Green Building News

Green Building News May 2009

May 1, 2009

The American Institute of Architects Announces the 2009 COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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 2009 National Convention and Design Exposition in San Francisco.

The 2009 COTE Top Ten Green Projects 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.

Members of the jury include: Michelle Addington, Yale School of Architecture; Brandy Brooks, Assoc. AIA, Community Design Resource Center of Boston; William Leddy, FAIA, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects; Nadav Malin, BuildingGreen LLC; Kim Shinn, LEED AP, LTLC Engineering for Architecture; and James Timberlake, FAIA, Kieran Timberlake Associates LLP.

“In architecture, performance and aesthetics are inextricably linked. The COTE Top Ten is one of the very few awards that evaluates performance and design,” said jury members. “Other awards and organizations look strictly at performance without care for how a building looks.”

Charles Hostler Student Center, Beirut, Lebanon
The Hostler Center design responded to its unique social and environmental context. Situated on Beirut’s seafront and main public thoroughfare, the new 204,000 square foot facility includes competitive and recreational athletic facilities, an auditorium, cafeteria with study space and underground parking for 200 cars. Multiple building volumes were proposed that interconnected a continuous field of habitable space with gardens on multiple levels. The design for the new Hostler Center synthesizes architecture and landscape to create a set of richly varied and environmentally diverse spaces for people to gather in throughout the day and evening.

Chartwell School, Seaside, CA
EHDD Architecture
The shared vision for the new Chartwell School campus was to create an exceptional, high-performance learning environment for children with learning differences. The goal was a campus that integrated proven strategies to improve learning outcomes and that would function as a teaching tool about sustainability, all while dramatically reducing environmental impacts. Sited on a hill overlooking Monterey Bay, this project seamlessly blends the elements of site, program and environmental conservation.

Gish Apartments, San Jose, CA
OJK Architecture and Planning
Gish Apartments is a 35-unit transit-oriented family apartment complex that provides quality affordable housing. The mixed-use plan includes a ground floor 7-Eleven and beauty salon to serve the neighborhood. Gish Apartments is a ground breaking development both for its architectural design and in its use of renewable energy technologies and other green building features. Gish is the only affordable housing development in the U.S. to receive both LEED for Homes and LEED NC Gold certification.

Great River Energy Headquarters, Maple Grove, Minnesota
Great River Energy (GRE) is a not-for-profit electric utility cooperative owned by its members. Great River Energy’s Headquarters is a 166,000 square foot, four-story concrete frame and glass curtain wall office building. GRE’s new office environment was designed to showcase workplace productivity, energy efficient technologies and a collaborative culture within the most electric energy-efficient building in the state. GRE was looking to demonstrate energy efficient technologies that can be transferred to their customers in an effort to reduce the future demand for fossil fuel electric generation.

Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC), Evanston, Illinois
Ross Barney Architects
The design of the new synagogue for the JRC balances the limitations of a small site with an ambitious program that promotes worship, education and community objectives. JRC's commitment to the principle of tikkun olam—Hebrew for "repairing the world"—is manifest in the building's architecture. On a modest budget, the synagogue achieved a LEED Platinum certification, a primary goal of its board of directors. JRC has become a community leader, demonstrating benefits of green design.

Portola Valley Town Center, Portola Valley, CA
Co-Architects: Siegel & Strain Architects; Goring and Straja Architects
Replacing three town structures—a library, community hall and town hall—the Portolo Valley Town Center, used the publics’ input in the design process, while a task force established six goals that were used as a metric by the town council, citizenry and the design team to evaluate design proposals. The center was completed while adhering to these goals by taking advantage of the building site, creating civic and recreational space for the entire community, meeting all the municipal needs of the town, creating space that facilitates casual meetings, exemplify the town's rural design ideals that compliment the landscape and becoming an extension of the town’s residences.

