LEED-H Prototype Heather's Home: Modern, Green + Affordable

Apr_10_green_building_fort_worth_1_1 DFW builder Don Ferrier‘s daughter wanted an affordable, green home, so they retained the best, local green architect, Gary Olp of GGOArchitects, to get the job done.  The result is Heather’s Home, which has its own website at www.heathershome.info.  What’s interesting about this home is that it’s economically pragmatic, but it looks goods–it’s proof that a modern, green home can be relatively affordable.  We’re talking about a 2,038 square-foot home in the price range of about $117 per square foot ($230,000).  After getting the home design, she had to wait two months due to materials shortages, but the home took four months to build after that.  The monthly home heating and cooling bill averages $20-30 month.  That’s amazing, especially in Texas. 

Green Features:
There’s a rainwater collection system connected to a 3,000-gallon holding tank, which is used for irrigation and toilet water.  Toilets are low flush, of course.  She landscaped with drought-tolerant, native Texas plants, to conserve water.  She didn’t install a full blown solar system (costs about $30,000), but she did install enough solar panels to power the tankless water heater (also saves water).  The home design called for Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) to create a more energy-efficient, tight building envelope.  For heating and AC, the builder installed a Daikin HVAC system that runs at 20 SEER.  The HVAC system price tag was $5,500, which is cheaper than a geothermal heat pump and about 90% as efficient.  Of course, low-VOC paints and stains were used throughout.  Lights and appliances are energy star. 

The stairs are bamboo and some of the floors are stained concrete.  The kitchen island surface is a grenadine Formica (Green Guard certified) and the cabinets were created from regionally produced ash, treated with a low VOC stain.  You’ll notice the 33 glass block windows on the northerly wall, which invite natural lighting without diminishing interior privacy.  There’s a solar tube in the closet for natural lighting.  In the rooms with carpet, it is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) carpet, which is created from reclaimed polyester resins of two-liter soda bottles and and other plastic containers.  Some of the other carpet is InterFLOR modular carpet, made from corn husks.  The list of green features goes on and on!  You can go to this link to find the source of all the products used in this home. 

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GreenBuild International Conference + Expo – November 15-17, 2006 (Denver, CO)

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Sustainable building for 2006 had to be a watershed year, and this conference looks to be an exciting event.  Everytime you see "LEED" in my blog, I’m talking about the professional, responsible embodiment of green buildings–smart, efficient, and energy independent.  Starting tomorrow, the USGBC’s annual conference begins; here’s what’s in store for the next 3 days:  +700 exhibitor booths, LEED workshops, green building tours, powerful keynote speakers, Master Speakers Series, USGBC Leadership Awards, etc.  The conference will be an idea-rich feast for ideas on site location + development, water use, energy efficiency, materials + selection, indoor environmental quality, biophelia, health + productivity, financing, etc.  I’d love to be there, but I just can’t afford the investment at this time, but the conference will be full of architects, building owners, code officials, contractors, developers, educators, engineers, facility managers, financial service providers, governmental agencies, green power providers, home builders, interior designers, landscape architects, nonprofit organizations, product manufacturers, schools + universities, students, urban planners, utility providers, and media. 

Keynote speakers include Bill McDonough, Jeffrey Sachs, and David Suzuki.  I also have links to the Master Speaker Series, Educational Sessions, Special Events, Attendee Schedule, FAQs, and Exhibitors

It’s not too late to go, from what I understand…just hop a SWA flight and bill it to the company.  Seriously, if you’re somewhat curious about green building, this is the event to go to.  If you’re thinking about adopting a little green to improve your products offering, go and get some ideas.  If you can’t go, last year, there was an inspirational opening session with Ray Anderson, Janine Benyus, and Paul Hawken, which is now available on DVD for $10.  The DVD is called "Strategies for Sustaining the Sustainable Building Movement."  You can order via here.  A portion of proceeds go to the Biomimicry Guild. 

Address:
The Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street, Denver, CO 80202
Getting To the Convention Center

Salt Lake City + Mayor Rocky Anderson Approve LEED Ordinance to Promote Green Construction

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I’ve been keeping an eye on Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) because I’m moving there in June 2007.  Recently, there’ve been rumors that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Mormons") is in plans to officially adopt LEED standards on a going forward basis for its churches + buildings.  Generally speaking, Mormons strive for thriftiness and gratitude, and these principles applied to construction mean that buildings should conserve and reuse resources where possible.  While the church hasn’t made such an announcement, recent SLC news is the next best thing because the city’s population is about 50% Mormon.  In early November 2006, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance requiring commercial, apartment, and condominium builders to meet LEED standards if they are funded by city loans, grants, or tax rebates.  The same ordinance also ratified Mayor Rocky Anderson’s summer executive order requiring new municipal buildings to meet LEED-silver standards.

Salt_lake_temple SLC is changing in a big way.  The entire downtown landscape will be transformed over the next five years as $1.5 billion in capital is placed in new construction.  This movement, aka Downtown Rising, is garnering support from all levels in the community.  According to the Vision Summary of Downtown Rising, one goal is to "develop environmentally efficient buildings, districts and public spaces." 

Ostensibly, SLC’s main goal in providing LEED incentives is to promote environmentally friendly construction.  This ordinance isn’t the last step for eco-building in SLC, however.  They’re working on further incentives to promote green building; they’re considering expedited permits/plan reviews or lowered fees for all developers that incorporate LEED certification in their plans.  Talk about major opportunities!  It’s a great time to be a green developer.  I can’t wait to get to SLC. 

