Sustainable Development Part One: Proximity Hotel

As the first in what (I hope) will be a series of diaries targeting businesses and individuals who "get it right" when it comes to development, I thought I would take a look at the newly completed Proximity Hotel in Greensboro.

It's actually only partially open for now, with only a set number of rooms available, but they were doing quite a bit of business when I was there today.

Also, this is the first time I've tried to use graphics in a blog at BlueNC, so if it's so tiny you can't tell what the picture is, or if it runs off the page and cracks the side of your monitor, you know. "I'm not responsible." :)

The Proximity Hotel was designed along the guidelines provided under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. They are working towards achieving the highest rating possible (Platinum), which will make them the first hotel in the U.S. to attain such. I hope they make it.

I'm not going to cover all the sustainable aspects of the building, but I did want to point out a few of them. As you can imagine, the water usage in hotels is astronomically high. By utilizing the 100 Solar water heating panels on the roof, over 60% of the hotel's water is heated without using a single kilowatt. The white roofing surface is made of 100% recycled material, it reflects the heat off the building as well as aiding in rainwater reclamation:

The structure and furnishings are a model of recycling ingenuity, from the 100% recycled sheetrock to the 100% post-industrial wood pulp shelving. The use of natural lighting is a constant throughout the building, allowing 90% of the regularly occupied spaces a direct view to the great outdoors:

For those who still believe green building is an expensive "niche" idea, think again. The amount of money this hotel will save in energy costs will be into five figures per month. I've asked the engineering staff to let me know when the figures have been crunched, as this is a critical part of the equation.

For those reading this who sit on city councils, county boards, private business boards, as well as GA members, I'm issuing you a challenge. When new construction projects are brought before you for consideration, put the rubber stamp down for a minute and state the following: "Please detail the sustainable aspects of this project, as well as the environmental impact it will have."

If the answer doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Tell 'em to go back to the drawing board and get it right, or find another occupation.

Comments

One big reason I'm excited about Greenbridge

coming to downtown Chapel Hill. We need lots of demonstration projects that people can point to and say "see, it's not that hard (or expensive or whatever).

Great post. Glad someone front-paged it.

I did....just didn't note it on the post

I'm juggling a bit right now....will be better tomorrow. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Sustainability

It's really great to see all of these green technologies in use. Sustainability needs to be front and center in every decision maker's mind going forward, and that includes consumers like us too.

I agree that seeing these projects come to life should open the door to new ways of thinking about how we use energy, how we can achieve energy efficiency, and how to get off the carbon based fuels (aka- addiction to oil).

All new schools and public spaces should be green models

in the future. Is there some kind of legislation that could be crafted to do that?

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

It's already been done,

but it remains to be seen if anything will actually happen. Just once, I'd like to see a piece of NCGA legislation that isn't written with numerous caveats and back doors. *sigh* here's SL2007-546, and here are a few of the unfortunate passages I mentioned:

SECTION 1.(e) Use of Other Standard when ASHRAE Standard Not Practicable. – When the Department, public agency, and the design team determine the ASHRAE 90.1‑2004 standard to be not practicable for a major facility project, then it must be determined by the State Building Commission if the standard is not practicable for that major facility project. If the State Building Commission determines the standard is not practicable for that major facility project, the State Building Commission shall determine which standard is practicable for the design and construction for that major facility project. If the ASHRAE 90.1‑2004 standard is not followed for that project, the public agency shall report this information and the reasons to the Department in its report under G.S. 143‑135.37, and the State Building Commission shall report this information and the reasons to the Department.

Practicable? Okay, it looks like I'm going to have to start monitoring the State Building Commission as well as the NCUC.

(b1) The Department of Administration, as part of the Facilities Condition and Assessment Program, shall identify and recommend energy conservation maintenance and operating procedures that are designed to reduce energy consumption within the facility of a State agency or a State institution of higher learning and that require no significant expenditure of funds.

Define "significant", please. Or is that going to be left up to a bureaucrat who's more concerned with an annual budget as opposed to future savings?

SECTION 5. This act shall not be construed to obligate the General Assembly to appropriate funds to implement the provisions of this act. Every public agency, as defined in subsection (c) of Section 1 of this act, to which this act applies may implement the provisions of this act from funds otherwise appropriated or available to that public agency.

Sweet jumpin' Jesus. So, if an agency wants to implement these critical and cost-saving measures, they have to take the funding away from some other project? Is there like a massive Radon leak coming up through the floor of the General Assembly? Any headaches? Dry mouth? WTF.

Well, well, what will it take to close the loopholes,

preferably tightly around anyone who stands in the way?

Thanks for posting that scharrison.

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

Monitor new construction of State buildings,

and (try to) call them to task if they're not built according to the "spirit" of this law, I guess.

As far as existing structures, I'm not so sure. I think the State Energy Office was responsible for inspecting/evaluating/recommending energy efficiency steps, but I don't see any mention of them in this bill (unless I missed it).

the problem is in the budgeting

Government accounting for construction is done with a capital budget and an operating budget. Even if easily quantifiable, there is no accepted way to move the costs of construction from the capital budget to the operating budget. Sustainable building has many many efficiencies to offer, but the savings come over time.

Those are of little interest to the construction manager who is tasked with getting the project finished at or under budget.

It takes some leadership to change that paradigm. I'm on the City of Raleigh Environmental Advisory Board and we are studying LEED certification right now. I can tell you that the pilosophy is certainly filtering down, as Raleigh's facilities management team is working very hard to be as sustainable and efficient as they can.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

Thanks, Dr. Frank.

You have no idea how this:

It takes some leadership to change that paradigm. I'm on the City of Raleigh Environmental Advisory Board and we are studying LEED certification right now. I can tell you that the pilosophy is certainly filtering down, as Raleigh's facilities management team is working very hard to be as sustainable and efficient as they can.

makes me feel.

Please let me know about any specific buildings in Raleigh that stand out as examples of sustainable construction.

eta: oh my God. My whole world just went italic...