Alexander Kolbe, co-owner of ecoDOMUS, an architectural firm that specializes in prefab construction to build green homes that are highly energy efficient, says that, “Given the choice of spending a sizable sum of money for a home that consumes energy at an alarming rate, or spending slightly more initially to benefit from substantially lower utility costs, and thereby helping to conserving our planet’s limited supply of fossil fuels, we at evoDOMUS believe that the latter can prevail … the key is to make it an easily understandable and obtainable choice. Also, this ‘healthy for the planet’ choice need not look healthy, nor must it look like it is good for the planet! It can look bodacious, chic, generous and new, without being bad for anyone.”
The proof of Kolbe’s design concept is this new home he designed for a client in New Canaan, Connecticut. Using prefab modular, panelized construction is the key to energy efficiency, project manager Rob Shearer said in a recent interview.
“When the exterior envelope is constructed in a controlled environment, with precision machinery to assure that everything is flush and square, it makes all of the tiny gaps and cracks inherent to any type of construction much smaller, and easier to seal,” Shearer said.
“In addition, the panel joints are gasketed, and the overall effect is an extremely tight enclosure. Controlling air infiltration is crucial to an efficient, healthy home. Not only for controlling temperature, but also humidity. It is a common misconception among builders that ‘houses need to breathe.’ Houses do not need to breathe. People need to breathe.”
Such air tight construction requires the use of mechanical ventilation system to control the distribution of fresh air throughout the house. Heating and cooling are handled by two Mitsubishi mini split heat pumps, one per floor. The14″ thick walls have an R-35 rating and the roof is rated R-60.
The facade of the house on the first floor is made by Resysta- a wall covering made of rice husks, natural oils and resin. The second floor is finished with StoTherm stucco system that adds a continuous additional layer of insulation. The bathroom fixtures are all water-saving, low-flow fixtures. All tiles in the house have a high recycled material content and LED or CFL lighting is used throughout the home to save energy.
Since designing this prefab home, ecoDOMUS has been tapped for two more homes in Connecticut as well as projects in California, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida and Medellin, Colombia.
Source: Green Building Elements
Image: AOL Real Estate
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The South African government’s Department of Environmental Affairs has opened a brand new head office in Pretoria that exemplifies its approach to sustainable building, including the country’s National Climate Change Response Policy.
The building, which is 6 Green Star SA Office Design rated, is designed with the aim of capping energy consumption at 115kWh/m2 per year, 20% of which comes from the solar photovoltaic panels that cover the roof. A concentrated photovoltaic panel in the car park also tracks the sun in order to provide solar-powered charging stations for electric cars.
The design also makes use of rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems, and water-saving indigenous plants, in order to reduce water consumption by 30%.
In order to incentivise low energy consumption, the building also operates a “green lease” with it maintenance contractors, which monitors performance and introduces penalties if the building consumes more than planned.
“This landmark new Green Building represents a major commitment by the government to green building and sustainable development. We welcome the green leadership shown,” commented Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the government-affiliated Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA).
“For any building to achieve a 6-star rating is a feat that should be celebrated because of the high standard of green building design and construction applied. For a government building, this is a precedent setting move by the leadership of our country and is quite a progressive demonstration of consciousness for the green movement.”
Source: Intelligent Building Today
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Already home to leading companies like BMW, Nedbank and SAGE VIP, the multi-billion rand Menlyn Maine green city development in Pretoria is set to get 26,500sqm of new office space in three new buildings from the end of 2015 to the end of 2016.
Menlyn Maine Investments is pioneering the Menlyn Maine development – Africa’s only green city. In the latest tranche of developments to be announced, it will invest R750 million to develop three top-class, green A-grade office buildings.
The trio of quality office buildings will all achieve at least a 4-Star Green Star SA rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), in line with Menlyn Maine’s exceptional sustainability benchmarks.
Menlyn Maine is South Africa’s first green, mixed-use city. It’s more than a collection of award-winning green buildings in one place; everything between the buildings is designed to be environmentally sustainable too, from sidewalks and streets, to parks and squares. The benefits go beyond a lighter carbon footprint and lower electricity bills, to the enjoyment of a quality experience in a distinguished address of choice for working and – in soon-to-come future phases – shopping, entertainment and living, all designed to promote responsible, healthy lifestyles.
As a partner of the Clinton Climate Initiative, Menlyn Maine is one of 16 green cities being built in various countries, and the only one in Africa.
Its superb location has been a key factor in attracting top business names to Menlyn Maine.
Menlyn Maine is minutes away from the N1 motorway’s Atterbury and Garsfontein interchanges, right off the main arterial of January Masilela Road, and a mere 500 metres from the main entrance of the super-regional Menlyn Park Shopping Centre.
Its bustling location also means it benefits from exceptional transport connections. This includes access to excellent transport links, including three Gautrain bus stops, the new BRT bus system and a taxi terminus. Menlyn Maine is designed to welcome pedestrians. Fewer cars on the roads also mean lower carbon emissions. It is also surrounded by medical facilities, schools, and all the amenities that come with being in the heart of the upmarket, growing Eastern Suburbs of Pretoria.
Already under construction, the landmark 13,500sqm West Tower Office Block is at the heart of Menlyn Maine’s vibrant future retail and entertainment epicentre. This A-grade nine-storey office tower has been designed to create flexible space for corporate headquarters or a bustling multifaceted business environment. Located on the corner of Aramist Avenue and Dallas Road, it will be ready for tenant occupation in September 2016 and offer ample parking at a ratio of 4.5 bays to every 100sqm.
Opposite this iconic tower, The Indus Building will provide 9,500sqm of A-grade office space across five floors, allowing for the flexible subdivision of offices. It is set for completion in late 2016.
Like the other two new buildings it comes with naming rights for a major tenant taking up more than half of each building.
The Orion Building will be developed opposite the 3,200sqm Regus Building, which was completed in June this year. Standing in a prime position at the new gateway to Menlyn Maine from January Masilela Road, The Orion Building mirrors its neighbouring offices. The four-storey building will provide 4,500sqm of environmentally innovative and flexible lettable A-grade offices, suited to either a single or multi-tenant environment. Its development will be demand driven, with completion delivery possible as soon as late 2015.
The benefits of offices in a green city go beyond simple environmental responsibility. It also means smart building design for energy efficiency, recycling, environmentally friendly waste management and roof gardens. All this adds up to less operational costs and more savings over a company’s lease period.
* Henk Boogertman is the main architect and Linda Riley is leasing and investment advisor at Menlyn Maine.