BuildingGreen's 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products + GreenSpec Directory

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The fact of the matter is, if you’re going to build green buildings, you gotta have green materials.  And green building is getting easier because demand is increasing and creating innovative green products to fit all varieties of projects.  There are different angles to take with a sustainable project and it’s not all about energy efficiency.  You’ll want to look at everything.  I like to think in terms of consumption.  What are you consuming and how much of it are you consuming?  Is the building water efficient?  What does it do with waste (such as recycling)?  Does waste equal food (C2C)?  Did you have to ship it across the world to procure it?  What’s the indoor air quality of the building?  How does it look and feel?   Did you benefit the community by buying the materials, paying the laborers, or building the project? 

Greenspec_2006_cover To make life a little easier, there’s the GreenSpec Directory, which includes more than 2,100 green product listings.  It’s a veritable idea bank ($89.90).  To give you a taste of what some of the products are, BuildingGreen announced the Top-10 Green Building Products during GreenBuild in November.  Here they are.  I’ve linked to the BuildingGreen product information and used "(company)" for the corporate website link.  BuildingGreen doesn’t receive money from these companies for placing a product in the GreenSpec Directory, so the information is totally objective in that regard. 

If you have an experience with any of these products, feel free to drop a comment so all the readers can benefit.  Once you go green, you never go back!

By |December 6th, 2006|Gadgets, LEED, Recycled, Wind|2 Comments

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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By |December 1st, 2006|Modern architecture, Modern design, Vegetation|4 Comments

Madison Wisconsin's Capitol West Development Goes Modern + Reuses/Deconstructs +94%

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It seems like cities all over the United States are jumping into the green building fray–it’s an exciting time to witness the radical transformation of the construction industry.  In Madison, Wisconsin, there’s a neighborhood development called Capitol West.  The project is a $110 million, mixed-use development in the center of Madison, occupying an entire city block bounded by West Washington Avenue, South Henry, West Main + South Broom Street.  The development will include a diversity of housing types, shopping spaces, + urban parks–all clean, contemporary + modern. 

Boom_street_lofts This urban redevelopment will include about 375-400 townhomes, condominiums, and lofts + penthouses.  The first phase (173 condos + 10,000 sf of retail) of condominium homes will range in size from 650-3,000 square feet, with prices ranging from $170,000-$900,000.  I was really surprised by the diversity of architecture and offerings for this neighborhood:  Capitol Court Townhomes, Washington Rowhouses, 309 West Washington (10 floors), Main Street Townhomes, + Broom Street Lofts.  This looks really exciting. 

What’s really impressive is the steps the developer, The Alexander Company, took to make sure this development didn’t place undue burden on the city’s resources.  It retained Madison Environmental Group to head up their reuse/deconstruction phase.  The reuse phase diverted 66 tons of material from the landfill via donations, walk-throughs, and public sale events.  The deconstruction phase yielded 94.86% of recycled material, totaling 24,500 tons!  Granted deconstruction can take more time, but it’s a lot better on the community, environment, and neighborhood.  In total, 59,536 cubic yards of material was diverted from the landfill via reuse and deconstruction efforts–that’s 19,772 Ford F-150s full of waste lined up back-to-back stretching 65 miles.  Nice job Capitol West.

No word yet as to whether any of the individual projects will go after LEED, but the architects are designing with the environment in mind.  Lots of natural light, air + ventilation design with incredible views, green spaces, and roof gardens.  Thanks for the tip Stephen Schenkenberg

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By |November 27th, 2006|Modern architecture, Modern design, Nature, Vegetation|0 Comments

Central Oregon's First LEED-H Certified Residential Project: Newport District Modern House Project by Abacus GC

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Have you ever been to Bend, Oregon?  Bend is smack dab in the middle of the state, it’s Central Oregon, and it’s beautiful.  Central Oregon is not to be confused with the rainy, western part of the state.  Bend is in close proximity to some of the best golfing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and skiing locations in the world, which is why lots of Californians either relocate or have a vacation home in the area.  And real estate isn’t cheap, either (speaking from a Texas frame of mind).  But in Bend, you have an innovative, forward-thinking real estate company, Abacus GC, that has just received the first LEED-H (LEED for Homes) certification in Central Oregon for its Newport District Modern House Project.  It’s also Earth Advantage certified and will save about 54% more in energy consumption than a standard code-built home. 

