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Skyscraper Sunday: LEED Gold Connecting Old + New (Seattle)

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I came across an interesting statistic (which will be obsolete in no time) about LEED certified office buildings.  There are about 669 LEED certified office buildings, and of that number, only 38 are remodels.  Why?  When you have a building that’s occupied, how are you going do a green renovation without losing rents?  Here’s one way.  The former Union Bank of California Center, the 41-story, 34-year-old building owned by Beacon Capital Partners, is looking to be one of the few LEED-Existing Building (EB) certified structure in the United States.  Because most of the leases are due to expire over the next five years, the company will be able to renovate as space opens up.  They’ll shift tenants around until the building is complete.   

This is about a $36 million remodel job.  Green amenities will include the following:  shaved columns for added light; automated artificial lights; recycled and recyclable carpet; no- or low-VOC paints; recycled metal in ceilings; new insulation in walls that were uninsulated; new high-efficiency heating and cooling systems; water-efficient bathroom fixtures; and runoff water landscaping. 

Additionally, BCP started construction next door on a new, 24-story, 126-unit green condo tower at Fifth Avenue and Madison Street.  The new building will be complete in 2008.  BCP officials said they are seeking LEED Gold for both buildings.  I must say that will be a powerful juxtaposition of the old and new:  both environmental leaders in their own way (EB + NC).  Via Seattle Post-Intelligencer + Emporis.

LEED Gold David L. Lawrence Convention Center: The Three Rs in 2006


The David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLLCC) was conceived from a design competition in 1999, which was won by Rafael Vinoly Architects, P.C..  After a few years of construction and phased openings, the large structure was completed in September 2003.  After receiving LEED Gold certification, the Pittsburgh structure became the world’s first green convention center.  What’s interesting, however, is that the DLLCC just released some statistics from 2006 detailing the building’s operating performance. 

In their press release, the DLLCC explained its green performance within the framework of the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle): 

  • Reduce – utilizing the natural ventilation system for 58 days, roughly 33% of Exhibit Hall’s event days, eliminated the need for artificial heating and cooling;
  • Reuse – reclaimed more than 4.75 million gallons of water via the water treatment facility and reused about 1,500 wooden pallets;
  • Recycle – recycled 65,480 pounds of paper and cardboard (equivalent of 557 trees + 229,000 gallons of water) and 1,720 pounds of glass, plastic, and aluminum. 

General Manager of DLLCC, Mark Leahy explains, "These practices and results are reinforcing the community’s belief that greening has a short and long-term positive impact on Pittsburgh and the region."  Exactly.  Yet another example of positive economics and green buildings. 

Skyscraper Sunday: The Modern + Green Skyscraper Movement


[Runtime = 4:13 min.]  I wanted to include this video within my post, but E&ETV disabled the embed function, so head over to Youtube this jolly Christmas eve to watch a good primer on green skysrapers.  With modern skyscrapers, everyone is focused on sustainable, energy-efficient structures.  These days, most skyscraper design integrates LEED, as an overlay to the rest of the design process.  The video narrative goes through some of the most popular green skyscrapers, such as World Trade Center Complex, Hearst Tower, and Bank of America Tower.   

Noteworthy Green News: Week in Review

Week in Review
  1. Wind Energy Scores Major Legal Victory in U.S. (Texas) – Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas, currently the world’s largest wind farm, did not create enough noise to be considered a private nuisance.  Via Hugg
  2. Google Plants Solar Trees – About a third of the 9,000 solar panels (total 1.6-megawatt solar system) Google’s installing will take the form of overhanging parking shades at the million-square-foot campus in Mountain View. The others will be mounted on rooftops.
  3. Boston Ready to Go Green – Boston is expected to become the first major city in the nation to require private developers to adhere to a strict set of so-called green-building standards, officials said yesterday.  (I need to fact check to determine whether it’s the first city). 
  4. Green State v. Brown State: Report Details California and Texas Energy Use – Despite its size California’s per capita energy consumption ranks 46 out of the 50 states. Texans, on the other hand, are power hogs, with the state the 5th largest consumer of energy. Texas produces 10.2 percent of the country’s coal-fired electricity; California a tenth of 1 percent. California, however, generates the most power from solar, wind and other non-hydro sources, accounting for about 26 percent of the U.S.’s renewable energy.

On that last note, I’m a Texan and I must say, doesn’t it feel good to know that our state has become the laggard in terms of modernizing energy infrastructure and sourcing?  If we can find a way to boot out the rich executives that are hamstringing Texas’ energy situation, there’s a growing population of innovative leaders and thinkers that will generate returns for our future.  The question is, would you rather take the profits on your 35mm film sales OR would you like to own the patent on the digital camera

Market Style Apartments: Comfortable, Green Apartment Community for Naval Personnel

Market_style_apartments_1 The Navy has commissioned a $39.5 million, 2-level, 6 courtyard apartment community for about 420 Naval service members in Norfolk Naval Station.  What’s most impressive is that the community will use environmentally friendly design and pursue LEED certification.  Dubbed Market Style Apartments, the apartments were designed by VOA Associates, a Chicago-based firm with considerable LEED experience.  In addition to the spacious courtyard areas, there will be 3 two-story lounge areas for social gatherings.  Generally speaking, the design is part of an overall movement towards friendlier, welcoming military housing.  In addition to using recycled materials in its construction, the apartments are expected to consume 20% less energy.  There will be low-VOC paints, carpets + other indoor products and the fixtures will be chosen for water savings (low-flow fixtures, efficient shower heads, and automated water shut-offs).  Construction begins in the Spring 2007 and finishes 2008-2009.  Via MHN

Mixed Use Summit 2006: 4 Reasons To Think About Sustainability


Never mind the fact that I’m supposed to be finishing a final for intellectual property, I spent the day at Victory Park and the new Dallas W Hotel, attending the Mixed Use Summit, presented by Commercial Property News and Multi-Housing News.  I found the seminar extremely enlightening and educational; I wanted to pass on some nuggets of green development wisdom.  If you could provide a nugget, a quote of sorts, on green building and the future of sustainability, what would it be?  Comments are open. 

On Sustainability:
"If you’re not thinking about sustainability, you’re missing the boat.  TODs, urban development, LEED, etc.  There are four reasons you should be thinking about it:  (1) it’s the right thing to do, (2) your competition’s doing it, (3) it adds value to the project, and (4) it speeds up the process."  – Ken Ryan, Principal of EDAW Inc. 


  • "This is where the future is going and groups are getting staffed up with LEED Accredited Professionals, they’re getting everyone certified."
  • "It’s sort of a best practices thing."
  • "It’s easier to sell LEED to corporate tenants, rather than human tenants, but we’re starting to get there…"
  • "If you have a project and people are worried about the bottom line, it’s tough to go LEED, especially the contractors–they’re hard to get on board, but the sales appeal is very big.  Developers know the appeal is big and they’re trying to figure it out…"
  • "In a place like Chicago, with all the requirements they have, you’re about 3/4 the way to LEED, so you might as well take the plunge and go all the way." 

This conference had many of the best developers and architects from around the country in one room, strategizing and talking about the future of land use, specifically urban development + smart growth, in the US. 

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