Green Building News

Green Building News June 2004

June 15, 2004

AIA Names Top Ten Green Projects

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected 10 examples of architectural and “green” design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

The projects selected for the top ten honor have several things in common. They address significant environmental challenges with designs that integrate architecture, technology and natural systems. They make a positive contribution to their community, improve comfort for building occupants, and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as: reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality. Several of the projects reclaim former brown-field sites.

The 2004 AIA Top Ten Green Projects (listed in alphabetical order):

20 River Terrace, The Solaire, New York City
Cesar Pelli & Associates Architects, New York City
Twenty River Terrace is a 27-story, glass-and-brick residential tower in Battery Park City, directly adjacent to the site of the former World Trade Center, meeting both the recently enacted New York State Green Building Tax Credit and Gold LEED Certification. The architect designed the 357,000-square-foot, 293-unit building to consume 35 percent less energy, reduce peak demand for electricity by 65 percent, require 50 percent less potable water, and provide a healthy indoor environment. An integrated array of photovoltaic panels generates 5 percent of the building's energy at peak loading. The building incorporates an advanced HVAC system, fueled by natural gas and free of ozone-depleting refrigerants. Daylighting has been maximized, and high-performance casement windows were used throughout. All residential units include programmable digital thermostats, ENERGY STAR® fixtures and a master shutoff switch.

Environmental Services Building, Pierce County, Wash.
The Miller/Hull Partnership, Seattle, Wash.
This building sits on a 900+ acre site, much of which has been extensively mined for gravel for over 100 years, resulting in a barren landscape. As the first major building constructed under “Reclaiming Our Resources”, the county's 50-year master plan for the site, it sets the tone for future development. Its driving concepts call for a more humane work environment, introduction of natural light, interior vegetation, and views to the exterior. The project attempts to make people aware of being part of a greater regional context by developing the “ Mt. Rainier ” axis through the site. Space planning follows a European office model: No desk is more than 30 feet to a window. Extensive daylighting studies led to the use of baffles in the skylights, a large western overhang, and exterior sunscreens on the east façade. A raised-floor air distribution system reduces the size and energy consumption of the mechanical system, improves indoor air quality, provides for future flexibility, and gives individuals direct control of their immediate environment. Nighttime flushing lowers the temperature of the concrete structure by several degrees, resulting in “free” cooling at the beginning of the day.

Factor 10 House, Chicago
EHDD Architecture, Chicago
In 2000, the City of Chicago 's Departments of Environment and Housing sponsored a national competition to identify creative modifications to the existing New Homes for Chicago program. Factor 10 House's cutting edge design was one of five affordable case-study designs chosen to be built. F10's modular design responds to a narrow city site with adjacent buildings, with an open 1,834 square-foot floor plan that incorporates a solar chimney in the stairwell. The open plan enhances cross ventilation. Window placement maximizes reflected light; the solar chimney includes a south-facing clerestory window that brings natural light to the house's core. A high-efficiency gas fired boiler and perimeter fintube baseboard provides heating, while natural ventilation delivers the cooling. A wall of water bottles acts as a heat sink in winter.

Genzyme Center, Cambridge, Mass.
Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner Inc., Venice, Calif.
The building, headquarters for a biotechnology company, sits on former brown-field site in Cambridge at Kendall Square, a dense, massive “1970s Urban Renewal” development project built on wetlands fill. All of the environmental design strategies—energy efficiency, water conservation, material selection, urban site selection, and indoor environmental quality—establish an open spatial atmosphere for the building occupants. The building is expected to achieve the Platinum LEED rating from the US Green Building Council. The high-performance curtain-wall system boasts operable windows on all 12 floors. These windows, linked to the building management system, allow for automated control and “night cooling”. Also, a third of the exterior envelope is a ventilated double-facade with a four-foot buffer that tempers solar gains year round. The building's central atrium space acts as a huge return air duct and light shaft, and steam from a nearby power plant supplies central heating and cooling. The building will also use 32 percent less water than a comparable office building by having waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, automatic faucets and low-flow fixtures.

Greyston Bakery, Yonkers, NY
Cybul & Cybul Architects, Edgewater, NJ
The Greyston Bakery offers a 23,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art production bakery on a 1.6-acre former brown-field site in an old industrial area near downtown Yonkers. The building is bisected by a three-level light shaft with translucent floors, then bisected again in the opposite direction by a two-story atrium, which separates the office area from the production bakery, and introduces light and air into the offices. The light shaft and atrium also allow natural airflow throughout the bakery. Outside ambient air cools the baked products as they travel down a continuous spiral conveyor.

