Category Archives: Luxury and Sustainability

The True Value of Green

By David Peri

Green is the leaves and needles of healthy, thriving, living forests.  Green signals best environmental efforts conserving Nature.  Green is the color of the American dollar.  Green performance wastes nothing – not energy, nature, health, materials, time or money.

The latest 5th generation German WeberHaus home construction matches your unique architectural design with high-quality aerospace CAD/CAM construction, sustainable natural materials in the hands of certified master-craftsmen to produce arguably the Greenest homes in the world.  These homes marry the best possible technology, materials and craftsmanship producing verifiably a moral home for centuries of living in harmony with Nature, adding value and saving money – not at one step, but at every step.  This Green performance is measurable – from start to finish – for a home built for generations, as aesthetically beautiful and delightful to live within as it is morally in harmony with Nature without. Here, Green is the best, fastest, strongest, healthiest, natural, moral and money saving way to build on earth.

Objective Green Advantages

Four verifiable ways measuring Green value:

  1. Empirical, scientific advantages inside and out delivering measurable savings of time, health, money, energy and materials;
  2. Subjective emotional advantages from living within aesthetically beautiful spaces flooded with natural light and materials delighting the senses – supporting greater productivity and harmony;
  3. More healthful living where natural organic materials grown and harvested sustainably provide a living environment free of those common building materials known to produce harmful gases aggravating asthma, allergies and other ills;
  4. Increased ethical living by knowingly not sacrificing the future – of your own future great grandchildren – of the earth’s resources and other living creatures – by rising above the common selfishness of the modern consumptive lifestyle.

Green isn’t an empty colorless boast.  Independent, 3rd-party verification of each and every Green performance claim is available.  These Green home advantages are measured in lifetimes – yours, your family’s, your neighbor’s, and the rest of the world outside your home.  These homes produce healthy environments – inside and out – delivering value measured to anyone willing to take the time to look and see.  This is a Return-On-Investment that saves money, time, health, energy, materials and something more valuable – the future.

Sustaining a healthy thriving earth isn’t an impossible utopian dream but a choice.  Standing on the shoulders of centuries of advancement, today a 21st Century home is available using best practices to deliver the best possible shelter for those who can’t afford anything less.

Green is a simple color, meaning the best, most valuable, without apology, waste or excuse.

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Aliz Eco-Luxury Yacht Proudly Goes Green

With eco-friendly superyachts increasingly marking their presence, it reflects the growing environmental consciousness of today’s sailors. So, to assist the sailing society to comply with green initiatives, designer Heather Witkop has come up with the Aliz yacht with solar panels installed to harness solar energy for its energy needs. This 145-foot luxury yacht features a master suite with 180 degrees of view, an outdoor lounge, wet bar and grill area along with the lounge/dining area on the main deck featuring a waterfall. Creating an overall connection with eco consciousness, the Aliz features a hydraulic elevator surrounded by a garden that changes from deck to deck, bringing a sense of life to the living spaces. Finally to keep the connection real, Aliz has a river flowing through on the upper deck along with the bar and lounge to keep the guests in groove. With its maximum cruising speed of 25 knots, Aliz can accommodate 12 guests proudly going green and sailing blue.

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Too Big to be Green? Berkeley Mansion Prompts Outrage …

Can a huge house, however efficient, really be green? This question has dogged several prominent eco-minded people who live large, including former vice president Al Gore, who has a green-certified mansion in Nashville.

Mitch Kapor, the software pioneer who co-founded Lotus Development Corp., is proposing to build an eco-mansion in Berkeley, Calif., that has prompted complaints by environmentalists and neighbors about its size.
CAPTIONBy Associated PressNow, the debate swirls around Mitch Kapor, a software mogul who founded Lotus Development Corp. and a philanthropist who’s donated millions to environmental groups. In ultra-green Berkeley, Calif., he’s planning to build a sleek 6,478-square-foot house plus an attached 10-car garage.

Neighbors and environmentalists are outraged that the home meets the city’s green building standard, developed by the non-profit Build It Green group, which does not consider size, reports The News York Times.

