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Green Means Green for Architects

Green means green for architects that make a serious investment in green architecture and sustainability.  When the recession hit in 2007, the housing and real estate markets were hugely impacted. Jobs in architecture became scarce, and architects started getting laid off in droves. Though there’s been an increase since 2010 in positions in this arena, the sector still struggles to maintain a steady increase in available gigs. According to SimplyHired, since July of 2013, there’s been a 24.4% increase in employment in Los Angeles and 34.4% in New York, so things are looking brighter. In fact, the green or sustainable architect is experiencing a major increase in work, with positions in both cities at an all time high because of the growth of the green economy.

There’s really no set rule for who can dub themselves green architects, but the program responsible for verifying green buildings is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It gives points to projects based on their utilization of sustainable components. However, LEED doesn’t give awards to projects for performance, so there are other available options for certification: the Living Buildings Challenge, Passive House Institute, Green Globes and the government’s Energy Star Program all provide certification based on green standards.

In major metropolises like New York and Los Angeles, the green economy is growing. The public’s demand for green construction is due to its growing awareness of the dangers of climate change. While the green movement is considered “chic,” architects are expanding their views by combating climate change not only with their building designs but by constructing the bigger systems in which they function.

“We think of great design as having four equally important parts: ethical practice, experiential design, thoughtful impact, and excellent delivery. Included in ethical practice is sustainability and the idea that you can’t create great design without it. This translates into our everyday office operations in many big and small ways. The really exciting sustainable operations are yet to come in our new office!”
Irwin Miller, Los Angeles, Principal Design Director, Gensler .

In 2011, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) listed the mean wage for a green architect as $83,390 – about $30,000 more than a residential architect. The BLS also predicts faster-than-average growth for architects until 2020, with green architects in particularly high demand.

Architecture is about designing structures. Green architecture goes one step further by altering structures so that they can contribute to the well-being of the environment. Some architecture firms are green firms not only because they specialize in this type of building, but because they incorporate the green philosophy into how they operate.

Green Architecture Sites:

Inhabitat
Architecture for Humanity
BLD BLOG

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These New Flood-Proof Buildings Designed by Garrison Architects Are Built To Survive New York’s Next Hurricane

After Sandy, the lifeguard stations on New York’s beaches were destroyed. But these new versions are built to withstand a storm–and might be a model for how to think about building better for the future.

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Garrison Architects has created a plan to introduce net-zero energy, flood-resistant, modular structures along the beaches of Coney Island, Staten Island, and Rockaway Beach

Jim Garrison is a busy man. Just before Christmas, his architecture firm got a call from New York City officials asking if he could design and build nearly 50 lifeguard stations and other beach structures to replace the ones wiped out by Sandy. The one catch: The new units needed to open to the public in five months, on Memorial Day weekend, the symbolic start to summer.

The new structures will be constructed in a factory offsite, and later installed into site-specific support structures and access ramps on the beaches. Relying on quick-to-install modular structures in the future might serve as the foundation for the reconstruction of whole neighborhoods (as opposed to throwaway, temporary trailers).

When Garrison Architects needed shop drawings done so the contractor could begin fabrication, they called Consulting For Architects (CFA) to find them an architect to execute the drawings.  “Within 24-hours, we closed the deal with Garrison Architects and a talented CFA Consultant who started this week.” stated CFA owner David McFadden.

Since then, “it’s been a wild ride,” Garrison told me over the phone on Tuesday. After 40 days worth of 16-hour planning sessions, Garrison Architects emerged with a plan to introduce net-zero energy, flood-resistant, modular structures along the beaches of Coney Island, Staten Island, and Rockaway Beach. He says his designs are not only economical and aesthetically interesting– but could help lay new groundwork for the way that cities respond to climate change-related disasters in the future, by relying on quick-to-install modular structures that serve as the foundation for the reconstruction of whole neighborhoods (as opposed to throwaway, temporary trailers).

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Better lifeguard stations are nice, but their design could also help lay new groundwork for the way that cities respond to climate change-related disasters in the future

He says the initiative is the first time he can think of that any American city is “confronting the reality of starting to build infrastructure that can deal with these enormous storms and can live beyond them.”

Garrison’s designs for new lifeguard stations, comfort stations, and beach offices include a number of features that make them both flood-resistant and sustainable: they’re elevated above the new FEMA storm surge numbers, and they rely on photovoltaics, solar hot water heating, and skylight ventilators as part of a net-zero energy system. The wood siding was salvaged from boardwalks wiped out by Sandy.

