Eco-skyscrapers are increasingly sprouting up in cities worldwide, like Rotterdam’s Urban Cactus, Chicago’s 340 on the Park, Manhattan’s Hearst Tower and Bank of America Tower and the Bahrain World Trade Center Towers, but even developers in smaller towns- anxious to battle urban sprawl- are embracing a type of Vertical New Urbanism and building up and not out.
Several years ago Tim Toben was a former businessman living on an organic farm outside of town who was decidedly anti-development until he met green architect William McDonough.
“I was giving him a walk on my property… and Bill said if you believe that strongly in anti-development then you ought to become a developer and show folks how we think it should be done.”
How things should be done according to the creator of the Cradle to Cradle concept designing smarter. “That’s a model where you build in the interiors of towns, that you build up and not out, that you build where there’s already infrastructure, where there’s already utilities and where there’s already water and that you power these buildings with the sun.”
Today, McDonough’s vision is being carried out in downtown Chapel Hill in a 10-story building called Greenbridge. It’s aiming for LEED gold certification with features like green roofs, rainwater capture, solar thermal, natural day lighting and recycled and recyclable building materials and Natural Home Magazine has already named it one of the country’s top 10 greenest housing developments.
More low-tech, but just as novel is what the developers haven’t done: focus on the automobile. To make it easy not to drive, Greenbridge residents will have access to wider sidewalks, a dedicated bus stop, generous bike parking (with showers) and Zip cars. Proximity to town has been measured in minutes walking: much is within a 1-3 minute stroll, but a 6-9 minute walk should get you anywhere downtown (both Chapel Hill and neighboring Carrboro). Without even leaving the buildings, residents find sustainable shopping, including local foods and organic clothing.
In this video, Greenbridge co-founder Tim Toben and sales broker Rebecca Dirksen discuss walkability, lower utility bills, the developments’ appeal to the mainstream buyer (i.e. non-greenies) and why they expect this type of building to appreciate quicker than conventionally-built residences.