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.
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.
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.
For those of you not from the Pacific Northwest, Gerding Edlen Development Co. is widely regarded here as one of the best role models for sustainable project development. People want to know what they're working on - and what they think is the next big thing in sustainability, as evidenced by my story on their Casey Condominium project being the DJC's most read and most e-mailed story on Friday.
So when I spoke with Mark Edlen, Gerding Edlen's managing partner last week, and he said within a year LEED platinum would be "an absolute yawner" in his office, you better believe my ears perked up. Instead, he said it's on to net zero buildings that consume more trash than they produce!
We were talking about the platinum rating because The Casey (at right), a $60 million, 61-unit building, is supposedly the first LEED platinum multifamily high rise in the world.
It's also the firm's first foray into "eco-luxury" - a combination of ultimate ecological consciousness and luxury (something not often associated with green buildings).
In fact, it is widely agreed upon that the green building movement has done a particularly bad job of combining function and beauty, something that most agree must become a stronger focus. But Mark's focus behind developing green projects is that a project should not compromise anything from site to construction to occupancy comfort, just to be sustainable.
So why not go after green luxury, the same way you'd go after green office or hospital space? What do you think? Can a building be both?
To read a local perspective, click here or here. For real estate stats, go here. For more go here. If you're interested in Gerding Edlen, you can read about another one of their project's in a December story I wrote here.
But if you want to learn more about the Casey, its green features, the difficulty of building green multifamily to such a high level, and the building's art component, there's only one place to look: the story in the DJC. Check it out here.
Last week I came up with my own "brilliant" idea: create an online forum where people that work in green buildings would record their experiences to create a better understanding of how green buildings really feel.
That post was in response to Weber Thompson's blog that is doing exactly that. If you missed it, that blog also answered my question on how the team is measuring their building's performance (see tag below for Weber Thompson).
Now I'm asking you what your brilliant ideas are?
It's no secret that Seattle (and Chicago, and Portland and New York etc....) are racing to be the greenest city in the country. So if Seattle wants to hold onto that goal, what should it do? Should density be the focus or should it be regulations through things like stricter energy codes?
On a broader scale, is urban planning the answer or is it more incentives?
For a British perspective on what cities should do, see a BBC story here. For a video on the nature of sustainability and its future from the perspective of Sir Norman Foster, click here. Or you could check out Sustainable Ballard's Web site here to see what one Seattle neighborhood thinks, or Sustainable Capitol Hill's site here.