Texas + Private-sector Partners to Invest $10 B in New Wind Energy Infrastructure

Vestas_wind Today’s a day when I feel pride as an SMU Mustang.  I was taking my little pooch, Colt, to the vet for his yearlies, when I saw a HUGE wing from a wind turbine with the logo "www.vestas.com."  I’ve never seen one of those up close, but it was tons bigger than I thought it would be.  Anyway, Governor Perry and tons of other private companies came to SMU to announce a partnership to invest $10 billion dollars in new wind energy infrastructure.  The partners include:  AES Wind Generation; Airtricity, Inc.; Babcock & Brown, L.P.; Gamesa Energy Southwest; Horizon Wind Energy; John Deere Wind Energy; Orion Energy L.L.C.; PPM Energy; Renewable Energy Systems (USA); Shell Wind Energy Inc.; Superior Renewable Energy; D.H. Blattner; GE Energy L.L.C.; Mortenson; Siemens; Trinity Structural Towers, Inc.; and Vestas-Americas Inc. 

To begin with, I’m a little skeptical.  Recently Governor Perry came out in support of TXU’s plan to dot the Texas map with 16-17 coal plants.  Not only does Kinky support renewables, but he’s against TXU.  The same goes for Strayhorn and Chris Bell.  I mentioned in my blog that I thought the state could do more to chase renewables and added that coal energy has hidden costs that don’t factor into the consumer’s bill–cheap energy for small towns is a small-minded solution.  Nevertheless, regardless of whether Perry is political grandstanding, I’m excited about this partnership for wind energy infrastructure.

Portugal_1531 V52_crete_1448 Vesev2_60

As of December 2004, about 10% of Texas’ energy needs were sourced from renewables.  Under this partnership, private companies will invest capital in wind energy generation while the Public Utility Commission will construct additional transmission lines to deliver the power.  Such a large investment in wind energy should help Texas diversify its energy sourcing and slow down carbon dioxide emissions.  For every 1,000 megawatts of new wind energy, Texas reduces emissions by 6 million tons over a 20 year span.  This is great news for the state of Texas. 

Extra Links:
State, Private Partners to Invest $10B in Wind Energy [Dallas Business Journal]
Governor Uses SMU’s Embrey Building to Announce Wind Initiative [SMU]
::UPDATE: TXU Reveals Competitive Strategy [Dallas Business Journal]

Skyscraper Sunday: Hearst Tower Goes LEED Gold

Hearst_diagrid_structure The handsome Hearst Tower skyscraper achieved LEED Gold accreditation from the USGBC–it’s the first to be recognized as such in New York City.  The building architect is the famous Norman Foster, and this is the third time for Jetson Green to feature one of his buildings (30 St Mary Axe + WTC 200 Greenwich).  Norman Foster is literally one of the leading architects in the modern/contemporary + green building field.  This building is particularly bold for its environmental mission: it used 80% recycled steel and will consume 25% less energy than its skyscraper counterparts. 

Green Features:
The green features of Hearst Tower reflect the environmental commitment and vision of Hearst Corporation–a leading corporation with interests in magazines (O, The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Cosmopolitan, + Esquire), newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer), broadcasting, entertainment television (ESPN, ESPN2, Lifetime, A&E, + The History Channel), and interactive media (broadcast dot com, iVillage, XM Satellite Radio).  We are talking about a huge company taking a pro-active step to provide high-caliber, environmentally-friendly working spaces. 

  • About 85% of the original structure was recycled for future buildingHearst_at_dusk
  • The "diagrid" system (diagonal + grid) eliminates the need for verticle steel beams, which provides structural efficiency and greater use of natural light
  • Using the diagrid system required 20% less steel (a 2,000 ton savings in steel)
  • Foreign-sourced materials accounted for less than 10% of the total cost of construction
  • Low-E coated glass on the exterior of the building allow natural light into the building sans heat
  • Internal light sensors control the balance of artificial and natural light
  • Activity sensors adjust the system and turn off lights and computers when systems aren’t in use
  • The roof collects rainwater and reduces the amount of rainwater that dumps into NYC’s sewer system by 25%
  • A 14,000 gallon water reclamation tank in the basement provides 50% of the buildings water needs
  • Harvested water is used for the "Icefall"–a 3-story sculpted water feature (also the nation’s largest sustainable water feature) that will humidify and cool the atrium
  • Walls were painted with low-VOC paint, workstations were built without formaldehyde, and concrete surfaces were finished with low toxicity sealants
  • Floors and ceiling tiles are manufactured with recycled content
Hearst_atrium Ice_falls_water_feature_1

Extra Links:
Norman Foster Website
Hearst Tower LEED Certified in "Gold" [Treehugger - John Laumer]
The Hearst Tower [Architectural Record]

September Green: Kicking Out the Shouts

Spacebox_development I can hardly believe another month of blogging has gone by, but it has.  I have links on my right sidebar of many blogs that I read, but I also receive significant stops from visitors from various blogs that I’d like to mention.  I’m going to list these in no particular order, but I must say that when I was mentioned on Treehugger, my traffic stats shot through the roof.  For those of you that are considering advertising there, I think it’s a good idea! Here are some of the others:

