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Green Office: Steelcase Think Chair–"the Chair with a Brain + a Conscience"

Think_green_office My first installment to the "Green Office" segment is about the office chair.  I walked into a friend’s downtown office (a lawyer) and he had some beat up, patchy furniture inside.  I asked him what the deal was and he responded that it was all the firm provided.  That gets me, big-time.  For all you professionals out there, especially young professionals, your job is your domain and if the bossman isn’t providing it, do it yourself.  My credo, dress and office like the person who’s job you want to have.  So I prefer CEO-style all the way.  If clients come in my office, they’ll see CEO-style.  Compare that to the cubicle next door and they’ll form an impression about your position in the firm.  You’ve got to be a rainmaker, so this is all about looking the part. 

As far as office chairs go, there seems to be a race to ergonomics–"Ooh, nice, is that so and so’s chair?"  "Did corporate get that for ya?"  "How much does one of those run?"  You get the drift.  Steelcase, Inc. makes this entire process very easy, actually, modern + green easy.  They have two chairs that are Cradle to Cradle™ Certified Silver:  Think™ + Leap®.  I’m going to focus on Think.  Think also received the BusinessWeek 2006 Gold IDEA award, IIDEX Sustainable Design Gold award, NeoCon Editor’s Choice Award, and the Red Dot Award for Product Design (Germany).  But forget accolades, here’s where sustainability meets the chair. 

Think_white Think_downward Think_white_office

First, cradle to cradle for this chair means the company considered what goes into the chair, how it is made, and what happens to the chair when it is no longer a chair.  The chair is designed to be highly recyclable + safe for environmental health.  Second, the chair is up to 99% recyclable by weight + up to 44% recycled content.  Third, disassembly takes about 5 minutes and Steelcase has set up the structure for customers to participate in recycling of their used chair.  Fourth, the chair is Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified.  But if this is too green for you, there’s more. 

Think is comfortable too.  It has the adjustable arms, pneumatic seat height, and innovative back "flexors" that track and respond fluidly to your natural weight and movements.  So not only is this chair environmentally conscious, it’s smart, too.  I think an added benefit to the chair is that one can order the thing online and have it shipped FedEx ground-style for free.  So, if you’re tired of that standard office stuff and want to make a change, I’d get one of these Steelcase chairs shipped straight to the office. 

Extra Links:
Think Chair Mini-site [Steelcase]
Steelcase Online Store
MBDC Cradle to Cradle Certification

The 505 Townhomes: Urban Experiment with Modern + Sustainable Design (Houston)

The_505_night

The instant I saw The 505, I knew there was something about it that needed blogging.  This Houston, Texas four-unit townhouse development is extremely striking and innovative–it has that modern swagger that many of us would like to call home.  The goal of this project was to "be financially successful and to make responsible use of land, incorporate sustainable design principles, enhance community sensibilities, and possess an architectural identity." 

Like a lot of green-built projects, The 505 incorporates Terrazzo granite floors and Interface carpet.  The windows were carefully designed and placed to provide views and natural light and still provide a modicum of privacy.  Lots of modern + green homes seem like nothing more than glass houses with metal roofs, but this place manages to negotiate the importance of natural light/shading and privacy. 

Extra Links:
The 505 [Texas Architect]
Collaborative Designworks
Texas Society of Architects 2006 Design Award Winner

The_505_living_room_1_2 The_505_dining_2

Michael Jantzen + Environmental, Architectural Eye Candy

Wind_shaped_pavilion Well, I’ve decided to hit my readers with a little environmental, architectural eye candy.  I like to get political every now and then, but I really like to throw in some skyscrapers, prefabs, or dream houses here at Jetson Green (check the category cloud on the left).  Of course, everything has a sustainable approach to it.  Today’s post is a little different, if not impractical, but it’s deceptively time consuming–when you go to this website, you’ll find yourself gazing at all the different projects and fighting within as to whether such structures can actually work.  I did for about 45 minutes and the only thing that stopped me was the sound of Colbert’s voice.  Here it goes::  enter Michael Jantzen and his Portfolio

He’s really into wind, if you can’t tell:  wind shaped pavilion, wind shade roof, wind turbine observation tower, + wind tunnel footbridge.  That’s good, though, because buildings that integrate environmental design into the structure can be effective.  If you haven’t heard, such a building was designed to be zero energy by SOM called the Pearl River Tower (China).  So these Jantzen renderings should, at a minimum, get us thinking about design, sustainability, and the endless possibilities. 

