The Green Report: the Costs of LEED, Living Walls & Net Zero Homes

Happy Friday! We were just checking out the new LEED-certified eco-friendly Starbucks in Colorado and realized it was time for another installment of The Green Report. Check out the latest from the world of eco-friendly multifamily below.

UNITS Magazine: “Going green has shifted from an idea…to an ideal”

This month’s issue of UNITS caught our eye with their article on going green in new multifamily construction. There has long been consensus that “both community and company value” increase when energy-efficient designs are implemented, and both companies and property managers have seen real savings (between 15 and 50%) in costs and energy usage just by implementing minor changes in their buildings: lightbulbs, insulation, water-flow regulators, etc.. But when designing or renovating a building, there are more drastic decisions that have to be made: will you truly go green? What does that really mean, and what will it cost?

UNITS explains the two major certifications: LEED, which originated in 1993 for industrial buildings and affordable housing but has recently jumped exponentially in popularity for standard multifamily housing; and NGBS, which was created exclusively for single- and multifamily housing. Susan Maxwell of Zocalo Community Development explains that LEED-certified construction has run about 2% over standard costs for their company; still, she says “we find that in development, ignorance is defined as not knowing the real costs,” and notes that the extra 2% spent upfront is generally made back in rent. Check out the full article–with plenty more info–here.

Lux Research: Living roofs and walls will be a $7.7 billion market by 2017

While they may look like a bit of an engineering nightmare to the untrained eye, vegetated roofs like the one shown here (on the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park) can do wonders for the environment, as well as the building they shelter. They reduce air pollutants and “sequester” carbon dioxide, as well as reducing stormwater volume and summer heat transference. But they’re not exactly mainstream…yet. Are they ever likely to be?

According to a new report from Lux Research as reported in Eco Home magazine, green roofs and walls can’t come soon enough–and they “will balloon into a $7.7 billion market in 2017, driven by mandates and incentives by cities across the globe.” According to the article, environmental problems stemming from urbanization is currently fueling initiatives in Singapore, Copenhagen, London and Chicago, among other cities–and as our population swells, the need can only increase. Read more here.

Archstone buys green in Venice, California

Eco-conscious Southern California employees at Hulu, Viddy, Yahoo and Google will soon have a new LEED-platinum Archstone building among their choices of where to live. The apartment giant just purchased the upscale 70-unit apartment complex in Venice, Calif., formerly called The Frank, for $56.2 million. The building was completed earlier this year and boasts a number of eco-friendly implementations, including high-efficiency heat pumps, boilers and light fixtures; a solar hot water system; an energy-efficient façade; local and recycled materials; nontoxic finishes; and drought-tolerant landscaping. It is estimated that the building consumes 1/3 less energy than a typical building of its size. The purchase reinforces the market trend among larger companies like Archstone to think, build, and buy green. Read more here.

Net zero homes on Bainbridge Island now open for tours

Have you checked out the net zero model homes on Bainbridge Island yet? No, we’re not referring to the internet provider–net zero in this case refers to energy consumption. The homes are located in Grow Community, eight acres that have been planned to be a “pedestrian-oriented, energy-efficient, multigenerational neighborhood.” Eventually, Grow Community plans to situate 50 single-family homes and 81 rental apartments in the development, all clustered around green spaces in “micro-neighborhoods.” Check out more about what net zero looks like here.

…And those are our stories for today. Enjoy your weekend, stay dry…and we’ll see you next week!

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