McStain To Build Largest Solar Homes Development in Colorado

Mcstain

Late last week, McStain Neighborhoods announced intentions to build the largest solar neighborhood in Colorado.  The neighborhood development, known as Bradburn Village, will have 42 solar-electric homes available for sale in early Spring 2007.  From what I understand, McStain builds their homes to Energy Star certification, so going with the solar option is a nice added feature.  With prices starting in the upper 400s, these two-story homes will range in size from roughly 2,446 to 2,842 sq.  Bradburn Village is located off 120th Avenue, between Federal and Sheridan boulevards.

McStain isn’t like your average builder or developer, either.  For instance, here’s their mission:  "To create homes and neighborhoods that stand the test of time, that grow in beauty and value, that help maintain the environment and lifestyle that make Colorado so special."  They test and certify 100% of their homes, and I just get the feeling that a McStain home will be a damn good home. 

Extra Links
+McStain Building Solar Neighborhood [Denver Business Journal]
+McStain Company Website

Skyscraper Sunday: LEED Platinum Banner Bank Building

Banner Bank Building

Well actually, it’s more of a mid-rise, but 11 stories in Boise is about as skyscraper as it gets.  According to Gary Christensen, Christensen Corporation owner and Banner Bank Building developer, "we created a beautiful, high-performance building that’s good for the environment.  And it didn’t cost us any more to do it."  Specifically, the 195,000 sf, $25 million building was built to spec (ulation), so the ability to strike market-competitive lease deals was paramount on the project.  Also, on July 27, 2006, Banner Bank Building received the coveted LEED-CS Platinum certification, earning 49 out of a possible 62 points in the Core and Shell Development system.  In tangible savings, the building uses 65% less energy and 80% less water. 

The following is a list of some of the many green features built into the Banner Bank Building:  proximately situated near public transportation access; indoor bicycle storage and individual shower rooms; drought tolerant vegetation and automated irrigation system with motion sensors; state-of-the-art water reclamation system and conserving water fixtures, systems, and mechanical equipment; geothermal heat system and underfloor air distribution HVAC; 75%+ construction waste was separated, collected, and recycled; the building was constructed using locally sourced materials and 40%+ recycled content materials; zero- to low-VOC indoor finish materials; dimmable energy-efficient lighting; and a biodiesel fuel-powered backup generator. 

Extra Links:
+USGBC Project Profile LEED Facts
+HDR Project Summary Page
+Better Bricks Interview with Gary Christensen

$80k to The Nature Conservancy, Light Bulb Exchange Program, + Supreme Court Goes Green (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Duke Energy Donates $80,000 to The Nature Conservancy for Shareholders Choosing Paperless Delivery of Annual Report
  2. S. California "Green Schools" Light Bulb Exchange Program Enables Students to Reduce their Families’ Home Energy Bills
  3. The U.S. Supreme Court Ruled 5-4 that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act by Declining to Regulate New-Vehicle Emissions Standards to Control the Pollutants that Contribute to Global Warming. 

Talking Small Wind with AWEA; House + Senate Mull Small-Wind Tax Credit Legislation

Awea

I love blogging, I really do.  Blogging enables me to connect with and learn from some really smart people.  For example, last week I posted that I’d be in Washington, D.C., and I received a flood of suggestions and ideas for enjoying the greener side of the city.  My friends at Edelman (Tristan + Kate) lined up a meeting with small-wind expert, Ron Stimmel, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Headquarters.  It was awesome.  I was able to sit down with Ron and talk about a pretty big development in the small-wind industry right now. 

Recently, Senators Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced legislation ("Rural Wind Energy Development Act" (S. 673)) that would allow purchasers of a small wind system to receive a credit on their taxes for a portion of the turbine’s total cost, or $1,500 per 1/2 kW of capacity.  The five year credit would apply to all wind systems with capacities of under 100 kW used to power homes, farms or small businesses.  The same day I was in town, a similar version of this legislation was also introduced in the House, H.R. 1772, by Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.).  According to current estimates, small wind is suitable for about 15M homes and 1M businesses in America.  If you want to get involved, Stimmel recommends calling your representative and asking them to co-sponsor the legislation.  Get it moving. 