“That the staff, the owners and the architects indulge in this kind of green-washing only serves to make a joke out of Berkeley’s environmental aspirations,” Gary Earl Parsons, a Berkeley architect and a member of that city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, wrote on the Berkeleyside blog.

Defending the point system is Greg Powell, the city’s senior planner assigned to the project.”True, the greenest house is the house you don’t build,” he told The New York Times. “But we assume people are going to build new homes, and we encourage them to make them better.”

How much does size matter?

The Kapor home is likely to require far more resources than the average home, which Census Bureau data indicates is now slightly less than 2,500 square feet.

Some green certification programs consider a home’s size when awarding points. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program will subtract points if a home is larger than average. For example a three-bedroom home will lose points if it’s larger than 1,900 square feet but gain them if it’s smaller than that.

Still, LEED has certified many huge homes, provided they accumulate enough other points for energy efficiency, water conservation, natural materials, clean indoor air and site selection.

The National Association of Green Builders’ rating system gives extra points for smaller-than-average homes but doesn’t subtract them for larger ones.

My green home is designed with 2,500 square feet of above-ground living space. It’s waiting for building permits.
CAPTIONBy Cunningham/Quill ArchitectsIn designing my own green home, I thought a lot about size. My family sold a 5,000-square-foot home in McLean, Va., in December 2008, so we could start over and live smaller and greener.

Our living space will be about 2,500 square feet, including thick exterior walls. Because we won’t have a garage, we’ll have another 400 square feet in the basement for storage and mechanical equipment. We’ll also have a basement in-law suite.

That’s our decision. Should others who build larger but with ultra-efficient systems and eco-friendly materials be criticized?

New York Times’ columnist Thomas L. Friedman, author of
CAPTIONBy Nancy Ostertag, Getty ImagesHow about The New York Times’ columnist Tom Friedman, author of the best-selling Hot, Flat and Crowded, who built a very large house in Maryland but has since retrofitted it with geothermal heating/cooling and other green features?

I know an architect who was asked by a client how to build a “green” 10,000-square-foot home. The architect quipped: “Aside from not building it?”

William H. Harrison, an Atlanta architect who has wealthy clients, told The New York Times that penalizing people for building large houses could slow the adoption of green building practices.

“The people who can afford the green technologies are going to want large houses,” he said in the story, adding that those innovations will trickle down to smaller houses.

In Berkeley, the Kapors’ house received 91 points, far more than the 60 needed for the city’s green designation. Its plans, developed by Berkeley-based Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects, include a massive underground garage for visitors. It says neighbors were concerned about on-street parking. It also says the dilapated house that now sits there will be deconstructed so its materials will be salvaged and recycled.

The City Council will review the Kapors’ case next month, because the zoning board’s earlier approval has been appealed.

Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter says the Kapors have received a bit of a bum rap, because their home — while large — is still far smaller than what its lot (two-thirds of an acre) would allow.

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500 Thread Count Eco-Conscious Bamboo Bed Sheets

MONTREAL, QC, January 13, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ — Sweet Dreams Bamboo Inc., a company located in Montreal, Quebec and established in 2009 has announced the launch of their new, luxury line of sleep products. The newest addition to their product line is an Exclusive, eco-friendly line of 500 Thread Count bamboo bed sheet sets with a multitude of health quality benefits for its users.

“While North Americans are becoming increasingly health and eco-conscious they are also on the lookout for products of the highest quality. Our new exclusive 500 Thread Count line of bamboo bed sheets are made of 100% rayon of bamboo fiber and offer consumers the best price/quality value for their money. Our products are buttery soft like cashmere, with a beautiful lustre, yet durable and long-lasting, offering consumer many years of enjoyment and use,” explained Igor Krichevsky, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Sweet Dreams Bamboo Inc.

