An affordable green home, Philadelphia style

By Carol Sonenklar
Green Right Now

They said it couldn’t be done: A LEED platinum house for $100 per square foot in hard construction costs.

Builders, architects, real estate developers, among others, have expressed skepticism that green building could be done inexpensively. One persistent notion is that sustainable home building is expensive because of higher upfront costs for cutting edge technology and design. Its become conventional wisdom, in some corners, that green building carries a 10 percent upcharge, at least.

U.S. green schools: A lesson in engaging kids and saving money

By Harriet Blake
Green Right Now

The first daughters’ new school, Sidwell Friends in Washington, has been awarded the top LEED rating of platinum. But learning institutions across the nation are joining the ranks of LEED-qualified schools, as educators recognize both the health benefits for children and the long term energy savings of building greener.

Sidwell earned 57 out of a possible 69 points on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rankings. At the recent Green Build conference in Boston, the USGBC recognized several schools, including Sidwell, for their green advances.

Travel green: the short list of LEED certified hotels

Want to stay at a verifiably green hotel for your next vacation? Soon you’ll be able to choose from among dozens of hotel and resort projects, in various stages of construction or remodeling, that have registered with the US Green Building Council, aiming to achieve silver, gold or platinum LEED certification.

But so far only a handful of resorts, hotels and lodges, 14 at last count, have completed the LEED certification process.

Hike Inn — to a green lodge in Georgia

By Clint Williams

Set atop a ridge overlooking the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, the Len Foote Hike Inn at Amicalola Falls State Park in north Georgia offers a sweeping view of the foothills, the lights of the old gold-rush town of Dahlonega and distant peaks to the east. The 20-room lodge, celebrating its 10th anniversary in October, also offers a close-up view of how thoughtful design and day-to-day diligence combine for low-impact living.

The Hike Inn was built for those who love the outdoors, but aren’t so crazy about sleeping on the ground. Guests arrive on foot, hiking a five-mile trail that takes you through a deeply shaded forest of oak and pine, tulip poplar and maple; through tunnels of rhododendron and patches of pungent galax, a broadleaf evergreen groundcover. Your steps will be lighter, though, knowing that a hot shower and hot meal are waiting for a you at the end of the trail.

The inn, named for the naturalist who inspired the Mark Trail newspaper comic strip, was designed to provide accommodations “somewhere between a tent and a Holiday Inn,” says architect Garland Reynolds of nearby Gainesville, Ga.

Traditional Japanese inns inspire the steeply pitched roofs and deep eaves, Reynolds says.
And there are practical concerns: the eaves provide shelter from rain and snow as you move from the bunkhouse to the bathhouse to the mess hall and on to the Sunrise Room, the social center of the inn where guests gather around a wood stove, reading, chatting or playing one another in a collection of board games. The covered deck off the Sunrise Room (pictured above) is the place to stand, coffee cup in hand, to welcome the crimson streaks of daybreak.

Houston On Ambitious Path To Build Green Schools

By Julie Bonnin

Houston’s air quality and recycling rates may be nothing to brag about, but the city’s school district is among the country’s leaders in its commitment to building energy-efficient schools.

Walnut Bend Elementary, on the city’s southwest side, is one of the first of dozens of Houston Independent School District schools that will be built or retrofitted to meet LEED standards, the nationally accepted benchmark for design, operation and construction of high performance “green” buildings.

“We’re the largest employer in Houston, and we feel we have a responsibility to the environment,” says HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra. “We are teaching children, and that means we need to set an example of environmental stewardship that the children can follow.”