Monday, March 13, 2006

A didactic building

Last week I worked temporarily in an office within the Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center (pictured above) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its developer, The Green Institute, views their building as a “living experiment” that will serve as a regional model for green commercial construction. And though the building's educational earnestness can feel a little overwhelming at times, it does make a pleasant work environment.

A "green man" statue guards the lobby.

And just in case he may seem culturally unfamiliar, a poster explains.

In fact, everywhere you turn, there are an explanatory sign.

A sign on the bathroom door not only explains the fixtures, it also promotes bike commuting. Workers in the building told me that bike commuting would be more desirable if the roof didn't pour draining water onto the bike rack.

Much of the roof is a solar panel farm...

while some is a pleasant "meadow" atop a section of sod.

Even the exterior is signed: that's not a lot full of weeds, it is a "prairie restoration area."

It is easy to laugh at all this, but the building certainly has its successes. According to the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network:

PEEC's average annual utility bills total only $25,000, or 5 percent of its annual operating budget, compared with 20 percent that the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) considers typical for a building of that size. Similarly, PEEC spends a total of only 17 percent on repairs, security and grounds maintenance, compared with a BOMA figure of 23 percent.

Not bad.

This post is dedicated to sf mike at Civic Center who routinely demonstrates how we bloggers can highlight our surroundings in pictures.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

That may be the nicest link I've ever gotten. Thank you.

And I love your FotoTale about the Didactic Building. The humor of all that overdone signage can only be shown through visual example. Plus, I like your photographic eye.

You already know how to write, and have interesting things to say. So keep going with the visuals. It's how most people get their information, I've come to realize, rather than text. And the combination of the two, really, is dynamite.

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