Bamboo is one of the most sustainable of all natural fibres. Most other fabrics have to be chemically treated to wick properly. Besides being hypoallergenic, and anti-bacterial, bamboo is highly water absorbent, able to take up three times its weight in water. In our bamboo bed sheet fabric, this translates to an excellent wicking ability that pulls moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporate. This results in better and more comfortable sleep for the consumer. Bamboo fabric also provides natural UV protection blocking 94% of UVA rays and 97% UVB rays.

Moreover, bamboo fabric has insulating properties which keeps consumer feeling cooler in summer and warmer in winter. For this reason, bed sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers made of bamboo fiber are highly desirable and have become very popular in North America.

Beyond being silky soft and extra durable, bamboo fibers help many people who experience allergic reactions to other natural fibers, such as wool or hemp. The bamboo fiber is naturally smooth and round without chemical treatment, meaning that there are no sharp spurs to irritate the skin.

Consumers interested in the new, exclusive 500 Thread Count 100% bamboo bed sheet sets, as well as duvet covers and pillow case sets can visit the company’s website at: SweetDreamsBamboo.com.

Sweet Dreams Bamboo Inc. has been offering consumers high quality, 100% bamboo fiber bed sheets since 2009. All of the Sweet Dreams Bamboo products are hypoallergenic, thermal regulating and environmentally friendly. This translates into fabulous sleeping experience and many satisfied customers. more information, please visit http://www.sweetdreamsbamboo.com or call us at (514)-690-2496.

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Luxury Green HTPC

Great – first we have computers that are bundled under the HTPC category, then we move on to a green HTPC and given enough time, someone has to come up with a luxury green HTPC. That’s exactly what Seoul-based Green designer, Design Hara, came up with – a luxury green HTPC that has a recyclable chassis, handcrafted cypress wood or rose wood side panels and a front cover courtesy of natural sheep leather.

All internal parts of the PC are connected using bolts and nuts, helping ease the recyclable e-waste separation process. For those who count dollars and cents, this HTPC requires only 33% of energy to run compared to a desktop equivalent, as it holds a Mini-ITX motherboard within alongside HDMI and DVI outputs, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive.

Luxury green HTPC
Posted on Jan 13, 10 12:06 PM PDT
ubergizmo.com

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Own Your Own Private Island in Canada

What do Celine Dion, Eddy Murphy and Leonardo Dicaprio have in common? They all own private islands.

Whether you are a celebrity or a boater one of the key questions to consider about private island ownership is, just how isolated do you want to be? If both total privacy and close proximity to civilization is important consider the five acre Pym Island, one of the private Canadian Southern Gulf Islands

Pym is close to all the conveniences and charm of Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city yet very much secluded. Access to Pym Island is effortless. Fly directly into the Victoria International Airport and take a 6 minute cab ride to a private marina. Here there is designated parking and a designated “boathouse” exclusively for Pym Island. Plus, you are only 8 minutes from your Island, via private boat taxi.

Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada–Photo by Norwegian Marcus
Proximity to Victoria means shopping, restaurants and cultural events can be easily accessed, arriving by boat or going to the marina, where you can pick up your car, and drive to them. Local services and amenities including a nearby hospital and shore power, via cable, insure your peace of mind, so you can truly relax when you are at home on Pym Island.

According to Li Read of Sea to Sky Properties, “serious boaters claim that this entire coastal area is the best protected boating waters in the world. It is protected from the waves and wind of the open Pacific and fog is not an issue, either”.

Although the Pacific Northwest Coast is famous for rainy winters, that is not the case on the Islands. Plants grow here that are only found in California. Pym enjoys the same microclimate as all of the other southern Gulf Islands – it is called “cool Mediterranean”.

Included on Pym island is a magnificent custom home that features an entertainment size living room, a formal dining room, a library, a games room, his & hers masters, a cook’s kitchen, and an indoor pool. There are also 4 separate guest cottages, a caretaker’s residence and a tennis court on Pym. On the shore there is a lovely swimming cove and a dock, so you can arrive by floatplane or by private boat. There is also room for a helipad.

To learn more about Pym Island contact Li Read:LiRead33@Gmail.com.

