DJC Green Building Blog

What nature can teach us about sustainability

Posted on October 29, 2013

The following post is by Kathleen O'Brien:

Shifting perspectives and enriching our view of sustainability is the aim of "Finding the Balance: Restorative Development & Regenerative Design" — a panel to be held November 12th at the Bullitt Center. It will feature local thought leaders: Architect Jennifer Barnes of 55-5 Consulting, Engineer Colleen Mitchell of 2020, and Real Estate Developer Eva Otto of Infiniti RED.

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

A panel on sustainable development will be held from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Seattle's Bullitt Center. The event includes a tour of the building.

Barnes will be speaking about learning from and then emulating nature's strategies in order to solve our own problems more sustainably, and her own experience applying the biomimetic framework at the urban scale through the project Urban Greenprint. According to Barnes, "When we live with intention and empathy for the planet and for each other, we will feel more connected with life, which in turn will compel us to live with more intention and empathy."

Mitchell will be discussing her work engineering living systems using regenerative technologies. The venue for the panel is apt, as Mitchell was the "water engineer" for the net zero water project.

Otto will be discussing how traditional feminine values could help us redefine the discussion of sustainable development from a balanced perspective.

The event is sponsored by the Women's Network for a Sustainable Future, the Bullitt Foundation, and The EMERGE Leadership Project, and will include a tour of the Bullitt Center, which was designed to the Living Building Standard.

Kathleen O'Brien is a long time advocate for and prolific writer about green building and sustainable development since before it was "cool." She lives in a green home, and drives a hybrid when she drives at all. Recently retired from O'Brien & Company, the green consulting firm she founded over 22 years ago, she is now the Executive Director of The EMERGE Leadership Project, a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate life-sustaining solutions in the built environment through emergent leadership training.

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Making the “female macho.” It’s a question of balance, not a greener gender

Posted on April 8, 2008

According to a host of female leaders in Seattle's green building industry, the answer to the question "is one sex greener?" is categorically "no."

It's not a question of a greener gender, panelists at the ReGeneration Conference said yesterday. Instead it's a question of balancing the male and female parts of your brain, self and work to create a better designed building.

Now take a breath those of you who are skeptical, this is rooted in experience, not self-help books.

Basically, panelists said the black and white, concrete, don't fail way of living and designing isn't working and especially won't work with green building as sustainable design requires an integrative approach. Lucia Athens of the Seattle Green Building Team said, "I don't feel that there is a greener gender but we do live in a time where things have gotten out of balance."

For a fun diversion, see how male or female your brain is by clicking here.

Speakers did call out the differences between men and women. Anne Schopf of Mahlum in Seattle said, "As women, we may design more in experiences and places and I see the men designing more objects and thinking more about the technologies."

Right, wrong? What do you think about Schopf's observation? Another thing Schopf said struck me: as she progressed up the architecture career ladder, she had many great mentors but none of them were women.

Ladies, was this your experience also? Did you only have male mentors or were you mentored by woman? Are you mentoring young architects now? And are there any men out there that were mentored by women? What was your experience, either here in the Pacific Northwest or elsewhere?

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Women and men, is one sex greener?

Posted on April 4, 2008

Women and men are constantly compared to each other with touchy results (look no further than the race for the Democratic nomination for proof) and sustainability is no different. So what does this mean in Seattle? A panel at the AIA's ReGeneration conference Monday will try to find out.

What do you think? Is one gender more prone to green living, building and working? Or are both perfectly equal?

The "Women in Green panel" from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Monday will bravely delve into the subject of gender and sustainability. Here in Seattle, there's no question that many of the brightest (and most powerful) green minds are women. Four of them - Anne Schopf of Mahlum, Lucia Athens of the city of Seattle's Green Building Program, Amanda Sturgeon of Perkins + Will, and Judith Heerwagen, an environmental psychologist, will flesh out the issue.

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