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12 posts from August 2006

August 29, 2006

Bush Library Candidate SMU Takes LEED with Embrey Engineering Building

Embry_engineering_building The official opening for the J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building is set for September 8, 2006. This event marks the beginning of an explosion of green building projects slated for the Dallas area. Sustainable construction is here to stay, but this project could be a precursor to greater things at SMU...namely, the Green Presidential Library!

Green President Bush Library:
There's a heated race for the Bush Library, and SMU is one of the finalists. The Embrey Building embodies SMU's commitment to responsible, efficient building practices. It's not that big of a stretch to think that if SMU were to receive the nod for Bush's Library, it would build the library in a sustainable manner. Understanding there are a myriad of intricacies before that process works out, let me just put this into the blogosphere: Bush should pick SMU and top off his presidential legacy by building the first green presidential library in the country.

I should add, in full disclosure, that SMU is my school of choice for two graduate degrees (JD & MBA), so I have a modicum of bias. But all partisan allegiance aside, I hope SMU can continue its green building legacy with future sustainable building. Now that I've got that out of the way, let me talk about the building. I know, it's not really modern, it's Collegiate Georgian architecture, but the LEED stuff is what I'm going to hammer away.

Turner Construction:
Recently, I blogged about Turner being #7 in large design and construction firms for having LEED Accredited Professionals (LAP). This Embrey Building isn't the only green building in the Turner Portfolio.  Purely in the Dallas metroplex, Turner is renovating Haworth's two floor furniture showroom (LEED), constructing the new LEED Corgan Associates offices in the West End, and completed Wal-mart's green prototype store.  Not bad Turner!

Embrey Building Features:
There's a rather detailed article about many of the things SMU did to receive LEED points, but I want to talk about just a few: 

  • A three story light column funnels natural light into the interior
  • The lighting system is run by motion detectors
  • High reflective pavers (with marble chips) reflect heat from the building for cooling
  • Rainwater is captured and held in a tank across the street
  • Gray water is used for drought tolerant landscaping
  • Landscaping will use natural pesticides rather than poisons
  • An information kiosk will provide information on sustainable building and real-time building stats on building temperature and power usage
  • All lumber has chain of custody certificates from certified forests

To quote the SMU Dean of Engineering, Dean Geoffrey Orsak said, "A decade from now, I can't imagine constructing a building that doesn't include at least some aspects of LEED...once you've built one, you will want all of your buildings to be LEED certified." Yes, indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, green building is the trend.

Extra Links:
SMU Website
SMU Dedman School of Law
SMU Cox School of Business
U.S. Green Building Council

UPDATE: 12/15/2006 - I need to correct this.  President Clinton's library received two globes from the GBI Green Globes, certifying it as green.  Here's a PDF of the specifics.

August 28, 2006

August Green: Kicking Out the Shouts

Wind_turbine_1 As August starts to wind down, I'd like to kick out a quick, Sunday shout to those of you that are reading my blog and taking the time to email, comment, or place a Jetson Green link on your site. As I've tried to post little snippets of what I think is cool and green, many of you have provided excellent feedback and I look forward to all the sustainable green news I can handle during the next month. Bookmark this blog or subscribe to the feed; feel free to come back often and interact as often as you like.

Here are some of the noteworthy friends of Jetson Green who send large amounts of traffic and continue to add value to Jetson Green (alphabetical order):

  • Archinect - Great place for architecture and building news; the best place to connect with all things architectural. Architect + Connect...
  • Biz News Blog - Blog about business and environmental aspects of business. Interesting post about Hong Kong the other day.
  • EcoStreet - sleek, informed blog on all things green.
  • E, The Environmental Magazine - They have a good section on green living, which includes the most recent topics on natural sodas, eco-travel, eco-awareness, green multi-level marketing, and flowers.
  • Green At Work Today - The ultimate source for a reliable aggregation of environmental news from the best sources. Very interesting and relevant reading material!!
  • Green Technolog - A cool blogger talking about all aspects of technology that will help the world achieve a sustainable future. Recently, he's talking about E85, California's solar news, and clean free energy.
  • Musings of An Eco-Entreprenuer - A major entrepreneur who loves everything about green business and blogging.
  • Sustainable Log - Home of the awesome "Headlines from the Green Blogosphere."
  • Tom Konrad EE/RE Investing - The green blogosphere's welcome Ph.D and independent investment advisor who has forgotten more than most people know about investing, energy, and everything else environmental. Great blog!