Skyscraper Sunday: Albanese Organization's Luxury, Mixed-Use Tower Seeking Platinum LEED

Albaneseleed Albanese Organization (AO) is a great example of an interesting phenomenon:  once you go green, you don’t go back.  AO is the forward-thinking real estate firm behind two other green buildings, The Solaire and The Verdisian.  Their specialty is sustainable and high performance buildings.  They’ve partnered with Starwood Capital Group Global LLC for their third green project, which has yet to be named, located at 70 Little West Street, surrounded by Battery Place, Little West Street, Second Place, and Third Place.  The $310 million, 33-story project will have 152 condominium units and retail space on the first floor.  Slated for occupation in 2008, the design architect is Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects; the building architect is Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron; the interior design is by Stedila Design Inc.; and the general contractor is Turner Construction

The glass and terracotta tower will have a curved facade to create river views from all four corners of the building.  Like most modern buildings, this building will include a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, rooftop gardens, dining area, children’s playroom, parking garage (not always a given in NYC), and a lounge room with a fireplace. 

Green Features:
I’ve heard rumors that some LEED buyers (not necessarily this one) are looking for the LEED label and point shopping around the energy efficient requirements–why do that?  The point is, buildings need to be grid-independent and levered less to energy price fluctuations.  By point shopping, you’re losing money by purchasing a hollow certificate (not to mention losing valuable environmental benefits).

Anyway, this building will be 35% more energy efficient than standard code buildings; 5% of the energy load will be provided by building-integrated solar panels and 35% of the building’s energy will be provided by wind generation.  Geothermal systems will provide heating/cooling for part of the building.  Low or no-VOC materials will be used throughout.  There will be a high efficiency air filtration system to optimize indoor air quality ("IAC").  Individual residences will have year-round climate control via digital thermostat that controls a four-pipe fan coil system.  A black water treatment plant will recycle bathroom and kitchen water to resupply toilets and supply make-up water for the HVAC system cooling tower.  10,000 gallons of water will be harvested and used to irrigate the rooftop garden, which provides a layer of insulation for the building.  See also Multihousing News.

Green Cartoon – "Too Tired for Irony" by Tom Toles

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It’s Saturday night and I wanted to jump into the weekend with a cartoon that I noticed on the Building Seattle Green blog.  It made me laugh, but unfortunately, the humor belies a sad reality.  Consider this:  In what way do we encourage greater reliance on oil (through transportation) by land use policies that further growth in the suburbs?  In what way do we encourage building in suburbs by having greater access to cheap gas and enormous, cool vehicles?  Maybe I’m overthinking this, but these issues are more inter-related that one would otherwise think.  Enjoy the weekend!  Tom Toles Comic Archive at Washington Post.  Too Tired for Irony, April 14, 2006. 

Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Sustainability + Sustainable Business Education

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By CSO, I mean Chief Sustainability Officer and I’m serious.  I’m not one for more layers of bureaucracy and extra non-productive meetings, but this is something that businesses should consider.  After reading this short post, you’ll know why I think businesses should create the position, but you decide and let me know what you think.  Way back in June, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of an "Office of Sustainability," to explore ways to reduce carbon emissions.  Similarly, I read a recent article in Dallas Business Journal regarding Plano’s (Texas) decision to create a new position and hire Nancy Nevil as the City’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Services.  Why create a director-level position?  So there could be a point person, an accountable person.  She gets $109,288 a year, and one of her responsibilities is educating the city and its 2,200 employees about ways to reduce consumption of energy and materials.  I’m sure many other cities are doing similar things–Plano decided to do this after visiting Portland and studying their green initiatives. 

Company Position?
If your company is like most, you have the perfunctory recycle bin, but likely you still consume enormous amounts of paper, right?  How does your company manage lights when no one is around?  What’s the company’s recommended setting for computers when you leave work for the day or weekend?  Does the company incentivize carpooling?  Is there a place where bikers can store their clothing and equipment during work, or change?  Generally, where could your company be environmentally conscious and see results on the bottom line (cut expenses)?  Where could your company change its mix or products and services to be more sustainable and profitable?  These queries probably don’t do justice to the value a company could realize by having a specific position for sustainability and environmental issues.  This is innovation!  Think hard about whether your company could benefit from having a CSO.

My Experience and Opinion:
I’m an MBA student and noticed that sustainability courses are catching on in some forward-thinking programs (i.e., Presidio, Green MBA, Stanford, etc.).  So I wanted to find a professor and do some cutting-edge, sustainability research for MBA-level credit because we don’t have any courses on the subject.  Guess what?  I can’t find a soul that’s interested in the research.  Maybe I haven’t found the right person, but I haven’t gotten so much as a response from the department strategy chair.  Why?  Sustainability isn’t on the business person’s radar.  Why?  I can’t figure it out.  These are the surest, noblest money-making opportunities of our time. 

My Plan:
So, I’m writing an outline for an MBA-level course called "Sustainable Strategy, Business, and Entrepreneurship," and I’m going to write the lesson plans, assignments, and exams.  When I graduate, I’m going to pitch the course to MBA schools and teach adjunct-style (still want to work in business during day).  This is a topic that needs to be on our radars.  Image.

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