Herman Miller, Zeeland, Mich.
Krueck & Sexton Architects, Chicago
At the most fundamental level, reuse of a building is one of the most sustainable strategies available. This project restores, revitalizes and transforms a classic, but aging Modern building into an environmentally responsive, high-quality workplace, exemplifying Herman Miller's core values of human-centered, spirited and purposeful design. Located on the company's main campus, this two-story 1974 office building housed Herman Miller's executives until 1997. The architects stripped the building to structure and rebuilt it with minimal finishes, which utilize over 50 percent recycled content. The floor plates are organized to provide maximum daylight penetration and 100 percent line-of-sight to the landscape. With 69 percent of its total energy produced on-site, the redesign achieves a 29 percent reduction in energy consumption, mainly through envelope improvements and high-efficiency mechanical equipment and lighting. The project also supports the regional economy, with 57 percent of construction materials sourced within 500 miles.

Lake View Terrace Branch Library, Los Angeles
Fields Devereaux Architects & Engineers/GreenWorks, Los Angeles
Lake View Terrace Branch of the City of Los Angeles Public Library system, enjoys a spacious main reading room that stretches along the east-west axis providing dramatic views of the park to the south. The site's stormwater runoff was reduced by 25 percent with landscaping features that include a series of radial bioswales for efficient rainwater infiltration. More than 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills to local recycling facilities. The Library's energy performance is more than 40 percent more efficient than California standards. Night venting takes advantage of it exterior insulated, high-mass CMU shell. Approximately 80 percent of the public spaces are naturally ventilated via mechanically interlocked windows controlled by sophisticated energy management system. A building-integrated photovoltaic system shades the entry and roofs the community room while providing 15 percent of the building's energy. The design provides nearly 100% shading of glazing for glare-free daylight during operating hours. The program called for a LEED® Platinum building; it is the first project of the city to attempt this level.

The Plaza at PPL Center, Allentown, Pa
Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York City
(In association with Kendall/HeatonAssociates and with support from environmental building consultant Atelier Ten)

This LEED™ Gold high-performance urban office building, was designed and built in 18 months on a suburban real-estate budget ($104 per square foot hard cost for the shell and core). The eight-story building offers Allentown 's downtown its first new office development in over 25 years. A dramatic eight-story glass atrium brings natural light deep into the core of the building, while extensive perimeter glazing provides panoramic views and abundant daylight filtered through brises-soleil directly to all building spaces. CO2 sensors ensure that fresh air is supplied directly to each building area as needed. A pair of two-story plant-filled winter gardens along the south façade of the building provide unique workspaces for the occupants, bring daylight deeper into the floor plates, control glare, and improve indoor air quality. The building's layout and efficient building systems—plus through the use of zero-emitting or very low VOC-emitting paint, adhesives, sealants, carpet, and composite wood--reduce energy demand by more than 30 percent over code requirements. Water use is 45 percent below code requirements, and construction materials contained more than 20 percent recycled content.

City of White Rock Operations Centre, White Rock, British Columbia
Busby + Associates Architects, Vancouver, British Columbia
The mandate of the City of White Rock was to make their new Operations Building as environmentally sustainable as reasonably possible, in accordance with the City's own policy. The 6545-square-foot building earned a LEED Gold certification through a great variety of strategies that include photovoltaic panels for electricity and solar tubes to provide base radiant heating for the building. Daylight lightshelves reduce lighting needs. A green sod roof reduces runoff from impermeable surfaces, while a pervious parking lot to allow infiltration of water into the ground. The facility also uses storm water rather than potable water to wash down city vehicles and for toilets, and waterless urinals and low-flow faucets throughout the facility further reduce water consumption. Extensive use of materials produced within a 500-mile radius of the site also reduced transportation effects on the environment.

Woods Hole Research Center Gilman Ordway Campus, Woods Hole, Mass.
William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Va.
Working within a challenging and constrained site, the design preserves the cultural landscape represented by an existing 19th-century summer home, respectfully and adaptively reusing the original house and adding contemporary office, laboratory, and common spaces. The all-electric building relies on renewable energy sources, including a grid-connected and net-metered 26.4-kW photovoltaic array that powers the building's closed-loop ground-source heat pump system. A planned on-site wind turbine will likely make the building a net-energy exporter. Icynene spray foam insulates all exterior walls and roof assemblies, creating a technically and ecologically effective air barrier and optimized R-values. Other components reinforce the performance benefits of this extremely secure envelope including offset-stud framing, double- and triple-glazed argon-insulated low-e windows, enthalpy wheels that recapture heat and moisture from exhaust air and precondition incoming fresh air, and high-efficiency lighting controls and occupancy monitors.

