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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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Modern + Green Gaia Napa Valley Hotel – LEED Gold

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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!

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Good Architectural Design = Happy Inhabitants

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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.

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