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Spectacular Eco-Palazzo Park in Costa Rica

August 19, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Plans were recently approved for the vegetation-clad Palazzo Park Hotel & Residences, the first luxury beachfront hotel and condominium resort in Costa Rica to be built with the latest green building techniques, including the country’s largest greenroof at 40,000 square feet.

Designing the luxury development in Manuel Antonio, one of the world’s premier eco tourism destinations, is Arqueco Ltda., an environmentally-aware Costa Rican architectural and engineering firm.   Incorporating LEED-certified materials, construction plans include building techniques and technologies aimed at creating a human habitat with negative carbon footprint.   A key component of Palazzo Park is Costa Rica’s first large-scale  living roof, proposed by project developer KC Development Group.

The project team announced its alliance with the Eco Preservation Society, Palazzo Park Eco Action, to renew and preserve land adjacent to Manuel Antonio Park.   More than 500 acres of land at Playa El Rey adjoins  the Park, which will expand the habitat for the endangered, but peaceful and playful, Mono Titi squirrel monkey.

What’s very cool is that a portion of each sale at Palazzo Park will fund the Eco Action Program!

“Palazzo Park has made a truly revolutionary commitment to habitat restoration with the Palazzo Park Eco Action Program. We are unaware of any similar programs associated with a major resort and residence developments anywhere in the world. This program integrates our efforts to save endangered species with guests and residents who will be continuously connected to the researchers, conservationists and other like-minded individuals.  It’s truly a groundbreaking effort.” ~ Kevin Peterson, Eco Preservation Society

An open-air common area with vistas of the rainforest and the sea, Palazzo Park’s greenroof will provide over 40,000 square feet of native vegetation designed specifically as habitat for indigenous species.

“Each unit will sponsor a portion of land and oversee its reforestation and preservation. It is a great opportunity for owners to get involved in a way that they can actually see things happening for a great cause for years to come.” ~ Carlton Solle, The Costa Rica Real Estate Company and Coldwell Banker

Fabled Costa Rican hospitality, cool ocean breezes, lush plantings, spectacular views, and helping to preserve native forests and monkeys  – now that’s guilt-free living!

For more info, see the Press Release and visit http://www.palazzopark.com/, www.ecopreservationsociety.org, www.kcdevelopmentgrp.com and www.arqueco.co.cr.

Pura Vida!   ~ Linda V.

Boston GreenFest 2010 is Next Week!

August 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Boston GreenFest 2010 is next week, running from August 19 – 21, and we just wanted to make you aware of the latest dates, features, and opportunities.   Did you read our earlier July Guest Feature about it from Demetria Spinrad, intern at one of the promoters,  Foundation for a Green Future, Inc.?   It’ll give you more background info – see:   Green Roofs at Boston GreenFest 2010.

Interested in sponsoring and exhibiting?   There are still a few slots open for exhibitors in some EcoNiches.   Call 617-477-4840 to find out whether your nonprofit or business could be a part of this year’s festival.   Find more information about sponsoring and exhibiting on their website.   Hurry – the deadline for signing up as an exhibitor is Friday, August 13th!

One new cool, sustainable feature this year is that instead of providing bottled water, they will have a fresh water fountain provided by the MWRA – Massachusetts Water Resources Authority – so bring a reusable container for water.

“We hope you’ll stop by Boston City Hall Plaza to take part in our region’s largest multicultural environmental festival. With three days of performances, hundreds of exhibitors and vendors, dozens of fashion shows, a green jobs forum, and activities for children and adults, Boston GreenFest will definitely have something for everyone.” ~ Dr. Karen L. Weber, organizer

Here’s the quick of it:

Thursday, August 19, 2010:             10 AM to 4:30 PM     Green Jobs Forum
                                                                                                 5 PM to 10 PM       Kick-Off Concert
Friday,  August 20, 2010:                   10 AM to 10 PM     (Exhibits 10 AM to 6 PM)
Saturday,  August 21, 2010:            10 AM to 10 PM     (Exhibits 10 AM to 4 PM)

Tickets go on sale at 5 pm on Thursday, August 19 at Boston City Hall, the Main Stage.

Major Features:

– Native American Drum & Dance Ceremony
– Green Jobs Forum
– Gubernatorial Green Debate
– Over 200 Exhibitors
– 75+ Live Performances
– The Great Escape with Alexanderia!
– EcoCafé, EcoGallery, EcoBazaar
– GreenFilmFest
– EcoFashion and Salsa EcoFashion Show
– One Gallon Challenge
– GreenFest Time Tunnel
– EcoPhoto Contest for Boston Public Schools
– Fun for Kids!

