Skyscraper Sunday: 1800 Larimer LEED Silver Office Tower (Denver)

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Apparently, the mid-1980s was the last time a new high rise office building was built in Denver, Colorado.  We know what happened then and why skyscraper construction halted (hint: construction loans/S+L Crisis); knock on wood…S+L 2.0??  Recently, Westfield Development announced plans to build the most energy efficient high rise in downtown Denver, 1800 Larimer–actually, it’s a $150 million, 22 story, 500,000 square foot, energy-efficient, proposed LEED Silver tower.  Westfield Development President Rich McClintock said, "if it is not a sustainable building, it is outdated."  I couldn’t agree more. 

This LoDo area building was designed by Denver-based RNL Design.  Some of the features include the following:  subfloor air distribution system; 9-foot, 6-inch floor-to-ceiling windows; state-of-the-art health club for tenants; a half-acre terrace parklike environment 20 feet off the ground; tenant controlled temperature system; blue + gray glass facade; trees in the lobby; and a 30-foot high "wall of water" inside the lobby.  I’m excited that new construction is going green, but I will say that Denver is working hard to make the right choices.  This green building is, after all, only a small kog in the greater machine initiated by Denver’s Mayor Hickenlooper called Greenprint Denver

I keep saying this, but the smartest cities are also the greenest:  San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Austin, Chicago, and a trailing Salt Lake City.  The human capital + brain power of these cities is really mind-boggling, so where are you going to live?  Via RMN

Lobby_wall_of_water

UPDATE:  According to the global votes of over 100,000 people, Mayor Hickenlooper was ranked #9 in a survey of best mayors in the world that have made long-lasting contributions to their cities.  Only one other US mayor made the list.

Green Economics: City of Phoenix Saving $600k/year Due to Energy-Efficiency Program

Cfls If you’re new to CFLs, feel free to check out the Department of Energy’s information page on them.  When compared to incandescents, CFLs last longer, use less energy, and emit less heat.  While you need to pick the right one depending on your lighting idiosyncrasies and bulbs need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste center (see your packaging), groups like One Billion Bulbs are trying to get the word out on the benefits of CFLs.  It’s hard to calculate, but when energy is saved, the grid is called upon less and that’s a tangible benefit to your bill and your city.  Cities that keep using more energy end up debating with large companies like TXU about the pragmatics of building 11 more coal plants to meet out-of-control demand for cheap energy.  There are alternatives…

There’s an economic case for CFLs.  The City of Phoenix is saving about $600,000 a year after replacing traditional lighting with CFLs.  Mayor Phil Gordon said the city has replaced about 95% of the city’s lights with energy-efficient alternatives (as part of a $1.2 million one-time investment) and is starting to see the rewards.  At $600,000 in savings per year, that’s a 2 year payback on your investment.  This is smart business. 

GreenCity Lofts: A Modern Step in the Green Direction

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First off, GreenCity Lofts LLC shows us how important it is to have a sleek, professional, informative website for your properties.  In the early stages of construction, word-of-mouth increases and people start to notice what’s going on.  Slap a huge sign up (with a rendering of course) and direct people to the web for more information while the building is still being finished.  A good website that’s search engine optimized (SEO) will go a long way to promoting a new building’s features and benefits.  I’ve gleaned my information from GreenCity’s website and an article in the December/January 2007 edition of Dwell Magazine.  Designed by Architect Robert Swatt, this eco-conscious complex has 62 units in 5 buildings, with units ranging in size from 500-2100 square feet, and prices from $495,000-$1,050,000 (800 – 2100 square feet). 

Green Features:
The building exceeds California Title 24 energy requirements by 15% and is Energy Star qualified; 95% of the demolition waste from construction was recycled; the steel superstructure + interior framing contain from 25-90% post-consumer recycled content creating a durable earthquake, fire, rot, mold, pest-resistant building; cement pours contain a minimum of 25% fly ash; the roof was painted gray to absorb less heat than the darker colored varieties; water efficient technologies collect rain water runoff for landscape irrigation; hydronic radiant floor heating with a gas-fired broiler saves 20-40% of the cost of conventional systems (and you have no noise or draft as in the forced-air systems); formaldehyde-free products were used where possible; zero + low-VOC paints, stains, and varnishes were used; units contain bamboo floors with other FSC-certified wood products; and lofts contain 2-3 walls with windows for abundant natural lighting. 

