PVC Debacle, Green Affordable Housing, Home Depot + Green Roofs, + Corporate Environmentalists (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Hugging the Tree-huggers: Environmentalists at the Corporate TableBusinessWeek article on why so many companies are suddenly linking up with eco-groups.  Hint: Smart business. 
  2. Enterprise Encourages Legislation to ‘Green’ Affordable Housing – Enterprise joins Congressmen Adam Smith (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), John Lewis (D-GA) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) in support of legislation to "green" affordable housing by promoting energy efficiency, resource conservation and sustainable development in low-income communities across the country.
  3. The Home Depot Foundation Awards $300,000 Grant to Further Support Green Roof Development – Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) and Earth Pledge (EP) are pleased to announce the receipt of a $300,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation to support their combined efforts to advance the green roof industry in three key cities: Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
  4. USGBC’s Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee Issues Final Report on PVC – The Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) of the USGBC issued its final report to USGBC’s LEED Steering Committee (LSC) on the technical and scientific basis for a PVC-related credit within the LEED® Green Building Rating System™.  The report raises broader questions; LEED Steering Committee to decide next steps, policy agenda, and potential actions.

The existence of this struggle between PVC supporters and the USGBC suggests that PVC is not so green.  If you lobby hard enough, throw enough money at the cause, and wear enough people down, you can win in our day and age.  Generally speaking, people don’t stand up for what is right because doing so would require taking a visible position.  Taking a position requires persistence, diligence, ethics, and uncompromising, unwaivering fortitude.  So I ask, Mr. USGBC… do you have what it takes?  I hope you can swim upstream on this one or your existence will be completely and utterly futile.  If you can’t decide what’s green and what’s not, there is no need to certify buildings according to your ‘green’ standards.  imho.

By |March 3rd, 2007|Gadgets, LEED, Nature, News, Week in Review|0 Comments

1926 Hyde Park Home's Green Renovation Televised in This Old House


Sometimes, I’m amazed at what technology can do.  Recently, I read an article about Michael Klug + Michele Grieshaber’s 1926 bungalow in Austin’s historic Hyde Park, which was renovated in accordance with the Austin Green Building Program.  The original home was about 1,500 sf, but after renovations and adding some space, the 2,300 sf home uses half the energy of the original.  The house is part of an 8-show feature on This Old House, and you’ll be impressed to find a time-lapse video of the renovation project.  The DMN article suggests that the eco-friendly additions to the renovation added a price premium of about 10%, but let’s not forget that this home is outfitted with some pretty good stuff, including photovoltaics. 

Here are some of the green features:  rainwater reclamation for irrigation and landscaping; spray-foam insulation for added energy efficiency; recycled glass tile and countertops by IceStone; formaldehyde-free wood composites; milled wood from deconstruction used throughout the home in various places; James Hardie fiber cement siding, which can be a good substitute for wood siding; low-flow bathroom plumbing and high-efficiency kitchen appliances; a heat-reflecting standing-seam metal roof; and an array of photovoltaic panels on the south-facing roof.  Below, you’ll see pictures of the water reclamation tank and the cabinets that were made with Lyptus, a eucalyptus hybrid plant that grows fast.  DMN Article + Pictures

Steel Blue Lyptus Rainwater Reclamation
By |February 21st, 2007|Gadgets, Nature, Solar|1 Comment

$1.3B Carbon Neutral Chinese Eco-City in Dongtan

Chinese Dongtan Ecocity

In 2009, China is expected to surpass the U.S. as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.  Over 26% of the population (roughly 340 million people) lack access to clean drinking water and over 40% of Chinese cities lack sewage treatment facilities.  But the country is trying to innovate solutions for the future.  Recently, USA Today had an interesting article called "China Envisions Environmentally Friendly ‘Eco-City.’"  According to the article, state-run developers are building an eco-city in Dongtan, which is 3/4 the size of Manhattan.  Dongtan is located on Chongming Island about an hour from Shanghai.  The $1.3 billion project may be a model for eco-cities all over the world. 

