August Green: Kicking Out the Shouts

Wind_turbine_1 As August starts to wind down, I’d like to kick out a quick, Sunday shout to those of you that are reading my blog and taking the time to email, comment, or place a Jetson Green link on your site. As I’ve tried to post little snippets of what I think is cool and green, many of you have provided excellent feedback and I look forward to all the sustainable green news I can handle during the next month. Bookmark this blog or subscribe to the feed; feel free to come back often and interact as often as you like.

Here are some of the noteworthy friends of Jetson Green who send large amounts of traffic and continue to add value to Jetson Green (alphabetical order):

  • Archinect – Great place for architecture and building news; the best place to connect with all things architectural. Architect + Connect…
  • Biz News Blog – Blog about business and environmental aspects of business. Interesting post about Hong Kong the other day.
  • EcoStreet – sleek, informed blog on all things green.
  • E, The Environmental Magazine – They have a good section on green living, which includes the most recent topics on natural sodas, eco-travel, eco-awareness, green multi-level marketing, and flowers.
  • Green At Work Today – The ultimate source for a reliable aggregation of environmental news from the best sources. Very interesting and relevant reading material!!
  • Green Technolog – A cool blogger talking about all aspects of technology that will help the world achieve a sustainable future. Recently, he’s talking about E85, California’s solar news, and clean free energy.
  • Musings of An Eco-Entreprenuer – A major entrepreneur who loves everything about green business and blogging.
  • Sustainable Log – Home of the awesome "Headlines from the Green Blogosphere."
  • Tom Konrad EE/RE Investing – The green blogosphere’s welcome Ph.D and independent investment advisor who has forgotten more than most people know about investing, energy, and everything else environmental. Great blog!

Y’all come back now…

[August] Architectural Record House of the Month: Belmont Geothermal Home

Belmont_geothermal_house I thought I would post information on this home, not because of its superior green features, although it does have green features, but because of the architect’s attention to modern design and the client’s needs. It’s an excellent looking abode…and at a price tag of $3.2 million, who wouldn’t want it! The sustainable crutch to this Belmont, Massachusetts modern residence is the geothermal heating and cooling pump, but it also comes designed with a water and energy scheme. That’s not all, however…

Chuck_choi_geothermal_house_4 Architecturally designed by Mary Ann Thompson Architects, every aspect of this home was carefully crafted. Thompson designed the U-shaped 4,500 square-foot home specifically for the owner’s large 3-acre lot with a serene pond and meadow. Specifically, rooms receive light on two sides and are designed so that internal activity traces the sun’s path throughout the day. The building also includes the passive design features of overhanging trellises on the southern and western fascades and incorporated cross-ventilation.

Some of the main construction materials include a steel frame, shiplap cedar siding, slate, kota brown sandstone, reclaimed walnut flooring, reclaimed walnut pine stair treads, acid-washed steel, and a poured-in-place cantilevered hearth. This home comes equipt with Dynamic windows and doors, Solar Innovations skylights, Baldwin hinges, Lightolier recessed can lights, Nightscaping sconces, Dornbracht fixtures, and Modern Fan ceiling fans. I love those ceiling fans! 

Chuck_choi_geothermal_house_2Another feature of this home, specific to this family’s needs, is the handicap-accessible guest wing. It is possible that the owner’s elderly parents move in with the family, so these features allow for a wheelchair in the shower and a future ramp for multi-level mobility. To quote the architect, "The house was designed to create a continuum, and this family wants to stay here through retirement and beyond…it’s truly a home for living."

Other links:
Architectural Record House of the Month Posting
Chuck Choi Photography
Mary Ann Thompson Architecture House Information Page

USGBC Notes 20% Increase in LEED APs

The number of LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) has increased 20 percent year over year, bringing the total number of LEED APs to 25,000.  Accreditation is received from the USGBC, and the rapid increase in LEED APs is a sign of the trend towards sustainable design, construction, and architecture.

There is an extremely informative website/magazine called Building Design & Construction (BD&C), which audits the number of LEED APs in largest United States design and construction firms. They’ve posted a complete list of their results, and here are the top five.

1. Perkins + Will.
2. Gensler.
3. Hellmuth, Obata, Kassabaum (HOK).
4. Stantec.
5. DPR.

BD&C’s article lists LEED AP numbers for each of the top 100 giant design and construction firms. This information is helpful, especially for companies and developers making their first foray into the green business, because it demonstrates who has the knowledge and expertise to build green.

Green building and sustainable design is a major trend that anyone in the industry should start to realize: real estate agents, designers, engineers, architects, contractors, home builders, developers, owners, REITs, RE management companies, etc.

Adobe's San Jose Building Goes LEED-EB Platinum Green

Adobe_headquarters_leedeb As a person smitten with the entrepreneurial bug, I always love to read Business 2.0 magazine when it comes in the mail.  And it’s not that the magazine has ideas for me to start businesses, but it makes me think differently about trends and the future …it makes me come up with new business ideas.  Business 2.0’s September Magazine contains an article about Adobe’s retrofitted USGBC-certified, LEED Platinum building.    

This article is awesome because Jeff Nachtigal, the author, actually quantifies each retrofit and illustrates that going green makes economic sense. Some of my counterparts in the blogosphere are adamant that going green is about doing the right thing for our planet, and I respect that, but as a businessman and entrepreneur, going green must make economic sense. Generically speaking, public companies have a fiduciary duty to the shareholder to create value, so there should be some financial incentive to adopt green concepts into buildings. Now there is. 

