Energy efficient and sustainable building materials play a crucial role in revitalizing urban areas into vibrant, thriving neighborhoods. High-density urban building projects like Midtown Lofts in the Midtown area of Minneapolis are a key element of smart-growth solutions-supporting growth but seeking to reclaim existing urban infrastructure rather than contribute to suburban sprawl-and building envelope strategies such as incorporating energy efficient, high-performance windows and doors lend to reduced energy / heating and cooling costs as well as increased daylighting and natural light for the residents. Inspired by the “smart growth” philosophy of Lander Group Urban Development (www.landergroup.com), the multi-family development stands as a successful and attractive example of building professionals partnering with manufacturers to deliver projects that help transform and renew urban neighborhoods.
Built on a site reclaimed from a former industrial zone and completed in 2005, Midtown Lofts now occupies half a city block, with 72 units in a wide variety of sizes and styles in a multi-building complex arranged around a landscaped courtyard and fountain. The complex includes three-story townhouses, both one and a half- and two-story dwellings, and single-level flats stacked three and four stories high ranging from 750 to 1,700 square feet in size. Every home has its own outdoor space, and the balconies and ground level or rooftop patios call to mind the front porches of the traditional older homes just down the block.
The lofts’ flowing floor plans incorporate soaring ceilings and plentiful window space. In a 1,000-square-foot loft, there may well be six large multi-window groupings, each measuring 50 square feet or more, totaling more than 300 square feet of windows. All of the hundreds of windows at Midtown Lofts are made by Integrity (from Marvin) Windows and Doors, which use energy-efficient glass for increased insulation properties, and standard glazing includes Low E II insulated glass with Argon. All windows meet and exceed NFRC and ENERGY STAR guidelines, and provide an example of how combining standard-size windows into inventive assemblies can create tremendous variety and visual interest.
The Integrity windows’ fiberglass contains minimal volatile compounds, the company reports, and is manufactured not from petroleum and other hydrocarbon-based materials, but rather from an essentially inexhaustible supply of glass, or in its most basic form, silica sand. According to the manufacturer, Marvin’s Ultrex fiberglass is made from 10 percent recycled materials, and has around 80 percent less embodied energy than aluminum and 39 percent less than vinyl. The Ultrex manufacturing plant complies with the 1990 Clean Air Act, and has been certified Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1994.
Integrating and RedevelopingBy reinterpreting characteristics like open floor plans, unconventional surfaces, high ceilings and, frequently, a high window-to-wall ratio, modern loft developments like the Midtown Lofts complex retain an urban flavor in neighborhoods while eliminating problems typically associated with aging building facades / envelopes. High-performance windows play an important role in achieving the desired standards of energy conservation in just about every type of building project, and integrating the new with the old is an important part of redevelopment strategy.
Project: Midtown Lofts
Size: 72 units
Developer: Lander Group Urban Development
Materials and Strategies: energy efficient appliances, low-VOC paints, bamboo flooring, integrity high-performance windows and doors from Marvin, reclaimed industrial zone building site