Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

atlrvr

Green Buildings in Charlotte

Would you pay more to live in a LEED certified home?  

55 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you pay more to live in a LEED certified home?

    • Yes
      45
    • No
      10


Recommended Posts

For those who are unfamiliar with LEED certification, it stands for Leadership in Efficiency and Enviromental Design. It is a desgination handed down from the U.S. Green Building Council for new construction and renovations that significantly reduce pollution and inefficiencies created by buildings. Some green design features are glass that prevents heat transfer, no-water toilets, roof-top gardens to collect rainwater, etc....

In Charlotte, we have 1 building that will be LEED certified, which is Imaginon, the new Childrens Theatre. It is rumored that the new Whole Foods being developed by Grubb as part of Elizabeth Ave, and presumably the condos located over the grocery, will be LEED certified. The architect is one of the leading green building firms in the country.

This trend is much more prevalent in places such as Portland, Seattle, and Chicago, where many residentially and most governement buildings all are environmentally friendly. I'm curious if people here care one way or the other about environmentally responsible design, and whether they would pay perhaps 10% more for a "green" condo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The architect is one of the leading green building firms in the country.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Who? William McDonough?

I'd definitely pay 10% more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who? William McDonough?

I'd definitely pay 10% more.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yep.....him, but are you willing to pay more because he is a great architect, or because of the environmental and long-term efficiency factors? Are Charlotteans socially and environmentally concious?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have often wondered why urban buildings aren't more aligned with the green movement, considering the demographics that are interested in urban living are often the demographics interested in green living. (this isn't a perfect correlation, but there is at least a decent overlap). It seems that higher density projects, like condo developments, might also have the opportunity to pool resources for green infrastructure than SFH developments would not.

For example, a block of townhomes might easily provide a shared solar water heater that could supplement hot water systems for the units. They could also have a gray-water system, where drain water from sinks and showers go to irrigate the grounds. Larger projects could possibly have green electric-generation facilities, such as natural gas-fuel cell systems or solar panel systems that could feed the complex. Since there is a pooled resource with home owners association, the initial cost and risk is shared across all homeowners, and likewise, the benefits are shared among all homeowners as any profits or collective savings go into the homeowners budget. Other "green" opportunities for higher density projects are using semi-porous paving for parking lots, to reduce run-off water (parking spaces never need to be completely covered by asphalt, as car wheels only use the edges...). I'm sure there are many others, too.

Anyway, back to the point. I think all drivers for "green technology" need to be based primarily on long term economic savings in order to be accepted in Charlotte. This isn't california or vermont, where people are so altruistic that money is often no object. However, i think charlotteans can accept some of the "off-balance sheet savings", such as reduction of indoor pollution which helps save health costs, etc.

McDonough typically incorporates "green" technology in a creative way that actually makes the building more fun and liveable, so the extra cost is easily made up through extra value in the end product. An analogy might be: does indoor plumbing count as "green technology" because it doesn't leave a pile of poop in your back yard outhouse? no way, it is a matter of improving liveability, but a hundred years ago, the cost of indoor plumbing might have been considered the cost of reducing waste and pollution for the nearby environment. I think McDonough focuses on improving the useful life for humans inside the building, (such as by not killing them slowly with toxic carpetting), as well as hvac systems that do the job of keeping the people at a comfortable temperature.... those things are only considered "green", because they are unique in the the current built environment, but may be required components of buildings in 25 years. I think it there are many benefits to being a part of that now, especially when the added 10% of costs can be recouped over a ten year period.

I think Mr. and Mrs. McColl believe the charlotteans can learn to incorporate green/sustainable technology into their homes, as they are funding a museum to that end to be designed by Mr. McDonough. It includes a sort of pilot community to demostrate the green home technologies.

http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/...asp?projID=Mole

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have often wondered why urban buildings aren't more aligned with the green movement, considering the demographics that are interested in urban living are often the demographics interested in green living.  (this isn't a perfect correlation, but there is at least a decent overlap).  ...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well actually the first Green movements which advocated a return to technologies that were much more enviromentally friendly (late 60s early 70s) were also an anti-consumerism movements as well. Consumerism is one the biggest threats to the enviroment because it takes great deals of energy and resources to produce junk that end up in landfills. Cities are all about consumerism, pollution generation, and depersonalization. Anyone who was truely "green" would understand what I am talking about. In the late 60s and early 70s, if you were really green, then you abandoned the poision of the city. This is when terms and ideas such as alternative energy, Mother Earth, conservation all sprung up.

