Tag Archives: US Green Building council

Desert Star Construction's First LEED Home, Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley Gets The First Ever LEED Certified Home

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Desert Star Construction, Inc. (DSC) has placed the first ever LEED home in Paradise Valley. DSC specializes in luxury commercial properties and luxury homes in the Paradise Valley and  Scottsdale areas. They stand out by doing complex projects that offer the leading green standards.

“Our clients range from local leaders to presidents of Fortune 500 companies,” says Jeremy Meek, sustainability programs manager at DSC. “They recognize that green building is the future, and they welcome opportunities to consider new technologies as they build.”

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certifications are determined by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and are the leading, nationally-accepted, third-party verification program for green buildings.

This will be one of four custom LEED homes located in the greater Phoenix area.

“We’ve been building ‘green’ for over 30 years, but this is the first official LEED home we have done,” Meek says. “We do niche commercial projects and audits for the luxury market.”

In order for a home to be “green” and have the LEED tag, they must meet high design standards, rigorous construction practices and scrupulous third-party verification of all measures. The USGBC then ranks the homes as (from lowest to highest) Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

The three-structure Paradise Valley LEED home includes a main house, guesthouse and casita. The guest home has been ranked “Gold” while the casita is “Platinum” Certification.

Because of the different certifications and building style, DSC has also completed houses five and six.

“We build better, implement new things on the next home and always favor the next project,” Meek says.

All three buildings apply essential green-build and sustainable strategies to meet LEED requirements. In the Paradise Valley home, these include:

  • Solar hot water and solar electric systems
  • Reduced water use through low-flow faucets and toilets, as well as an “intelligent” landscaping irrigation system
  • High-efficiency LED lighting and mechanical equipment
  • Enhanced home occupant health measures, such as hard surface floors in lieu of carpet that can emit chemicals from production
  • Materials that reduce the local heat island effect, such as light-colored driveways, sidewalks and patios (particularly those within 50 feet of the home) that reflect rather than absorb heat from the sun
  • Recycled and salvaged materials
  • An advanced home automation system that includes motion detectors that will shut off lights when spaces are not in use and gives homeowners the ability to control light intensity. At the Paradise Valley home, all lights are set to 90 percent brightness, which can double the life of bulbs.

About Desert Star Construction

For 34 years, Desert Star Construction has advanced a tradition of excellence and integrity through its commercial and luxury custom home construction and renovation projects. The company has gained honors including a Gold Nugget Best in the West award, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona Custom Home of the Year, Valley Forward 2010 Environmental Excellence Award of Merit, and the 2010 Heart of Business Award.

Rider Levett Bucknall, LEED

Is ‘Green’ The Whole Answer?

Our natural resources are limited and they are fast becoming scarcer and more costly. Thankfully, in recent years, awareness of this issue has heightened and individuals, companies and governments are making efforts towards more responsible usage of our depleting natural resources. Unarguably, we’re in the Age of Environmental Thrift, when ‘going green’ is just good practice—for the planet and for the pocketbook. The question remains, are we doing enough to minimize the use of scarce resources?

In the construction industry, environmentally responsible practices are being promoted by the US Green Building Council and others through programs like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) rating system. Overall, 26 state and local governments—the state of Arizona among them—are mandating LEED™ certification for new construction, and President Obama is currently seeking LEED™ certification for improvements made to the White House.

Despite the rapid acceptance of sustainable design and its application on a variety of both new-build and renovation projects, the practice is limited in its ability to reduce whole earth impacts. Why? Because even though continual improvements are being made in the ways in which we use natural resources—sustainably harvested lumber, energy-efficient building systems, recycled building products—we’re still consuming! Only if the scale of resource usage stabilizes will the efficiency of how they are delivered result in reducing the net environmental impact. We need to be asking how and where we can use existing assets instead of consuming more of the earth’s limited resources to construct new assets.

Significant natural resources can be saved by capturing the remaining value and extending the life of a building rather than demolishing and replacing it. But how does one know if it is viable to extend the life of a building? The state of Arizona addressed this question in 2004 by implementing a process in which consideration must be given to ‘relifing’ existing buildings before a new government building can be procured. Rider Levett Bucknall worked with government officials to develop the legislation which, in the first six months, saved the state $26 million. The legislation has since been endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council as model legislation for all 50 states.

Through a relifing study on an existing Arizona state medical laboratory building, including an inspection of the current condition of various building components and their life expectancies, Rider Levett Bucknall determined that investment of approximately $4.9 million would allow continued use of the building for an additional 25 years.

‘Relifing’ is mathematically-based analysis which helps building owners and managers capture the remaining value of and extend the life of their buildings after years of service. It improves the decision making process when considering whether to renovate a building versus demolish it and build new and can be used during the design of a new building to optimize the building’s design life. Throughout the development process, it helps to minimize the use of scarce natural resources.

The Age of Environmental Thrift provides an ideal time for people to reconsider the traditional approaches to green practices, especially in the construction industry. Building owners, designers and contractors should be open to new ways of approaching old problems and be willing to implement tools to help them get the most out of our shrinking resources.

Rider Levett Bucknall is an international property and construction consultancy headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. www.rlb.com/life

states logistics services, Green Ideas, LEED

States Logistics Services’ New Warehouse to Achieve LEED Silver Certification

Known by its customers as one of the best providers of third-party logistics services, States Logistics Services, Inc. has grown to accommodate more than 100 customers and over two million square feet of warehouse space company-wide.  Since the company’s inception, the vision to provide outstanding services to a wide variety of industries in Southern California and Arizona has expanded to include a significant focus on sustainability opportunities that reduce the impact of the company on the environment.  Their vision of sustainability is employed in daily operations and procedures, and has expanded to include environmentally-conscious building development.  The commitment to green building is showcased in their first LEED registered facility, which is anticipated to achieve Silver level certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System for New Construction.

