Kristin Dispenza, Author at Green Building Elements

Author: Kristin Dispenza

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An Alternative to Throw-Away Furniture

          Since the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 1800’s, there has been an uneasy relationship between good design and mass-production. In recent years, another concern has crept into the dialogue: sustainability. And for most buyers, inexpensive, easily-obtained — and disposable — furniture seems to carry the day. But Seattle-based […]

November 24th

Award Winning Designs Incorporate LEED Certification

Last spring, Green Building Elements writer Philip Proefrock called attention to the fact that the building industry has, so far, been slow to marry sustainability with good design.  (See his discussion of Green Architecture Versus Great Architecture.) But in the last several months, it has become increasingly common for LEED certification and other green building performance measures to move […]

October 7th

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters Will Be One of Washington’s Largest Green Office Campuses

At 900,000 sq. ft., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus currently under construction in the city of Seattle will be one of Washington’s largest green office campuses. The finished headquarters complex will include two six-story office-buildings and a state-of-the-art visitor center. Designed by NBBJ and built by Sellen Construction, the campus is targeting LEED […]

September 30th

More Cities Explore Modular Construction

Another Pacific Northwest city is exploring modular design as an option for supplying affordable, green housing. The Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) in Tacoma, Washington, is in the conceptual design phase with its 110-unit modular housing community known as Hillsdale Heights. The complex will be located on a 7.3 acre site formerly occupied by the Hillsdale Lumber sawmill; 60 […]

September 23rd

Building Tours Showcase Green Building Techniques

Green building tours are becoming popular in many cities, and are an excellent means of introducing green construction options to professionals and laypeople alike. The Cascadia Region Green Building Council will host a tour of green buildings on September 25th, 26th, and 28th in the Victoria, Vancouver, and Okanagan regions of British Columbia. British Columbia […]

September 16th

Prefabricated Apartment Units Offer an Affordable Housing Solution

In August, Seattle’s Queen Anne/Magnolia neighborhood Design Review Board approved a proposal for Seattle’s first prefabricated apartment building. Known as “inhabit”, conceptualized by Unico Properties and designed by architectural firms Mithun and HyBrid Seattle, the structure will be comprised of factory-built, wood-frame modular units. Two of the prototype models were put on display on the […]

September 9th

Sustainability Becomes a Priority in New Hospital Construction

According to the Washington Post, the United States is currently seeing a dramatic increase in hospital construction. American Hospital Association senior vice president Rick Wade is quoted in the article as saying that we are experiencing the most significant hospital building boom since after World War II. (For discussion of the various social and financial trends […]

September 2nd

Energy Efficiency at -30 Degrees Fahrenheit

Across the arctic and subarctic, many native tribes still occupy their traditional lands — but most do so in decidedly non-traditional ways. Western products of every description have been adopted by northern peoples, but one of the products that is least suited to the northern climate has also become one of the most widespread: wood […]

August 26th

Rural Areas are Slow to Adopt Green Building Practices

Author’s Note: While I usually report on green building developments in the Pacific Northwest, today I am examining green building trends in my own geographic region, Southeast Ohio. The architect for the LEED project discussed below is my husband, Don Dispenza. Nationwide, there are currently more than 12,000 building projects pursuing LEED certification. But in economically depressed […]

August 12th

Dockside Green is the Highest Rated LEED Platinum Project in the World

The LEED for New Construction rating system awards a total of 69 points in 6 categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design. The project obtaining the most LEED points (for new construction) has, until recently, been the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Wisconsin, which received […]

August 5th

“How Green Are You?” Contest Winners Announced

The AIA and dwell Magazine have announced the winners for their “How Green Are You?” contest. (For background on the contest, see “The AIA and Dwell Magazine Team Up to Spread the Word about Sustainability,”  published on Green Building Elements last April.) The contest recognized affordable home designs that achieve sustainability in creative ways.  Juror […]

July 29th

Cargo Shipping Containers are an International Salvage Resource

When we think of recycling in association with the construction industry, we generally focus on construction and demolition waste materials. Recycled content has become popular for certain building and finish materials, as well. But the Sienna Architecture Company is experimenting with recycling on a different scale for their project for the Portland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. […]

July 22nd

Shaver Green Building to Offer Sustainable Workforce Housing

“Workforce housing” is a term being heard more and more, used place of the more familiar “affordable housing”. It differentiates between housing that is intended to accommodate people from the lowest income brackets, and housing for the lower middle class, people who have steady employment but have been priced out of the housing market in many areas. […]

July 15th

Seattle Shopping Mall Evolves into a Mixed-Use Village

The Pacific Northwest has always been progressive. For Seattle in the spring of 1950, that meant the opening of the country’s first mall. According to HistoryLink, Northgate Mall, located on 62 acres outside the city limits, was built to accommodate a total of 80 stores clustered around a “wide shopping walkway,” although it was not […]

July 8th

Infill Townhomes: Sustainable Solution or Urban Blight?

Infill housing. Drive through Seattle and this term will begin to seem synonymous with plain woodframe structures that crowd the streets like like weeds. According to an article in the Seattle P-I, Townhomes don’t have to be ugly and dampen the human spirit. But so many of them are eyesores that townhomes have become a lighting […]

July 1st