The AIA's Committee on the Environment represents more than 5,500 AIA members committed to making sustainable design integral to the practice of architecture. The seventh annual AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects initiative was developed by the AIA in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Building News magazine and The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR® Program. The Jury selected projects that cover a broad spectrum of project types. Facilities include both new construction and renovation of office, retail, residential, academic, and institutional facilities. The panel of jurors included:  Jury Chair, Sandy Mendler, AIA, vice president and sustainable design principal of the San Francisco office of Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK), Susan Ubbelohde, Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, Tony McLaughlin, partner, Buro Happold, London, Don Watson, FAIA, architect and author, and William Moorish, professor of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia.


Free Software Calculates Benefits of Used Building Materials

In some cases, used building materials are better than new. To estimate how much better, you can use the Building Materials Reuse Calculator created by New York Wastematch. This Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can be downloaded free from their web site.

The calculator measures the environmental benefits of reusing building materials in terms of 10 avoided negative environmental impacts (global warming, acidification, eutrophication, fossil fuel depletion, water intake, criteria air pollutants, ecological toxicity, human health, ozone depletion, smog) and in terms of the embodied energy that the materials contain, which is preserved when the materials are reused.

This tool assumes that reused materials take the place of new materials. The results include the environmental impacts avoided from extracting and processing raw materials, making them into finished materials, and transporting them from the factory to their points of use. The results also include the energy that would have been required to produce equal amounts of new products, based on the embodied energy contained in the reused product.


Pick an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has advice for consumers in the market for a new air conditioner.

Choose a model with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 13 or higher. That level of efficiency will reduce utility bills, lessen the environmental impact of electricity generation, and provide a comfortable, less humid home-provided the unit is properly sized and carefully installed.

Consider a unit that uses "R410A" or "R407C" refrigerants (sold under various trade names) over "R22" refrigerant, which will be phased out of new equipment by 2010.

Select a unit with a TXV (thermal expansion valve) and an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 11 or higher. This will ensure efficient performance on the hottest days.

A model with these features may cost more than the commodity-grade best sellers. However, you can recoup the cost several times over in lower operating costs while improving comfort.

Consumers can narrow their shopping choices by consulting up-to-date lists of the most energy-efficient air conditioners -- and a range of other appliances -- now available in ACEEE's valuable energy-saving and cost-cutting resource, "The Most Energy-Efficient Appliances 2004".


Building With Trees Awards Granted

Conservation-minded builders and developers around the country have been named to receive 2004 Awards of Excellence in the Building With Trees recognition program. The program, sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders and Firewise Communities, recognizes builders and developers who save trees during construction and land development.

Winners of the 2004 Building With Trees Awards of Excellence are:

Endicott Hill in Bethesda, Md., developed by Mitchell & Best Homebuilders LLC, of Rockville, Md.
Endicott Hill's eight homes are distributed among six acres of trees. Homes were planned around pockets where few trees grew to keep the forest intact, which resulted in unusual placements chosen with the priority of saving trees in mind. Other tree-saving examples included installing a common driveway for six of the eight homes and landscaping the understory of the forest to prevent owners from expanding their yards. Homeowners said they were motivated to purchase because of the homes' setting among so many trees.

The Bancroft Development in Sandy Springs, Md., a project by Mitchell & Best Homebuilders LLC, of Rockville, Md.
Recognized as the Environmental Development of the Year for 2003 by the Maryland National Capital Building Industry, 70 percent of Bancroft's 100 acres were left open so trees can be enjoyed by residents. Coordination between the developer, subcontractors, local utilities and county government resulted in better planning of the Bancroft development. Excavators were required to notify the developer of trees scheduled for removal that weren't in the path of a home or road. A separate bike path meandering through the trees meant an extra 12 feet of pavement could be eliminated from plans by the side of the road.

Tall Oaks Townhomes, developed by Residential Development Group of Crystal Lake, Ill.
The construction of an eight-lot community, accessible by a private drive, saved all the oaks on this five-acre site that backs up to existing subdivisions. Various plans were considered and townhomes chosen because of the ability to cluster homes where there were few oaks. Reduced lot sizes and shorter front yards, limited sidewalks and the installation of private, instead of public, roads made possible the preservation of oaks. The developer worked with utility companies to locate easements in areas that would not affect trees. In the case of four units, easements were moved to run under patios.

