Apparently, Living Future has a theme of people taking their shirts off. Last year it was Sim Van der Ryn. This year it's the people introducing the 15 Minutes of Brilliance (though to be fair they said they were just getting more casual and only stripped to their t-shirts under dress shirts).
(By the way, the audience is whoot-whooting like in the Arsenio Hall show....)
So 15 minutes of Brilliance lets a few pre-chosen teams to get up and share their brilliant ideas in 10 minutes or less. Excuse me if the below information is a tad fragmented.
The first item was presented by Geof Syphers, chief sustainability officer of Codding Sonoma Mountain Village, a 200-acre factory site in California into an urban neighborhood that will be leed nd, leed platinum and will meet the OnePlanet sustainable criteria. The project is 100 percent solar powered. The team is regrinding 40,000 tons of asphalt to recreate roads. It has a biodiesel factory. What's brilliant, Sypher said is looking at the impacts of a project through this tool, we have to set impact design goals for projects, and we have to measure the end impacts of projects. "Leed platinum isn't always better than LEED silver," he said... but this tool will help get projects greener.
Aurora Mahassine of Habitile The Hanging Gardens went second. She said we need to re-think what our home is, what we value as a society and our connectivity with the Earth systems we evolved with. She said we need more curves, holes and places for life to happen in our landscape. Quote of the day? "fertility begins with a hole." If we keep telling ourselves stories of an apocaypse, she said, we will get there but if we re-embrace gardens with our hands, touch life and reinsert ourselves into the natural lifecycle, our future won't be an apocalypse. Reintegrating ourselves. Habitile itself create vertical modular living systems that become a living wall.
Jim Estes of Inhabitability dicussed the Greensburg Living Building Challenge Competition. Two years ago, a tornado decimated Greensburg, Kansas. As they recovered they
The fourth idea was presented by Bryony Schwan, executive director of the Biomimicry Guild. Scwan said if we could use biomimicry to create change in the built environment, we could effect real change to help prevent climate change. Animals, she said, do more with less while humans problem solve in a completely different way. For example, she said, we thought until recently that flat surfaces were easier to clean. But we looked at lotuses, which had tiny rivets that allowed water to roll off the leaf and clean it. The guild is hosting the Green Building Design Challenge, to look at the connections between design and nature. There are three parts to this challenge: on Wednseday, the guild hosted a design charette to tackle the problem. Now, the challenge will be available online for comment and the third part will be taking designs to market. The challenge will be at asknature.org.
Sara Garrett, director of the Motivespace Coalition spoke about community asset funds and growing community space. Motivespace asks how space can motivate change through community asset funds. The first step in developing a fund is is to stay positive. The second is to support each other. The third is to know your value. The fourth is to cooperate. No one person or gorup could build a thriving community asset fund alone, Garrett said. Because time is money, neighbors can work together to get projects done, bank extra hours and use the extra time they've banked for yard work, neighborhood massages or other work. In this system, any person can seed a project and the best projects will rise to the top and draw the neighbor's assets and skills.
..... and that's it!
Some keynote speakers leave you satisfied, some leave you disappointed and some leave you angry that you just wasted two hours of your time. Then, there are keynote speakers like Janine Benyus that leave you wanting more.
Benyus spoke last night at the Living Future Conference in Portland. Her talk was warm, personal, funny
and informative. Having never heard Benyus speak before, I now understand why she's considered such a big deal. The talk was pretty amazing.
The talk began with Sam Adams, Portland’s mayor (who is funny!!!), welcoming people to Portland. He was pretty straightforward about the general fear that you can’t make any money being green. Not true, he said: “If you take nothing else away from your trip to Portland, take this away: you can make money being very, very green.” Portland, he said, keeps millions in its economy because of its public transportation and green business.
Jason McLennan, Cascadia’s CEO then glowingly introduced Benyus, saying “I think you’re one of the most important figures in the planet today, period… I think you represent our species really well.” Not every day you hear that!
