- Enertia: Houses Heated + Cooled by the Sun – [includes video] No furnace, air conditioner, heat pump or swamp cooler — just an innovative design that harnesses geothermal energy and sunlight year round.
- Sydney Leading Light in Hour of No Power – This ambitious plan aims to send a message to Australians about climate change. It hopes its Earth Hour campaign will demonstrate the connection between the electricity people use in homes and offices and the climate change pollution that coal-fired power stations generate. Via Linton.
- New World Record Achieved in Solar Cell Technology – With DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance. Via Celsias.
- Mileage From Megawatts: Enough Grid Capacity to Charge Plug-in Hybrids – A new study for the Department of Energy finds that "off-peak" electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 84 percent of the country’s 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.
The December 2006 edition of Buildings magazine included the Editor’s Choice Top Product Picks (about 100 different products) and I wanted to talk about one certain product. Assume the following: you’re a developer, you’re going green, and you’re working hard to get approval on something like a large PUD, or maybe something like what the guys at LandPooling do. Well, you’re going to have beautiful, open green space and the proper benches and lighting to allow residents to enjoy the development. Take a gander at the Knight family of products available at Forms+Surfaces. The Knight Bench is sharp looking and comes backed/backless, with/without armrests, in 6-foot + 8-foot lengths. You choose. The bench is surface mounted.
First, it’s fabricated with solid aluminum made of 95 % recycled content. The surface is then clear-coated to resist oxidation (not sure what the coat is). The wood slats are Ipe, which is a sustainably harvested wood that has the USDA Forest Products Laboratory’s highest rating for decay and insect resistance. The bench is fully recyclable, which is important when looking to the life cycle.
The Knight series also includes a litter receptacle, bollard (CFL or HID), and pedestrian lighting. The geometric design of the Knight series is completely amazing. You’ll note that Forms+Surfaces is a member of the USGBC and committed to sustainability (www.forms-surfaces.com).
Green building renovation is the future; there are so many inefficient structures and the time will come when deciding not to renovate a building would be similar to using a typewriter when you have a laptop. Why not start now? Natural Home Magazine is chronicling a developer who will take a seedy, dilapidated (Boerum Hill) Brooklyn building and remodel it with cutting edge technology and green features. The developers, Rolf Grimstead + Emily Fisher of R&E Brooklyn, bought it and plan to make it New York’s first American Lung Association Health House.
The interior will use IceStone recycled counters (C2C), salvaged wood or bamboo flooring, and Kirei board cabinets. Finishes will be with low or no-VOC water-based poly (American Pride). The house will be wired with solar energy via photovoltaic panels. Also, there will be a solar-thermal and gas-fired system to heat and cool the place. In addition, the developers will use the Health House criteria (regarding moisture + humidity control, energy efficiency, and air filtration + ventilation) to guide them in making the indoor air quality top notch. This should be an interesting project to follow throughout 2007.
93 Nevins/453 Pacific: 2 Eco-smart Townhouses [R&E Brooklyn]
Brownstoner Blog Post on the 2 Eco-smart Townhouses [Brownstoner]
I hate to post this on Saturday, because I’m afraid it won’t get a large readership, but I wanted to talk about David Baker + Partners‘ (DBP) new design for a development called Blue Star Corner. The design is called the New Urban Home. The New Urban Home philosophy blends loft and condominium attitudes, with a modern feel that tends to build up–not out. This philosophy was brought to the Blue Star Corner development to create a sustainable (LEED for Homes), modern, urban design for the historic Park Avenue District in the Bay Area. All the appliances will be Energy Star, all the plumbing will be water efficient, and the site is located near mass transit. Blue Star Corner is planned for completion in mid-2007.
The developer, Holliday Development, and DBP hope to achieve LEED for Homes certification on this project. Here’s some of what they’re going to do: will use recycled and non-toxic building materials, non-endangered woods, galvanized metal, bamboo flooring, and environmentally-fabricated CaesarStone quartz countertops; will try to source materials locally as much as possible (keeps money in local economy + eliminates the transportation/gas premium); open spaces will feature sustainable landscaping by Conger Moss Guillard Landscape; appliances will be energy-efficient with Duravit, Kohler, and Bosch brands; and much more.
