Blog image


Posted March 23, 2010 11:41 AM by Jennifer Atlee
Related Categories: Miscellania, Politics
If you thought making substantive change by 2030 was a challenge, how about by 2014? A new initiative launched last week and getting spread around the Internet today, 'fouryears.go' says "There is still time to act, but no time to waste." Started by Pachamama Alliance and Wieden+Kennedy--the ad agency behind Nike's 'just do it' (they're donating their services to do a major communications campaign for this)--it's about waking people up to urgency we face in these times and helping each member group meet its most ambitious goals toward a just, thriving, and sustainable world. The video asks--"could we spend the next four years growing our cities?" and shows green roofs on everything; it asks, "in four years, could Manhattan look like this?" and shows the street filled with bikes. It's nice to set aside the usual reality concerns and just watch the video and dream.

The Climate Scoreboard

Posted December 7, 2009 10:53 AM by Nadav Malin
Related Categories: Miscellania, Nature & Nurture, Politics
Here's a tool that tries to connect the best available science directly to the international climate change negotiations and commitments, and the politicians are using it! Perhaps that, in itself, is progress. "How Does It Work? In the run-up to COP-15, we are scanning UNFCCC submissions and news sources from around the world to collect a list of what we call 'current proposals' — possible scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions by UNFCCC parties. We share our compilation and use the C-ROADS-CP climate simulation to calculate the expected long-term impacts (in terms of GHG concentration, temperature increase, and sea level rise) if those proposals were to be fully implemented." For more info, see the Climate Interactive website.

The Great Passivhaus Face-off

Posted October 21, 2009 3:50 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Living Future, Op-Ed, Politics
The low energy use of the first Passivhaus in Bremen, Germany, is surprising, especially since the house has neither solar collectors, nor a PV array, nor a boiler.
I've been a big fan of building scientist John Straube for a long time. And equally as big of a fan, for just as long, of deep-energy engineer Marc Rosenbaum.

Stimulus-Funded Green Jobs = Left-Wing Conspiracy

Posted September 23, 2009 2:48 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Op-Ed, Politics
Over at GreenBuildingAdvisor, veteran journalist Richard Defendorf combined his abiding interests in green building and politics by taking a look at a Fox News Forum opinion piece from the policy director the conservative advocacy group (natch) Americans for Prosperity. It contained gems like this one:
"Most green jobs consist of hiring low-wage workers with caulking guns to weatherize buildings. We are trading away high-wage, high-value manufacturing jobs for these green caulking jobs. Any time you spend billions of dollars you will create some jobs, but the key question is, what the cost is when you divert resources from higher-value activities?"
Defendorf had the audacity to respond with thoughtfulness and logic. Take a couple minutes to read it: Stick 'Em Up, I've Got a Caulk Gun!

"The drama of a 2x4 shot from an air cannon at glass windows"

Posted September 23, 2009 2:15 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Events, LEED, Passive Survivability, Politics, Product Talk
Architectural testing concern HTL will be at GlassBuild America shooting missiles at windows again. The demonstration/demolition follows the Miami-Dade large missile protocol by shooting 2x4s at impact-resistant and non-impact-resistant windows. A press release from HTL quotes NGA Industry Events Director Susan Jacob: "There is nothing quite like the drama of a 2x4 missile shot from an air cannon at glass windows." Wish I was going! I checked HTL's website for some footage, but was left wanting. There's a link for client videos (and there's some top name clients in there), but they all seem to be password-protected.

TURI Loses Funding... maybe.

Posted July 16, 2009 1:35 PM by Jennifer Atlee
Related Categories: Op-Ed, Politics, Science & Tech, The Industry
We recently learned that the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) is losing its Massachusetts state funding. This strikes particularly close to home for me as I worked briefly with TURI after grad school and was quite impressed with the caliber of their work (and yes, full disclosure, I still have friends there). TURI is one of a select few organizations nationally that successfully champions the needs of both industry and the environment — for 20 years now they've been finding that practical common ground where we can really move forward in widespread adoption of safer alternatives. With our GreenSpec directory, editors at BuildingGreen constantly struggle to assess the use of a plethora of toxics in building products and manufacturing processes to determine what constitutes safe and healthy products and still gets the practical job done of building quality green buildings today. This requires the kind of pragmatic alternatives assessment that TURI excels at.