The project also involves relandscaping the beaches, reintroducing dunes in certain places to help protect the shore, and eliminating boardwalks. “The waves basically just roll under [boardwalks] and sometimes take them away with them,” Garrison says.

The new structures will be constructed in a factory offsite, and later installed into site-specific support structures and access ramps on the beaches. According to a briefing by Garrison’s firm, “New York has only a handful of modular buildings, such as low-income trailer housing or modular classrooms, most of which essentially qualify as manufactured boxes on chassis, not unique designs. Our modules are a premier example of cutting edge modular building practices and sustainable design solutions for the future.”

1681495-slide-exterior-view-from-ramp

The new buildings are elevated above the new FEMA storm surge numbers, and they rely on photovoltaics, solar hot water heating, and skylight ventilators as part of a net-zero energy system. The wood siding was salvaged from boardwalks wiped out by Sandy

What’s perhaps more impressive than the speed of the design is the way the city’s bureaucracy got out of the way to let the project unfold under tight deadlines. “I’ve never seen anything like it on [the city’s] part,” Garrison says (and he’s been designing buildings in New York for more than three decades).

Garrison hopes that the project serves as a model for disaster rebuilding efforts in the future, when it’s possible that Sandy-strength storms will be the norm. “Next time it hits, can we mobilize [modular design] as disaster housing? And I mean good stuff–not FEMA trailers that make people sick, stuff people can really live in for the long term?” Garrison wonders. “This is a way to build in an era of congestion, ecological challenges, and the need for permanence.”

Credit Zak Stone
Zak Stone is a staff writer at Co.Exist and a co-founder of Tomorrow Magazine.

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In China, an underground luxury hotel

While many architects and engineers have been vying to construct the world’s tallest tower, a group in China has looked to build in the opposite direction.

Construction began last month on Shanghai’s first “groundscraper”—a structure built almost completely below the surface. The massive project will eventually take form as the InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, a 19-story, 380-room luxury hotel surrounded by a 428,000 square-meter theme park.

The hotel broke ground about 30 miles from the city of Shanghai in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Tianmashan Mountain. The building, located in the district of Songjiang, will be grafted onto the side of the quarry with 16 floors descending down and three floors resting above the crater.

Just as the top levels of a skyscraper are often filled with elegant restaurants and the most luxurious of rooms, the bottom two floors of the groundscraper will include an underwater restaurant, an athletic complex for water sports and 10-meter deep aquarium.

The quarry’s surrounding cliffs will be used for extreme sports like bungee jumping and rock climbing.

The project’s developers at the Shimao Property Group worked with British engineering firm Atkins to bring the idea to fruition and expect to near completion in late 2014 or early 2015.

The theme park and hotel are expected to cost at least $555 million and nightly room rates should start at approximately $320.

Existing quarry

Source

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The Taiwan Tower Twin Syscraper

The Taiwan Tower is a Sustainable Twin Syscraper for the 21st Century The Taiwan Tower is a proposal by Vienna-based architect Steven Ma in Collaboration with San Liu, Xinyu Wan, and Emre Icdem. This highly innovative project consists of a set of super slim twin towers that reach a height of 350 meters where an observatory and sky-park is located. The plinth of the towers is formed by an intrica…te set of museums that will exhibit Taiwan’s past, present, and future. Each of the three museums configures itself around recreational areas that include a water plaza, an outdoor theatre, a green house, and an event plaza. Another interesting feature is the location of four different types of hanging gardens along the towers’ structure with high-end residences and an aviary for endangered bird species. Among the sustainable features, the Taiwan Tower is equipped with water recycling plants, wind turbines, and a beautiful set of photovoltaic cells placed along the sky-garden and on top of the museums’ undulating surfaces.
Reference

‘Like’ CFA’s Facebook page for job openings for architects and interior designers

CFA Founder/CEO David McFadden’s about.me profile!

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Going for green?: The ecological aims of the 2012 Olympics

It was once the polluted hotbed of the Industrial Revolution in London, a large area of land that became badly contaminated with toxic waste after centuries of abuse.

WATCH VIDEO

But the hope of the local Olympic organizers is that, what was once a wasteland site in Stratford, will soon bloom with fauna and wildlife as the green heart of the 2012 Games’ site.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is planning to convert the area into Britain’s first new public park in London for over a century once the sporting event is over and — in order to create the intended environmental legacy — the work of planting, cultivating and remodeling the new landscape is already underway.