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Orange, Texas
Lake|Flato Architects
Located on 252 acres, the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center serves primarily as an interpretive center for the site’s native ecosystems as well as a facility for study and research. The Nature Center provides hands-on learning opportunities by means of an exhibit called the Nature Discovery Center, a laboratory and three outdoor classrooms located deep in the cypress swamp. At the beginning of the construction process the property sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Rita, but the team was still able to maintain LEED Platinum standards in the building process by salvaging natural materials, as many fallen trees were either incorporated into the construction of the new facilities or harvested for lumber for other projects.

Synergy at Dockside Green, Victoria, British Colombia
Busby Perkins+Will Architects Co.
Dockside Green is a 1.3 million square foot, mixed-use development on a former brownfield site. The first phase, Synergy, includes four buildings constructed over a common underground parking structure. The program for Synergy includes a nine-story residential tower with commercial units on the ground floors, a two-story townhouse building; a six-story building with commercial units on the ground floor and a four-story residential building. The site is bound by roads on the west and north sides, a greenway and creek on the east side and future development on the south side.

The Terry Thomas, Seattle, WA
Weber Thompson
The Terry Thomas was designed to provide a healthy and creative work environment that would illustrate the possibilities of sustainable design. The building has 37,000 square-feet of office space on four floors. The ground level features 3,000 square-feet of retail and restaurant space, and a central courtyard that provides a gathering space. As both the designers and inhabitants of The Terry Thomas, the occupants now enjoy the benefits of strong natural and cultural connections while simultaneously increasing their productivity potential. In the process, they have created an experimental and educational tool for promoting sustainable design.

World Headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Yarmouth Port, M
DesignLAB Architects
The new LEED Gold IFAW headquarters encompasses 54,000 square-feet of space in three connected buildings. The project accomplishes its goals through a pragmatic low-cost, low-tech approach to sustainability based on fundamentals and common sense. The site landscape draws from the 18th-century Bartlett farm in nearby Barnstable as a model of landscape preservation. The resulting layout is in the tradition of rural Cape Cod development; a half-acre courtyard of native grasses, open to the south, centers the building complex, whose flexible architecture is located at the north, east and west edges of the site.

$3.2 Billion in Funding for Local Energy Efficiency Improvements Block Grants to Support Jobs, Cut Energy Bills and Increase Energy Independence

The Obama Administration recently announced plans to invest $3.2 billion in energy efficiency and conservation projects in U.S. cities, counties, states, territories and Native American tribes. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will provide formula grants for projects that reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions, and improve energy efficiency nationwide.

The funding will support energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits in residential and commercial buildings, the development and implementation of advanced building codes and inspections and the creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements. Other activities eligible for use of grant funds include transportation programs that conserve energy, projects to reduce and capture methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, renewable energy installations on government buildings, energy efficient traffic signals and street lights, deployment of Combined Heat and Power and district heating and cooling systems and others.

To ensure accountability, the Department of Energy will provide guidance to and require grant recipients to report on the number of jobs created or retained, energy saved, renewable energy capacity installed, greenhouse gas emissions reduced and funds leveraged. Funding is based on a formula that accounts for population and energy use.

“The Block Grants are a major investment in energy solutions that will strengthen America’s economy and create jobs at the local level,” said Secretary Chu. “The funding will be used for the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy technologies we have – energy efficiency and conservation – which can be deployed immediately. The grants also empower local communities to make strategic investments to meet the nation’s long term clean energy and climate goals.”

Cities and counties will receive nearly $1.9 billion under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, and states and territories will receive nearly $770 million. States will receive and administer funds for those counties and cities that are not large enough to qualify for direct DOE funding. More than $54 million will flow directly to Tribal governments.

Up to $456 million of this funding is planned to be made available under a separate competitive solicitation for local energy efficiency projects. That solicitation will be released at a later date.

