- Why is new housing so big and lousy? Why do builders build these homes?
- Despite unwavering focus by the media, government and business, "going green" is only of moderate concern to most consumers, according to a recent research study.
- There is a reason why homes rot (hint: it has to do with much more than age).
- Shades of Green – with more large companies going green, the entire industry is under scrutiny.
I’m pleased to share some information and renderings on ELEMENT, Starwood Hotels & Resorts new extended-stay hotel brand set to open in 2008. The idea behind ELEMENT is to make smart choices intuitive and support the lifestyles of guests while they are away from home. ELEMENT Hotels performed research on guest behavior, which revealed that socially conscious hotel guests are more likely to leave their good habits at home when traveling. That’s because, depending on the hotel, it may be difficult to recycle, conserve water, or maintain a lower impact lifestyle. ELEMENT Hotels aims to change that. Key smart design features of this green hotel include the following:
- Shampoo/conditioner dispensers will eliminate multiple mini-bottles;
- Low-flow sink faucets and dual flush toilets will lead to an estimated conservation of 4,358.6 gallons of water per room each year;
- Eco-friendly materials will be used throughout, including recycled content carpets;
- Low-VOC paints for improved indoor air quality for guests and staff;
- CFL light bulbs will be used throughout the building to reduce energy consumption; and
- Biophilic design that maximizes natural light and sightlines to the outdoors will help connect occupants to their natural surroundings.
Feel free to click on over to this PDF brochure to read more about the ELEMENT Hotel and what it will look like. The hotel design is pretty incredible, as you will see from the images below the fold.
I read an excellent article about San Francisco’s Clipper House by LORAX Development in Solar Today magazine and wanted to share some info about it. The Clipper House has become a showcase for residential sustainable features, basically showing off everything but the financial case for green building. The 2,600 sf home was designed by John Maniscalco/Architecture, Inc., and was completed in the summer of 2006. For a cool $1.9 M, you could probably purchase this incredible home–often referred to as the Greenest Home in San Francisco.
If you do, here’s what you’re going to get: 1.7 kw DC photovoltaic array with BP Solar panels installed by SolarCity (total cost $16,700, net AR $11,543); 64 sf of solar thermal glazed collectors by Heliodyne ($6,750); warmboard radiant heating system using PEX tubing ($50,000); rainwater-catchment system by Wonderwater Inc. ($25,000); hemp carpets colored with vegetable dyes; low-VOC paints and caulks throughout; energy-efficient windows and doors; hardwood floors made from 100-yr-old TerraMai railroad ties from Southeast Asia; FSC-certified kitchen cabinets; Richlite kitchen counters made from recycled paper products; recycled blue jean insulation by Bonded Logic; 50-year warranty James Hardie fiber-cement siding made partially with fly ash; and recycled plastic and wood Trex composite decking. The Clipper House certainly prioritizes energy-efficiency, properly sourced sustainable materials, and indoor air quality. Real nice.
This is a pretty huge announcement. The financial case for green building is so compelling that we occasionally see companies making the green change cold turkey saying, "Everything from now on will be green." That’s what Wachovia is doing. First comes news that Wachovia will take space in the Charlotte, N.C, green tower designed by TVS architects. Now, we have an announcement that starting in 2008, all bank branch construction will be according to LEED specifications. With major expansions expected in California and Texas, we’re talking about 300 green bank centers. Here’s the incredible part. Wachovia has determined that each green building will save the company about $80,000 in construction costs and 20% in operating costs, when compared to a traditionally constructed branch. Additionally, when leasing new space in the future, Wachovia has committed to take on space certified under the LEED for Commercial Interiors program. The company is currently studying ways to retrofit existing branches in a green way.
In addition to using about 20% less energy and 25% less water, these healthier buildings should increase worker productivity and have better indoor air quality. Wachovia plans to roll out its recycling program for paper, plastics, aluminum, and glass. Also, branches will feature preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles. Move Hummer, get out the way. Via.
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!
If you’re like me, you don’t have The Sundance Channel and you buy each episode of Big Ideas on iTunes for $1.99. I downloaded the last episode called "BUILD" and liked it so much, I’m going to buy a copy of the video on iTunes for the first 5 people to comment in this post. It’s really good. In an information-packed 25 minutes and 38 seconds, the producers take us through Michelle Kaufmann’s prefab factory, the process of building a Glidehouse, Carlton Brown’s green multifamily housing in New York, the advantages of green building, the future of green building with technology, and Mitchell Joachim’s fab tree hab.
Note – I’ll use the email that you comment with to gift the episode to you through iTunes. This is not a Sundance promo, this is JG promoting modern, green building.