Archive for the ‘Green Building’ Category

Inman Winery – Pinot, Green and an Old Barn

Friday, September 10th, 2010
Inman Pinot on Terrazzo Countertop

Inman Pinot on Terrazzo Countertop

When someone puts more emphasis on their practices and product rather than their marketing then that might cause one to ponder. Such was the case when we almost passed by Inman Family Wines on our sustainable wine journey. They basically have no signage and they certainly don’t have a big banner (like some other businesses) stating “We’re Green.” Instead owner Kathleen Inman speaks softly and carries a big green stick. In other words – Green deeds not words.

Although Kathleen’s Inman has been selling wine and receiving accolades for over 10 years, she only recently opened her tasting room in July. But like the rest of her operation she thinks about the big picture, as she took the effort to repurpose an old redwood barn into the tasting room and production facility. Although it would certainly qualify for LEED (maybe Gold) status she wisely decided to use the $60,000 or so that it would cost to get LEED certified on things that actually make a difference.

The tasting room utilizes wood from the barn as doors and panels, Nearly all of the steel used to make the primary frame of the building came from post consumer and post industrial recycled materials (old cars), the countertops are either made from Terrazzo (repurposed wine bottles), and the remaining countertops (not quite completed) will be from a composite concrete with high percentage of fly ash. The roof boasts a full array of solar panels (enough to power 98% of the winery), and we wondered around back to check out the water reclamation biomass system, which costs a few hundred grand and will save over 54,600 gallons of water per year with the ability to save even more.

We even liked the story of a local contractor who offered to pave a black tarmac over her decomposed granite parking lot but she told him that they prefer to minimize the heat-island effect. She didn’t really say that to him but we just embellished the story a bit.

Lot’s of people talk big when it comes to Green this and sustainable that but she puts her philosophy (and her bank account) in action. Her farming practices come as close to organic and biodynamic (although she has not received certification yet) and probably exceed most of the standards. We nibbled on the grapes right off the vine (don’t try that at a conventional farm) before even sampling her well respected 2008 Pinot Gris , 2008 Endless Crush Rose, and three Pinot Noirs all 2007 – the Thorn Ridge Ranch, the OGV Estate (Olivet Grange Vineyard, which is the organically farmed vineyard surrounding the winery) and the Russian River.

Most winemakers have wine running through their veins but Katherine Inman has big carafe of Green mixed in as well. She believes in making great wine but doing it the right way. We clink glasses to that philosophy. Cheers.

Keyed Up For West Coast Green

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

wcgreenimagesEven though West Coast Green remains just a shade over a month away, we’re still keyed up about the event. With the continuing housing storm and distressed housing situation, many people have not been considering sustainable aspects to real estate.

We’re sure that will change. It may take a few years to re-convince people that Green building and innovation are not just for the good real estate times. Green building should be a staple and not just a temporary fad.

As for the show, we can’t wait to see sustainable rock stars like Bill McDonough of Cradle-to-Cradle fame who will deliver a 3-hour presentation about the tradition of Buckminster Fuller. Also, on our must see list will be the Innovation Pipeline which creates an “Exploratorium-like” exhibit with smart products that always to seem to wow us.

Don’t think that we won’t be looking out for any “greenwashers” as some companies seem to only promote the hype but provide nothing sustainable in the tank.

Controversy About Huge Green Tiburon House

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

tiburon_gallery_09Across the Bay in Marin in Tiburon to be exact, a lot of rumblings continue to occur about a soon to be built Green House. A large, soon to be built Green house. 15,240 square feet of large to be exact making it one of the biggest in the county.

It brings up the question that we have debated before. Is it better to build a small “dirty” house or a large Green house? Seeing that Anders Swahn who wants to build this home runs a solar energy startup, we would think that he would get the whole idea of sustainability.

He plans to build the structure as carbon neutral with solar panels, geothermal heating and greywater recycling. It would be built to last for 200 years and, of course, would measure up to Marin County’s green building standards.