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Redefining Luxury: Your Piece of Paradise

Looking for the rebound in the vacation home market? Some experts water luxury fractionals will lead recovery in this sector.

The concept underlying fractional ownership is straightforward. “You get to own a piece of a multi-million dollar property,” explains Rudy Valli, an owner at The Reef’s Club in Southampton, Bermuda. “We have a beautiful home, maintained by someone else, that we get to utilize for a core set of weeks, as well as other times on a casual basis, in a place we love.”

Few ideas align better with luxury consumers’ new quest for value more than the “cost commensurate usage” fractional mantra. Couple that with gorgeous multi-million dollar homes in stellar locations, a high degree of personal service, and the potential of enjoying more than one destination and it is easy to see the appeal.

“It’s a concept that really fits well with the economic times we’re in and it makes a lot of sense to the buyers,” says Rob Harper, real estate investment and development manager for Unity Hunt Inc., the developer of El Corazon de Santa Fe, which includes whole ownership residences as well as a fractional residence club, steps from the plaza in Santa Fe. Harper has witnessed the evolution of luxury’s new attitudes. Many of those inquiring and buying today would have opted for whole ownership two years ago, he says.

When appreciation was being clocked at 15 percent it was easy to justify a vacation home purchase even if the actual usage was only a month or a few weeks out of the year. “The days of buying for glitz and show are over for some time,” says Richard Ragataz, Ph.D., who has followed the fractional industry for decades.

Over the last six years, scores of new Private Residence Clubs (PRCs) and a dozen or more Destination Clubs debuted, making fractional ownership the fastest-growing segment of the vacation home market. As with any emerging industry, there have been shake ups, particularly among Destination Clubs, with the demise of some clubs and the merger of others; but, overall, fractionals have held their own during the downturn. In 2008, sales in the shared ownership sector of resort real estate were down year-over-year by 34 percent, which actually compares well with whole ownership, which was off by 40.5 percent. Among fractionals, PRCs were the most resilient with a decrease in sales of 24 percent, while Destination Club sales fell 43 percent, according to the Ragataz Associates annual survey of the industry.

Making the Case
Steve Dering, a partner in Dering Elliott Associates, which pioneered one of the first PRCs in 1992, the Deer Valley Club, expects demand to grow. “Affluent households will always want a vacation home. Research shows it’s second only to college educations for their children as the most desired, big-ticket discretionary expenditure. Residence Clubs are going to be seen as a more rational decision, a choice that makes sense. The logic of the purchase is going to resonate with new consumer values. Additionally, we are a green product since one home serves eight different buyers,” he says.

“The economics work for us,” says Tim Reilley about his membership in Ultimate Escapes, a club that resulted from the combination of Ultimate Resort and Private Escapes Destination Clubs. “We were used to having a second home but we decided that the economics of joining a club with the variety of destinations made sense for our family,” he says.

“It takes away the responsibility of owning a second home. Plus it is more affordable,” says Carol Kadison of her ownership at the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, Aspen Highlands.

“It’s chic to be smart with your money right now,” says Phil Meckelburg, CEO of Equity Estates, an equity destination club that offers members an interest in the club and the real estate it owns.
Beyond the financials, shared ownership matches the lifestyle and travel desires of upscale consumers. Like many, Reilley and Kadison first experienced their clubs as guests of existing members. Both frequently travel with friends or extended family. “With a vacation home you have to have something large enough for 10 or 12 but most of the time it’s only two people using it. Plus, we are the kind of travelers who like to do many different things from boat excursions to climbing to the top of a mountain,” explains Reilley.

Amping Up Service
PRCs and Destination Clubs incorporate a level of personal service that would be hard to match either with whole ownership or luxury vacation rentals. “It’s all about the customer. We go out of our way to make sure every detail is taken care of,” says Harper.

Even the Ritz-Carlton had to step up its legendary platinum service. “Members expect more,” says Bob Phillips, chief customer officer for the recently launched Ritz-Carlton Destination Clubs.
Travel planning and concierge service is standard and it goes way beyond planning trips and pre-arrival grocery shopping. Compared to typical upscale consumers, fractional owners and members are “less traditional and much more experiential in their vacationing,” observes Gregg Anderson, vice president and global marketing director of The Registry Collection luxury exchange program. Members expect concierges and travel planners to come up with vacations and activities tailored to their interests.