The eco-city will be carbon neutral with the main grid of the city designed for walking and cycling, not for cars.  The city will be powered by solar and wind power, biofuels, and recycled organic material.  There will be green roofs for energy efficiency and insulation benefits and rainwater capture to maintain the landscaping.  All vehicles will operate on clean fuels and about a fourth of the city will be open green space.  Without all the gas and diesel vehicles clogging the streets, residents should be able to open up a window and enjoy the air.  About 20% of the city is held out for affordable housing, but some of the farmers still say it’s out of their price range.  See also SIIC

By |February 19th, 2007|Nature, Solar, Vegetation, Wind|0 Comments

LEED-H Silver Kelly Woodford Retreat Near Mt. Hood, Oregon


As one of the first residential LEED homes on the west coast, the Kelly Woodford home is blazing a trail for the future of residential construction.  In addition to its USGBC certification, the home is "net zero energy use" and Energy Star certified.  The 2,000 square-foot, three-bedroom/two-bath retreat has a great view of Mt. Hood and some pretty impressive green features.  Tom Kelly and Barbara Woodford built the home as a family getaway (with the Neil Kelly Company as general contractor), but they’ve also made the home available half the year to Neil Kelly employees to enjoy. 


By |February 14th, 2007|Gadgets, LEED, Modern architecture, Recycled, Solar|0 Comments

LEED-H Silver, Energy Star, Earth Advantage – Dolph Creek Townhomes


In Portland, Oregon, there’s a sustainable development called The Headwaters at Tryon Creek, which is a 2.88 acre, master-planned, mixed-income community that prioritizes sustainable building practices, energy + water conservation, wildlife habit restoration, and stormwater management.  One portion of the development includes the Dolph Creek Townhomes, which are 14 for sale, attached townhouses that are LEED Silver, Energy Star, and Earth Advantage certified.  Quite the list of certifications!  These luxury townhouses vary in size from 1,585 – 1,695 square feet, and in price from $369,950 – $379,950…purchasers qualify for the State Residential Energy Tax Credit. 

In addition to saving up to 45% on annual energy costs, here are some of the green features:  solar panels with 80 gallon storage tank, energy efficient windows, green label carpet, formaldehyde free cabinetry and wood products, heat recovery ventilators, on-demand gas and solar water heating, polyfoam insulation, exhaust fans in all the garages, drip irrigation system, and low-flow toilets, showers, and water faucets.  Of course, the floors will be bamboo (hopefully not the Chinese import variety) and the patio will have ipe hardwood decking.  From what I’ve seen, this looks like quite the community. 

By |February 9th, 2007|LEED, Modern architecture, Modern design, Solar, Vegetation|0 Comments

Owens Corning Headquarters Receives Silver LEED-EB Certification


The Energy Star-rated Owens Corning (NYSE: OC) world headquarters building in Toledo, Ohio, has added another badge of honor with Silver LEED-EB certification.  Designed by Cesar Pelli (listed by the AIA as one of the 10 Most Influential American Architects) and built in 1996, Pelli spoke approvingly of the certification, "I am pleased this facility provided the solid foundation needed to earn the recognition that the LEED Existing Building certification provides."  For a couple other examples of LEED-EB buildings, feel free to click over to read about Adobe + Union Bank of California Center.  Owens Corning also runs The Pink Panther Energy Blog, which informs customers on insulation + energy conservation best practices. 

Green Features:
Here are just a few of the green features mentioned in the certification: under-floor ventilation for energy-efficient air delivery and specific control of thermal comfort; low maintenance, indigenous landscaping; easterly facing building allowing for natural lighting control via adjustable shading; and reusable, removable, non-adhesive carpet squares throughout almost the entire building.  See also CO + PRNewswire

By |January 30th, 2007|Corporate, LEED, Vegetation|0 Comments