Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

San Fran’s Orchard Hotel Nabs LEED-EB Certification

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Orchard GuestroomIf it works for one San Fran hotel then it must work for another. No, we’re not talking about more upscale mini bar items but Greening a hotel. In this case, the Orchard Garden Hotel’s (which garnered LEED-NC certification) sister property the Orchard Hotel just nabbed LEED-EB certification.

The Orchard represents San Francisco’s only hotel to earn this honor, the Orchard Hotel is the second hotel in California and fourth hotel in the world with this certification. The inspiration from these green hotels comes from its 85-year-old owner, Mrs. S.C. Huang, who has pushed her environmental agenda and created more environmentally safe and sustainable hotels after the untimely cancer-related deaths of three family members.

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Going LEED Gold at the Gaia hotel

Friday, January 18th, 2008

gaia-go.jpgWe had heard a lot about the LEED Gold Gaia hotel in American Canyon (even we had to look up American Canyon and we live in San Fran) but we hadn’t actually visited it. Yes, we can only tell so much from a press release. The hotel, rather unassuming, sits right off busy Highway 29 just a short hop to both Napa and Sonoma Valley but once in the lobby or the rooms it’s not easy to hear any of the traffic. But onto the Green stuff. When checking in, it’s hard not to notice the kiosks with “green touch screens” which display how much water, electricity savings and how much CO2 the hotel emits. The overhead Solatube Tubular skylights represented an even more impressive aspect. Even on the cloudy day, the lobby had no artificial lighting, but you wouldn’t know it but the amount of natural light.

We got one of the choice rooms overlooking the man made lagoon which plays home to koi, frogs, various plant life and Artemis and Apollo (two impressive swans that live in the lagoon and strut their way around most of the hotel). By the way, the koi pond uses recycled water from the site which they clean and filter prior to entering the pond.

The sparten yet comfortable rooms offer lots of Green aspects. Small things like offering fair trade, organic coffee and not having those tiny shampoo bottles littering the bathroom made a big difference. Here they provide shampoo, lotion in bulk dispensers. We also like that all restrooms use recycled tiles and granite. While in the bathroom, we give wet kudos to the water saving low flow showerhead, which offer plenty of water pressure for one person (but not two, if you catch our drift).

We slept easy not only with a comfy, firm mattress but breathing easy with the low VOC paints were used throughout the rooms and rest of the hotel. It also helped us to know that solar panels provide 12% of the hotel’s electricity.

We know that a boutique type hotel needs a relaxing but unsustainable hot tub (yes, we partook and didn’t feel guilty) but we didn’t feel too keen about the microwave that inhabited our room but even with the little monster we felt pretty energized about our stay. It sure beats a stay in an unsustainable Motel 6.

We could very well come all the way to wine country without visiting some organic, sustainable and do we dare say biodynamic wineries. Stay tuned.

555 Mission and the Green memo

Friday, December 21st, 2007

555missionoctoberFrom time to time we hear talk about builders and developers saying that they can’t or won’t build Green because of “initial first cost” and Green buildings being “more expensive” to build (incorrect) but we’re glad to see what going on with 555 Mission Street. Apparently there were many Green naysayers in the Tishman-Speyer company saying that they couldn’t build 555 Green because of the costs and time constraints. A little green sparrow also chirped that the head of Tishman-Speyer sent out a companywide memo saying that he wanted all of their buildings to be at least LEED certified. He asked that any memos saying why Green building couldn’t be done be sent to his office. Know what? He didn’t get any memos back. And surprise, surprise look what can be accomplished when a Green memo comes from the top. Now, 555 is registered for LEED. Now we’re not sure about what level their aiming for but the space looks promising. (more…)

Orchard Garden Hotel preview

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

luna-textiles

The Orchard Garden Hotel continues to experience a delayed opening. Yes, the soon to be LEED certified hotel originally scheduled to open in September now has a realistic November on its sights.

The delays didn’t detract from the evening where Mayor Gavin Newsom joked that instead of a ribbon cutting ceremony the evening offered more of a preview. Even, the General Manager Stefan Mühle joked that the crowd should grab paint brushes. Instead they grabbed champagne flutes, wine glasses, and appetizers (especially the sweet gazpacho) and got a mini tour of the five completed rooms.

While most people admired the coziness and sightlines of the rooms and suites, a couple of us focused on the green aspects such as the FSC certified maple wood furniture, low flow water fixtures, Luna Textiles and key card energy system. The rooms offer a clean, spartan yet cozy look. We weren’t exactly thrilled to see Chinese granite bathroom countertops but you can’t have everything green.

Green House Goes Down – In Price That Is

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
bernal-heights-green-house

We actually feel sorry for the owner for the owner of the Green house in Bernal Heights. That same property (338 Holladay Ave.) has been languishing on the market for almost three months. That’s the same residence where the house’s owner wrote a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle several weeks back, which practically exclaimed a rebuttal to the paper’s articles saying that Green houses are all the rage and will sell like hotcakes.

The owner can’t be a happy camper as he and his agent continually drop the asking price from $1,279,000 to $1,195,000 to $1,049,000 to $994,000. The owner claims that location sells houses, as evidenced by the Green house in Noe Valley.  True the Noe Valley Green house location represents a superior addy to the one in Bernal Heights. Also, that Noe Green house sale occurred in a slightly warmer market.

There may be a degree of truth in the owner’s statement but instead of location, location, location the seller and his agent should be more concerned with marketing, marketing, marketing. And education. (more…)

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…)