Category Archives: Uncategorized
This call for wood design nominations is for all lovers of wood! The due date is fast approaching (September 30 deadline) to nominate work for the Wood Design awards. Here is pertinent information from the website: Wood Design Awards celebrate excellence in wood design, engineering and construction, as well as innovative projects that showcase attributes of…
Think 3D printing and origami robots. Very interesting technology here from an MIT and Harvard team. For years, a team of researchers at MIT and Harvard University has been working on origami robots — reconfigurable robots that would be able to fold themselves into arbitrary shapes. In the August 7 issue of Science, they report their…
Refrigeration, a critical technology that supports, among other things, food and medicine sustenance in the 21st century, has no claim to having left behind it the greenest footprint. Without it, however, modern civilization would be nowhere near the same. Now a new discovery concerning magnetic refrigeration may open new paths for better environmental tools. Read…
As a result of this problem, Japan’s trade minister, Yukio Edano, would like to bring back online two of the nuclear reactors currently offline. In order to resume operations of these facilities, however, he would need to receive the support of both the governor and mayor of the region, who both have expressed concerns regarding the safety of doing so.
State’s Largest On-Farm Biogas-to-Energy Project and First On-Farm Facility Specifically Designed for Co-Digestion to Help Reduce Dairy’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Two years ago Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and brought enormous devestation to the city and the region. Since then, numerous agencies and programs have been working on projects to rebuild and revitalize this region. An architect and online friend of mine wrote an excellent article about the recently publicized pictures for Global Green’s proposed Holy Cross development for the redevelopment of New Orleans.
This guest post is by Sarah Nagy. Sarah is in a position to be a much better critic of proposed New Orleans construction because she, too, lives in a hurricane-prone region (the Florida panhandle), and is directly acquainted with appropriate design for a Gulf Coast environment. I think her analysis offers an excellent review of this project, balancing the applause for what she calls ‘Sleek Contemporary Prefab Housing Solutions’ with some pointed criticisms of some of the apparent problems in the design.
The complete essay can be found on Sarah’s blog, Front Step Design.[Disclaimer: As critical as this post will be, I want to applaud the folks involved with this project for their initial feelings of goodwill, their obvious effort, and all the good green decisions that lie under the aesthetics.]
To look at the images of these houses, Holy Cross is clearly located on the rural prairies of Southern Louisiana. Each of these houses will survey 20 acres. But enough sarcasm. The situation, to anyone who has been there, looks more like the pictures below (from The Urban Conservancy).
An article on the ABC News website with the provocative title "Going Green: Fad or the Future?" suggests that while right now "green is the new black," the long term-prospects for the green movement are less certain to remain as strong and as much a part of public awareness as they currently are.
But are Americans experiencing "green fatigue"? The ratings for Live Earth, which was billed as a must-see event, were dismal. The American broadcast drew just 2.7 million viewers, making it the least-watched U.S. program on Saturday night. Despite its undeniable entrenchment in pop culture and media, some experts say that the current incarnation of the green movement is just another "We Are the World" moment that consumers and businesses won’t be able to sustain over the long term.
Of course, this perspective is coming from a media outlet (ABC News) for whom the number of viewers are the most significant measure of importance. But that may not be a reliable indicator of how influential the green movement is. There is a wide gulf between public enthusiasm for a green-oriented rally like Live Earth, and public participation in actual green practice in their daily lives. Small steps, in many cases, but a lot of people have started taking at least a few steps to green their lives.
My perspective lies with the building and construction industry. I see increasing numbers of ads and new product announcements from hundreds of manufacturers. I can’t begin to count the number of trade magazine editorials I’ve seen that begin along the lines of this one: "These days, it seems everyone is jumping on the "green" bandwagon — including many companies in [your industry here]." Green awareness has permeated the building industry from top to bottom. And, while not every new building is a new model of sustainability, green building practice is here to stay.
It's full-blown summer now, and people are spending more time outdoors on their patios and decks. So let me offer a summertime question for discussion. Which is better to use for an outdoor deck: wood, or a manufactured product (like Trex, Timber Tech, etc.)?
This is no more a black and white issue than most other green building questions. This can depend on the particular situation and the specific needs of a particular project. I'm not going to give you a definitive answer, because I don't think that there is one, any more than I do for most green building topics (other than greener is better).
First, there is the issue of material content. On the one hand, the manufactured products often use some combination of wood fiber (which is often sawdust and other scrap that would otherwise go to waste) and plastic (sometimes incorporating post consumer recycled material). On the other hand, wood is a natural material. It is sustainable, in that wood can be grown and harvested. There are some deck materials that have natural rot-resistant properties, but these tend to be more expensive. There is also the question of whether or not they are sustainably harvested, as well as the issue of shipping these materials.
Photo Credit: Living Homes (via Inhabitat) Bob Ellenberg wrote a good, thought-provoking (and discussion-starting) article at Inhabitat titled 'Prefab Construction: Green or Greenwashing?' and drew comments from Preston Koerner (of Jetson Green) and Lloyd Alter (an architecture writer at Treehugger with whom I had some inter-blog discussion over the past couple of weeks regarding foundations, but more importantly also an entrepreneur in prefab construction with direct experience in the process).
Prefab is a popular concept in green design circles and shows up regularly on a number of blogs. A few of the more prominent examples include: Inhabitat (Pre-Fab Friday); Jetson Green; Treehugger; BldgBlog; MoCo Loco; and even a website devoted to prefabs: FabPrefab. But it's a valid question that is being asked. How "green" is prefab building, and should it be embraced by those who want a greener building? Bob sums his article up this way: "I want to honestly question what is and what isn't 'green' about prefabrication and encourage others to do the same."
Prefab construction can be very green. The LivingHomes prefab illustrating this article is a LEED Platinum building. But, there are very few examples of prefabs that have LEED certificaion. And not every prefab qualifies even as a LEED certified building, let alone a Platinum one.
The Genzyme Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts is in rare company.
Modeling and simulation are good tools to use to understand a problem. They let you try out multiple approaches and different possible solutions to see what the results may be. Games can be an appealing way of presenting simulations. Complex ideas can be presented in a context that illuminates the difficulties of the situation. We learn by trying out different options. Multiple, interrelated factors can be more readily presented in an interactive fashion than in a dry recitation. Playing a game can be educational because we are more engaged with understanding what is going on (in the course of trying to figure out how to win) than we are when we are simply reading or hearing about something.