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Has Anyone Seen "The Green House" Exhibit at D.C.'s National Building Museum?

Click to Purchase The Green House When I was in Washington, D.C., a couple weekends back, in addition to participating in GWU’s real estate competition and visiting AWEA, I took a tour of the National Building Museum’s exhibit called "The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design."  If you’ve been there, by all means, leave a comment as to what you thought.  I thought it was a great exhibit.  I wanted to take pictures to show everyone, but no cameras were allowed inside.  Regardless, pictures wouldn’t do it justice, because the entire exhibit showcases some incredible green concepts and materials. 

Included in the tour is a real-life The Glidehouse, which is a prefab by Michelle Kaufmann.  It’s very cool.  Very modern.  The tour also has a Heliodon, or a sun machine, which allows you to see how the sun hits a home (see solar orientation).  The exhibit also explains the 5 Principles of Sustainable Homes:

  1. Optimizing Use of Sun
  2. Improving Indoor Air Quality
  3. Using the Land Responsibly
  4. Creating High-Performance and Moisture-Resistant Homes
  5. Wisely Using the Earth’s Natural Resources

Towards the end, there’s a green materials section that lets you see and feel different green floorings, ceilings, countertops, and paints.  I heard people looking at it saying stuff like, "Wow, that’s nice…," or "That doesn’t look green at all…"  It’s true.  The environmental movement of yesterday has an entirely new face for the future.  It looks good and comes at a competitive price.  If you can’t go to D.C. or you want some more information, you can buy the exhibit book here or at your local bookstore.  The Green House Exhibit will be on display until June 24, 2007.   

$80k to The Nature Conservancy, Light Bulb Exchange Program, + Supreme Court Goes Green (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Duke Energy Donates $80,000 to The Nature Conservancy for Shareholders Choosing Paperless Delivery of Annual Report
  2. S. California "Green Schools" Light Bulb Exchange Program Enables Students to Reduce their Families’ Home Energy Bills
  3. The U.S. Supreme Court Ruled 5-4 that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act by Declining to Regulate New-Vehicle Emissions Standards to Control the Pollutants that Contribute to Global Warming. 

Costs and Benefits of Green Roofing

Green_roof_house I ran into a pretty thorough article on green roofing and wanted to pass it along to readers.  There’s a growing interest in green and vegetative roofs, although one may not be perfect for every application.  That said, there are numerous benefits and advantages to having a green roof. 

Simply put, here are the benefits:  (1) opportunity to utilize wasted or otherwise unused space, (2) reduction of storm water runoff, (3) mitigation against urban heat island effect, (4) airborne toxins are taken out of the air with oxygen getting released, (5) reduction in peak load (lower energy costs) for the building with the green roof, (6) longer roof life, and (7) considerable insulation from noise pollution. 

Here are some of the drawbacks: (1) could cost up to twice as much as a conventional roof (but will offer a payback of 5-10 years in energy savings), (2) could be difficult to get zoning approvals depending on the sophistication of the approving authority, and (3) will constrain some types of architectural expression. 

11 Suggestions to Create Eco-friendly Landscape

Reel Lawn Mowing

Guest post contributed by Kent Swanson, a freelance writer specializing in environmental issues.  Kent’s writing is also featured on Practical Environmentalist, Clean Air Gardening: Organic Gardening Advice, and Ecobackyard

When we think of green architecture, sometimes we forget that our landscaping can have a big impact on how efficient and sustainable a building is in the long run.  For example, a few strategically planted trees can help to cool off a building and reduce the amount of energy allocated to air conditioning. The following is a list of 11 suggestions to create an eco-friendly landscape that will complement a holistic approach to green building design.  Incorporating a few of these ideas will help you save energy and water, and also reduce environmental contamination.  If you’d like to make a suggestion on how to use landscaping to reduce your environmental footprint, please leave a comment!

(1) Incorporate Native Plants in Your Landscaping
When planning your landscape, consider using a collection of native plants. Native plants are adapted to your area, which means they naturally require less maintenance and water than exotic plants. They are also more resistant to pests and diseases than many exotics, reducing the need for pesticides.  Additionally, native plants attract native wildlife and beneficial insects. You don’t need to exclude exotic plants from your yard and garden, but incorporating natives in your design can make a big difference.  The U.S. EPA’s Greenacres Program is a great place to look for information on using native plants for home landscaping.

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Park City's 38-Acre Newpark Receives LEED-ND Pre-Certification

Newpark

Hot on the heels of news that Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) is going to develop a $1B green resort named "Ever Vail," comes news that Park City’s Newpark Community has pre-qualified for LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development) certification.  These ski towns are really laying it on thick–and they’re doing more than flaunting offsets.  When it comes down to it, they bank on the livelihood of snow, so it’s logical to consider the business implication of climate change.  Having green neighborhoods and buildings is a smart way to lighten that environmental footprint.   

Newpark is a 38 acre, mixed-use development with resort town homes, a commercial and retail walkable community, and a condominium hotel (opening January 2008).  With respect to its green features, LEED-ND certification requires the incorporation of smart growth, urbanism, and green building principles on a neighborhood planning and design level. Projects are evaluated based on the following three categories (1) smart location + community linkage, (2) neighborhood pattern + design, and (3) actual use of green technology in construction.  A notable accomplishment at Newpark is the site development to open space ratio of 1-4.5.  That’s 9 times the LEED requirement for allocation to open space.  I’ve seen it and it looks to be quite the lively, little community.  Via

AIA's New Website "How Design Works" + A Modern, Sustainable House

Medora Woods Home  Medora Woods Home Top

I’m happy to report to you that I have the insider tip on a new website that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is launching: How Design Works (http://howdesignworks.aia.org/).  The website includes information and a series of videos on the entire process of selecting an architect and going from consultation to design to build to occupation.  What I really enjoyed was the case study on Medora Woods’ sustainable home (pictured above) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Woods retained architect Sarah Nettleton to design a home to suit a difficult piece of land with a 28 foot falling slope from road to creek.  What Nettleton did, using the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, was build "of the hill, not on it," and designed the house to the environmental standard of the Kyoto Protocol.  Here are a few quotes of interest from the videos. 

  • There is no wasted space. 
  • Simple is sustainable. 
  • Small spaces can lead to ample lives. 
  • The house encourages me to keep simplifying my life. 

In the last video, "occupy," Woods takes you through the house and really shows off some of the sustainable features.  This new website provided by the AIA is nice tool for finding an architect, discerning the process of working with an architect, and discovering ways to incorporate sustainable building practices and energy-efficient design strategies into a plan.  Go take it for a spin. 

Study

Photos via Sarah Nettleton Architects.



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