The label says:
Bottled at Source — Hand Pump #1, Atal Ayub Nagar, Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, India.
And in tiny print:
Not suitable for human consumption.

The nutrition label says:
Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 22mg
Carbon Tetrachloride

The website says:
The unique qualities of our water come from 25 years of slow-leaching toxins at the site of the world's largest industrial accident.

The Yes Men's website says:
Twenty Bhopal activists, including Sathyu Sarangi of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, showed up at Dow headquarters near London to find that the entire building had been vacated.

Repower America: 100% clean electricity within 10 years

Posted June 16, 2009 12:35 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Op-Ed, Politics, Science & Tech
Its website says:
Repower America is the bold clean energy plan to "repower" our country with 100% clean electricity within 10 years. By making buildings and homes more efficient, ramping up renewable energy generation, constructing a unified national smart grid, and transitioning to clean and affordable plug-in cars, we can address our country's economic and national security challenges — all while making huge strides to solve the climate crisis.
Is it possible? Yes, it is. Will we actually do it? I'm less certain about that. John F. Kennedy famously said in 1962, "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade." And in seven years, we did. We implemented new technologies and knowledge at a tremendous pace to support a vision, and we pulled it off. What motivated us? What was at the root of that amazing achievement?

Wanted by Chemical Industry: Young, Pregnant Spokesperson for Bisphenol-A

Posted June 1, 2009 12:29 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Nature & Nurture, Politics, Product Talk
On Friday, May 19, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal published a damning story based on the leaked minutes of a private strategy meeting of food-packaging executives and chemical industry lobbyists that took place in Washington DC the previous day. The story's authors spoke with the chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA), John Rost, who verified the talking points, but indicated that the summary wasn't complete. "'It was a five-hour meeting,' he said." On Saturday, NAMPA responded by distributing a press release claiming that the leaked minutes were "blatantly inaccurate and fabricated." On Sunday, the Washington Post released its own story on the leaked minutes. They spoke with Kathleen M. Roberts, a lobbyist for NAMPA with Bergeson and Campbell.

Food, Inc.

Posted April 29, 2009 9:03 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Nature & Nurture, Politics
The Obamas put in the first food garden (organic, natch) on the White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt's victory garden during World War II. We dig that. Skeptics may scoff that's it just symbolic, but I don't think so. According the The New York Times, the garden will have "55 varieties of vegetables, from a wish list of the kitchen staff. Cristeta Comerford, the White House's executive chef, said she was eager to plan menus around the garden, and Bill Yosses, the pastry chef, said he was looking forward to berry season." And 1100 square feet can produce a lot of produce — the Old Farmer's Almanac says that "A good-sized beginner vegetable garden is 10 x 16 feet [160 square feet].

Recent Comments

Saving Wood from the Landfill, Without the Supply Issues

Alex Wilson says, "Meredith, I believe the Viridian decking we installed is 15/16" thick by 2-1/2" wide; I'm not seeing those dimensions on the Viridian website now,..." More...

Meredith Williams says, "Hi there! I've been sourcing reclaimed exterior deck material for a client, and am interested to know: The thickness of the material you used..." More...

Beat the Bulb "Ban": LED Replacement Lamps in a New Light

Tristan Roberts says, "Erica, 3-way LED bulbs are sold in stores and online. Just do a search or ask at your local hardware store." More...

Erica E. Tactical says, "Anyone know a way to replace incandescent 3-way light bulbs with LEDs? My table lamps are all 3-way and I like the ability to have ambient or..." More...

Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC): Will the U.S. Ever Lighten Up?

Simon Hatton says, "Merhis Projects are an Australian Developer and Construction company and have been using their patented Merhis Building System for the last 4 years...." More...