They’re  also holding a  Gubernatorial Green Debate  on Saturday, August 21 at 4 pm.   Come talk to the candidates – there will be plenty of space with 20,000 seats!

Try your luck with their 50/50 Raffle, and see the Performance Schedule  for the events, activities and times.  Visit the Boston GreenFest website  for directions and more info.  Oh, yeah, did I mention it was FREE?

Enjoy ~ Linda V.

Beautiful & Green Eden House for Sale

August 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm

At the beginning of June I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful home at  901 Moreland Avenue, or Eden House, as it’s also known, here in Atlanta.

The invitation-only “Friends Fusion” Open House was attended by over 100 people eager to see the environmentally friendly home.   The clean lines, airy design, and  careful selection of materials and textures gives this  contemporary home a luxurious feel without being fussy.   And while  it has many green features, the most striking is the living roof!

Designed by David Butler,  LEED AP, of David Butler & Associates, Inc.  and developed by Eastworks LLC, the Gold LEED for Homes certified,  3 bedroom, 2.5 bath is just one year old.   In addition to its LEED status, 901 Moreland Avenue has a  number of other  green credentials  such as  the Earthcraft ® certification and  HERS (Home Energy Rating System) – a program of the EPA’s Energy Star for Homes which includes being  Energy Star ® Indoor Air Quality Package Certified and  having Energy Star ®  and Watersense Appliances ®.    What it all boils down to is the home was built responsibly, to save energy and water and promote superior indoor  air quality.

The corner site allows for great visibility for many of the exterior sustainable features:   The 1,500 extensive greenroof wraps almost completely  around  the four  sides and draws a lot of looks from passersby.   The eight rain barrels are used as a gravity rain water harvesting and irrigation system, and two are located on the second story roof for direct irrigation of the greenroof.  

An interesting feature is that two of the rain barrels are connected by rain chains instead of the usual downspouts, which creates a lively interplay of the water as it descends.

Passive cooling is accomplished through a solar thermal canopy, which is also visible from the main street.   A  convenient ramp way provides accessibility and in fact the entire first floor is wheelchair accessible.   The interior is urban chic smart, yet very cozy in a uber-hip way and Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP) were specified throughout.

For example, the bamboo flooring is stunning, they only used  no or low VOC paint, and the well-designed small kitchen has reclaimed concrete countertops and a snazzy recycled glass mosaic backsplash.

And David designed the  house to really take advantage of natural light and ventilation – there are several skylights and a wide  breezeway connects to the separate  third bedroom (or other flexible space), bathroom  and garage.

The two bedrooms on the  upper floor benefit  from the cross ventilation positioning of the windows, and you can see how the living roof is visible from many angles upstairs.   The windows frame it beautifully ~ how wonderful to wake up to such greenery at eye level, but on the second floor!

The festive  Open House event was well put together and although the main  purpose was to showcase its many features (and offer it for sale), the organizers also celebrated the project’s recent LEED Gold certification  by  raising over $500 for Prevent Child Abuse Georgia  with a raffle.   Some of the big prizes included a solar thermal panel and frame and a water conserving Kohler toilet.

The film by Landon Donoho, “Sky Gardens Atlanta,” (I was a producer)  was premiered and guests got to see David Butler  being interviewed here last October by Landon when the green-minded architect shared his  experiences building this gorgeous, modern, single family dwelling.

The event was actually sponsored by many of the companies providing services and products, and they all set up shop in the  bright, walkout basement.   This team of specialists reported a brisk evening sharing green building techniques and product information with the inquisitive guests.

Greenroof-related sponsors included JDR Enterprises, Inc., who  supplied J-DRain drainage products; ERTH Products, who supplied the growing media; and T+E Design, Inc., who provided landscape architecture services.  As usual, it was great to see Janet Faust, LEED AP, GRP of JDR and it was very nice to meet Thomas Nichols, RLA, of both ERTH Products and T+E Design, Inc.   Others present were Gutter Water, LLC, rain water recovery system; CORT, Peachtree Home Staging; Woodman Insulation; Hardwoods Incorporated; PlumbWorksInc.; and Muffley & Associates, real estate solutions.