The problem that many neighbors have remains the size. Since when is a 15,000 square foot house sustainable. Unless 10 people live there. A lot of materials will be used to build it. No matter how much FSC certified lumber he uses it still would need copious amounts. We’re not even talking about the trees that will removed on the wooded bluff location in order to build the house (not to mention the 2000 sq ft guesthouse).

A more sustainable idea would be to buy another large home like the one for sale just down from the proposed site, a 10,944-square-foot estate, with 11 bedrooms and 10 baths that sits on the market for $37 million. He could add his Green bells and whistles to that estate and be more sustainable without sacrificing his need to live in a ginormous casa.

San Francisco’s Old U.S. Mint to Get a Shade Greener

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
San Francisco Mint

San Francisco Mint

For some builders and architects the challenge to even consider building Green from scratch remains daunting and monetarily off the radar but taking a structure like San Francisco’s Old U.S. Mint built in the 19th century and transforming it into a 21st century Green mixed-use cultural center would be even more challenging. San Francisco new goal is to create the most sustainability innovative National Historic Landmark in the United States. Like they say is Swingers, “That is so money.”

Back in the day, the US Mint used to print the green stuff now it will encompass Green thinking.

Some of the ideas that the building will incorporate include:
Natural Daylight – The redesign will include an alteration to the ground floor, which will allow daylight to reach the ground floor.
Natural Ventilation – Currently sealed windows will be redesigned to create natural ventilation.
Water Use – A new canopy drainage system will allow rainwater to be harvested, treated and stored for uses throughout the building. The water, among other benefits, will be used to feed vegetation on the roof.

Now if we can do something about the Bank Of Italy building.

Photo by Mike Hofmann

CCSF Joint Use Facility To Go Platinum LEED

Monday, June 21st, 2010

ccsf-joint-use_extWe thought that the whole college system was broke, so where the heck will the get the green to build this sustainability built joint use building on the rapidly improving CCSF campus? Maybe they will have giant vegan cookie sale over the next few years.

It’s not that we aren’t ecstatic to see the campus using sustainable deign practices be having architect Peter Pfau shoot for a LEED Platinum rating. Some of the sustainable elements will include natural ventilation, a green roof, radiant flooring, a geothermal central plant, abundant daylight, durable and easy to maintain materials, well designed shading for west-facing façade, and post consumer/green materials. Notice the lack of big-ticket items? Just because a building shoots for a LEED Platinum rating doesn’t mean that the budget needs to unsustainable.

When the new three story facility opens we’re sure that the students and facility will be give the building high marks for indoor air quality and the overall healthy study conditions.  It makes us want to go back to school.

Laguna Honda Hospital Will Mark the First Green-Certified Hospital in California

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

laguna_honda_hospitalWith the downturn in overall new building, more sustainable efforts have seemingly fallen by the wayside. We’re glad to see that some projects have not totally disappeared. On June 26, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will cut the ribbon on San Francisco’s new Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, which will mark the first green-certified hospital in California.

Especially with energy still on everyone’s radar, the new technology in the hospital’s three new buildings will focus on energy and water savings. The buildings will use 30% less energy than statutory requirements, have Energy Star rated roofs which keep the buildings cooler on hot days and reduce energy use, and they have “closed-loop” air conditioning systems, meaning the system uses water for cooling is reused rather than wasted. Although do they really need AC in San Francisco?

Because this is a hospital, designers and builders people actually gave a nod to indoor air quality with use of low or zero VOC paints, wood, glues, and flooring materials in the new buildings. Reducing the highly toxic VOC’s, and other indoor air contaminants will only improve indoor health for Laguna Honda residents and staff.

With this green thinking, finally hospitals will start to realize that hospital recovery not only comes with injecting various medicines into patients but giving them a place that offers a healthier environment as well.

