range of colors and sizes (250 liters – 1100 liters).  Additionally, the shape can be customized and tailored to commercial applications (graphic applications, advertising, etc.). 

Day_lumi The tank glows in the sunlight, making the rainwater reserves visible, and has internal lights that illuminate the tank in the evening.  Often, architects try to conceal and disguise water tanks on the side of the house or with various landscaping techniques, but Logan’s design eliminates the ugliness of common storage tanks.  In the LUMI, she’s successfully targeting the inner city design community.  And early in October 2006, she received The City of Melbourne Sustainability Design Award.  I’m starting to imagine one of these at Hotel Palomar or some place like that. 

Extra Links:
Daily Dose of Architecture Post
State of Design Awards, Victoria 2006

Texas Water IQ Quiz + Pledge – It's the Least You Can Do!

Water_iq_logo It’s official, I’m a water genius.  I had a hard time with the question on the lawn mower, but other than that, I scored a near perfect 11/12, which means I have a water IQ of 165.  That’s certifiable water genius status.  I’m joking a little, but water is a serious thing.  Growing up, I used to think water was free, but the reality is all too different.  If you’ve ever read the book Dune, by Frank Herbert, you can imagine how life is with a water shortage.  By the way, I don’t think I could wear one of those suits!  Anyway, I live in Texas because it’s big and has many things in abundance, but we need to keep it that way…let’s get serious about our water supply and act collectively. 

There’s something easy that we can all do:  go to www.waterIQ.org, take the Water IQ quiz and make the water IQ pledge.  By doing so, you pledge to reduce water consumption by 5%, water your lawn only once per week, fix all leaks, raise the blade on your lawn mower to 3 inches, operate your sprinkler system manually, and forgo watering from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.  These are simple, but necessary, steps to take.  Our individual pledge, when combined with the collective efforts of other Texans, will help to keep water available in drought or sans drought.  It’s the least we can do. 

Extra Links:
Save Dallas Water [Enlish or Spanish]
Texas Water Matters

Skyscraper Sunday: Dallas Condo Tower, Azure, Going Green

Azure_dallas_image Absolute Architectural Splendor.  There’s a little bit of green development in Dallas, but we can do more to catch up to other progressive cities such as Portland + Austin.  Azure, a 375-foot condo in Dallas being developed by the innovative Gabriel Barbier-Mueller of Harwood International (+ Westback Projects Corporation), is Dallas’ first foray into LEED, green living, as far as residential condo development is concerned.  Azure is on track to receive the LEED gold certification from the USGBC, but it is trying to get platinum.  Really, all that matters is that this place will be green + modern. 

Architectural design is by James KM Cheng Architects Inc., interior design by Gensler and Lauren Rottet, FAIA, and external landscaping by SWA Group.  As far as sustainable building is concerned, here’s what I know so far:  high-performance engineered window system with clear anodized aluminum framing and insulated clear double glazing with Low-E coating; energy efficient lighting meeting National Energy Code; LEED certified building envelope and heating/air conditioning; and high-quality roller/motorized shading system made of sun control fabric. 

Azure_rendering Azure_interior Azure_side_rendering

Some amenities include Miele and Sub-Zero appliances and professionally designed interiors.  Owners will also have access to the spa, his/her sauna, state-of-the-art exercise facilities, private garage (refered to as "G2"), 17 seat theater, garden terrace and pool, boardroom, and library with a fireplace.  What this means is that Azure will be a 31 story, 202 unit, $400,000 – $4.2 M per-unit superstar.  Seriously.  And I know it’s well over 65% pre-sold, so those that are interested will need to jump on it quick.  It should be complete in Spring 2007. 

Extra Links:
Azure Website [www.azureliving.com]
The Allure of Azure [Jim Schutze - Observor]
Azure Live Construction Camera
Harwood International Website
Westbank Projects Corporation Website

Texas-OU Weekend: Cup City Installation by Austin Green Art

Cup_city_birds_eye Being Texas-OU weekend, I thought I would bring it back to Austin for a little environmental action.  Back in late September, an environmental organization called Austin Green Art created "Cup City" for the Austin City Limits Music Festival.  The enormous temporary art installation was sponsored by Starbucks.  Cup City should be noticed not for what it is, but what it illustrates. 

The project was designed by architect Legge Lewis Legge and incorporated 41 fence panels (6 x 15 foot), zip ties, and approximately 25,000 pieces of recyclable garbage.  Rent-a-fence provided the fencing.  And from what I understand, the project included solar powered lighting to illuminate the temporary behemoth at night. 

Cup_city_actual Cup_city_profile

The project became a temporary, shaded lounge area where people gathered and interacted during the festival.  But even more importantly, the project illustrates how people need to change the way they consume.  Where talking about massive amounts of water bottles, plastic, paper, coffee cups, etc., that just gets thrown away everyday.  In recycled form, this stuff can be put to use.  Oh, and as a side note, Starbucks donated $1 for every beverage sold at the festival to Austin Green Art, so it’s certain that more of these types of projects are in store for the future. 

Extra Links:
Austin Green Art Commissioned by Starbucks to Create "Cup City" [PR Newswire]
Texas Architect 2006 Design Award
Austin Green Art Website

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