The announcement of these block grants is in addition to DOE’s recent release of nearly $8 billion to support weatherization and state energy projects. A detailed breakdown of the funding by state, county, city and tribal government is available on


DOE and Commercial Real Estate Executives Launch Alliance to Reduce Energy Consumption of Buildings

Top executives from 19 commercial real estate companies recently met with U.S. Department of Energy officials in New York City to discuss plans to dramatically reduce the sector’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting officially launched DOE’s Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance (CREEA), a partnership of commercial real estate owners and operators who have volunteered to work together with DOE to make lasting change in the energy consumption of commercial real estate buildings in the United States. Currently, commercial buildings account for 18 percent of the nation’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

“The deployment of new energy efficient technologies and adoption by both public and private sectors are vital to achieving substantial change in building energy use throughout the U.S.,” said Scott Hine, acting program manager of DOE’s Building Technologies Program. “This collaboration will help speed the adoption of high-performance, energy-efficient buildings by the commercial real estate sector.”

CREEA links building owners and operators with applicable research and technologies being developed at DOE’s National Laboratories. It is the second energy alliance launched by the Department of Energy in the commercial buildings sector. The Retailer Energy Alliance, with members such as Wal-Mart, Target and Macy’s, was launched in 2008.

These commercial energy alliances serve as national forums to share best practices and practical experiences in energy efficiency. For instance, the Retailer Energy Alliance has held two supplier summits where building owners, operators and suppliers worked on solutions for achieving dramatic energy reductions. The alliances also serve as a collective buying voice for the industry to encourage building material suppliers to create more energy efficient equipment.

CREEA and the Retailer Energy Alliance are part of the Department’s Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI), which aims to achieve market-ready, zero-energy commercial buildings by 2025. CBI also includes a National Laboratory Collaborative on building technologies, concentrating the efforts of five National Laboratories on the Net-Zero energy goal, and the Commercial Building National Accounts, which conducts cost-shared research, development and deployment for new building technologies among major national companies.

The CREEA Steering Committee has been instrumental in setting the direction and goals of the alliance; it includes executives from CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, Grubb & Ellis, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Jones Lang LaSalle, MGM Mirage, Transwestern, U.S. General Services Administration, USAA Real Estate Company, The Walt Disney Company, Wyndham Hotel and Resorts, American Hotel and Lodging Association, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Building Owners and Managers Association, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and the Real Estate Roundtable.


Wal-Mart to Nearly Double Solar Energy Use in California

Expansion expected to generate energy equal to powering more than 1300 homes annually

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., as part of its commitment to accelerate and broaden its sustainability efforts, announced it is expanding its solar power program in California. The company plans to add solar panels on 10 to 20 additional Wal-Mart facilities within the next 18 months.

This commitment is in addition to the 18 solar arrays currently installed at Wal-Mart facilities in California. When combined, Wal-Mart’s total solar installations are expected to:

“Increasing the use of solar energy is the right thing to do for the environment and makes tremendous business sense, especially in these economic conditions,” said Kimberly Sentovich, Wal-Mart’s California regional general manager. “Thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger’s leadership, California is an excellent environment for us to grow our investment in renewable energy and help create more green jobs for America. Wal-Mart is excited to continue collaborating with our partner BP Solar on expanding our solar footprint.”

This latest series of projects is expected to create about 130 jobs, including engineering, design and installer technician jobs. Smaller numbers of workers will be engaged during the periods leading up to and following peak construction.

As construction nears completion on this group of 10 to 20 sites, Wal-Mart will evaluate the feasibility of expanding the program to additional sites. The company will take into account a variety of factors, including available locations, economic conditions, energy prices, as well as local, state and federal renewable energy policies and programs.

*According to the EPA

Green Buildings Attracting Higher Rents in US

Buildings in the US with a high ENERGY STAR® rating are attracting rental premiums of three percent per square foot compared with non-green buildings of the same size, location and function, according to new research commissioned by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).

