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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:04 AM   #1
hkskyline
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High-Rises That Have Low Impact On Nature

The New York Times
February 2, 2006 Thursday
High-Rises That Have Low Impact On Nature

With its curtain wall and faceted crystal design, the Bank of America building rising at 1 Bryant Park in Manhattan probably seems unremarkable to New Yorkers accustomed to looming glass skyscrapers. But it's not architecture with a capital A that makes the tower unusual.

It is the double-wall technology that dissipates the sun's heat; ventilation that runs under the floor rather than through overhead ducts; carbon-dioxide monitors that assure adequate fresh air; and a system that collects and reuses rainwater and wastewater, saving 10.3 million gallons of water each year.

Planners expect the $1 billion building, designed by Cook + Fox Architects with the Durst Organization as developer, to be the first skyscraper to earn a top environmental rating from a coalition of building industry leaders when it opens in 2008.

The tower is among 15 projects highlighted in an exhibition on environmentally sensitive, or green, architecture that opened recently at the Skyscraper Museum. Titled ''Green Towers for New York: From Visionary to Vernacular,'' it includes buildings under construction or under contract, including Lord Norman Foster's Hearst Tower, David Childs's Freedom Tower at ground zero, the Helena and Mosaic apartment buildings on the West Side of Manhattan and towers in Battery Park City.

The projects are emblematic of a new consciousness among architects, developers and construction companies that most big urban buildings consume and pollute natural resources and fail to harvest energy that is naturally available.

Investing in sustainable structures will yield long-term benefits in efficiency and productivity, the thinking now goes, and will prove a boon in marketing terms as people become educated about such buildings.

''We really have reached a point of critical mass in these big high-rise green projects,'' said Carol Willis, the founder and director of the Skyscraper Museum, adding, ''From developers to construction managers to vendors, all the components of green building are in place, poised to be adopted in a broad market.''

Not so long ago, green construction was largely dismissed as prohibitively expensive and as just so much political correctness. But the arrival of the Conde Nast tower in Times Square in 1999, designed by Fox & Fowle and billed as the first green skyscraper in New York, sent the message that corporate America saw something to gain from the green model.

''What we did was take it from a Birkenstock cultural environment into a pinstripe environment,'' said Bruce Fowle, of what is now FXFowle. ''It was really seat-of-the-pants. We didn't even know if we should call it green.''

The Conde Nast building is difficult to classify because it predated the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system, established in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council, a coalition of construction-industry leaders with environmental concerns. Its scoring system rates buildings on their environmental performance -- energy and water consumption, indoor air quality, use of renewable materials and durability, for example.

The ratings, assigned only after the completion of a building, range from certified (26 points) to platinum (52 points). The paperwork is cumbersome and the process can be costly -- total certification fees run from $1,250 for official LEED members with small projects to $15,000 for nonmembers with large projects. But the ratings have become a much-coveted badge of approval. About 3,400 projects nationwide have registered their intention to seek LEED certification since 2000, and 400 have been certified.

''Most people I'm building for are setting silver as the goal,'' said Daniel R. Tishman, chairman and chief executive of the Tishman Construction Corporation, whose projects include 7 World Trade Center, part of the exhibition. ''A lot of the technologies LEED is trying to achieve are now accepted as part of New York City building code.''

In New York State, 10 projects have been certified and 191 projects in progress have applied for LEED certification, 98 of which are in the New York metropolitan area.

The Skyscraper Museum show includes architectural models, drawings, computer renderings and samples of building materials. Among the projects featured are Goldman Sachs's headquarters in Battery Park City, which has a green roof, low-flow plumbing fixtures and carpeting with reduced chemical levels; a research laboratory for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on East 68th Street in Manhattan, which uses fritted glass and materials without ozone-depleting components; and a new Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company on Eighth Avenue at 40th Street in Manhattan, which features an interior garden open to the sky and ceramic tubes that calibrate sunlight entering the building.

Some of the projects in progress are going for the gold. The Hearst Tower's ''diagrid'' frame incorporates about 20 percent less steel than the average structure -- saving about 2,000 tons of steel. The building's glass has a special coating that lets in natural light while keeping out the solar radiation that causes heat. Interior walls will be coated with low-vapor paints, and office furniture will be formaldehyde-free.

Motion sensors will allow for lights and computers to be turned off when a room is empty, and the roof will collect rainwater, thus reducing runoff by 25 percent. Collected in two 14,000-gallon reclamation tanks in the basement, the rainwater will replace water lost to evaporation in the building's air-conditioning system and will irrigate plantings and trees inside and outside the building.

The rainwater will also become decor -- the raw material for ''Ice Falls,'' a three-story water sculpture in the grand atrium that also humidifies and cools the lobby.

The Hearst is vying with 7 World Trade Center for the distinction of becoming the first LEED-rated office tower to open in the city. The only New York building to be certified so far is the Solaire in Battery Park City, which received a gold rating; 10 others in the state have been certified.

Chris Garvin, co-chairman of the environment committee of the American Institute of Architects' New York chapter, said that while several cities worldwide were ahead of New York in commissioning sustainable architecture, among them London and Portland, Ore., ''I think we're making strides.''

New York City's awareness about building green has developed slowly. In 1997 the city established an office of sustainable design. Two years later, the city set a range of ''best practices''' for energy-efficient buildings.

In 2000 state legislators approved a state tax credit for new or rehabilitated buildings that meet green standards. But for the city, the watershed moment came in October, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed into law the Green City Buildings Act, which required that nonresidential projects costing $2 million or more meet LEED standards. The legislation also applied to private projects that receive $10 million or more in public financing or are at least half financed by public money. The bill takes effect next January and is estimated to affect $12 billion in new construction.

Architects were perhaps the first to embrace environmental design, people in the industry say, and green building principles are now standard at most architecture firms and architecture schools. ''Any architecture firm of any size has seen this as a necessary knowledge -- a necessary skill to compete for getting good work,'' said Rafael Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

Some developers have been slow to come around. ''This is very young in New York City, and we're at the beginning of it,'' Mr. Pelli said. ''To some extent, it's the education of an industry.''

A crucial component of that education is clarifying costs. Building green used to add as much as 20 percent to a project's cost, by some estimates. That figure has recently declined to between 2 and 5 percent, largely because of the availability of new technologies and building materials.

There is a strong economic argument for building green, experts say. Sustainable structures limit operation and maintenance costs and increase productivity.

Because people want to live and work in buildings that are good for their health, there are marketing benefits, too. Green office buildings also command rents as much as 10 percent above the norm, said Douglas Durst, president of the Durst Organization. ''You don't fall asleep at 3 in the afternoon, even if you had a big lunch,'' he added.

For David J. Burney, the commissioner of New York City's design and construction department, green principles are not so much idealistic as a simple matter of common sense.

''It's almost become as American as apple pie now,'' he said.

''Green Towers for New York'' runs through May at the Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Place, Battery Park City, (212) 968-1961.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:32 AM   #2
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There was an office tower once planned for Fort Bonifacio in Manila which is suppose to be enviromentally friendly but forgot the name!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:35 AM   #3
hkskyline
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I just realize there is a similar thread already : http://skyscrapercity.com/showthread...oto=nextnewest
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