Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s that time again: October 6, 2007 – The National Solar Tour. The ASES National Solar Tour is the largest tour of sustainable energy technology for buildings in the U.S. Now in its 12th year, some 100,000 people across the nation will see how neighbors are using clean sources of energy to save on energy bills and protect the environment. Through a series of open-houses and informative tours, participants learn about renewable energy options, energy efficient design, real-world costs, current rebates available, and other valuable insights.
Update 12/13/09: Platinum Lofts @ Cherokee Studios Now Complete!
There's a lot to mention with REthink Development's project called Cherokee Lofts: history, sustainability, modern design, materials innovation, etc. This Pugh + Scarpa-designed development is on track to be named the first, privately developed, LEED Gold Certified, mixed-use project in Southern California. The project will have 12 loft units, all ranging in size from 1,000 – 2,000 sf, and 2,800 sf of commercial space.
I guess the term would be adaptive reuse, but I think I’m going to start calling this "attractive reuse." Attractive reuse is about taking boring, old, traditional homes and renovating them into modern, green abodes. The Phinney House was intended to be a case study house — the existing house was extensively remodeled, the main floor was raised to give more height in the basement, the main floor plan was opened up, and a new second floor was added. It’s Built-Green certified, too. Some of the many ecologically sustainable elements in this project include the following: hydronic radiant-floor heat; whole-house heat-recovery ventilation; FSC-certified lumber, plywood and cabinetry; reclaimed fir beams and columns; sustainably harvested Ipe wood siding and decking; straw-board flooring; non-toxic paints and finishes; concrete with fly-ash content; and rain-screen siding. Nice.
UPDATE:: 12/3/2007 Make It Right Project: 13 Designs, 150 Homes
Hot on the heels of Pitt’s latest work in New Orleans comes this new announcement that he and Steve Bing are planning a new 150-home community in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. He wants to Make It Right, in a place that gets less and less attention. So at this point, I would consider Brad Pitt a developer — he has vision and can bring all the different players together to move meaningful projects forward. Pitt, with an eye towards design, sustainability, and affordability, keeps stacking success upon success. It’s really interesting to follow.
Naturally, these homes will be affordable and sustainable, but to get the project going, both Bing and Pitt have pledged $5 million each in matching funds. If you’re interested, here’s where you can submit donations. He’s already retained William McDonough + Partners (think: Cradle to Cradle) to lead the sustainable construction process, but look who else is helping out … Pugh + Scarpa Architecture, Morphosis, Shigeru Ban Architects, and Adjaye Architects, to name a few. Enough said. I can’t wait to see the renderings.
Recently, Ice Energy, a company that makes an ice-based air-conditioning system (explained below), announced their collaboration with PG&E in California on a $10-million dollar project. The project is called "Shift and Save," and here’s the background: in the middle of the day, when the temperature is the highest, energy demand and the cost of energy is very high. But with Ice Energy’s product, consumers can "Shift and Save" by using energy in the nighttime, instead of the daytime. Daytime energy consumption is the bottleneck, it’s the peak, so energy generation must be sufficient to match peak demand. Interestingly, to the extent demand for peak energy can be permanently reduced, the need for new energy generation (i.e. coal plants) is reduced as well. Nice.
The system consists of a large plastic attachment for commercial air conditioning units that is filled with water, frozen overnight, and used to cool refrigerant during the day. According to Ice Energy CEO, Frank Ramirez, "It stores energy at night, when energy is cleaner to produce, cheaper to buy and easier to obtain, and it makes it available for use during the day." The new hardware costs about $10,500 and weighs about 5,000 pounds when filled with water. It looks very similar to a standard AC unit. Also, there can be an additional retrofitting cost of as much as $10,000 for existing buildings and a minimum $750 cost for new construction. Ice Energy is testing residential models (but another company called Trinity Thermal with the IceCycle has residential models already out right now). Anyone have experience to share?
In a city known for its aversion to development and proudly celebrated with the phrase "Keep Austin Weird," what does it take to get the go ahead approvals on what will be the tallest tower in the skyline? Quite simply, a commitment to green building. The Austonian, developed by Benchmark Development and designed by Ziegler Cooper Architects, is going to be one of a kind in Austin. And judging by the renderings, it’s going to tower over everything else in the city, too. The 56-floor building will have 188 residential condominiums, with pricing from $550,000 (rough revenue analysis = 188 * $550k = $103.4 M). But there’s also going to be some ground floor retail, and according to Emporis, construction is expected to be complete in 2009.
The Austonian will be built to Austin’s well-known Green Building Program, with features such as a rainwater capture system; high-performance, low-E glass walls; Mecho-Shades; and Energy Star-rated appliances. There’s also going to be an urban garden a first-class fitness room on the top floor. The tower will feature a glass and aluminum “skin” that is layered to provide depth to its slender shape. So, all in all, it looks good and if you’re going to build high, at least it’s in the middle of downtown.