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28 posts from March 2007

March 19, 2007

Sky House, St. Louis Eco-Friendly, Mixed-Use Tower (S2)

Sky House St. Louis

A Fresh Perspective on Urban Living.
  Looks like we're starting to see teasers for the newest, hottest address in downtown St. Louis: 1400 Washington.  With pre-sales beginning in May 2007, Sky House will be a 22-story building with 166 units of residential and 13,000 sf of street-level retail.  The residential units will be about 850 to 2,230 sf (1-3 bedrooms), with prices starting in the mid-$200,000.  Sky House will be built to LEED standards and have Energy Star stainless steel appliances, a green roof, energy-efficient window systems and balcony doors, and computer-controlled, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Residents will also have access to the Sky Club on the 19th floor.  The Sky Club level includes a pool, hot tub, fitness center, green space, and a dog run.  The importance of the dog run can't be understated either.  With a dog run, there's less of a reason for vertical living to be at odds with dog lovers.  The project is developed by Chicago-based Metropolitan Development Enterprises and constructed by RileyWaldrop.  Looking good. 

Extra Links:
Eco-Friendly, Mixed-Use Tower to Rise in St. Louis [BDC Network]
SkyscraperPage Forums + Urban St. Louis Forums

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

Caveat Emptor: The Green Sheen

Bw_march_26_2007_cover Sure, the housing market is in a bit of a lull right now, but BusinessWeek's article on page 131, "How to Make a Deal Bloom," was totally irresponsible.  BW presents five tips for residential home sellers: (1) Get on the Net, (2) Dress Up the House, (3) Don't Overprice, (4) Be Green, and (5) Forget About As Is.  Here's what they say under Be Green: "Environmentally friendly features are in, especially if buyers don't have to pay for them.  You can give your home a green sheen inexpensively by replacing incandescent bulbs in light fixtures with energy-saving compact florescent ones.  Put filters on the faucets and a compost bin in the backyard."  You might as well call it a veil or mask, because this isn't green, it's green-washing.  With a few add-ons, the seller is putting out the vibe that the house is green and the buyer unwittingly infers that it has more beneficial green features.  That's quite deceptive. 

Buyers Tip:
Don't buy into this hype, you'll be disappointed by the results.  Don't think you're getting something special if you have CFLs, water filters, and a compost bin.  Sure these green add-ons are helpful, but don't be swayed.  If someone shows you these things and says their home is green, here's a model reply:  "Cool.  Can you show me the results of the energy audit?  I'm interested in knowing about the AC SEER rating, the windows, and all the Energy Star appliances.  How much energy does that refrigerator use?  Did you landscape green, too?"  Let's try to be discerning.

March 18, 2007

Philips Wants More Efficiency, DOE Selects 13, + Lennar Gets Crazy Solar (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Homebuilder Lennar to Build Largest Solar Homes Development in U.S. - According to a deal with Sacramento Municipality Utility District (SMUD), Lennar will build 1,254 energy-efficient homes with solar power systems as a standard feature in 11 communities in the Sacramento area.  SMUD will provide a maximum of $10.9 million in incentives and Lennar will receive the rebates after homes are constructed.  That's about $8,700 per home for solar.
  2. Philips Supports a New Call-to-Action to Adopt More Energy-Efficient Lighting in North America - A congressional coalition of energy efficiency advocates announced plans for proposed legislative action for a major shift toward incorporating high-efficiency lighting technologies in home and office settings. The call-to-action was introduced by Philips Lighting North America, the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, Congressman Don Manzullo (R- Ill.) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to support the adoption of more energy- efficient lighting in North America.
  3. DOE Selects 13 Solar Energy Projects for up to $168 Million in Funding - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced the selection of 13 industry-led solar technology development projects for negotiation for up to $168 million (FY’07-’09) in funding, subject to appropriation from Congress under President Bush's Solar America Initiative.  These projects will help significantly reduce the cost of producing and distributing solar energy.

March 14, 2007

Costs and Benefits of Green Roofing

Green_roof_house I ran into a pretty thorough article on green roofing and wanted to pass it along to readers.  There's a growing interest in green and vegetative roofs, although one may not be perfect for every application.  That said, there are numerous benefits and advantages to having a green roof. 

Simply put, here are the benefits:  (1) opportunity to utilize wasted or otherwise unused space, (2) reduction of storm water runoff, (3) mitigation against urban heat island effect, (4) airborne toxins are taken out of the air with oxygen getting released, (5) reduction in peak load (lower energy costs) for the building with the green roof, (6) longer roof life, and (7) considerable insulation from noise pollution. 

Here are some of the drawbacks: (1) could cost up to twice as much as a conventional roof (but will offer a payback of 5-10 years in energy savings), (2) could be difficult to get zoning approvals depending on the sophistication of the approving authority, and (3) will constrain some types of architectural expression. 

March 13, 2007

Interview: Steve Glenn - CEO of LivingHomes, by Core77

Steve Glenn Broadcast

[Run time = 26 min.]  I've posted about LivingHomes here, here, and here.  Well, Steve Glenn is the company's CEO and Founder and he has some interesting things to say.  If you're still unsure about his green cred, he built the first LEED Platinum home in the United States (with the design help of Ray Kappe).  Enjoy...

