Not only is Michelle Kaufmann Designs (MKD) taking the green prefab world by storm, but it looks like MKD is working with Communities by Design to build a 26-unit, green townhouse development. Nice. The two- and three-bedroom, two-story units will have covered parking, private and shared outdoor gardens, high quality finishes and fixtures, sustainable materials and systems, high-performance insulation, and solar panel systems. The townhouse development will be located somewhere in San Leandro, CA, and should be opening in late 2007.
Eleven Times Square is planned to be one of the next green buildings in NYC at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street. The 1.1 million sf speculative office space, with two floors of retail, will be finished in 2009. Also, if everything goes as planned, 11 Times Square will be certified to the LEED Silver level by the USGBC. While it’s still early, apparently the 40-story tower is two months ahead of schedule (but there’s still 2 more years to get behind schedule). The tower was designed by FXFOWLE Architects, and specific details of green elements are kind of hard to come by. We’ll keep an eye on it and pass on more details as the specifics come available.
::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::
Stories about sprawl are pretty compelling. With sprawl, on the one hand, you have unrestrained capitalism and the chase for economic distinction, and on the other hand, you have depleted community resources, mediocre homes, and limited city resources. Tough issues to deal with on both sides. Here’s the gist on two, new sprawl movies:
- The Unforeseen – Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival 2007, this is documentary about a development near Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. Apparently, the story is told evenly from all sides and somewhere in the middle, the developer gets a little help from the future Governor George Bush.
- Radiant City: A Documentary About Suburban Sprawl – there’s a trailer for this one above. Garage-centric homes, side-by-side, with no community feel whatsoever. Apparently this film is comedic and tugs at the problems of sprawl in a unique way.
I haven’t seen either (other than trailers), but I look forward to seeing them when they come around.
REITs Going Greener, Consumers Priced Out of Green Products, Greener Hotels, and Eco-friendly Home Costing (WIR)
- Real estate industry quietly embracing green development, with 41% of U.S. REITs actively pursuing energy efficiency and green building upgrades.
- Business leaders aver that even though companies are greening products of all kinds, buyers are unwilling to pay a green premium (ed. note = consumers probably think the premium is unjustifiably exorbitant, even with the green components).
- Enjoy your green stay: hotels are rolling out all sorts of green programs, in part because customers demand them, and in part because they save money.
- The eco-friendly house (and renovation) has gone mainstream, but is it really worth the cost?
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?