- Massachusetts Power Plants to Pay Emissions Penalties: State Rejoins a Northeast Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Massachusetts power plant owners will have to pay a penalty for every pound of emissions that contribute to global warming under an agreement signed by Governor Deval Patrick yesterday that is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for an ambitious energy conservation and renewable energy program.
- Green Schools the Hottest Market for Green Building According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s Latest Report – MHC found that the education sector is the fastest-growing market for green building, good news for the industry, given that education construction (at the K-12 and university levels) is the largest construction sector, by value, at $53 billion for 2007.
- Wind Farm Building Boom to Continue in 2007: Wind Power Capacity in the U.S. Grew 27% Last Year – The U.S. now has enough installed wind power capacity (11,603 megawatts) to power between 3 million and 3.5 million homes, which reduces annual greenhouse gas emissions by 23 million tons of carbon dioxide. The number of homes relying on electricity produced by wind energy will rise to nearly 4.5 million by year’s end if the AWEA’s forecast is accurate.
- The U.S. Climate Action Partnership: Big Businesses and Eco-Advantage – The companies in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership are Alcoa, BP America, DuPont, Caterpillar, General Electric, Duke Energy, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, PNM Resources and FPL. These big businesses have a goal help the U.S. create public policy that would act aggressively and sustainably to slow, stop, and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. See also NRDC.
Recently, I attended a guest lecture by a seasoned real estate developer, and he was talking about the profitability of his projects. This speaker has major experience will all types of investments including retail, single family, industrial, condo, etc. I put him on the spot and asked him about the numbers he’s seen on sustainable developments. His answer: "They’re expensive, a break-even proposition at best. Development is going that direction, but not now. They’re not cheap, at all. We’re talking 20, 30, 40% more expensive. I won’t do them." I was blown away.
In stark contrast, on Monday, January 22, Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, said to the Miami Herald, "We are now at the point where you can build to LEED standards and it is not one penny more than conventional buildings. We are more experienced now. We have a proliferation of green building products and services." From this perspective, it’s profitable and financially responsible to be environmental and build green.
Someone’s wrong, who is it?
When I hear Fedrizzi’s statement, I’m led to believe that he’s accounting for construction on a first costs basis (not including the operational savings). And I think he is. He’s saying it costs the same to build green as non-green, on a first costs basis. I mentioned the obstacles to building green recently, so is this a case where the developer was unaware? What’s the deal? I’m interested in hearing some real world discussion here.
Arterra is an urban living, high-rise community in Mission Bay that will have a mixture of flats and townhomes of various sizes. Arterra has three buildings: "Sky," a 16-level tower, "City," a 9-level building, and "Park," a 6-level building with 2-story homes. Go to the Arterra website and you can watch a video that shows you the views from each building. Because Arterra is a high-end lifestyle community, you will have benefits such as 24-hour concierge, state-of-the-art fitness center, community lounge, rooftop sun deck with lounge and barbecue, etc. But, another feature of Arterra is that it will be the first LEED-Certified Green high-rise community in San Francisco.
Arterra is going after LEED certification, so here are some of the current green amenities being planned: formaldehyde-free cabinets (Studio Becker); low-emitting paint and carpets; high-efficiency water heating boiler; Kohler dual-flush toilets and other water-saving features; low-E, energy-efficient, insulated windows; Energy Star home appliances and gas ranges; bamboo for all standard kitchen floors; cork flooring at all elevator levels; recycled glass floors and FSC-Certified wood walls in entry-level lobby; bicycle storage in the parking garage; and recycled content panels for the exterior facade. Arterra is being developed by Intracorp Companies.
It looks like LivingHomes is lighting up the blogosphere again with more news. I’ve talked about Living Homes here + here, and I really like the company, big-time. So there are a few tidbits of news that you may find interesting: (1) LivingHomes has committed to make all its homes LEED Silver, at a minimum, and will work with owners to pay for certification costs, and (2) LivingHomes has entered into a partnership with Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) to take some proceeds from LivingHomes sales and put them into a fund for affordable green home communities. So we see LivingHomes expanding its target consumer base to allow for broader adoption due to possibly lower prefab costs–that said, these are green, architect-designed homes that command a price premium.
Interestingly, you’ll also find Ray Kappe’s second design (RK2) on the newly redesigned LivingHomes webpage. Pictured above, RK2 will be LEED Silver (Total Points = 50.5) and will have the following green benefits: yearly energy savings enough to power the home for 2 months; yearly water savings enough to fill 2 swimming pools; 80% of construction waste diverted from landfills; and 67% construction from recyclable materials. It will be about 2,215 square feet, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. RK2 looks to be the perfect fit for large lots with expansive views. It will include an interior garden as well.
The "illumaWALL," which is a translucent illuminated wall system designed to project a programmable million+ colors, has been singled out by both Architectural Record and Buildings magazines in their 2006 lists of top products. If I must say so, that’s quite the achievement. The illumaWALL incorporates translucent polycarbonate glazings with programmable LED lighting for custom design/build applications. Depending on the type of energy a project is looking for, the illumaWALL could be used both in the interior and exterior, and in commercial, retail, hotel, education, entertainment, industrial, healthcare, or residential uses.
From what I understand, the wall will also contribute LEED points towards a building owner’s certification. The translucent polycarbonate glazings minimize heat gain and glare (which leads to lower heating and cooling costs) and the LED lighting incorporates low-voltage, low-heat design. Not bad. I could see how the illumaWALL would be good for a restaurant, spa, or retail store, depending on the overall design and brand concept. Via PRNewswire + Duo-Gard + Info PDF.
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.