These places look really good, too.  One thing to consider, is the trade off when you create places with large, open, interior spaces.  It takes more energy to heat and cool larger spaces, but this may be mitigated some by using the hydronic radiant floor heating.  At least you don’t have to walk on the cold bathroom tiles when you wake up in the morning!  Oh yeah, also, GreenCity Lofts is about a 13-minute walk from BART, on the border of Emeryville and Oakland at 1007 41st Street, at the corner of 41st Street and Adeline.  Watch the GreenCity Lofts’ video

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Green Cartoon – “Isn’t Nature Marvelous”

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This cartoon comes from a very creative Japanese cartoonist, Professor Hiroshi Takatsuki (aka High Moon), who does some pretty thoughtful environmental work.  I’m not going to spoil it by telling you the all the tangents my mind took thinking about it, but I hope you enjoy…

I will be posting a little less frequently as I need to find a way to crunch out four graduate finals over the next two weeks.  Thanks for the patience!

BD+C White Paper: Green Building + The Bottom Line (2006)

Bdcwhitepaper06_cover "The ‘New Reality’ of Green Building from Environmental Cause to Financial Opportunity."  I wanted to put up a quick post regarding BD+C’s new green building white paper–it’s big-time informative, talking about green building in the context of office, retail, hotel, restaurant, residential, education, healthcare, and government buildings.  If you don’t read anything else (it’s a dense report of 64 pages, of which about 10-15 pages are for so called green sponsors), read the Executive Summary on page three to catch a drift about what’s going on in the industry.  One issue that keeps popping up is the issue of whether green buildings cost more than code-built buildings.  For one thing, certification will cost some money (unless it’s LEED-Platinum), but other than that, there’s a small premium that an owner will pay.  But that’s when you analyze the building on a first costs basis.  If you’re looking at first costs + operating costs (which the industry is still trying to work out), green buildings can be pretty attractive.  With the possibility of higher occupancy rates, less tenant turnover, and less $$ on energy + water, green building is a phenomenon to be reckoned with.  Plus, green buildings try to source materials locally, so to the extent that this happens, $$ spent on materials stay in the cities you’re trying to rebuild and develop.  There are lots of positives…

Building Design + Construction’s Green Building White Paper 2006 [registration required]

ABC's Extreme Makeover: Pauni Family + Making Homes Sustainable

Pauni_home_logan_before Pauni_home_logan_after

Recently I blogged about the Happy New House by Neil Denari, and the concept that home design has a lot do with our personalities–even our psychological well-being.  After reading below, I want to hear what you think, so feel free to drop a quick comment if you have the time. 

So last night I was watching ABC’s  Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and I was saddened by the Pauni Family’s loss of their father.  They are a Tongan family that came to the US in search of many things, among those, the American Dream and the benefits of economic freedom, religious freedom, educational opportunities, etc.  The father Danny Pauni died of a heart attack, leaving behind a spirited wife and eight children.  They had no insurance policy and were struggling to keep the house, but the house wasn’t in much condition to want to keep…some kids didn’t have beds, the walls and foundation were molding…needless to say, the home wasn’t in any condition to sustain eight children.  Which leads to my thoughts:

I like Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  I think it is noble, uplifting programming.  While not all the houses are built green per se, many of the homes are built with indoor air quality considerations supreme.  That said, the original Pauni home was in terrible condition, but the family was extremely upbeat and happy.  So I started thinking…maybe, people have an attitude that is their default.  They are happy or grumpy or whatever in between by default.  And depending on life’s everchanging circumstances, our default level adjusts in varying degrees.  With a run down home, the Pauni Family didn’t get too down about it because they are happy people by default, but it sure made for tough times.  When the new, rebuilt home came around, they went crazy with joy.  They were so gracious and warm…very thankful.  And I ended the episode thinking:  "we could all learn to be like the Pauni Family by default."  Happiness by default is sustaining on an emotional level…it keeps you going when things don’t go right, but living spaces don’t define an emotional level, at least at the very minimum.  Living spaces influence emotions, but it’s up to us to determine where that influence starts. 

So let me know what you think about how our living spaces define emotional, psychological, or spiritual sustainability.  I’m interested in reading some of your responses.

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