It’s wonderful to see architects and developers are taking (calculated) risks by taking on green construction, and I highly commend David Butler and Eastworks LLC for their innovation, commitment, and leadership with Eden House’s lovely architecture and healthy living environment!   Hopefully we’ll see more  sustainable development projects from this company soon.    For more info, please contact Nicholas Brown of Muffley & Associates at: 404.848.0996 or David Butler at: 404.589.0800.

Read more about the project in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database here, and if you’re in the market for a sleek 1,986 sf home in a bustling Atlanta  location, want dramatically lower utility bills, less maintenance, better use of the sun, a healthier living environment and fewer adverse impacts on the environment, this could be your new home!

Happy greening,

~ Linda V.

A Living, Woolly Even, “Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie”

July 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Have you seen HGTV’s first season of “The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie” yet?   It’s really good!   Now based in Los Angeles, Jamie’s an extremely talented, and well-travelled,  landscape  artist from Down Under and he brings his international wanderings as the basis for his  popular, eclectic designs.

Lackluster outdoor spaces are  transformed from dysfunctional and boring to flowing  and fantastic.   Homeowners share their woes and  desires, and  host Jamie draws upon a variety of elements for his metamorphoses – previous  experiences with  the rich and famous; visiting  local  designers, horticulturalists and gardeners; and  referencing both native and exotic  landscapes  as well as  architecturally designed  sites.   The result is always a unique outdoor room, or series of rooms, infused with Jamie’s world view on design aesthetics.

A  few weeks ago I saw Episode #HORJD-107H  called “The Edible Garden” about transforming a quirky, uneven family backyard into an eco-retreat full of ornamental  vegetable gardening options plus a variety of adult and  children spaces for play and rest.   And what caught my eye was the top-to-bottom living gazebo!

Since the young eco-conscious family of four from Echo Park, CA, enjoys growing their own organic  food and already  had several productive but awkward raised beds of their own, Jamie  wanted the same features, just with different sensibilities.   After saving some of the existing plants, he visited John, a  local “edible garden” designer who incorporates A-frames into his creations for his take on structural elements and planting beds.   Jamie also  interviewed Miguel Nelson  of  The SmogShoppe  – a former Los Angeles gas emissions station/auto repair shop  turned  hip eco-event space with 2,000 sf of amazing green walls.

What a cool space!   First of all it’s pending LEED Platinum certification, and the exterior and interior walls are completely covered in lush vegetation, grown in modular  “Woolly Pockets.”  I was unfamiliar with this particular system which  is made from felt and recycled plastic bottles.

Not part of the show, but interesting on its own, I found out that in addition to  his commercial enterprise, Miguel started “Woolly School Gardens.”   Through the program, inexpensive gardens are planted at local schools to help teach nutrition and gardening to students K-12.   They say they’re ideal for urban schools as the Woolly Pockets planting system allows them to be created anywhere – from a concrete wall to a chain link fence.  There are numerous Woolly School Gardens in the Los Angeles area and the goal is to have 11,000 by 2011.  For more information, visit www.woollyschoolgarden.org.

Back to the HGTV episode, with the SmogShoppe as his inspiration, Jamie and crew built the open-air structure leaving one expansive wall open.   The living  lounge area  was easily  blanketed on the remaining  three sides with Woolly Pockets.   Luscious, edible  plants were inserted and it was done.   By the way, these vegetated walls are called “Wallys,”  seen below.  Although Jamie doesn’t even mention the greenroof (time editing restrictions?), I checked with the company and  half of the  roof, indeed, is covered with their modular greenroof system called “Meadows.”

The outdoor structure performs beautifully with double duty as a cool relaxation get away  and stunning, productive  area for vertical “pocket” gardening.   In the end, the family gets to enjoy their newly redesigned, sustainable  back yard  while setting a great example for ecologically sensitive living for  their kids, who  also get to  learn about natural composting with an earthy  gift from Jamie – a squiggly worm farm!

The full episode used to be online at HGTV, but now you can see  the partial  episode  here, and below from YouTube (the HGTV embedded code isn’t working):

This Edible Garden is well worth watching if you have the chance  to catch it with  reruns.   Each episode of “The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie” is brimming with equal parts elegant  innovation and international  flair, and I’m sure this is just the beginning of educating homeowners and entertaining their audience with examples of these living, touchy, sometimes even woolly, vertical gardening techniques.

~ Linda V.