I am sure that many of these concepts and ideas would not be accepted by most people now. They have been raised their entire life to believe otherwise as TV, the media, and other parts of life ask people to consume greatly. Spending $300/sq ft for a condo with granite counters, stainless appliances, wood floors are all in line with this. So while some are willing to "talk the talk" and say they would want a green building, when it comes time to "walk the walk" they are not willing to do so. That is why you don't see "green" buildings anymore.

BTW, the first large office building, and probably the only office building built in the Charlotte area that would meet most of the Leed Criteria, is the old IBM Complex on Harris Blvd. It was built before USGBC was around, but was hailed at the time for buildings that blended in well with the enviromnent, made use of passive solar heating and cooling, and provided a decent environment for its employees. Duke Power recognized the complex as setting a new standard for Charlotte buildings. Sadly, a standard, that was never repeated in Charlotte. The complex was designed in 1978 and construction continued on it until completed in 1986. At that time, there was more floor space at this complex than all of DT Charlotte combined. It still remains one of the largest office complexes in the county.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think what you describe is definitely true, but part of why that i think it didn't take off, especially in places like charlotte, is that it was built on a foundation of sacrifice. Environmentalism of the 60s and 70s definitely contributed to flight to the suburbs, anti-consumerism and all sorts of other cultural phenomena of the boomer generation. However, that type of sacrifice-based ideology was ultimately a failure, as you point out, as it is unsustainable in a world of pleasurable waste. Perhaps some remain "truly green", and swear off all those pleasures, and live off the grid in the middle of nowhere, grow herbs on their window sills, and whatever else, but it is definitely not mainstream.

The modern era of environmentalism is much less ascetic. I believe by coupling "green" with the pleasures of the american capitalist world, "green" can really become mainstream. No sacrifices are required in this philosophy, which is ellaborated in Mr. McDonough's book Cradle to Cradle. The idea is to embrace the idea of businesses making money, to revel in the idea of human wastefulness, and design products with that in mind but don't damage people and natural life in the process. Embrace the cosumerist processes of america, just make sure the products are designed or chemically composed in a way to create less or no waste. The hybrid Honda Accord is an example: more horsepower from v6 plus motor, better acceleration, more luxury features and room AND 30% more fuel efficient.

I think, then, the modern idea of "green" buildings is to make them more exciting to live or work in. more sunlight, more open windows, more frequent carpet replacement, etc. Some of that is based on savings allowed by more efficient or non-toxic design, but it is also simply for the sake of avoiding sacrifice.

if i have to pay 10% more for a "green" building that means i have to live like a monk, there is no way i'd buy into it, (or even if 10% less expensive for that matter). However, with no-sacrifice/all-benefit "green" features (many of which even pay for themselves within the mortgage horizon) and a design that makes it more fun to live there (McDonough's model), i'd gladly pay 10% more, and so would a suprising percentage of Charlottean's, i believe. They just have to be convinced that it won't suck to live there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

absolutely. the dream house that my girlfriend and i talk about will definitely be green in as many ways as we can make it. our whole plan (once we make enough money) is to help design and build our very own earth-friendly house. i can't wait!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is an underground house on Nevin road that would most likely meet all of the Leed requirements, and it is likely one of the county's most energy efficient homes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we should be following Chicago's example. Green roofs have been installed on most government buildings in the city and at UofC. Green roofs rarely reach a temperature higher than 80F and reflect heat.

I have a friend that designs and installs gray water reclamation systems for both commercial and residential developments. For not much money any homeowner can build a rain garden to recycle rainwater in cisterns. You can take that further and use it to flush toilets. Pretty darn cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The grey water thing is interesing and not even a new idea. I once lived in a 80 year old house that had two water systems. One for regular water an the other that was for grey water. You had to be careful which faucet you used. lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if anyone watches extreem makover home edition but they built a great house that was "zero net" meaning it produced as much energy as it consumed. Honestly, it would be hard for many people to tell that the homes was green. I think at times people do still assume it takes an "underground" house or something to be green but once they see the options around today they start rethinking it. I also think we see some generation splits. My generation was trained by sega, nintendo, sony, and cell phone companies to be extreeme consumers of new technology. Green technology can provide a certain cool factor for people in their early 20's. Also people in there early 20's were not alive in the 60's or 70's so the negative image issues won't be in there mindset. I think with targeted marketing the green tech sector could really take the generations born in the 80's and 90's by storm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i agree, appatone. people in the generation raise in the 80s and 90s are much more likely to want to pay for high tech "green".

