Articles - October, 2007

Modern Green Cherokee Lofts

Cherokee Lofts

Update 12/13/09: Platinum Lofts @ Cherokee Studios Now Complete!

There's a lot to mention with REthink Development's project called Cherokee Lofts:  history, sustainability, modern design, materials innovation, etc.  This Pugh + Scarpa-designed development is on track to be named the first, privately developed, LEED Gold Certified, mixed-use project in Southern California.  The project will have 12 loft units, all ranging in size from 1,000 – 2,000 sf, and 2,800 sf of commercial space. 

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Phinney House, Modern Green Attractive Reuse

Phinneyhouse

I guess the term would be adaptive reuse, but I think I’m going to start calling this "attractive reuse."  Attractive reuse is about taking boring, old, traditional homes and renovating them into modern, green abodes.  The Phinney House was intended to be a case study house — the existing house was extensively remodeled, the main floor was raised to give more height in the basement, the main floor plan was opened up, and a new second floor was added.  It’s Built-Green certified, too.  Some of the many ecologically sustainable elements in this project include the following: hydronic radiant-floor heat; whole-house heat-recovery ventilation; FSC-certified lumber, plywood and cabinetry; reclaimed fir beams and columns; sustainably harvested Ipe wood siding and decking; straw-board flooring; non-toxic paints and finishes; concrete with fly-ash content; and rain-screen siding.  Nice.

Also, for other attractive reuse projects, check out the Boxhouse and the TrailerWrap Project.  Check below for what the Phinney House looked like before the makeover.

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Brad Pitt to Make It Right with 150 Affordable, Sustainable Homes

Brad Pitt - Make It Right

UPDATE:: 12/3/2007 Make It Right Project: 13 Designs, 150 Homes

Hot on the heels of Pitt’s latest work in New Orleans comes this new announcement that he and Steve Bing are planning a new 150-home community in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.  He wants to Make It Right, in a place that gets less and less attention.  So at this point, I would consider Brad Pitt a developer — he has vision and can bring all the different players together to move meaningful projects forward.  Pitt, with an eye towards design, sustainability, and affordability, keeps stacking success upon success.  It’s really interesting to follow.   

Naturally, these homes will be affordable and sustainable, but to get the project going, both Bing and Pitt have pledged $5 million each in matching funds.  If you’re interested, here’s where you can submit donations.  He’s already retained William McDonough + Partners (think: Cradle to Cradle) to lead the sustainable construction process, but look who else is helping out … Pugh + Scarpa Architecture, Morphosis, Shigeru Ban Architects, and Adjaye Architects, to name a few.  Enough said.  I can’t wait to see the renderings. 

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PG&E Puts $10 M Towards Ice-Based Peak Demand Energy Shifting

Ice Energy

Recently, Ice Energy, a company that makes an ice-based air-conditioning system (explained below), announced their collaboration with PG&E in California on a $10-million dollar project.  The project is called "Shift and Save," and here’s the background: in the middle of the day, when the temperature is the highest, energy demand and the cost of energy is very high.  But with Ice Energy’s product, consumers can "Shift and Save" by using energy in the nighttime, instead of the daytime.  Daytime energy consumption is the bottleneck, it’s the peak, so energy generation must be sufficient to match peak demand.  Interestingly, to the extent demand for peak energy can be permanently reduced, the need for new energy generation (i.e. coal plants) is reduced as well.  Nice. 

The system consists of a large plastic attachment for commercial air conditioning units that is filled with water, frozen overnight, and used to cool refrigerant during the day.  According to Ice Energy CEO, Frank Ramirez, "It stores energy at night, when energy is cleaner to produce, cheaper to buy and easier to obtain, and it makes it available for use during the day."  The new hardware costs about $10,500 and weighs about 5,000 pounds when filled with water.  It looks very similar to a standard AC unit.  Also, there can be an additional retrofitting cost of as much as $10,000 for existing buildings and a minimum $750 cost for new construction.  Ice Energy is testing residential models (but another company called Trinity Thermal with the IceCycle has residential models already out right now).  Anyone have experience to share?

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