This is a building I saw first on Archidose. Since the website project description is in Dutch, it’s hard to get specific information on this building, but I’ll share what I’ve been able to get translated. Urban Cactus is a project of the Rotterdam-based architectural office UCX Architects, founded by Ben Huygen + Jasper Jagers. It will have 98 residential units on 19 floors, and because the project abuts the harbor, the architects chose to give the building a more green, natural feel (rather than the urban feel common to neighboring architecture). I’m thinking that this layout provides an interesting mixture of sunlight + shade with the perfect amount of green space that is usually lacking in most vertical high-rise buildings.
About one year ago yesterday, Hunt Consolidated Inc. broke ground on a new office tower, which borders on Akard Street and Woodall Rogers Freeway. You’ve probably seen it, it has massive cement beams curving on its northerly face. The building is being developed by Woodbine Development Corporation, which is partially owned somehow in the Hunt Consolidated Empire. I heard from a friend (hearsay, I know) that Chairman Ray Hunt, or some other c-level executive, was asked at a luncheon whether the building was going to be green and he equivocated saying something like, "Well, we’re not going to build green just to build green, but we’ll do it if there are tangible economic reasons to do it."
I did some research and it looks like Hunt Consolidated Office Tower is registered with the USGBC as LEED-CI v2.0, otherwise know as the green ratings standard for commercial interiors. If my understanding is correct, that building is to be 100% owner-occupied, so Hunt is going green inside? Not sure. Here’s what I know. It will be a $120 million, 400,000 square foot, 15 story building. Gensler, which is #2 in the US for having the largest number of LEED Accredited Professionals, will be doing the interiors. So they have the know-how to go green on the inside. The entire structure was designed by Dallas-based Beck Group and the general contractor is Austin Commercial. Looks like it may be going green, but if the decision is still in the air, here’s my two cents: what’s more economic incentive to build green than a $6.3 million tax abatement over 10 years? That abatement should cover the 1% premium (if that) required to go green.
In the last "Green Office" segment here on Jetson Green, I talked about the merits of investing in a Think chair from Steelcase for your office. Need a desk? Some of you may shut down purely at the price tag ($2,200), but there’s a price premium for style + sustainability. You can find the Liege Desk, designed by Jeffrey Bernett + Nicholas Dodziuk, exclusively at Design Within Reach. The desk uses sustainable chestnut or oak veneers and the stainless steel is finish-free. The wood varnish is non-toxic and low in volatile organic compounds. Measuring H 30" x W 60" x D 30", the Liege Desk accommodates storage that can be placed on the right or left, depending on your orientation. It’s a pretty good looking desk solution and would definitely go well with the Think chair. Via Collin Dunn at Treehugger.
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.
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.
++Starwood Plans Green Hotels [South Florida Business Journal]
++Starwood + Sternlicht Unveil Groundbreaking ’1′ Hotel Concept [Press Release]
++Starwood Capital Group [Official Website]
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!
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.