The Olympic Park will not only provide a public space for people to enjoy both during and after the Games, the aim is to generate a variety of habitats for wildlife with 2,000 trees and 350,000 wetland plants.

“There are all kinds of different habitats here and there are target species,” John Hopkins, a project sponsor for the parklands and public realm at the authority, told CNN. “We have things like the frog ponds, which hold water and have loggeries in them.

“We also have over 700 wildlife installations. We have wet woodland, which is a very rare habitat that feeds off the river to keep it wet.”

Wetland areas have been central to the regeneration of the area, specifically along the banks of the River Thames, which runs from the UK’s east coast and through the heart of the British capital.

“This is part of a huge vision for restoring working landscapes in the whole of the Thames gateway, which is great for bio-diversity and great for people,” Hopkins said.

“Parks like this create those places where people want to live, work and play.”

Turning the former industrial area into a suitable home for plants and animals has not been a straightforward process.

Factories had been located on the site in the 18th and 19th centuries, which left the soil in need of special treatment.

“This site was one of the crucibles of the Industrial Revolution in London,” Hopkins said. “Some of the land was heavily contaminated after centuries of abuse.

“We had what we called ‘soil hospitals.’ They were treating all of the materials to make sure that it was suitable for re-use on the site.”

Paul de Zylva, head of international environmental organization Friends of the Earth has been working on the issue of the Games coming to London since 2003, two years prior to the city being awarded the Olympics.

He told CNN he was generally supportive of the work being done by the ODA.

“The plan they have come up with is about trying to create some of the old London habitat that used to exist there,” said Da Zylva. “Grasslands, meadows, woodland and waterways as well, and I think that’s been done well.

“They are putting in a long-term management plan for the area. There’s a 10-year management plan for the park, which is a good start.

“They are trying to manage the land to be of high conservation value, to the point where some parts of it would be on the way to being designated as a site of special scientific interest, which is the highest possible designation in this country. So that’s a good ambition.”

De Zylva also praised the honesty of London’s organizers with regards to making information about the Games available.

“We said to them that we do want you to be open and transparent about what the impact of putting on the Games would be, and they published that.

“We were very pleased they did. We think it’s important, if you’re going to learn lessons from staging the Games, that you have a baseline of information about what it actually takes to host the Olympics.

“This is the first time it has been done, London has been good in that respect.”

London has held the Summer Olympics on two previous occasions, in 1908 and 1948 — next year’s event will begin with the opening ceremony on July 27 and conclude on August 12.

Source:  CNN

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Green Buildings Hazardous to Health? Report Cites Risks of Weatherization

The buildings commonly referred to as "green" could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report. (AP)

The buildings commonly referred to as “green” could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report.

That’s one of many warnings out of a new report from the Institute of Medicine, which tracked the potential impact of climate change on indoor environments. 

The report cautions that climate change can negatively and directly affect indoor air quality in several ways. But the scientists behind the study warn that homeowners and businesses could also be making the problem worse by pursuing untested or risky energy-efficiency upgrades. 

“Even with the best intentions, indoor environmental quality issues may emerge with interventions that have not been sufficiently well screened for their effects on occupant safety and health,” the report said. 

To save costs and cut down on emissions, building owners typically find ways to seal off potential leaks and conserve energy. But in “weatherizing” the buildings, they also change the indoor environment. 

By making buildings more airtight, building owners could increase “indoor-air contaminant concentrations and indoor-air humidity,” the report said. By adding insulation, they could trigger moisture problems. By making improvements to older homes, crews could stir up hazardous material ranging from asbestos to harmful caulking — though that problem is not unique to energy improvements. 

The report did not dissuade homeowners and businesses from making the energy-efficiency upgrades. Rather, it called for a more comprehensive approach, urging organizations to track the side effects of various upgrades and minimize the “unexpected exposures and health risks” that can arise from new materials and weatherization techniques.

Hat tip:  AP

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Center for Global Conservation

An office building in the Bronx Zoo seems as natural to the site as the surrounding parkland and accommodates multiple programs with minimal resources. Staring out the window is part of the job description.

Employees on their lunch break at the Center for Global Conservation (CGC) recently paused to observe wild turkeys roaming in front of the building. In the northwest corner of the Bronx Zoo’s 265 acres of New York City parkland, this display isn’t a rare occurrence. Nor is the sight of Inca terns swooping in the seabird aviary across from the CGC headquarters. Muskrats and goldfinches visit, too. Perhaps these creatures continue to treat the turf as their own because the rectangular, elongated three-story building — which achieved LEED Gold Certification in 2009 — seems as natural to the site as the two rock outcroppings it bridges.

