LADY BIRD'S WILDFLOWER XERISCAPE
Lady Bird Johnson, who as First Lady graced the nation's highways with wildflowers in the 1960s, now has a National Wildflower Research Center. The 42-acre Center opened this spring in sultry Austin, Texas. Set amid watered-lawn subdivisions, landscape architect J. Robert Anderson designed the Center's gardens as a xeriscape (low-water landscape) laboratory. Unlike the neighboring lawns, the gardens consist almost entirely of plants native to Texas and do not use chemical pesticides or fertilizer. The Center hopes to demonstrate that native plants suit tidy, formal yards as well as more woolly planting schemes. Eventually monitors will report how much water, chemical additives, and labor the native gardens need compared to exotic ones. Cisterns integrated into architectural features store up to 100,000 gallons of rainwater collected from the Center's 10 buildings. - The New York Times, July 6, 1995, p. B4, by Michael Leccese.
EPA'S GREEN LABORATORY
Design work is nearly complete on the EPA's new Environmental Research Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. HOK's Washington DC office designed the office and laboratory buildings totaling 635,000 net square feet. The Center's design is an ambitious attempt to incorporate elements of sustainable design in a project that must meet strict functional and cost parameters. Trimming $30 million from an original proposal required the EPA to make hard choices, but the project still meets the agency's functional and environmental goals. As a comprehensive case study, the project helps address facility executives' questions about the impact of green design strategies on costs, occupants, product performance, and facility functionality. - Building Operating Management, July 1995, p. 40, by Edward Sullivan.
The Inland Revenue Center in Nottingham, England is the first scheme awarded maximum possible points by Britain's BREEAM. Building Research Establishment's (BRE-) Environmental Assessment Method (-EAM) encourages energy-efficient, nonpolluting buildings. Windows at the Revenue Center open for ventilation, and under-floor fans controlled by the energy management system draw outside air from slots below the windows. With this design, temperatures will rarely exceed 27 degrees centigrade (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the new British standard for buildings with operable windows. Studies show that people who have access to breezes and can control their own conditions readily accept temperatures higher than the 21-degree air conditioning standard. In winter, fan coil units heated by hot water from are fuse-burning heating system warm incoming air. Narrow office blocks, glass light shelves, triple-glazed windows, and venetian blinds work together to enhance natural lighting and reduce energy use. Project engineers Ove Arup &Partners calculate that the energy consumption for lighting and heating is a third of normal. - Architecture, July 1995, p. 77, by Peter Buchanan.
FOUR BIG GREEN FIRMS
Once only small boutique architectural firms took interest in sustainable design practices, but now large corporate firms are getting into the act. Prompted by the demands of specific projects, they have begun to incorporate sustainable ideas and building products into their practices. Several large firms are developing their own guidelines for ecosensitive design. The article profiles the sustainable design efforts of four large firms - Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum; Smith Hinchman & Grylls Associates; Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates; Gensler and Associates. - Architecture, July 1995, p. 121, by Virginia Kent Dorris.
The new generation of photovoltaic solar panels is integrated into building skin materials to both power and clad buildings. New mass-produced building materials with integral photovoltaic arrays include roofing panels, skylights, curtain wall cladding, canopies, and rainscreens. While the cost of photovoltaic-generated electricity is still two to four times greater than utility-generated power, the difference is diminishing rapidly. On-site generation eliminates transmission losses over distribution networks of up to 25 percent. The article details six applications. - Architecture, July 1995, p. 109, by Ann C. Sullivan.
The complexities of specifying green materials can challenge even the most ardent environmentalists among architects. Now several computer databases have emerged to help the well-intended practitioner quickly scope out the range of green possibilities. Among them is the Resources for Environmental Design Index (REDI Guide) from Eugene, Oregon-based Iris Communications. Specifiers can search through more than 1,000 building products by CSI division, manufacturer name, product name, keywords, geographical distribution region, and four environmental categories -natural, low-toxicity, recycled content, sustainably harvested woods. The article surveys five other green software products. - Architecture, July 1995, p. 131, by Nancy B. Solomon.
WETLANDS HOME RUN
Coors Field claims to be the first and only US stadium to have built a wetlands area as part of an innovative storm management system. The new stadium is the home of baseball's Colorado Rockies. The storm system includes a cavernous vault that holds up to 330,000 gallons of run-off water. Six 700-by-30-foot constructed wetlands contain special microbes that feed on oopopcorn, gum, corn dogs, beer, and other goodies found in the stadium's run-off. - The Green Business Letter, July 1995, p. 4.