According to Stimmel, "This would be the first federal incentive in 20 years to help individuals – homeowners, farmers, and small business owners – buy a small wind turbine."  I asked him about some of the hurdles the industry is going through and he was positive about the direction small wind is going.  Small wind needs reputable companies manufacturing the turbines and installers need to be well-trained to make sure the turbines get the best wind.  Maybe in the near future, there could be some type of certification system for installing small wind, which could be a significant boost to the technology.  At least for the moment, having these tax credits puts small wind within reach for many homeowners, farmers, and small business owners that could desperately use the technology.

More Than Another Prefab: Muji Prefab

Muji_concept

My values and beliefs were partially created through my experience living in Japan.  I like minimalist.  I like clean, sharp lines.  I like modern.  I like small, but functional.  I appreciate that a grain of rice means something, especially when times are tough.  And this is why I’m excited to hear the news of Muji coming to America.  Technically Mujirushi Ryohin, roughly translated as no-name quality goods, is the full name.  Muji is coming to the US to influence consumers that dig the no-brand, minimalist style sans in-your-face product identifiers.  I wear shirts inside out just so the brand doesn’t show sometimes, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.   

Muji has 387 outlets in 15 countries, including 34 stores in Europe.  America is next on their expansion plans with a store starting in Manhattan, and the possibility of stores to follow in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.  Muji sells all sorts of stuff, such as socks, a front-loading washer/dryer combo, cardboard speakers, aluminum business card holders, and even a line of prefab homes (starting at $115,000).  Not all their products are green, but they are of the modern aesthetic.  Choose wisely, I say.  Also, we’ll have to wait and see, but I’ve heard rumors that their stuff isn’t cheap.  Some people compare them to IKEA, but with a Japanese flavor.  Let’s see how the Manhattan opening goes.  See BusinessWeek + Muji (Japanese). 

Mujiinfill_houseToyohashi_house

Would You Buy a Home from IKEA? Payments Accepted at Front Register.

Boklok_uk_ceder__web Uk_terraced_house1_web

I’m asking because if you have an Ikea, you may be one of the next cities to have their prefab home product.  Maybe in 5, 10, 15 years, but it looks possible.  Over the past decade, Ikea has teamed up with Swedish construction company Skanska to build a home that was light, well-planned, functional, and furnished with natural materials.  That home, the BoKlok, which is Swedish for "smart living," has become Ikea’s big idea.  After building about 3,500 BoKlok homes across Scandinavia, Ikea has decided to expand and create a British BoKlok development with about 36 flats in St. James Village, Gateshead (UK).  After that, they’ll add another 60 homes. 

BoKlok Homes are timber-framed, almost entirely pre-fabricated, and brought onto the site in pre-assembled units on the back of a truck.  After transport, put on the roof + siding, install the plumbing + wiring, and that’s about it.  BoKloks usually come in a two-floor, L-shaped configuration with three apartments on each floor.  Early on, Ikea sold the BloKlok from the store, but they were so popular that people were camping out to get them.  Now, Ikea chooses residents using a random lottery.  Yes, I just wrote that.  Demand is so big, there’s a lottery to choose residents.  I can’t believe this, but it goes to show that there really is a problem with the lower portion of the economic pyramid being served with quality products.

Maybe I’ll get around to converting these figures, but for now, I’ll give you the original metrics so the data is accurate.  The houses planned for Gateshead cost about £120,000 – £150,000.  Ikea priced the units specifically to target households earning roughly £15,000 – £30,000 a year, and they’re excited to have a modern, environmentally-friendly, affordable living space.  One bedroom flats are about 46 square meters and two bedroom flats are 58 square meters.  Residents are expected to move in towards the end of 2007 or in early 2008.  I wonder when we’ll see these in the U.S.?  See also Guardian

Uk_terraced_house4_web Dk_int_kitchen_web

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