Taking A Condo Tower Way Beyond LEED

When is a 37-story condominium tower not a condominium tower? When it’s an energy harvester, of course. That’s the conceit behind a proposed Oakland, Calif., development that its backers say would “reduce, create and recycle energy.” If it comes to pass it’ll make LEED Platinum standards look downright profligate.

Let’s go over the attributes put forward by developer Real Estate Transformation Group. Structurally, the “Alice St. Energy Harvester” would have a high-performance curtain wall, high-efficiency lighting/HVAC systems, Energy Star-rated appliances and efficient water fixtures. There’s your energy reduction. Then, on the energy-production front, there’s 14,000 square feet of photovoltaic panels. Regenerative elevators? Of course. And, finally, there’s a little cogeneration thrown into the mix, a combined heat and power plant using an unnamed carbon-neutral fuel to provide electricity and hot water.

Alice St. Energy Harvester, proposed Oakland condo tower

image via Real Estate Transformation Group

The developer cites the environmental design consultancy Built Ecology to assert that the Alice St. Energy Harvester would “reduce energy consumption by 50 percent compared to the 2009 LEED Platinum standard.”

How city officials will view the proposed development remains to be seen. But the Real Estate Transformation Group wants to be prepared: They’re seeking “individuals and organizations to express their support for our project” on their website.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.