LEED Platinum Sweetwater, A Model of Economics + Design

Sweetwater2  Sweetwater

Back in December, the USGBC awarded Sweetwater Creek State Visitors Center the coveted Platinum level LEED-NC, making it just the 20th building in the world to receive the USGBC’s highest certification.  Sweetwater was designed by Gerding Collaborative, an Atlanta-based architecture firm, to reduce the building’s potable water usage by 77% and energy usage by 51%.  At these numbers, when compared to a similar building, Sweetwater avoids about 27 tons of carbon emissions annually.  Plus, there’s the financial case for the building.  Sweetwater was completed at $175 per sf, which I understand is highly competitive for the area. 

In the words of Dan Gerding, AIA, Managing Principal of Gerding Collaborative, "The Sweetwater Project is a great example of how a new way of looking at design is good for the building’s owner, good for the people who use the building on a daily basis, and good for the environment."  His firm walks the talk.  About 70% of the firm’s technical staff is LEED Accredited (LEED-AP). 

The building has a slew of classic green features such as a 10.5 KW photovoltaic array, vegetated roof, composting toilet system, drip irrigation system, and rainwater collection system.  Also, for the architects out there, Sweetwater is one of the first LEED-Platinum buildings to be designed using 3D "virtual building" technology, Archicad 10.  I understand the technology allowed different members of the team to visualize the project in context to provide design and technology solutions more effectively than if the project were designed with the typical 2D approach. 

Extra Links:
Sweetwater Platinum LEED Design Press Release

Motto Magazine: 6 Gurus of Eco-Chic

Motto_logo I’m picky about what I read.  Are you?  Henry David Thoreau once said, "Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."  I sincerely believe that.  I anticipate that Jetson Green readers feel the same way, so when I write, I try to provide short, concise, informative posts that lead readers to quality information and learning.  Well, I recently purchased the magazine Motto.  Initially, I bought it to read the article called "6 Gurus of Eco-Chic," but when I sat down to delve in, I was shocked by the content.  I’m talking about high-quality, positive, entrepreneurial content.  I still haven’t finished one magazine because I find myself reading every page (not just looking at pictures in this one!).

But I had the thought.  I just read a copy of Good Magazine a week or two ago, and I thought that magazine was good.  It really was good.  In Texas, good means okay.  Good means fine.  Good means pedestrian.  Good means neutral.  And that’s what it was to me.  It wasn’t all that positive either, it was rather sobering.  Full of information and sobering.  So I took HDT’s advice and decided that I probably shouldn’t read good magazines anymore.  I think Motto is in the best category of reading.  What do you think? 

Extra Links:
Motto Blog + Motto Manifesto

2007 New American Home Goes Green in a Big Way

[Email/RSS - Click to View Images] Every year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) sponsors a home project and industry experts team up to create a demonstration home with the newest technologies and products.  This year’s New American Home was unveiled at the 2007 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida last month.  The 2007 New American Home is a 3-story, 4,707 sf urban loft home with a roof plaza.  There’s also a first floor terrace, pool, and a 576 sf suite with the two-car garage.  Designed by BSB Design, the New American Home has a distinct look.  The mission of the home was to illustrate that housing performance can be incorporated into the most simple or complex homes without sacrificing aesthetics.  And as it turns out, housing performance = green home. 

Green Features:
The New American Home is a standout in green achievement: it’s designed with universal design compliance, designated to be Energy Star certified, and certified green by the Florida Green Building Coalition.  The home includes a 2.4 kw solar photovoltaic system; pre-cast, insulated structural concrete wall system; impact resistant, low-emissivity windows; residential automation and home control for all low-voltage systems; air conditioning systems between 15 + 17.8 SEER; four-foot overhangs over most of the south- and west-facing windows; and natural gas instantaneous water heaters.  Nice. 

So you’re saying, "Yeah but, this house is freakin’ huge!"  Yes it is.  It’s huge with Cribs-type amenities such as automated, built-in home theaters, an elevator, and a state-of-the-art security system. It’s a model home with tons of green features.  More precisely, it uses 73 percent less energy for heating and cooling and 54 percent less energy for water heating, compared to a comparable house in a similar climate.  For whatever reason, people build houses this big, so if you’re gonna go big, you might as well go green and energy efficient, too. 