Y'all come back now...

August 27, 2006

[Dallas] Former KFC Processing Plant Turned Eco + Modern Reclaimed Loft

Fitzgerald_kitchen At some point in the past, the Fitzgerald's modern + green loft was home to a Kentucky Fried Chicken food-processing plant. On Canton Street, this 7,000 square-foot reclaimed loft is in a budding area near downtown Dallas that is gradually going jetson green. Recently, I posted an article on various green projects in Dallas, namely the 70% sold Buzz project, which is kind of in the same area. I first took notice of this home from an article in the Dallas Morning News and decided to share it with the Jetson Green readership.

Fitzgerald_balcony In renovating the place, one of the Fitzgerald's goals was to balance environmental concerns with their need for an upscale living and working space. According to Sean Fitzgerald, "we could have put up new walls, laid new flooring and replaced every bit of the old casement windows. We could have just purchased a lot of new things, but we believe in conserving energy, space and materials. A large part of environmental consciousness lies in understanding how to reuse and repurpose existing materials." Notably, they used 90% of the leftover demolition materials to create a synergistic kitchen, entertainment space, balcony, and mezzanine-level bedroom area, and also a separate apartment with bed, bath, and beyond.

Fitzgeralds_in_front_of_office As you will notice from the pictures, Sean used an old aluminum moving container for his office. A similar concept is espoused by the owner of the website called Architecture and Hygiene. Formerly a runner on the corporate law track, Sean uses the office for his work in wildlife photography, and his wife practices law.

Fitzgerald_kitchen_2 The kitchen is amazing! One couldn't tell by the pictures, but the cabinets were abandoned on the roadside. The Fitzgeralds had the cabinets restored with powder coating. Also, the tall stainless-steel cupboard is a repurposed garage tool chest and the sink was found at the Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. Keeping inline with their environmental focus, the balcony floors were finished with a water-based sealant. This loft has everything necessary to create a comfortable, modern, and high-caliber living/working space.

Fitzgerald_stairs While this reclaimed loft may not have the official stamp of an LEED or GBI rating, one cannot deny its green attitude. In my opinion, it's important to design spaces that fit the location. Different situations call for different green measures, and these measures should be suited (financially and physically) to those that will be living and enjoying the space. This loft lives up to those requirements.

In short, the Fitzgeralds likely would emphasize three green concepts that they used in their loft: (1) in a remodeling project, reduce, reuse, and recycle as you are able, (2) conserve energy with proper use of eco windows, lighting, and insulation, and (3) repurpose old materials before replacing them. I'm curious however, how much would it cost to heat and cool a 7,000 square-foot loft apartment? Second thought, maybe I can't handle it...

August 25, 2006

[August] Architectural Record House of the Month: Belmont Geothermal Home

Belmont_geothermal_house I thought I would post information on this home, not because of its superior green features, although it does have green features, but because of the architect's attention to modern design and the client's needs. It's an excellent looking abode...and at a price tag of $3.2 million, who wouldn't want it! The sustainable crutch to this Belmont, Massachusetts modern residence is the geothermal heating and cooling pump, but it also comes designed with a water and energy scheme. That's not all, however...

Chuck_choi_geothermal_house_4 Architecturally designed by Mary Ann Thompson Architects, every aspect of this home was carefully crafted. Thompson designed the U-shaped 4,500 square-foot home specifically for the owner's large 3-acre lot with a serene pond and meadow. Specifically, rooms receive light on two sides and are designed so that internal activity traces the sun's path throughout the day. The building also includes the passive design features of overhanging trellises on the southern and western fascades and incorporated cross-ventilation.

