"It’s better to be ahead of the ‘green’ curve than to play catch-up. A proactive program to modify your development methods clearly represents an opportunity to increase competitive advantage in civic development projects. This is the case for Federal Realty where Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and other environmentally based requirements are mandated by a number of jurisdictions in charge of civic projects."
–Donald Wood, President & CEO
Federal Realty Investment Trust
Real Estate Portfolio, May/June 2007
I’m not sure if this concept will make it into practice, but I like the idea. We have zoos right? Why not create a botanical visitor’s attraction of the tropical rain forest? That’s the concept that Grimshaw Architects created and was rewarded with a 2007 MIPIM/AR Future Project Award in the Sustainability category. Generally, here’s how it works: the enclosed greenhouse will create a tropical zone, a rain forest of sorts, housing both plant and animal life that people can walk through and study. The goal of this man-made rain forest is to mimic the ecosystems from tropical regions of the world. It will have 50 meter high gabion walls around the enclosure that contain composting tubes for heat generation during periods when the passive solar gain isn’t enough to sustain the tropical environment. The idea is to harness the energy created by the decomposing biodegradable matter and re-create a tropical rain forest. Grimshaw hopes that by doing so, the Rainforest will have the potential to grow fruits and vegetables with vastly reduced food miles.
Transporting goods has a carbon cost associated with it, so people want to buy locally. But climate can vary dramatically from one place to another making it tough to get some things locally…that is, unless you can recreate the climate of another area. Think: oranges in Canada. To a small extent, this is what happens with a greenhouse. Here, however, you are creating a greenhouse on a grand scale, one that is carbon neutral and cyclical. It’s a good idea.
The bloggers over at the Practical Environmentalist just bought a non-green building in Dallas for their business, Clean Air Gardening. The 13,000 sf building was built in the 1960s and they have a budget of about $50,000 to make it green. We’re talking LEED, Energy Star, etc., you name it, they want to go green in an economically pragmatic way. I figure we can tap the wisdom of the crowds and find a way to help them out, citizen wisdom style. Feel free to drop your ideas into the comments here, or go over to PE directly and leave a comment. Also, if you’re a Dallas business and want to get involved helping them do their thing, make sure to let them know.
Already, PE seems to have this situation under control. I like that they are signing up with Green Mountain Energy, using low-VOCs inside (good for indoor air quality), replacing old toilets with more water-efficient ones, adding a rainwater cistern to avoid using new water for landscaping, and replacing the door with a more energy-efficient set up. Here are a few additional suggestions I have:
- Consider a commercial-grade energy audit to determine where you may be losing air or energy. Use that information to seal up cracks and fix stuff as needed (which will allow you to rely less on the dated HVAC system).
- Like you say, go with the Commercial Solatube lighting, if possible. The more natural light, the better. Why pay for light when the sun gives it away for free?
- For the interior design, use low-VOC carpets tiles and adaptable workstations/furniture from a company like Haworth (big-time commitment to recycled and sustainable products). Haworth has a strong Dallas presence.
- Before making the investment in solar, try using a thermal energy storage product (like the ones offered by Dallas-based Trinity Thermal) that captures cheaper energy during off-peak times for use during more expensive peak periods. This can contribute to LEED certification and has good $$ benefits.
- If you’re renovating the exterior, continue using a light color to reflect heat from the building. Also, landscape in ways to shade the hottest parts of the building. You guys are experts here, but natural landscaping will help with water conservation, too.
That’s what I have so far, but I’m sure there are Dallas experts out there waiting to get your business and showcase their products. Good luck!
- McGraw-Hill Construction released the Greening of Corporate America SmartMarket report detailing corporate America’s opinions on green building and sustainability.
- Future British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has announced a plan to build 5 affordable "eco-towns," which will include wind and photovoltaic energy sources.
- Wal-mart announced a major initiative to outfit 22 stores with solar power, an amount that could be up to 20 million kWh per year.
- A $3 million BP gas station in South Baltimore becomes latest green building with an amazing living roof, among other things.
That’s right. Another example of the business case for going green. Recently, Gatorade received LEED Gold-level certification for the Gatorade Thirst Quencher Blue Ridge facility in Wytheville, Virginia. At 950,000 sf, it weighs in as the largest green food and beverage facility in the world. Notice the oxymoron: large green; but it’s not really fair for me to say that. Building a manufacturing facility to the LEED Gold level can be quite the accomplishment. Like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo (which owns Gatorade) sees the benefits of having green production facilities. In addition to the PR benefits of showing the community that you’re not wasteful of valuable water resources, you build a better work environment for employees and waste less energy. Big companies with green buildings show their employees that green is good, and this thinking starts to cascade. Eventually, employees will greenify their homes and habits. Employees will tell their friends and families, too. Word will spread and there will be a point, not in the too distant future, when everyone accepts green as the standard and non-green as passé, wasteful, and unsophisticated.