Of all the tools designed to provoke urban compliance, the most effective, it seems, is the old-fashioned letter grade. That’s the tool New York City restaurants have to use, for instance, to communicate their health department ratings to would-be diners. Thanks to newly-passed legislation, New York is becoming the first city in the country to require that "energy grades"—A to F ratings based on federal Energy Star energy efficiency scores—be posted at the public entrances of commercial and residential buildings over 25,000 square feet. Currently, the city collects energy and water usage data on private buildings over 50,000 square feet and public buildings over 10,000 square feet and posts the results for these 11,000-plus properties online. The new rules will broaden energy reporting requirements to owners of eligible private buildings, too, and cover around 20,000 structures total. On December 19, the New York City Council passed the bill, 1632A, authored by Council Member Dan Garodnick. If the mayor signs off on the bill, its first provisions will go into effect immediately, but owners won't have to post letter grades in 2020. To get their scores, building owners will need to fill out an online assessment of their property's performance, and the results will be available in a searchable database, in addition to being posted on the building's public entrances. “As the federal government shirks its stewardship of our environment, it is up to cities to step in,” said Garodnick. Despite the US's recent withdrawal from several global sustainability pledges, the city is still aiming, per the 2015 Paris Agreement, to reduce its greenhouse emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. Efforts to do so include transitioning to a renewables-based electric grid, achieving Zero Waste landfills, and replacing fossil-fuel based heating and hot water systems with high efficiency systems. "Nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in New York City comes from buildings,” said Rory Christian, director of the New York Clean Energy Environmental Defense Fund, in a prepared statement. “Requiring large buildings to post their energy efficiency grades is a natural next step in the evolution of the city’s energy policies.”
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On a hot day in June, a jury convened to review nearly 400 entries to The Architect’s Newspaper first Best of Products competition. Submissions, divided over eight categories, abounded in new materials and exciting technologies, provoking a lively dialogue during the evaluation process. Colin Brice of Mapos, Barry Goralnick of Barry Goralnick Architects, Harshad Pillai of Fogarty Finger Architecture, and architect Alison Spear generously contributed their considerable expertise and insight to the judging. While the complete roster of winners can be found in our just-published print edition, AN will be publishing the results daily over the next week. Today’s categories, Kitchens + Baths and Lighting, evidenced a trend toward efficient use of space and energy. View all of the published categories here. KITCHENS + BATHS “This is a smart solution for small spaces.” —Barry Goralnick Winner Sottile 18-Inch-Deep Refrigerator Perlick Residential Standard undercounter refrigerators and beverage centers are 24 inches deep. Measuring just 18 inches deep and 32 inches tall, this undercounter appliance brings refrigerated storage to the slimmest of spaces. Featuring the proprietary front-vented RAPIDcool forced-air system, the fridge chills room-temperature liquids in just 30 minutes. Full-extension pullout shelves are adjustable in one-inch increments. Available with solid stainless steel door, a glass front, or fully-integrated overlay panel. NSF rated and ADA compliant. “Beautiful and simple.” —Colin Brice Honorable Mention P3 Comforts Duravit The P3 Comforts suite of bathroom fixtures uses a design language of simple geometry and subtle shifts in planes to create an aesthetically calming experience. The washbasin features a raised tap platform, separate from the wet area, making a generous shelf surface for bathroom essentials. The shower tray has an easy-clean outlet that is seamlessly integrated into the raised base, emphasizing its pristine lines. The tray was created with a new material, DuraSolid, which provides Class B slip-resistance without additional coating. Designed by Phoenix Design. “It’s hard to find good-looking appliances. This is beautiful and sized right.” —Colin Brice Honorable Mention 24-Inch Glass Door Refrigerator Bosch With doors finished in white glass, black glass, or glass on stainless steel, this counter-depth refrigerator brings a sleek look to the small kitchen or ancillary space. The appliance’s appearance in enhanced by its handle-less design and concealed hinges. The doors are reversible, allowing for next-to-wall placement and near-flush installation. The ten-cubic-foot capacity includes three freezer drawers, a wine rack, and a sealed crisper, all lit with LEDs. Energy Star qualified. “Gorgeous. Different.” —Barry Goralnick Honorable Mention VOLA Round Series Hand Shower Hastings Tile & Bath The Round Series hand shower takes the core elements of the VOLA design language—the circle and the cylinder—as the starting point to create an entirely new product. Subtle polymer details on the handle helps users keep a grip on the fitting. Available in polished chrome, brushed chrome, natural brass, brushed stainless, and a range of colors. Designed by Aarhus Arkitekterne. LIGHTING + ELECTRICAL “Terrific idea. Love the flexibility. Well designed.” —Barry Goralnick “Very smart and elegant.” —Colin Brice Winner Running Magnet 2.0 FLOS Architectural In this new track lighting system, a trimless, extruded aluminum housing is recessed into plasterboard ceilings or walls; it can even turn inside or outside corners. An electrical track is laid into the housing. Next, LED modules—either adjustable spots or flush-mount linear strips—are attached to the track via magnets, creating a tremendously responsive and versatile lighting platform. Fixtures are easily repositionable in the field, as needs change. Honorable Mention Antimicrobial Trim Leviton These stainless steel wallplates and switches are made with an antimicrobial additive to help keep surfaces cleaner in conjunction with regular housekeeping procedures. Silver ions inhibit cell division and prevent bacteria— including E-coli and MRSA—from reproducing. The collection is suitable for healthcare facilities, educational institutions, hospitality venues, commercial kitchens, and other public service areas where surface contamination is a concern. Honorable Mention LN Series Cree The wing-like design of this sleek luminaire allows a more uniform illumination of task surfaces and ceilings, while providing exceptional efficacy of up to 110 lumens per watt. The series is modular in nature, with four-foot light engines that can be easily combined for longer runs.
