Archive for the ‘Programs and Standards’ Category

Greenest Napa Valley Winery Opens

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Usually when people visit a winery, people look for various shades of white or dark red, but here our color paradigm might shift to say Green. The recently opened CADE Winery offers not only solar power and organically farmed winery but hopes to garner LEED Gold status and if so, would be the first Estate Gold LEED certified winery in the Napa Valley.

When visiting a winery, people’s olfactory system normally goes into overdrive but instead of inhaling the aromas of vanilla, rosemary, oak and sage here we took deep breaths of the air. As in indoor air quality. No stuffy AC here as the building relies on natural ventilation. Although the wines remain something to admire, we also dig the other green aspects. CADE utilizes 100% solar power and organic farming methods which both look so green and tasty.

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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.

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.

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?