The subject of this week’s Skyscraper Sunday is the striking 1180 Peachtree in Atlanta, Georgia. Designed by Pickard Chilton Architects, 1180 Peachtree rises 41-stories with a 119-foot lighted veil at the top. It was also one of the first offices nationally to receive LEED-CS Silver pre-certification for its use of recycled materials, encouragement of alternative transportation, minimization of environmental impact by sourcing materials locally, and attention to using no- or low-VOC adhesives, sealants, and carpets. Developed by Hines, the building has vegetation on the roof to absorb rainwater, store it in underground storage, and use for landscaping (eliminating the need for city water). With about 670,000 sf of office + 35,000 sf of retail, this building is a gem in the Atlanta market. In the middle of 2006, the local real estate community did a double take when 1180 Peachtree sold for $400 per sf. Some people said this was part of a trend (good office market in Atlanta, lots of capital, etc.), but I think the selling price was a reflection of the excellence of the property. It’s a flagship, a trophy property, a green property. Green properties are (1) new, (2) well-designed, (3) easy to lease, and (4) fit well with all companies. It’s not hard to sell an amazing, great-looking, stabilized asset with low vacancy.
- Study Shows Green Homeowners Are Happier With Their Homes and Recommending Them; Cost Savings are a Top Motivating Factor for Buying Green.
- CarMax Receives LEED Silver Certification and Becomes First Company in Virginia to Construct a LEED Building for Corporate Headquarters.
- Seth Godin on the No Impact Man; Zero is the New Black.
The first time I saw the QR5 was on Inhabitat last year, and ever since then, my thoughts have occasionally wandered back to its simple, elegant design. Now, in April 2007, this UK-based innovation is one the recipients of the 3rd Annual Bottom Line Design Awards. Pictured on the cover of Business 2.0, the QR5 is referred to as "The Personal Power Plant." The QR5 can generate about 800 kilowatt-hours a month in 13-mph winds and costs about $48,000. Back of the envelope-style, the payback is about 18 years. According to Quietrevolution’s designer, Richard Cochrane, prices will go down with volume sales and about 70-80 wind turbines will be installed in the coming year.
About the QR5:
Looking at the helix portion alone, the turbine is about 9 feet tall x 15 feet wide (but various different sizes are also in development). Here’s how the parts work: (1) three ‘S’ shaped blades are tapered to shed noise, (2) the vertical axis easily integrates into existing buildings and structures, (3) the helical design captures turbulent winds and eliminates vibration, (4) central compression spar, dependent on conditions, (5) the blades, spars, and torque tube are made of strong carbon fiber, and all moving parts are sealed to minimize maintenance, and (6) the direct drive in-line generator has auto-shutdown and peak power tracking, which is incorporated into the mast. The QR5 is expected to have a life of about 25 years, assuming annual inspections. Feel free to click on over to get the finer details on noise + vibration, connecting to the grid, and mounting in various applications.
I think it’s fantastic, but I do have one concern. It’s UK-based. Localization is the new globalization because carbon emissions have changed the rules of the game. If this thing is going to get big, and I believe it can, there must be US-based production. I understand Quietrevolution is working on their non-UK patents, so establishing an American presence may be the company’s next step. I hope it is, because I can’t stop thinking about it. That’s what good design does. It changes the way we see the game being played.
Green building articles abound, but it’s important to note the subtle differences in perspective, which may change depending on the writer’s geography. An article may give green building advice that doesn’t make sense in your geography. Take this Houston article for instance. It’s a good read. In Houston, the climate requires an innovative balance of green building techniques. Houston is hot and humid. I won’t say it’s the armpit of America, but it’s hard to keep dry in that place. Here are a couple examples of localization in green building.
- Passive Design – Houston architects suggest putting most of your windows in a north/south orientation because the east/west orientation draws too much heat into the home and doesn’t allow exposure to the cool breezes that blow from the southeast in the summer.
- Materials – Houston architects will building with metal, as opposed to brick or stucco. Metal reflects the sun, while brick holds in heat and stucco is prone to mold. Unfortunately, metal doesn’t work for all applications, so you have to balance and make trade-offs.
Rule: Consult a knowledgeable professional to pick the optimal green building strategy that effectively considers the ramifications of the local geography and materials on your site. It’ll pay dividends later when you actually start to occupy the building and use it. Pictures via Cameron Armstrong Architects, a Houston architectural firm with several metal homes in their portfolio.