March 12, 2007

One Bryant Park, Greenest Skyscraper in the World? (S2)

One Bryant Park Rendering

If you're going to office in what looks to be the greenest skyscraper in the country, you should also have a sustainable business strategy to go along with it.  One Bryant Park, soon to be known as the Bank of America Tower, is the perfect place for a company that just announced a $20B initiative to support environmental lending.  Designed by Cook + Fox Architects and developed by the Durst Organization, One Bryant Park is shooting for LEED Platinum certification.  It's a 2.1 million sf, 54-story, crystalline office tower located right in midtown Manhattan and is slated for completion in 2008. 

ABC News recently ran an article on some of the more interesting green features of the building.  Interestingly, it will only cost about 1-2% extra (of a total $1.2B) to include all the green additions, but those are expected to be paid for within a 2-4 year window as a result of saved energy expenses.  That's the business case for green building.  There will be rainwater capture, floor-to-ceiling windows for natural lighting, advanced double wall technology to allow light and block heat, air cleaned of 95% of its particle matter, a floor duct air system controllable in each room or office, three state-of-the-art natural gas fuel cells to create on-site energy, building concrete made of 45% blast furnace slag for stronger construction, and daylight dimming and LED lights for reduced electric usage.  The result:  these green additions have the anticipated benefits of reducing energy consumption by 50%, reducing potable water consumption by 50%, reducing storm water contribution by 95%, and using about 50% recycled materials in construction.  That's a lighter footprint. 

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March 11, 2007

Bank of America's $20B, Green Residential Traction, + Daylight-Savings Tips (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Bank of America Announces $20 Billion Environmental Initiative - BofA announced a $20 billion initiative to support the growth of environmentally sustainable business activity to address global climate change. Bank of America's ten-year initiative encourages development of environmentally sustainable business practices through lending, investing, philanthropy and the creation of new products and services.
  2. Residential Green Building Slow to Gain Momentum - The major homebuilders, who account for 80 percent of all homebuilding activity in the nation, face a unique challenge in implementing green building on a widespread scale. Many have added energy-saving features and experimented with environmentally friendly materials but have not yet been able to sign on a critical mass of buyers willing to pay more for them.
  3. Easy, Eco-friendly Ways to Put Those 21 Extra Hours of Evening Daylight to Good Use This Spring - Tomorrow, the entire nation will spring forward three weeks early, gaining an extra 21 hours of evening daylight. Since energy conservation is the driving force for the early time change, Lowe's is encouraging homeowners to utilize these hours wisely with some simple, green projects that would make Mother Nature smile.

Don't forget to spring forward tonight. 

March 10, 2007

The Small, Modern kitHAUS (F2)

kitHAUS K1  kitHAUS K1 Interior

This is the K1 from kitHAUS, which is a prefab company based in Van Nuys, California.  The K1 is 289 sf and costs around $59,000.  kitHAUS has a series of modules that can be paired (or not) to create a small weekend retreat, backyard office or study, or gigantic residence.  Plus, it can be off-grid or grid-tied with the optional solar setup, depending on your tastes.

"F2" is short for "Flickr Friday," a weekly short posted on Friday with an image from Flickr and a quick description.  Feel free to email me your F2 ideas.

March 09, 2007

American Dream 2.0: The Phoenix SUT

Side_profile

Tonight, I had the great opportunity to talk with Ed Begley Jr. at the unveiling of the Phoenix Sport Utility Truck in Dallas, Texas.  Ed is a really nice guy, and he's smart, too.  He knows his stuff.  He was showcasing the Phoenix SUT, which is a five-passenger, all-electric, freeway-speed sport utility truck.  I test drove it and had a good time.  I see the future with this thing.  I really do.  Actually, I punched it coming off the line, and it had some get up and go.

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11 Suggestions to Create Eco-friendly Landscape

Reel Lawn Mowing

Guest post contributed by Kent Swanson, a freelance writer specializing in environmental issues.  Kent's writing is also featured on Practical Environmentalist, Clean Air Gardening: Organic Gardening Advice, and Ecobackyard

When we think of green architecture, sometimes we forget that our landscaping can have a big impact on how efficient and sustainable a building is in the long run.  For example, a few strategically planted trees can help to cool off a building and reduce the amount of energy allocated to air conditioning. The following is a list of 11 suggestions to create an eco-friendly landscape that will complement a holistic approach to green building design.  Incorporating a few of these ideas will help you save energy and water, and also reduce environmental contamination.  If you’d like to make a suggestion on how to use landscaping to reduce your environmental footprint, please leave a comment!

(1) Incorporate Native Plants in Your Landscaping
When planning your landscape, consider using a collection of native plants. Native plants are adapted to your area, which means they naturally require less maintenance and water than exotic plants. They are also more resistant to pests and diseases than many exotics, reducing the need for pesticides.  Additionally, native plants attract native wildlife and beneficial insects. You don’t need to exclude exotic plants from your yard and garden, but incorporating natives in your design can make a big difference.  The U.S. EPA's Greenacres Program is a great place to look for information on using native plants for home landscaping.

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