Articles With "alternative energy" Tag

Central Oregon's First LEED-H Certified Residential Project: Newport District Modern House Project by Abacus GC

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Have you ever been to Bend, Oregon?  Bend is smack dab in the middle of the state, it’s Central Oregon, and it’s beautiful.  Central Oregon is not to be confused with the rainy, western part of the state.  Bend is in close proximity to some of the best golfing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and skiing locations in the world, which is why lots of Californians either relocate or have a vacation home in the area.  And real estate isn’t cheap, either (speaking from a Texas frame of mind).  But in Bend, you have an innovative, forward-thinking real estate company, Abacus GC, that has just received the first LEED-H (LEED for Homes) certification in Central Oregon for its Newport District Modern House Project.  It’s also Earth Advantage certified and will save about 54% more in energy consumption than a standard code-built home. 

This project (corner of NW 12th Street + Newport Avenue) includes 5 green, modern, luxurious homes, scheduled for completion in December 2006.  Each lot is 3,000 square feet, and each home is 2,000 square feet (prices starting at roughly $850k).  Here are some of the green features:  cool metal roof that reflects UV radiation and keeps the house cool in the summer; green roof trellises; xeriscaped lawns with drought tolerant and local plants (require less water and maintenance); Sierra Pacific windows made from timber that meets the Sustainable Forestry Initiative requirements; grid-tied solar energy system (2 kilowatt) from photovoltaic panels that run backwards; extensive use of FSC-certified lumber; blown in formaldehyde-free insulation (exterior walls, R-23; attic, R-50!) for energy-efficiency, sound control, and improved indoor air quality; lightweight all-aluminum garage doors that are maintenance free and recyclable; hydronic radiant floor heating systems powered by a 96% energy-efficient boiler; tons of strategically placed windows to optimize natural light and shade; locally harvested Madrone wood for the stairs and kitchen counter tops; Caroma dual-flush toilets that save up to 80% of annual water usage; 80% energy-efficient Ribbon fireplace by Spark Modern Fires (with the enclosure made of Eco-Terr recycled tiles); and Green Seal-certified, zero-VOC YOLO Colorhouse primer and paints.  These are just some of the many green features of the five homes in the Newport District Modern House Project. 

In addition to the green features, these homes are stylish:  top of the line hardware (Kohler, Grohe, Blum, Sub-Zero, etc.), 9-foot ceilings, Category-5 Ethernet cable installed, etc.  We’re are talking about luxury everything, in an extreme, environmentally-friendly orchestration.  The Newport District Modern House Project is everything that Jetson Green espouses:  Modern + Green + Healthy Living.  But specifically, these homes help an owner achieve water and energy independence, which is valuable in a world where energy prices will continue to rise and water will continue to become more scarce.  I really like the trajectory of this company and the projects they have in the pipeline–I’m sure this won’t be the last abacus GC project on Jetson Green. 

Extra Links:
Abacus Take Lead on LEED-H Certification [Press Release]
Earth Advantage Features [pdf]
Abacus GC Builds Modern Dwellings [Cascade Business News - pdf]

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Miami Design District's New Green Tower – COR (S2)

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OPPENheim Architecture + Design just received unanimous approval for a $40 million, 25 story, 380 foot tall, multi-use green tower for Miami’s Design District (4025 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL  33137).  It’s called COR and construction will start July 2007 + complete in 2009.  COR will have 113 condominium units, 20,100 square feet of office space, and 5,400 square feet of retail space (includes cafe + furniture store).  Chad Oppenheim designed COR with the assistance of energy consultant Buro Happold + engineer Ysrael Seinuk.  As you can see by looking closely at the pictures, the 10 inch, energy-efficient exoskeleton incorporates wind turbines near the top and provides numerous environmental benefits (thermal mass for insulation, shading, enclosure for terraces).  In addition to wind turbines, the tower will use also photovoltaic panels and solar hot water generation. 

The funky, modern building design is expected to attract creative, design-oriented businesses and trendy, eclectic professionals.  Restaurants and retailers will occupy the ground floor, in an attempt to capture the urban energy of the building.  Of course, the interior will benefit from a mixture of natural sun and shading and design plans call for a high-tech building infrastructure.  Residences will range in size from studio to two-story penthouse units, which range in price from $400,000 to $1 million.  We’re talking about Energy Star appliances, recycled glass tile flooring, bamboo lined hallways, etc.  Residents will have access to the pool and fitness facility as well.  So far, so good I say.  Via Archiseek + Multi-Housing News.

