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Central Oregon's First LEED-H Certified Residential Project: Newport District Modern House Project by Abacus GC

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Have you ever been to Bend, Oregon?  Bend is smack dab in the middle of the state, it’s Central Oregon, and it’s beautiful.  Central Oregon is not to be confused with the rainy, western part of the state.  Bend is in close proximity to some of the best golfing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and skiing locations in the world, which is why lots of Californians either relocate or have a vacation home in the area.  And real estate isn’t cheap, either (speaking from a Texas frame of mind).  But in Bend, you have an innovative, forward-thinking real estate company, Abacus GC, that has just received the first LEED-H (LEED for Homes) certification in Central Oregon for its Newport District Modern House Project.  It’s also Earth Advantage certified and will save about 54% more in energy consumption than a standard code-built home. 

This project (corner of NW 12th Street + Newport Avenue) includes 5 green, modern, luxurious homes, scheduled for completion in December 2006.  Each lot is 3,000 square feet, and each home is 2,000 square feet (prices starting at roughly $850k).  Here are some of the green features:  cool metal roof that reflects UV radiation and keeps the house cool in the summer; green roof trellises; xeriscaped lawns with drought tolerant and local plants (require less water and maintenance); Sierra Pacific windows made from timber that meets the Sustainable Forestry Initiative requirements; grid-tied solar energy system (2 kilowatt) from photovoltaic panels that run backwards; extensive use of FSC-certified lumber; blown in formaldehyde-free insulation (exterior walls, R-23; attic, R-50!) for energy-efficiency, sound control, and improved indoor air quality; lightweight all-aluminum garage doors that are maintenance free and recyclable; hydronic radiant floor heating systems powered by a 96% energy-efficient boiler; tons of strategically placed windows to optimize natural light and shade; locally harvested Madrone wood for the stairs and kitchen counter tops; Caroma dual-flush toilets that save up to 80% of annual water usage; 80% energy-efficient Ribbon fireplace by Spark Modern Fires (with the enclosure made of Eco-Terr recycled tiles); and Green Seal-certified, zero-VOC YOLO Colorhouse primer and paints.  These are just some of the many green features of the five homes in the Newport District Modern House Project. 

In addition to the green features, these homes are stylish:  top of the line hardware (Kohler, Grohe, Blum, Sub-Zero, etc.), 9-foot ceilings, Category-5 Ethernet cable installed, etc.  We’re are talking about luxury everything, in an extreme, environmentally-friendly orchestration.  The Newport District Modern House Project is everything that Jetson Green espouses:  Modern + Green + Healthy Living.  But specifically, these homes help an owner achieve water and energy independence, which is valuable in a world where energy prices will continue to rise and water will continue to become more scarce.  I really like the trajectory of this company and the projects they have in the pipeline–I’m sure this won’t be the last abacus GC project on Jetson Green. 

Extra Links:
Abacus Take Lead on LEED-H Certification [Press Release]
Earth Advantage Features [pdf]
Abacus GC Builds Modern Dwellings [Cascade Business News - pdf]

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Semantics: Don't Conflate Prefab + Mobile Homes

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Prefab.  Prefab.  Prefab.  If you’re interested in the green building movement, you probably get pumped up when the usual rhetoric–green benefits versus money savings versus factory-built convenience versus design premium versus modernize-the-building industry–kicks in.  I do.  Prefab, which includes the modular and the panelized varieties, is an interesting industry phenomenon.  So, I wanted to share Amy Gunderson’s newest NY Times article, which I thought was very well-written and thoughtful.  I will say, however, as a warning:  this article walks on the edge of conflating prefabs with manufactured homes (actually, it pretty much puts them in the same boat and then parses them out by explaining the differences), but I think it’s handier to deal with prefabs and manufactured homes in separate discussions.  For example:

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In the article, it is explained that Adrienne Shishko + Joel Sklar retained the popular Resolution: 4 Architecture to put the 3,000 square foot home on their vacation property.  Not a bad choice, I might add.  The modules are built in a factory and the home arrives at the lot roughly 70% complete, you just need to put the parts together + do the finish out (electrical, plumbing, drywall, painting, appliance installation, etc.).  The firm’s average building price comes out to $200-250 square foot, which is lower than a comparable, custom-built home, which averages $300-400 square foot.  The home has the potential to get built faster, assuming the permitting goes smoothly, and it qualifies as a residence (unlike mobile homes).  Plus, factory built homes incur less construction waste.  One additional caveat, shipping modules is not cheap (@$8,000 per module, I’ve seen) + so there is that pollution premium to think about, but … this is an exciting industry for the future of building.  Art by Nancy Doniger. 

Modern + Green Big Ass Fans

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I used to workout at one particular gym everyday–you know the drill…elliptical, weights, situps, etc.  Oddly, my body was getting healthier, but I was growing to hate the place for two reasons.  First, the place was dirty and they didn’t provide any cleaners to wipe the machines once you were done.  Second, I had to get surgery on my neck for a staph infection, and later, had a cyst on my arm.  I’m thinking both infections came from unsanitary gym conditions because I was healthy before and have been healthy since.  Anyway.  One day, the atmosphere completely changed, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  Then it dawned on me that the place wasn’t as musty as it usually was and that was a result of the wonderful "Big Ass Fan."  Seriously, the Big Ass Fan is hard to miss, but it made jumping on that treadmill a dream.  From what I understand, if you do the math, this large, ten-blade piece of ceiling bling can reduce heating + cooling costs (to $.05 /hour). 

