A Minneapolis loft project makes a design statement by being easy on the eyes as well as the environment.

Green is good. Green can also look good. That, in a nutshell, was the vision behind the "green" loft, an environmentally friendly prototype created last year by Lander Sherman Urban Development as part of its 72-unit Midtown Lofts project in Minneapolis.

"We originally talked about doing a green unit for research and development," says Wren Aigaki-Lander, marketing director for the Lander Group, which has a "green" mission statement. The group aimed to take standard features and find new and innovative ways to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. "The purpose of the green unit was to start that dialogue," she says.

Lander Sherman loaded the unit with dozens of earth-friendly features, including recycled materials, energy-efficient appliances, and paints and finishes with low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But earth-friendly alone wasn't enough, says Aigaki-Lander. "They also had to be great looking."