This week, the AIA's national Committee on the Environment handed out its top ten green awards. And for the first time in two years, there isn't a project from Seattle! (There is however a project from Portland -Twelve/West by ZGF Architects - on the list so the Northwest didn't entirely miss out this year.)did win AIA COTE awards like Dockside Green in Vancouver, B.C. and The Terry Thomas in Seattle) finished up. And a number of cutting edge green projects are just getting planned or are about to be completed (Urban Waters in Tacoma, The Bullitt Foundation's Headquarters).
That's not to dismiss projects that were completed this past year. There has been some amazing work in the region (though a number of really cool projects are on a smaller scale or are different projects than AIA COTE traditionally honors). If you had to pick a project or two that was completed in the past year that exemplifies green design in the Pacific Northwest, what would you pick?
Off the top of my head, a couple projects come to mind. One is Pacific Plaza in Tacoma (rendering above). The project targeted LEED platinum and turned an old, ugly parking garage into a useful, efficient green building. If we're looking for models of what we can achieve with our existing structures, one need look no further than this.
The other is the headquarters of DA Stark Interiors in Georgetown. Made out of cargo containers, this project's structure is recycled and thus, inherently green. If we're really looking at reusing existing materials,go here.
However, more than the national COTE awards, I look forward to the regional AIA What Makes it Green Awards. These awards are limited to projects in the Northwest and the Pacific regions. They are judged locally by high profile experts, often during an open process where viewers can listen in and hear what judges are looking for and what they are impressed by. I highly recommend attending the event, which will be held May 5 at Seattle City Hall from 1 to 4 p.m.
Until then, I'm posting a few winners of the AIA COTE honors below. If you want more info about any of these projects or want to see more pictures, visit the AIA's very informative Web site.
The program honors both projects that are already built and those that are "on the boards" or planned.
AIA Seattle will shortlist project teams between April 12 and 16. Then, those teams will go through jury interviews as part of the Living Future Conference in May. A celebration for the winners and a panel discussin will be held in Seattle in early June.
For information on last year's winners, click the tab 'AIA' below.
The honors have been doled out. The party's done. And AIA's What Makes It Green is over for another year. To read my article in the DJC, click here.
There have been some interesting blog postings on this year's ceremony. Dan Bertolet's self-described rant at hugeasscity talks about the title of the awards, and whether, after all this time, we still don't know what makes it green. Dominic Holden at The Stranger also weighed in on the point of the awards here. The AIA Seattle COTE also live-blogged the process (go here if you want a full list of winners).
Of the ten projects that won, it surprises me that six are in Washington. Two are in Seattle. If we're really looking at the greenest of the green, I would expect a wider range of geographic locations (considering the competition was open to designers and architects in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Guam, Hawaii, Hong Kong and Japan).
This year's project winners included one project in Leavenworth, one in Woodinville, two in Seattle, one in Olympia, one on San Juan Island, one in Victoria, B.C., one in Billings, Mont., one in Portland and one in Denver.
By way of comparison, last year's winners included one two from Seattle, one in Tacoma, one in Issaquah, one in Bremerton, one in Billings, Mont., one in Corvallis, Ore., one in Portland, one in Salem and one in Bend.
(Incidentally, both winners in Billings went to the same architecture firm - High Plains Architects).
But here's the thing: an awards process is only as good as the entries it receives. And from what I've heard, it takes a lot of time and effort to put a project entry together. So what can you do?
I don't have the answer. But I do have winning project pictures. Here are a few of them: enjoy!
Tomorrow, the Seattle Chapter of the AIA will announce its winners of the What Makes it Green Awards. The awards celebrate the greenest projects in the Pacific Northwest (and a few overseas countries. Still not sure on how the overseas aspect works but it does).
So before they make their big announcements, I wanted to ask you, dear readers.... what do you think are the greenest buildings of the past year?
Nationally, the AIA chose Weber Thompson's headquarters and Dockside Green (for more info, click AIA tag below). Who do you think the local awards will honor?
Just for fun, I'm including some randomly chosen images of green buildings I have reported on in the past year. Let me know if you think these - or any I haven't mentioned - will be winners:
P.S. For pictures of last year's winners, click the tag 'AIA' or 'Awards' below!