a quick example might be front-loading washing machines. They save tremendous amount of water and electricity, but because they were the latest high tech in washing machines, there are many people who buy into it for the technology reason rather than the cost or environmental savings.

I also think that over the next few years there will be more high tech "green" home products will come more available. For example, LEDs are becoming ubiquitous, and their price will be much more reasonable soon. Just like DOTs across the country are starting to use LED traffic lights, homes will start getting LED lighting or lightbulbs that use a fraction of the energy, but brighter (and much more true white than fluorescent bulbs).

Also, as the auto industry seeks cost savings in fuel cell technology, i think larger home units will be available for a reasonable price in the next few years. When coupled with a system that extracts hydrogen from natural gas, you could potentially be your own natural gas powerplant.

There are also some potential breakthroughs in solar energy. Bill Gross (of dotcom fame) was featured in wired (here) last month for a breakthrough in solar energy capture. One of his Idealabs companies

has created a product called Sunflower, that basically is a minature solar energy factory, with mirrors to track the sun. With manufacturing efficiencies baked into the design, the product is expected to be much less expensive, and could potentially allow paybacks after just a few years, rather than the decades it takes to pay off a traditional solar panel system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i agree, appatone.  people in the generation raise in the 80s and 90s are much more likely to want to pay for high tech "green". 

a quick example might be front-loading washing machines.  They save tremendous amount of water and electricity, but because they were the latest high tech in washing machines, there are many people who buy into it for the technology reason rather than the cost or environmental savings.

I also think that over the next few years there will be more high tech "green" home products will come more available.  For example, LEDs are becoming ubiquitous, and their price will be much more reasonable soon.  Just like DOTs across the country are starting to use LED traffic lights, homes will start getting LED lighting or lightbulbs that use a fraction of the energy, but brighter (and much more true white than fluorescent bulbs). 

Also, as the auto industry seeks cost savings in fuel cell technology, i think larger home units will be available for a reasonable price in the next few years.  When coupled with a system that extracts hydrogen from natural gas, you could potentially be your own natural gas powerplant. 

There are also some potential breakthroughs in solar energy.  Bill Gross (of dotcom fame) was featured in wired (here) last month for a breakthrough in solar energy capture.  One of his Idealabs companies

has created a product called Sunflower, that basically is a minature solar energy factory, with mirrors to track the sun.  With manufacturing efficiencies baked into the design, the product is expected to be much less expensive, and could potentially allow paybacks after just a few years, rather than the decades it takes to pay off a traditional solar panel system.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hehe, I am on my 3rd front loading machine and they have been used in Europe for decades. They are not new technology. I bought my first one in 1988. The Solar Sunflower was presented in Popular Science in the late 60s as a home built kit.

Long ago front loading washers were available in the USA as well, but fell out of dis-use because top loaders have traditionally had larger capacities.

Look at that chrome. 50's Westinghouse Front Loader

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hehe, I am on my 3rd front loading machine and they have been used in Europe for decades.  They are not new technology.    I bought my first one in 1988.  The Solar Sunflower was presented in Popular Science in the late 60s as a home built kit.

Long ago front loading washers were available in the USA as well, but fell out of dis-use because top loaders have traditionally had larger capacities. 

Look at that chrome.  50's Westinghouse Front Loader

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

They may not be completely new technology, but it looks like new technology to many people in the US. I think one of the main reasons front loading machines are popular in Europe is that they tend to have their W/D in the kitchen under a counter so they have to open from the front, whereas in the US we want a separate laundry room. It is a good example, though, because I suspect many people are buying them because they are new and cool moreso than for the energy saving aspect.