The CGC, designed by FXFOWLE, houses several Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) programs. WCS operates the largest network of wildlife parks in the world, including the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo, and operates over 500 conservation programs in more than 65 countries. Until the new headquarters was completed in 2009, WCS employees were scattered in buildings across the Bronx Zoo. FXFOWLE, which had previously renovated the zoo’s Lion House in 2008, consolidated various programs with diverse needs at an unused edge of the park. After looking at various configurations, the firm designed the building to intrude as little as possible on the landscape, even inflecting it to save two trees. WCS employees now benefit from chance encounters. “It’s really changed our relationship. Proximity is everything,” says Susan Chin, vice president of planning and design and chief architect for WCS.

Continue story at source:  Architectural Record

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The American Institute of Architects select the 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects

Projects showcase excellence in sustainable design principles and reduced energy consumption

Photo credit: Casey Dunn

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The projects will be honored at the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition in New Orleans.

The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program, now in its 15th year, is the profession’s best known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.

The 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects jury includes: Joshua W. Aidlin, AIA, Aidlin Darling Design; Mary Guzowski, University of Minnesota School of Architecture; Kevin Kampschroer, General Services Administration, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings; Mary Ann Lazarus, AIA LEED AP, HOK; Jennifer Sanguinetti, P.E. LEED AP, Smart Buildings & Energy Management, BC Housing; and Lauren Yarmuth, LEED AP, YRG New York.

Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

This urban infill, mixed-use, market-rate housing project was designed to incorporate green design as a way of marketing a green lifestyle. The design maximizes the opportunities of the mild, Southern California climate with a passive cooling strategy. Together with high-efficiency LED and electric lighting, photo and occupancy sensors, and natural daylighting – energy use was minimized. 100% of the total regularly occupied building area is day lit and can be ventilated with operable windows. A combination of cool roof covered in solar panels, green roof, and blown-in cellulose insulation complete an efficient building shell exceeding California Title 24 by 47%.

First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Madison, WI
The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.

The 20,000-square-foot addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed national historic landmark Meeting House is approximately 40% more efficient than a comparable base case facility. The new building design features recycled-content and locally-sourced materials. CO2 sensors trigger a ventilation system that provide energy savings when spaces are unoccupied. 91% of regularly occupied areas are daylit though Individual lighting controls are contained in all building areas. The addition nearly doubles the building footprint but a vegetated roof and a reduction in parking spaces actually increases the percentage of pervious vegetated surface on the property.

Kiowa County K-12 Schools, Greensburg, KS
BNIM Architects

Following the devastating tornado that destroyed their town and schools, USD 422 chose a bold strategy to combine their schools into a single K-12 facility that would align with the town’s sustainable comprehensive master plan. The facilities design optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation in all classrooms, which increases student academic performance/potential and focus. The site and building design reduce the urban heat island effect on Greensburg through open area allocation and diverse landscaping. A 50-kilowatt wind turbine provides a portion of the electricity needs while the remaining power is generated at the wind farm located outside of town.

High Tech High Chula Vista, Chula Vista, CA
Studio E Architects

This public charter school serving 550 students in grades 9-12 with an approach rooted in project-based learning uses a building management system which integrates a weather station, and monitors and controls the lighting and mechanical systems of the facilities, in addition to the irrigation and domestic water systems. This optimizes thermal comfort, indoor air quality, lighting levels, and conserves energy and water. The facilities reflect the school’s guiding principles of personalization, adult-world connection, and common intellectual mission. These principles permeate every aspect of life at HTH: the small school and class sizes, the openness and transparency, sustainable design attributes, and showcasing of student work in-progress.

