Archive for September, 2006

The Green That Brings the Buyers

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
Bob Barker

With the opening pre-sales event of the LEED certified Arterra in San Francisco coming up on Sept. 30th we’re not exactly convinced that perspective buyers are placing their deposits because of the LEED certification or even the whole “Green Lifestyle” that the Arterra continues to promote.

Apparently, the sales office has pre-sales reservations booked for Saturday, Sunday and into Monday. That means green building gets a boost. Always good. But we have a sneaking suspicion (plus someone at the office told us) that the real green draw is the price point. A one-bedroom Mission Bay condo (without parking) for about $515,000 continues to draw buyers to this project like reality to television.

But who are we to judge why someone buys green? People who buy a piece of the Arterra because as Bob Barker says, “The Price is Right” may be doing the right thing for the wrong reason. But at least they are buying green.

Get the Lead Out

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Lead

Looking for some extra spending money to spruce up your house? Forget digging though the old sofas, just hit up Uncle Sam. If that sprucing up includes removing that nasty, not to mention dangerous, lead-based-paint from rental properties or one that you actually live in then it might be worth downloading and filling out some of the myriad forms on the HUD website.

HUD has made $39 million in funding available as part of their Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program.
Lead exposure can lead to reduced IQ, learning disabilities, reduced height, poorer hearing and a truckload of other health problems associated with children. But don’t dillydally as the closing date for this grant program is October 31, 2006.

Who’ll Stop the Rain?

Thursday, September 21st, 2006
Rainscreen

With the Arterra, San Francisco’s first LEED certified San Francisco condos, just about ready to go into pre-sales it’s no surprise that some visitors in the sales office appear from curious to confused.

Some prospective buyers who drifted around the sales office came for the Green factor but others don’t know green from pink. The salesroom doesn’t exactly push the green aspect. Those who don’t have an attention to detail could easily miss the bamboo kitchen floors, and the dual flush toilets. Even so, one green product continually baffles potential buyers – the Trespa rainscreen system. It more than baffles, it disturbs some.

We’re not exactly fans of bedding down in high-end coffins, except maybe during Halloween, so people here should get over their fears of something new. The rainscreen system isn’t exactly the new green kid on the block. Builders have been using this overcladding technology since the 1940’s in Scandinavia. (more…)

Ashes to Ashes

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

Fly Ash

Normally the thought of ash brings to mind volcano eruptions, funerals, and maybe religious holidays but for us and green builders it’s about flyash and foundations. So, when discussing the topic with one of San Francisco’s up and coming LEED-AP architects (Melanie Jacobson) she mentioned that the CHPS school they are building in the Sacramento area will have a fifteen percent flyash concrete foundation we looked quizzically at her. Why only fifteen percent? She mentioned that that percentage was about as high as their structural engineers deemed to be sound.

We’ve heard other local green buildings contain as high as thirty percent flyash. So, why the discrepancy? It depends on the configuration of the building, the weight on the structure and most importantly what the structural engineer says. (more…)

Where do we Sleep now?

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Orchard Garden Hotel

We can’t check in yet but we’re already giddy to sleep in one of the 86 rooms in the USA’s first LEED-NC certified hotel. San Francisco’s own Orchard Garden Hotel which represents the first in what will hopefully be a long line of green hotels will open in October. Green Roof Inns anyone?

Originally scheduled to open in July, then September, and now finally October, the hotel construction crew found itself at the mercy of two things that it couldn’t control.

1- The weather. The seemingly endless rain during in March and April caused numerous construction delays. Looks like they should have installed that rooftop garden sooner.

2- Ironically the second delay was due to PG&E permit issues. Funny how a Green Hotel can be delayed by a mega power company. That will teach you to stay attached to the grid. The hotel staff decided not to go with solar panels due to:

a) No space on the roof top to accommodate the panels
b) ROI not worth it – would take close to 30 years!

Fine reasons indeed but watch your PG&E bill.

One final note – The delayed Orchard Garden opening will cause West Coast Green guest speakers to bunk down at a backup option for the end of September conference. A tent in Golden Gate Park anyone?

Green Saves Money

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Finally there’s the green that can save green. Did all you capitalists just get excited? It’s not just about photovoltaic panels, although if you’re not a fan of PG&E or the equivalent megalopolis energy supplier then the fact that an energy company can actually send you a check each month may excite your bank account in the long run.Green savings isn’t just about sticking it to the big bad energy companies but adding value to your house. When you add those photovoltaic panels, that high percentage fly ash foundation, or water recapture system then you automatically add value to your home. (more…)

Who Cares About the Environment?

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Who cares about the environment (besides Gore)?Even if you haven’t seen Al Gore’s docu pic “An Inconvenient Truth” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or in this case a meteorologist to know that something’s screwy with the environment and the weather. Anyone who spent any time in San Francisco this past summer can tell you why. We actually had warm (sometimes in the 90s), sunny days during July and August. This isn’t LA or NYC. Normally the only ones wearing shorts during the summer are tourists. And you feel bad watching them shiver as they wait for the cable cars. Even the Sunset District, known for anything but sun, had less than its normal share of fog. We just can’t have this much heat and sun in San Fran. It just ain’t right.

What would we do with the wonderfully droll quote wrongly attributed to Mark Twain, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”?

Anyone out there care that Homes account for about 18% of the greenhouse gases emitted here in the USA? It’s going to get worse unless we make it better. Or as Sarah Connor put it in Terminator 2: Judgment Day: “Anyone not wearing two million SPF sunblock is gonna have a really bad day!”