Some of the main construction materials include a steel frame, shiplap cedar siding, slate, kota brown sandstone, reclaimed walnut flooring, reclaimed walnut pine stair treads, acid-washed steel, and a poured-in-place cantilevered hearth. This home comes equipt with Dynamic windows and doors, Solar Innovations skylights, Baldwin hinges, Lightolier recessed can lights, Nightscaping sconces, Dornbracht fixtures, and Modern Fan ceiling fans. I love those ceiling fans! 

Chuck_choi_geothermal_house_2Another feature of this home, specific to this family's needs, is the handicap-accessible guest wing. It is possible that the owner's elderly parents move in with the family, so these features allow for a wheelchair in the shower and a future ramp for multi-level mobility. To quote the architect, "The house was designed to create a continuum, and this family wants to stay here through retirement and beyond...it's truly a home for living."

Other links:
Architectural Record House of the Month Posting
Chuck Choi Photography
Mary Ann Thompson Architecture House Information Page

USGBC Notes 20% Increase in LEED Accredited Professionals

The number of LEED Accredited Professionals (LAP) has increased 20 percent year over year, bringing the total number of LAPs to 25,000. LAP accreditation is received from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and the rapid increase in LAPs is a sign of the trend towards sustainable design, construction, and architecture.

There is an extremely informative website/magazine called Building Design & Construction (BD&C), which audits the number of LAPs in largest United States design and construction firms. They've posted a complete list of their results, but I wanted to spend some time on the top five.

1. Perkins + Will.

2. Gensler.

3. Hellmuth, Obata, Kassabaum (HOK).

4. Stantec.

5. DPR.

BD&C's article lists the LAP numbers for each of the top 100 giant design and construction firms. This information is helpful, especially for companies and developers making their first foray into the green business, because it demonstrates who has the knowledge and expertise to build green.  Green building and sustainable design is a major trend that anyone in the industry should start to realize: real estate agents, designers, engineers, architects, contractors, home builders, developers, owners, REITs, RE management companies, etc.

August 23, 2006

Adobe's San Jose Building Goes LEED-EB Platinum Green

Adobe_headquarters_leedeb As a person smitten with the entrepreneurial bug, I always love to read Business 2.0 magazine when it comes in the mail.  And it’s not that the magazine has ideas for me to start businesses, but it makes me think differently about trends and the future …it makes me come up with new business ideas.  Business 2.0’s September Magazine contains an article about Adobe’s retrofitted USGBC-certified, LEED Platinum building.    

This article is awesome because Jeff Nachtigal, the author, actually quantifies each retrofit and illustrates that going green makes economic sense. Some of my counterparts in the blogosphere are adamant that going green is about doing the right thing for our planet, and I respect that, but as a businessman and entrepreneur, going green must make economic sense. Generically speaking, public companies have a fiduciary duty to the shareholder to create value, so there should be some financial incentive to adopt green concepts into buildings. Now there is. 

Here are some of the eco-friendly renovations and the break even calculations:       

(1)  Waterless Urinals with Nontoxic chemicals:
Cost:                        $35,374
Annual Savings:        $14,896
Breakeven:               2.4 years

(2)  Automatic Faucets:
Cost:                        $110,000
Annual Savings:        $  24,000
Breakeven:                4.6 years

(3) Compact Fluorescent Lights:
Cost:                        $ 11,000
Annual Savings:        $105,000
Breakeven:                .11 years

(4) Automated Irrigation System:
Cost:                         $ 3,610
Annual Savings:         $10,000
Breakeven:                .36 years

(5) Timed Outages of Garage Exhaust Fans & Outdoor Lighting Systems:
Cost:                        $    150
Annual Savings:        $68,000
Breakeven:               .002 years (immediately!!)

