Being Green – Going Beyond Design

Hi Folks:  Been a little quiet here on the ‘Being Green‘ side of our blog for a while, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight a couple of articles I came across recently.  Actually, in starting this I remembered a somewhat similar post I had written, which as fate would have it, was written almost exactly a year ago.  That one was titled, “Being Green – Questions“.  Anyway, I digress…

The first article I wanted to mention is on the ‘Buildinggreen.com’ site, and titled “Net-Zero Does Not Live by Design Alone: The Human Factor“.  From the article: Continue Reading →

Being Green – Finding Inspiration

Hi Folks:

One of the amazing things about the internet is the ability to connect people in ways that simply wasn’t possible before.  The ‘net of course isn’t a ‘place’ in itself, but an international network that showcases information on every subject imaginable.  I often turn to specific sites as a way of finding inspiration for whatever project I’m working on and I recently came across a few that relate to the ‘green’ field.

The first is ‘The Designers Accord‘.  “The Designers Accord is a global coalition of designers, educators, and business leaders working together to create positive environmental and social impact.” One of the initiatives of the Designers Accord is a series of 17 videos put forth by the people at Core77.  Called the ‘Sustainability in 7‘ series, each short video profiles one person who is working in the area of sustainable design.  My personal favourite is Bill McDonough (he’s my hero) but each one has their own merit.  You can either watch the videos all at once or pick one every day for a short burst of inspiration.  All of the people featured are designers and all of them speak to various areas of design, so you may be thinking that if you’re not a designer these videos aren’t for you.  That’s not true, really.  Each of us, in our own way is the designer of our own lives.  The choices that we make, the items we purchase (and those we don’t) and more each contribute to the impact we make on our present and our future, both individually and collectively.  There’s a lot more than videos to the Designers Accord site; it’s well worth checking out.

The second is the new POV section of the Herman Miller website.  This site profiles the work of five different architects (so far) and gives some insight into how they create the buildings they design.

The third is that the folks at Environmental Design + Construction magazine and Sustainable Facility magazine have completely redesigned their websites.  There’s a wealth of articles, podcasts, webinars and more available.  Worth checking out!

Wherever you are in the world, take a moment to find some inspiration today.  It could be a bird call, the shape of a cloud or someone’s smile… easy to find if you look for it!

Hugs,
Mike.

Being Green – Connections

Hi Folks:

Happy Friday!  Happy Earth Day, +1!  Actually, as the saying goes, “Make Every Day Earth Day“.  I saw an ad for a T-shirt once that said, “Love Your Mother.  Good Planets Are Hard to Find.”  It looked something like this:

Continue Reading →

Being Green: Body and Mind – The Olympics and TED

Hi Folks:

Well, another week has flown by!  The Vancouver 2010 Olympics begin today, and there’s been a lot of effort put into making this Olympics the ‘greenest’ one ever.  There are, of course, two opposing views on their efforts.  On one side, Daily Planet has created an extensive chronicle of the science and technology that has gone into the preparations for this event, and a part of their efforts include eight segments highlighting different ways in which this Olympics are ‘going for green‘.  The official Vancouver Olympics website also has a section of their site devoted to explaining their sustainability efforts.  Even the Olympic medals are made partially from metals recycled from electronic waste.  On the other side of the table, a recent article by Dr. David Suzuki serves to highlight the (many?) ways in which the 2010 Olympics has fallen  short, and the ways in which future games might be improved. As an example, one new structure at Whistler is a chalet designed to PassivHaus standards.  A PassivHaus consumes 90% less energy than one built to standard building code.  I think that’s wonderful, and ideas like this need to be incorporated into every new building.  At the same time, the building was created in a factory in Austria and then shipped around the world to BC where it was erected, so that process itself may negate the environmental benefits of having such a tight structure.  I can’t say for sure.  Can we do more?  Need we do more?  For my part I say yes, certainly, on both counts.  At the same time, I believe we advance ourselves further with compliments than criticisms, so I offer my congratulations to all involved with the Vancouver 2010 Olympics for their efforts in sustainability, and I trust that future events will greatly exceed the efforts made here.

