A bolt of bluestone shoots through New York City’s NoHo Historic District with 30,000 square feet of condo space that evokes an industrial energy while breathing green. The eight-story building’s façade is locally quarried bluestone and features deeply inset windows that hold a variety of plant life. On the backside, 28-foot-wide terrace balconies salute neighbors with railings containing growing habitats. Water and plant growth is integrated throughout the construction’s masonry, which is echoed in interior fireplaces and bathrooms. Modern touches are combined with natural elements to create a greener space in a concrete jungle. Read the full story.
Bertschi School Living Science Building
The Living Building Challenge, accepted by most as the green building industry’s most stringent certification program, welcomed the Bertschi School Living Science Building as its first 2.0-certified recipient after revising its already rigorous standards. Becoming only the fourth Living Building in the world, the 1,425-square-foot structure was built as a case study. KMD Architects talked to the schoolchildren about what they wanted in the design, and they came up with some interesting ideas including an in-floor, glass-covered rainwater “river” that runs through the concrete classroom floor before feeding into rainwater cisterns. Built on a former basketball court, the site is planted with an ethnobotanical garden that doubles as a teaching tool, a photovoltaic system that powers the entire building, and a living wall that scrubs the air and is irrigated by classroom-sink overflow. Read the full story.
Manitoba Hydro Place
It’s been more than four years since the celebrated LEED Platinum Manitoba Hydro Place opened, and it’s only now that portions of its long-lasting impact can be felt. The building surpassed its target of 60 percent energy savings by an additional 10 percent. After four years of operation, features like year-round clean air and the area’s biggest closed-loop geothermal system are well-documented, and unforeseen benefits have trickled down to the employee level. Prior to its construction, 95 percent of employees made their commute by car, and now 70 percent of employees take the bus to work. Even more surprising, the increased quality of the workplace building has led to a marked decrease in absenteeism by a full day and a half per employee, proving that a healthier workplace means a happier workforce. Read the full story.
Born of equal parts fantasy and cautious optimism, Chicago-based real-estate development firm McCaffery Interests has conceived the community of 2050. McCaffery’s bold proposal will transform 600 acres of prime lakefront real estate into a new Chicago neighborhood—complete with residential, office, and retail development—and a global hub of clean energy research. Culling inspiration from the site’s industrial past while cherry-picking the latest sustainable techniques from around the globe, Lakeside could be seen as a tabula rasa, lacking even basic infrastructure such as roads, sewage systems, and streetlights and therefore allowing for holistic implementation of district-scale energy, waste, and water. Visions of hyper-efficient buildings swathed with plant life, solar panels, and rain gardens assert a better, cleaner future for Chicago and indeed the region. Read the full story.
Adobe Utah Campus
Adobe’s LEED Gold campus is a revelation—a transparent structure that subtly gives voice to its intentions as an open, innovative, creative, and ultimately productive work environment to passersby streaming along Utah’s I-15, who can see the open office break free onto the Wasatch Mountain Range. Adobe wanted to innovate and upend conventional rules, so the campus was built to reflect those ideals: amenities like a basketball court, a climbing wall, a pool, a gym, and ping-pong tables drive employees to the office and transform the idea of the workplace. Yet these features aren’t meant to create a “fun” office, they’re meant to create a sustainable, enjoyable, and collaborative atmosphere that fuses the valuation of work with that of its workers. Read the full story.
Douglas Park Elementary
Regina Public Schools
Remember first grade? How about second grade? Third? If you went to Douglas Park School in Regina, Saskatchewan, you might not know what a traditional “grade” is, let alone remember it. Instead, students are clustered in “Learning Communities” that are tailored to students based on needs not age. This forward-thinking instruction method complements its forward-thinking LEED Gold building designed to foster education with exposed wall and floor portions that act as teaching tools. A two-story, atrium-like center connects all the Learning Communities to create an efficient, multipurpose space. With Douglas Park, Regina Public Schools offers an innovative building that matches its innovative teaching methods. Read the full story.
Row on 25th
Shade House Development
Symbolic of Houston’s evolving, urban future, Shade House Development’s Row on 25th project is bringing walkability and new housing forms to what has been a staid, auto-dependent neighborhood. In a city where 72 percent of its residents drive alone to work, this nine-building row house project brought streamlined, connected homes to the historical Houston Heights district. Each 1,900-square-foot home features foam insulation, natural landscaping, high-efficiency HVAC, and reclaimed wooden flooring. It’s a denser, more urban way to actually live in Houston, which is something the city has been sorely lacking. The sustainable ideals of this pocket neighborhood are aiming to change markets and people’s thinking—and bring more residents to downtown Houston. Read the full story.
Moorhead Environmental Complex
Stroud Water Research Center
The Moorhead Environmental Complex at the Stroud Water Research Center is a perfect example of “practicing what you preach.” The facility was built to conserve and create fresh water—it’s an organization searching for answers to environmental issues in a LEED Platinum building that solves many of them. Modeling its integrated water-treatment facility after how native forests deal with rainwater, the facility is able to capture storm water, reduce flooding, and filter runoff without being connected to any Pennsylvania water or sewer system. The complex received a $239,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to construct a wetland wastewater-treatment system that looks like a planting bed but is able to remove excess nitrogen and carbon compounds, creating a sustainable system out of sustainable materials. Read the full story.
Paisano Green Community
Housing Authority of the City of El Paso
For the price of a month of Netflix instant-streaming, residents of El Paso’s Paisano Green Community can pay for a years worth of energy (that’s $7.99 for those keeping track). As the first net-zero public housing community in the nation, the 73-unit, affordable-housing project uses zero fossil fuels, instead making use of the area’s 302 days of sunshine and accompanying 170 kilowatts of solar energy, a choice that contributed to the complex’s LEED Platinum rating. The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso chose the project’s architect, Colorado’s Workshop8, through a national design competition, whose proposal called for buildings connected by a west-facing canopy wall. The wall provides protection from the sun and wind with carefully placed north- and south-facing windows that protect against glare and solar heat gain. Read the full story.
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commision’s curved glass façade with a bold vertical post-tensioned concrete frame allows the facility to stand out like the LEED Platinum icon it is. Yet it also serves to increase wind speed toward the building’s rooftop wind turbines, generating more power through the four turbines. The 13-story, earthquake-resistant administrative building exceeded stringent local building codes and exploited the San Francisco sun to generate 227,000 kilowatt-hours with rooftop photovoltaic panels. As providers of water to the city, the building also is an exemplar of water conservation. It employs a Living Machine that treats recycled greywater and blackwater with methods similar to those of natural wetlands, reusing the non-potable water for the facility’s toilets, urinals, and landscaping. Paired with storm-water catchers, the building saves 2.7 million gallons of water per year, making it an architectural and environmental exemplar. Read the full story.