Archive for the ‘Programs and Standards’ Category

New Microsite Makes It Easier To Find Green Home Products

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

LEED logoSeveral years ago before the real estate market imploded, the trend in the real estate and building industry looked Green. True, not ever building or homeowner slapped on solar panel or installed a tankless water heater but many did move in direction of sustainably built homes.

Then with the real estate industry tanking, Green building went out the dual paned window. Maybe things in the real estate will again turn that Green corner

Homeowners and contractors can now find Green building products through the LEED Home Depot. This microsite within the main Home Depot site lists over 2500 products, many of which qualify for LEED points.

We’ve said before that we’re not all about LEED points. People often get caught up in the points and forget about the aspect of Green building itself.

Green building offers homeowners opportunities to reduce energy and resource consumption. However Green building offers more than just lower utility bills, as the often overlooked aspect of heath and superior air quality remain paramount in the overall Green picture.

Last year, Green building comprised 17% of new residential construction, tripling since 2008, and expected to increase to 29%-38% of the market by 2016, according to a McGraw-Hill Construction report.

Here’s to a Green real estate recovery.

Northstar’s New Zephyr Lodge Shoots For LEED

Monday, December 26th, 2011

zephyr ski lodgeIt’s been a dry winter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and that must mean that Mother Nature must be telling us something. She’s telling us to go sustainable or no more snow. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but some resorts have begun to get the message. Some resorts (like Northstar) have built new projects with LEED certification standards.

We got a chance to check out Northstar’s newly opened Zephyr Lodge. The warmly designed building is shooting for LEED certification which takes a snowshoe step in the right direction.

We couldn’t help but notice the wood paneled interior and exterior which not only gives the lodge a cozy feeling but it does so in a sustainable way using reclaimed barn wood and tin from Montana.

The interior receives a notable amount of natural light from the large window wall that faces the mountains. To us, that design is a no brainer with a great view and tons of natural light.

Speaking of light, the lodge also offers high tech programming in the building so that lights only turn on when a lack of ambient light exists.

The bathrooms offer the ubiquitous low flow toilets and we love the high powered hand dryers. We just have to question why they have paper towel dispensers next to the hand dryers.

We sampled some of the tasty cuisine which supposedly offers a significant amount of either organic or locally sourced ingredients. We haven’t verified the menu ingredients yet. Stick around as we post more about the sustainable slopes in the Lake Tahoe region.

First LEED Platinum Hotel in California

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

olive oil press sculptureWhile most people venture to Napa valley looking for the ultimate Zin or even the latest trendy eatery, others (like those who arrive in Teslas) like to plug in at the region’s Greenest spots. Although dubbed by many as the in new in, chic, trendy inn, the sustainably designed Bardessono (named for environmentally conscious Italian family who still own the land) might be better described as a way for travelers to get their eco-solace on.

The first and currently only LEED-Platinum hotel in California, the Bardessono will give overnight guests the opportunity to truly appreciate the reuse and repurposing of almost every substance rather than just the Green classification acronym. That reuse extends not only to creative use of building and structural materials but also the creative aesthetic touches like the reused Corona bottle glass that outlines the bathroom mirrors.

Although Green and minimalist, the Bardessono offers nods to its Italian roots and well as Zen like touches. Thoughtfully placed within view of several rooms, the olive oil press sculpture offers meditation inducing water (reused) flow to represent olive oil. Not only does the piece offer a pleasing sight and sounds but the fact that the entire piece comes via salvaged items like the stone that used to be part of an 100 year old olive oil press makes it even more attractive.

The fact that Bardessono considers water such an important aspect not only with the various Zen like pieces but the fact that they value the H2O as a precious resource. In addition to the ubiquitous low flow water fixtures and toilets for the indoors, the outdoors contains landscaping designed with native and drought tolerant plants as well as a drip irrigation system. Even the grey and black water gets a second life as irrigation by the town of Yountville.

For us super Greenies who felt somewhat guilty about relaxing in the indoor whirlpool bath or the rooftop based outdoor hot tub and pool, we felt somewhat better knowing that the both solar and geothermal wells go toward heating both the hot tubs and pool. Even the room tubs contain a self-sanitizing feature so chemicals don’t have to be used to clean to fight mildew.

Although many hipsters consider this boutique hotel a new, hip, minimalist trendy overnight option, many guests don’t realize how much sustainable creativity went towards the design. Although some eco-travelers do make a special trip to the Bardessono (like the many electric car owners who know that they can recharge their car or we who arrived in a Prius) many don’t fully appreciate the full environmental thought and how hotels like this one will raise not only the Green building bar but also everyone’s consciousness.

Those Green values and education will help anyone get good night sleep.

Saving Paper Vs. Water – SWASH Ecoseat

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
SWASH Ecoseat

SWASH Ecoseat

Maybe because we just topped off a busy holiday weekend that we are feeling so chipper to post this piece about a toilet seat. Yes, it sounds a little far fetched to us as well. We can see that a low flow toilet (like the Simple Flush that this same company makes) would be seen as green. But a toilet seat?

It took us a while to have the SWASH Ecoseat installed, as it wasn’t as simple as we originally anticipated. However, one we got the thing on we found it to attractive with its modern design.
We can’t argue that the thing feels so sanitary and refreshing. Maybe the French do have something with their bidets.

Anyway, the fact that Americans use 34 million rolls of toilet paper each year to the detriment of the forest environment and this Swash reduces toilet paper consumption by 75 to 100% might give us a second thought about this eco-seat as eco. But what about the extra water usage? With water being a precious resource then this seat (or bidets) cause more water use, right? Water versus TP use?  The comparison might be a little silly. No doubt we feel pretty royal and sanitary on the throne but it might be a stretch to say that we are royally sustainable.

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.

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…)

Free Federal Tax Incentive Green Decoder

Friday, July 10th, 2009

de-coder-logoDid you know that if you install a Biomass Stove – wood, pellets, etc. that you can nab a  30% tax credit ($1,500  max) up until 2010? Who knows that homeowners can get a 30% tax break for installing Solar Hot Water Heating until  2016? Maybe the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which was signed into law by President Obama in February 2009 isn’t as complicated as the IRS tax code but does anyone really want to delve into the 400 pages of legislation to figure all the ins and outs about how to qualify for the green tax credits available to homeowners?

In a Cliff’s Notes version of the myriad incentives, rebates, and tax incentives GREENandSAVE has created a Federal Tax Incentive Decoder and condensed the material to 11 bite sized pages. Best of all, this resource does not cost a dime and can be downloaded at: http://www.greenandsave.com/homecheckup/free_federal_tax_incentive_decoder

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Green and Greenwashing at PCBC 2009

Friday, June 19th, 2009

It wasn’t exactly a quite hush that settled over the San Francisco’s Moscone Center for the 50th PCBC convention but the crowds and exhibitors for this annual builders convention came in about one-half of last year. Nonetheless, in this era of minimalism and slimming down the show offered an array of notable speakers and some innovative products. Now of course, with the slogan “The New Age of Innovation” we hoped for more progressive Green products and not just in a marketing sense.

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David Brower Center – Green to the Bones

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Even in a Greencentric city like Berkeley, locals and Bay Area visitors would be Green with envy when they see the just opened David Brower Center. It feels healthy just to walk through the Green down-to-the-bones building which combines advanced technology along with simple recycled materials.

When entering for their housewarming party we had a difficult time not noticing the soaring concrete walls which made us think more dot com than gallery. The fact that in creating a building with an oh- so-feathery carbon footprint (when compared to most structures) Principal Architect, Daniel Solomon included up to 70 percent slag in those walls.

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