Sustainability and high design meet in Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects' affordable housing complex.Designing a sustainable building on a budget is tricky enough. But for the Merritt Crossing senior housing complex in Oakland, California, non-profit developer Satellite Affordable Housing Associates upped the ante, asking Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects to follow not one but two green-building ratings systems. "They wanted to push the envelope of what they typically do and decided to pursue not only the LEED rating, but also the GreenPoint system," said principal Richard Stacy. "So we actually did both, which is kind of crazy." Wrapped in a colorful cement-composite rain screen system punctuated by high performance windows, Merritt Crossing achieved LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Pilot Program Platinum and earned 206 points on the Build-It-Green GreenPoint scale. The building was also the first Energy Star Rated multi-family residence in California, and was awarded 104 points by Bay-Friendly Landscaping. Merritt Crossing’s 70 apartments serve low-income seniors with incomes between 30 and 50 percent of the area median. More than half of the units are reserved for residents at risk of homelessness or living with HIV/AIDS. Stacy explains that in the context of affordable housing, sustainability means two things. The first is quality of life for the residents, "the sorts of things that have a direct benefit to the people living there," such as natural daylighting and indoor air quality. The second is energy efficiency. "Both non-profits and [their] residents have limited financial capabilities," said Stacy. "The one time they have funding for that kind of thing is when they’re building a building. So we focused a lot on the building envelope in terms of energy efficiency. At the same time, we wanted to have ample daylight and controlled ventilation.” Finding themselves with unused contingency funds during construction Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects upgraded the exterior skin to a rain screen system of SWISSPEARL cement composite. "We worked pretty closely with the SWISSPEARL company," said Stacy, who noted that Merritt Crossing may be the first building in the United States to use the system. Though the panels are installed like lap siding they offer "the benefits of a rain screen in terms of cooling and waterproofing issues," he explained. To accommodate the thicker skin, window manufacturer Torrance Aluminum designed custom trim pieces, which "had the added benefit of giving us the appearance of deeply recessed windows," said Stacy. Insulation was a special concern for the architects, both because Merritt Crossing was built using metal frame construction, and to minimize air infiltration in keeping with the green ratings systems. The building’s exterior walls are wrapped in 1-inch-thick high performance polyiso insulation from Dow Corning with a Grace Perm-A-Barrier VPS vapor permeable membrane. "As a result we ended up with a very, very tight building from an air insulation standpoint, which means you have to pay more attention to air ventilation," said Stacy. To compensate, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects’ mechanical engineers designed a special air filtration system for the building’s roof, complete with built-in HEPA filters. The building’s southwest facade faces a freeway, presenting potential noise and privacy issues in addition to exposure to the western sun. "We did a highly layered facade on that [side] where the actual exterior wall is back three to four feet from another screen wall," said Stacy. The outer wall "is a combination of typical wall assembly as well as GreenScreen panels that form a webbing of open areas and solid areas that help with sunshading as well as acoustical [dampening] and privacy." Greenery in balcony planters will eventually grow up and over the screens. On the ground floor, the garage is also enclosed in GreenScreen trellising, to enhance pedestrians’ view without sacrificing ventilation. Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects’ Merritt Crossing proves that affordable housing does not have to look institutional. The facade’s vibrant colors—green on the northeast elevation, red on the southwest—and playful punched texture pay homage to the neighborhood’s patchwork of architectural styles and building uses. The first major building in the planned redevelopment of the area around the Lake Merritt BART regional transit station, Merritt Crossing sets the bar high for future developments.
Big Ass Fans are, as their name suggests, a producer of very large fans. They're used everywhere from dairy barns to art galleries to outdoor public installations like Wendy, HWKN's star-shaped pavilion for MoMA PS1's summer Warm Up series. They also make residential models, like Haiku, the latest product in their line up. Once you get over the eye roll-inducing slogan—Haiku: Poetry in Motion—it's a really incredible product. According to Energy Star it's the world's most efficient residential ceiling fan, and even exceeds their efficiency requirements by 450 to 750 percent. Whereas most fans use 90 to 100 watts, the Haiku uses just two to 30 watts, costing an average of $5 per year. The fan blades are made from Moso bamboo, a super-strong, fast-renewing material that's harvested sustainably in China and handcrafted in Kentucky. Before the bamboo is dried and finished, each individual stalk is inspected for imperfections. Haiku also comes in a glass-infused matrix composite in black or white. Either way, black, white, or bamboo, the cool-running motor is completely silent, even on the highest setting (there are ten in all). There's also a brand new mode called the Whoosh, which pulses to simulate natural variations in air flow. "Human thermal receptors have peak sensitivity to wind gusts that vary by 0.47 Hz; Providing air movement with this variation can increase perceived cooling by up to 40 percent." So far Haiku has won a handful of awards, including a red dot design award for product and bronze in the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in the living room and bedroom category. Haiku in bamboo retails for $995.
LA is rarely thought of as the country's greenest town, what with all the traffic and sprawl, but it's doing a lot better than you think, as the News informs us. For the second year in a row, Los Angeles has been ranked number one in terms of energy efficient buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star ratings. LA made it to the top of the list by having the most rated buildings—ones that use 35 percent less energy than the average—with 293. The top five include Washington, D.C. (204), San Francisco (173), Denver (136) and Chicago (134). This does not exactly mean it is the most efficient period, given that there are so many more buildings in LA—usual suspects like Seattle and Portland are missing from the top five, as is New York, which we'd like to think is missing because it's so dense, though probably the real issue is that it's so old an inefficient to begin with. Still, no matter how you look at it, this is a step in the right direction for all of us.