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Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG) Created with +$120 M Equity Investment

Calpine_center_city_foreground_lres_web In case you haven’t noticed, Hines is one of those smart real estate companies that is leading the way in sustainable real estate.  They’re committed to sustainable building and I recently blogged a quote from Hines Chairman + Founder Mr. Gerald D. Hines where he said "sustainability has become a key component of development."  Well, it looks like they’re throwing more money at that philosophy, and I think this press release should be a wake up call to all those developers out there that are just throwing up non-green buildings, willy nilly. 

Hines announced the closing of a Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG), which is capitalized with +$120 Million.  This equity investment will allow the development of more than $500 M in high performance, sustainable office buildings throughout the United States, certified through the LEED-CS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Core and Shell Program).  What’s even more significant than the amount of money that will be invested in green building development, is the fact that CalPERS is the nation’s largest pension fund.  This is really going to accelerate the tipping point in green development because CalPERS is such a huge player.

Hines Senior VP and fund manager said, "We have long tried to persuade tenants that there are significant bottom-line benefits to sustainable development and build out. Fortunately, the green movement is gaining steam as the public become more conscious of its benefits.  The real estate industry is finally ready for green."  I couldn’t agree more.  If you can’t tell, this is a big damn deal. 

Extra Links:
Hines Press Release [September 27, 2006]
Hines Official Website
CalPERS Official Website

Design: e2 "Grey to Green" — Rethinking American Construction Waste

Introducing "Grey to Green."  It’s a snippet from the Design: e2 series narrated by Brad Pitt.  We need a paradigm shift in the methods we employ to construct US buildings!  Watch this video on construction waste and think about the status quo.  Did you know that American buildings account for 10% of the world’s energy use?  They do.

Design_e2_logo_1 Part of the draw to modern prefab, for me, is that it presents the opportunity to efficiently, and relatively wastelessly, produce attractive, sustainable living spaces.  That’s very important.  Technology and process innovation can help us quit wasting energy, supplies, and materials, etc.  Construction waste is not only damaging the earth, but by continuing on the current path, we’re just throwing money away (both at purchase and trash points).  We need to understand the issues and find creative, innovative, positive, and attractive solutions. 

This video is extremely informative, and you can order the PBS series DVD from their website for $29.95.  The DVD includes all six episodes (The Green Apple, Green for All, The Green Machine, Gray to Green, China: From Red to Green, + Deeper Shades of Green).  I can’t catch it on TV, so I’m going to go ahead and purchase it.  Really, watch the video and you’ll realize why it looks to be a good series.

Extra Links:
Design: e2 Website
ABC News Article about Brad Pitt’s Narration
Wikipedia Entry for Design: e2

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Makes Green Building Insurance Products Available

Real_estate_bld_145x135 Seriously, yet another reason to build green buildings.  The list gets longer and longer.  Lower operating costs, higher resale (appraisal) value, healthier work environment, and better workforce productivity, etc.  Wells Fargo wants to finance green buildings and Hines wants to develop them.  And now, California-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company wants to insure them.  This is a smart business strategy.  If you’re going to insure something, why not insure the top quality stuff?  As insurer, you’re dealing with the elite, upper echelon of building developers, operators, and owners.  It’s really a no-brainer…

The company will provide green coverage for commercial buildings certified as environmentally friendly in all 50 states starting in late October 2006.  It’s the first insurance company to do so and will offer three different forms:

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Northern New Jersey Attached Residence + Spa + Tennis Court Gets Sustainable

Night_court_exteriorTranslucent, shimmery, membraneous, sustainable. When I saw the look of this tennis court in Architectural Digest, I was blown away…and I don’t even play tennis.  (By the way, October 2006 AD is chock full of modern + sustainable architecture!)  At Jetson Green, I talk a ton about residential green spaces or commercial skyscrapers, etc., but I haven’t spent that much time on sustainable structures crafted specifically for sport, hobby, or play.  Architect Robert Rhodes put together a striking, modern tennis court/spa/attached residence for a client that I need to share.

Just a short skip down a slate trail from the main residence is this tennis court embedded in a New York investment banker’s 8 acre, well-wooded property.  The goal for the architect was to conform to the local zoning requirements, apply sustainable building principles, and keep consistent with the surrounding flora.  I think they did a phenomenal job. 

Green Features:
The client + architect wanted the court to "look like trees."  Here’s what they did to keep it green + sustainable.  First, they built the tennis court into the ground so that the structure wouldn’t stick out.  The same principle applied when they decided to use tennis-green, transparent polycarbonate-panels; the panels allow enough light inside for day use and keep out the harsh sunlight for cooling purposes.  Second, the court’s energy is supplied by two geothermal wells.  And third, they used an ipe deck (economic + ecologic) between the attached residence and court.  Also note, there is a subterranean spa below the deck that connects the guesthouse and court.   Investment banker Cribs anyone?

