You may not think this news is all that sexy, but it’s a pretty big deal. GE Real Estate is an enormous source of capital funding for commercial properties. To get an idea of what we’re talking about, here are the figures: their portfolio is weighted heavier in equity investments at 54% with the other 46% in debt investments; the average investment size is roughly $6.5 million; in 2006, GE RE closed $29 billion in real estate transactions; GE RE has $59 billion in total assets. Long story short, GE Real Estate is a star player in the real estate lending game, and since they invest more on the equity side (and equity investments are smaller than debt investments), they work with tons of customers.
So starting June 25, 2007, GE Real Estate will operate from its new headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, at 901 Main Avenue. 901 Main Avenue is a class A+ property and it’s not inherently green. BUT, GE RE has registered with the USGBC to go green on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors under the LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) certification system. LEED Registration is not a guarantee of anything, the project still must be certified upon completion.
Here’s my take:
When GE RE is done greening the interiors, people are going to start talking about it. Employees will like the green building. The financial benefits of the green building will stand out. And all those people working inside will start to ask developers why they aren’t pursuing LEED certification, if they aren’t going green. Now capital is abundant, so this talk will be nothing more than a mere ‘suggestion,’ but eventually, developers will listen and there will be a trickle down. I’m calling it right now. GE RE is going to ‘sneeze’ green on their customers and we’re going to see a major ‘tipping point’ in the real estate development industry. Anyone agree?
The husband and wife team of Liz Miranda and Tim Rempel started Greenpads LLC in 2005, and 5th STREETpads is their first project. Matter of fact, this six-unit multifamily development received a slew of awards, including the 2006 Build It Green Award + 2006 Design Advocates Design Award for Multi-family Development. 5th STREETpads has six, 2-3 floor townhomes that vary in size from 1360-1640 sf. The development is a great example of comfortable, lower-impact living as a result of building up, not out. Here are some of the green features: Borrego solar system that provides up to 85% of each unit’s electricity; hydronic radiant floor heating with floor-to-floor thermostat control; blown-in wet cellulose and bonded logic thermal insulation; SIP panel roof system; low-VOC painting in all the units; FSC-certified Brazilian cherry flooring; large double-glazed, low-E windows and sliding doors for optimal natural lighting; skylights in all the units; green Italian laminate cabinetry; filtered water and Energy Star appliances throughout; and Toto low-flow toilets. These are incredible homes. And although some materials seem to have a heavy carbon impact due to shipping and transporting, we’re talking about a solid step in the right direction for the greening of multifamily real estate development.
With the weird looking skyscrapers, there’s a business problem of having expensive, unusable space. Often, the most pragmatic, profitable shape is the plain old rectangle. So for the sake of staying grounded in reality, today I’m going back to the boxy, modern-style skyscraper. Above is Arrowhead, a 525,000 sf office building under construction in South Quay, London (UK) by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The 26-story building is expecting an "excellent" rating under BREEAM, the environmental building assessment tool used in the UK. Among other green features, Arrowhead will have a green roof on the top and a mid-level rooftop terrace. The building also has a glass climate wall with external metal shading to retain heat gain in the winter and permit cooling in the summer.
++Arrowhead, London, United Kingdom [SOM]
++SOM Gets Green Light for Office Development in Millennium Quarter [WAN]
::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::
It looks like the joint-venture partnership of AvStar Seattle LLC, which is the combo of Starwood Capital Group Global LLC (SCGG) and Avalon Holdings, broke ground on the world’s first 1 Hotel & Residences in Seattle. The 23-story, mixed-use development will be at Second Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. The $200 M development, which is slated for occupancy in the winter 2008, includes retail, residential, and hotel components with amenities such as a 40,000 sf athletic club, organic specialty restaurant and grocer, and 8,000 sf spa. There will be 110 "City Suites" and 98 condominiums, of which, the City Suites have already been oversubscribed and pre-reserved. Also, the LEED-certified hotel will receive the 5-star management services of SCGG. We know the building was designed by Sienna Architecture, and there are some good renderings at the links below, but specific details on green amenities are still a little tough to come by. We’ll keep monitoring the roll out of the 1 green hotel brand.
++1 Hotel & Residences [Official Website]
++1 Hotel & Residences [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
++Avalon, Starwood Capital Break Ground on First 1 Hotel & Residences [GLN]
++Starwood Announces New Green Hotel: 1 Hotel & Residences [JG]
When I first saw the concept renderings, I thought I was looking at a diamond perched upon a hill. To the contrary, the images show a new mixed-use sustainable tower concept, or "ecological tower," by Foster + Partners for Khanty Mansiysk, Siberia. The tower rises on the foundation of two podium buildings, each diamond-cut in style to allow light to penetrate the atrium. The apex of the tower will have a panoramic viewing platform and restaurant for guests to gaze out into the city. Paramount to the design is the desire to facilitate solar gain (it’s cold in Siberia) and allow natural lighting. Encompassed by a densely wooded area, the architects designed the building to minimize disturbance to the landscape.
++Designs Revealed for New Ecological Tower in Siberia [Foster + Partners]
++Siberia’s Sparkling Eco Tower [WAN]