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Shizen Urban Design Condominium: A Net Zero Energy Project

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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.

Bioclimatic Design, Menara Mesiniaga + Ken Yeang (S2)

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I’ve had people ask me why I haven’t mentioned the Menara Mesiniaga, designed by architect Ken Yeang, in Subang Jaya Selangor, Malaysia.  Well…the building was modern + famous when it was finished in the ’90s, and it’s still modern + famous.  I don’t really know if I can do any justice trying to describe the structure, but I’ll direct you to some more detailed information on the building, in case you’re interested in studying bioclimatic skyscraper design and the like.  The Menara Mesiniaga, often referred to as the IBM building, is owned by Mesiniaga, a Malaysian public company in the IT sector that is somehow connected to IBM.  The 15 floor, 207 foot, intelligent building was finished in 1992, and interestingly, property values of the land around the building have flourished. 

Iaa0296 Excluding the costs of land acquisition, Menara Mesiniaga was constructed at a cost of roughly $8.9 M (USD).  The building design reduces long-term maintenance costs and lowers energy use.  On the north + south facades, curtain wall glazing minimizes solar gain.  On the east + west facades, aluminum fins and louvers provide sun shading.  All the office floor terraces have sliding doors that allow the occupants to control natural ventilation.  The trussed steel + aluminum sunroof also incorporates solar panels that power the building.  Some other features include the skycourt, vertical landscaping, and naturally ventilated core.  The Menara Mesiniaga is the epitome of building design that reflects climate characteristics specific to the location of the building. 

Good Links:
++Ken Yeang’s Book: Bioclimatic Skyscrapers [Online version]
++Aga Kahn Award for Architecture

::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::

Central Oregon's First LEED-H Certified Residential Project: Newport District Modern House Project by Abacus GC

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Have you ever been to Bend, Oregon?  Bend is smack dab in the middle of the state, it’s Central Oregon, and it’s beautiful.  Central Oregon is not to be confused with the rainy, western part of the state.  Bend is in close proximity to some of the best golfing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and skiing locations in the world, which is why lots of Californians either relocate or have a vacation home in the area.  And real estate isn’t cheap, either (speaking from a Texas frame of mind).  But in Bend, you have an innovative, forward-thinking real estate company, Abacus GC, that has just received the first LEED-H (LEED for Homes) certification in Central Oregon for its Newport District Modern House Project.  It’s also Earth Advantage certified and will save about 54% more in energy consumption than a standard code-built home. 

This project (corner of NW 12th Street + Newport Avenue) includes 5 green, modern, luxurious homes, scheduled for completion in December 2006.  Each lot is 3,000 square feet, and each home is 2,000 square feet (prices starting at roughly $850k).  Here are some of the green features:  cool metal roof that reflects UV radiation and keeps the house cool in the summer; green roof trellises; xeriscaped lawns with drought tolerant and local plants (require less water and maintenance); Sierra Pacific windows made from timber that meets the Sustainable Forestry Initiative requirements; grid-tied solar energy system (2 kilowatt) from photovoltaic panels that run backwards; extensive use of FSC-certified lumber; blown in formaldehyde-free insulation (exterior walls, R-23; attic, R-50!) for energy-efficiency, sound control, and improved indoor air quality; lightweight all-aluminum garage doors that are maintenance free and recyclable; hydronic radiant floor heating systems powered by a 96% energy-efficient boiler; tons of strategically placed windows to optimize natural light and shade; locally harvested Madrone wood for the stairs and kitchen counter tops; Caroma dual-flush toilets that save up to 80% of annual water usage; 80% energy-efficient Ribbon fireplace by Spark Modern Fires (with the enclosure made of Eco-Terr recycled tiles); and Green Seal-certified, zero-VOC YOLO Colorhouse primer and paints.  These are just some of the many green features of the five homes in the Newport District Modern House Project. 

In addition to the green features, these homes are stylish:  top of the line hardware (Kohler, Grohe, Blum, Sub-Zero, etc.), 9-foot ceilings, Category-5 Ethernet cable installed, etc.  We’re are talking about luxury everything, in an extreme, environmentally-friendly orchestration.  The Newport District Modern House Project is everything that Jetson Green espouses:  Modern + Green + Healthy Living.  But specifically, these homes help an owner achieve water and energy independence, which is valuable in a world where energy prices will continue to rise and water will continue to become more scarce.  I really like the trajectory of this company and the projects they have in the pipeline–I’m sure this won’t be the last abacus GC project on Jetson Green. 

Extra Links:
Abacus Take Lead on LEED-H Certification [Press Release]
Earth Advantage Features [pdf]
Abacus GC Builds Modern Dwellings [Cascade Business News - pdf]

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