This project (corner of NW 12th Street + Newport Avenue) includes 5 green, modern, luxurious homes, scheduled for completion in December 2006.  Each lot is 3,000 square feet, and each home is 2,000 square feet (prices starting at roughly $850k).  Here are some of the green features:  cool metal roof that reflects UV radiation and keeps the house cool in the summer; green roof trellises; xeriscaped lawns with drought tolerant and local plants (require less water and maintenance); Sierra Pacific windows made from timber that meets the Sustainable Forestry Initiative requirements; grid-tied solar energy system (2 kilowatt) from photovoltaic panels that run backwards; extensive use of FSC-certified lumber; blown in formaldehyde-free insulation (exterior walls, R-23; attic, R-50!) for energy-efficiency, sound control, and improved indoor air quality; lightweight all-aluminum garage doors that are maintenance free and recyclable; hydronic radiant floor heating systems powered by a 96% energy-efficient boiler; tons of strategically placed windows to optimize natural light and shade; locally harvested Madrone wood for the stairs and kitchen counter tops; Caroma dual-flush toilets that save up to 80% of annual water usage; 80% energy-efficient Ribbon fireplace by Spark Modern Fires (with the enclosure made of Eco-Terr recycled tiles); and Green Seal-certified, zero-VOC YOLO Colorhouse primer and paints.  These are just some of the many green features of the five homes in the Newport District Modern House Project. 

In addition to the green features, these homes are stylish:  top of the line hardware (Kohler, Grohe, Blum, Sub-Zero, etc.), 9-foot ceilings, Category-5 Ethernet cable installed, etc.  We’re are talking about luxury everything, in an extreme, environmentally-friendly orchestration.  The Newport District Modern House Project is everything that Jetson Green espouses:  Modern + Green + Healthy Living.  But specifically, these homes help an owner achieve water and energy independence, which is valuable in a world where energy prices will continue to rise and water will continue to become more scarce.  I really like the trajectory of this company and the projects they have in the pipeline–I’m sure this won’t be the last abacus GC project on Jetson Green. 

Extra Links:
Abacus Take Lead on LEED-H Certification [Press Release]
Earth Advantage Features [pdf]
Abacus GC Builds Modern Dwellings [Cascade Business News – pdf]

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Green Office: C2C Certified Steelcase Answer® Workstation

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Answer.  Thoughtfully flexible.  It’s about time for a new installment to the Green Office segment.  So far, I’ve mentioned the Leap + Think chairs, the Liege Desk, and office supplies from The Green Office.  Enter:  the MBDC Silver Cradle to Cradle Certified, GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified Steelcase Answer®.  The Steelcase Answer panel workstation is the first C2C Certified powered workstation for the contract furniture industry.  First, Answer uses responsible materials.  Workstation components consist of panels, wood work surfaces, overhead storage and floor-based storage.  There is absolutely no PVC used in its construction.  Second, Cradle to Cradle certification requires product design that contemplates what happens when the product is not longer useful for its intended purpose.  There’s a focus on being able to recycle or safely compost the materials.  Adhesives are eliminated, where possible, and recyclable parts are clearly marked.  This is a big deal considering Answer is one of the best selling systems products in the world.  I bet you could get the Answer workstation penciled into your tenant improvements agreement, right?  Via PRNewswire.

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By |November 17th, 2006|Commercial Interiors, Furniture, Modern design|1 Comment

LEED-H Prototype Heather's Home: Modern, Green + Affordable

Apr_10_green_building_fort_worth_1_1 DFW builder Don Ferrier‘s daughter wanted an affordable, green home, so they retained the best, local green architect, Gary Olp of GGOArchitects, to get the job done.  The result is Heather’s Home, which has its own website at www.heathershome.info.  What’s interesting about this home is that it’s economically pragmatic, but it looks goods–it’s proof that a modern, green home can be relatively affordable.  We’re talking about a 2,038 square-foot home in the price range of about $117 per square foot ($230,000).  After getting the home design, she had to wait two months due to materials shortages, but the home took four months to build after that.  The monthly home heating and cooling bill averages $20-30 month.  That’s amazing, especially in Texas. 

Green Features:
There’s a rainwater collection system connected to a 3,000-gallon holding tank, which is used for irrigation and toilet water.  Toilets are low flush, of course.  She landscaped with drought-tolerant, native Texas plants, to conserve water.  She didn’t install a full blown solar system (costs about $30,000), but she did install enough solar panels to power the tankless water heater (also saves water).  The home design called for Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) to create a more energy-efficient, tight building envelope.  For heating and AC, the builder installed a Daikin HVAC system that runs at 20 SEER.  The HVAC system price tag was $5,500, which is cheaper than a geothermal heat pump and about 90% as efficient.  Of course, low-VOC paints and stains were used throughout.  Lights and appliances are energy star. 

The stairs are bamboo and some of the floors are stained concrete.  The kitchen island surface is a grenadine Formica (Green Guard certified) and the cabinets were created from regionally produced ash, treated with a low VOC stain.  You’ll notice the 33 glass block windows on the northerly wall, which invite natural lighting without diminishing interior privacy.  There’s a solar tube in the closet for natural lighting.  In the rooms with carpet, it is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) carpet, which is created from reclaimed polyester resins of two-liter soda bottles and and other plastic containers.  Some of the other carpet is InterFLOR modular carpet, made from corn husks.  The list of green features goes on and on!  You can go to this link to find the source of all the products used in this home. 

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By |November 15th, 2006|Gadgets, LEED, Modern architecture, Modern design, Solar, Vegetation|4 Comments