Playa: A LEED Platinum Home in a McMansion Neighborhood

Some diehard environmentalists consider eco-mansions an oxymoron at best, with militant types even setting fire to greenwashed mega-homes! But eco-mansion haters sometimes ignore an inconvenient truth: Huge homes are constantly getting built, and most of these are anything but green. That’s the impetus behind “Playa” (above), a case study green home being built in Westchester, Calif., by Go Green Construction. The house, admittedly, will be huge — 4,300 square feet huge, to be exact — and located in a neighborhood…

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Wood Product Manufacturers Bracing for CARB 2009

The air is going to get a little bit cleaner come January, 2009 – and that has nothing to do with a new presidential administration. The California Air Resources Board’s dramatic Air Toxic Control Measure known as “the CARB rule” will go into effect January 1 and will, among other things, mandate a reduction in formaldehyde levels in composite wood products like particle board, hardwood plywood, and medium density fiberboard. Manufacturers of composite wood products have less than four months…

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Rural Areas are Slow to Adopt Green Building Practices

Author’s Note: While I usually report on green building developments in the Pacific Northwest, today I am examining green building trends in my own geographic region, Southeast Ohio. The architect for the LEED project discussed below is my husband, Don Dispenza. Nationwide, there are currently more than 12,000 building projects pursuing LEED certification. But in economically depressed regions, there are still only a handful. For example, in Southeast Ohio, defined as an eight-county region in the Appalachian foothills, there are only two…

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Showing the Green Building Process

What does it look like to build a house with lots of green features? We see pictures of the finished buildings, and we read about the features that make them green. We know about the importance of good insulation and reducing electrical loads and choosing efficient equipment. But what does it look like while it all goes together?

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The Costs of Not Building Green

Despite the narrowing gap in cost between green building and traditional “to-code” building, most builders and home buyers still perceive the green option to be significantly more expensive. The reality is that due to increased builder education and an influx of affordable green building products, a building can be built green within the same budget as a non-green building. According to Clark Wilson, CEO of Austin based Green Builders, Inc., “It’s our job as builders to find those green products…

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Low Impact Living: Green Condos in the West

A couple of weeks back we did a feature on the great trend of green condo developments taking off all over the country– and we covered many developments in the East and South. Click here to learn about Green Condos in the Eastern U.S. A green condo can be a wonderful alternative for (the vast majority of) those of us who cannot afford to build a new green single-family home. We want sustainable design, solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and so much more,…

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How Not to Greenwash Your Building Product

Whether you are developing a new green building product or have recently discovered that the product you have been selling for years satisfies green building program requirements, there comes a point where you must state on your literature which green building (probably LEED) credits your product satisfies or contributes to. It is at this point that usually honest businesses declare their products greener than they really are, crossing the line from green to greenwashing in order to reach the widest green market.…

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Green Building Mandates

Governments are beginning to mandate green building for some new construction, and that ought to be a cause for celebration. But because of the way these requirements are made, the possibility of problems arising when a building does not meet a required level of green building could lead to legal difficulties and lawsuits.

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The Next Green Thing: Green Insurance

As I walked from booth to booth looking for something new and different at last month’s Greening the Heartland conference, I actually did a double take when I saw the words “Green Insurance” on one display. Here was something new that I had to learn more about – was it another gimmick or attempt to force green into an unrelated industry? I spoke to Stephen Horack, a “Green Insurance Specialist” of St. Louis based Huntleigh McGehee, and I have to say that…

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Low Impact Living: Green Condos Coming to a City Near You

Do you long to live in an attractive green home with the latest and greatest in green building technologies, but know you can’t afford to build one? Then you and I have something in common. But do you know about all the amazing green condo developments cropping up across the country? There are gorgeous, cutting-edge eco-friendly condos available or being built now in cities all around the U.S. We can’t possibly cover them all in this post, but we’ve selected…

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First 100% Off-Grid Green Building in San Francisco

In San Francisco, some well financed and publicized condo projects like the Arterra spend big marketing dollars to push its LEED – NC status (wonder why they didn’t shoot for LEED on its other project the Hayes?) while the EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park LEED certified facility opened in relative obscurity. This landmark youth education facility and environmental center sits smack in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood right next to the former PG & E power plant. Of all the…

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Are COTE Winners Too Much of the Same?

The winners of this year’s AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Green Buildings were announced this week, and there certainly are some very attractive buildings among the lot. Some of these buildings are certified, or in the process of becoming certified, to high LEED standards, in addition to their COTE Top Ten recognition. But while I’m excited by some of the design presented in this year’s lineup, there are some troubling aspects of the roster as a whole…

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Earth Day Movie Premiere: The Greening of Southie

On Tuesday, April 22, the Sundance Channel will present as part of their The Green series “The Greening of Southie,” a documentary on the construction of Boston’s first green residential building, the Macallan, which is seeking a LEED gold rating. If the idea of watching a documentary on the construction of a condo building doesn’t sound too exciting to you, I cannot recommend this film enough to anyone who is or wants to be a part of green building. It…

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KBIS Report: It’s Getting Green in Here

As I walked around last year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, I asked where I could find the green products. I was encouraged to put on my walking shoes and make the trek to a minor hall where I found about twenty square feet devoted to five or six products that left little impression on me. Much has changed, it seems, in only one year. Green is the buzzword at this year’s show, helped in no small…

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USGBC and ASID Launch REGREEN: Green Remodeling Guidelines

Under the FAQs for LEED for Homes is a question on whether the US Green Building Council has a LEED program for remodeling. The response is that they are “in active consideration.” It seems they’ve done more than just consider. Last month at the Interiors 08 conference in New Orleans, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) unveiled REGREEN, a joint program with the USGBC to provide guidelines for remodeling green. REGREEN will target residential designers, construction professionals, and homeowners.…

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Patrician Place: An Experiment in Energy

The Meyer Company of St. Louis, Missouri, is quietly undertaking a green building experiment called Patrician Place, the results of which could have far reaching implications in the field of green building. In partnership with the St. Louis County Office of Community Development and Architect; Garen Miller, Inc., The Meyer Company is building ten homes under three different green building programs, gauging the energy efficiency of each. After a year of testing the energy efficiency of the homes of Patrician…

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New Levels of LEED

A new top-level LEED classification called Unobtanium is being proposed to replace the currently proposed Protactinium level, leading to a possible schism in the growing green building rating system. Whether Protactinium or Unobtanium becomes the new top-level of the LEED rating system…? Earlier this year, officials proposed a new level of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) that is higher than the current top-end Platinum rating. The new Protactinium level introduces more stringent requirements to ensure the purity of…

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