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Starwood Capital Group Announces New Green Hotel: 1 Hotel + Residences

Starwood_capital_group Early last spring, I was looking into the faces of 45 bored students, giving my 4 minute business plan pitch for a trendy, green hotel concept geared specifically for young professionals ages 20-40.  I had it all laid out:  kiosk integration for mundane tasks, high customer service, green shuttle service, LEED certified hotel construction interior and exterior, teamwork style cleaning, paperless everything, free internet, slightly smaller rooms with mega-style, modern art + photographs, etc.  People were like, "I don’t know if that will work."  "What’s wrong with the Hilton or La Quinta."  Well, it looks like my instincts were right:  Starwood Capital Group announced plans to launch a new brand, "1" Hotel and Residences, as a luxury, eco-friendly global hotel brand.  The first hotels will be in Seattle (late 2008), Mammoth Lakes, Scottsdale, and Fort Lauderdale (in order of opening).   

Let’s face it, the entire industry will head this direction because hotels are levered to the cost of energy in two ways:  (1)  people travel less as transportation energy costs rise and (2) hotel’s profit margin is squeezed by the energy costs of running a building.  Up until now, most hotels haven’t really attacked this problem by looking at the entirety of the situation:  by building green hotel buildings!  So trend-setting hoteliers like Starwood are going to make money because they are operationally smart.  I’m excited about this green development.  After the initial locations, "1" will expand to New York, Los Angeles, + Washington D.C., soon thereafter.

Sustainability:
The hotels will be LEED certified in and out.  Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will act as environmental advisor for the brand.  Each "1" location will donate 1% of its revenues to local environmental organizations.  The first four hotels, and most of the hotels, will be new construction, but Paris will be a renovation.  "1" emphasizes air and light, offering a fresh, invigorating, and alternative way to travel.  Inundated with the "richness, beauty and variety of colors, textures and materials," guests and residents (sounds like a multi-use platform) may not realize the myriad of ways that their building is stepping lightly on the earth.

Good Links:
++Starwood Plans Green Hotels [South Florida Business Journal]
++Starwood + Sternlicht Unveil Groundbreaking ’1′ Hotel Concept [Press Release]
++Starwood Capital Group [Official Website]

Skyscraper Sunday: LEED Platinum Genzyme Center

Anton_grassl_genzyme_rendering This building is a little old hat for many of the readers here (it was an AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Project in 2004), but I think there are some important aspects of the projects that can be remembered and applied to new green projects.  This building is in the highest eschelon of LEED ratings, the platinum standard (LEED-NC, v2), and if you follow the links below, they’ve been generous enough to explain how they received all the points towards Platinum certification.  You can even take a virtual tour of the building if you’re interested. 

The building is the corporate headquarters for a biotechnology firm and houses 900 employees in 12 floors.  Here are some of the many green features:  high performance curtainwall glazing system with operable windows on all 12 floors; steam from local plant is used for heating + cooling; about 1/3 of the building uses ventilated double-facade that blocks summer solar and captures winter solar gains; the central atrium acts as a huge return air duct and light shaft; air moves up the atrium and out exhaust fans near the skylight; natural light is brought in from solar-tracking mirrors above the skylight and reflected deep throughout the building; the building saves water use comparably by 32% by using waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, automatic faucets, and low-flush fixtures; storm water supplements the cooling towers and irrigates the landscaped roof; partial electricity generation is provided by the building integrated photovoltaics (PV); nearly 90% of the wood is FSC-certified; and the building materials were chosen based on low emissions, recycled content, and/or local manufacturing.  Not a bad list!

Anton_grassl_layers_photo_1 Roland_halbe_interior

Really, I think this enormous achievement required the collective efforts of many different players with a similar vision.  Architect and lead designer was Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner, executive architect – base building was House & Robertson Architects, tenant improvements architect was Next Phase Studios, landscape architect was Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects, and Turner Construction Company was the contractor. 

Extra Links:
USGBC Case Study Information
Top Ten Green Projects 2004 [AIA/COTE]
Genzyme Center Building Information + Facts [Genzyme Website]

Skyscraper Sunday: Dallas Condo Tower, Azure, Going Green

Azure_dallas_image Absolute Architectural Splendor.  There’s a little bit of green development in Dallas, but we can do more to catch up to other progressive cities such as Portland + Austin.  Azure, a 375-foot condo in Dallas being developed by the innovative Gabriel Barbier-Mueller of Harwood International (+ Westback Projects Corporation), is Dallas’ first foray into LEED, green living, as far as residential condo development is concerned.  Azure is on track to receive the LEED gold certification from the USGBC, but it is trying to get platinum.  Really, all that matters is that this place will be green + modern. 

