Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
While looking for images for my previous Kleenex post, I found some interesting advertisements done by GreenPeace and other environmental advocate groups. Often, these advertisements paint a grim picture of current decaying landscapes or a future view. I thought it was ironic that Kleenex promotes a "feel" campaign when most of their resources for paper products come from leveling ancient forests. Here are some grim examples of environmental advertising.These ads are for promoting clean air and auto emissions. Environmental advertising is raising its own brand of controversy. How far will we go to protect our environment and place blame on the large commercial businesses and manufacturers?Comments:
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Promotors say it will be one of the most spectacular green building projects in the world ... but some detractors at the national Greenbuild Conference see it as an auto-centric, anti-community, white elephant.
What they're referring to is Syracuse, New York's, ambitious Destiny project, being developed by real estate mogul Bob Congel, founder & managing partner of the Pyramid Companies, a major mall developer.
At Wednesday's Greenbuild Conference in Chicago, a panel of project boosters -- including Congel (on far right in photo) and Syracuse Mayor Matthew Driscoll (second from left) -- laid out the case for this mega-project.
Destiny is being called a "destination retail city." That is, it's planned as an enormous 75 million square foot retail, hotel, and entertainment complex intended to draw visitors/shoppers from well beyond the immediate Syracuse area.
It's location is outside the city's downtown -- expanding on the existing Carousel shopping mall (see photo below). One way to view it as a mall on steroids -- perhaps along the lines of the Twin Cities' Mall of America.
But what makes the project interesting -- besides its unique blend of private, city, state, and federal financing -- is that it's being designed to incorporate a full panoply of green building practices, such as using recycled industrial materials as part of its construction, and having its own 22 MW renewable-energy power plant.
This is in keeping with Mayor Driscoll's vision of Syracuse as "Green Capital of the World." At the Conference, the Mayor spelled out a series of "aggressive" steps the city has already taken to reduce energy consumption, including an ordinance that requires all municipal buildings to be LEED-certified.
Dan Tomson, Managing Director of Citigroup Global Markets (second from right in photo of panelists), which is instrumental in putting together Destiny's financing, said that "we believe in combatting climate change with market-based solutions."
But the project financing relies on a number of state and federal financial "sweeteners," including $228 million in federal, tax-exempt green bonds designated for energy-conserving projects, plus a huge brownfields tax credit.
At the Greenbuild Conference, Congel also announced the latest addition to the Destiny project, a $450 million dollar, 1342-room hotel and conference center, which would make it the largest hotel in New York outside of New York City. (See illustration at start of this post; the hotel is in the foreground).
Congel described how he came up with the design concept for the hotel: "We needed to get an icon type of thing. I wanted to have it look like grass growing up 600 feet." The hotel, which Congel said would meet LEED-platinum standards, would also "change the skyline not just of Syracuse, but of the United States."
So what's not to like about what would be one of the largest green projects in America? One concern raised at the Conference by Ken Kortkamp (on right) a San Francisco-based engineer is the "auto-centric" nature of the project. As Kortkamp commented, "you're not creating a community, let alone a sustainable community." Others also questioned the absence of any residential component of the project, and its dependence on visitors coming by automobile.
In response, Mayor Driscoll said the project "will be a trigger to development elsewhere in the city" and would help fight sprawl. The challenge for Syracuse, he added, will be "how do we take this project and help benefit the rest of the city." For Congel, the project will "create the demand that other private developers will take care of." In terms of transportation, Congel also mentioned the possibility of designing a monorail system as part of the project (hopefully connecting with the Syracuse airport and downtown).
For an economically depressed city like Syracuse, Destiny offers an attractive vision. But will the visitors arrive in the number expected? And will Destiny deliver benefits to the rest of the city, including its downtown?
Update posted on 11.26.07: An interesting post on the Veritas et Venustas blogabout the transportation-related factors in "green buildings" -- something that came up in questions about the Syracuse project:
"Designers and builders expend significant effort to ensure that our buildings use as little energy as possible. This is a good thing—and very obvious to anyone who has been involved with green building for any length of time. What is not so obvious is that many buildings are responsible for much more energy use getting people to and from those buildings. That’s right—for an average office building in the United States, calculations done by Environmental Building News (EBN) show that commuting by office workers accounts for 30% more energy than the building itself uses. For an average new office building built to code, transportation accounts for more than twice as much energy use as building operation."
Both guests and visitors can enjoy breakfast and snacks in the onboard cafe, as well as being able to heat up your own in the jumbo’s microwaves! With rooms costing from just £28 the re-fit has turned a scrap-heap bound plane into one of Sweden's newest landmark tourist attractions.
The Wing House is a sleek and elegant design, without doubt. But we ask the hard questions which the mainstream media, so enthused about the jet plane aspect, neglects to ask: does this newest mansion exemplify sustainable architecture?
It looks like the Rehwalds are getting exactly the house that architect David Hertz planned: the plane's wings form the two main roof sections of a multi-level house. All the sections of the jet plane will be used in some aspect of the project -- which includes outbuildings such as a cockpit meditation chamber and a fuselage art studio. The jet plane itself cost a bargain $40,000, less than half the budget for running the helicopters transporting the sectioned plane to the building site.
But is it eco-friendly? On the one hand, it represents a novel use of recycled materials. Integrating the components of a 747 into glass-and-concrete structures is a different approach from previous recycled plane architecture, such as the recycled jet plane student pavilion or the recycled jet plane library proposed for Guadalajara (both projects by design firm LOT-EK).
On the other hand, this could be seen as greenwashing for another Californiamansion. There are options for recycling airplanes which do not require construction of a $2 million residential palace. Nonetheless, reclaiming the energy invested in assembling the finished jet plane from its respective raw materials has a certain value. However, the question here is not: "does this keep one more jet plane out of the landfill?" The question is: "Is the jet plane merely a clever structural material in an energy-efficient, sustainably built residence?"
The architects, studioea, confirm that "Solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation will be incorporated as well as high performance heat mirror glazing." Well, given that palatial residences will be built, at least let them be beacons for development of sustainable building techniques.
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