  • LEED Boot Camp – this blog is laying out some seriously helpful pointers for those preparing for the LEED Accredited Professional Examination. 
  • EE/RE Investing – Tom has expert information for investors and has a firm handle on the energy investment sector.  Let’s not forget that October 7, 2006, is the National Solar Tour of Homes day (one in each state, and Tom is helping with Colorado’s tour). 
  • Dallas Progress – Officially named Best Political Blog of Dallas, Michael dubbed me the best sustainable building blog in Dallas.  Really though, he’s talking about more than politics, he talks about development, real estate, and the economic future + safety of Dallas. 
  • Musing of an Eco-Entrepreneur – not much to say there…Shea’s going green wild with entrepreneurial endeavors. 
  • Matrix – I was mentioned in the Carnival of Real Estate and several real estate readers dropped in to read a little. 
  • LA Green Living – they kicked out the shouts to Jetson Green in the Carnival of the Green #43; thanks, by the way.  Carnival of the Green stops by a different green blog on Mondays and is pretty good to read. 

That’s about it.  I’m sure I missed someone, but that’s why I’ll have next month’s "Kick Out the Shouts."  Until then, I look forward to reading what y’all have to say and hope we can get closer to having more modern + green buildings. 

Ketchum, Idaho Contemporary Residence with a Lighter Shade of Green

Snow_image There was a home in Architectural Digest that really caught my eye.  Maybe it’s because the Roger Wade images perfectly captured how the house blends into the hilly landscape of Ketchum, Idaho.  I don’t know…maybe I was just intrigued by the hoops the architect Jim McLaughlin had to go through just to get the darn thing built.  The architect had height restrictions to deal with and still managed to squeeze in 9,000 square feet of space.  The interesting thing about this house is that it has a contempory-interior, modern-exterior, traditional home-type feel to it.  I mean, it doesn’t look like one of the prefabs I like to talk about, but it’s extremely contemporary. 

Roger_wade_interior_kitchen Roger_wade_interior_stairs

They excavated 25 feet into the hill and built from within the rock to make the house seem like it’s flowing from the rocks.  The architect designed the home to use local Montana stone on the facade and accented that with reclaimed beams inside.  With all the windows, the builder (Gary Storey) and architect found a way to incorporate motorized sunshades the shoot up from the floor to the top of the windows.  What that does, in turn, is blur the boundaries between the interior and exterior and provide an effective method to maximize the balance between natural light and shading. 

Roger_wade_driveway_view Roger_wade_bedroom_view Roger_wade_back_porch

While I know some of my devoted readers will scream because this place has a 9,000 sq.ft. footprint and doesn’t really use alternative energy, I think the house illustrates a lighter shade of green.  The place looks good and uses local materials and reclaimed wood.  That’s a start. 

As far as the interior is concerned, the kitchen has zinc counters and wenge-wood cabinets with white-bronze inlay.  Designed by Libby Brost, a former chef and restaurant owner, she recently sold her restaurant to concentrate on design.  She designed the kitchen so that it didn’t necessarily look like a full-blown kitchen.  It’s there, but it blends into the other room.  And that goes the same with the other rooms.  I think it’s a handsome place. 

Extra Links:
Roger Wade Photography
Architectural Digest [article not online]
McLaughlin Architects

Design: e2 "Grey to Green" — Rethinking American Construction Waste

Introducing "Grey to Green."  It’s a snippet from the Design: e2 series narrated by Brad Pitt.  We need a paradigm shift in the methods we employ to construct US buildings!  Watch this video on construction waste and think about the status quo.  Did you know that American buildings account for 10% of the world’s energy use?  They do.

Design_e2_logo_1 Part of the draw to modern prefab, for me, is that it presents the opportunity to efficiently, and relatively wastelessly, produce attractive, sustainable living spaces.  That’s very important.  Technology and process innovation can help us quit wasting energy, supplies, and materials, etc.  Construction waste is not only damaging the earth, but by continuing on the current path, we’re just throwing money away (both at purchase and trash points).  We need to understand the issues and find creative, innovative, positive, and attractive solutions. 

This video is extremely informative, and you can order the PBS series DVD from their website for $29.95.  The DVD includes all six episodes (The Green Apple, Green for All, The Green Machine, Gray to Green, China: From Red to Green, + Deeper Shades of Green).  I can’t catch it on TV, so I’m going to go ahead and purchase it.  Really, watch the video and you’ll realize why it looks to be a good series.

Extra Links:
Design: e2 Website
ABC News Article about Brad Pitt’s Narration
Wikipedia Entry for Design: e2

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Makes Green Building Insurance Products Available

Real_estate_bld_145x135 Seriously, yet another reason to build green buildings.  The list gets longer and longer.  Lower operating costs, higher resale (appraisal) value, healthier work environment, and better workforce productivity, etc.  Wells Fargo wants to finance green buildings and Hines wants to develop them.  And now, California-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company wants to insure them.  This is a smart business strategy.  If you’re going to insure something, why not insure the top quality stuff?  As insurer, you’re dealing with the elite, upper echelon of building developers, operators, and owners.  It’s really a no-brainer…

The company will provide green coverage for commercial buildings certified as environmentally friendly in all 50 states starting in late October 2006.  It’s the first insurance company to do so and will offer three different forms:

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