Architectural design is by James KM Cheng Architects Inc., interior design by Gensler and Lauren Rottet, FAIA, and external landscaping by SWA Group.  As far as sustainable building is concerned, here’s what I know so far:  high-performance engineered window system with clear anodized aluminum framing and insulated clear double glazing with Low-E coating; energy efficient lighting meeting National Energy Code; LEED certified building envelope and heating/air conditioning; and high-quality roller/motorized shading system made of sun control fabric. 

Azure_rendering Azure_interior Azure_side_rendering

Some amenities include Miele and Sub-Zero appliances and professionally designed interiors.  Owners will also have access to the spa, his/her sauna, state-of-the-art exercise facilities, private garage (refered to as "G2"), 17 seat theater, garden terrace and pool, boardroom, and library with a fireplace.  What this means is that Azure will be a 31 story, 202 unit, $400,000 – $4.2 M per-unit superstar.  Seriously.  And I know it’s well over 65% pre-sold, so those that are interested will need to jump on it quick.  It should be complete in Spring 2007. 

Extra Links:
Azure Website [www.azureliving.com]
The Allure of Azure [Jim Schutze - Observor]
Azure Live Construction Camera
Harwood International Website
Westbank Projects Corporation Website

Green Office: Steelcase Think Chair–"the Chair with a Brain + a Conscience"

Think_green_office My first installment to the "Green Office" segment is about the office chair.  I walked into a friend’s downtown office (a lawyer) and he had some beat up, patchy furniture inside.  I asked him what the deal was and he responded that it was all the firm provided.  That gets me, big-time.  For all you professionals out there, especially young professionals, your job is your domain and if the bossman isn’t providing it, do it yourself.  My credo, dress and office like the person who’s job you want to have.  So I prefer CEO-style all the way.  If clients come in my office, they’ll see CEO-style.  Compare that to the cubicle next door and they’ll form an impression about your position in the firm.  You’ve got to be a rainmaker, so this is all about looking the part. 

As far as office chairs go, there seems to be a race to ergonomics–"Ooh, nice, is that so and so’s chair?"  "Did corporate get that for ya?"  "How much does one of those run?"  You get the drift.  Steelcase, Inc. makes this entire process very easy, actually, modern + green easy.  They have two chairs that are Cradle to Cradle™ Certified Silver:  Think™ + Leap®.  I’m going to focus on Think.  Think also received the BusinessWeek 2006 Gold IDEA award, IIDEX Sustainable Design Gold award, NeoCon Editor’s Choice Award, and the Red Dot Award for Product Design (Germany).  But forget accolades, here’s where sustainability meets the chair. 

Think_white Think_downward Think_white_office

First, cradle to cradle for this chair means the company considered what goes into the chair, how it is made, and what happens to the chair when it is no longer a chair.  The chair is designed to be highly recyclable + safe for environmental health.  Second, the chair is up to 99% recyclable by weight + up to 44% recycled content.  Third, disassembly takes about 5 minutes and Steelcase has set up the structure for customers to participate in recycling of their used chair.  Fourth, the chair is Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified.  But if this is too green for you, there’s more. 

Think is comfortable too.  It has the adjustable arms, pneumatic seat height, and innovative back "flexors" that track and respond fluidly to your natural weight and movements.  So not only is this chair environmentally conscious, it’s smart, too.  I think an added benefit to the chair is that one can order the thing online and have it shipped FedEx ground-style for free.  So, if you’re tired of that standard office stuff and want to make a change, I’d get one of these Steelcase chairs shipped straight to the office. 

Extra Links:
Think Chair Mini-site [Steelcase]
Steelcase Online Store
MBDC Cradle to Cradle Certification

Skyscraper Sunday: Hearst Tower Goes LEED Gold

Hearst_diagrid_structure The handsome Hearst Tower skyscraper achieved LEED Gold accreditation from the USGBC–it’s the first to be recognized as such in New York City.  The building architect is the famous Norman Foster, and this is the third time for Jetson Green to feature one of his buildings (30 St Mary Axe + WTC 200 Greenwich).  Norman Foster is literally one of the leading architects in the modern/contemporary + green building field.  This building is particularly bold for its environmental mission: it used 80% recycled steel and will consume 25% less energy than its skyscraper counterparts. 

