AS SEEN IN USA TODAY’S NEWS SECTION MARCH 31, 2004
"It's an exploding market," Portland consultant Lewis says. "Many vendors are chasing it."
Vying for top rankings
‘Green’ design elements Many features of The Henry develop- ment promote environmentally con- scious living. Some examples:
floors and steel rebar made with melted- down handguns, the society's building came up short to the NRDC's three-story Santa Monica, Calif., offices —53 points to 56.
Some green designs are pushing the envelope. Pittsburgh's convention center, the world's largest green building, purifies sink and toilet water with ultraviolet light and recycles it for flushing and irrigation. Biotech giant Genzyme's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., has rooftop mirrors and solar panels to direct sunlight inside and light fire-escape stairwells.
Windows: Specially treated glass and sun shades reduce heat from sunlight in summer. That helps keep the building cool and saves energy.
Woodwork: The hardwood floors in The Henry are cut from sustainable forests. Doors and cabinets are made with wheatboard, a product similar to particleboard but without the toxic resins.
As the boom progresses, companies see that in the 50- to 100-year life cycle of a green building, costly upgrades such as solar devices and super-efficient mechanical systems pay for themselves many times over. But speculative developers who must recoup costs more quickly are coming around, too. Gerding, a partner in Portland's Gerding/Edlin Development, is proof of that. He bought
a Henry unit himself.
Toyota's sprawling new complex in Torrance, Calif., has a solar-energy system that generates up to 20% of demand. Chicago's Center for Green Technology, a renovated former factory, has floors made of recycled rubber tires and an elevator that runs on canola oil instead of polluting hydraulic oil.
During rebuilding of 7 World Trade Center at Ground Zero, all large diesel engines had to have filters and use low- sulfur fuel to cut emissions. New York City later made that mandatory in all public construction. Plans for Freedom Tower include wind turbines to produce up to 10% of the building's electricity.
"Now we're seeing friendly competitions among builders and design teams and between cities and states about how green they can be," says
Bike rack: The development provides secure bike storage to encourage residents to ride instead of drive.
Plumbing: Showers, toilets and other fixtures have low-flow designs that save up to 30% of the water typically used.
Christine Ervin, executive director of the Green Building Council.
No sooner had the Audubon Society announced early this year that its Los Angeles center was the most environmentally friendly building in the nation — more LEED platinum points than any other — than the Natural Resources Defense Council trumped it. Despite producing all its own energy and touting features such as organic linoleum
Washington architecture professor, says even practitioners of so-called "high design," the superstars of the profession, are integrating sustainable concepts to stay competitive.
But green enthusiasts say that despite remarkable progress in a short time, no one has built a truly sustainable building, one that is a net producer of energy, one that gives more back to the environment than it takes away.
"What we're doing isn't green building and it isn't sustainable — yet," Lewis says. "It makes me wince when someone says they're building a sustainable community. A sustainable community is an Indian tribe in the Amazon."
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.