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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

Skyscraper Sunday: Albanese Organization's Luxury, Mixed-Use Tower Seeking Platinum LEED

Albaneseleed Albanese Organization (AO) is a great example of an interesting phenomenon:  once you go green, you don’t go back.  AO is the forward-thinking real estate firm behind two other green buildings, The Solaire and The Verdisian.  Their specialty is sustainable and high performance buildings.  They’ve partnered with Starwood Capital Group Global LLC for their third green project, which has yet to be named, located at 70 Little West Street, surrounded by Battery Place, Little West Street, Second Place, and Third Place.  The $310 million, 33-story project will have 152 condominium units and retail space on the first floor.  Slated for occupation in 2008, the design architect is Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects; the building architect is Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron; the interior design is by Stedila Design Inc.; and the general contractor is Turner Construction

The glass and terracotta tower will have a curved facade to create river views from all four corners of the building.  Like most modern buildings, this building will include a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, rooftop gardens, dining area, children’s playroom, parking garage (not always a given in NYC), and a lounge room with a fireplace. 

Green Features:
I’ve heard rumors that some LEED buyers (not necessarily this one) are looking for the LEED label and point shopping around the energy efficient requirements–why do that?  The point is, buildings need to be grid-independent and levered less to energy price fluctuations.  By point shopping, you’re losing money by purchasing a hollow certificate (not to mention losing valuable environmental benefits).

Anyway, this building will be 35% more energy efficient than standard code buildings; 5% of the energy load will be provided by building-integrated solar panels and 35% of the building’s energy will be provided by wind generation.  Geothermal systems will provide heating/cooling for part of the building.  Low or no-VOC materials will be used throughout.  There will be a high efficiency air filtration system to optimize indoor air quality ("IAC").  Individual residences will have year-round climate control via digital thermostat that controls a four-pipe fan coil system.  A black water treatment plant will recycle bathroom and kitchen water to resupply toilets and supply make-up water for the HVAC system cooling tower.  10,000 gallons of water will be harvested and used to irrigate the rooftop garden, which provides a layer of insulation for the building.  See also Multihousing News.

Modern + Green Gaia Napa Valley Hotel – LEED Gold

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There’s just one thing that I can’t figure out: why aren’t more hotels going green?  Recently, I blogged about Starwood Hotels creating a luxury, green hotel brand (and there’s also the LEED-certified Orchard Garden), but why aren’t all the other hotels going green?  I have two thoughts:  (1) post-9/11, hotels tanked and lost a lot of money, which they’ve really started to regain from 2004 until now…they’re busy making money and don’t want to shut the place down with expensive renovations; (2) the split between ownership and management leaves a decision making gap that prevents the hotel owner from undergoing large capital improvements; or (3) hotel owners are marketing their portfolios and green (the non-monetary kind) is the last thing on their minds.  But if you ask me, the hotel industry is so levered to energy costs that it’s the only way to go.  Looks like Gaia Napa Valley Hotel agrees with me. 

Gaia is chasing LEED Gold (couldn’t find it in the USGBC certification or registration directory), which is the second highest tier in the green building rating system.  Here are some of its green features:  chemical-free landscaping; energy-efficient heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system using 15% less energy; various water conservation features; solar panels; zero-chlorofluorocarbon cooling system; 100% new growth-certified wood; specialty zero energy lighting throughout the hotel and public areas; and low emission paints and adhesives. 

The hotel incorporates extensive use of Solatubes.  These are tubular skylights that capture sunlight from the roof and direct it into the interior space through a diffusion shaft.  Imagine a periscope, except that it filters in light, not images.

Another thing I’d like to point out, is that this hotel is modern + green.  Innovation has advanced to the point that green looks good.  Plus, if you look at the first costs and the operating costs, in comparison to a non-green building, you’re getting a great deal, so it’s economic too.  Really, there’s not other way to go, especially in the hotel industry!