Units will include also Ann Sacks bathtubs, Sub-zero + Jenn-Air refrigerators, Bisazza tiles, Benjamin Moore paint, in-unit iPod docking stations, and personal garages with fold-up work stations. This is all going in with the general setup with a master bedroom, living room, kitchen, and flex room. To add to that, homes will be unique–they won’t all have identical features, colors, or design. It’s important to cater to individuality.
New Urban Home at Blue Star Corner [Generalized Case Study]
David Baker + Partners Provide Design for "Green" Amsterdam-Inspired Townhouses [MHN]
Every now and then, I find an innovative real estate development group that just knocks my socks off. After living in Japan for 2 years, I love to hear anything about the place, so you can imagine how cool I think Sakura Urban Concepts is. Sakura is Japanese for the "cherry blossom tree," which buds in early April and you can see blossoming trees all over Japan for about two weeks. It’s incredible to see. This forward-thinking group is behind a new urban design building in Portland called Shizen, which happens to be Japanese for "nature." Not only is Shizen going to be a net zero energy building, but it’s going to have sophisticated design, sense of community, and sustainable lifestyle written all over it. Be sure to check out Shizen’s website!
This project is funded, in part, by a grant from Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (via funds from a Green Investment Fund partnership). First, the site was home to a famous Portland Bakery, the Helen Bernhard Bakery, so Sakura purchased the property and had the house moved down the street. The house was renovated and looks pretty good. By moving the house, 200 tons of material was diverted from the landfill. The condo will have a 23 kW photovoltaic array that generates roughly 1/3 of Shizen’s annual electricity; a biodiesel fueled microturbine will generate the other 2/3 (and enough to heat domestic hot water and space heating); there will be radiant floors in entries and bathrooms; rain that falls on the roof will flow to a 25,000 gallon cistern under the parking level, and that water will be used for toilet and irrigation water; 60% of Shizen’s energy savings will be through its high mass, well insulated envelope and high efficiency lights and appliances; double-glazed, argon-filled, triple coated low-e windows will allow light and block solar gain in the summer; and the roof will be a r-38 insulation.
Shizen will be located on 1706 NE Schuyler (one block north of Broadway/NE 17th). There will be 7 units, and construction starts in March 2007. The total building will have about 15,500 square feet (so average of 2,200 square feet per residence?) and the land site is 7,500 square feet. Not bad at all…Once you go green, you don’t go back.
First off, GreenCity Lofts LLC shows us how important it is to have a sleek, professional, informative website for your properties. In the early stages of construction, word-of-mouth increases and people start to notice what’s going on. Slap a huge sign up (with a rendering of course) and direct people to the web for more information while the building is still being finished. A good website that’s search engine optimized (SEO) will go a long way to promoting a new building’s features and benefits. I’ve gleaned my information from GreenCity’s website and an article in the December/January 2007 edition of Dwell Magazine. Designed by Architect Robert Swatt, this eco-conscious complex has 62 units in 5 buildings, with units ranging in size from 500-2100 square feet, and prices from $495,000-$1,050,000 (800 – 2100 square feet).
The building exceeds California Title 24 energy requirements by 15% and is Energy Star qualified; 95% of the demolition waste from construction was recycled; the steel superstructure + interior framing contain from 25-90% post-consumer recycled content creating a durable earthquake, fire, rot, mold, pest-resistant building; cement pours contain a minimum of 25% fly ash; the roof was painted gray to absorb less heat than the darker colored varieties; water efficient technologies collect rain water runoff for landscape irrigation; hydronic radiant floor heating with a gas-fired broiler saves 20-40% of the cost of conventional systems (and you have no noise or draft as in the forced-air systems); formaldehyde-free products were used where possible; zero + low-VOC paints, stains, and varnishes were used; units contain bamboo floors with other FSC-certified wood products; and lofts contain 2-3 walls with windows for abundant natural lighting.
These places look really good, too. One thing to consider, is the trade off when you create places with large, open, interior spaces. It takes more energy to heat and cool larger spaces, but this may be mitigated some by using the hydronic radiant floor heating. At least you don’t have to walk on the cold bathroom tiles when you wake up in the morning! Oh yeah, also, GreenCity Lofts is about a 13-minute walk from BART, on the border of Emeryville and Oakland at 1007 41st Street, at the corner of 41st Street and Adeline. Watch the GreenCity Lofts’ video.