4-Stars for The Austonian
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
The Austonian, Austin’s newest and tallest luxury residential high-rise in the heart of downtown, has been awarded a coveted Four-Star rating from Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB), making the residential high rise the only one of its kind in the central business district.
A reflection of local needs and values, AEGB rates values such as energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, construction waste reduction, and the community and cultural aspects of a project in its stringent rating program. The award-winning Austin Energy program meets and often exceeds the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System. The Austonian’s Four Star rating is comparable to the LEED Gold rating.
“No other downtown high-rise has earned this level of official recognition,” said Maureen T. Scanlon, P.E., AEGB’s Commercial Program coordinator. “Others may say they are green, but The Austonian has the credentials. The Austonian stands far above others in more ways than one.”
The protection and conservation of resources, and the creation of a healthy living environment, were key priorities for The Austonian development team, who made and kept their commitment to invest in green building and sustainable design from the beginning stages of the project’s development.
“We are extremely pleased to have achieved a Four-Star rating from Austin Energy Green Building,” said Bob Albanese, design and construction manager for The Austonian. “This accomplishment is the result of support from our developer to realize a goal, keen attention to detail and a lot of hard work by the design and construction team.”
From its initial planning stages, The Austonian set out to create a new standard for luxury condominiums, redefining the term so that it’s synonymous with green living.
One of the primary objectives realized by Ziegler Cooper Architects of Houston, the building’s designer, was to create a space that supports energy and natural resource conservation.
The building occupies just one-third of a city block, providing luxury homes for 166 families on less than three-quarters of an acre. In contrast, a suburban residential community housing the same number of families on one-acre lots requires at least 27 acres of asphalt and concrete.
Compared to a 166-family Hill Country community, The Austonian will save 33.2 million gallons of drinking water each year in landscape watering. This is due to The Austonian’s minimal land-use and its unique irrigation system, which uses condensation from the cooling system to irrigate the 10th floor rooftop urban garden. The building’s landscape architecture also utilizes native plants and creates a cooling effect at the street level and on the 10th floor garden.
The street level design incorporates pedestrian-oriented elements to emphasize the urban setting and provide a coordinated transition from the building to the street. In keeping with the City of Austin Great Streets program, landscape architect TBG Partners incorporated standard paving materials, street trees and furnishings for the areas along the curb line. Along the building, TBG incorporated a series of distinctive spaces defined by planters, trellises and landscape materials.
Each residence was designed to allow for natural light in at least 75 percent of the space, minimizing electrical lighting requirements. In common areas, sensors and dimming ballasts also reduce the amount of lighting used when the areas are unoccupied. Specially coated, insulated glass and a reflective roofing system also provide year-round energy savings.
The Austonian has worked with local provider Austin Energy to ensure that energy use is as efficient as possible. The building’s heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which includes climate control in each residence, is connected to Austin Energy’s chilled water system. Using chilled water for air conditioning in lieu of individual condensation units results in a more efficient production of cool air and a lower overall impact on natural resources. Also, low-flow lavatories, dishwashers, and clothes washers in each home will reduce the use of potable water by approximately 30 percent compared to typical fixtures.
All construction materials used at The Austonian adhere to the strict VOC standards required by the AEGB Rating System. These low-emitting materials improve indoor air quality. Additionally, the maintenance plan for The Austonian includes green housekeeping and integrated pest control, which further protect the air quality within the building.
About Austin Energy Green Building
The City of Austin created the nation’s first green building program in 1990. Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) is now the nation’s most successful sustainable building program. AEGB encourages Central Texans to design and construct more sustainable homes and buildings. The mission of AEGB is “to lead the transformation of the building industry to a sustainable future.” By developing and maintaining its own Austin-specific rating system, AEGB has the flexibility to carry out Austin’s aggressive climate protection goals. The ratings are used to pave the way for energy and building code changes that will reduce building energy use. This continuous improvement cycle benefits everyone.