Skyscraper Sunday: LEED Candidate MintoSkyy (Toronto)

Mintoskyy_northeast Going green isn’t all that difficult when sustainability is woven into the fiber and fabric of your company’s existence.  There are a few companies in the business world that survive on a green business strategy.  Right now, it might be a niche play, but things change as everyone else comes around.  Minto is a Canadian real estate company with a history of quality, green developments.  Green is in the company’s fabric.  In 2006, Minto received the Canadian LEED Silver for MintoGardens (Toronto), a 34-story condominium complex.  Now, they’re going after another LEED certification with MintoSkyy.  Minto builds to LEED standards to "promote healthier living, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save residents money, and contribute to a healthier planet." 

MintoSkyy is all about living in a modern, sophisticated environment with expansive windows and breathtaking views.  In addition, suites will have individual meters for water and electricity (you pay for what you use); energy efficient thermal windows; an "all-off" switch at the front door that lets you leave knowing all the lights are off; and energy efficient appliances.  Minto also has a rigid common area management system that minimizes consumption of light and energy resources.  Also, the building will rely heavily on recycled materials, environmentally friendly paints, and a green roof (which reduces heating + cooling costs).  Located at Broadview + Pottery Road in Toronto, this 23-story condo tower looks pretty good to me.  :: Minto ::

Mintoskyy Sleep
View from MintoSkyy (on the right)

Green CBS Radio, Wal-Mart's Sustainability 360, + The Green Premium (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. U.S. Homebuyers Will Pay Premium For Green Homes – More than half of homebuilders surveyed report that buyers are willing to pay a premium of between 11-25 percent for green-built homes. The same builders report that the average green homebuyer is between the ages of 35-50 with a college degree and fair understanding of green products.
  2. CBS RADIO Launches its First ‘Green’ Focused Radio Station – CBS RADIO announced the launch of 94.7 The Globe, its first "green" focused radio station. The Washington D.C. station will operate using renewable energy to power its 50,000 watt signal. This move will contribute to lowering the threat of global warming through the purchase of energy resources generated by wind. Additionally, station vehicles will be replaced with hybrid models.  See also 94.7 The Globe
  3. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott Unveils ‘Sustainability 360′ – President and CEO Lee Scott today unveiled "Sustainability 360" — a company-wide emphasis on taking sustainability beyond reducing the company’s direct environmental footprint to engaging Wal-Mart’s associates, suppliers, communities and customers.  Scott also announced the company’s intention to introduce "Global Innovation Projects" — one of which is a challenge for Wal-Mart associates and suppliers to start thinking about how to remove non-renewable energy from the products the company sells.

The Plenty 20 + Fiberstars' Efficient Fiber Optics

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The February/ March 2007 edition of Plenty Magazine has a really good article called "The Plenty 20" by Danielle Wood.  You won’t find it online, so go pick up a copy.  Generally speaking, magazine lists have a tendency to be contrived, opinionated, and/or incomplete, but I thought The Plenty 20 was rather thorough.  The article profiled an Ohio-based company called Fiberstars (NASDAQ: FBST).  The U.S. government funded the research that became Fiberstars’ Efficient Fiber Optic Technology (EFO) with grants totaling about $13 million.  Now, its lights illuminate the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. 

How efficient are EFO lights?  Their efficiency is analogous to improving gas mileage in your car from 12 MPG to 50 MPG.  That’s efficient.  So efficient, these lights were used in the green Bill Clinton Presidential Library. 

EFO lights do not emit heat or ultraviolet rays, so they are perfect for museum or archival applications.  One 70-watt metal halide lamp, which connects to a fiber optic system, can equal the output of eight 50 watt bulbs.  Specifically in terms of efficiency, the EFO saves up to 80% on energy consumption, saves on maintenance (requires less work due to longer life), and saves one watt of HVAC for every three watts of lighting because the EFOs do not emit heat.  Not bad.  Further, Fiberstars EFO may reduce mercury emissions by up to 75% and their Reuse-Recycle Program allows customers to reuse 97% of the lamp and recycle the rest.  Currently, most of Fiberstars’ customers are commercial entities such as Whole Foods, McDonalds, Trump Tower, Starbucks, Nordstrom’s, Chevron, etc.  Maybe we’re not that far from turn-key consumer applications?

Here are some of the other companies on The Plenty 20: Nanosolar, ECD Ovonics, Greenfuel Technologies, Envirofit International, GE, Organic Valley, Tesla Motors, Southwest Windpower, Domini, Toyota, Whole Foods, Green Mountain Energy, Konarka, Goldman Sachs, Ormat Technologies, Ice Energy, Green Sandwich Technologies, Green Mountain Coffee, and Naturalawn.

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Would You Pay a Premium to Lease Green Space?