Wind_shade_roof_1 Wind_tunnel_footbridge

The wind shaped pavilion, pictured top, is a large fabric structure with six slowly rotating segments that can be used as a public or private pavilion.  <I’m thinking wedding bells, maybe?>  Each segment’s rotation generates electricity for nighttime illumination.  And logically, the shape and design lends itself to natural light and ventilation.  Having the ability to rotate segments provides the convenience of optimizing shade when the sun starts to beat down.  I think this type of creative design is necessary so people can have living and working spaces that are nimble, comfortable, healthy, and effective. 

Intellicenter USA + Koll Development: "Developing for the [Green] Future"

Intel_4story_large

Now this is what I’m talking about.  Sexy green skyscrapers and platinum green prefabs are cool, but now we’re moving into a new realm of green real estate development.  Dallas-based Koll Development Company (KDC) is speculating on a new generation of buildings.  Actually, they’re going to be LEED CS (Core + Shell) certified, but they’re also going to be modern and tech-savvy.  I noticed the construction of one on the way back from DFW airport in Irving, at the southwest corner of Beltline and LBJ.  KDC’s new product will be called the "Intellicenter" and they’re "Developing for the Future."

Here’s the thing that will really knock your socks off:  click here to go see a webcam view of the progress.  Keep watching because in about December 2006, this thing will be complete. 

Intellicenters will feature raised floor design and energy efficiency all around.  Individual workstations will have HVAC controls.  The lobby will feature Terrazzo recycled glass and natural stone flooring. The green features list could go on and on.  But KDC is also thinking of the bottom line and the necessary benefits to companies; their buildings aim for the following:  (1)  higher performance systems, (2) reduced operating expenses, (3) maximum design efficiencies, (4) increased flexibility for technological advances, and (5) environmental stewardship.  For LEED design, these buildings command a premium of $2-3 more per square foot (on construction cost), which comes out to around 25 cents per square foot on a lease rate.  Not bad.  Customers will get that back in energy savings, increased employee productivity, and other intangibles.

In addition to this Dallas Intellicenter, KDC has Intellicenter’s under construction in Houston, Atlanta, Riverside (CA), and Charlotte.  They’ve teamed up with Prudential Real Estate Investors to offer 2 million square feet of office space valued at around $200-250 million (each building will be about 150,000-200,000 sq. ft).  Interestingly, each building will be almost entirely the same, which allows the developer to minimize costs (as opposed to reinventing the wheel at each location).  KDC enlisted Forum Studio Inc. and Gensler for the design aspects.

Jetson Green prediction: 
Not only will these office buildings be green but going forward, medical facilities, mixed-use condo developments, office condo parks, trailer home parks, educational facilities, government buildings, skyscrapers, houses, etc., will be green.  You name it, it’s all going dark green. 

Extra Links:
Going Green Saves Green for Corporate Clients [Texas Construction]
KDC’s Informative Video on the Intellicenter-USA [.wmv]
Koll Development Company Website

Skyscraper Sunday: Hearst Tower Goes LEED Gold

Hearst_diagrid_structure The handsome Hearst Tower skyscraper achieved LEED Gold accreditation from the USGBC–it’s the first to be recognized as such in New York City.  The building architect is the famous Norman Foster, and this is the third time for Jetson Green to feature one of his buildings (30 St Mary Axe + WTC 200 Greenwich).  Norman Foster is literally one of the leading architects in the modern/contemporary + green building field.  This building is particularly bold for its environmental mission: it used 80% recycled steel and will consume 25% less energy than its skyscraper counterparts. 