States Logistics Services’ new sustainable facility provides office and warehouse space to serve the growing warehousing, transportation, and packaging needs of Arizona.  The 417,000 square foot facility has multiple environmentally-responsible facets including design, construction, and operations. Green operations include an extensive corporate recycling program, buying regional products and materials to support local businesses. and raising sustainability consciousness within the staff.

As a major supplier of packaging services, States Logistics Services, Inc. recognizes the benefits of reducing waste sent to landfills and reducing transportation of products and materials.  This is one of the company values that led to the use of building products and materials with recycled content sourced from local providers.  Steel, a material having high post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content, was used extensively for the skin and structure.  It enabled long roof spans which were needed for the open floor plan.  Additional specified materials having recycled content include miscellaneous metal frames and doors and acoustical ceiling tile made from old ceiling tiles and mineral fibers.

To reduce the amount of transportation energy required to deliver building materials and products, the new facility incorporates products sourced from local providers within 375 miles of the project site (LEED credit requires that they be within 500 miles of the project site).  The combination of locally-specified paving material, landscaping material, rebar and concrete represented over 45 percent of the project’s materials value.  This significant achievement exceeds the requirements of LEED by over 20 percent, and that allowed the project to apply for an Innovation and Design credit.  The company’s desire to reduce the negative impact of long-distance transport of building materials and products is a natural extension of their expertise in efficient transportation, which includes regional service areas and utilizing alternative fuel products.

The use of highly efficient energy systems to operate and maintain the new facility was a goal arising from the project’s simple program and energy use requirements.  As straightforward structures with low energy use relative to other building types, warehouses have the potential for unique opportunities in saving energy.  Lighting for the warehouse space includes efficient T-8 lamps aided by 156 skylights for an extremely efficient overall warehouse lighting power density of 0.6 W/sf.  Additional efficiency is also achieved through occupancy sensors that automatically turn off lights between pick rows when there is no activity.

The large roof area of the new facility provides an optimal, secure location for a photovoltaic (PV) system.   The clean, inexhaustible power from PV can offset significant amounts of a building’s energy use.  States Logistics has installed a 217 kW PV system that is expected to produce over 453,000 kWh per year – almost 30% of its annual power needs.  The system is easy to maintain, does not produce air pollution, and does not require the use of fuel or hazardous resources to operate.  The combination of a good lighting design and a substantial photovoltaic system is expected to produce an annual utility savings of $70,000 for the new facility and reduce nearly 95 tons each year in its carbon footprint.

During the process of preparing to submit their LEED project, States Logistics Services, Inc. exceeded their original environmental goals, not only by adding systems that increased the LEED point total but by providing education along the way.  Part of that process, which has continued into the occupancy phase, has been to raise awareness of environmentally-friendly building strategies and systems among the design and construction teams, the company staff and the greater community.

Strong corporate dedication plus design and construction expertise have resulted in a world-class sustainable warehouse building which is both built and operated in an environmentally-conscious manner.



About Green Ideas Environmental Building Consultants

Green Ideas, established in 2000, is a full-service green building consulting firm offering educational programs, product evaluation services and world-class LEED consulting services. Its clients are building owners, architects, engineers, contractors, utilities and green product manufacturers. With a vision as bold as the results they achieve, Green Ideas is dedicated to transforming the market by promoting buildings that are designed, built and operated in a manner that improves the health, well-being and productivity of people and the environment.Green Ideas is proud to be one of the leading companies specializing in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Consulting including charrette facilitation, programming assistance, LEED registration, documentation and certification services. Green Ideas develops and implements marketing programs that will enhance companies’ images and visibility in the green building marketplace with a positive return on investment.

Climate Positive Development Program, Below Zero Sustainable City

Living Below Zero-Creation of the Most Sustainable Cities

Unveiled in May at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group summit in Seoul, South Korea, the Climate Positive Development Program will help real estate developers and local governments craft 16 of the most sustainable urban communities found anywhere on Earth.

“As the Earth’s population increases and our cities grow, we need to ensure we have the models in place to sustain our way of life in an increasingly urbanized world,” said President Clinton in a statement announcing the program. He also stated that it would set “a new global standard for developments that will minimize environmental impacts and benefit economics” as new buildings are constructed and older ones are updated.

As the program’s creators, the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the USGBC are providing guidance in energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, green building construction, water conservation and other areas as the communities take shape on 6 continents.

The ultimate goal for each city is to reduce its emissions to “below zero” by not only offsetting its own emissions, but generation excess renewable power on-site that can be returned to the grid and used to offset emissions elsewhere.

Two of the planned cities are in the United States: San Francisco’s 6,000 new homes and 250,000 SF of commercial space constructed in a former U.S. Navy base in the San Francisco Bay; and Florida’s Destiny development covering more than 60 sq. miles south of Orlando, which includes a 500-acre clean tech manufacturing plant and 10,000 residential units.

CCI, which is also involved in New York’s massive Empire State Building energy efficiency retrofit, will assist project developers on the business and financial side, while USGBC provides technical guidance and helps gauge the success of the projects.


Source: Green Lede, CoStar’s green building news column. Written by Andrew Burr; May 2009.

Zero Emission City Fast Facts

  • Close to 1 million people will live and work in the completed cities
  • Half of the world’s population – 3.2 billion people – now live in cites, which consumes more than 2/3 of global energy
  • This population only occupies about 2% of the world’s land mass
  • More than 6 billion people are projected to live in cities by 2050

Source: United Nations