Amber Keenoy, LEED AP BD+C – Principal, Star Estimation and Consulting Services
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings account for approximately 40% of energy use in the majority of countries worldwide and an estimated 1/3 of total carbon emissions. Energy savings in buildings
has the potential to save more carbon dioxide emissions than the entire global emissions of the transportation sector. Thus, the built environment has potential to greatly reduce human’s environmental impacts. Buildings are an important aspect of human culture. In buildings we work, we live, we sleep, we eat, we create relationships; buildings offer shelter from the elements and a place to identify as ours. There are tremendous opportunities for sustainable strategies to be incorporated into buildings. Ergo, this week’s Global Green is dedicated to sustainable and innovative buildings.
The Bosarge Family Education Center, Maine
In Maine, the greenest building in the state opened on July 15th, 2011. The Bosarge Family Education Center is designed to educate as well as function in innovative sustainable ways, and is projected to earn LEED Platinum certification in addition to being a net zero energy building. The Center’s sustainable features include one foot-thick walls packed with insulation, 237 solar electric panels, a 1700 gallon cistern to collect rainwater and flush toilets, bicycle storage and changing rooms, extensive habitat protection and restoration, passive solar, high recycled content and abundant usage of regional materials, low emitting materials and plenty of daylight.
Stockholm Central Station
For innovative use of existing technology and materials, Stockholm Central Station wins the prize! The station has implemented a system which harvests body heat from approximately 250,000 daily commuters; the body heat is utilized to provide 25% of a nearby building’s energy.
Tree Homes, Wisconsin
The concept of houses made from trees is not new. Most homes utilize some type of wood-based framing, wood cabinets, wooden doors, and so on. What is new is using the tree closer to its original form in designing a home. Wisconsin-based Whole Trees Architecture and Construction takes wood construction one sustainable step further than most. One of their recent projects is a residence featuring impressive innovations: a straw-insulated roof with R40 value, recycled cellulose walls, FSC certified wood, passive solar, radiant floor heating, healthy indoor air quality via low or no VOC finish materials, solar greenhouse, a rainwater harvesting system, a living roof and 50% of building materials extracted and/or manufactured locally.
San Juan Islands – Orcas Island, Washington
On Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands in Washington, a home has been built using Low Impact Design strategies and features. The North Beach residence received a national AIA Honor Award this year. It sits on a site once occupied by the Lummi Indians, thus there was no excavation for the home in an effort to preserve any existing artifacts. The home is built on a slab which was placed on top of the grass; no trees were harmed, moved or touched. The North Beach residence also features a green roof, renewable energy, solar hot water, hydronic space heating, and is a net zero energy use home.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
A floating building located on the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada is the first of its kind to apply for LEED certification. The building, which will serve as the operations office for the marina, is expected to earn a LEED Gold rating. Among the building’s features is decking made from a composite of rice hulls and recycled plastic, exterior stucco made of recycled tires, low or no VOC materials, a green purchasing program, high-performance insulated glass, natural daylighting, recycled and recyclable building and landscape materials, and prevention of night sky pollution.
Strawbale Winery, California
The Claiborne & Churchill Winery in San Luis Obispo, California has taken green materials to heart. The winery’s new structure was built with rice strawbales, thus becoming the first commercial strawbale building in California. Rice straw is a waste by-product usually burned in the fields after harvest. The use of rice straw replaces wood frame construction, thus saving forests and eliminating air pollution from straw burning. The building requires no heating or cooling due to the high insulation values of the rice strawbale walls; the walls were built at an old fashioned barn raising party. Total building costs were $60,000 less than a conventional wood framed building of the same size. As no HVAC system was needed, there was an initial savings of $10,000 plus annual energy savings of about $1,200 per year over the lifetime of the building.
Green Idea House, California
In Hermosa Beach, the Green Idea House is Southern California Edison’s cornerstone case study home in the Net Zero Energy Initiative project. While still connected to the electricity grid, the structure can harvest power from renewable energy sources. In addition to the energy savings, the Green Idea House features green building design and principles including passive solar design for heating and cooling, recycled content of materials, the use of cradle to cradle products, and roofing materials which reduce heat gain.
The above listing of innovative and sustainable buildings is not exhaustive in the very least. Rather it is meant to inspire and provide ideas as to various sustainable building designs and functions. With the world’s resources and existing infrastructure being heavily impacted and utilized, all building projects should account for sustainable design.