Baldwin Park, developed by Baldwin Park Development Company, of Orlando, Fla.
The site of a former Naval Training Center, Baldwin Park is one of the U.S.'s largest redevelopment projects in a major city. The 1,100-acre site will include 3,600 residential units and 1 million square feet of commercial space. The developer partnered with the Audubon Society in planning parks and water edges throughout the site. An evaluation, lead by tree expert Dr. Arthur Costonis during the summer of 2000, cataloged over 600 trees, identified viable trees and provided specifications for protection and relocation during construction. The initial phases have resulted in 150 trees being pruned and transplanted, 20 preserved by the installation of barriers and more than 2,000 new plantings.

Basswood Lodge, developed by Basswood Lodge LLC, Omaha, Neb.
The Big Muddy Workshop, a landscape architecture firm, chose a property with large, stately trees when looking to build its new headquarters. The office was built in the footprint of the old building, which was beyond renovation, to have less impact on the roots of the mature trees that now shade and buffer winter winds. Removal of the front parking lot and a second driveway allowed the area to become greenspace, and new trees will shade the remaining parking. Other features of the property include air conditioner units on the office's north side that are shaded by a large tree, and a rain garden in the west yard that reduces run off, the need for extra watering and increases absorption rates.

North Burnham Park/Solider Field Redevelopment, a project of the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Park District.
Requiring the coordination of several agencies, the Solider Field Redevelopment removed the stadium between its original colonnades, and constructed a new stadium preserving the historic walls. The North Burnham Park renovation closed the gap between other lakefront parks and Soldier Field, and incorporated large, historic trees transplanted from other locales. The space for the park was created when 17 acres of parking was consolidated into two underground garages holding 4,000 cars, which reduced the heat island effect created by large tracts of unshaded pavement. Over 1,300 new trees were added to the park.

Highland Park Wastewater Treatment Facility, developed by the Hilltown Township Water & Sewer Authority of Hilltown Township, Penn.
Hilltown Township residents were concerned when the local Water and Sewage Authority announced plans to build a wastewater treatment facility in the community on five acres that were home to wetlands, 2 acres of meadow, and an overgrown stand of white pine trees. Community input during the planning phase resulted in the housing of mechanical systems in structures designed to look like farm buildings. The plant was located in the stand of pine trees, leaving a buffer of pines that blended the facility into the surroundings. Limited disturbance of sensitive areas preserved the existing beauty while allowing a facility that would address future water and sewage needs for Hilltown.

A jury of development industry and urban forestry professionals selected the award winners. Criteria considered includes: creativity and attention to protecting trees during planning, design and construction; planting and providing for long-term tree care; demonstrating a commitment to tree protection by having a certified tree-care professional on the development team; taking inventory of existing trees and using information to help preserve trees; and adherence to tree protection goals throughout the construction process.

The Awards of Excellence will be presented to developers later this year at the Arbor Day Foundation's Building for Greener Communities National Conference, to be held October 4th through 6th, 2004. The conference highlights the awards presentation and provides a national forum to discuss issues of tree protection during land development and construction.


Public Awareness of ENERGY STAR Program Increases

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) recently conducted the fourth national household survey of consumer awareness of ENERGY STAR. Each year, the survey objectives have largely been the same: to collect national data on consumer recognition, understanding and purchasing influence of the ENERGY STAR label, as well as data on messaging, product purchases, and information sources used by consumers in their purchasing decisions. Some CEE members also chose to supplement the national sample in order to better gauge awareness in their local service territories. Additional survey cases were collected in Massachusetts, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. As in the three previous years, CEE and the sponsoring members made the survey data publicly available.

The 2003 CEE ENERGY STAR® Household Survey Report reveals increased awareness of ENERGY STAR in American households.

According to the report:

  • Public awareness of the ENERGY STAR label jumped to 56 percent of U.S. households, a 15 percent increase over prior year.
  • Public awareness of the ENERGY STAR program is even higher in many major markets where local utilities and other organizations use ENERGY STAR to promote energy efficiency to their customers. In these areas awareness averages 67 percent.
  • 20 percent of American households knowingly purchased an ENERGY STAR-qualifying product in the past year.


ENERGY STAR Expands to New Commercial Buildings

Commercial buildings emit about 20 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing the influence that the nation's architects can have in reducing the environmental impact of buildings, EPA is expanding the ENERGY STAR program to include the new commercial sector. Architecture firms will be able to distinguish buildings that have been designed to be among the most efficient buildings in the country as "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR."

A building design will be eligible for the new designation if the building is expected to qualify for the ENERGY STAR label once in operation. Buildings that have been in operation for at least one year qualify for the ENERGY STAR by scoring 75 or higher on EPA's 100-point national energy rating scale.