Now the Olympics is primarily about the body.  Yes, there’s technology and development and mental acuity and more, but overall the Olympics is about physical excellence.  There’s another ‘Olympics’ of sorts that’s also going on right now, a little farther south, in Long Beach, CA – the 2010 TED ConferenceTED is an acronym for ‘Technology – Entertainment – Design’ and in some respects TED is a mental olympics.  But while the Olympics proper is about competition, striving to be the best, TED is about cooperation, perhaps coopetiton.  Some of the most important minds in the world gather every year at TED.  There’s also ‘William’.  He’s 11, and the youngest TED attendee to date.  At TED you’ll find doctors, engineers, business leaders, and also people like William Kamkwamba.  A native of Malawi, at 14 William had to leave school to support his family.  He went to the closest library and found a book on wind energy, and using some wonderful adaptive engineering he built a wind generator for his parent’s home.  Basically he built a wooden tower, formed blades out of melted PVC pipe, and connected these blades to the pedal arm of a bicycle.  When the wind turned the propeller blades, the rotating crank would ‘pedal’ the bicycle, spinning the rear wheel and generating electricity using a small generator designed to operate a bicycle headlight.  He generated enough power to provide for four lights in his parent’s home, and so he went beyond that, adding in a circuit breaker and four light switches.

To say a lot has been written about TED – some good, some less than flattering – would be a vast understatement.  There’s such a broad scope of topics covered at the main conference every year, and increasingly in independent ‘TEDx’ conferences (300 so far), that any attempt to cover them all would fall short.  But since these weekly posts are about green building and sustainability, I thought I’d highlight just a few to get you started.  Hundreds more can be seen and/or downloaded from the TED website.

Rachel Armstrong presented an idea to use ‘protocells’ to create building structures that sequester CO2 from the atmosphere or from water, creating carbonate ‘reefs’ that build and repair themselves.

Juan Enriquez talked about the tremendous advances in agriculture caused by shifting our thinking from using ‘force’ to grow food to using biology, and how this concept is our way forward to a sustainable energy future.

Norman Foster discussed how architects can design buildings that are “green, beautiful and basically pollution-free.”

Willie Smits spoke about recreating a clear-cut tropical rainforest in Borneo, providing habitat for local orangutans and providing food, homes, and a sustainable wage for communities of local people.

The winner of the 2010 TED Prize, Jamie Oliver outlined a plan on how to make children (and their parents, and everyone) food aware.  Malnutrition and obesity are linked if we’re eating foods that our bodies can’t effectively utilize.  How does this relate to green building and/or sustainability?  Americans invest $150 billion a year on healthcare issues related to preventable disease arising from obesity and food disorders.  As things are, this will only increase.  The production, transportation, marketing and distribution of ‘unhealthy food’ has costs that are staggering, and not just in an economic sense.  I’ve mentioned this before, and while I can’t remember the name of the original author, the ‘triple bottom line’ for businesses today involve environmental sensitivity, corporate sustainability and profit.  What the speaker said was to consider this as a three-legged stool.  He went on to say that what’s important to remember is not that if you remove one of the legs the stool will fall over.  What’s important to remember is that it doesn’t matter which one of the legs you remove, the stool still falls over.

Okay, the links this week are:

Okay, that’s it for now.  Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to leave us a comment to say hi!

Mike.

P.S.
Something a little different – a touch screen you don’t need to touch.  Gesture Cube: No need to touch – just give it a wave!

Being Green – Up On the Roof

Hi Folks:

Well, The Drifters did it first…

So, I wanted to talk about roofs today, but before I get into that I wanted to start with something that at first blush doesn’t seem to have anything to do with building at all.  I think it does… Continue Reading →

Being Green… Update

Hi Folks!  Friday has come around once again., so that makes it ‘Green Day’ here on our blog.  I took in two webinars this week, both kindly provided by the Building Technologies Program at the US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division.

The first was the second part of a series on the ongoing efforts in Greensburg, KS.  In the spring of 2007 the town of Greensburg was nearly obliterated by a class 5 tornado, and when they decided to rebuild the town, the decision was made to rebuild it as a model of green building and green technologies.  Many different people, departments, governments and private industries have been and continue to be involved in this process.  I think it’s inspirational, and a good model to use for future rebuilding efforts when and if they should arrive.  The presentation slides from the second webinar as well as the slides from the first in the series and a video recording of the first presentation are available at the DOE, EERE website.  The next webinar in this series is expected in January, but I don’t have a firm date for that yet.