Court_image_1 Spa_court_image Attached_residence

The laminated-wood beams stretch vertically, almost as if they are the actual trees that surround the court.  Aesthetically, the panel and beam design finishes out the structure so that it blends and matches the surrounding environment.  And while I think this investment banker won’t be able to practice his lob, he surely will be able to relax, spa, and play tennis in a court fit for English royalty!

Extra Links:
Robert Rhodes Architecture [picture source]
Architectural Digest Website [article not online]
 

Real Estate Forum Article Interviews Experts + Predicts Future Green Building

Re_forum_september_cover_2006_1 There are still some people out there that don’t believe green + sustainable building will last.  In the September edition of Real Estate Forum magazine, there is a lengthy article with reflections and predictions from some of the most notable names in real estate (for example, Milton Cooper, CEO Kimco Realty Corp.; Richard Camp, Chairman + CEO Camden Properties Trust; and Michael Pralle, President + CEO GE Real Estate).  These are the heavy hitters of real estate–people that make it their business to look forward and understand the trends affecting the industry.  That said, I found two quotes that I had to pass on to the Jetson Green readership…

RE Forum was able to catch up with Jeffrey Schwartz, CEO of ProLogis, and ask him what he thinks will affect the industrial sector.  He said,

Jeffrey_schwartz_prologisIn terms of sustainability, governments and corporations are becoming more sensitive to the environmental impact of industrial development.  It’s amazing the amount of energy you can save with the quality of a facility and the air-tightness of the building.  The costs are slightly higher, but the payback is phenomenal for the customer, from both sustainability and an economic standpoint.  It takes a lot less money to heat and cool buildings if they are properly constructed and more environmentally conscious. 

Later in the article, RE Forum quoted Gerald D. Hines, Chairman + Founder of Hines, with respect to his opinions on the future of real estate development.  He said,

Gerald_hinesIt becomes increasingly clear that improving cities is not only the right thing to do, but good business as well.  Five decades ago, there was a tremendous move to the suburbs; today there is a return to the cities…rather than developing greenfields, … many developers are returning to their urban roots and transforming abandoned industrial sites–brownfields–into new uses.  Therefore, now, more than ever, sustainability has become a key component of development. 

These are seasoned professionals talking about sustainability, green buildings, and environmentally-conscious development.  This is mainstream stuff.  I keep saying this, but it seems that some of the professionals out there aren’t listening:  Green building is the future.  Since 90% of the world hasn’t caught on, you have a competitive advantage to exploit. 

There's a New Prefab in Town: Michelle Kaufmann Designs + mkSolaire

Mksolaire If you haven’t noticed, there’s a new prefab in town.  But if you’ve been following the modern prefab movement, you’ll recognize this newest installment comes from an experienced architect:  Michelle Kaufann Designs.  MKD is behind the glidehouse and sunset breezehouse prefabs that have become the talk in modern + sustainable building circles.  But these aren’t just prefab concepts or designs.  Recently, MKD finished building the first U.S. factory dedicated to sustainable, modular custom homes (www.mkConstructs.com).  This Washington (state) factory is wholly-owned by MKD and will serve California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. 

Solaire_interior The mkSolaire is an open, loft-like home designed for healthy, green living in the urban context.  The architecturally designed roof and windows allow a perfect mixture of air and light to enter the home.  Initial design to completion lead time is roughly 8-14 months, which varies depending on a variety of factors specific to your design and location.  Some of the things that will be available include solar panel roofing, geothermal system, wind generator system, hybrid system, icynene insulation, bamboo or reclaimed wood flooring, recycled paper countertops, recycled glass countertops, on-demand water heaters, water-saving dual-flush toilets, non-toxic paints, and formaldehyde-free cabinetry, etc. 

Solaire_roofSolaire_18  Solaire_17

Because the mkSolaire is built from a modular system, there are endless possibilities as far as layouts and floorplans.  The website has 5+ floorplan options, but it looks like those can be further customized.  And if you’re really interested in taking the plunge, MKD has tried to take the sting out of prefab costing by explaining how it all works.  This stuff isn’t cheap:  factory costs ($150-175 square foot), transportation + installation ($3,000 – $8,000 per module), site costs (depends on location), and miscellaneous costs (permit fees, architectural and engineering fees, sales tax for some states, appliance costs, add-on costs, etc.).  That said, homes do come with high-end Kohler  and Hansgrohe fixtures, Anderson windows + doors, and slate-tile flooring.

I could go on and on, so feel free to visit their site and see if this looks like something you’re interested in.  As far as modern + green custom architectural design is concerned, this is about as good an option as they come.  Source via Linton + Yahoo Finance

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