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Building Green = SMART
by Enrique Vargas

FOR DEVELOPER DAN SHORE, building “green” is not about employing drastic measures like stopping growth or building with fewer amenities. Building green is about buildings marter—To make a real difference in energy consumption requires thinking smarter and thinking bigger…

Since Al Gore achieved international notoriety and shared the treasured Pulitzer Prize for his work illuminating the effects of global climate change as a result of increasing carbon emissions, there has been so much hype surrounding green initiatives and sustainability that people have become overwhelmed with information – so much so that many feel paralyzed by the number of options that exist to decrease energy consumption. We often overlook the bigger picture because it is truly overwhelming, offering very little “good news” for the future. This is not to suggest that the value of saving each watt or gallon of water is unimportant. Assuming the responsibility to make small dents in bigger items, instead of focusing our energies on making insignificant big changes to smaller items, is the real secret to reducing our overall global energy footprint.

Thinking on a larger scale is what Dan Shore does best. Founder of Shore Associates, Inc. in San Jose, California, Shore coordinates the development and project management of some of the “smartest” buildings on earth. His clients include Yahoo!, Adobe and several other high tech firms around the country, all demanding the highest standards of technological excellence and doing so with a social conscience. Their campuses must not only reflect the environmental values of the company, management and staff, they must also be “smart” and fiscally responsible. As the developer for La Concha Pearl, Shore is utilizing his knowledge of technology and commitment to green building to create one of the most high tech and environmentally friendly beachfront developments in Baja Sur, Mexico. Shore is a self-styled, forward-thinking “efficiency” expert who fancies “thinking out of the box” and pushing the technology envelope.

“Consumers are being pushed to make radical changes in the small stuff, like carrying their own reusable grocery bags or not using plastic bottles! While I do advocate everyone doing what they can to save energy and reduce waste, completely eliminating these items would make little or no impact when it comes to the big picture. Priceless example - waterless urinals. Replacing all your urinals to save a quarter gallon a flush versus the 500 million gallons a day used for the summertime irrigation of California’s golf courses seems a little silly! Did you know that the city of Seattle just banned beach bonfires in the name of global warming?” notes Shore.

Shore continues, “Many developers often overlook the energy savings you can create by shifting your thinking. For example, if you change one large system in building methods i.e., say your air conditioning system, you can save 100 times the energy you would by just changing out all those silly “curly bulbs”. Besides, curly/fluorescent lamps are bad for your eyes, take more energy and create more pollution to make, and are hazardous to dispose of. To make a meaningful impact on energy use, developers must invest their time and money in technologies that provide the most energy savings for greatest economic value.”

La Concha Pearl Becomes Reality
What was once just an idea to utilize environmentally friendly construction techniques to engineer La Concha Pearl, a 7-story beachfront tower offering 33 luxurious residences on one of the most pristine beaches in La Paz is now a reality. The build team first set an objective to qualify for a US-based LEED certification. Then they registered the project with the US Green Building Council, targeting the “Gold” standard. This is the first project to be registered in BCS and won’t be certified until 3 to 4 months after completion. To become certified, the USGBC will test each point and most likely disallow a few, which would certify the building with the “Silver” standard at a minimum. All this seems very cool (pardon the pun). To pull this off, the developers knew they would have to radically change the way they approached the project, especially since it is located in Mexico where resources such as electricity and water are in low supply and very expensive - plus labor is entrenched in the traditional “brick and mortar” mode. The build team recognized early on that they would have to team up with a local builder that was dedicated to utilizing new technologies and processes and who most importantly, possessed the capability to implement the efficiencies Shore’s team sought in a very highquality fashion. New Tek, a local La Paz engineering, construction and project management firm, had all the qualities Shore was looking for and won the contract to build La Concha Pearl.

