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.
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.
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.
There’s just one thing that I can’t figure out: why aren’t more hotels going green? Recently, I blogged about Starwood Hotels creating a luxury, green hotel brand (and there’s also the LEED-certified Orchard Garden), but why aren’t all the other hotels going green? I have two thoughts: (1) post-9/11, hotels tanked and lost a lot of money, which they’ve really started to regain from 2004 until now…they’re busy making money and don’t want to shut the place down with expensive renovations; (2) the split between ownership and management leaves a decision making gap that prevents the hotel owner from undergoing large capital improvements; or (3) hotel owners are marketing their portfolios and green (the non-monetary kind) is the last thing on their minds. But if you ask me, the hotel industry is so levered to energy costs that it’s the only way to go. Looks like Gaia Napa Valley Hotel agrees with me.
Gaia is chasing LEED Gold (couldn’t find it in the USGBC certification or registration directory), which is the second highest tier in the green building rating system. Here are some of its green features: chemical-free landscaping; energy-efficient heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system using 15% less energy; various water conservation features; solar panels; zero-chlorofluorocarbon cooling system; 100% new growth-certified wood; specialty zero energy lighting throughout the hotel and public areas; and low emission paints and adhesives.
The hotel incorporates extensive use of Solatubes. These are tubular skylights that capture sunlight from the roof and direct it into the interior space through a diffusion shaft. Imagine a periscope, except that it filters in light, not images.
Another thing I’d like to point out, is that this hotel is modern + green. Innovation has advanced to the point that green looks good. Plus, if you look at the first costs and the operating costs, in comparison to a non-green building, you’re getting a great deal, so it’s economic too. Really, there’s not other way to go, especially in the hotel industry!
What’s the point of architectural design? Depends on who is using the building, but talented designers and architects around the world can do unbelievable things with buildings. Today’s post is an example of the power of well-designed living spaces. Enter: The Happy New House. Designed by Neil M. Denari Architects (NMDA), the happy house is just that, a place where the Alan Family can express its "family brand." They wanted a home renovation that expressed their distinct family attributes: artsy but not artsy-fartsy, cultured but not elitist, spontaneous but not disorderly, informal but not messy, into Macs and iPods but not techie, and into the finer things of life but not extravagant.
Noticeably, the architect went with multi-toned, bright colors to express the Alan Family brand. The interior design includes a clever mixture of public and private spaces to allow for individuality, but still encourage "elbow-rubbing" opportunities. Tons of integrated shelving blends into the modern design and helps reduce clutter, and the outdoor living room blurs the indoor/outdoor barrier, which allows the family to connect to the backyard area.
We’ve all lived in places that just didn’t work out that well. The same place might fit another person completely, but the reality is, individuals and families do have differences that can be accounted for with creative design. The extra cost of designing your home or office, just might pay dividends in productivity, livability, and enjoyability later on. Yet another reason why first costs could be misleading. See also Archinect.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Limited (privately-held corporation with ownership of Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Marlies Hockey Club, Air Canada Centre, and Leafs TV + Raptors NBA TV) is behind an innovative, forward-looking project development called Maple Leaf Square. Being inspired by the mixed-use projects developing around sports franchise centers such as Dallas and Miami, the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Corporation will be unique in one significant aspect: it’s green, LEED-certified, that is. The project, designed by KPMB and Page + Steele, contains two aspiring towers (54 + 50 floors) built on top of a seven story podium, all including the following: 900 residential condominiums, boutique hotel with about 170 rooms, 6,000 square foot daycare, over 200,000 square feet of office space , indoor/outdoor swimming pools, fitness facilities, and high-technology restaurants, sports bars, and retail stores. It’s the quintessential multi-use development of the future, blending sports, entertainment, living, vacationing, night life, and work.
In addition to being one of the most technologically advanced building structures in the world, the project contains some important green features (note, technology also can make a building green): green roof, energy-efficient appliances in every suite, Enwave (low cost, energy efficient supplier of heating, cooling, and domestic hot water supply), individual storage/bicycle lockers, and close proximity to Toronto’s PATH system. Technologically, the building will use RFID door locks and Intelligent Building Technology (visit the website for a demonstration).
The project has been welcomed with open arms by the public; reports vary, but the Residences of Maple Leaf Square are reportedly 95% sold already. Talk about unmet demand for a modern, green structure! Available residences range in size from 400 – 2,100 square feet and price from $200,000 – $1,400,000. North Tower opens in October 2009 and South Tower in March 2010. Found by EarthChangeII.
If you’ve ever been to a port terminal, you’ve seen the mass quantities of shipping containers used to transport goods all over the world. With the trade imbalance–US importing more than exporting, the containers that aren’t returned to their origin, waste away here in the US. But there are a few creative architects such as Adam Kalkin, Jennifer Siegal, and Peter DeMaria (his home pictured above and below), who are using these containers as the basic structure for custom built homes. The fact is, materials such as steel and wood cost big-time money and perpetually increase in price due to world demand; according to the video, Anna + Sven Pirkl are getting their 3,500 square foot home built at $125 square foot (a pittance for that area’s custom build price that ballparks at +$250 square foot).
The LA Times also wrote an article about what the family is going to do with the home (think: zip line + climbing wall).