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Skyscraper Sunday: LEED-Certified Maple Leaf Square in Toronto

Maple_leaf_rendering Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Limited (privately-held corporation with ownership of Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Marlies Hockey Club, Air Canada Centre, and Leafs TV + Raptors NBA TV) is behind an innovative, forward-looking project development called Maple Leaf Square.  Being inspired by the mixed-use projects developing around sports franchise centers such as Dallas and Miami, the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Corporation will be unique in one significant aspect:  it’s green, LEED-certified, that is.  The project, designed by KPMB and Page + Steele, contains two aspiring towers (54 + 50 floors) built on top of a seven story podium, all including the following:  900 residential condominiums, boutique hotel with about 170 rooms, 6,000 square foot daycare, over 200,000 square feet of office space , indoor/outdoor swimming pools, fitness facilities, and high-technology restaurants, sports bars, and retail stores.  It’s the quintessential multi-use development of the future, blending sports, entertainment, living, vacationing, night life, and work. 

Green Features:
In addition to being one of the most technologically advanced building structures in the world, the project contains some important green features (note, technology also can make a building green):  green roof, energy-efficient appliances in every suite, Enwave (low cost, energy efficient supplier of heating, cooling, and domestic hot water supply), individual storage/bicycle lockers, and close proximity to Toronto’s PATH system.  Technologically, the building will use RFID door locks and Intelligent Building Technology (visit the website for a demonstration).

The project has been welcomed with open arms by the public; reports vary, but the Residences of Maple Leaf Square are reportedly 95% sold already.  Talk about unmet demand for a modern, green structure!  Available residences range in size from 400 – 2,100 square feet and price from $200,000 – $1,400,000.  North Tower opens in October 2009 and South Tower in March 2010.  Found by EarthChangeII.

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Wind Power Cards Available at Whole Foods Market

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I first heard that Whole Foods was going to be selling a Wind Power Card ($15 family – 750 kWh + $5 individual – 250 kWh) from eco-entrepreneur Shea, a co-founder of Renewable Choice Energy (the provider of the Wind Power Card).  What did I do?  I went a bought a $15 card to offset my blog.  I love Typepad, but they determine my hosting situation and I can’t change that, so I wanted to offset my blog’s impact.  I’m not sure how long this will last, but that’s okay because I’ll find out eventually.  The big question is, however:  Should you buy a card?  The bloggers at boingboing equivocated, but everyone else in the country seems to think it’s a good thing.  I’ll explain what I know, but I hope you’ll continue to research the issue of offsets and wind energy credits, if you have an interest. 

First, if you want to power your home with renewable energy, you can do a few things:  green build your home, install solar panels, put a wind turbine in your backyard, use energy-efficient appliances, etc.  After you reduce your own reliance on the grid in these ways (aka, minimize your own environmental footprint), you have a few more options:  (1) you could buy electricity from an eco-conscious company, like Green Mountain Energy, that feeds clean energy into the distribution grids, or (2) you could buy electricity from your regular company and purchase renewable energy credits in amounts that offset your energy usage.  There are slight differences with each choice.  Importantly, whenever energy producers create energy, it is routed into the regional/national grid, and that grid distributes the power to individual homes.  As a result, the energy grid conducts various types of energy such as coal (primarily), solar, wind, water, biomass, natural gas, geothermal, etc.  Depending on your location, you will receive a concoction of energy from all these types of sources, but the national average concoction = Coal – 52%, Nuclear – 20%, Natural Gas – 16%, Large Hydroelectric – 7%, Oil – 3%, and Renewables – 2%. 

With wind energy credits, and more particularly, the Wind Power Card, you’re not reducing or affecting the electricity bill that comes in the mail each month.  What you do is ensure that the electricity you use is replaced onto the national power grid with wind energy.  Every time you buy renewable energy credits, less non-renewable energy is fed into the grid.  This concept is hard to grock, but it’s true.  Think of this, though:  you’re paying a premium, but if you have money to do this, why not support clean energy generation and pay for renewable energy credits?  We can’t neglect the negative externalities (those that aren’t reflective in pricing) of dirty energy such as coal.  Our energy decision will increasingly impact the way we live in the future. 

Extra Links:
A Closer Look at Whole Foods Wind Power Card Displays [Sustainablog]
Boing Boing Mischaracterizes Wind Credits, WF Wind Cards [Sustainablog]
Support for Wind Power Picking Up Speed [Nurenberg - CNN]
American Wind Energy Association on Renewable Energy Credits [AWEA.org]
Renewable Energy Credits + Offsets Certification [Texas PUCT]

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