Safety and Practicality Are a Priority
As a developer, Shore believes safety and practicality should come first in defining the green scheme. For example, the earthen blocks (formerly used in Loreto Bay), do not provide seismic strength and promote infestation (termites, rodents, etc.) into this “natural” product. For this reason, Shore refused to use this method at La Concha Pearl Luxury Condominiums. Shore also avoided conventional building methods like post and beam construction and is pushing for increased acceptance and promotion of the concrete / foam form systems outlined in the International Building Code (IBC) versus the Mexican post and beam with block infill standards that have no acoustic or thermal qualities.

Smarter Building Materials
Shore’s team opted for a smarter alternative building material offering benefits such as seismic strength exceeding Zone 4 earthquake design, the ability to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, and climate comfort - all part of the cast-in-place Quad Lock ICF “insulated concrete foam” system. This energy-efficient concrete / foam combination, pioneered and promoted by New Tek in Mexico, provides superior insulation, isolation, and interior acoustics. The Quadlock system, along with a shading model with deep balcony overhangs, also provides an estimated 50% reduction in cooling load. ICF’s allow great flexibility, quick installation with reduced material handling, and far less wasted fuel required to deliver heavy concrete block over long distances to development sites. Shore hopes to change the model and is leading by example.

Energy Efficiency Throughout is the Key
“Energy efficiency is often overlooked by developers who don’t ever pay utility bills, and it is especially important in La Paz where summertime temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees F for weeks on end,” says Shore.

At La Concha Pearl, Shore’s team designed a system that uses efficient chillers with evaporative cooling and after-hours production of “ice” in the thermal storage system and selfcontained cistern, instead of employing traditional air-cooled chillers or roof top condensers. Their method is purported to be 30% more efficient and shifts 30% of the cooling load to the nights, further reducing utility bills by staying off the peak billing period. To avoid wasting energy, smarter and practical “brains” were incorporated into simple computerized energy management systems allowing the shutdown of systems when not in use. It is a known fact there is nothing greener than turning systems off, especially when there is no impact to the building occupants.

To add greater efficiency to the building’s creature comfort systems, Shore commissioned the design for an air conditioning system that will further reduce energy costs by employing a mere 70-ton system rather than the normal 150-ton air conditioning system for similar sized buildings found throughout Baja. Experiences gleaned in the Silicon Valley led Shore to a window manufacturer that offers windows that are not only extremely attractive, but are dualpaned and low-E coated, and filled with Argon gas for additional energy savings. These windows provide less heat conduction without losing interior light. The two-tiered swimming pool and spas are heated exclusively by solar water panels, and all perimeter lighting is powered by a photo voltaic system.

Greater Return on Investment
According to Rory King, Sales Director for La Concha Pearl, “The return on investment of this intelligent design has become a major selling point for our condo units. Intelligent design decisions avoid high operating costs and the senseless waste of energy. Plus the superior building materials add exceptional strength, acoustic insulation and cooling power to minimize energy use. Our clients purchase for a variety of reasons - great weather, a healthy lifestyle and the laid-back environment that allows them to relax, but underlying all these reasons is the desire to make a sound investment decision. I think that as green building becomes more mainstream, the resale value of green, environmentally intelligent projects will net higher profits when the time comes to resell the home or condo. Our clients share this attitude and are proud to be a part of this new residence community.”

Leading with Intelligent Engineering
New Tek is the exclusive Quad Lock distributor for Baja and provides technical support for all of Mexico. Les Zwaryck, managing partner in New Tek and the project manager of LCP claims, “Our goal in bringing green methods to Baja Sur is to lower the strain of growth and development on the community and to respect and maintain the value of the views and the natural environment that first drew us to Baja. Greater Benefits to Baja as aWhole “Feeling green is not enough, we have to build smart. Implementing this new way of thinking will have a significant impact on energy consumption in Baja as a whole. I feel the extra efforts we have made sends a dramatic statement to other developers in Baja – we must change the way we do things by educating ourselves on what is possible using today’s more energy–efficient technologies. If our building can earn a LEED certification, we then demonstrate that it is possible to build in an energy efficient manner that protects the very resources that attract our buyers, and remain profitable as well,” says Shore.

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