Top 20 No- or Low-Cost Green Building Strategies

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One aspect of green building that gets overlooked is financial independence.  For instance, a commercial business may make an investment in solar power (provided incentives and rebates make it economically feasible) to stabilize electricity bills and hedge against future electricity cost increases.  Another example is the principle of waste reduction in green building.  Did you know that building green often costs the same or just a little bit more than standard code-built homes?  And did you know that even then, green homes will require less money going forward than standard code-built homes?  To that end, here are some affordable green building strategies (click this link to read more about each strategy):  Global Green’s 20 Affordable Green Building Strategies:

  1. Orient the Building to Maximize Natural Daylighting
  2. Place Windows to Provide Good Natural Ventilation
  3. Select a Light-colored Cool Roof
  4. Provide overhangs on South-facing Windows (be careful of your hemisphere!)
  5. Install Whole-House Fans or Ceiling Fans
  6. Eliminate Air Conditioning
  7. Provide Combined-Hydronic Heating
  8. Install Fluorescent Lights with Electronic Ballasts
  9. Install High R-value Insulation
  10. Select Energy Star Appliances
  11. Design Water-efficient Landscapes
  12. Install Water-efficient Toilets + Fixtures
  13. Use Permeable Paving Materials
  14. Use 30-50% Flyash in Concrete
  15. Use Engineered Wood for Headers, Joists, and Sheathing
  16. Use Recycled-content Insulation, Drywall, and Carpet
  17. Use Low- or No-VOC Paint
  18. Use Formaldehyde-free or Fully Sealed Materials for Cabinets + Counters
  19. Vent Rangehood to the Outside
  20. Install Carbon Monoxide Detector

[Key: Energy, Water, Materials, Indoor Air Quality]  Now, some of these may only work for new construction or for renovation, etc., but this is a good starting point for going green, in an affordable way.  Keep in mind the geographic constraints–this isn’t an exhaustive list for every location in the world.  Different locations present unique circumstances and opportunities can vary greatly.  Via Global Green.

BusinessWeek's Best Ideas 2006: "Green [Building] is Good"

Bw_12182006_cover I’m a big-time reader–anything good I can get my hands on.  But, I’m picky.  So I take time to read BusinessWeek (BW) every week, and I can’t remember the last time they DIDN’T mention green this or sustainable that.  This week, BW named green building one of The Best Ideas of 2006 (slide show).  Again, this doesn’t come as a surprise because BW has been on green for a while now; back in July, for example, they had an article about the Green Wonders of the World.  Here’s a snippet from this week:  "The Hearst Building has lots of company in this year’s green all-star category, including Adobe’s new Silicon Valley headquarters, Google’s installation of solar panels at its Mountain View headquarters, and the new Bank of America tower in New York.  BofA’s glassy wonder, now emerging over Bryant Park, is expected to become the greenest office tower in the U.S., complete with a living green roof and sensors that know when to pump fresh air into stuffy meeting rooms.  Healthier workers.  Fantasy digs.  A smaller contribution to global warming.  Green is good."  Yes, indeed.  For the inquisitive, I’ve posted on Hearst and Adobe before. 

S2: Charlotte's Green Wachovia Tower by TVS Architects

Wachovia_tower_2_1 Here on Jetson Green, there’s a tradition where I focus on a green skyscraper of notable interest.  This weekly column is called Skyscraper Sunday (click to see archives).  Last week, TVS Architects unveiled the design of what will be Charlotte’s second tallest building, the Wachovia Tower.  It will be 48 stories, 800 feet tall, and have 1.5 million square feet of space, and Wachovia will eat up about half of the building in what seems to be long-term lease commitment.  The word is, owners of the building will be seeking USGBC certification (not sure what level) and will include features such as recycled rainwater and a greenroof, obviously among many other green features.  While there’s not much information on the project just yet, news reports suggest that the price tag will be about $880 million (seem a little high?).  Via Hugg + Forex.

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

LEED-H New Urban Home by David Baker + Partners at Blue Star Corner

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I hate to post this on Saturday, because I’m afraid it won’t get a large readership, but I wanted to talk about David Baker + Partners‘ (DBP) new design for a development called Blue Star Corner.  The design is called the New Urban Home.  The New Urban Home philosophy blends loft and condominium attitudes, with a modern feel that tends to build up–not out.  This philosophy was brought to the Blue Star Corner development to create a sustainable (LEED for Homes), modern, urban design for the historic Park Avenue District in the Bay Area.  All the appliances will be Energy Star, all the plumbing will be water efficient, and the site is located near mass transit.  Blue Star Corner is planned for completion in mid-2007. 

