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Skyscraper Sunday: City of Arabia's "Green" Times Residences

City_of_arabia_times_residences_1 Dubai has money like no other place I’ve ever seen.  They’re working to beat Taipei 101, so they can have the tallest building in the world.  Now, they’ve announced this building called Times Residences, which is aiming to be the only rotating residential structure in the world.  Solar energy will be stored and used to rotate the 80,000 ton, 30-floor structure, 52 degrees every 24 hours.  The project will cost about $109M/Dh400.  Construction is slated to begin June 2007 and end in the first quarter of 2009.  Units will range in size from 1-5 bedrooms and everything will be up-scale + luxurious.  The project was designed by Glenn Howells Architects + Palmer and Turner

In total, there will be 200 residences and everyone will have a 360 degree view due to the solar- powered rotation.  Apparently, one will also be able to tell time by the way the building is lined up, etc.  Although prices for the residences have not been released, sales are expected to begin in March 2007.  What’s more, the developer, Dubai Property Ring, plans to build 23 more rotating towers in each of the world’s time zones.  Whether the building actually gets built is another story.  And although the company states the technology will allow the building to rotate 5 mm/second using a mere 21 electric kettles’ worth of electricity, I’m thinking there must be a better use for all that solar powerWhat do you think?  Via ecofriend.

Extra Links:
Rotating Tower to be Solar-Powered [Gulf News]
Dubai to Get ‘World’s First Turning Tower’ [Middle East Times]
Dubai Plans First Rotating Skyscraper [USA Today]

Noteworthy Green News: Week in Review

Week in Review
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Natural Home + 2 Eco-Smart Townhouses: A Project in Green Renovation (Brooklyn)

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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.

Green Features:
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.

Extra Links:
93 Nevins/453 Pacific: 2 Eco-smart Townhouses [R&E Brooklyn]
Brownstoner Blog Post on the 2 Eco-smart Townhouses [Brownstoner]

Top 20 No- or Low-Cost Green Building Strategies

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One aspect of green building that gets overlooked is financial independence.  For instance, a commercial business may make an investment in solar power (provided incentives and rebates make it economically feasible) to stabilize electricity bills and hedge against future electricity cost increases.  Another example is the principle of waste reduction in green building.  Did you know that building green often costs the same or just a little bit more than standard code-built homes?  And did you know that even then, green homes will require less money going forward than standard code-built homes?  To that end, here are some affordable green building strategies (click this link to read more about each strategy):  Global Green’s 20 Affordable Green Building Strategies:

  1. Orient the Building to Maximize Natural Daylighting
  2. Place Windows to Provide Good Natural Ventilation
  3. Select a Light-colored Cool Roof
  4. Provide overhangs on South-facing Windows (be careful of your hemisphere!)
  5. Install Whole-House Fans or Ceiling Fans
  6. Eliminate Air Conditioning
  7. Provide Combined-Hydronic Heating
  8. Install Fluorescent Lights with Electronic Ballasts
  9. Install High R-value Insulation
  10. Select Energy Star Appliances
  11. Design Water-efficient Landscapes
  12. Install Water-efficient Toilets + Fixtures
  13. Use Permeable Paving Materials
  14. Use 30-50% Flyash in Concrete
  15. Use Engineered Wood for Headers, Joists, and Sheathing
  16. Use Recycled-content Insulation, Drywall, and Carpet
  17. Use Low- or No-VOC Paint
  18. Use Formaldehyde-free or Fully Sealed Materials for Cabinets + Counters
  19. Vent Rangehood to the Outside
  20. Install Carbon Monoxide Detector

[Key: Energy, Water, Materials, Indoor Air Quality]  Now, some of these may only work for new construction or for renovation, etc., but this is a good starting point for going green, in an affordable way.  Keep in mind the geographic constraints–this isn’t an exhaustive list for every location in the world.  Different locations present unique circumstances and opportunities can vary greatly.  Via Global Green.

Shizen Urban Design Condominium: A Net Zero Energy Project

Shizen_condo

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!

Green Features:
Shizen_kanji 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. 

Site Specifics:
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.

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

100_percent_3form

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!

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