The Environmental Protection Agency announced its 2008 Green Power Leadership Awards and the community of Bellingham is officially one of five national winners in the Green Power Partner of the Year Category. And the only winner (in that category) that is a city, or community as the case may be. And oh, by the way, it's the second year it has won this award.
For those of you who don't know, Bellingham basically rocks when it comes to
renewable energy. In early 2007, the Bellingham local government chose to buy 100 percent green power for all city-owned facilities. Later the same year, the city helped launch the Bellingham Green Power Community Challenge, the goal of which was to increase green power purchasing among city residents and businesses to more than 2 percent of the city-wide electricity use. The community has surpassed the goal and buys more than 81 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy certificates; about 11 percent of the community's total electrical use. More than 2,400 households and businesses buy power through the challenge.
Portland General Electric won an award in another category - the Green Power Beacon Award. In part, the utility won the award for its GreenPowerOregon.com Web site, which features coupons, a power calculator and information.
Other winners in the award category included Intel Corp, University of Pennsylvania and Cisco Systems. Winners in other categories included The Estee Lauder Companies, PepsiCo., the Philadelphia Phillies.
Almost inspires you to pay that extra $3, $6 or $12 a month towards renewable energy, eh?
For more information, visit the city of Bellingham's Climate Protection Program.
Loyal readers! Today I come to you offering some great prizes for your continuous attention to the DJC Green Building Blog.
strong, stable and lightweight tote! Modeled at left by the DJC's stylish Publisher Phil Brown, and bearing the DJC's customary insignia ("helping business do business since 1893"), it's sure to be your favorite new accessory.
If you want to be the envy of your many grocery store friends, all you have to do is respond in a comment below to all or part of this question: What is the biggest obstacle to building green, how would you fix it and who do you think should be responsible for fixing it? Bags will be given until supplies runs out.
Our second possible prize (and less certain because it's another organization giving it
away) is a "certified green commercial kitchen" worth $40,000 from a contest sponsored by Foodservicewarehouse.com. The Web site is an online restaurant supply retailer that has created a new green certification for commercial kitchens. To be certified, a commercial kitchen must earn points in energy and water conservation, waste reduction, green cleaning and green education. I can't speak to how stringent the process is and it looks like you might need to buy kitchen goods from the site to earn points, but I guess something is better than nothing. The certification itself seems emblematic of how the idea of green is spreading into new places.
Either way, the kitchen contest is fairly simple. Just go here and enter information by Oct. 31. A link for the contest is also included to the left of this page under 'links.'
Best of luck and happy winning!
My recent post called "Is green building dangerous?" raised a number of comments. In the post, I mentioned a project that had won a significant green award but was "poisoning" its inhabitants. One commenter asked for more information on the subject, so I went to Dan Morris, the indoor air quality specialist mentioned, for specifics on the project. Here is his response (WARNING, may be overly technical):
Morris said the problem with the green house in question was the location of things. It had a large gas water heater used to heat the hydronic infloor heating and domestic hot water that was in a small laundry room with a washer, dryer, an exhaust fan and a fixed window. The occupants were not "poisoned" (as I originally stated) but were exposed to somewhat elevated levels of carbon monoxide over long periods in the house (either way though, it's not good for you).
Morris said the carbon monoxide and other trace pollutants found in the flue gasses from gas combustion were drawn into the house whenever the dryer or exhaust fan was operated when the water/space heater was operating. The dryer or exhaust fan took air out of the laundry room with no provision for make-up air from outdoors. The only open hole to the outdoors was the water heater flue. The make-up air was drawn down the flue pipe and back drafted the water heater. In short, it was out of balance and pressure.
In Morris' words: "What was so disturbing about this house was that no one understood the basics of building science, or were not paying attention. This includes the: architect or building designer, builder, homeowners, code officials/inspectors, green building award people."
Obviously, this isn't every green designer or builder or award program... but how common is it? And whose responsibility was it to notice that all those things should not have been in the same room?
Another commenter, SteamboatEcoBroker, said with newer green buildings, air quality and ventilation systems are a must because they are much tighter than older buildings. So should more attention be paid to the air quality systems in a green building? Do green building systems focus too much on energy and not enough on other important aspects?