The second webinar I had a chance to see was titled ‘Activities and Programs Relating to Energy Efficiency Retrofits in Residential Buildings’.  While it may be true that the average homeowner is more aware of ‘green’ products today (i.e. solar panels, solar hot water, wind turbines, ground source heat pumps, etc.) it has been said over and over again that for most buildings in existence today the first steps should be to make those buildings more efficient.  This can be achieved in many ways – better windows, increased insulation, better weathersealing, etc.  This webinar addressed these issues and also the challenges faced by homeowners who have expressed an interest in pursuing these options, in three areas.  From the slides of this presentation:

  1. Access to Information: Consumers do not have access to straightforward and reliable information.
  2. Access to Financing: Homeowners face high upfront costs and are often unable to recoup the value of their investment.
  3. Access to Skilled Workforce: There is an insufficient amount of skilled workers to expand energy retrofit programs on a national level.

The slides from this webinar are also available at the EERE website; more information will be provided when it is available.

From the e-mails I received this week:

  1. The December 2009  issue of Environmental Building News is available here.
  2. The folks at ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) have made available a series of six ‘Advanced Energy Design Guides’.  There’s one for Small Healthcare Facilities, one for Highway Lodging, one for Small Warehouses and Self-Storage Buildings, one for Small Office Buildings, one for Small Retail Buildings and one for K-12 School Buildings.  The guides are in .pdf format and can be downloaded for free, but registration is required.  The guides can be found here.
  3. The latest e-newsletter from Green Building Advisor is available here.
  4. The latest Targeted e-News from Environmental Design + Construction (re: Energy Star) is available here.
  5. And finally (for now), the latest Eco-mmunity Greenzine bulletin from Sundance Channel is available here.
  6. The latest Healthy Building Network News is available here.

That’s about it for now, but before I sign out I want to add one more link to promote some folks I know at the Okanagan Science and Technology Council (OSTEC), specifically the ‘Clean Tech‘ group.

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

Mike.

*

Count Your Sheep

Being Green – Education

Hi Folks:

Last Friday I decided to dedicate one day a week to information related to green building on the basis that I subscribe to (and hence receive) several different e-newsletters every week.  This week has been quiet in that department, but that doesn’t mean I’ve run out of things to share.  Not by a long shot…

First though, the November 2009 issue of Environmental Building News is now available, here.  And GreenBuildingAdvisor.com has a white paper available titled, ‘Stand Out from the Pack: How to Position Yourself as an Expert Eco-Builder’.  It’s available for free download, here.  Also, recently announced are the final specifications for the US EPA’s ‘Water Sense’ program.  More on that here.

Last week I wrote a little bit about Greensburg, KS, and I wanted to insert a reminder that part 2 of a webinar on Greensburg is coming up next Tuesday, December 15, 12:00–1:30 PM EST.   ‘Admission’ is free, but you do need to register in advance, here.

There are a number of places where one can learn more about green building online.  The Canadian Home Building Association (CHBA) has developed the Canadian Home Building Institute (CHBI), and they have a series of courses one can take on a number of aspects of construction, some of them online and some ‘in person’.  This includes ‘Built Green™ BC Builder Training‘.  For more information, check out http://www.learnyourliving.ca.  Both the Canada Green Building Council (CAGBC) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) offer on-site and online courses as well, including information on becoming LEED certified.  Two sites where one can take free online courses and earn AIA-certified credits are http://www.aecdaily.com and http://www.architectces.com.  There are webinars concerning a wide variety of products and systems, and a test at the end of each session.  That’ll get you started…

One aspect of  green building that I hadn’t thought about until I heard of it is green-certified real estate professionals.  Ecobroker.com was the first that I heard about, but since then I’ve come across some others.  GreenRealEstate.com offers courses to certify real estate people, and the National Association of Realtors has developed the Green REsource Council to offer their own certification programs and courses.

Finally for today, according to Environmental Design and Construction magazine, 29000 people visited this year’s GreenBuild conference.  There’s a series of short videos on the ED+C website, including this one, entitled, ‘Why Green?’  The others are here.

Have a great week, and if you have a link to share, post a comment here!

Mike.

P.S.  If you have people asking you why this is important, I highly recommend the TED talk by William McDonough on ‘Cradle to Cradle’ design.

P.S. II, the sequel:  Came across this short article today: “Perspectives on Sustainable Design – Sustainability is More Than a Scorecard“, by Dan Heinfeld FAIA, LEED AP