Green Cartoon – “Isn’t Nature Marvelous”

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This cartoon comes from a very creative Japanese cartoonist, Professor Hiroshi Takatsuki (aka High Moon), who does some pretty thoughtful environmental work.  I’m not going to spoil it by telling you the all the tangents my mind took thinking about it, but I hope you enjoy…

I will be posting a little less frequently as I need to find a way to crunch out four graduate finals over the next two weeks.  Thanks for the patience!

BD+C White Paper: Green Building + The Bottom Line (2006)

Bdcwhitepaper06_cover "The ‘New Reality’ of Green Building from Environmental Cause to Financial Opportunity."  I wanted to put up a quick post regarding BD+C’s new green building white paper–it’s big-time informative, talking about green building in the context of office, retail, hotel, restaurant, residential, education, healthcare, and government buildings.  If you don’t read anything else (it’s a dense report of 64 pages, of which about 10-15 pages are for so called green sponsors), read the Executive Summary on page three to catch a drift about what’s going on in the industry.  One issue that keeps popping up is the issue of whether green buildings cost more than code-built buildings.  For one thing, certification will cost some money (unless it’s LEED-Platinum), but other than that, there’s a small premium that an owner will pay.  But that’s when you analyze the building on a first costs basis.  If you’re looking at first costs + operating costs (which the industry is still trying to work out), green buildings can be pretty attractive.  With the possibility of higher occupancy rates, less tenant turnover, and less $$ on energy + water, green building is a phenomenon to be reckoned with.  Plus, green buildings try to source materials locally, so to the extent that this happens, $$ spent on materials stay in the cities you’re trying to rebuild and develop.  There are lots of positives…

Building Design + Construction’s Green Building White Paper 2006 [registration required]

ABC's Extreme Makeover: Pauni Family + Making Homes Sustainable

Pauni_home_logan_before Pauni_home_logan_after

Recently I blogged about the Happy New House by Neil Denari, and the concept that home design has a lot do with our personalities–even our psychological well-being.  After reading below, I want to hear what you think, so feel free to drop a quick comment if you have the time. 

So last night I was watching ABC’s  Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and I was saddened by the Pauni Family’s loss of their father.  They are a Tongan family that came to the US in search of many things, among those, the American Dream and the benefits of economic freedom, religious freedom, educational opportunities, etc.  The father Danny Pauni died of a heart attack, leaving behind a spirited wife and eight children.  They had no insurance policy and were struggling to keep the house, but the house wasn’t in much condition to want to keep…some kids didn’t have beds, the walls and foundation were molding…needless to say, the home wasn’t in any condition to sustain eight children.  Which leads to my thoughts:

I like Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  I think it is noble, uplifting programming.  While not all the houses are built green per se, many of the homes are built with indoor air quality considerations supreme.  That said, the original Pauni home was in terrible condition, but the family was extremely upbeat and happy.  So I started thinking…maybe, people have an attitude that is their default.  They are happy or grumpy or whatever in between by default.  And depending on life’s everchanging circumstances, our default level adjusts in varying degrees.  With a run down home, the Pauni Family didn’t get too down about it because they are happy people by default, but it sure made for tough times.  When the new, rebuilt home came around, they went crazy with joy.  They were so gracious and warm…very thankful.  And I ended the episode thinking:  "we could all learn to be like the Pauni Family by default."  Happiness by default is sustaining on an emotional level…it keeps you going when things don’t go right, but living spaces don’t define an emotional level, at least at the very minimum.  Living spaces influence emotions, but it’s up to us to determine where that influence starts. 

So let me know what you think about how our living spaces define emotional, psychological, or spiritual sustainability.  I’m interested in reading some of your responses.

Madison Wisconsin's Capitol West Development Goes Modern + Reuses/Deconstructs +94%

309_west_washington Main_street_townhomes

It seems like cities all over the United States are jumping into the green building fray–it’s an exciting time to witness the radical transformation of the construction industry.  In Madison, Wisconsin, there’s a neighborhood development called Capitol West.  The project is a $110 million, mixed-use development in the center of Madison, occupying an entire city block bounded by West Washington Avenue, South Henry, West Main + South Broom Street.  The development will include a diversity of housing types, shopping spaces, + urban parks–all clean, contemporary + modern. 