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  UPDATE:  I was hearing from various sources that this project wouldn’t happen.  Now, there’s an interview with Chad Oppenheim about the COR Tower.  This is legit and this is pretty cool. 

LEED-H Prototype Heather's Home: Modern, Green + Affordable

Apr_10_green_building_fort_worth_1_1 DFW builder Don Ferrier‘s daughter wanted an affordable, green home, so they retained the best, local green architect, Gary Olp of GGOArchitects, to get the job done.  The result is Heather’s Home, which has its own website at www.heathershome.info.  What’s interesting about this home is that it’s economically pragmatic, but it looks goods–it’s proof that a modern, green home can be relatively affordable.  We’re talking about a 2,038 square-foot home in the price range of about $117 per square foot ($230,000).  After getting the home design, she had to wait two months due to materials shortages, but the home took four months to build after that.  The monthly home heating and cooling bill averages $20-30 month.  That’s amazing, especially in Texas. 

Green Features:
There’s a rainwater collection system connected to a 3,000-gallon holding tank, which is used for irrigation and toilet water.  Toilets are low flush, of course.  She landscaped with drought-tolerant, native Texas plants, to conserve water.  She didn’t install a full blown solar system (costs about $30,000), but she did install enough solar panels to power the tankless water heater (also saves water).  The home design called for Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) to create a more energy-efficient, tight building envelope.  For heating and AC, the builder installed a Daikin HVAC system that runs at 20 SEER.  The HVAC system price tag was $5,500, which is cheaper than a geothermal heat pump and about 90% as efficient.  Of course, low-VOC paints and stains were used throughout.  Lights and appliances are energy star. 

The stairs are bamboo and some of the floors are stained concrete.  The kitchen island surface is a grenadine Formica (Green Guard certified) and the cabinets were created from regionally produced ash, treated with a low VOC stain.  You’ll notice the 33 glass block windows on the northerly wall, which invite natural lighting without diminishing interior privacy.  There’s a solar tube in the closet for natural lighting.  In the rooms with carpet, it is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) carpet, which is created from reclaimed polyester resins of two-liter soda bottles and and other plastic containers.  Some of the other carpet is InterFLOR modular carpet, made from corn husks.  The list of green features goes on and on!  You can go to this link to find the source of all the products used in this home. 

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Skyscraper Sunday: Albanese Organization's Luxury, Mixed-Use Tower Seeking Platinum LEED

Albaneseleed Albanese Organization (AO) is a great example of an interesting phenomenon:  once you go green, you don’t go back.  AO is the forward-thinking real estate firm behind two other green buildings, The Solaire and The Verdisian.  Their specialty is sustainable and high performance buildings.  They’ve partnered with Starwood Capital Group Global LLC for their third green project, which has yet to be named, located at 70 Little West Street, surrounded by Battery Place, Little West Street, Second Place, and Third Place.  The $310 million, 33-story project will have 152 condominium units and retail space on the first floor.  Slated for occupation in 2008, the design architect is Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects; the building architect is Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron; the interior design is by Stedila Design Inc.; and the general contractor is Turner Construction

The glass and terracotta tower will have a curved facade to create river views from all four corners of the building.  Like most modern buildings, this building will include a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, rooftop gardens, dining area, children’s playroom, parking garage (not always a given in NYC), and a lounge room with a fireplace. 

Green Features:
I’ve heard rumors that some LEED buyers (not necessarily this one) are looking for the LEED label and point shopping around the energy efficient requirements–why do that?  The point is, buildings need to be grid-independent and levered less to energy price fluctuations.  By point shopping, you’re losing money by purchasing a hollow certificate (not to mention losing valuable environmental benefits).

Anyway, this building will be 35% more energy efficient than standard code buildings; 5% of the energy load will be provided by building-integrated solar panels and 35% of the building’s energy will be provided by wind generation.  Geothermal systems will provide heating/cooling for part of the building.  Low or no-VOC materials will be used throughout.  There will be a high efficiency air filtration system to optimize indoor air quality ("IAC").  Individual residences will have year-round climate control via digital thermostat that controls a four-pipe fan coil system.  A black water treatment plant will recycle bathroom and kitchen water to resupply toilets and supply make-up water for the HVAC system cooling tower.  10,000 gallons of water will be harvested and used to irrigate the rooftop garden, which provides a layer of insulation for the building.  See also Multihousing News.

