Articles - November, 2006

Skyscraper Sunday: Albanese Organization's Luxury, Mixed-Use Tower Seeking Platinum LEED

Albaneseleed Albanese Organization (AO) is a great example of an interesting phenomenon:  once you go green, you don’t go back.  AO is the forward-thinking real estate firm behind two other green buildings, The Solaire and The Verdisian.  Their specialty is sustainable and high performance buildings.  They’ve partnered with Starwood Capital Group Global LLC for their third green project, which has yet to be named, located at 70 Little West Street, surrounded by Battery Place, Little West Street, Second Place, and Third Place.  The $310 million, 33-story project will have 152 condominium units and retail space on the first floor.  Slated for occupation in 2008, the design architect is Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects; the building architect is Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron; the interior design is by Stedila Design Inc.; and the general contractor is Turner Construction

The glass and terracotta tower will have a curved facade to create river views from all four corners of the building.  Like most modern buildings, this building will include a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, rooftop gardens, dining area, children’s playroom, parking garage (not always a given in NYC), and a lounge room with a fireplace. 

Green Features:
I’ve heard rumors that some LEED buyers (not necessarily this one) are looking for the LEED label and point shopping around the energy efficient requirements–why do that?  The point is, buildings need to be grid-independent and levered less to energy price fluctuations.  By point shopping, you’re losing money by purchasing a hollow certificate (not to mention losing valuable environmental benefits).

Anyway, this building will be 35% more energy efficient than standard code buildings; 5% of the energy load will be provided by building-integrated solar panels and 35% of the building’s energy will be provided by wind generation.  Geothermal systems will provide heating/cooling for part of the building.  Low or no-VOC materials will be used throughout.  There will be a high efficiency air filtration system to optimize indoor air quality ("IAC").  Individual residences will have year-round climate control via digital thermostat that controls a four-pipe fan coil system.  A black water treatment plant will recycle bathroom and kitchen water to resupply toilets and supply make-up water for the HVAC system cooling tower.  10,000 gallons of water will be harvested and used to irrigate the rooftop garden, which provides a layer of insulation for the building.  See also Multihousing News.

Green Cartoon – "Too Tired for Irony" by Tom Toles

Tom_toles_comic

It’s Saturday night and I wanted to jump into the weekend with a cartoon that I noticed on the Building Seattle Green blog.  It made me laugh, but unfortunately, the humor belies a sad reality.  Consider this:  In what way do we encourage greater reliance on oil (through transportation) by land use policies that further growth in the suburbs?  In what way do we encourage building in suburbs by having greater access to cheap gas and enormous, cool vehicles?  Maybe I’m overthinking this, but these issues are more inter-related that one would otherwise think.  Enjoy the weekend!  Tom Toles Comic Archive at Washington Post.  Too Tired for Irony, April 14, 2006. 

Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Sustainability + Sustainable Business Education

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By CSO, I mean Chief Sustainability Officer and I’m serious.  I’m not one for more layers of bureaucracy and extra non-productive meetings, but this is something that businesses should consider.  After reading this short post, you’ll know why I think businesses should create the position, but you decide and let me know what you think.  Way back in June, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of an "Office of Sustainability," to explore ways to reduce carbon emissions.  Similarly, I read a recent article in Dallas Business Journal regarding Plano’s (Texas) decision to create a new position and hire Nancy Nevil as the City’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Services.  Why create a director-level position?  So there could be a point person, an accountable person.  She gets $109,288 a year, and one of her responsibilities is educating the city and its 2,200 employees about ways to reduce consumption of energy and materials.  I’m sure many other cities are doing similar things–Plano decided to do this after visiting Portland and studying their green initiatives. 

Company Position?
If your company is like most, you have the perfunctory recycle bin, but likely you still consume enormous amounts of paper, right?  How does your company manage lights when no one is around?  What’s the company’s recommended setting for computers when you leave work for the day or weekend?  Does the company incentivize carpooling?  Is there a place where bikers can store their clothing and equipment during work, or change?  Generally, where could your company be environmentally conscious and see results on the bottom line (cut expenses)?  Where could your company change its mix or products and services to be more sustainable and profitable?  These queries probably don’t do justice to the value a company could realize by having a specific position for sustainability and environmental issues.  This is innovation!  Think hard about whether your company could benefit from having a CSO.

My Experience and Opinion:
I’m an MBA student and noticed that sustainability courses are catching on in some forward-thinking programs (i.e., Presidio, Green MBA, Stanford, etc.).  So I wanted to find a professor and do some cutting-edge, sustainability research for MBA-level credit because we don’t have any courses on the subject.  Guess what?  I can’t find a soul that’s interested in the research.  Maybe I haven’t found the right person, but I haven’t gotten so much as a response from the department strategy chair.  Why?  Sustainability isn’t on the business person’s radar.  Why?  I can’t figure it out.  These are the surest, noblest money-making opportunities of our time. 

My Plan:
So, I’m writing an outline for an MBA-level course called "Sustainable Strategy, Business, and Entrepreneurship," and I’m going to write the lesson plans, assignments, and exams.  When I graduate, I’m going to pitch the course to MBA schools and teach adjunct-style (still want to work in business during day).  This is a topic that needs to be on our radars.  Image.

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