Reilley was surprised with the level of expertise of his planner at Ultimate Escapes. “I have found it to be much more sophisticated than I had expected. It’s been over the top.” Although this service didn’t even figure into his decision to join Ultimate Escapes, Reilley admits it plays a big role in his satisfaction.

Making It Work for You
Understanding the reservation system and ensuring enough weeks are allocated in prime season are essential due diligence for prospective members of both PRCs and Destination Clubs. Members say learning the system, often booking dates ahead of time, finding a planner you like and continuing to work with them is important to making it all work for your benefit. When Reilley first joined, he actually flew out to his club’s membership center to meet his travel planner.

Unlike Destination Clubs, most PRCs are tied to a single location, but typically owners can exchange time with affiliated clubs or through exchanges such as the Registry Collection. Already, Valli has planned a week in Florence.

Kadison often trades winter weeks in Colorado for St. Thomas. She always has received the time she has requested, including a prime week at the recently opened club in Maui. “It’s just a matter of being organized,” she says. Most importantly, whether she is staying in her unit or another, Kadison really does feel as though she’s going home.

One region in demand from both Americans and Europeans, according to Anderson, is the Caribbean. Both the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons have clubs there. Opening in December in St. John is Pond Bay on 15 acres overlooking Chocolate Hole Bay. Developed by FOLIO Collection and managed by Auberge Resorts, Pond Bay joins FOLIO’s other club located on St. Barts.

In the future, Ragataz expects more clubs in urban locations and in regional destinations. Good examples are new clubs on Florida’s panhandle — which draws visitors from New Orleans, Atlanta and Memphis — and Mission Bay in San Diego.

Looking ahead, Anderson says there is a lot of development in the pipeline in Europe. Under construction is the newest entry to the Timbers Resorts, The Links Cottages at Doonbeg, County Clare, Ireland. Florence and Tuscany are two popular club locations, as is Mexico and Costa Rica.

Among Destination Clubs, most don’t expect to see many new clubs in the U.S. And any new clubs are apt to offer some type of an equity arrangement as the Ritz-Carlton has done with its Portfolio Club, which gives members an equity interest in a real estate trust that is subject to the same regulations and oversight as timeshares.

In the end, like beauty, value is apt to be in the eye of the beholder.

PRCs Vs. Destination Clubs
Upscale fractionals include Private Residence Clubs (PRCs) and Destination Clubs. PRCs offer a share in a specific property that guarantees usage for a definite number of weeks (determined by the size of the fraction) in prime seasons and often unlimited usage on a space available basis.

Destination Clubs offer a membership that guarantees a specific length of stay in club homes and often usage on a space available basis. The largest, Denver-based Exclusive Resorts, owns more than 400 homes, a portfolio valued at approximately $1.1 billion, in 37 locations. Member perks include special opportunities such as a private journey to Antarctica aboard Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Explorer or a family winter ski ranch vacation in the Rocky Mountains.

The average cost for a PRC share is $331,475, according to the most recent industry survey compiled by Ragataz Associates. The average cost for destination Club membership is $326,500, although most clubs offer different levels of membership.

Both PRCs and Destination Clubs charge annual maintenance fees or dues. A PRC interest can be resold just like wholly owned real estate, while most Destination Clubs have some type of an exit policy in place. Looking ahead, developers are still tinkering with equity models for Destination Clubs so members would actually own an interest in real estate.

Before Buying
•Spend time researching both PRCs and Destination Clubs to determine which would be the best match for you.
•Perform due diligence through researching the property, club history, financials and management company.
•Research the reservation system. Ask to see how it works and how you would use it. The more transparent the better.
•Interview current members.Ask about any special fees or assessments.
•Decide how much service is important to you.

By Camilla McLaughlin
Unique Homes magazine

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