First Ebie Awards Given Out For Green Renovations And Upgrades

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There was once a spectacular failure of a theatrical production on London, a show which had an elaborate moving set by designer Sean Kenny that all the reviewers loved, but as one critic noted, "nobody ever left the theatre humming the sets."

The new Ebie awards suffer a bit from this; they recognize the most improved buildings in America in terms of Sustainability. But nobody ever left a building raving about the Constant Airflow Regulators. The Ebies are like those technical awards they give out the day before the Oscars; not as visually exciting as the stars and the films, but movies wouldn't get made without them. The Ebies honor the technical achievements of reducing energy use, better operations, improved landscaping and other visually unexciting but critically important functions in a world where we have so many existing buildings that have to be fixed.

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What the Ebies don't have in visual style, they make up with humor, with clever award titles like THE ALL-ROUNDER, which went to Deutsche Bank 60 Wall St., NYC.

Built between 1987 and 1989, 60 Wall Street is the Americas headquarters of Deutsche Bank and the largest building in its portfolio. Deutsche Bank hopes to reach carbon neutrality by 2013. A range of energy, water efficiency and water reduction projects were implemented through retrocommissioning and ongoing maintenance and improvements. Special features include a 123 kW solar array that was installed on the roof of the building, making it the largest flat panel array in Manhattan and the highest in the U.S. The projects were funded by approximately $8 million in capital and operational expenses and found to be highly cost-effective.

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Exciting stuff. Another prize was THE REFORMED DRINKER/TAKE ME TO THE RIVER: Johnson Braund Offices, Seattle, WA

The Johnson Braund office, constructed in the 1980s, uses zero fossil fuels, with nearly 25% of its annual energy provided by on-site solar panels (which is no small feat in Seattle). The team steadily retrofitted the building over the past five years, lowering its energy use by 75% and dramatically slashing water consumption-- all while keeping the building at a comfortable 71 degrees year-round. 
Water savings came from putting in high efficiency plumbing fixtures, including 0.5 GPM aerators on all the faucets, a 1.5 GPM showerhead, and dual-flush or 1.28 GPF toilets. All in all, the building averages 5 gallons used per person, per workday.

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Three projects won THE REFORMED GAS GUZZLER for the highest percentage of energy savings, including The Dallas Museum of Art:

The City of Dallas was able to implement an impressive energy reduction project at the Dallas Museum of Art funded through guaranteed energy savings. This project has resulted in over 40% in energy savings over the past three years while maintaining rigid environmental control over the art collections. The building showed significant savings potential through HVAC renovations, building automation upgrades, lighting retrofits, water conservation retrofits and operational improvements.

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Rosa Parks Elementary School, Lexington, KY:

The school was able to reduce its energy usage by setting air dampers, heat pumps, centralized pumps, and computers to automatically turn off and manually turning off lights at the end of the school day. Additionally, ‘Energy Patrollers’ shut off power strips at the end of each day and monitored classrooms and offices to make sure lights were off when spaces were unoccupied. After a year of implementing these changes, the elementary school’s Energy Star score rose to 86 points and the school saved 47% more energy. The results of the recommended operational changes significantly reduced building energy usage.

In his new book, the Shape of Green, Lance Hosey makes the case that "If it's not beautiful, it's not sustainable. Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern- it's an environmental imperative." He notes, as does Steve Mouzon, that for a building to be sustainable, it has to be lovable. We have to care about it. Certainly, it is hard to care, hard to get excited about buildings as spectacularly banal as the Rosa Parks school, even if it is training little TreeHuggers to turn off power bars. It's a shame, because it is so important.

The Ebies are a wonderful idea, celebrating those people doing the hard work of cutting back on energy and water usage in our existing building inventory, where so much has to be done. It's a tough job, but somebody had to do it.

See all the winners at the Ebies

Tags: A Picture Is Worth | Design Competitions | New York City

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