Sustainably Speaking

California greening: ecoPARK is a standout project

In the October issue of Contractor, there are a handful of articles about sustainable projects in California. I wrote an article about the Cherokee Lofts, a five-story, mixed-use building that is 40% more energy efficient than California Title 24. Designed with passive strategies and a photovoltaic system, the mixed-use building is utilizing an advanced variable refrigerant flow (VRF) cooling and heating system and water conserving plumbing fixtures.

I also reported on San Jose's Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, the first amusement park and zoo in the country to receive U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification. The park just reopened this March and is utilizing sustainable systems and products to reduce water usage by 50%, potable water usage by 30%, and energy costs below the projected costs per ASHRAE and the California Title 24 energy codes.

Contractor also featured an article by Steve Spaulding, production editor, about a $13 million-dollar luxury beachfront home, located on Laguna Beach, aiming for LEED platinum certification. The home will utilize a packaged solar water heating system along with other sustainable product and systems.

It’s no surprise there are so many sustainable projects in California. It has the most LEED certified projects in the U.S.; currently there are 909 LEED projects. And that number doesn’t even include all sustainable projects in the state (some building owners do not obtain LEED certification even though their buildings are built with sustainable products and technologies).

One California project that stands out to me, which I just learned about, is ecoPARK, a project that will continually advance green education, technology and research, and host international think tanks for a sustainable future. ecoPARK is the brainchild of Doug Busch, president of ecoTECH, a green product and architectural design/building firm.

I had the pleasure of talking with Busch, a world renowned photographer who studied under Ansel Adams. Busch became interested in sustainability through his travels and experiences around the world as a photographer, and he is very passionate about protecting the environment for future generations.

Busch and his impressive team of architects, mechanical engineers, contractors, consultants and scientists, ensure that ecoPARK will not rely on energy from any outside source. The entire project will be off the grid with a zero carbon footprint. The park will be open to anyone wishing to learn about sustainability, and visitors will be able to view all the latest sustainable technologies for their homes and see the differences between like products, helping them to make educated choices for their own homes.

ecoPARK will not only be a place people can go to see the most current green products, it will also be a learning laboratory with classrooms, workspaces and amphitheater, focusing on the continued development and discussion of a healthier standard of living for individuals, the community and, of course, the environment.

Here are some of the initiatives Busch and his team are working on:

Wind energy: Sculptural wind turbines will provide an aesthetic vision to wind technology.

Passive heating and cooling: O-Carbon heating and cooling systems will use solar power for heating and hot water, and an O-Carbon cooling mechanism.

Collection tanks: 35,000 gallons of rainwater will be captured and stored in seven collection tanks.

Wind belts: Wind-powered generators made out of ribbon will produce electricity via magnets attached to the ribbons.

Solar panels, collector tubes and rain collection tanks: Methods of collecting resources on a roof will be demonstrated on the property.

safeHAUS: A safeHAUS model, a sustainable pre-fabricated house constructed with the latest green technologies, will be featured on the property.

Vehicles: Visitors will ride in vehicles that produce and harvest energy from the vehicle as it goes over a series of specially designed energy-generating speed bumps.

I wish Busch the best of luck with his project, and I look forward to watching the eco-friendly park grow into a sustainable educational, inspirational and think-tank research community.