HowitworksHere’s the concept:  the large blades, when combined with lower rotation speeds produce a massive, but gentle, breeze to keep the air cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  As you can tell from the pictures, they look pretty good and can be custom painted too.  Since the blades travel at a slower speed, they don’t make that much noise either.  Check out the website and read all the case studies on the website.  There’s an abundance of information that may help you determine whether the Big Ass Fan is suitable for your facility. 

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Miami Design District's New Green Tower – COR (S2)

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OPPENheim Architecture + Design just received unanimous approval for a $40 million, 25 story, 380 foot tall, multi-use green tower for Miami’s Design District (4025 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL  33137).  It’s called COR and construction will start July 2007 + complete in 2009.  COR will have 113 condominium units, 20,100 square feet of office space, and 5,400 square feet of retail space (includes cafe + furniture store).  Chad Oppenheim designed COR with the assistance of energy consultant Buro Happold + engineer Ysrael Seinuk.  As you can see by looking closely at the pictures, the 10 inch, energy-efficient exoskeleton incorporates wind turbines near the top and provides numerous environmental benefits (thermal mass for insulation, shading, enclosure for terraces).  In addition to wind turbines, the tower will use also photovoltaic panels and solar hot water generation. 

The funky, modern building design is expected to attract creative, design-oriented businesses and trendy, eclectic professionals.  Restaurants and retailers will occupy the ground floor, in an attempt to capture the urban energy of the building.  Of course, the interior will benefit from a mixture of natural sun and shading and design plans call for a high-tech building infrastructure.  Residences will range in size from studio to two-story penthouse units, which range in price from $400,000 to $1 million.  We’re talking about Energy Star appliances, recycled glass tile flooring, bamboo lined hallways, etc.  Residents will have access to the pool and fitness facility as well.  So far, so good I say.  Via Archiseek + Multi-Housing News.

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  UPDATE:  I was hearing from various sources that this project wouldn’t happen.  Now, there’s an interview with Chad Oppenheim about the COR Tower.  This is legit and this is pretty cool. 

Green Office: C2C Certified Steelcase Answer® Workstation

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Answer.  Thoughtfully flexible.  It’s about time for a new installment to the Green Office segment.  So far, I’ve mentioned the Leap + Think chairs, the Liege Desk, and office supplies from The Green Office.  Enter:  the MBDC Silver Cradle to Cradle Certified, GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified Steelcase Answer®.  The Steelcase Answer panel workstation is the first C2C Certified powered workstation for the contract furniture industry.  First, Answer uses responsible materials.  Workstation components consist of panels, wood work surfaces, overhead storage and floor-based storage.  There is absolutely no PVC used in its construction.  Second, Cradle to Cradle certification requires product design that contemplates what happens when the product is not longer useful for its intended purpose.  There’s a focus on being able to recycle or safely compost the materials.  Adhesives are eliminated, where possible, and recyclable parts are clearly marked.  This is a big deal considering Answer is one of the best selling systems products in the world.  I bet you could get the Answer workstation penciled into your tenant improvements agreement, right?  Via PRNewswire.

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LEED-H Prototype Heather's Home: Modern, Green + Affordable

Apr_10_green_building_fort_worth_1_1 DFW builder Don Ferrier‘s daughter wanted an affordable, green home, so they retained the best, local green architect, Gary Olp of GGOArchitects, to get the job done.  The result is Heather’s Home, which has its own website at www.heathershome.info.  What’s interesting about this home is that it’s economically pragmatic, but it looks goods–it’s proof that a modern, green home can be relatively affordable.  We’re talking about a 2,038 square-foot home in the price range of about $117 per square foot ($230,000).  After getting the home design, she had to wait two months due to materials shortages, but the home took four months to build after that.  The monthly home heating and cooling bill averages $20-30 month.  That’s amazing, especially in Texas. 

Green Features:
There’s a rainwater collection system connected to a 3,000-gallon holding tank, which is used for irrigation and toilet water.  Toilets are low flush, of course.  She landscaped with drought-tolerant, native Texas plants, to conserve water.  She didn’t install a full blown solar system (costs about $30,000), but she did install enough solar panels to power the tankless water heater (also saves water).  The home design called for Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) to create a more energy-efficient, tight building envelope.  For heating and AC, the builder installed a Daikin HVAC system that runs at 20 SEER.  The HVAC system price tag was $5,500, which is cheaper than a geothermal heat pump and about 90% as efficient.  Of course, low-VOC paints and stains were used throughout.  Lights and appliances are energy star. 

The stairs are bamboo and some of the floors are stained concrete.  The kitchen island surface is a grenadine Formica (Green Guard certified) and the cabinets were created from regionally produced ash, treated with a low VOC stain.  You’ll notice the 33 glass block windows on the northerly wall, which invite natural lighting without diminishing interior privacy.  There’s a solar tube in the closet for natural lighting.  In the rooms with carpet, it is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) carpet, which is created from reclaimed polyester resins of two-liter soda bottles and and other plastic containers.  Some of the other carpet is InterFLOR modular carpet, made from corn husks.  The list of green features goes on and on!  You can go to this link to find the source of all the products used in this home. 

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