Then Benyus took the stage. She said the uncertainty in today's financial markets can be used to the benefit of biomimicry, building design and creating a better world. When cultural certainties disappear, she said, so does arrogance. She said the recession is creating a similar attitude that happened after the World Trade Center attacks – where “the world is open to listening to the next question ... As long as they’re listening, let’s make the vision as big as we can."
In this same vein, she said building models for a place can be created by looking at how natural organisms in a location treat things like fire, wind etc. “Our buildings could have general organisms as their models.”
Benyus said she hopes we will be able to fly over cities in the future, and have them be functionally indistinguishable from the natural environment. That, she said, would be sustainability.
Benyus also plugged a tool she has been working on for the past year called asknature.org. The tool, she said, allows designers to ask how nature would fix a problem and learn from it. She also discussed how future areas of technology can be inspired by animal organisms. She and Paul Hawken, for example, are working on a new solar cell that is inspired by photosynthesis.
But in the end, she said, new technology or new laws aren't going to save us from ourselves. She said the only thing that can save us is "a change of heart and a change of stance towards the rest of the world."
These are just a few of the items she discussed. For more, stay tuned to a future story in the DJC. If you attended the talk, please comment below and tell me what you thought of it – or what you’ve thought about Benyus’ previous talks. If you didn’t attend the talk, I'd love to hear your comments. Is mimicking nature the future of building? How important is it compared to meeting netzero energy or netting zero water?
Bright and early this morning (7:30 a.m.) I boarded a Seattle train bound for Portland so I could attend Wednesday's Living Future site tour (the first official part of the Living Future Conference) and share the results with you. Though I may be hitting the sack a little early tonight, the results did not disappoint.
There were three tours being held. I attended the one at Portland State University's Shattuck Hall, a building that was originally built in 1915 and recently underwent a ginormous renovation, both functionally and sustainably.
The building itself houses the school's architecture program, so one of the goals of the renovation was to make the building itself a teaching tool. Hence it features things like exposed piping and systems and exposed radiant ceiling panels. The visibility of systems changes from floor to floor, with the top being the most obvious and open.
Having written about the Vance Building earlier this week for the DJC, I noticed a lot of similarities. Both were built early in the century, and both recently underwent massive improvements on tight budgets. The differences in what the two decided to concentrate on though, especially having toured both buildings, were really interesting.
I took some amazing photos, which my (old) computer is unfortunately not letting me load. I promise to post them as soon as I feasibly can. I'll also try to add more information about Shattuck Hall at a later date.
Stay tuned: tonight's keynote speaker is Janine Benyus!
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!
When I was a kid, I remember buying stacks of colorful paper for projects. Despite my best intentions, I'd use a few sheets and the rest would - I'm guessing - end up in the recycling bin.
A Portland nonprofit knows this phenomenon and is targeting those stacks of paper
SCRAP, or the School & Community Reuse Action Project, was founded in 1998 by teachers who didn't want to throw extra classroom material away. The organization takes donations of office supplies (for which you receive a tax write-off) and then sells the material to crafty people or to schools. It diverts 65,000 pounds of material each year from landfills, and also provides art and environmental activity outreach.
With the recent recession, more and more people have been looking for cheaper forms of entertainment and SCRAP has seen more business. But an e-mail I received last week says it has been so busy that it is running out of supplies.
If you have been looking for a way to get rid of old calculators or letterhead from 1980, this might be a good tip for you.
A number of items are flying off SCRAP's shelves. They include out-of-date letterhead, unique paper stock and interesting fabric and yarn. Recent popular items have been X-ray images from head scans and old fencing masks.
Other items on the organization's wish list include: mannequin parts, calculators, staplers, hole punches, paper cutters, spools of wire, PVC pieces, certain promotional items, small discontinued accent items, coasters, jewelry and bead bits and "shiny, sparkly stuff."
For more information, visit SCRAP's Web site at http://scrapaction.org/.
A living building is a building that meets the Living Building Challenge. The challenge
What makes the Portland project unique is its size. The building would be around 220,000-square-feet.
