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Green Valley Lofts Raise the Bar for Innovative Mixed Use, Sustainable Development

Building_rendering_1 There really, actually, truly, factually, legitimately is a growing interest in living in more environmentally sensitive buildings.  Even still, whether you’re looking for a single family home, urban townhome, downtown loft, or warehouse loft, the players in the green development field are few and far between (but increasing).  I noticed an interesting developer that is building the "first ‘zero energy’ sustainable mixed-use building in Las Vegas."  This green development, called the Green Valley Lofts, is minutes from the Vegas strip and neighbors all the urban amenities one could ask for (gym, restaurants, banks, dry cleaner, car wash, etc.).  It’s lined to be LEED Certified, too. 

Green Features:
The building will have a stainless steel substructure with floor to ceiling Heat-Mirror insulated glass (benefits include improved interior comfortability, reduced fabric fading, and maximum noise control), aka the EAG Facade.  Also there’s a rooftop solar-photovoltaic system, energy-efficient (non-ozone depleting) closet-type water source HVAC system, low wattage lighting, Energy Star appliances, tankless water heaters, eco-space elevator, whole house central water filtration system, programmable thermostats, zero- to low-VOC non-toxic paints, and bamboo flooring.  The company has a nice description of the benefits of these green features online. 

The interior will include all the amenities that a modernist would desire:  imported Italian kitchens, recycled glass countertops, bamboo flooring, remote controlled window shades, and the whole house lighting system.  Note, some of these features are greener than others.  There’s a glass enclosed roof-top spa as well. 

Loft_interior Loft_bathroom Loft_balcony

As far as pricing is concerned, these lofts aren’t cheap, but that’s understandable because they aren’t built to be cheap.  Phase 1 prices seem to range from the low $400s to $1.1 million.  And some of the financial incentives that they offer include the popular energy efficient mortgage, the Nevada Power Solar Rebate Program, the usual Federal + State renewable energy tax incentives, and any other energy tax incentives.  What’s better, there will be an raffle and one lucky owner will receive the New 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid.  Nice business model guys, really. 

Extra Links:
Green Valley Lofts [official website]
EAG Facade [Euro-American Glazing]

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

Intellicenter USA + Koll Development: "Developing for the [Green] Future"

Intel_4story_large

Now this is what I’m talking about.  Sexy green skyscrapers and platinum green prefabs are cool, but now we’re moving into a new realm of green real estate development.  Dallas-based Koll Development Company (KDC) is speculating on a new generation of buildings.  Actually, they’re going to be LEED CS (Core + Shell) certified, but they’re also going to be modern and tech-savvy.  I noticed the construction of one on the way back from DFW airport in Irving, at the southwest corner of Beltline and LBJ.  KDC’s new product will be called the "Intellicenter" and they’re "Developing for the Future."

Here’s the thing that will really knock your socks off:  click here to go see a webcam view of the progress.  Keep watching because in about December 2006, this thing will be complete. 

Intellicenters will feature raised floor design and energy efficiency all around.  Individual workstations will have HVAC controls.  The lobby will feature Terrazzo recycled glass and natural stone flooring. The green features list could go on and on.  But KDC is also thinking of the bottom line and the necessary benefits to companies; their buildings aim for the following:  (1)  higher performance systems, (2) reduced operating expenses, (3) maximum design efficiencies, (4) increased flexibility for technological advances, and (5) environmental stewardship.  For LEED design, these buildings command a premium of $2-3 more per square foot (on construction cost), which comes out to around 25 cents per square foot on a lease rate.  Not bad.  Customers will get that back in energy savings, increased employee productivity, and other intangibles.

In addition to this Dallas Intellicenter, KDC has Intellicenter’s under construction in Houston, Atlanta, Riverside (CA), and Charlotte.  They’ve teamed up with Prudential Real Estate Investors to offer 2 million square feet of office space valued at around $200-250 million (each building will be about 150,000-200,000 sq. ft).  Interestingly, each building will be almost entirely the same, which allows the developer to minimize costs (as opposed to reinventing the wheel at each location).  KDC enlisted Forum Studio Inc. and Gensler for the design aspects.

Jetson Green prediction: 
Not only will these office buildings be green but going forward, medical facilities, mixed-use condo developments, office condo parks, trailer home parks, educational facilities, government buildings, skyscrapers, houses, etc., will be green.  You name it, it’s all going dark green. 

Extra Links:
Going Green Saves Green for Corporate Clients [Texas Construction]
KDC’s Informative Video on the Intellicenter-USA [.wmv]
Koll Development Company Website

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]

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Makes Green Building Insurance Products Available

Real_estate_bld_145x135 Seriously, yet another reason to build green buildings.  The list gets longer and longer.  Lower operating costs, higher resale (appraisal) value, healthier work environment, and better workforce productivity, etc.  Wells Fargo wants to finance green buildings and Hines wants to develop them.  And now, California-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company wants to insure them.  This is a smart business strategy.  If you’re going to insure something, why not insure the top quality stuff?  As insurer, you’re dealing with the elite, upper echelon of building developers, operators, and owners.  It’s really a no-brainer…

The company will provide green coverage for commercial buildings certified as environmentally friendly in all 50 states starting in late October 2006.  It’s the first insurance company to do so and will offer three different forms:

Read more »

Sustainability is Good Business: Obstacles to Green Building Progress

Usgbc_guiding_principles_1 Going green doesn’t mean you’ve turned into a hippy or gone granola, it means you’ve taken a pro-active step to create an efficient, economic, healthy work or home environment.  If you haven’t noticed, there is a nascent (i.e., in terms of popularity), accelerating movement in design + construction towards making buildings sustainable.  It’s likely that 10-20 years from now, the term "green building" will be anachronistic.  All buildings will be "smart" and independent.  But for now, only a small percentage of buildings are heading in this direction and there are a few stubborn reasons to explain why.  In this post, I’m going to talk about sustainable buildings in the context of commercial endeavors, but the principles apply equally to residential.

The fact is, sustainable buildings are better performers: LOWER operating costs, BETTER sales, + HIGHER productivity.  Case studies abound to support this assertion, but the real question is why aren’t businesses flocking to adopt sustainable design principles in their buildings (old + new)?  In a Globe St. article by Brenna Walraven, it was suggested that there are two main obstacles to green building proliferation: 

  1. Energy-efficiency Capital Myth – the myth is that the only way to improve building efficiency is through substantial, significant investments.  My write-up on Adobe’s green building disproves this myth.
  2. Lack of Awareness – this is self-explanatory, but one should consider the impetus to being unlearned on green building, especially for those professionals who make it their line of work to design, construct, + create high-caliber buildings.  Is it political?  Too treehugger-esque?  My response to last-adopters:  sustainable building is to building as Japanese manufacturing is to manufacturing. 

Beddington_zero_energybedzed Buildings that are resource efficient will cost LESS, not more.  Why?  You are using less.  Big changes can be made with slight operational adjustments, and huge capital investments aren’t always required to obtain the greatest benefits for a certain project (new + old).  Further, if you have an architect, property manager, or developer that says it will be too expensive to go the sustainable route, walk the other way and hire someone else.  That group hasn’t been doing their industry homework.  There is a huge paradigm shift in this industry.  If you don’t pay attention, you’ll be like Ford, trying to figure out what makes Toyota so good.  Source via Globe St.

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