These are hard, quantifiable savings. The payback on investments like these is relatively soon, the most attenuated being close to five years out. That's not a bad payback period at all! So these are rational, smart, responsible decisions, and other companies should take notice that Adobe has raised the bar for building operating efficiencies. It's time to hop on the train.

What’s more amazing is that Adobe has been able to foster the right business climate that allows employees to notice waste and make the right changes on a going forward basis. That’s where the real benefits will be realized…and further, employees buy into the benefits and go home making similar changes to their homes. Then they will tell their friends how they saved on their monthly utility bills because of some pragmatic, and economic, changes. Great article Business 2.0!

Good Links:
++Adobe's Announcement to Work with USGBC to Go LEED
++Press Release of Adobe's Receival of Platinum Certification
++Adobe's Environmental Committment
++GreenBiz Artice with CEO Comments

August 22, 2006

Differentiation Strategy: EcoBroker, GreenHomesForSale, Etc.

Hawaiiprefab Applications for building permits have slowed down, some projects have been tosssed, and interest rates are inching higher. Homes sales will be ugly, to use the headline of one news article. All the while, real estate agents are scampering, trying to drum up business and continue the high life. I'm not a real estate agent, but from what I understand, the good ones make real good money and the bad ones make good money, so it hasn't been that bad of a market...until, the Fed started to cool things off. Enter: EcoBrokers, GreenHomesForSale.com, and differentiation.

I noticed two articles on the same day about EcoBrokers, one on USGBC website and the other on MarketWatch. Becoming an Ecobroker means differentiating yourself from hundreds of other run-of-the-mill real estate agents, and it's smart business. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the 2005 green building market ($7.4 Billion) is expected to reach from $19 to $38 billion by 2010. The tipping point, or the point where more green homes are built than non-green homes, is supposed to be in around 2007.

According to the MarketWatch article, buyers are interested more in the energy-saving, cost-cutting, sustainable features than the "save the earth" rhetoric (go figure!). And while features can vary from home to home (read: there will be a green standards war just like the current standards war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray), these EcoBrokers are going to have a leg up in explaining to purchasers and sellers the best ways to market homes. Certification for EcoBrokers will cover topics such as energy-efficiency ratings, asbestos, VOCs and lead paint, and indoor air quality.

Even more interesting, at the website,
www.ecobroker.com, there is a designation guarantee that says the following: "Earn the EcoBroker designation, and apply the marketing and sales skills you learn. During the first year of your designation, you will increase your personal commission income, or we will refund 100% of your designation fee." From what I understand, the costs are $395, so that should be money well spent. The market is heading that direction (as the NAHB quote urges), so it's smart to get in early.

Hawaiiprefab2 Another website is
www.greenhomesforsale.com. I like the concept; it's kind of a DIY-type place, and looks like it can be an attractive place for home listing as the listings increase. I looked at some of the listings and they can hardly be considered green (McKinney, Texas home), but it's a good start. I found a prefab in Hawaii, that I know I'm gonna dream about tonight--if only money was sustainable on my backyard tree!

What I don't understand about this website, however, is why they don't invest some money in design and get rid of all those convoluted google ads, etc., sticking up all over the place like a bunch of weeds. It's hard to take a website serious with all those cheap pay-per-click ads all over the place...my recommendation: pick a strategy for cash generation and stick with it--drive that strategy home. Looks like it costs about $60 to list for 3 months, so stick it out while your making your way down the long tail of sales.

Overall, I digg the future of what's going on in the green real estate industry. It would be a smart move for real estate agents to get on this and learn the jargon. As the demand for green homes increase, those that can't speak the jargon will be left trying to catch up. And might I suggest, as a parting note, since buyers are interested in the cost-benefits of green, the jargon includes being able to calculate payback periods, breakevens, inflation, and discounted cash flows, etc.

August 18, 2006

LivingHomes Combines Style + Sustainability

Livinghomes

LivingHomes Founder Steve Glenn has knocked the socks off the eco-conscious world with his modern homes that emphasize beauty + environment.  As I've been thinking about how I want to blog about this company, I've noticed a flurry of posts and press releases regarding this Ray Kappe-designed abode that was just awarded LEED-H Platinum.  It's such an incredible home, with that undeniable confluence of modern and sustainability.  Hard to beat that. 