Image courtesy JKL

World’s First Convention Center Achieves LEED Platinum Rating

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

vancourvercovcenterNo doubt the current Olympics has and continue to dazzle people with the drama (some outside of the venues) but somehow lost amongst the sports accomplishments remains the fact that Vancouver touted this Olympics as the Greenest ever. It seems that China also made that claim a couple years ago. Instead of getting into a comparison of this green aspect versus that sustainable item, we took a look at the Vancouver Convention Center West, which marks the World’s First Convention Center to Achieve LEED Platinum Rating.

Yes, we’ve discussed our feeling about the LEED label and how we would like seeing more money going toward sustainable aspects versus a LEED plaque but nonetheless they built an impressive structure, which currently hosts the international media for the Olympic games. When the Olympics pack-up Vancouver will still have the dazzling sustainable structure.

What we like most is the six-acre living roof (Canada’s largest) which contains 400,000 native plants and grasses, and the green roof acts as an insulator to mediate the exterior air temperature, as well as reduces the building’s storm water runoff and integrates with the waterfront landscape ecosystem. With Vancouver being such a water friendly city, we also applaud the on-site black water treatment and desalinization systems that are projected to reduce potable water use 60 to 70 percent over typical convention centers. On the energy side, the center includes a heat pump system that takes advantage of the constant temperature of the adjacent seawater to produce heating and cooling. Very cool.

The people of Sochi have their work cut out for them if they hope to continue the Green trend of Olympics venues and buildings.

The Green Elements of CAR Expo 2009

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Attending the recently concluded CAR Expo in San Jose CA we could see that things weren’t exactly hopping, especially in the Green seminars and Green expo booths. Who could blame everyone, with the still lingering effect of the economy, unemployment and overall uncertainty? The Expo offered a bevy of economic forecasts, short sale sessions and new DRE laws going into effect but of course we went to check the green goings on. How’s the Green movement within the ranks of the real estate world? If my Green colleague and I would guess from the sparse attendance at the few green sessions and Green display booths then the state of Green Real Estate isn’t exactly on everyone’s radar.

The Going Green Member Forum offered informative green facts from a CHEERS rater as well as some finer points from Build It Green’s Elise Hunter about the Green Point Rated system. We discovered that the HERS Phase II rating will include: whole house energy homes, uniform rating system based on a statewide rating scale, as well as labeling procedures for homebuyers, renters, real estate industry, mortgage lenders who have an interest in home energy ratings. We say Hoorah to that! The speaker also snuck in some tidbits of info that even surprised us such as the “”Energy Efficient Mortgage” that ties into the 203B FHA loan that allows five percent of property value in most cases, while VA loans allows up to $6,000 in green upgrades. (more…)

West Coast Green 2009 Comes Back to San Francisco

Monday, October 5th, 2009

It’s good to have West Coast Green back in SF. Not that San Jose didn’t play a fine host to last years bigger conference but the show lacked something last year, call it a vibe, or energy but something didn’t gel. So, this year’s scaled down but energetic and education West Coast Green found itself a new home at the Fort Mason. Maybe the ocean air and bay views added a green spark to the conference.

The economy definitely had an impact on this year’s West Coast Green with less venders but with less money that mean that people just had to get more creative with less moola such as the floating island, show gardens and even the sustainability built Jewish Sukkoth. The usual green rock stars like Eric Corey Freed and Michelle Kaufman made their presences felt with their energetic personalities. (more…)

Green House Meets Gas Guzzler

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

ho_greenhouse_5.jpg

You might say that San Francisco Green thinking still has a way to go after we spotted a un-Green SUV (Range Rover) in the garage of an already well publicized Noe Valley Green house.
After speaking with the one of the owners they admit that it’s hardly Green to drive the gas guzzler but they say that it’s leased. And they have a hybrid SUV on their radar for their next purchase. As for how they’re adapting to and how they like some of the interior green attributes inside the house well that’s for a future entry.