Existing buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR label use about 40 percent less energy than average buildings, without compromising comfort or services. They also conserve natural gas.

According to EPA, newly constructed buildings are not significantly more efficient than buildings constructed years ago. With this new designation, EPA hopes to call attention to building design practices that are expected to deliver high quality and energy efficient commercial building space.

In 1999, EPA announced its national energy performance rating system for commercial buildings. The rating system now includes 10 types of buildings representing more than 50 percent of commercial building square footage across the country. Currently, more than 19,000 buildings have been rated nationwide, and more than 1,400 have earned the ENERGY STAR. By earning and displaying the ENERGY STAR plaque, organizations demonstrate their commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship – while saving money on power bills.


Potlatch Becomes First Publicly Traded U.S. Company to Be FSC Certified

Potlatch Corporation has become the first U.S.-headquartered, publicly traded forest products company to certify its forest management practices under the standards of the internationally recognized Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer L. Pendleton Siegel said that operations on Potlatch's 668,000 acres in Idaho have been certified under FSC and that the company's Idaho lumber and plywood manufacturing operations will be certified to market FSC-certified products by the third quarter of 2004. The company is also evaluating FSC certification of its forest management practices in Minnesota (320,000 acres) and Arkansas (485,000 acres).

"Potlatch will be in a position to benefit from what appears to be a growing trend toward preferences for certified products, including FSC-certified products, among large building products retailers, secondary manufacturers, architects, contractors and governments at all levels," said Siegel.


Photovoltaic System Exceeds Predictions

The solar electric system atop the nation's largest green office complex—at the headquarters of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.—is greatly exceeding energy performance expectations.

Last spring, Toyota unveiled its new environmentally sensitive building complex, which received a Gold Level Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. A key component of Toyota's South Campus was one of the largest commercial solar electric systems in North America. The solar electric system, designed and installed by PowerLight Corporation, generates enough electricity during the daytime to power over 500 homes.

In its first year of operation, Toyota's South Campus solar electric system has performed above projections. Since startup, the system has operated at 100 percent availability, and has produced over 100 percent of expected energy. The grid-connected system reduces Toyota's electrical load, especially during times of peak demand when the utility grid is the most strained and electricity is most expensive.

Toyota's South Campus complex, the largest ever to receive a LEED Gold rating, has 624,000 square feet of office space and houses about 2,500 Toyota employees.


Applications Now Accepted for EnergyValue Housing Awards

The application period for the 2005 EnergyValue Housing Award (EVHA) program has officially commenced.  The awards program, sponsored by the NAHB Research Center, honors builders who voluntarily integrate energy efficiency into the design, construction, and marketing of their new homes, and educate the home building industry and the public about successful approaches to energy-efficient construction.  Consumer appeal for this type of energy-conscious home building is demonstrated by more than 35,000 homes sold by EVHA winners over the program’s nine year history.

In addition to the marketing benefits associated with becoming one of the “energy efficient elite,” EVHA winners have realized a number of other perks from participating in the awards program.  Carrie Gehlbach, former vice president of sales and marketing for EVHA winner Medallion Homes of San Antonio, Texas said, “Thanks to the EVHA and the NAHB Research Center, even strong builders such as Medallion are pushed to raise their standards.  We have been able to network with a community of building scientists and industry leaders who have helped us learn new and better ways to deliver the best home possible.”

This year’s EVHA Awards will be presented at the 2005 International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Orlando in the affordable, custom/demonstration, factory-built, production, and multifamily categories for hot, moderate, and cold climate regions.  A panel of energy-efficiency experts representing the engineering, construction, design and marketing fields will serve as judges and will evaluate applicants based on their homes’ energy value; design; construction methods and processes; marketing and customer relations efforts and participation in voluntary energy programs.

All applicants receive a detailed evaluation of their entries, complimentary passes to the EVHA Dinner Ceremony at the 2005 IBS, and a free copy of the “EVHA Guide:  How to Build and Profit with Energy Efficiency in New Home Construction.”  Winners are featured on the NAHB Research Center website, and can market themselves as EVHA-winning builders through advertisements and press releases.  Winners may be featured in trade and mainstream publications, and offered the opportunity to share their success stories at workshops, educational programs, or conferences.  In addition, each year, an EVHA Builder of the Year is selected from the gold award winning companies, which provides additional marketing opportunities for that company.  

To enter, eligible builders must respond to the official EVHA application criteria.  Entries must be postmarked by August 9, 2004.

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