The project, called the Sustainability Center of Excellence, is on a super fast track. It received proposals two weeks ago and held a public meeting last week. Yesterday, the PDC announced it intends to award the project to Gerding Edlen, along with SERA Architects and GBD Architects. The three main partners in the project are the PDC, the Oregon University System and the Living Building Initiative, a consortium of organizations focused on sustainability.
Gerding Edlen and its team will investigate whether the project is feasible. If it is, it will have the option to move ahead with project development.
The goal of the building will be to attract other sustainably-minded businesses to Portland and to Oregon. Do you think this is a good way to attract business? Should Seattle be following in Portland's footsteps, or are we too different to compare?
Locally, the Phinney Neighborhood Association hopes to turn the Phinney Neighborhood Center (everyone's favorite giant blue building) into a living building. The Bullitt Foundation has also purchased a property and is just in the beginning stages of considering whether to do a living building or not. Am I missing any local living building projects? If so let me know.
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.
There's a lot of news out there people. But possibly the most entertaining thing in my in-box doesn't have to do with green materials or green buildings.... it revolves around a penguin.
The Environmental News Network reports that Norway has knighted a king penguin named Niles Olav. Sir Niles Olav is the third penguin to serve as the mascot of the King's Guard. The first mascot penguin was chosen in 1972, and named after then-King Olav V. Sir Niles Olav (the penguin) lives in the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland and was promoted from regimental sergeant major to honorary colonel-in-chief in 2005. Just think, I never knew a penguin could be a knight! For more on this, click here.
In other (green building) news, Portland Architecture reports that Houston developer Hines has withdrawn from the competition for the San Diego city hall project, leaving the door wide open for Gerding Edlen and ZGF, though it doesn't guarantee them the job. For more on the project, click tag 'Gerding Edlen' below or click here.
Jetson Green reports on a Yale grad school student who built her own tiny house that is off the grid. The home will cost about $11,000, is 8' x 18', and has a sleeping loft, storage loft, study nook, kitchen area, living area and bathroom. For more, click here.
Happy news hunting! (penguin photo courtesy of ENN. Tiny house courtesy of Stephen Dunn, via Jetson Green).
I've been on vacation the last week in Chicago/Michigan/Indiana so here's some news items you might have missed:
Seattle is a walkable city! According to Walk Score's listing of the 138 most walkable neighborhoods in the country, Pioneer Square hits number 18, Downtown Seattle (wherever that is) is 33, First Hill is 46, Belltown is 61, Roosevelt is 64, the International District is 83, South Lake Union is 85, University District is 86, Lower Queen Anne is 97 and Wallingford is 133. And overall, Seattle is the 6th most walkable city, following San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. I don't know that I agree with the ranking, do you? For more opinion on whether Seattle reeeeallly outranks Portland, check out the Seattle Weekly here. For more on urban development visit Seattle MetBlogs here, and Sightline's has more here with some pertinent reader comments!
The first meeting of the Green Building Task Force is tomorrow from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the downtown library. The goal of the force over the next six months is to figure out how to actually make Seattle the "green building capital," and help achieve Nickel's February goal of improving energy efficiency in commercial and residential by at least 20 percent. I wrote about that in the DJC here. They'll be looking at policy options, financing programs, efficiency incentives and regulatory mandates.
There will be two teams: one will work on existing building stock, the other will work on new. That's an important point, as many energy efficiency programs or government mandates only look at new projects, and not existing, even though there is by far much more to fix in existing buildings.
I love sources that provide a virtual who's who of green people and this task force does just that. Members include reps from AIA, AGC, BOMA, Master Builders, Mithun, NBBJ, Touchstone, Seattle Steam... you get the idea. To see the actual list, go here.
In other news, I learned on my trip that US Weekly has a spread in its current edition about green celebrity tips. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but if you (or your kids) want to know what Cameron Diaz does to go green, check it out. I must admit the part comparing carbon emissions from celebrity perks (like personal jets and yachts) to everyday life (coach seating, a little sailboat) was a tad - shall I say - enlightening (or depressing, take your pick). Treehugger covers it here.