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Near North Apartments by Helmut Jahn: Affordable, Mecha Small, Green + Modern

Night Near North Apartments

Not only is this place sustainable, but rooms are small, too.  With 96 units at an average size of 300 sf, Near North Apartments (NNA) is a pretty incredible habitat for people that deserve to live in a well-designed space.  NNA is the creation of renowned architect Helmut Jahn, who designed the single-occupant spaces for limited income, homeless, and disabled persons.  You’ll notice from the images that the building generates some power through roof-mounted wind turbines, or aeroturbines.  to be precise, the building shape was conceived to maximize wind to the aeroturbines.  They were invented at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and are now being marketed through Aerotecture International

The building also uses solar thermal collectors and a rainwater reclamation system.  The water system recycles shower water to flush toilets, apparently making it one of the few graywater systems in Chicago.  NNA is located at 1244 North Clybourn Avenue in Chicago and is owned by Mercy Housing Lakefront group.  The reason I’m blogging about this structure, in addition to being an example of small, sustainable living, is because it was listed on Metropolitan Home’s 2007 Design 100 list.  Congrats. 

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S2: LOT-EK Slanting Container Building – 87 Lafayette Tower

Perceptual_contrast_slant
Solar_slant

I’m not sure whether this is already in the works or whether this is just a proposal, but I thought it was creative and interesting enough to talk about.  From the pictures above, you’ll notice a few things.  Its slanting shape.  The protruding containers.  The juxtaposition of ultra-modern and historical landmark neighbors.  The developer of the NYC Chinatown project, Mr. Woo of Young Woo & Associates, was interested in LOT-EK‘s design and considered the use of large, metal shipping containers in residential construction "fascinating" and "environmentally friendly."  You’ll also notice from the renderings that the developer plans to have an array of solar panels on the roof. 

To make it work, the slant begins on the third floor of the south end and the six floor of the north end.  What that does is create some unusable square footage for the occupants on the south face (depending on the acuteness of the angle), with a pretty cool view for the occupant on the north face.  Those on the north slant will have the benefit of peering over the ledge without having to worry about falling in.  Also, I’d be interested in seeing a sun model of this to see how the building design takes on natural lighting for the occupants.  All in all, it’s cool to see innovative building designs.  Someone needs to push the entrepreneurial envelope, right?  Via Lloyd of Treehugger

Extra Links:
+LOT-EK Container Housing Coming to New York [Treehugger]
+Leaning Tower of 87 Lafayette Explodes Our Brains [Curbed]
+Slanted Tower Studied Next to Landmark Firehouse [CityRealty]
+New Tower on Lafayette Street? [Wired-NY]

Dual Flush Toilets, Nevada's Green Incentives, New York's Green Improvements, + William McDonough on Earth Day (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. If Your Toilet was Installed Before 1994, it probably Accounts for 40% of Household H2O…Dual Flush Toilets are Newest Way to Save Water
  2. Patagonia’s LEED Gold Distribution Center Gets 50% Real Property Tax Abatement of Next 10 Years, Proves that Nevada is Only State to Offer Green Building Incentives.
  3. New York’s Home Performance with Energy Star Program has invested $100 million to Improve the Energy Efficiency, Comfort, Health, and Safety of More than 13,600 Homes
  4. For Earth Day, William McDonough Asks us to Celebrate the Abundance of Solar Income and Commit to Cradle to Cradle Principles. 

McStain To Build Largest Solar Homes Development in Colorado

Mcstain

Late last week, McStain Neighborhoods announced intentions to build the largest solar neighborhood in Colorado.  The neighborhood development, known as Bradburn Village, will have 42 solar-electric homes available for sale in early Spring 2007.  From what I understand, McStain builds their homes to Energy Star certification, so going with the solar option is a nice added feature.  With prices starting in the upper 400s, these two-story homes will range in size from roughly 2,446 to 2,842 sq.  Bradburn Village is located off 120th Avenue, between Federal and Sheridan boulevards.

McStain isn’t like your average builder or developer, either.  For instance, here’s their mission:  "To create homes and neighborhoods that stand the test of time, that grow in beauty and value, that help maintain the environment and lifestyle that make Colorado so special."  They test and certify 100% of their homes, and I just get the feeling that a McStain home will be a damn good home. 

Extra Links
+McStain Building Solar Neighborhood [Denver Business Journal]
+McStain Company Website

LEED Platinum Sweetwater, A Model of Economics + Design

Sweetwater2  Sweetwater

Back in December, the USGBC awarded Sweetwater Creek State Visitors Center the coveted Platinum level LEED-NC, making it just the 20th building in the world to receive the USGBC’s highest certification.  Sweetwater was designed by Gerding Collaborative, an Atlanta-based architecture firm, to reduce the building’s potable water usage by 77% and energy usage by 51%.  At these numbers, when compared to a similar building, Sweetwater avoids about 27 tons of carbon emissions annually.  Plus, there’s the financial case for the building.  Sweetwater was completed at $175 per sf, which I understand is highly competitive for the area. 

In the words of Dan Gerding, AIA, Managing Principal of Gerding Collaborative, "The Sweetwater Project is a great example of how a new way of looking at design is good for the building’s owner, good for the people who use the building on a daily basis, and good for the environment."  His firm walks the talk.  About 70% of the firm’s technical staff is LEED Accredited (LEED-AP). 

The building has a slew of classic green features such as a 10.5 KW photovoltaic array, vegetated roof, composting toilet system, drip irrigation system, and rainwater collection system.  Also, for the architects out there, Sweetwater is one of the first LEED-Platinum buildings to be designed using 3D "virtual building" technology, Archicad 10.  I understand the technology allowed different members of the team to visualize the project in context to provide design and technology solutions more effectively than if the project were designed with the typical 2D approach. 

Extra Links:
Sweetwater Platinum LEED Design Press Release

2007 New American Home Goes Green in a Big Way

[Email/RSS - Click to View Images] Every year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) sponsors a home project and industry experts team up to create a demonstration home with the newest technologies and products.  This year’s New American Home was unveiled at the 2007 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida last month.  The 2007 New American Home is a 3-story, 4,707 sf urban loft home with a roof plaza.  There’s also a first floor terrace, pool, and a 576 sf suite with the two-car garage.  Designed by BSB Design, the New American Home has a distinct look.  The mission of the home was to illustrate that housing performance can be incorporated into the most simple or complex homes without sacrificing aesthetics.  And as it turns out, housing performance = green home. 

Green Features:
The New American Home is a standout in green achievement: it’s designed with universal design compliance, designated to be Energy Star certified, and certified green by the Florida Green Building Coalition.  The home includes a 2.4 kw solar photovoltaic system; pre-cast, insulated structural concrete wall system; impact resistant, low-emissivity windows; residential automation and home control for all low-voltage systems; air conditioning systems between 15 + 17.8 SEER; four-foot overhangs over most of the south- and west-facing windows; and natural gas instantaneous water heaters.  Nice. 

So you’re saying, "Yeah but, this house is freakin’ huge!"  Yes it is.  It’s huge with Cribs-type amenities such as automated, built-in home theaters, an elevator, and a state-of-the-art security system. It’s a model home with tons of green features.  More precisely, it uses 73 percent less energy for heating and cooling and 54 percent less energy for water heating, compared to a comparable house in a similar climate.  For whatever reason, people build houses this big, so if you’re gonna go big, you might as well go green and energy efficient, too. 

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