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BuildingGreen's 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products + GreenSpec Directory

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The fact of the matter is, if you’re going to build green buildings, you gotta have green materials.  And green building is getting easier because demand is increasing and creating innovative green products to fit all varieties of projects.  There are different angles to take with a sustainable project and it’s not all about energy efficiency.  You’ll want to look at everything.  I like to think in terms of consumption.  What are you consuming and how much of it are you consuming?  Is the building water efficient?  What does it do with waste (such as recycling)?  Does waste equal food (C2C)?  Did you have to ship it across the world to procure it?  What’s the indoor air quality of the building?  How does it look and feel?   Did you benefit the community by buying the materials, paying the laborers, or building the project? 

Greenspec_2006_cover To make life a little easier, there’s the GreenSpec Directory, which includes more than 2,100 green product listings.  It’s a veritable idea bank ($89.90).  To give you a taste of what some of the products are, BuildingGreen announced the Top-10 Green Building Products during GreenBuild in November.  Here they are.  I’ve linked to the BuildingGreen product information and used "(company)" for the corporate website link.  BuildingGreen doesn’t receive money from these companies for placing a product in the GreenSpec Directory, so the information is totally objective in that regard. 

If you have an experience with any of these products, feel free to drop a comment so all the readers can benefit.  Once you go green, you never go back!

Green Economics: City of Phoenix Saving $600k/year Due to Energy-Efficiency Program

Cfls If you’re new to CFLs, feel free to check out the Department of Energy’s information page on them.  When compared to incandescents, CFLs last longer, use less energy, and emit less heat.  While you need to pick the right one depending on your lighting idiosyncrasies and bulbs need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste center (see your packaging), groups like One Billion Bulbs are trying to get the word out on the benefits of CFLs.  It’s hard to calculate, but when energy is saved, the grid is called upon less and that’s a tangible benefit to your bill and your city.  Cities that keep using more energy end up debating with large companies like TXU about the pragmatics of building 11 more coal plants to meet out-of-control demand for cheap energy.  There are alternatives…

There’s an economic case for CFLs.  The City of Phoenix is saving about $600,000 a year after replacing traditional lighting with CFLs.  Mayor Phil Gordon said the city has replaced about 95% of the city’s lights with energy-efficient alternatives (as part of a $1.2 million one-time investment) and is starting to see the rewards.  At $600,000 in savings per year, that’s a 2 year payback on your investment.  This is smart business. 

A Simple, Effective PowerCost Monitor

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When I lived in Japan, I was always feeling the pinch of electricity bills.  It wasn't because of over-consumption.  Things were just plain expensive.  And luckily, the electricity meter was always near the front door, so I got in the habit of opening the door to check the spin rate on the meter.  After looking at the meter, I'd walk around and unplug things that weren't in use.  Here in the U.S., though, there's no easy access to the meter, especially in the traditional single-family home.  Which is why something like the PowerCost Monitor could come in handy. 

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Miami Design District's New Green Tower – COR (S2)

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OPPENheim Architecture + Design just received unanimous approval for a $40 million, 25 story, 380 foot tall, multi-use green tower for Miami’s Design District (4025 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL  33137).  It’s called COR and construction will start July 2007 + complete in 2009.  COR will have 113 condominium units, 20,100 square feet of office space, and 5,400 square feet of retail space (includes cafe + furniture store).  Chad Oppenheim designed COR with the assistance of energy consultant Buro Happold + engineer Ysrael Seinuk.  As you can see by looking closely at the pictures, the 10 inch, energy-efficient exoskeleton incorporates wind turbines near the top and provides numerous environmental benefits (thermal mass for insulation, shading, enclosure for terraces).  In addition to wind turbines, the tower will use also photovoltaic panels and solar hot water generation. 

The funky, modern building design is expected to attract creative, design-oriented businesses and trendy, eclectic professionals.  Restaurants and retailers will occupy the ground floor, in an attempt to capture the urban energy of the building.  Of course, the interior will benefit from a mixture of natural sun and shading and design plans call for a high-tech building infrastructure.  Residences will range in size from studio to two-story penthouse units, which range in price from $400,000 to $1 million.  We’re talking about Energy Star appliances, recycled glass tile flooring, bamboo lined hallways, etc.  Residents will have access to the pool and fitness facility as well.  So far, so good I say.  Via Archiseek + Multi-Housing News.

