February 14, 2008

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The Red Stag


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February 13, 2008

Paint it Black, and GREEN

Here we go. We, as a new generation, must all be introduced to the brilliant idea of GREEN. Green is a peaceful color, possibly a representative for envy, mental disorder, vivaciousness, craziness, cool, grass, trees, oxygen, purity, serenity, and last but not least, saving the planet through design efficiency.

In September of 2006, Minneapolis officials signed onto the Green plan in order for government owned buildings to cut the amount of energy used. This will not only effect the tax payers which have a large payment contibution to how the buildings are powered, but will also effect the amount of energy used as a whole to decrease energy pollution in our atmosphere. The Building Green program has been around for nearly 14 years, and is in major cities such as Portland, Denver, San Antonio, and New York.

The LEED group, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design has planned to control the energy plans of all new buildings in Minneapolis. While older buildings can be modified, the amount isn't exactly significant. The group has already contributed to the decrease in energy to Minneapolis Town Hall, in which utility bills have reached up to 1.7 million per year. It is ludicrious! Ridiculous that one building can hog so much energy. Think of all of the ancient buildings in St. Paul, the sky scrapers downtown, the MOA, IKEA, Walmart! I have reason to suspect that none of these buildings are big advocates in saving energy or cutting back on pollution.

Architects, construction workers and distributors, energy representatives, governement officials, environmental groups, health representatives, designers, contractors, utility/air agencies, and engineers are all working together in order to control this healthier system of standardized living. The materials used are of better quality; a minimal amount of chemicals are used in construction and maintainance; durable, efficient recycled materials are used (or rather re-used); pure and controlled water; LED lights for efficient lighting systems; higher quality products such as windows to ensure restriction of temperature to the inside of the building; surpassing energy codes.

Three decades ago, during the oil embargo, officials actually believed in was a good idea to build schools without windows, in order to save on heating and cooling throughout the changing seasons. This horrible idea resulted in bad genus loci - causing concentration and grades to fall, leaving a 'cold' and raw environment for the children to learn in. Natural sunlight is good! The green project promotes efficient windows, and with natural sunlight there is less need for artificial lighting, resulting in an (obvious) restorment of energy. Using organic materials will help the character and space, manifesting a completely different environment than one that hogs or is holding chemicals and filth within the materials.

The Green Building projects are popping up slowly but surely throughout the cities. There is a 4-plex in the Lyndale area, with tightly insulated walls reducing risk of mold. Outside sound is diluted, and the pipe lines used are buried below the frost line and are kept at a constant 50 degrees using the earth's heat rather than other resources; the floors are geothermal pumped to heat and cool the building; water use is efficient, including duel flush toilets; most light sockets are constructed only for energy efficient flourecent bulbs. Plain, simple, efficient, obvious.

Not only are homes and buildings springing up green in our area, but restuarants and retail stores. Richfield-based Best Buy has made plans to promote the green poject and LEED guidelines in their buildings. The Red Stag, a restaurant located in North East Minneapolis, is the first certified restuarant to complete LEED standard guidelines. The supper club consists of recycled materials, low energy effiency, heating, cooling, and ventilation. The costs used to design the establishment are high, but in the long run, the use of LED lighting will pay off, especially when it comes to the heating bills. The "organic" process is also included in the menu, using locally grown and organic products to create exceptionally creative dishes. I have eaten there a few times, and the food is all very 'supper' clubby, but with a trendy twist of whole foods. The atmosphere is eclectic, with old chandeliers completed with red LED lights. There is an old paino and area for local musicians to perform on various weeknights. It seems dingy and dusty in aesthetic, but is in fact polished to perfection.

The GREEN plan falls into the same category as phenomenology, or return to things. The shelter provided in closer to nature, and actually helping nature rather than hurting it. The buildings are foci, being that they are organically related to the environment. The motif and genius loci are most likely dramatically different, the atmosphere inside and outside of the building full of recycled energy and positive quality. I am willing to become a strong advocate for this system. I believe that all architects should be informed of this standard of building, and use it, and advocate for it as well. It is so simple! If everyone in the world contributed to this system of building, our costs of living would ultimately be lower, resulting in more money for us to have better qaulity food and products that are also organic and efficient.