Being Green – Social Networking

Greetings!  Friday once again… where did the week go?  Ah well, as the saying goes, there are 168 hours in a week; what you do with them is up to you.  I was sitting at my computer, staring at a blank screen (that adamantly refused to write anything on itself), when my wife (who sits at the computer beside me) suggested I ‘follow’ on Twitter someone from England who blogs about rooftop gardens, green roofs, etc. (@gardenbeet on Twitter).  That got me thinking about an article I had read earlier today entitled, “Why you have to engage in social media, even if you don’t want to“.

While it’s true that twenty years ago few people had ever heard of a ‘web site’, the simple truth is that websites now get lost in their sheer numbers and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more are sweeping the world and very directly changing the way we do business.  Marcia and I wrote a post last month about our own foray into Social Networking, and we now have a Twitter landing page on this site, where we provide links and information related to social networking information (updated as we can).  Social networking affects every group or business, in every field.   During the recent 2010 TED Conference in California, there were over 40,000 ‘tweets’ (short posts) about the conference.   Chris Anderson of TED can be found at @TEDChris. More and more businesses are allowing/encouraging their employees to post about their experiences with and within the company, and while there have been a couple of instances of people being dismissed as a result of their posts, these events were anything but private and reflect back to the company as well.  ‘CoTweet‘ for example is a resource that allows the employees of a company to share one Twitter account, engaging with their clients online.

Curious, I went to the US Green Building Council home page, and they have a Twitter account (@usgbc).  Being Canadian, I also went to the Canada Green Building Council home page, and they’re not (yet?) hooked up to Twitter.  I’ve sent them an e-mail letting them know that when they do, I’ll be happy to update this post!  Some of the groups, organizations and companies I ‘follow’ on Twitter in relation to sustainability and green building, in addition to those mentioned above, are:

I’m sure you’ll develop your own lists.  Oh, BTW, if you’re like me and tend to be a bit loquacious, I highly recommend Twitlonger.

Articles, sites and news I found this week include the following.  Before I get to that, a reminder that there’s a webinar on ‘Understanding Green Schools‘ on March 17, 2:00 p.m. EDT.  Click on the link to register.

In no particular order:

Have a great week!



If you’re in the Portland, OR area on March 20–21 and are looking for a way to release some of the stress in your life, drop by the Ohara Ikebana Exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden.

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:

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 – Standards

Hi Folks:  Mark Twain is purported to have said there are three kinds of lies (in increasing order of severity): white lies, damnable lies, and statistics.  As anyone who’s worked with statistics can tell you, it’s important to set your parameters before beginning your analysis or statistics can tell you anything you want.  If, by now, you’re wondering what this has to do with being ‘green’, it’s because I’m alternately amazed and confused on how many ‘green standards’ and ‘green certifications’ there are out there today, with more coming down the pipe all the time.  We have standards for whole buildings, such as R2000/ C2000, LEED, BuiltGreen, BOMA BESt, The Living Building Challenge and others, then there are certifications for specific products, like FSC or ITTO certified wood. There are standards like the California Indoor Air Quality Program or ASHRAE Standard 62 – “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality”.  The list also includes programs like William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle certification, but how about Rohner Textil AG’s Climatex Lifestyle compostable upholstery fabric?  Keep in mind these are all just samples of longer lists.  The other issue is that some of these standards are run by governments (LEED for example), others by private companies (Cradle to Cradle), some by industry associations (like BuiltGreen or CPA’s International Testing and Certification Center (ITCC)), and then there are third-party certification companies like Scientific Certification Systems. NGOs like the Rainforest Alliance have created a Certified Xate Initiative (.pdf) in Guatemala’s Mayan Biosphere Reserve to work with the local people regarding the sutainable harvesting of the xate palm. 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!