If you have any insights, please share them with me below.
I have a story in today's DJC on the year's 10 best new green products, according to (our kind of competitor) the Sustainable Industries Journal... but were they really the best?
The products range from odd to ordinary, at least in what their function is. Here are three of them:
I'd never heard of the Solar Tracking Skylight by Solar Tracking Skylights of Chicago but it sure sounds interesting. It's a self-contained, self-managed skylight with mirrors that move to adapt to the sun's position. It's designed to provide light all day, not just when the sun is shining directly above. They're half the size of typical skylights and customers include Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and the U.S. Military. ... and they also look like they came out of a space movie! Yea for space movie products! (If you want to see a video of how it works, visit the Web site at the above link).
Lamberts Channel Glass by Glasfrabriks Lamberts of Bavaria, Germany is a self-supporting column that can be used as interior or exterior walls. They're made from 40 percent recycled glass and are decidedly pretty, judges said. At left is the product in use at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. One judge, Clark Brockman of Sera Architects in Portland, said, "Let's just face it, it's sexy."
Sexy. Usually a word NOT associated with green building products (or projects for that matter). But judge for yourself from the picture at left....
Then there's local winner Salvaged Hardwood Tables by Urban Hardwoods of Seattle. Urban Hardwoods has salvaged 3,000 trees, that would have otherwise ended up being wasted, and turned the wood into tables. This one was salvaged from Kirkland and costs $4,200 for the tabletop.
But like it or not, these are all the opinions of a handful of (granted knowledgeable) judges. Perhaps you too are a judge in disguise. If so, tell me about the best green product not on the list. Post your comments below.
SI assures us all the products are real green products rather than examples of great greenwashing. But how well green products work is also controversial. For more on that topic, click the tag green materials below and read the entry 'Green products not so great, says Gehry specifier,' and comments.
These are three of the 10. To learn about the other seven, read my story here.
Being a reporter, you learn a lot about your beat. But what you write on a day to day basis is often influenced by the press releases you get. It's unfortunate, but I simply have not found a way to be in five different places at once. Hence, a good PR person, whether private or government, can be a reporter's best friend (or worst nightmare).
Today I got a press release from the city of Kirkland on its sustainability efforts. So, just for being proactive, I'm going to tell you, dear reader, about all the things Kirkland is telling me.
First off, I don't live in Kirkland so I can't really understand the green things that they're doing... because I don't see it with my own eyes. But I do know that they're making a concentrated effort to become a green city. I also know other cities have complained that they don't have the time or money to think about green issues because they're thinking about things like affordable housing. Does the balance matter? You decide.
Recently, Kirkland comissioned a survey to study the "sustainability of its economy." Though I'm not positive what that means, it's certainly something. According to that press release the survey wanted to figure out where residents shop, what eco-sound products, services or practices should be available or practiced in Kirkland, etc. (P.S., Kirkland people, I'd love to learn more about these results.)
It won a 2008 Smart Communities Award from Gov. Chris Gregoire for city-wide zoning regulations that allow for cottage, carriage and two/three unit homes. It won a ICLEI milestone award for conducting a greenhouse gas emission inventory, after which Kirkland adopted reduction goals of 10 percent below 2005 emission levels by 2012, 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 2007 levels by 2050. And it won a Cascade Land Conservancy Stewardship Legal Award for the Green Kirkland Partnership. The partnership commits resources to remove invasive plants and replant parks with native trees and shrubs.
So is Kirkland really as green as it sounds, or does it just have a great pr machine? If you live there I'd appreciate your input, as I don't and therefore, do not know.
Want to know more about Kirkland's amazing green-ness? Check out the official site here. More for life in Kirkland? Check out The Eastside Life blog here. Want Kirkland news? Check out Kirkland Views here. And the Kirkland Highlands Real Estate Buzz has some green news here.
Live in another non-Seattle city that can never seem to get out of the Seattle sustainability shadow? Tell me about what your city's doing below, or e-mail me at email@example.com. I'd love to know what I don't.
To learn more about the Smart Communities Awards, read the DJC's story here.