LIVESTRONG Foundation, Austin, TX
Lake|Flato Architects

The adaptive reuse of a 1950’s built warehouse transformed the concrete tilt-wall building to provide a multi-functional office space for the staff of 62. 88% of the materials from the demolition of the dilapidated warehouse were recycled and used in the new design. In order to allow for the most engaging open office environment, the team replaced the roof’s center bays with north facing clerestory windows that harvest ample diffused daylight for the core workspace. No toxic chemicals are used in or around the building in accordance with green housekeeping and landscape procedures adopted by the Foundation. Achieving LEED Gold certification, the project reflects the LiveStrong mission “to inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, WA
The Miller | Hull Partnership

While most sewage treatment plants are invisible to their communities and separated by a chain link fence, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is a visible and active participant in the public life of Olympia. Different strategies were utilized to control solar heat gain, improve the energy performance of the building, and introduce daylight and provide views. Methane generated from the plant’s waste treatment process is used in a cogeneration plant to generate electricity and heat. The heat is used directly in the building through a low temperature water loop connected to water source heat pumps, thus eliminating the need for a boiler, cooling tower, or geothermal field.

OS House, Racine, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Occupying a narrow infill lot in an old city neighborhood at the edge of Lake Michigan, this LEED Platinum home demonstrates how a small residence built with a moderate budget can become a confident, new urban constituent. The local climate, with its very cold winters and hot, humid summers, required a careful mix of active and passive design strategies to ensure proper interior conditioning. Taking advantage of the lake breeze and the site’s solar exposure, outdoor rooms were created to reduce the house’s depth, allowing for maximum natural cross-ventilation and daylight to wash the inside. The house features a compact structured plumbing system with low-flow fixtures throughout and an on-demand hot water circulating pump, significantly reducing water consumption.

Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO
RNL Design

With the goal of creating the largest commercial net-zero energy structure in the country, the building is meant to serve as a blueprint for a net-zero energy future and influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy and net-zero energy performance. NREL and Department of Energy’s goal is to transform innovative research in renewable energy and energy efficiency into market-viable technologies and practices. Many of the integrated passive design strategies such as daylighting and natural ventilation strongly support both energy and human performance. An open office plan resulted in a higher density workplace reducing the building footprint per person.

Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, CA
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

This mixed-use project provides 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing and supportive services for the homeless and mentally disabled population in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. The density of the project is 258 dwelling units/acre, which exceeds the average density of the Manhattan borough of New York City by more than 10%. The building is located in a transit-oriented location with access to community resources and services, providing a healthy living environment for residents and using resources efficiently. Based on California Title 24-2005 published by USGBC on this building is nearly 50% more efficient than a conventionally designed structure of this type.

Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, British Columbia
Design Architect: LMN Architects, Prime Architects: DA/MCM

As the world’s first LEED Platinum convention center, this project is designed to bring together the complex ecology, vibrant local culture and urban environment, embellishing their inter-relationships through architectural form and materiality. The living roof, at 6 acres it is the largest in Canada, hosting some 400,000 indigenous plants. Free cooling economizers can provide cooling for most of the busy seasons for the convention centre. The heating and cooling is provided by very high efficiency, sea water heat pumps powered by renewable hydro electricity. The interior is fitted throughout with CO2, VOC, and humidity sensors, which can be monitored in conjunction with airflow, temperature, and lighting controls to optimize air quality on a room-by-room basis.

Visit www.aia.org.

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Old Buildings, New Life

Retrofitting commercial buildings is quickly becoming the growth market in the building industry.

The shift from building new commercial spaces was bound to turn from erecting sparkling new mega-buildings on greenfields to retrofitting run-down but still valuable older buildings in good locations close to transportation or other amenities.

No one knows this better than the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Its LEED green building certification is often called upon to rate these buildings. To date, more than 40,000 projects participate in the commercial and institutional rating systems of USGBC, which represents 7.9 billion square feet of construction space.

Ashley Katz, communications manager for USGBC notes that many of these commercial ratings are for existing buildings. “LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance has seen explosive growth since 2008. More certifications are awarded under [the existing buildings program] on a square-footage basis than any other LEED rating system. And this is important because existing buildings make up the vast majority of the U.S. building stock.”

As a result of this growth, LEED projects are predominately existing buildings that have received certification based on verified energy performance. “We believe that the rapid uptake of this tool signals that the market is becoming increasingly aware of energy performance and is ready to move further toward even higher levels of performance,” Katz says.

USGBC’s experience is backed up by research. The McKinsey & Company report, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” which addresses reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, states that existing buildings will make money and will meet 85% of our new energy demand through 2030.

And the 2009 McGraw Hill Construction’s “SmartMarket Report” estimated that the green building retrofit and renovation market was 5%–9% by value, or a $2–$4 billion marketplace for major retrofit projects. By 2014, that share is expected to increase to 20%–30%, representing a $10–$15 billion market for major projects.