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  UPDATE:  I was hearing from various sources that this project wouldn’t happen.  Now, there’s an interview with Chad Oppenheim about the COR Tower.  This is legit and this is pretty cool. 

LEED-H Prototype Heather's Home: Modern, Green + Affordable

Apr_10_green_building_fort_worth_1_1 DFW builder Don Ferrier‘s daughter wanted an affordable, green home, so they retained the best, local green architect, Gary Olp of GGOArchitects, to get the job done.  The result is Heather’s Home, which has its own website at www.heathershome.info.  What’s interesting about this home is that it’s economically pragmatic, but it looks goods–it’s proof that a modern, green home can be relatively affordable.  We’re talking about a 2,038 square-foot home in the price range of about $117 per square foot ($230,000).  After getting the home design, she had to wait two months due to materials shortages, but the home took four months to build after that.  The monthly home heating and cooling bill averages $20-30 month.  That’s amazing, especially in Texas. 

Green Features:
There’s a rainwater collection system connected to a 3,000-gallon holding tank, which is used for irrigation and toilet water.  Toilets are low flush, of course.  She landscaped with drought-tolerant, native Texas plants, to conserve water.  She didn’t install a full blown solar system (costs about $30,000), but she did install enough solar panels to power the tankless water heater (also saves water).  The home design called for Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) to create a more energy-efficient, tight building envelope.  For heating and AC, the builder installed a Daikin HVAC system that runs at 20 SEER.  The HVAC system price tag was $5,500, which is cheaper than a geothermal heat pump and about 90% as efficient.  Of course, low-VOC paints and stains were used throughout.  Lights and appliances are energy star. 

The stairs are bamboo and some of the floors are stained concrete.  The kitchen island surface is a grenadine Formica (Green Guard certified) and the cabinets were created from regionally produced ash, treated with a low VOC stain.  You’ll notice the 33 glass block windows on the northerly wall, which invite natural lighting without diminishing interior privacy.  There’s a solar tube in the closet for natural lighting.  In the rooms with carpet, it is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) carpet, which is created from reclaimed polyester resins of two-liter soda bottles and and other plastic containers.  Some of the other carpet is InterFLOR modular carpet, made from corn husks.  The list of green features goes on and on!  You can go to this link to find the source of all the products used in this home. 

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GreenBuild International Conference + Expo – November 15-17, 2006 (Denver, CO)

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Sustainable building for 2006 had to be a watershed year, and this conference looks to be an exciting event.  Everytime you see "LEED" in my blog, I’m talking about the professional, responsible embodiment of green buildings–smart, efficient, and energy independent.  Starting tomorrow, the USGBC’s annual conference begins; here’s what’s in store for the next 3 days:  +700 exhibitor booths, LEED workshops, green building tours, powerful keynote speakers, Master Speakers Series, USGBC Leadership Awards, etc.  The conference will be an idea-rich feast for ideas on site location + development, water use, energy efficiency, materials + selection, indoor environmental quality, biophelia, health + productivity, financing, etc.  I’d love to be there, but I just can’t afford the investment at this time, but the conference will be full of architects, building owners, code officials, contractors, developers, educators, engineers, facility managers, financial service providers, governmental agencies, green power providers, home builders, interior designers, landscape architects, nonprofit organizations, product manufacturers, schools + universities, students, urban planners, utility providers, and media. 

Keynote speakers include Bill McDonough, Jeffrey Sachs, and David Suzuki.  I also have links to the Master Speaker Series, Educational Sessions, Special Events, Attendee Schedule, FAQs, and Exhibitors

It’s not too late to go, from what I understand…just hop a SWA flight and bill it to the company.  Seriously, if you’re somewhat curious about green building, this is the event to go to.  If you’re thinking about adopting a little green to improve your products offering, go and get some ideas.  If you can’t go, last year, there was an inspirational opening session with Ray Anderson, Janine Benyus, and Paul Hawken, which is now available on DVD for $10.  The DVD is called "Strategies for Sustaining the Sustainable Building Movement."  You can order via here.  A portion of proceeds go to the Biomimicry Guild. 

Address:
The Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street, Denver, CO 80202
Getting To the Convention Center

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