$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. 
By |April 6th, 2007|Energy Efficiency, Gadgets, News, Recycled, Week in Review|0 Comments

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. 

By |March 13th, 2007|Nature|8 Comments

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.


By |March 8th, 2007|Recycled, Vegetation|10 Comments

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


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

By |March 7th, 2007|Gadgets, LEED, Vegetation|0 Comments

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. 


Photos via Sarah Nettleton Architects.

LEED Silver Brickell Financial Centre (S2)

Miami_brickell_financial_centre_1 This is probably the quote of the year for a real estate developer: "I didn’t want a building that in 10 years would have to compete with all the new buildings that are LEED certified."  That’s what Loretta Cockrum, chairman and CEO of Foram Group, said in regards to her new LEED-CS Silver pre-certified project.  The $245 million, 1.5 million sf green project known as Brickell Financial Centre breaks ground in April and is set for completion in fall 2009. The first phase will consist of 600,000 square feet in a 40-story tower, the first floor for lobby and retail space and the second 11 for parking, topped by 28 floors of class-A office space. The second tower, rising 68 stories, will include retail and office space, and a 300-room hotel.  Lead architect RTKL will also have the help of Sasaki for the 30,000 square foot public plaza space, which is supposed to rival New York’s Rockefeller Plaza in scale. 

Green Features:
Like most LEED projects, there’s a slew of green features, so I’m just going to lay some of them out:  low-emissivity window glass covering to allow natural light and block solar heat; chilled water cooling system; low-flow and dual-flush toilets to cut down on potable-water use; storm water cisterns for irrigation; extensive use of low- or no-VOC paints, sealants, and adhesives throughout the building; and special storage facilities for people that bike to work.  As for construction materials, Foram Group will use materials that have a high percentage of recycled content and are sourced within a 500 mile radius. 

Extra Sources:
$245M Two-Tower Office, Hotel "Green" Project Planned in Miami [CPN]
A Fine Business Environment: Money Isn’t All that Will Be Green at Miami’s New Financial Center [Newsweek]

::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::