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Rowhaus Condominiums, Modern + Green Living by Blue Conservancy

Rowhaus

I’m in the middle of trying to find a nice little home in Salt Lake City and don’t think I’ve ever seen the words ‘bungalow’ or ‘rambler’ so much in my life.  Many (not all) of the places here are run down, beat up, smelly, oozing with latent mold and lead issues, and very expensive.  There’s not much in the way of modern or contemporary offerings either, but there’s a small community of developers starting to turn that around.  For example, if we were in the position to buy, we’d go after this place being developed by Blue Conservancy called Rowhaus

Located at 1130 South West Temple, Rowhaus is a community of 24, 3-story, townhouse-style condominiums.  With prices starting at $299,000, Rowhaus is one of the nascent green offerings in the urban housing market here in Salt Lake City.  Some of the green features include the following: quiet, insulated concrete partition walls; large, thermally broken operable windows in all rooms; Energy Star appliances; and two minute walk to rail transportation.  Each unit is about 2,000 sf, with separate 2-car garages and a private yard.  Also, from what I understand, Blue Conservancy is a Salt Lake City Green certified business.  Nice. 

$5B Clinton, Eco-Yahoo!, Health-Care Constuction, Nevada Ungreens, Porous Paving, Ed Begley Jr.'s Green Website, & Green Building Studio (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Clinton Climate Initiative Offers $5B to Green Municipal Buildings at Cities Nationwide.
  2. Yahoo! Issues ‘Greenest City in America‘ Challenge with Reward of Hybrid Taxi Fleet.
  3. $41B Health-care Construction Industry Going Green to Save Energy, Cut Infection Rates.
  4. Nevada State Board Hopes to Change (Remove) Green Building Standard, Mislead About LEED.
  5. Porous Paving Grows in Popularity as a Stormwater Management Solution. 
  6. Ed Begley, Jr. Launches a Truly Unique Sustainable Living Website at FixingThePlanet.com
  7. Green Building Studio being dubbed A Google for Green Building Products.
  8. Commentary on Why Green Buildings Cannot Save the Planet.

Botanical Visitor's Attraction: Eco Rainforest by Grimshaw

Eco Rainforest
Eco Rainforest

I’m not sure if this concept will make it into practice, but I like the idea.  We have zoos right?  Why not create a botanical visitor’s attraction of the tropical rain forest?  That’s the concept that Grimshaw Architects created and was rewarded with a 2007 MIPIM/AR Future Project Award in the Sustainability category.  Generally, here’s how it works: the enclosed greenhouse will create a tropical zone, a rain forest of sorts, housing both plant and animal life that people can walk through and study.  The goal of this man-made rain forest is to mimic the ecosystems from tropical regions of the world.  It will have 50 meter high gabion walls around the enclosure that contain composting tubes for heat generation during periods when the passive solar gain isn’t enough to sustain the tropical environment.  The idea is to harness the energy created by the decomposing biodegradable matter and re-create a tropical rain forest.  Grimshaw hopes that by doing so, the Rainforest will have the potential to grow fruits and vegetables with vastly reduced food miles. 

Transporting goods has a carbon cost associated with it, so people want to buy locally.  But climate can vary dramatically from one place to another making it tough to get some things locally…that is, unless you can recreate the climate of another area.  Think:  oranges in Canada.  To a small extent, this is what happens with a greenhouse.  Here, however, you are creating a greenhouse on a grand scale, one that is carbon neutral and cyclical.  It’s a good idea. 

Citizen Wisdom: Dallas Building Wants Green Renovation, Any Ideas?

Dallas Green RenovationThe bloggers over at the Practical Environmentalist just bought a non-green building in Dallas for their business, Clean Air Gardening.  The 13,000 sf building was built in the 1960s and they have a budget of about $50,000 to make it green.  We’re talking LEED, Energy Star, etc., you name it, they want to go green in an economically pragmatic way.  I figure we can tap the wisdom of the crowds and find a way to help them out, citizen wisdom style.  Feel free to drop your ideas into the comments here, or go over to PE directly and leave a comment.  Also, if you’re a Dallas business and want to get involved helping them do their thing, make sure to let them know. 

Already, PE seems to have this situation under control.  I like that they are signing up with Green Mountain Energy, using low-VOCs inside (good for indoor air quality), replacing old toilets with more water-efficient ones, adding a rainwater cistern to avoid using new water for landscaping, and replacing the door with a more energy-efficient set up.  Here are a few additional suggestions I have:

  • Consider a commercial-grade energy audit to determine where you may be losing air or energy.  Use that information to seal up cracks and fix stuff as needed (which will allow you to rely less on the dated HVAC system). 
  • Like you say, go with the Commercial Solatube lighting, if possible.  The more natural light, the better.  Why pay for light when the sun gives it away for free? 
  • For the interior design, use low-VOC carpets tiles and adaptable workstations/furniture from a company like Haworth (big-time commitment to recycled and sustainable products).  Haworth has a strong Dallas presence. 
  • Before making the investment in solar, try using a thermal energy storage product (like the ones offered by Dallas-based Trinity Thermal) that captures cheaper energy during off-peak times for use during more expensive peak periods.  This can contribute to LEED certification and has good $$ benefits. 
  • If you’re renovating the exterior, continue using a light color to reflect heat from the building.  Also, landscape in ways to shade the hottest parts of the building.  You guys are experts here, but natural landscaping will help with water conservation, too. 

That’s what I have so far, but I’m sure there are Dallas experts out there waiting to get your business and showcase their products.  Good luck!

Atkins' Al Sharq Office Complex in Kuwait City (S2)

Al Sharq Tower Recently, an Atkins office complex concept received big-time coverage by being awarded the 2007 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Award in the Office category.  I’m blogging about it because I like some of the sustainable elements.  The 180 meter Al Sharq tower includes an executive gym, health club, spa, and swimming pool at the top.  The building also features planted sky gardens in strategic locations where people can step outside, take a break, soak in the view, and think.  Commenting on the building’s unique green attributes, Nicholas Bailey of Atkins in Bahrain said:

This is a green building – literally – because of its foliage camouflage.  Vertical fins to the street elevation, formed in colored glass, are fitted with integrated solar panels that contribute to the building’s energy needs.  The project showcases a new way of building the working environment.  It is no longer a cage to confine workers, but a creative living environment to encourage productivity.  The groundbreaking concept of the project is the provision of different scenarios where business can take place.  More images below. 

Good Links:
+Atkins Office Concept Wins International Award [atkins global]
+Kuwait Office Development Short listed for MIPIM Award [WAN]

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M-CH: Less is More Edition

m-ch

Let’s face it, less is more.  What you see is the micro compact home, aka m-ch, which is a 76 sf home designed by Richard Horden, a professor at Technical University of Munich (TUM).  m-ch was designed to meet the growing demand for short-stay living.  I think Horden’s on to something.  Right now, there’s a horde of 7 m-chs that TUM students and staff occasionally stay in.  But there’s also a 16-unit village of m-chs being developed for a site near Vienna, Austria. 

What’s great about the m-ch is its high-tech design.  It’s all geeked out with the latest in electronics and technology.  Future models plan to use solar panels and horizontal-axis wind turbines to make the home self-sustaining.  For $96,000 (delivery + installation anywhere in Europe), you get a sliding table for 5, two 7.5 foot beds, shelves and drawers, an electrical systems control panel, bathroom and shower, and a kitchen with a microwave, fridge/freezer, sink, waste unit, and work surface.  For a quick jaunt and a little fun, what more could you ask for?  Via WiredCool images below the fold. 

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