Sky House, St. Louis Eco-Friendly, Mixed-Use Tower (S2)

Sky House St. Louis

A Fresh Perspective on Urban Living.
  Looks like we’re starting to see teasers for the newest, hottest address in downtown St. Louis: 1400 Washington.  With pre-sales beginning in May 2007, Sky House will be a 22-story building with 166 units of residential and 13,000 sf of street-level retail.  The residential units will be about 850 to 2,230 sf (1-3 bedrooms), with prices starting in the mid-$200,000.  Sky House will be built to LEED standards and have Energy Star stainless steel appliances, a green roof, energy-efficient window systems and balcony doors, and computer-controlled, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Residents will also have access to the Sky Club on the 19th floor.  The Sky Club level includes a pool, hot tub, fitness center, green space, and a dog run.  The importance of the dog run can’t be understated either.  With a dog run, there’s less of a reason for vertical living to be at odds with dog lovers.  The project is developed by Chicago-based Metropolitan Development Enterprises and constructed by RileyWaldrop.  Looking good. 

Extra Links:
Eco-Friendly, Mixed-Use Tower to Rise in St. Louis [BDC Network]
SkyscraperPage Forums + Urban St. Louis Forums

::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::

Caveat Emptor: The Green Sheen

Bw_march_26_2007_cover Sure, the housing market is in a bit of a lull right now, but BusinessWeek’s article on page 131, "How to Make a Deal Bloom," was totally irresponsible.  BW presents five tips for residential home sellers: (1) Get on the Net, (2) Dress Up the House, (3) Don’t Overprice, (4) Be Green, and (5) Forget About As Is.  Here’s what they say under Be Green: "Environmentally friendly features are in, especially if buyers don’t have to pay for them.  You can give your home a green sheen inexpensively by replacing incandescent bulbs in light fixtures with energy-saving compact florescent ones.  Put filters on the faucets and a compost bin in the backyard."  You might as well call it a veil or mask, because this isn’t green, it’s green-washing.  With a few add-ons, the seller is putting out the vibe that the house is green and the buyer unwittingly infers that it has more beneficial green features.  That’s quite deceptive. 

Buyers Tip:
Don’t buy into this hype, you’ll be disappointed by the results.  Don’t think you’re getting something special if you have CFLs, water filters, and a compost bin.  Sure these green add-ons are helpful, but don’t be swayed.  If someone shows you these things and says their home is green, here’s a model reply:  "Cool.  Can you show me the results of the energy audit?  I’m interested in knowing about the AC SEER rating, the windows, and all the Energy Star appliances.  How much energy does that refrigerator use?  Did you landscape green, too?"  Let’s try to be discerning.

Philips Wants More Efficiency, DOE Selects 13, + Lennar Gets Crazy Solar (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Homebuilder Lennar to Build Largest Solar Homes Development in U.S. – According to a deal with Sacramento Municipality Utility District (SMUD), Lennar will build 1,254 energy-efficient homes with solar power systems as a standard feature in 11 communities in the Sacramento area.  SMUD will provide a maximum of $10.9 million in incentives and Lennar will receive the rebates after homes are constructed.  That’s about $8,700 per home for solar.
  2. Philips Supports a New Call-to-Action to Adopt More Energy-Efficient Lighting in North America – A congressional coalition of energy efficiency advocates announced plans for proposed legislative action for a major shift toward incorporating high-efficiency lighting technologies in home and office settings. The call-to-action was introduced by Philips Lighting North America, the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, Congressman Don Manzullo (R- Ill.) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to support the adoption of more energy- efficient lighting in North America.
  3. DOE Selects 13 Solar Energy Projects for up to $168 Million in Funding – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced the selection of 13 industry-led solar technology development projects for negotiation for up to $168 million (FY’07-’09) in funding, subject to appropriation from Congress under President Bush’s Solar America Initiative.  These projects will help significantly reduce the cost of producing and distributing solar energy.

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