Boom_street_lofts This urban redevelopment will include about 375-400 townhomes, condominiums, and lofts + penthouses.  The first phase (173 condos + 10,000 sf of retail) of condominium homes will range in size from 650-3,000 square feet, with prices ranging from $170,000-$900,000.  I was really surprised by the diversity of architecture and offerings for this neighborhood:  Capitol Court Townhomes, Washington Rowhouses, 309 West Washington (10 floors), Main Street Townhomes, + Broom Street Lofts.  This looks really exciting. 

What’s really impressive is the steps the developer, The Alexander Company, took to make sure this development didn’t place undue burden on the city’s resources.  It retained Madison Environmental Group to head up their reuse/deconstruction phase.  The reuse phase diverted 66 tons of material from the landfill via donations, walk-throughs, and public sale events.  The deconstruction phase yielded 94.86% of recycled material, totaling 24,500 tons!  Granted deconstruction can take more time, but it’s a lot better on the community, environment, and neighborhood.  In total, 59,536 cubic yards of material was diverted from the landfill via reuse and deconstruction efforts–that’s 19,772 Ford F-150s full of waste lined up back-to-back stretching 65 miles.  Nice job Capitol West.

No word yet as to whether any of the individual projects will go after LEED, but the architects are designing with the environment in mind.  Lots of natural light, air + ventilation design with incredible views, green spaces, and roof gardens.  Thanks for the tip Stephen Schenkenberg

Capitol_court_townhomes Washington_rowhouses

Bioclimatic Design, Menara Mesiniaga + Ken Yeang (S2)

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I’ve had people ask me why I haven’t mentioned the Menara Mesiniaga, designed by architect Ken Yeang, in Subang Jaya Selangor, Malaysia.  Well…the building was modern + famous when it was finished in the ’90s, and it’s still modern + famous.  I don’t really know if I can do any justice trying to describe the structure, but I’ll direct you to some more detailed information on the building, in case you’re interested in studying bioclimatic skyscraper design and the like.  The Menara Mesiniaga, often referred to as the IBM building, is owned by Mesiniaga, a Malaysian public company in the IT sector that is somehow connected to IBM.  The 15 floor, 207 foot, intelligent building was finished in 1992, and interestingly, property values of the land around the building have flourished. 

Iaa0296 Excluding the costs of land acquisition, Menara Mesiniaga was constructed at a cost of roughly $8.9 M (USD).  The building design reduces long-term maintenance costs and lowers energy use.  On the north + south facades, curtain wall glazing minimizes solar gain.  On the east + west facades, aluminum fins and louvers provide sun shading.  All the office floor terraces have sliding doors that allow the occupants to control natural ventilation.  The trussed steel + aluminum sunroof also incorporates solar panels that power the building.  Some other features include the skycourt, vertical landscaping, and naturally ventilated core.  The Menara Mesiniaga is the epitome of building design that reflects climate characteristics specific to the location of the building. 

Good Links:
++Ken Yeang’s Book: Bioclimatic Skyscrapers [Online version]
++Aga Kahn Award for Architecture

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

China to Build 10,000 Eco-Villages + Make People Rich

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During the summer, I was able to study businesses in Taiwan, Hong Kong, + China; one particular session with top-level executives at Shui On Land, which is basically the best property developer/operator in mainland China, really stuck with me.  This company builds entire cities with multiple skyscrapers holding millions of people.  But, because the government owns all the land (land is rented under long-term leases), developers, like SOL, need to be able to relocate existing land occupants (this is not a debate as to whether such development is necessary; these issues are rather complex, to say the least).  Specifically, developers need to do the following things:  (1) secure the cooperation and oversight of the Chinese government; and (2) pay the people that are living on the land to move.  The result:  these poor farmers and families that have been living on land (on lease from the government) get paid $$ to relocate–the Chinese government + development companies make rich people out of these people that initially occupied the land

Couple this with a recent news story coming from China:  "during the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010), China will build 10,000 eco-villages in 500 counties that are based on the recycling of resources.  This is part of a national program to make people rich by constructing environmentally friendly homes."  To make people rich.  This blows me away.  I understand the intricacies involved with command and market economies and I’m not going to trash on the one that has blessed me, but we can see how a command economy can lead to positive outcomes.  China has the power to see where change needs to happen and make that change, without having to rely on the slow, and often corrupt, processes of democratic government.  Understandably, command economies don’t always work out this way, but as it relates to green innovation, China is taking the lead (See Tom Friedman).  I have a lot more faith in good old American ingenuity, but under our system, which is more market than command, I think we need to internalize the costs of what happens to the environment, especially if we want to be effective at innovating for the future.  Via Linton; picture

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