Here are some of the eco-friendly renovations and the break even calculations:       

(1)  Waterless Urinals with Nontoxic chemicals:
Cost:                        $35,374
Annual Savings:        $14,896
Breakeven:               2.4 years

(2)  Automatic Faucets:
Cost:                        $110,000
Annual Savings:        $  24,000
Breakeven:                4.6 years

(3) Compact Fluorescent Lights:
Cost:                        $ 11,000
Annual Savings:        $105,000
Breakeven:                .11 years

(4) Automated Irrigation System:
Cost:                         $ 3,610
Annual Savings:         $10,000
Breakeven:                .36 years

(5) Timed Outages of Garage Exhaust Fans & Outdoor Lighting Systems:
Cost:                        $    150
Annual Savings:        $68,000
Breakeven:               .002 years (immediately!!)

These are hard, quantifiable savings. The payback on investments like these is relatively soon, the most attenuated being close to five years out. That's not a bad payback period at all! So these are rational, smart, responsible decisions, and other companies should take notice that Adobe has raised the bar for building operating efficiencies. It's time to hop on the train.

What’s more amazing is that Adobe has been able to foster the right business climate that allows employees to notice waste and make the right changes on a going forward basis. That’s where the real benefits will be realized…and further, employees buy into the benefits and go home making similar changes to their homes. Then they will tell their friends how they saved on their monthly utility bills because of some pragmatic, and economic, changes. Great article Business 2.0!

Good Links:
++Adobe's Announcement to Work with USGBC to Go LEED
++Press Release of Adobe's Receival of Platinum Certification
++Adobe's Environmental Committment
++GreenBiz Artice with CEO Comments

Differentiation Strategy: EcoBroker, GreenHomesForSale, Etc.

Hawaiiprefab Applications for building permits have slowed down, some projects have been tosssed, and interest rates are inching higher. Homes sales will be ugly, to use the headline of one news article. All the while, real estate agents are scampering, trying to drum up business and continue the high life. I’m not a real estate agent, but from what I understand, the good ones make real good money and the bad ones make good money, so it hasn’t been that bad of a market…until, the Fed started to cool things off. Enter: EcoBrokers, GreenHomesForSale.com, and differentiation.

I noticed two articles on the same day about EcoBrokers, one on USGBC website and the other on MarketWatch. Becoming an Ecobroker means differentiating yourself from hundreds of other run-of-the-mill real estate agents, and it’s smart business. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the 2005 green building market ($7.4 Billion) is expected to reach from $19 to $38 billion by 2010. The tipping point, or the point where more green homes are built than non-green homes, is supposed to be in around 2007.

According to the MarketWatch article, buyers are interested more in the energy-saving, cost-cutting, sustainable features than the "save the earth" rhetoric (go figure!). And while features can vary from home to home (read: there will be a green standards war just like the current standards war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray), these EcoBrokers are going to have a leg up in explaining to purchasers and sellers the best ways to market homes. Certification for EcoBrokers will cover topics such as energy-efficiency ratings, asbestos, VOCs and lead paint, and indoor air quality.

Even more interesting, at the website, www.ecobroker.com, there is a designation guarantee that says the following: "Earn the EcoBroker designation, and apply the marketing and sales skills you learn. During the first year of your designation, you will increase your personal commission income, or we will refund 100% of your designation fee." From what I understand, the costs are $395, so that should be money well spent. The market is heading that direction (as the NAHB quote urges), so it’s smart to get in early.

Hawaiiprefab2 Another website is www.greenhomesforsale.com. I like the concept; it’s kind of a DIY-type place, and looks like it can be an attractive place for home listing as the listings increase. I looked at some of the listings and they can hardly be considered green (McKinney, Texas home), but it’s a good start. I found a prefab in Hawaii, that I know I’m gonna dream about tonight–if only money was sustainable on my backyard tree!

What I don’t understand about this website, however, is why they don’t invest some money in design and get rid of all those convoluted google ads, etc., sticking up all over the place like a bunch of weeds. It’s hard to take a website serious with all those cheap pay-per-click ads all over the place…my recommendation: pick a strategy for cash generation and stick with it–drive that strategy home. Looks like it costs about $60 to list for 3 months, so stick it out while your making your way down the long tail of sales.

Overall, I digg the future of what’s going on in the green real estate industry. It would be a smart move for real estate agents to get on this and learn the jargon. As the demand for green homes increase, those that can’t speak the jargon will be left trying to catch up. And might I suggest, as a parting note, since buyers are interested in the cost-benefits of green, the jargon includes being able to calculate payback periods, breakevens, inflation, and discounted cash flows, etc.

LivingHomes Combines Style + Sustainability

Livinghomes

LivingHomes Founder Steve Glenn has knocked the socks off the eco-conscious world with his modern homes that emphasize beauty + environment.  As I’ve been thinking about how I want to blog about this company, I’ve noticed a flurry of posts and press releases regarding this Ray Kappe-designed abode that was just awarded LEED-H Platinum.  It’s such an incredible home, with that undeniable confluence of modern and sustainability.  Hard to beat that. 

This is the first residential building to receive the USGBC’s Platinum LEED-H rating and it’s raising the bar for residential construction: zero energy, zero water, zero waste, zero carbon, and zero emissions. LivingHomes received a total of 91 out of a total possible 109 points, to barely skirt past the 90 point threshold required to obtain a Platinum rating.  It will be 80% more efficient than similar sized home and was constructed with 75% less waste than a traditional one.

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