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Could Resilience Become the New Green?

Posted March 1, 2012 11:40 AM by Alex Wilson
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Resilient Design
The latest EBN feature article is new available. Click on image to enlarge.

A new feature article in Environmental Building News examines how a focus on resilient design could advance green building more quickly than our current focus on sustainability.

Sometimes advancing sustainability feels like pushing a boulder uphill. Are we like a modern-day (benevolent) Sisyphus who keeps pushing the idea of sustainability uphill only to have it roll back down as other priorities grab society's attention?

(click photos for larger versions)
Greenbuild in Phoenix was the usual high-energy panoply of educational sessions, new product introductions in an ever-larger trade show, networking events, and — the reason our company sends so many of us — opportunities to promote our green building information resources. But this year, I was also looking forward to some vacation time following the conference. Jerelyn and I took five days' of vacation after Greenbuild to explore southern Arizona and celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Alex Wilson and Peter Yost Interviews

Posted November 18, 2009 10:02 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, The Industry
These shorts were filmed at West Coast Green; for more like them, see revision.tv.
The living space in this new home built by Global Green in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans is elevated four feet (1.2 m) to keep it above expected flood level. Numerous other "passive survivability" features are included.
A lot of people have been working for a long time to try to head off global warming — and some progress is being made. Buildings are becoming more energy-efficient, fuel economy standards for vehicles are finally rising again, and use of renewable energy is burgeoning. We need to continue these efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon dioxide, but the reality is that it's too little, too late to prevent climate change. Even if the CO2 spigot were turned off tomorrow, the earth would still see significant warming and the other predicted impacts of climate change: more intense storms, flooding, drought, wildfire, and power interruptions.

Men Should Pee Sitting Down

Posted August 18, 2009 5:21 PM by Allyson Wendt
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Nature & Nurture, Op-Ed, Product Talk
Men should pee sitting down. Now before you call me a strident feminist, let me say that I'm backed up on this one by male colleagues and the reasons aren't what you think. I'm not arguing for toilet equality here. I'm talking about urine-separating toilets, which are much easier to use for men and women when sitting down. The bowl of these toilets takes urine in the front, feces in the back. It's hard enough to aim for the whole bowl (or so the evidence of many bathroom floors tells me), much less the front part of the bowl. One guy put a pee can in the corner, but that seems inefficient: pee in the can, then pour it down the toilet. Why not just pee in the toilet? Why should you care? Because urine contains up to 90% of the nitrogen and 50% of the phosphorous in domestic wastewater. Those chemicals make for great fertilizer — stuff we have to use a lot of energy to produce artificially. In healthy populations, urine is sterile, and removing it from feces makes composting the solids easier and more effective. Two models of these toilets are available in the U.S., both from Ecovita.
Chart from the feature (requires login):
Human Health and Environmental Concerns with Polystyrene Constituents

Committee tightens up NSF-140 carpet standard

Posted July 16, 2009 3:09 PM by Jennifer Atlee
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Product Talk
Ah, if only it were possible to be a fly-on-the-wall in every committee for every standard... I know this is a fantasy only a standards-geek could have, and is one of those fantasies you don't really want to actualize, but there's no doubt much of the real work defining the rules of the game is done in committee meetings that most of us never hear about. In their last meeting, with little fanfare, the NSF-140 committee approved a simple change that greenwash-fighters should approve of, while finding the need for it unfortunate. The language in the standard was changed to say, "A certified and non-certified product cannot have the same trade name designation." What this means is that a company can't get, for example, NSF-140 Platinum on select options for a product line, and then go and market the main product line as NSF-140 Platinum. Apparently, this issue was brought to the table because one company was doing just that — marketing the product line as NSF-140 Platinum despite the fact that the platinum prerequisite of 10% post-consumer recycled material was only met with special order options.

LEED User? LEEDuser.com

Posted July 8, 2009 2:25 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, LEED
Word's been filtering out recently about LEEDuser.com, which — marked by today's press release and a notice in the current issue of Environmental Building News — has officially soft-launched in beta with partial content. Registration is free, but only for a while. What is it? The press release explains:
Responding to the need for comprehensive help with the new LEED rating systems that's based on real-world experience, BuildingGreen, LLC, publishers of the widely respected Environmental Building News and GreenSpec Directory, have created LEEDuser with support of the U.S. Green Building Council. This new website, at www.LEEDuser.com, provides credit-by-credit guidance for teams working on LEED certification. Included are clear descriptions of credit requirements, tips to streamline LEED submissions, online calculators, and online user forums related to specific credits.

Making ice at night to cool buildings

Posted July 4, 2009 7:24 AM by Alex Wilson
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Product Talk
Calmac IceBank tanks at One Bryant Park, one of the nation's greenest high-rise buildings.
Photo: © Gunther Intelmann for Cook+Fox Architects
What surprised me most in researching thermal energy storage for the EBN feature article this month is that it's not incorporated into virtually all commercial buildings. In a nutshell, the idea is to use electricity at night to make ice and then use that ice during the daytime as the cooling source for the building. Thermal energy storage (TES) can also involve chilled water (instead of ice) or electric heat stored in bricks or other thermal mass, but I focused on ice with this article. A number of very well-known green buildings rely on ice-based TES cooling. One of the newest such buildings is the 2.1-million square-foot (195,000 m2) Bank of America building in New York City at One Bryant Park.

New to Green Building? Try GBA.

Posted June 22, 2009 8:30 PM by Brian Fending
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Books & Media, Case Studies, Miscellania, Product Talk, Q&A, The Industry

Recently, I broke one of my long-standing rules and blogged about something BuildingGreen-related at my own blog. My Costanzian fears were indeed warranted, and I've been egged on to cross-post it to the Live blog. Here she is, warts and all: my unvarnished opinion on the very best parts of the BuildingGreen product GreenBuildingAdvisor.com./BF

I don't often blog about worky stuff here, but decided this week that my "Worlds Will Collide!" fears are probably completely unwarranted. Besides, I'm working on some cool stuff these days. And finally, when my wife asks me, "What have you been doing?," when I come to bed at an obscene hour, I have an acceptable answer: "Changing the world, baby. Changing the world."

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