I agree that 20-somethings would probably pay more for the newest technology, and if it happens to be more energy-efficient, then great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

lol... i know front loaders are old... i grew up in europe and my family had one all through the eighties.

i guess my point was that for whatever reason, these things are starting to hit a chord in the US marketplace. I'm not sure of all the reasons, but interest in cool tech seems to be a big part of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I agree. In the case of washers it is a very good thing.

I think a lot more homes could be built that are green and energy efficient, but it will take some some education on the public's part so they begin to demand these technologies from the developers and have them written into zoning ordinances. There is certainly the money here to pay for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i agree, appatone.  people in the generation raise in the 80s and 90s are much more likely to want to pay for high tech "green". 

a quick example might be front-loading washing machines.  They save tremendous amount of water and electricity, but because they were the latest high tech in washing machines, there are many people who buy into it for the technology reason rather than the cost or environmental savings.

I also think that over the next few years there will be more high tech "green" home products will come more available.  For example, LEDs are becoming ubiquitous, and their price will be much more reasonable soon.  Just like DOTs across the country are starting to use LED traffic lights, homes will start getting LED lighting or lightbulbs that use a fraction of the energy, but brighter (and much more true white than fluorescent bulbs). 

Also, as the auto industry seeks cost savings in fuel cell technology, i think larger home units will be available for a reasonable price in the next few years.  When coupled with a system that extracts hydrogen from natural gas, you could potentially be your own natural gas powerplant. 

There are also some potential breakthroughs in solar energy.  Bill Gross (of dotcom fame) was featured in wired (here) last month for a breakthrough in solar energy capture.  One of his Idealabs companies

has created a product called Sunflower, that basically is a minature solar energy factory, with mirrors to track the sun.  With manufacturing efficiencies baked into the design, the product is expected to be much less expensive, and could potentially allow paybacks after just a few years, rather than the decades it takes to pay off a traditional solar panel system.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

your comments about LEDs made me think back to something i read a while back about a new "organic" LED technology that is being developed that will pave the way to using LED lights in the home. i am a big fan of LED technology. i just like the crispness of the light that is produced. more and more traffic lights are LED and more and more car tail lights and headlights are also going that way.

it's about time for a major improvement on the original lightbulb (granted, there have been improvements, but not vast ones.) the efficiency of LEDs blows any other kind of light source out of the water.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wired mag has done a lot of stories on LEDs lately. There are a number of developments that will bring them into the home. OLEDs are starting to be used for some displays/television, so as the world switches to HDTV, LED-based technology is one option. There are also plans to make LED-based bulbs the foundation for older display technology, like rear-projection TVs or regular projectors.

The largest breakthrough happened a few years ago when they finally were able to produce the color blue. Before, they could only do green and red. Now that blue is available, they are able to make a host of colors and true white.

Modern refridgerators use less electricity than a single 100watt light bulb. As LEDs become more practical for bulb-based lighting, the energy use in homes could drop dramatically. People will definitely convert when price hits the right number, as LED lights are much purer white than incandescent and fluorescent. It is yet another recent example where the "green" technology is actually better at its job (of lighting, in this case) than the traditional technology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious Atlrvr, but does this have anything to do with the project you were working on (shipping containers I believe it was)? Green shipping containers now maybe, lol.

And how is that coming along?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious Atlrvr, but does this have anything to do with the project you were working on (shipping containers I believe it was)?  Green shipping containers now maybe, lol.

And how is that coming along?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The project is stop and go, as I've had to rework it a couple of times, and to be honest it's at a stop right now as my interest has shifted to another project.

The problem with the shipping containers is that they aren't cheap enough in that particular marketplace to guarantee success.....they would work in a more expensive area, but then I would meet huge resistence from neighbors. None the less, they are still being considered, but maybe not at my previously selected site.

I am interested in bringing green condos to Charlotte, but I don't know what I'm looking at now would be the best test case......it is transit oriented development however.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte.../01/focus4.html

this week's CBJ had a write up on the EPA Center in RTP, and basically says that although there are some increased costs for being LEED certified, that it really netted on 3-5% higher costs, and the process of designing/thinking "green" actually offers many opportunities to save money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte.../03/focus4.html

http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/bus...al/12803477.htm

It looks like some builders are starting to meet higher energy efficiency standards.

i know the energy star program isn't the same as full LEED certification... but these developers like Simonini that are saying it is worth the 2-3% extra for efficiency are basically saying there is a market for some green design and technology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.