Top Sustainable Cities: Portland + San Francisco, the Eco-Innovators

Top_50_overall There are cities and leaders in the US that are taking bold steps to change public perception of green principles, and I wanted to share their words and vision with you.  I’ve included a new section on my right sidebar for some informative, watershed videos.  I use the word watershed because future generations will respect these leaders for their foresight, they will be heros.  Are you one of these leaders?  If you’re a CEO, can you count yourself among the lonely ranks of eco-warriors like Ray Anderson, Jeff Immelt, and Lee Scott?  If you’re a mayor, can you count yourself among the growing ranks of eco-leaders like Gavin Newsom, Tom Potter, Mufi Hannemann, Greg Nickels, and Will Wynn?  If you’re not a mayor or CEO, are you an eco-leader in the world that you live in? 

There’s a video on the right with Tom Friedman speaking.  You’ll know him from the bestselling book, The World is Flat.  He makes some critical points, but one of the most important points is that the chase for sustainability will create money-making, business opportunities for innovation in the 21st century:  opportunities that the US is currently abdicating to China.  Do we want to shift our middle east energy dependence by becoming dependent on China for renewable energy technologies?

So SustainLane released its yearly Top 50 US Cities, which is a report card on urban sustainability.  I was surprised to find Dallas at #24; one thing that holds us back is our addiction to cars–I don’t see how that will change without 10-30 years of persistent city planning + changing, considering how the city is currently laid out.  That’s okay, however, the rankings are there to get us to study other cities and make positive changes.  You can read about each city at SustainLane.  I encourage you to watch the video on #1 Portland (urban transportation and LEED building superstar) and #2 San Francisco (recycling superstar). 

Wind Power Cards Available at Whole Foods Market

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I first heard that Whole Foods was going to be selling a Wind Power Card ($15 family – 750 kWh + $5 individual – 250 kWh) from eco-entrepreneur Shea, a co-founder of Renewable Choice Energy (the provider of the Wind Power Card).  What did I do?  I went a bought a $15 card to offset my blog.  I love Typepad, but they determine my hosting situation and I can’t change that, so I wanted to offset my blog’s impact.  I’m not sure how long this will last, but that’s okay because I’ll find out eventually.  The big question is, however:  Should you buy a card?  The bloggers at boingboing equivocated, but everyone else in the country seems to think it’s a good thing.  I’ll explain what I know, but I hope you’ll continue to research the issue of offsets and wind energy credits, if you have an interest. 

First, if you want to power your home with renewable energy, you can do a few things:  green build your home, install solar panels, put a wind turbine in your backyard, use energy-efficient appliances, etc.  After you reduce your own reliance on the grid in these ways (aka, minimize your own environmental footprint), you have a few more options:  (1) you could buy electricity from an eco-conscious company, like Green Mountain Energy, that feeds clean energy into the distribution grids, or (2) you could buy electricity from your regular company and purchase renewable energy credits in amounts that offset your energy usage.  There are slight differences with each choice.  Importantly, whenever energy producers create energy, it is routed into the regional/national grid, and that grid distributes the power to individual homes.  As a result, the energy grid conducts various types of energy such as coal (primarily), solar, wind, water, biomass, natural gas, geothermal, etc.  Depending on your location, you will receive a concoction of energy from all these types of sources, but the national average concoction = Coal – 52%, Nuclear – 20%, Natural Gas – 16%, Large Hydroelectric – 7%, Oil – 3%, and Renewables – 2%. 

With wind energy credits, and more particularly, the Wind Power Card, you’re not reducing or affecting the electricity bill that comes in the mail each month.  What you do is ensure that the electricity you use is replaced onto the national power grid with wind energy.  Every time you buy renewable energy credits, less non-renewable energy is fed into the grid.  This concept is hard to grock, but it’s true.  Think of this, though:  you’re paying a premium, but if you have money to do this, why not support clean energy generation and pay for renewable energy credits?  We can’t neglect the negative externalities (those that aren’t reflective in pricing) of dirty energy such as coal.  Our energy decision will increasingly impact the way we live in the future. 

Extra Links:
A Closer Look at Whole Foods Wind Power Card Displays [Sustainablog]
Boing Boing Mischaracterizes Wind Credits, WF Wind Cards [Sustainablog]
Support for Wind Power Picking Up Speed [Nurenberg - CNN]
American Wind Energy Association on Renewable Energy Credits [AWEA.org]
Renewable Energy Credits + Offsets Certification [Texas PUCT]

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