Green Features:
The green features of Hearst Tower reflect the environmental commitment and vision of Hearst Corporation–a leading corporation with interests in magazines (O, The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Cosmopolitan, + Esquire), newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer), broadcasting, entertainment television (ESPN, ESPN2, Lifetime, A&E, + The History Channel), and interactive media (broadcast dot com, iVillage, XM Satellite Radio).  We are talking about a huge company taking a pro-active step to provide high-caliber, environmentally-friendly working spaces. 

  • About 85% of the original structure was recycled for future buildingHearst_at_dusk
  • The "diagrid" system (diagonal + grid) eliminates the need for verticle steel beams, which provides structural efficiency and greater use of natural light
  • Using the diagrid system required 20% less steel (a 2,000 ton savings in steel)
  • Foreign-sourced materials accounted for less than 10% of the total cost of construction
  • Low-E coated glass on the exterior of the building allow natural light into the building sans heat
  • Internal light sensors control the balance of artificial and natural light
  • Activity sensors adjust the system and turn off lights and computers when systems aren’t in use
  • The roof collects rainwater and reduces the amount of rainwater that dumps into NYC’s sewer system by 25%
  • A 14,000 gallon water reclamation tank in the basement provides 50% of the buildings water needs
  • Harvested water is used for the "Icefall"–a 3-story sculpted water feature (also the nation’s largest sustainable water feature) that will humidify and cool the atrium
  • Walls were painted with low-VOC paint, workstations were built without formaldehyde, and concrete surfaces were finished with low toxicity sealants
  • Floors and ceiling tiles are manufactured with recycled content
Hearst_atrium Ice_falls_water_feature_1

Extra Links:
Norman Foster Website
Hearst Tower LEED Certified in "Gold" [Treehugger - John Laumer]
The Hearst Tower [Architectural Record]

Ketchum, Idaho Contemporary Residence with a Lighter Shade of Green

Snow_image There was a home in Architectural Digest that really caught my eye.  Maybe it’s because the Roger Wade images perfectly captured how the house blends into the hilly landscape of Ketchum, Idaho.  I don’t know…maybe I was just intrigued by the hoops the architect Jim McLaughlin had to go through just to get the darn thing built.  The architect had height restrictions to deal with and still managed to squeeze in 9,000 square feet of space.  The interesting thing about this house is that it has a contempory-interior, modern-exterior, traditional home-type feel to it.  I mean, it doesn’t look like one of the prefabs I like to talk about, but it’s extremely contemporary. 

Roger_wade_interior_kitchen Roger_wade_interior_stairs

They excavated 25 feet into the hill and built from within the rock to make the house seem like it’s flowing from the rocks.  The architect designed the home to use local Montana stone on the facade and accented that with reclaimed beams inside.  With all the windows, the builder (Gary Storey) and architect found a way to incorporate motorized sunshades the shoot up from the floor to the top of the windows.  What that does, in turn, is blur the boundaries between the interior and exterior and provide an effective method to maximize the balance between natural light and shading. 

Roger_wade_driveway_view Roger_wade_bedroom_view Roger_wade_back_porch

While I know some of my devoted readers will scream because this place has a 9,000 sq.ft. footprint and doesn’t really use alternative energy, I think the house illustrates a lighter shade of green.  The place looks good and uses local materials and reclaimed wood.  That’s a start. 

As far as the interior is concerned, the kitchen has zinc counters and wenge-wood cabinets with white-bronze inlay.  Designed by Libby Brost, a former chef and restaurant owner, she recently sold her restaurant to concentrate on design.  She designed the kitchen so that it didn’t necessarily look like a full-blown kitchen.  It’s there, but it blends into the other room.  And that goes the same with the other rooms.  I think it’s a handsome place. 

Extra Links:
Roger Wade Photography
Architectural Digest [article not online]
McLaughlin Architects



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