Green Economics: City of Phoenix Saving $600k/year Due to Energy-Efficiency Program

Cfls If you’re new to CFLs, feel free to check out the Department of Energy’s information page on them.  When compared to incandescents, CFLs last longer, use less energy, and emit less heat.  While you need to pick the right one depending on your lighting idiosyncrasies and bulbs need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste center (see your packaging), groups like One Billion Bulbs are trying to get the word out on the benefits of CFLs.  It’s hard to calculate, but when energy is saved, the grid is called upon less and that’s a tangible benefit to your bill and your city.  Cities that keep using more energy end up debating with large companies like TXU about the pragmatics of building 11 more coal plants to meet out-of-control demand for cheap energy.  There are alternatives…

There’s an economic case for CFLs.  The City of Phoenix is saving about $600,000 a year after replacing traditional lighting with CFLs.  Mayor Phil Gordon said the city has replaced about 95% of the city’s lights with energy-efficient alternatives (as part of a $1.2 million one-time investment) and is starting to see the rewards.  At $600,000 in savings per year, that’s a 2 year payback on your investment.  This is smart business. 

GreenCity Lofts: A Modern Step in the Green Direction

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First off, GreenCity Lofts LLC shows us how important it is to have a sleek, professional, informative website for your properties.  In the early stages of construction, word-of-mouth increases and people start to notice what’s going on.  Slap a huge sign up (with a rendering of course) and direct people to the web for more information while the building is still being finished.  A good website that’s search engine optimized (SEO) will go a long way to promoting a new building’s features and benefits.  I’ve gleaned my information from GreenCity’s website and an article in the December/January 2007 edition of Dwell Magazine.  Designed by Architect Robert Swatt, this eco-conscious complex has 62 units in 5 buildings, with units ranging in size from 500-2100 square feet, and prices from $495,000-$1,050,000 (800 – 2100 square feet). 

Green Features:
The building exceeds California Title 24 energy requirements by 15% and is Energy Star qualified; 95% of the demolition waste from construction was recycled; the steel superstructure + interior framing contain from 25-90% post-consumer recycled content creating a durable earthquake, fire, rot, mold, pest-resistant building; cement pours contain a minimum of 25% fly ash; the roof was painted gray to absorb less heat than the darker colored varieties; water efficient technologies collect rain water runoff for landscape irrigation; hydronic radiant floor heating with a gas-fired broiler saves 20-40% of the cost of conventional systems (and you have no noise or draft as in the forced-air systems); formaldehyde-free products were used where possible; zero + low-VOC paints, stains, and varnishes were used; units contain bamboo floors with other FSC-certified wood products; and lofts contain 2-3 walls with windows for abundant natural lighting. 

These places look really good, too.  One thing to consider, is the trade off when you create places with large, open, interior spaces.  It takes more energy to heat and cool larger spaces, but this may be mitigated some by using the hydronic radiant floor heating.  At least you don’t have to walk on the cold bathroom tiles when you wake up in the morning!  Oh yeah, also, GreenCity Lofts is about a 13-minute walk from BART, on the border of Emeryville and Oakland at 1007 41st Street, at the corner of 41st Street and Adeline.  Watch the GreenCity Lofts’ video

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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

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