Do you read GreenSource? There’s a free read of the April 2007 edition of GreenSource online. I highly recommend it, if you have a little free time and a fast connection. It’s a quarterly production, supported by the editors of McGraw-Hill Construction, BuildingGreen, Inc., and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). GreenSource has a circulation of about 42,000 readers. In March 2007, it was given the prestigious Neal Award for Best Start-Up Publication. I spent way too much time online reading the articles…it just sucked me right in.
I’m not sure if this concept will make it into practice, but I like the idea. We have zoos right? Why not create a botanical visitor’s attraction of the tropical rain forest? That’s the concept that Grimshaw Architects created and was rewarded with a 2007 MIPIM/AR Future Project Award in the Sustainability category. Generally, here’s how it works: the enclosed greenhouse will create a tropical zone, a rain forest of sorts, housing both plant and animal life that people can walk through and study. The goal of this man-made rain forest is to mimic the ecosystems from tropical regions of the world. It will have 50 meter high gabion walls around the enclosure that contain composting tubes for heat generation during periods when the passive solar gain isn’t enough to sustain the tropical environment. The idea is to harness the energy created by the decomposing biodegradable matter and re-create a tropical rain forest. Grimshaw hopes that by doing so, the Rainforest will have the potential to grow fruits and vegetables with vastly reduced food miles.
Transporting goods has a carbon cost associated with it, so people want to buy locally. But climate can vary dramatically from one place to another making it tough to get some things locally…that is, unless you can recreate the climate of another area. Think: oranges in Canada. To a small extent, this is what happens with a greenhouse. Here, however, you are creating a greenhouse on a grand scale, one that is carbon neutral and cyclical. It’s a good idea.
The bloggers over at the Practical Environmentalist just bought a non-green building in Dallas for their business, Clean Air Gardening. The 13,000 sf building was built in the 1960s and they have a budget of about $50,000 to make it green. We’re talking LEED, Energy Star, etc., you name it, they want to go green in an economically pragmatic way. I figure we can tap the wisdom of the crowds and find a way to help them out, citizen wisdom style. Feel free to drop your ideas into the comments here, or go over to PE directly and leave a comment. Also, if you’re a Dallas business and want to get involved helping them do their thing, make sure to let them know.
Already, PE seems to have this situation under control. I like that they are signing up with Green Mountain Energy, using low-VOCs inside (good for indoor air quality), replacing old toilets with more water-efficient ones, adding a rainwater cistern to avoid using new water for landscaping, and replacing the door with a more energy-efficient set up. Here are a few additional suggestions I have:
- Consider a commercial-grade energy audit to determine where you may be losing air or energy. Use that information to seal up cracks and fix stuff as needed (which will allow you to rely less on the dated HVAC system).
- Like you say, go with the Commercial Solatube lighting, if possible. The more natural light, the better. Why pay for light when the sun gives it away for free?
- For the interior design, use low-VOC carpets tiles and adaptable workstations/furniture from a company like Haworth (big-time commitment to recycled and sustainable products). Haworth has a strong Dallas presence.
- Before making the investment in solar, try using a thermal energy storage product (like the ones offered by Dallas-based Trinity Thermal) that captures cheaper energy during off-peak times for use during more expensive peak periods. This can contribute to LEED certification and has good $$ benefits.
- If you’re renovating the exterior, continue using a light color to reflect heat from the building. Also, landscape in ways to shade the hottest parts of the building. You guys are experts here, but natural landscaping will help with water conservation, too.
That’s what I have so far, but I’m sure there are Dallas experts out there waiting to get your business and showcase their products. Good luck!
Recently, an Atkins office complex concept received big-time coverage by being awarded the 2007 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Award in the Office category. I’m blogging about it because I like some of the sustainable elements. The 180 meter Al Sharq tower includes an executive gym, health club, spa, and swimming pool at the top. The building also features planted sky gardens in strategic locations where people can step outside, take a break, soak in the view, and think. Commenting on the building’s unique green attributes, Nicholas Bailey of Atkins in Bahrain said:
This is a green building – literally – because of its foliage camouflage. Vertical fins to the street elevation, formed in colored glass, are fitted with integrated solar panels that contribute to the building’s energy needs. The project showcases a new way of building the working environment. It is no longer a cage to confine workers, but a creative living environment to encourage productivity. The groundbreaking concept of the project is the provision of different scenarios where business can take place. More images below.
+Atkins Office Concept Wins International Award [atkins global]
+Kuwait Office Development Short listed for MIPIM Award [WAN]
Foster + Partners has created a master plan for a massive and bold 6 million square meter sustainable development near Abu Dhabi called Masdar. Driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar will be a zero carbon, zero waste community, one that will be entirely car free.
Recently, I’ve run across the work of an environmentally friendly Thai architect named Singh Intrachooto. Singh saw a problem in the industry and decided to do something to close the loop. If you’ve ever been involved with construction of any form, you know there’s tons of wasted materials. That’s where Singh comes in. He takes left over scrap from construction sites and designs furniture with them, each piece being different depending on the size and shape of the materials that get salvaged. Now, Singh’s furniture has exploded and is on display in Los Angeles and Paris.
Singh sells the furniture via his website, OSISU, but I’m not necessarily advocating the purchase of his work. It’s incredible and inspiring, but we have our own construction waste here in the U.S. We have tons of it. And it’s going straight to the landfill. Why not find value in that trash? Let’s close the loop and put good materials to use. With Singh, it was just about 18 months ago that he decided to start making this furniture, and in his words, "people thought he was crazy." Now it’s getting big-time coverage all over the media. All it takes is asking the construction workers to set aside scraps like wood, steel, and concrete. The pieces pictured were made from reclaimed teak morsels. Via reuters.