Green Features:
The developer, Holliday Development, and DBP hope to achieve LEED for Homes certification on this project.  Here’s some of what they’re going to do:  will use recycled and non-toxic building materials, non-endangered woods, galvanized metal, bamboo flooring, and environmentally-fabricated CaesarStone quartz countertops; will try to source materials locally as much as possible (keeps money in local economy + eliminates the transportation/gas premium); open spaces will feature sustainable landscaping by Conger Moss Guillard Landscape; appliances will be energy-efficient with Duravit, Kohler, and Bosch brands; and much more. 

Other Amenities:
Bsc_rendering Units will include also Ann Sacks bathtubs, Sub-zero + Jenn-Air refrigerators, Bisazza tiles, Benjamin Moore paint, in-unit iPod docking stations, and personal garages with fold-up work stations.  This is all going in with the general setup with a master bedroom, living room, kitchen, and flex room.  To add to that, homes will be unique–they won’t all have identical features, colors, or design.  It’s important to cater to individuality. 

Extra Links:
New Urban Home at Blue Star Corner [Generalized Case Study]
David Baker + Partners Provide Design for "Green" Amsterdam-Inspired Townhouses [MHN]

Tom Friedman Q+A Article: Land Use + Green Development Commentary

The_world_is_flat Buildings account for 36% of the US’s total energy consumption, including 65% of its electricity use.  The debate over coal, renewable energy, wind energy, solar panels, etc., pretty much comes down to the fact that we (Americans) use a lot of electricity.  Well, a well-known green real estate consultant, Charles Lockwood, sat down with Tom Friedman to discuss his thoughts on everything green (article link – pdf).  Tom Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times and wrote the wildly popular book, The World Is Flat.  If you want to get your hands on the book, make sure to get the updated version.  Friedman has some interesting comments about green buildings and technology.  He talks about something he calls "Up, Not Out," and how green cities can attract younger workers.  He also wants to re-frame the debates on environmentalism.  Give the article a read and watch his video with Tim Russert of MSNBC.

The Green Quotient: Q+A Thomas L. Friedman [Charles Lockwood]

Shizen Urban Design Condominium: A Net Zero Energy Project

Shizen_condo

Every now and then, I find an innovative real estate development group that just knocks my socks off.  After living in Japan for 2 years, I love to hear anything about the place, so you can imagine how cool I think Sakura Urban Concepts is.  Sakura is Japanese for the "cherry blossom tree," which buds in early April and you can see blossoming trees all over Japan for about two weeks.  It’s incredible to see.  This forward-thinking group is behind a new urban design building in Portland called Shizen, which happens to be Japanese for "nature."  Not only is Shizen going to be a net zero energy building, but it’s going to have sophisticated design, sense of community, and sustainable lifestyle written all over it.  Be sure to check out Shizen’s website!

Green Features:
Shizen_kanji This project is funded, in part, by a grant from Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (via funds from a Green Investment Fund partnership).  First, the site was home to a famous Portland Bakery, the Helen Bernhard Bakery, so Sakura purchased the property and had the house moved down the street.  The house was renovated and looks pretty good.  By moving the house, 200 tons of material was diverted from the landfill.  The condo will have a 23 kW photovoltaic array that generates roughly 1/3 of Shizen’s annual electricity; a biodiesel fueled microturbine will generate the other 2/3 (and enough to heat domestic hot water and space heating); there will be radiant floors in entries and bathrooms; rain that falls on the roof will flow to a 25,000 gallon cistern under the parking level, and that water will be used for toilet and irrigation water; 60% of Shizen’s energy savings will be through its high mass, well insulated envelope and high efficiency lights and appliances; double-glazed, argon-filled, triple coated low-e windows will allow light and block solar gain in the summer; and the roof will be a r-38 insulation. 

Site Specifics:
Shizen will be located on 1706 NE Schuyler (one block north of Broadway/NE 17th).  There will be 7 units, and construction starts in March 2007.  The total building will have about 15,500 square feet (so average of 2,200 square feet per residence?) and the land site is 7,500 square feet.  Not bad at all…Once you go green, you don’t go back.

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