Green Features:
The green features of Hearst Tower reflect the environmental commitment and vision of Hearst Corporation–a leading corporation with interests in magazines (O, The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Cosmopolitan, + Esquire), newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer), broadcasting, entertainment television (ESPN, ESPN2, Lifetime, A&E, + The History Channel), and interactive media (broadcast dot com, iVillage, XM Satellite Radio).  We are talking about a huge company taking a pro-active step to provide high-caliber, environmentally-friendly working spaces. 

  • About 85% of the original structure was recycled for future buildingHearst_at_dusk
  • The "diagrid" system (diagonal + grid) eliminates the need for verticle steel beams, which provides structural efficiency and greater use of natural light
  • Using the diagrid system required 20% less steel (a 2,000 ton savings in steel)
  • Foreign-sourced materials accounted for less than 10% of the total cost of construction
  • Low-E coated glass on the exterior of the building allow natural light into the building sans heat
  • Internal light sensors control the balance of artificial and natural light
  • Activity sensors adjust the system and turn off lights and computers when systems aren’t in use
  • The roof collects rainwater and reduces the amount of rainwater that dumps into NYC’s sewer system by 25%
  • A 14,000 gallon water reclamation tank in the basement provides 50% of the buildings water needs
  • Harvested water is used for the "Icefall"–a 3-story sculpted water feature (also the nation’s largest sustainable water feature) that will humidify and cool the atrium
  • Walls were painted with low-VOC paint, workstations were built without formaldehyde, and concrete surfaces were finished with low toxicity sealants
  • Floors and ceiling tiles are manufactured with recycled content
Hearst_atrium Ice_falls_water_feature_1

Extra Links:
Norman Foster Website
Hearst Tower LEED Certified in "Gold" [Treehugger - John Laumer]
The Hearst Tower [Architectural Record]

Skyscraper Sunday: SOM, Green Skycraper Firm of the Year

Jinao_tower_nanjing_1There’s just no stopping Skidmore, Owings + Merrill.  They are the (as nominated by Jetson Green) Green Skyscraper Firm of the Year.  I blogged about them in regards to the zero energy Pearl River Tower, which absolutely blows me away.  Have you seen the thing?  I also blogged about them on 9/11 because they designed the green Freedom Tower, which is going to be an architectural beacon of freedom and innovation for decades in the future.  When it comes to sustainability and architectural excellence in skyscapers, SOM is the number one firm.  That’s hands down. 

SOM has an enormous portfolio of work in China and they are working on over 15 skyscraper projects there right now.  Interestingly, it’s easier to be innovative in China because the climate lends itself to such behavior.  Firms in the US are reluctant to take on commercial/security risk.  They don’t want to tick off neighbors or trade unions either.  China on the other hand wants to push the envelope.  They have cheap materials and a desire to build green structures.  They are a command economy, so there’s not much public outcry, even if the building is outlandish.  Plus, global recognition helps their situation.  I get heaps of search queries on my blog everyday for a post I did on the Pearl River Tower–that’s global recognition.   

Nanjing_jinling_hotel_1 Nanjing_greenland Shenzhen_avic_plaza

I’ve included some pictures of buildings that SOM has designed for construction in China.  There’s too much to say about each, but one thing should be noted, however:  these buildings are all going to be done in 2007-2008.  There’s a quick turnaround time in China–they have the attitude to get things done.  Notice the delay for buildings like this in the United States and query whether that has anything to do with (in comparison) innovation, politics, determination, or drive.

Nanjing Greenland will have irregularly-spaced slots for green space that "march vertically up the facade."  Jinao Tower will be built with less steel than a traditional skyscraper.  It will be built around a diagonal grid bracing system (similar to the one used for Hearst Tower of New York).  Jinao Tower also features a double-skinned surface for solar shading and insulation.  Each SOM buildling is chock full of innovation. 

Extra Links:
SOM Company Site
Not Innovative?  SOM’s Skyscraper Projects in China Tell a Different Story [Architectural Record]

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