Noteworthy Green News: Week in Review

Week in Review
  1. Wind Energy Scores Major Legal Victory in U.S. (Texas) – Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas, currently the world’s largest wind farm, did not create enough noise to be considered a private nuisance.  Via Hugg
  2. Google Plants Solar Trees – About a third of the 9,000 solar panels (total 1.6-megawatt solar system) Google’s installing will take the form of overhanging parking shades at the million-square-foot campus in Mountain View. The others will be mounted on rooftops.
  3. Boston Ready to Go Green – Boston is expected to become the first major city in the nation to require private developers to adhere to a strict set of so-called green-building standards, officials said yesterday.  (I need to fact check to determine whether it’s the first city). 
  4. Green State v. Brown State: Report Details California and Texas Energy Use – Despite its size California’s per capita energy consumption ranks 46 out of the 50 states. Texans, on the other hand, are power hogs, with the state the 5th largest consumer of energy. Texas produces 10.2 percent of the country’s coal-fired electricity; California a tenth of 1 percent. California, however, generates the most power from solar, wind and other non-hydro sources, accounting for about 26 percent of the U.S.’s renewable energy.

On that last note, I’m a Texan and I must say, doesn’t it feel good to know that our state has become the laggard in terms of modernizing energy infrastructure and sourcing?  If we can find a way to boot out the rich executives that are hamstringing Texas’ energy situation, there’s a growing population of innovative leaders and thinkers that will generate returns for our future.  The question is, would you rather take the profits on your 35mm film sales OR would you like to own the patent on the digital camera

Modern Rammed Earth: Red Hill Residence (Australia)

Rammed_earth_2

I’m a big-time proponent of green buildings, but if I hear straw bale, adobe, tee pee, or the like, I tend to lose interest.  And the same goes for rammed earth.  That is, until I saw the Red Hill Residence, which happens to be a modern rammed earth home, designed by Christopherchris Architecture.  Not sure what rammed earth is?  Wikipedia + Earth Architecture.  Here’s the home’s description straight from an article translation:

A contemporary new home for a young family relocating from a busy city environment to the Mornington Peninsula. Constructed primarily from locally sourced rammed earth and ship lapped cedar paneling, the house is sited across the ridge of the property.  The elemental form of the building is enhanced by the contrasting and intersecting selection of material, textures and colours, threaded together by the linear rammed earth wall. Key views to the valley are enjoyed from all living areas and bedrooms, whilst the master bedroom is privileged to a unique vista down to the peninsula and onwards to bass straight.

This Australian home is a beauty!  Tell me this:  would you buy it?  I think I would, but I’d like to hear more about the pros and cons of rammed earth building.  So far, we know that rammed earth can be molded and contoured to create modern, expressive buildings.  Feel free to drop a comment so everyone reading will gain from your insight and experience.  Via Moco.

Rammed_earth_kitchen_1

Hive Modular Video: Modern, Semi-Affordable + Light Green

[Run time = 2:21] If you’re a prefab enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of Hive Modular–they’re pushing the envelope on modern, highly-customized, affordable modular homes.  I’ve included a short video with Paul Stankey talking about some of the benefits of modular building.  Notice, prices are going to be variable due to extreme variations in land costs, but a Hive Modular will run about $100-200 per square foot, generally speaking.  And while the company makes it’s homes energy-efficient and has less construction waste (than site built homes), their focus is on modern design.  As the company’s relationships grow, they plan to incorporate more green amenities into their plans.  Via Moco.

Hive_modular_front Hive_modular_interior

Market Style Apartments: Comfortable, Green Apartment Community for Naval Personnel

Market_style_apartments_1 The Navy has commissioned a $39.5 million, 2-level, 6 courtyard apartment community for about 420 Naval service members in Norfolk Naval Station.  What’s most impressive is that the community will use environmentally friendly design and pursue LEED certification.  Dubbed Market Style Apartments, the apartments were designed by VOA Associates, a Chicago-based firm with considerable LEED experience.  In addition to the spacious courtyard areas, there will be 3 two-story lounge areas for social gatherings.  Generally speaking, the design is part of an overall movement towards friendlier, welcoming military housing.  In addition to using recycled materials in its construction, the apartments are expected to consume 20% less energy.  There will be low-VOC paints, carpets + other indoor products and the fixtures will be chosen for water savings (low-flow fixtures, efficient shower heads, and automated water shut-offs).  Construction begins in the Spring 2007 and finishes 2008-2009.  Via MHN

Mixed Use Summit 2006: 4 Reasons To Think About Sustainability

Mixed_use_summit_2006

Never mind the fact that I’m supposed to be finishing a final for intellectual property, I spent the day at Victory Park and the new Dallas W Hotel, attending the Mixed Use Summit, presented by Commercial Property News and Multi-Housing News.  I found the seminar extremely enlightening and educational; I wanted to pass on some nuggets of green development wisdom.  If you could provide a nugget, a quote of sorts, on green building and the future of sustainability, what would it be?  Comments are open. 

On Sustainability:
"If you’re not thinking about sustainability, you’re missing the boat.  TODs, urban development, LEED, etc.  There are four reasons you should be thinking about it:  (1) it’s the right thing to do, (2) your competition’s doing it, (3) it adds value to the project, and (4) it speeds up the process."  – Ken Ryan, Principal of EDAW Inc. 

On LEED:

  • "This is where the future is going and groups are getting staffed up with LEED Accredited Professionals, they’re getting everyone certified."
  • "It’s sort of a best practices thing."
  • "It’s easier to sell LEED to corporate tenants, rather than human tenants, but we’re starting to get there…"
  • "If you have a project and people are worried about the bottom line, it’s tough to go LEED, especially the contractors–they’re hard to get on board, but the sales appeal is very big.  Developers know the appeal is big and they’re trying to figure it out…"
  • "In a place like Chicago, with all the requirements they have, you’re about 3/4 the way to LEED, so you might as well take the plunge and go all the way." 

This conference had many of the best developers and architects from around the country in one room, strategizing and talking about the future of land use, specifically urban development + smart growth, in the US. 

Skyscraper Sunday: City of Arabia's "Green" Times Residences

City_of_arabia_times_residences_1 Dubai has money like no other place I’ve ever seen.  They’re working to beat Taipei 101, so they can have the tallest building in the world.  Now, they’ve announced this building called Times Residences, which is aiming to be the only rotating residential structure in the world.  Solar energy will be stored and used to rotate the 80,000 ton, 30-floor structure, 52 degrees every 24 hours.  The project will cost about $109M/Dh400.  Construction is slated to begin June 2007 and end in the first quarter of 2009.  Units will range in size from 1-5 bedrooms and everything will be up-scale + luxurious.  The project was designed by Glenn Howells Architects + Palmer and Turner

In total, there will be 200 residences and everyone will have a 360 degree view due to the solar- powered rotation.  Apparently, one will also be able to tell time by the way the building is lined up, etc.  Although prices for the residences have not been released, sales are expected to begin in March 2007.  What’s more, the developer, Dubai Property Ring, plans to build 23 more rotating towers in each of the world’s time zones.  Whether the building actually gets built is another story.  And although the company states the technology will allow the building to rotate 5 mm/second using a mere 21 electric kettles’ worth of electricity, I’m thinking there must be a better use for all that solar powerWhat do you think?  Via ecofriend.

Extra Links:
Rotating Tower to be Solar-Powered [Gulf News]
Dubai to Get ‘World’s First Turning Tower’ [Middle East Times]
Dubai Plans First Rotating Skyscraper [USA Today]

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