Sustainability

Tulane’s MSRED Program Pairs Architecture Students With Local Clients

Graduates from the program will enter the job market armed with a real project to reference in interviews, and a practitioner to use as a job reference.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” –Chinese Proverb After Hurricane Katrina and the spectacular failure of the levees, nothing is purely academic in New Orleans. This is certainly true of Tulane University, in particular the School of Architecture, and the role it has played in NOLA’s recovery and rejuvenation. Building on the school’s…

Cleaning Up Our Lakes, Reinvesting in our Waterfronts

We have a rare opportunity in redeveloping the shores of our precious lakes to realize our best ideas and policies in building 21st Century communities.

In 1969 Ohio’s Cuyahoga River, a tributary of Lake Erie that meanders through Akron and Cleveland, combusted into flames after years of pollution and waste accumulated along its shorelines. While this was not the first time the river caught on fire, it ignited the nation’s attention and inspired significant environmental action, including the creation of our Clean Water Act, the…

Why We Need Urban Microcenters In Our Cities

Microcenters would contain the necessary infrastructure for transportation, water, sewage, and power—all in the heart of the city.

In 2010, according to the Living Planet Report, 3,500 million people lived in urban areas and estimates project a doubling of that number, to 6,300 million people by 2050. In Mexico, an alarming growth is taking place in our major cities: Guadalajara City is comingling with municipalities such as El Salto, Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, and Zapopan. Monterrey City is…

Q&A: Jerry James Stone

I was recently asked to join the Advisory Board for SXSW Eco, an offshoot of the huge SXSW conference now in its second year and coming to Austin in early October. In my new role I have organized one panel discussion and reviewed many others. Now as a member of the diverse Advisory Board, I decided to tap into their…

Voices of Sustainability

Five years ago, Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design was published after Lance Hosey and I spent 18 months interviewing hundreds of people and trying to understand why it seemed like there was a preponderance of women doing “green” in many fields. Individual stories poured out and we assembled a suggestive but hardly conclusive collective story. We had the…

Fuller Institute Awards Alternative Green Building Standard

The BFI's annual $100,000 prize has been given to the Living Building Challenge, which takes goes further than prescriptive “best practices."

The Energy Lab at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, a certified Living Building Courtesy Flansburgh Architects Buckminster Fuller, the architect who gave us the geodesic dome and championed socially-responsible design before we even had a term for it, was a very quotable man. His line about design’s responsibility “to make the world work for 100% of humanity…without ecological offense or the disadvantage…

For Four Years Now, Indiana University Has Held Energy Challenges

But has it brought them any closer to becoming a fully sustainable campus?

How do you convince 49,000 students, faculty, and staff at Indiana University (IU) to turn off lights and computers, to walk up stairs instead of taking the elevator, and to turn off the water a minute or two earlier in the shower? How do you convince an entire community to become more aware of their daily energy use and the…

If we love it, will it last? Lance Hosey’s Inspirational Book on Green Design

Lance Hosey’s new book, Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design, asks how to make sustainability not just likeable but loveable.

If we love it, will it last? This is a question at the heart of architect Lance Hosey’s new book, Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design (Island Press, 2012). Because the book is just out I want to offer you a quick peek, as Hosey starts talking about it; his first talk since the book launched this week was…

Can “Oyster-Tecture” Actually Save Our Cities?

Because bivalves are incredibly efficient water-filtrators, rehabilitating their populations could help protect coastal cities and communities.

Oyster-tecture is one of several emerging practices that are shifting the way we think about infrastructure. The old ideals behind public works projects were focused only on enhancing people’s lives. Oyster-tecture provides needed services to people while also fostering vibrant, healthy ecosystems. The result is a more affordable, resilient, longer-lasting underpinning that surpasses New Deal-style construction. The technique can be…

Nine Lives of Green

Recently at the Living Future event in Portland, Oregon, I had an opportunity to explore “lives of green” with eight other women working in the sustainable design space, as it is often called. We followed the Pecha Kucha format (my first time with the 20-seconds-for-each-of-20 slides). Barbra Batshalom, a Boston-based “recovering architect” talked about her path toward transforming organizations, to…

Racing Past a Gigawatt

The college experience,  a quintessential right of passage, has always been about camaraderie, experiences, and learning. Whether your experience was full of all-nighters, hair-pulling group projects, or last page computer crashes; in the end college prepares us for the “real world” and all its challenges. On some campuses, learning to deal with real world challenges includes tackling issues surrounding sustainable…

Two Green Building Initiatives Go Way Beyond LEED

Passive House principals and Living Building Challenge criterion are pointing the way forward to a more sustainable future.

“Patchwork”, Living City Challenge Entry The sustainability rating systems—Passive House, Living Building Challenge, and Net Zero (a subset of the Challenge)—appear in isolated new construction projects. The promise and perversity of trying to pick out sustainability targets, building by building, within a tightly woven urban fabric can be examined in Philadelphia. Here, the architecture/development dynamo Onion Flats proposes to build…

Innovation for Hire

Courtesy SERA Architects and GDB Architects Disappointment has become an everyday feeling since 2008 for those of us in the design and construction fields, as we saw too many of our pet projects dematerialize. But the loss is especially painful when a project has more potential for innovation than others. For me, the recent decision of the Oregon State Legislature…

Bad Apple: Evaluating The Tech Company’s Sustainability

With billions in assets, Apple could have a huge influence in global sustainability. But it has yet to do anything to make its products more sustainable.

“Apple Alert” Joseph G. Brin © 2012 In response to Stephan Clambaneva’s remarks about Apple’s recycling efforts, I mostly disagree with what he’s saying, not because I think he’s wrong, but I tend to have a different meter for sustainability than others, especially industrial designers. The part of Stephan’s defense of Apple I most agree with is that people don’t…

Q&A: Tom Darden, Executive Director of Make It Right

The 32-year-old executive director talked about the background of this seminal project, its unforeseen challenges, and its potential for global impact.

On my second week in New Orleans, on a sweltering August day, I went on a bus tour of the Lower Ninth Ward, sponsored by the local AIA chapter. It was a dispiriting experience. While much of the city had seen its fortunes rise, the Lower Ninth, the neighborhood most affected by Hurricane Katrina, was still a kind of lunar…

Greening Landmark Buildings in NYC

“The greenest building is… one that’s already built.”  We have heard this before. It’s often spoken in response to the argument for shiny new buildings with LEED plaques in their lobbies. For those who advocate the reuse of buildings, especially those of historic significance, there is soon to be a ‘how-to’ guide, sponsored by the Municipal Arts Society of New…

Bob Berkebile: Shaping the Future of Sustainable Design

Bob Berkebile, one of the founders of LEED, is one of three design pioneers whose ideas have stood the test of time: going from revolutionary to mainstream.

It would be impossible to speak of sustainable architecture in the United States without acknowledging Bob Berkebile. The principal of the architecture firm BNIM has been at the forefront of dragging the profession into environmental consciousness, putting in place the basic policies that architects work with today. Berkebile was involved in the founding of the U.S. Green Building Council and…

From Passivhaus to Our Haus?

Is the Passiv Haus movement really accessible to the mainstream? The following projects give us all hope the answer is yes.

Why the funny title?  Well, I went to a conference a few weeks ago in Burlington, Vermont and came away wondering if the Passiv Haus movement is really accessible to the mainstream. The phrase is a play on words from the presentation, “From Bauhaus to Passivhaus”, given by Ken Levenson during the Better Building by Design Conference, hosted by Efficiency Vermont….