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LivingHomes Prefab in BusinessWeek

Livinghomes

This week’s edition of BusinessWeek has a feature on LivingHomes and entrepreneur Steve Glenn, founder of the company.  Glenn is a leader in the growing movement that is green prefab — modern, prefabricated homes built with sustainability in mind.  The BusinessWeek feature also includes a slide show of the first LEED-H Platinum certified home in the country, and some of photos are pictured above and below.

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[August] Architectural Record House of the Month: Belmont Geothermal Home

Belmont_geothermal_house I thought I would post information on this home, not because of its superior green features, although it does have green features, but because of the architect’s attention to modern design and the client’s needs. It’s an excellent looking abode…and at a price tag of $3.2 million, who wouldn’t want it! The sustainable crutch to this Belmont, Massachusetts modern residence is the geothermal heating and cooling pump, but it also comes designed with a water and energy scheme. That’s not all, however…

Chuck_choi_geothermal_house_4 Architecturally designed by Mary Ann Thompson Architects, every aspect of this home was carefully crafted. Thompson designed the U-shaped 4,500 square-foot home specifically for the owner’s large 3-acre lot with a serene pond and meadow. Specifically, rooms receive light on two sides and are designed so that internal activity traces the sun’s path throughout the day. The building also includes the passive design features of overhanging trellises on the southern and western fascades and incorporated cross-ventilation.

Some of the main construction materials include a steel frame, shiplap cedar siding, slate, kota brown sandstone, reclaimed walnut flooring, reclaimed walnut pine stair treads, acid-washed steel, and a poured-in-place cantilevered hearth. This home comes equipt with Dynamic windows and doors, Solar Innovations skylights, Baldwin hinges, Lightolier recessed can lights, Nightscaping sconces, Dornbracht fixtures, and Modern Fan ceiling fans. I love those ceiling fans! 

Chuck_choi_geothermal_house_2Another feature of this home, specific to this family’s needs, is the handicap-accessible guest wing. It is possible that the owner’s elderly parents move in with the family, so these features allow for a wheelchair in the shower and a future ramp for multi-level mobility. To quote the architect, "The house was designed to create a continuum, and this family wants to stay here through retirement and beyond…it’s truly a home for living."

Other links:
Architectural Record House of the Month Posting
Chuck Choi Photography
Mary Ann Thompson Architecture House Information Page

LivingHomes Combines Style + Sustainability

Livinghomes

LivingHomes Founder Steve Glenn has knocked the socks off the eco-conscious world with his modern homes that emphasize beauty + environment.  As I’ve been thinking about how I want to blog about this company, I’ve noticed a flurry of posts and press releases regarding this Ray Kappe-designed abode that was just awarded LEED-H Platinum.  It’s such an incredible home, with that undeniable confluence of modern and sustainability.  Hard to beat that. 

This is the first residential building to receive the USGBC’s Platinum LEED-H rating and it’s raising the bar for residential construction: zero energy, zero water, zero waste, zero carbon, and zero emissions. LivingHomes received a total of 91 out of a total possible 109 points, to barely skirt past the 90 point threshold required to obtain a Platinum rating.  It will be 80% more efficient than similar sized home and was constructed with 75% less waste than a traditional one.

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Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China

Pearl River Tower This is the architectural rendering of a building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; it is planned to be 71 stories, 2.2 million square feet, and have a "net" zero-energy footprint. The building is designed to use wind turbines, radiant slabs, microturbines, geothermal heat sinks, ventilated facades, waterless urinals, integrated photovoltaics, condensate recovery, and daylight responsive controls. I first noticed mention of this incredible project in an article of Architectural Record Magazine.

According to Roger Frechette, director of MEP Sustainable Engineering at SOM, Chicago, the building’s facade was designed "to accelerate the wind as it moved through the opening in the building." Power potential is the cube of wind velocity, and SOM initially estimated that the design would increase wind velocity to 1.5 times ambient wind speeds. Actually, models tested wind speeds of up to 2.5 times ambient wind speeds in some cases. In translation: the building design could generate power 15 times greater than a "freestanding" turbine.

According to a PR Newswire article, groundbreaking is set for July 2006 (which I’m not sure if this happened or not) and occupancy in fall 2009. In addition to the wind energy concept, the building will be designed with avant-garde solar technology to capture solar rays for conversion into energy.

So what are the benefits of a modern, sustainable commercial office building? First, the building looks amazing! Second, it can be an experiment and model for future buildings. Third, buildings that are built to be sustainable, or energy independent, are better. They are not dependent on the grid. They aren’t levered to the cost of grid energy (such as the price of coal, nuclear energy, or even other alternative sources provided into the grid). They leave a lighter footprint on the earth and its atmosphere–zero energy buildings are the epitome of natural resource frugality. Fourth, it can be healthier to live in. Fifth, it will create attention and draw tenants for publicity and other reasons. Sixth, the operating costs of this type of building are optimized and likely to be minimal when compared to non-sustainable buildings. Etc. Etc.

This building is a step in the right direction for commercial building design. I hope more and more buidings of this caliber can be transplanted all over the United States. Through sustainable design, countries can place themselves in a position to be less reliant on natural resource providing countries. As we’ve seen with the oil situation, that can be a big-time jam. Sustainable building–commercial and residential–is the road we should be taking.

Extra Links:
+World Architecture News

+Business Week/Architectural Record

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