Being Green Can Be Easy. EcoUrban Homes Proves It. The first of several up and coming EcoUrban homes was recently completed, and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was on location to celebrate the grand opening. It just so happens that this home is probably one of the greenest homes in Missouri — it has obtained LEED Platinum rating. Located at 3140 Pennsylvania Avenue in St. Louis, this 3-bedroom, 2-bath, modular home has a bamboo stairs, fiber cement board siding, double-pane low-e windows, R-40 Icynene insulation in ceilings and floors, built-in security system and recycling center, solid wheat board interior doors, ultra-low VOC paints, dual-flush high-efficiency toilets, and Energy Star lighting and appliances, to name a few green amenities.
This is a pretty huge announcement. The financial case for green building is so compelling that we occasionally see companies making the green change cold turkey saying, "Everything from now on will be green." That’s what Wachovia is doing. First comes news that Wachovia will take space in the Charlotte, N.C, green tower designed by TVS architects. Now, we have an announcement that starting in 2008, all bank branch construction will be according to LEED specifications. With major expansions expected in California and Texas, we’re talking about 300 green bank centers. Here’s the incredible part. Wachovia has determined that each green building will save the company about $80,000 in construction costs and 20% in operating costs, when compared to a traditionally constructed branch. Additionally, when leasing new space in the future, Wachovia has committed to take on space certified under the LEED for Commercial Interiors program. The company is currently studying ways to retrofit existing branches in a green way.
In addition to using about 20% less energy and 25% less water, these healthier buildings should increase worker productivity and have better indoor air quality. Wachovia plans to roll out its recycling program for paper, plastics, aluminum, and glass. Also, branches will feature preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles. Move Hummer, get out the way. Via.
If everything pans out, 5IVE is going to be one of the hottest homes to hit the modern + green scene. You watch, I’m calling it right now. This Minneapolis, Minnesota home is aiming for the distinct accomplishment of LEED Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council guidelines. Platinum green homes get attention. John Dwyer, professor at University of Minnesota and founder of Shelter Architecture, designed the home for Jeff and Saleno Gallo. 5IVE is built with precast concrete walls with an r-value in the 30s, has one of the most efficient heating and cooling systems on the market, and will use the greenest possible materials, products, appliances, and fixtures.
The blogosphere is cool because we can use it to peer into the lives of others and learn from their experiences. Jeff Gallo and Dwyer are collaborating on a blog by documenting the step-by-step process of building one of the greenest homes in Minnesota. Right now, details are a little scant (for the unbuilt portions), so check the progress at the 5IVE blog for more specifics.
"It’s better to be ahead of the ‘green’ curve than to play catch-up. A proactive program to modify your development methods clearly represents an opportunity to increase competitive advantage in civic development projects. This is the case for Federal Realty where Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and other environmentally based requirements are mandated by a number of jurisdictions in charge of civic projects."
–Donald Wood, President & CEO
Federal Realty Investment Trust
Real Estate Portfolio, May/June 2007
The 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!
That’s right. Another example of the business case for going green. Recently, Gatorade received LEED Gold-level certification for the Gatorade Thirst Quencher Blue Ridge facility in Wytheville, Virginia. At 950,000 sf, it weighs in as the largest green food and beverage facility in the world. Notice the oxymoron: large green; but it’s not really fair for me to say that. Building a manufacturing facility to the LEED Gold level can be quite the accomplishment. Like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo (which owns Gatorade) sees the benefits of having green production facilities. In addition to the PR benefits of showing the community that you’re not wasteful of valuable water resources, you build a better work environment for employees and waste less energy. Big companies with green buildings show their employees that green is good, and this thinking starts to cascade. Eventually, employees will greenify their homes and habits. Employees will tell their friends and families, too. Word will spread and there will be a point, not in the too distant future, when everyone accepts green as the standard and non-green as passé, wasteful, and unsophisticated.