Katz points out the Adobe Systems project in Northern California as particularly representative of the retrofit commercial projects and why they are growing and will continue to grow: Adobe spent $1.4 million on 64 separate projects and received $389,000 in rebates, $1.2 million in annual savings, reported a 10-month payback, and 121% ROI.

These kinds of numbers are valuable for companies that need to see a strong ROI and must defend spending in a still-recovering economy.

Another example of a retrofit with a solid bottom line is the Armstrong World Industries’ corporate headquarters in Lancaster, Pa. Originally constructed in 1998, the glass and steel building was recently rehabbed for $138,000. Company leadership believes it will recoup that money in three years. For its outlay of money, the company got:

  • waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and water sensors for the faucets so the company could greatly reduce its water footprint. Those changes and a fix to the humidification process reduced the annual use of water from 800,000 to 420,000 gallons
  • occupancy sensors
  • the purchase of 2 million kWh of wind power, which provides 75% of the project’s electricity use
  • landscape with low-maintenance plants, no irrigation, and a catch basin that slows stormwater release.

Another project, the Joe Serna Jr. California EPA Headquarters Building in Sacramento, Calif., studied its investment in LEED Platinum certification and found it had increased its asset value by $12 million (for a $500,000 investment), while diverting 200+ tons of waste from the landfill and enjoying a building that was better than a third more energy efficient than California’s 1998 energy code.

The team for that project actually took on some untraditional methods, such as a vermicomposting program (worm composting), which diverts more than 10 tons of waste from landfills, and saves $10,000 annually. Plus, by eliminating garbage can liners and using reusable cloth bags in centrally located recycling bins, the headquarters saves $80,000 per year.

While success stories abound in the retrofit of existing buildings, some pundits warn of the potential “post-fossil-fuel age,” where many commercial buildings, high-rise buildings in particular, will be hard to maintain and may be abandoned for easier to maintain buildings.

In an interview with with Grist.com’s Kerry Trueman, James Howard Kuntsler, author of The Long Emergency, among many other books, warns of the impact of a capital scarce, energy-scarce future on mega-structures, which serves as a reminder that builders and owners must consider how buildings will weather an uncertain future where materials or energy might be scarce or expensive.

“The skyscraper is obsolete,” Kuntsler claims. “The main reason we’re done with skyscrapers is not because of the electric issues or heating-cooling issues per se, but because they will never be renovated! They are one-generation buildings. We will not have the capital to renovate them—and all buildings eventually require renovation. We likely won’t have the fabricated modular materials they require, either—everything from the manufactured sheet-rock to the silicon gaskets and sealers needed to keep the glass curtain walls attached.

“From now on, we need desperately to tone down our grandiosity. … Our cities have attained a scale that is inconsistent with the economic and energy realities of the future. The optimum building height, we will re-discover, is the number of stories most healthy people can comfortably walk up.”

LEEDing States

USGBC just released its list of top ten states in the United States for LEED-certified projects in 2010.

The top LEED states per capita, including the District of Columbia:

• District of Columbia: 25.15 square feet
• Nevada: 10.92 square feet
• New Mexico: 6.35 square feet
• New Hampshire: 4.49 square feet
• Oregon: 4.07 square feet
• South Carolina: 3.19 square feet
• Washington: 3.16 square feet
• Illinois: 3.09 square feet
• Arkansas: 2.9 square feet
• Colorado: 2.85 square feet
• Minnesota: 2.77 square feet

Of the projects represented on the list, the most-common project type was commercial office and the most-common owner type was for-profit organization. The cities most represented in the list were Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: As a certified LEED Platinum facility, Armstrong’s corporate headquarters became only the sixth existing building (and the first outside of California) to achieve LEED’s highest level of certification.

Via GreenBuilder Mag

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The Better Way to Know if a Building Is Green

An exhibit at the American Institute of Architects headquarters shows off the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system

The architecture firm Farr Associates, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the U.S. Green Building Council have produced a fantastic exhibit on how to create green neighborhoods. It opened in Chicago last year and is now on display at the American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington.

This carries some symbolism. When it comes to sustainable communities, the architecture profession has been both hero and villain. It has been a hero because many of the early (and continuing) leaders of smart growth and sustainability in our built environment have been architects, from William McDonough to Peter Calthorpe, from Andres Duany to David Dixon. Frankly, in my opinion, architects were way ahead of the environmental community in forging solutions to sprawl. And it’s a good thing that they were, because they gave us environmentalists something positive to advocate.

Continue with article via The Atlantic

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