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!


Being Green – Update

Hi Folks:

Well, my plan for this week’s post was to talk about ‘green roofs’, but this week decided to unfold as it wanted… “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew…” Of course, Burns’ poem was about disturbing a mouse house, so it  sort of fits into a post about ‘green building’.

Having said all that, here are the links for green building I came across this week, and we’ll get to green roofs next week.  I’ll start with a green roof story, though. Continue Reading →

Being Green – Good News?!?!?!

Hi Folks:  Well, Friday has come around once again and that means it’s ‘green day’ here for us.  Without question the biggest news in the world this week is the aftermath following the earthquake in Haiti.  If you’re interested you can find links to disaster relief sites here.  It’s events like this that bring the words ‘climate change’ into real focus.  It’s wonderful that so many millions of dollars and thousands of hours of effort have been offered in assisting the people of Haiti deal with what’s happened on their island; as Marcia said to me though, where were the funds to help them upgrade their infrastructure BEFORE this happened?

Ah well.  The title of this blog post is ‘Good News’ and all evidence to the contrary, there is good news to be found.  Last week’s post focused on what I see as the somewhat bewildering plethora of green building standards and certifications, but even that is good news in a way.  It wasn’t that many years ago that none of this existed.  One article I came across this week is titled ‘A Very Brief History of Sustainability‘.  These ideas continue to spread beyond building construction as well.  On the Sustainable Sites Initiative website you can find information on “The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009” (.pdf), which includes “all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance”.  There’s also a companion guide called “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes” (.pdf)  It brings a different slant to the idea of being ‘green’.  Another site I came across talks about greening up building operations and maintenance.  In the US these guidelines fall under the USGBC LEED for Existing Buildings – Operations and Maintenance Guide.  The article I read is titled, “LEED Cleaning – Why Not?“  Consider for a moment the wide range of chemicals used in traditional cleaning products and their effects on both the people using them and everyone else occupying the building after their use.  I certainly applaud less toxic alternatives!  Continue Reading →

Being Green – Update

Hi Folks:

I usually do my ‘Being Green’ posts on Fridays, but since tomorrow I expect to be tied up with ribbon and force fed turkey or something like that, I thought I’d do it today instead.

I have a few things to share with you this week.  First some news:

Largest Solar Energy Project in New York State Approved
“Uniondale, N .Y. — Long Island Power Authority President and CEO, Kevin S. Law announced that the LIPA Board of Trustees approved power purchase agreements (PPAs) with BP Solar and enXco Development Corp. thereby creating the state’s largest source of solar power on Long Island. LIPA’s Solar Energy Project will introduce approximately 50MW of renewable energy generated on Long Island onto LIPA’s electric grid, enough to power 6,500 households and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 tons per year as well as reducing other greenhouse gases…”

SMUD Gets 60 Percent Energy Savings from an Older House
“The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) hopes a new demonstration program will save owners of existing homes money and also spur a new spike in home remodels that really make a difference. The SMUD Energy Efficient Remodel Demonstration (EERD) program is a comprehensive, whole-house approach to retrofitting a home with energy-saving and energy-generating equipment and measures…” Also:

Greener Gadgets
While not directly related to ‘green building’ per se, “The Greener Gadgets Conference tackles all of the issues surrounding energy efficiency and sustainable design, from innovative advances in packaging and product manufacturing to end-of-life recycling solutions. It also highlights ways in which electronics make a major impact by utilizing renewable energy in developing nations…”

Somewhat related to the ‘Greener Gadgets’ above, EPEAT is a new certification system for electronics.  One might think of it as a ‘LEED’ rating system for computers and similar devices.  “EPEAT is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, thin clients, workstations and computer monitors…”

Haworth Achieves 0% Landfill Status
This is really good news: “Holland, Mich. – Haworth, Inc. announced that all U.S., Shanghai and Pune manufacturing facilities, as well as the company’s global headquarters, have achieved zero waste to landfill status. Preliminary results show that Haworth’s U.S. manufacturing facilities have gone from 4.6 million pounds of landfill waste in 2008 to zero in 2009…”


LED Traffic Lights Reduce Electricity Costs, But They Can’t Melt Snow
One of those unexpected consequences.  LED traffic lights are replacing standard traffic lights in some municipalities.  The new lights greatly reduce energy consumption, and they also produce no heat to speak of.    “But it turns out, as snowbound municipalities are just now discovering, that that excess heat was very useful for melting accumulated snow. Now that everyone’s switched over to cooler-running LEDs, snow tends to pile up and obscure the lights, leading to a situation that’s annoying at best and dangerous at worst.

For now, local governments are coping by sending crews out in snowstorms to clean the lights off with compressed air and brushes, as no one’s yet stepped forth with a design-related fix…”


Newsletters, etc. this week include:
Sustainable Facility’s Targeted e-News on Energy: Efficient Lighting
ED+C’s Targeted eNews: WaterSense

GBI Insight
newsletter from The Green Building Initiative
Jones Lang Lasalle Global Sustainability Perspective – December 2009

FP Innovations – Forintek’s ‘The Straight Woods’ newsletter includes this article:
Selling Wood Products to the Green Building Market – A Guide for Wood Product Manufacturers: Understanding Green Programs (LEED and Green Globes)

Sundance Channel Eco-mmunity Greenzine

Finally (for now), the latest edition of BC Homes Magazine showed up in my (postal) mailbox this week.  This magazine is put out by the Canadian Home Builders Association, and subscription is free.  There are some good articles in every issue.  Now I just need to find time to read it!  Maybe tonight while I’m waiting for St. Nick to show up.  We always knock back some milk and a few cookies together, talk about the logistics of landing on green roofs, the access challenges provided by direct vent fireplaces, things like that…

Well folks, it’s Christmas Eve, and my wife is waiting patiently for me to finish my typing here.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia or something uniquely your own, we offer our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and a 2010 with as much health, joy and prosperity as you can handle!