Tucker Warner | May 23rd, 2013
Photo courtesy Arup
New green building materials are constantly popping up on the market and it has become hard to stay on top of what’s latest and greatest. Occasionally, however, one catches your eye and makes you double take – thinking, “how on earth is that possible?” Read the rest of World’s First Algae-Powered Building Opens »
Christine Lindell | May 18th, 2013
“The past is a foreign country” – but the future of building is an alien planet.”
Luc Schuiten’s “City of Waves” – a fantastical vision of a more climate-minded future city.
I really like science fiction and fantasy, and I really like green building. I can’t be the only one who sees the connection there, can I? Read the rest of What Science Fiction Can Teach Us About Green Building »
Christine Lindell | May 16th, 2013
A few weeks ago, William McDonough released his new book, The Upcycle – the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2002 treatise against waste, Cradle to Cradle. A central claim of both books is that the modern environmental movement is far too concerned with reduction of “bads” – pollute less, throw away less, use less energy. As McDonough and his co-author Michael Braungart put it: being less bad is not the same as being good.
Our ultimate aim should not be the reduction of environmental harm to a zero point, though that’s good first step – as this (literally) nihilistic obsession with zeroing out is both absurd and under-ambitious. (“Who would want simply a ‘sustainable’ marriage?”) Instead, our guiding light should be the creation of products and buildings generate “goods” that are “nutritive” and “regenerative” – both terms McDonough uses frequently. Read the rest of 100 Percent Upside: Reaching Beyond Net Zero »
Christine Lindell | April 23rd, 2013
As the current participants in the San Francisco SBA Program wrap up their final presentations and prepare to take their certification exams, Christine gets the scoop from Marni Evans, sustainability educator, coach, and speaker, on the path that led her to the SBA Program and the multifaceted career she has since created for herself.
How did you find the Sustainable Building Advisor Program, and how has it shaped your career in the decade since you completed your certification? Read the rest of Creating New Career Paths with the SBA Program »
Tucker Warner | April 8th, 2013
The San Francisco Federal Building is the first naturally ventilated office building on the West Coast since the advent of air conditioning. Image courtesy Tucker Warner.
Field trips are a vital part of the SBA curriculum, allowing students to see first-hand how different sustainable design concepts and technologies are put into practice under real working conditions. Recently, my classmates in the Winter 2013 SBA cohort and I embarked on a three stop walking tour of exemplary sustainable buildings: The San Francisco Federal Building, the Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters. Each building embodies a different approach and illustrated many of the lessons we are currently studying. Read the rest of Three Exemplary Sustainable Buildings in San Francisco »
Christine Lindell | April 6th, 2013
The much-maligned Vancouver Olympic Village, often brought up in discussions of ugly green buildings
It’s surprising to read, today, blog posts and articles only a few years old that earnestly debate the question of whether a green building can be beautiful – whether architects can successfully juggle concerns over energy efficiency, water usage, carbon footprint, and materials selection with their aesthetic aims. Green buildings, it was thought, were “blocky, all glass, covered in matted foliage”, with clunky PV or other technical systems cluttering up a dull space. Read the rest of Is Green Building Beautiful? »
Tucker Warner | April 3rd, 2013
Without question, sourcing food locally is one of today’s hottest sustainability topics, and for good reason. The produce found in most grocery stores travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to shelf, which not only consumes energy, but also makes it nearly impossible to provide truly fresh, nutritious, and tasty food.
By contrast, locally sourced produce can provide the highest possible nutrients and taste (which interestingly enough run together) without the externalities intertwined in the shipping process. Read the rest of Should Buildings Be Part of the Food Chain? »
Christine Lindell | March 26th, 2013
The USGBC is currently updating to LEEDv4, including a new credit that rewards ingredient reporting and optimization for building materials. Christine talked with Eden Brukman, principal at Concenter Solutions, LLC, coauthor of the Living Building Challenge, and a leading contributor to the development of the Health Product Declaration and the Pharos Project, about why we need more transparency in building material choices, and how to get involved in shaping future policies and industry practices.
Read the rest of LEED v4 and Building Product Disclosure Credits »
Tucker Warner | March 25th, 2013
Have you ever stopped to notice how unnaturally bright it is at night? Or tried to think back to the last time you were outside and surrounded by complete darkness? The truth is that our cities and streets are ten times brighter than they were 20 years ago and our lives have become completely dependent on electric light.
So why did we choose this path of ever increasing light intensity? Perhaps the most prominent driving force has been marketing and street appeal. It wasn’t long after the invention of electric lighting that businesses noticed they could get more people in the door by simply making their establishments brighter. Competing stores soon realized they needed to follow suit, becoming brighter and brighter with the hopes of funneling more street traffic to their stores. And it worked – like bugs to a boat light – people swarmed to the brightest glow. Read the rest of Dimming Down City Lights: The Next Revolution? »
Christine Lindell | March 14th, 2013
In this second of two posts, Christine examines the definition of onsite degeneration for ZNE buildings, and why some European countries prefer the concept of the “nearly zero energy building”. See part 1 for a recap of the common definitions of ZNE used in across the US.
Most definitions of Zero Net Energy (ZNE) assume that the building site contributes all or a substantial portion of required energy through some means of self-generation. But just like the official definition of ZNE itself, the the subject of where and how this energy is generated is also open for discussion. Onsite generation via solar is generally considered the preferred option – but what about buildings on shaded sites? Or without suitable roofs? Or where the energy demand of the building cannot be met by the surface area of the roof (as is usually the case with multi-story buildings)?
Some ZNE definitions hold that if rooftop generation is not possible, solar or wind installation in adjacent brownfields or even greenfields is permissible. Even less preferable is designated renewable energy generation in a distant location; and even less desirable than that is the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates in an amount proportional to the (conventional) energy use of the building. Read the rest of What’s In a Name? Defining Zero Net Energy (part 2) »