Being Green Update – Water

Hi Folks:

First of all, for everyone following the Gregorian calendar, Happy New Year!! We wish you and those close to you a 2010 filled with as much health, happiness, peace and prosperity as you can handle!

Okay, I wanted to talk a bit about water this week. As the expression goes, “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” We tend to take water for granted; most of this little blue marble of ours is covered with water, and water makes up some 55-78% of our bodies depending on size, sex and age. We use water daily for drinking, for cooking, for cleaning, for waste removal, and for so many things that we don’t often consider that all of the water that comes out of the tap must be collected, transported, treated… and there is a similar ‘stream’ of actions must be taken for water that pours down our drains.

This came to the fore for me this week, starting with an article in the most recent issue of ‘Focus‘ magazine.  In there was an article about the path to a secondary treatment system for Victoria’s waste.  It’s a good article, well worth reading, and it put me in mind of the ‘state of the art’ treatment facility in Kamloops.  I sent a quick e-mail to Judy Brownoff, Saanich Councillor and CRD Director, and in her reply she mentioned that the Victoria project is using the same consultants (Stantec) as the Kamloops project, and she is hopeful that many of the same ideas (LEED buildings, carbon positive, and more) of the Kamloops project will be included in the new design.

Thinking about water issues reminded me of a site I had come across some time ago for the Seattle Public Utilities, specifically their Drain and Sewer System.  They’ve update their site so the links I had were broken, but I found the new ones pretty quickly.  Under the main Drain and Sewer System page there are several sections, including one called Green Stormwater Infrastructure.  Within that are sections on Stormwater Code Compliance, Natural Drainage Projects, Residential Rainwise Program, Resources for Residents, Low Impact Development, and Incentives & Opportunities.  A lot of good information there.  I also discovered a .pdf file for the city of Portland, OR that highlights their ‘Stormwater Cycling Tour‘.  Basically it’s a pamphlet that shows “A pedal-powered tour of some of the innovative ways Portlanders handle stormwater”.

From there I wound my way back to BC, and the island.  The CRD has a website dedicated to “Innovative Rainwater Management“, which includes a rather interesting “Virtual Rainwater Management Tour“.   I also found a CRD page on “Stormwater, Harbours & Watersheds“. After a little poking around I also found some information from the provincial government of BC, specifically a site devoted to BC’s Water Management Plan: “Living Water Smart” and a file on “The Province of British Columbia’s Expectations and Programs for Green Communities” called “The New Business As Usual: Visualize What we Want British Columbia to Look Like in 50 Years“.  This report was published on a site called “Waterbucket: Sustainable Approaches to Water Resources“.  Related to water issues, I also flagged the web page for the Fraser Basin Council, and specifically their page on “Smart Planning for Communities – creating stronger, more vibrant and sustainable communities“.

I’m going to close this section on water with a quote from “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp:

“Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks are evidence of his obsessive thoroughness. For example, Leonardo was fascinated by water.  In one section of hit notebooks he lists the various aspects of rivers and currents he intended to study:

Of the different rates of speed of currents from the surface of the water to the bottom.
Of the different cross slants between the surface and the bottom.
Of the different currents on the surface of the waters.
Of the different currents on the bed of the rivers.
Of the different depths of the rivers.
Of the different shapes of the hills covered by the waters.
Of the different shapes of the hills uncovered by the waters.
Where the water is switft at the bottom and not above.
Where the water is slow at the bottom and swift above.
Where it is slow below and above and swift in the middle.
Where the water in the rivers stretches itself out and where it contracts.  Where it bends and where it straightens itself.
Where it penetrates evenly in the expanses of rivers and where unevenly.  Where it is low in the middle and high at the sides.
Where it is high in the middle and low at the sides.
Where the current goes straight in the middle of the stream.  Where the current winds, throwing itself on different sides.
Of the different slants in the descents of the water.

By the time Leonardo had considered all of these aspects, he understood rivers and was ready to make any creative use of their power and potential that might occur to him, whatever the context.  Asking the question assigned him the task of finding the answer.” (p. 176)

Okay, what else?  A group called ‘Center for American Progress’ have put out a report titled “Rebuilding America: A Policy Framework for Investment in Energy Efficiency Retrofits“.  While wind turbines, solar panels and LEED certification are all great ideas, for the vast majority of existing buildings the simple truth is that money can best be invested in making them more efficient, whether this includes making them more airtight, better insulated, installing better windows, etc.

The lastest newsletter from Green Building Advisor includes an article on ‘Can Houses Be Too Tight?’ as well as news on “Living Building Challenge 2.0 Released, Online List of Questionable Chemicals, a Net Zero Model Home in Boulder, CO” and more.

The December 2009 newsletter from GreenRoofs.com is available.

Sundance Chanel’s Eco-mmunity ‘Greenzine‘ is also available.

The editors of ‘Building Products‘ magazine have announced the winners of their 2009 MVP Awards for innovative building products.

A site I came across this week is the Eco-Home Network, an “on-going living research center that demonstrates ecological living in an urban environment.”

An interesting article from ‘Sustainable Facility’: “Occupant Education Key to Green Building Success“.  “A survey conducted by Dovetail Partners has revealed that while overall green building satisfaction is high, continued occupant education is important for achieving the best results in certified green buildings.”

Eco-Sense, in Victoria, BC: “Eco-Sense is North America’s FIRST code-approved seismically engineered load bearing insulated cob house featuring: solar PV and wind power, grid intertie, solar thermal heating, rainwater harvesting from a living roof, composting toilet, grey water re-use, and passive solar design.”

And finally, three articles that are a little outside the ‘Green Building’ category but are still relevant.

I’ve hung my share of drywall over the years, and I recently came across a tool that cuts both sides of the paper simultaneously.  It’s a lot faster and it also has no exposed blades.  I’d still use my rotary saw for outlet boxes and things and I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like a great idea to me!  The Goldblatt Bladerunner. NB: I found the videos slow to load, but there’s a better one here.

Some fashions may be trashy, but how about a $30,000 fashion made from trash?  “Artist Nancy Judd created Recycle Runway to provide education about conservation using couture fashions that she designs from trash.” For the ‘Glass Evening Gown’,Approximately 12,000 pieces of crushed glass from the City of Albuquerque Recycling Program were individually glued to a 1930s style evening gown made from upholstery fabric remnants and a pair of vintage shoes. The dress and shoes took 400 hours to create.”

And finally for this week… I came across a site today for ‘The Orion Project‘.  I hesitated about including it because some might see it as more science fiction than science, but the basis for the project is the open development of pollution-free unlimited sources of energy.  Sound like a pipe dream?  The research has been and is being conducted by engineers, physicists and research scientists around the world.  Unfortunately, most if not all of this potential has been hidden behind a ‘black ops’ curtain.  The goal of the project is to bring this research out into the open.  In October of this year Steven M. Greer, MD and Theodore C. Loder III, PhD of the Orion Project sent an ‘energy briefing‘ to President Obama and the Members of the US Congress.  It’s a 27-page .pdf file, well worth reading.

Have a great week, and if you have anything to share, leave a comment here!

Mike.

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