The research “Doing Well by Doing Good?” provides evidence on the economic value of the certification of “green buildings” in the commercial sector and concludes that there is a premium of three percent for the rents that ‘green’ buildings with the ENERGY STAR® rating can command.In addition when looking at effective rents (the true rent of a property, considering rental concessions, spread over the life of the lease) the premium is higher still, above six percent.

The researchers were also able to look at the impact on the selling prices of green buildings, and here the premium is even higher, in the order of 16 percent. This implies that upgrading the average non-‘green’ building to a ‘green’ one would increase its capital value by some $5.5 million. The results suggest that tenants and investors at this point are willing to pay more for an energy-efficient building, but not for buildings that are “sustainable” in a broader sense.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist comments: “This piece of research is an important first step in building an evidence base on the topic of the value of 'green' buildings. Previously with only anecdotal evidence available on which to base decisions surrounding development of energy efficient buildings, it is understandable that the uptake of some measures has been frustratingly slow. With more comprehensive evidence based research, such as this paper, the economic argument for having an energy efficient building will be strong. Any businesses wishing to maximize profits will have to start looking at increasing the energy efficiency of the buildings in order to remain competitive. By proving that green buildings are economically beneficial due to the savings they can make and the higher rental yields they attract, non-green buildings will eventually become an outdated model."


Oikos Library

Check out the newest addition to our evolving series on choosing green building products.

Choosing Green Finish Materials: Cabinets


National Green Builders Products Expo (NGBPE) - May 28-29

The National Green Builders Products Expo is a trade-to-trade only event held in Las Vegas. This two-day event brings buyers face-to-face with manufacturers and providers of goods and services related to the initial building, remodeling, rehabilitation, or renovation of buildings, green initiative commercial and industrial structures, as well as single and multi-family housing. The Expo is designed for buyers ranging from builders, developers, project managers, subcontractors, remodelers, architects, government planners, specifiers and engineers, to environmental, safety, energy and operations managers, plant and facility managers and particularly dealers/suppliers.

Build a House from a Tree, Traditional Timber Framing Workshop - June 1- 6

Experience the romance of hand tools and learn the ancient craft of traditional timber framing in a spectacular setting with an acclaimed craftsman. While staying in beautiful north Idaho, meeting and sharing with lots of interesting people, and eating some of the best grub you’ve had, students will learn the fundamentals of building a timber frame with traditional hand tools. Participants will lay out and cut joinery, assemble the frame and have a fun-filled hand raising. An evening session will cover drafting and other fundamentals of house building, a slide presentation, visit to a local project and a chance to check out cool tools, stoke fires, share good beer and be merry.

Registration Information.

Canada Green Building Council National Summit – Every Building Can Be Green - June 9-11

Held at the Palais des Congres in Montreal, this conference offers a broad range of educational programs and workshops for all key sectors of the building industry. They include the introduction of LEED® Canada for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, LEED® Canada for Homes, and the next generation LEED® Canada for New Construction. Delegates can also learn more about the progress being made with the development of the Green Building Performance System, a national database of benchmarks on energy efficiency, water use and GHG emissions for buildings of every type.

Registration Information.


Action for a Sustainable America - June 10-11

Held in Seattle, WA, this meeting will bring together leaders in corporate sustainability to examine how they are using sustainability to redefine corporate strategy and drive management practice. The aim of this event is to help companies develop the systems, strategies and frameworks that will successfully equip them for the challenges and opportunities now being presented by regulation, resource scarcity and climate change.

Registration Information.


GreenBuildingsNY - June. 16 - 17

Held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, and now in its 2nd year, GBNY showcases green and sustainable solutions and materials for existing and new commercial, residential and industrial buildings in the New York metro area.

Registration Information.


NAHB Research Center Energy Value Housing Award Nominations - Deadline - June 30

EVHA honors builders who elevate the standards for high-performance home building by voluntarily incorporating energy efficiency into all aspects of new home construction. Winners are selected from among applicant builders who compete from three climate regions (cold, moderate, hot) in five categories (affordable, custom, factory-built, production and multifamily). For more information and to download an application, visit

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