[Run time: 54:30 min.] I was reading the Scobleizer and found a fairly substantial video interview with Toby Long, founder of the San Francisco-based, design-build firm CleverHomes. Cleverhomes is one of those companies swimming upstream in a construction river of anti-progress, anti-innovation, and staunch traditionalism. I love the Scoble laugh, seriously, it makes the interview pretty good. Long talks about the interface of technology + construction, or what I’m calling Construction 2.0, with an added dimension of sustainability. Going forward, the environmental consequences associated with construction need to be figured into a given project’s analysis. He also mentions structural insulated panels (SIPs), building information modeling (BIM), sustainability, and modern vernacular. Get past the beginning and give it go…
Some cities require LEED or green buildings. Some cities fast track the permitting process for green buildings. Some cities provide tax incentives or some sort of creative financing for green buildings. Nevertheless, developers say the economics of green buildings don’t work–they say the government needs to do more to support green buildings. On the other hand, the EPA says the government provides enough support via federal tax breaks up to $1.80 per square foot and other miscellaneous energy conservation programs. What do you say?
The fact is, the boom in green buildings is being driven by (1) tenant demand and (2) federal, state, and local incentives. But are there any other drivers pushing the green movement?
- Social Pressure – depending on your business model, green buildings may be required to keep the sustainable message consistent corporate wide.
- Lower Operating Costs – even if green buildings are more expensive to build, they are cheaper to operate, in terms of maintenance, water consumption, and energy consumption.
- Marketing Advantage – this is related to #1, but a little different. Caution on the green washing, but a green strategy can be good for (re) positioning according to the competition or targeting specific consumers.
- Recruiting Magnet – instead of developing a corporate presence on Myspace or Second Life, why not do something substantial by making a difference? Some of the best talent is going to companies that have a presence in savvy, green buildings.
- Impairment – I’ve read from both Harvard Business Review and Ernst & Young that non-green buildings are going to be obsolete and could face big-time impairment charges.
Green buildings are leasing up and other buildings tend towards higher vacancies (lower rents). The best talent is going to the greenest companies. Oil and coal companies are irritating customers and worrying shareholders because they won’t change their ways. People are choosing companies with their wallets–they stop frequenting environmentally insensitive companies. Water and energy is becoming a constrained resource and businesses that lower their costs by using less resources have a competitive advantage over competition. These intangibles need to be considered when thinking about green buildings, because after all, it’s about value not cost.
As one of the first residential LEED homes on the west coast, the Kelly Woodford home is blazing a trail for the future of residential construction. In addition to its USGBC certification, the home is "net zero energy use" and Energy Star certified. The 2,000 square-foot, three-bedroom/two-bath retreat has a great view of Mt. Hood and some pretty impressive green features. Tom Kelly and Barbara Woodford built the home as a family getaway (with the Neil Kelly Company as general contractor), but they’ve also made the home available half the year to Neil Kelly employees to enjoy.
Today, Corgan Associates Inc. opened the doors to its brand new LEED Silver headquarters. Corgan is a Dallas-based architectural + design firm and designed the three-story, 60,000 square-foot looker. Being a tenant in the West End area of downtown since 1986, Corgan is a long-time downtown stalwart–it’s great to keep them there with a brand new building. I drive by it on the way home from work, so I’ve been watching construction for the past year or so. It looks great. I really dig the copper facade on the north + west walls.
From what I understand, Corgan’s HQ was built by Turner Construction, well-known for pretty much every green building in the area, including Pat Lobb Toyota, SMU’s Embrey Engineering Building, and the energy-efficient Wal-Mart. According to Corgan, "The architectural style and features of the West End will be reflected in the new building. In a contemporary way, Corgan’s heavily rusticated masonry building will draw from area warehouse vocabulary. The interior will feature a heavy timber structural frame, typical of historic structures in the West End. The three floors of interior design studio spaces will also feature large expanses of glass." Looks amazing. Corgan’s HQ: 401 N. Houston Street. Via DBJ.
Calm, clear, and cool, very cool, 340 on the Park is the logical choice for city living. It’s rather timely that I picked a Chicago building for today’s Skyscraper Sunday column, because it just so happens that the USGBC is switching locations for Greenbuild 2007 from LA to Chicago. Chicago is making big-time strides in all things green–they’re vying for the position as the greenest city in America. With that in mind, 340 on the Park is going to be the first residential high-rise in Chicago designed to meet LEED standards. It’s huge, too. Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, 340 is a 64 story tower with a 2+ floor winter garden starting on floor 25. It will have all the amenities a luxury resident could ask for, including sauna, steam rooms, hot tub, wi-fi, yoga + aerobics room, fitness center, 25-yard lap pool, and men’s + women’s locker rooms.
As far as its green features, I haven’t found many specifics, but 340 will use high-tech, energy efficient heating and cooling; fully-insulated windows; an advanced, air-quality management system; rainwater collection system for landscaping; and environmentally friendly construction materials. Pretty general, I know. With a two-bedroom (roughly 1,650 square feet) residence starting at nearly $681,000, you’re certain to get a nice view to go along with that green home. Construction is set for completion in 2007.
- The Law Firm of Holland & Hart Announces New Global Climate Change Practice – The firm is the first and only law firm based in the Rocky Mountains to organize a practice group concentrating on this rapidly emerging area of law and policy. Holland & Hart’s Global Climate Change Practice Group consists of attorneys who counsel clients on the climate change aspects of energy and natural resources development, industrial energy use, regulatory compliance, renewable energy and energy infrastructure projects, corporate disclosure and governance, carbon markets, litigation, and government relations.
- New Resource Bank Aims to Make it Easier to Build Green – A new banking program here aims to encourage developers and investors to start green building projects by offering financial incentives like providing more money at a lower cost, higher loan-to value, and lower interest rates.
- Texas Issues First Lease for Geothermal Energy Exploration and Development along Gulf Coast – Texas has awarded the state’s first lease for geothermal energy production to Ormat Technologies, Inc., which plans to explore the renewable energy’s potential along seven Gulf Coast counties. The company paid $55,645, or $5 an acre, for the right to explore 11,129 acres for pockets of hot water and steam under the ocean floor, the General Land Office announced Tuesday.
- Building Greener and Cheaper than LEED – While many argue over the costs and benefits of requiring LEED-certification, some affordable housing developers have shown that building green doesn’t require following the program’s recommendations.