This is the first residential building to receive the USGBC's Platinum LEED-H rating and it's raising the bar for residential construction: zero energy, zero water, zero waste, zero carbon, and zero emissions. LivingHomes received a total of 91 out of a total possible 109 points, to barely skirt past the 90 point threshold required to obtain a Platinum rating.  It will be 80% more efficient than similar sized home and was constructed with 75% less waste than a traditional one.

continue »

August 17, 2006

Mini-Wind Turbines: Case Study on Payback, Breakeven, & Pricing

Archwind

I recently ran across an article in BuildingGreen.com about a new wind turbine concept. A company based in Monrovia, California, called AeroVironment has created “turbines on a parapet.” These 400-watt turbines are made to be placed in a row, attached to the parapet of a building. The AVX400 turbine, which will be commercially released in the Fall 2006, can come with a canopy—designed to protect birds. To give you an idea of the actual size, the rotors for these fans are 4 feet in diameter and install side-by-side on 6 foot centers.

continue »

August 15, 2006

Bamboo, Too

Bamboo-forest

Grist Magazine wrote about being bamboozled, Dwell talked about bamboo in this month’s article, and Green Source mentioned it recently as well.  Quoted in Dwell in reference to a person’s choice of flooring, Eric Corey Freed said, “Guilt is no way to approach environmentalism. You shouldn’t feel guilty. What you should do is question where the wood for your floor comes from.”  In any event, since everyone is talking about bamboo, I thought I would add a few thoughts. 

When I visited China in May, I was amazed by the labyrinth-work of bamboo used as scaffolding for workers laboring away on huge buildings. From what I understand, curious observers from around the world have visited China to study their method of scaffolding. The bamboo is strong, yet forgiving, and it’s easy to set up, take down, and re-use.

When it comes to green building, bamboo is often referenced with regards to flooring. Bamboo flooring can contribute towards LEED certification, but should it? EcoTimber sells the stuff that they harvest from plantations. It’s good because it grows in various climates and takes about four to six years to be ready-to-use. EcoTimber makes its bamboo flooring with low-VOC finishes, but not all bamboo floor makers do that, so watch out!  To quote Mr. Freed, people take bamboo and finish it with that “nasty oil-based toxic lacquer.” So what’s the purpose of using bamboo?

Bamboo has a quick harvest life and it makes economic, business sense for bamboo sellers. Being a bamboo grower wouldn’t be that bad of a gig. It’s quick, cheap, and multiplies like rabbits—especially when compared to the slow poke tree. Bamboo is easier to replace than a tree, and in some ways, it’s better than a tree. It’s stronger. Often, the end product comes directly from the cheap manufacturing country of China (cheap being a reference to cost, not necessarily the quality). And therein lies the rub.

The amazing eco-grass, bamboo, travels half-way across the globe before it finalizes in the floor of your nice, elegant, modern, new, sustainable, LEED certified home or LEED-platinum office building. Feels good right? Depends.

Here’s what you should start thinking about: Your purchase of bamboo includes a transportation and carbon premium. Built into the price of bamboo is the cost of shipping and transporting bamboo half-way across the globe. So a slice of the price includes payment for oil, gas, and/or coal, depending on the transportation methods.

How’s that for being green? To me, it conflicts with one of sustainable movement’s basic tenets—acquire materials locally. If you’re importing the materials from half-way across the globe, how are you supposed to be ecologically responsible?  There needs to be local farms growing the stuff; with our American ingenuity, someone has to be able to make bamboo floors locally for less than the Chinese (considering they’re paying for shipping, too).

Good Links to Read:
[+]  Wikipedia on Bamboo
[+]  Bamboo of the Americas
[+]  American Bamboo Society
[+]  Environmental Bamboo Foundation
[+]  A Thousand Uses of Bamboo

         
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