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Commercial Green Buildings

Going Green in Commercial Construction - More Ideas Than Ever!


• The US may soon see its first "green" production studio in Santa Fe. The plans call for the use of recycled building materials, water conservation processes for the interior and exterior, passive heating and cooling, and native landscaping.

• Artificial turf can be found on airport tarmacs in New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare and Midway, Boston and Toronto. It is even being used instead of green paint and yellow X signs to mark taxiways. It is great on virtually all unpaved areas and doesn't attract birds and other unwanted animals that might harm planes.

• In Canada wood framed construction may soon be used for six story residences. In the past, shrinkage in the thickness of floor joists tended to compound with each additional story. New technologies, such as engineered wood, can resolve these issues. In Europe, wood-framed condos go up to eight stories. In a recent speech, Premier Gordon Campbell, of British Columbia, told mayors that he wants to support the province's forest industry by allowing the construction of wood-framed condominiums above the current four-story limit. He noted that wood is a sustainable product.

• Orly Airport in France is planning to use geo-thermal energy to cut heating expenses. Two 1,700 foot shafts will be drilled on the perimeter of the airport. Natural pressure will deliver water heated at 74 degrees and then used in the airport heating system. It will go back into the ground at 45 degrees. An estimated 7,000 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions should be saved.

• CBS News reports that Father Charles Morris "spends many afternoons on the roof of the rectory where he sounds more like an electrical engineer than a man of the cloth. He has taken his rectory in Wyandotte, Mich off the power grid and installed high-efficiency light-bulbs and special sun-blocking screens over the windows of his church." Father Morris explained, "What we have right here are eight 80 watt Kyocera solar panels and a 400 watt Southwest air wind turbine."

• All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne, Vermont "prides itself on being one of the greenest churches in the greenest state." USA Today reports its new sanctuary is "a model of ecological correctness: locally harvested wood, bamboo flooring, compact fluorescent lights and a furnace that will heat the facility using grass, corn or wood pellets. Even the air conditioning is provided by using water from an artesian well."

• Lexus of Las Vegas wasn't satisfied with offering hybrid vehicles. They have implemented many of the principles of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). In the past, up to 45 gallons of water were used to wash each of 150 cars daily. Today, a modern water reclamation system will use only 9 gallons of city water and 36 gallons of reclaimed water. Excess vegetation has been removed. Innovative air conditioning improvements have been made as well. The cooling system goes into "ice mode" meaning that storage tanks full of ice that was generated during the cool night will allow one compressor to run at 50% capacity. Lights have been changed from 32 to 25 watts and motion detectors have been installed in little used areas. An emphasis has been put on reducing or recycling waste such as cardboard, wood pallets and windshields, formerly diverted to landfills. Another resource for going green are the eco-friendly cleaning and liquid products used in the service department.

• The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum has a "green roof" which is topped with strawberries, ferns, switch grass, roses and other greenery. The layer of soil will also provide insulation and capture rainwater that would otherwise run off. The building recently won a platinum LEED rating. No gasoline powered equipment will be used in maintaining the garden roof, nor will there be any harmful pesticides or fertilizers. It's all organic.

In California, the Deer Park Monastery has a new 66 kilowatt, sun powered electricity system that will provide virtually all the electricity required to keep the lights on and air conditioning humming in its living quarters, meditation hall, dining hall and offices. The monks also have three diesel powered cars that run on 100% vegetable oil.


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