Blog image

Green School For A "Community Of Learners"

Posted January 25, 2010 3:36 PM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
The Family School is a "community of learners." Classes are composed of multiple ages and parents are active in the classroom. Each student's day is split between home schooling and coursework led by professional APS staff. Their parents may elect to participate in the classroom with their child. Monthly, parents are asked to attend workshops at the school to provide academic support for their home schooling efforts. Energy conservation is a priority and the school building committee requested alternative methods of heating and cooling. This is accomplished with the use of a ground source heat pump well field. Using the school as a teaching tool, the landscaped courtyard provides four separate plant biomes indicative of habitats found throughout the state, incorporating the use of on-site storm water quantity and quality control. Recycling and composting areas are also incorporated into the campus. For more, read the full 12-page case study.

The Greening of a Children's Museum

Posted October 16, 2009 11:42 AM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
The Boston Children's Museum expansion and renovation was designed to enhance the building's connections to its urban waterfront site, guided by a desire to build environmental education opportunities into the design. From the adaptive reuse of the onsite 19th-century wool warehouse and industrial site to the new graywater storage system and green roof, the museum has become an environmental teaching tool for its young audience, in addition to becoming the first LEED-certified museum in Boston. The museum is a private, nonprofit, educational institution founded in 1913 by a group of teachers. Its mission is to help children understand and enjoy the world through hands-on engagement and learning by experience. The museum features exhibits on science, culture, environmental awareness, health and fitness, and the arts. For more, read the full 12-page case study.

Green Synagogue

Posted October 5, 2009 2:25 PM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
We've received some comments about the recent decision to highlight the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation case study in our email bulletin. As the BuildingGreen case study manager, I chose to highlight this case study for one reason: many people have recently spent time in a synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The issue at hand here is that this building uses 50 kBtu/sf while the CBECS 2003 average for religious worship buildings is 43 kBtu/sf. There are definitely higher-performing synagogues and other places of worship around the world - many of which were built hundreds or thousands of years ago - but in order to achieve our goals such the 2030 Challenge we need to look at the highest and lowest performing buildings, and everything between.

Home On The Range in Montana

Posted July 23, 2009 11:49 AM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
Home on the Range is an office building shared by two nonprofit organizations: Northern Plains Resource Council and Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC). Formerly an uninsulated concrete block grocery store with few windows, the building was renovated to house energy-efficient, daylit offices. Northern Plains organizes Montana citizens to protect the region's water quality, family farms and ranches, and unique quality of life. Northern Plains is a member of WORC, which is a regional network of seven grassroots community organizations. Read the full 12-page case study.

13-Story Apartment Building Tips Over. Sideways.

Posted July 5, 2009 7:34 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Case Studies, The Industry
"Apparently an error in construction," the story says. Indeed.
Improper construction methods are believed to be the reason [for the] building collapse in Shanghai, according to a report from the investigation team. The investigation team's report said that workers dug an underground garage on one side of the building while on the other side earth was heaped up to 10 meters high, which was apparently an error in construction, according to a report on, Shanghai's official news website. "Any construction company with common sense would not make such a mistake," said an expert from the investigation team.

Here's a terrific photo series with additional details. Seriously, hit that link and take a look.
This building actively failed what may be the primary passive survivability test — staying upright.

Rebuilding Green After Catastrophe

Posted July 3, 2009 8:15 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Case Studies
BuildingGreen's Michael Wentz has been coordinating for some time with DOE on case studies of the green rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas, which had 90% of its buildings destroyed by a tornado in 2007. He described the work in a blog post here last year. Then, in a congressional address last February, President Obama cited Greensburg as "a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community," to which Michael added, "they are also a leader in green building including initiatives to work green building strategies into their building codes." A compelling hour-long documentary about what happened in Greensburg and the community's subsequent decision-making process in the wake of the two-mile-wide, F5 tornado is available to watch over the web. Previous coverage in Environmental Building News:

The EcoDorm: Housing for 36 Lucky Students

Posted June 30, 2009 4:06 PM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College houses 36 students who are interested in environmental responsibility and want to live with like-minded students. The co-ed dormitory is one of a series of four dorms surrounding a common lawn. Warren Wilson College is an independent, accredited, four-year liberal arts college in rural North Carolina. The school's mission statement includes a dedication to environmental responsibility, and environmental literacy plays a significant role in the curriculum. Read the full 12-page case study.

The Lacks Cancer Center Case Study

Posted June 30, 2009 2:58 PM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
The Lacks Cancer Center, the only dedicated comprehensive cancer center in western Michigan, supports all components of cancer care, including inpatient and outpatient care and traditional and complementary therapies. The building houses 42 private patient rooms, expansion space for 42 additional rooms, family hospitality spaces, treatment spaces, surgical suites, outpatient services, healing gardens, sheltered promenades, a chapel, and a resource library. Read the full 12-page case study.

LEED-Certified Law School in Denver

Posted June 30, 2009 11:00 AM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Case Studies
The University of Denver's College of Law houses one of the nation's top environmental and natural resource law programs. The first LEED-certified law school in the nation, the facility offered the College an opportunity to design a building consistent with its mission: a green facility that reduces environmental impact and prioritizes occupant safety. The new 210,000 ft2, four-floor facility, constructed on a former parking lot, includes a library, large lecture halls, training courtrooms, a dining hall, and faculty offices. Read the full 12-page case study.

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

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."

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...