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Here’s the situation.  You have two new 15-story buildings in a good location near downtown.  Both buildings have received several inquiries from potential tenants.  Building #1 is a traditionally-built, modern facility.  Building #2 is similar, but it’s green (LEED-CS + LEED-CI).  A lease for 40,000 square feet of space at #1 is $35 and #2 is $36.50 per square feet.  Would you pay the extra $1.50 per square foot to lease space in the green building?  We’re talking about a serious premium.  I’m interested to hear what your perspective is on this. 

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, these rents are justifiable for a few reasons.  I’m going to clip out a few comments from their article, but feel free to read the entire thing

  • Organizations with business models reflecting sustainability will be more likely to pay the premium. 
  • Although green buildings are going up at an incredible rate, most of these are for use by the owners and most developers view speculative green developments as risky. 
  • There is a dearth of tenable green lease space and requests for green space are falling on deaf ears. 
  • The market is tenant driven right now and tenants have had success cooperating with owners to make green improvements or renovations. 

I think there will be a paradigm shift, but I don’t know how it will happen.  Somehow, the values of individuals and organizations need to shift towards an appreciation of sustainability, and that will create serious, mainstream adoption of green buildings.  Maybe the impetus will be regulatory?  Self-imposed?  Strategic?  I learned in Starting a Business 101, that some of the best opportunities in business become available due to a void or an absence in the market.  If it’s true that some customers and tenants are requesting green space, but the inventory isn’t available, there’s a void in the market that will be filled by the first innovators.  The rest will wake up some day and think, "I thought green buildings were for hippies?!  What’s going on?"  Which is partially an answer to my post the other day.  Via Appraisal Podcasts

Construction 2.0: Jeriko House + Luxury, Green Living

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Jeriko is Different… Design… Strength… Green… Flexibility… Living.  Jeriko House: It Lives in you.  Today, New Orleans-based CEO of Jeriko House, Shawn Burst, announced his company’s plans to enter the modular/prefab home building market with 5 different models (each with an infinite number of configurations).  Burst teamed up with a German engineer to use a patented, interlocking aluminum framing system–one that is strong enough to meet the strictest U.S. earthquake and hurricane building codes.  The plumbing, appliances, lighting, hardware, interior finishes, and exterior cladding are all integrated into an advanced structural system through the collaborative efforts of a team and network of design/construction professionals.  Starting at $175 per square foot, a Jeriko House will have such luxuries as Asian teak wood finishes, coconut skin walls, Indian rosewood door handles and stone, and marble + ceramics from around the globe.  Homes will also include "biometric systems and homeowner-friendly technology."  Bourne-style, I presume. 

The first home will be completed in New Orleans and the company anticipates orders of 100 more relatively soon.  Actually, they’re taking orders right now for May delivery.  Their website says a purchaser is responsible for permits, site work, foundation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC rough in, and landscaping.  Shipping is included in the cost of the home, and Jeriko will help you build it. 

Green Commitment:
Straight from the website: "We feel it is our duty at Jeriko House to take a leading role in the efforts to save our planet. Sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness are at the core of our beliefs. With a R&D team searching the globe for the latest and greatest green innovations and technology Jeriko will fulfill its roll as a socially responsible company at the forefront of the Green Revolution."  I like what Jeriko’s saying, but we can’t forget that acting locally, rather than globally, has its green benefits as well.  Also, take a look at today’s press release.  For every 10 houses sold, those 10 owners form a committee that votes to give a Jeriko House to a family in need somewhere in the U.S.  I think Jeriko is taking an innovative perspective to all facets of the business and can’t wait to see the first home!  Maybe I’ll just drive down and see it when they’re done. 

Owens Corning Headquarters Receives Silver LEED-EB Certification

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The Energy Star-rated Owens Corning (NYSE: OC) world headquarters building in Toledo, Ohio, has added another badge of honor with Silver LEED-EB certification.  Designed by Cesar Pelli (listed by the AIA as one of the 10 Most Influential American Architects) and built in 1996, Pelli spoke approvingly of the certification, "I am pleased this facility provided the solid foundation needed to earn the recognition that the LEED Existing Building certification provides."  For a couple other examples of LEED-EB buildings, feel free to click over to read about Adobe + Union Bank of California Center.  Owens Corning also runs The Pink Panther Energy Blog, which informs customers on insulation + energy conservation best practices. 

Green Features:
Here are just a few of the green features mentioned in the certification: under-floor ventilation for energy-efficient air delivery and specific control of thermal comfort; low maintenance, indigenous landscaping; easterly facing building allowing for natural lighting control via adjustable shading; and reusable, removable, non-adhesive carpet squares throughout almost the entire building.  See also CO + PRNewswire

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