BY DARRAGH WORLAND | MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2010 10:33 AM ET
Oh, Canada! Sustainable design features prominently at the Vancouver Olympics.
There's no question the Vancouver Winter Olympics will be a showcase of the world's best athletes in winter sports, but some of most cutting-edge green design will also be on display. Fast Company has a great roundup of the best design elements of the Olympics, which include designs by Canada's First Peoples and some really inventive recycled materials.
For starters, the event logo is an abstract image of an Inukshuk, an iconic stone statue of a man, which has been reproduced in Inuit art for centuries. The design beat out more than 1,600 other entries in an open call.
One of the coolest and most ubiquitous "green" features of the Olympics are the medals themselves, designed by architect Omer Arbel and Corrine Hunt, an artist from the Raven Gwa’waina clan on Vancouver Island. Each of the 1,000 medals that will be awarded was cast from silver, gold and bronze reclaimed from discarded computer motherboards, thereby contributing to the reduction of electronic waste.
Scientific American reports that this is the first time recycled materials have been used in the making of Olympic medals, which are usually made from mined mineral deposits.
Some of the structures used in the Olympics also meet sustainable design standards. The Richmond Oval, where all speedskating events will take place, has Silver LEED designation. (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a sustainable building designation developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.) The structure's huge roof, the size of almost seven Olympic hockey rinks, is made entirely of discarded wood.
Even NBC's broadcast headquarters, the new Vancouver Convention Stadium on the city's waterfront, is set to earn Gold LEED certification and has a six-acre "living roof." The roof features an enormous garden with 400,000 individual indigenous plants to help regulate the building's temperature.
And of course how green could the Olympics be without sustainable transportation? The athletes will be traveling between venues and around the Olympic village via cutting-edge low-floor electric trolleys donated by Bombardier and shipped in from Brussels. The trolleys have already become a standard for green mass-transit, reports Fast Company. Since their introduction three years ago, over 450 have been installed across Europe, and Toronto has ordered 204 models of a similar design.
Be sure to check out Fast Company's slideshow featuring photos of these designs and more.
Photo courtesy of VANOC.
February 14, 2010 http://detnews.com/article/20100214/AUTO01/2140314
BRYCE G. HOFFMAN
The Detroit News
Dearborn -- Ford Motor Co. says its turnaround is paying big dividends for its dealers, who it says saw their profits skyrocket in 2009.
According to the automaker, profits for Ford dealers were 15 times higher last year than they were in 2008. Profits at Lincoln-Mercury franchises increased tenfold during the same period.
Now, Ford is launching new initiatives to help its dealers go green, and become even more profitable while doing it.
"We've stopped the downward slide," said Ken Czubay, Ford's head of sales and marketing for the United States.
Ford, Czubay said, is redoubling its efforts to help its dealer body remain profitable -- and go green at the same time.
Today, at the National Automobile Dealers Association's annual convention in Orlando, Ford is expected to announce the formation of a new dealer committee to help the company figure out ways to improve dealer profitability and the customer car-buying experience.
"Our goal is to help our dealers, work with our dealers and learn from our dealers," Czubay said. "Improving dealer profitability is paramount, because without improving their profitability, we can't have a sustainable dealer organization."
Ford also is scheduled to unveil a new, voluntary program aimed at helping its dealers reduce their impact on the environment. For a nominal fee, Ford will send a team of green-building experts to a dealership. They will conduct a comprehensive survey of the site and present the owner with an array of options ranging from simple energy-saving improvements to a complete program for going carbon neutral.
Ford says all of these options will save dealers money in the long run while boosting the company's green credentials with consumers. It comes as the automaker readies the launch of a new generation of battery-powered electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
While dealers agree that business is improving, some challenge Czubay's impressive figures.
"Business has picked up tremendously, but I find those numbers hard to believe. Things are better, but dealers are still struggling financially," said Michell Van Vorst, executive director of the Ford Dealers Alliance, a dissident dealer organization. "They may be making more money, but it's not on the sale of new cars."
However, even Van Vorst said relations between the company and its dealers are improving.
"They're very grateful for Ford for managing their company much better than their domestic competitors," Van Vorst said, noting that hundreds of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC dealers lost their franchises after those companies filed for bankruptcy last year. "There's a shift in the way consumers perceive Ford because it didn't file for bankruptcy. That has helped, too."
But even Ford would like to have fewer dealers. Last year, Ford managed to eliminate more than 200 dealerships in the U.S.
"We have a ways to go," Czubay said, referring to Ford's efforts to consolidate its dealer body in several major metropolitan areas.
CAMERON SINCLAIR ANNOUNCED AS
Greening the Heartland 2010 is excited to announce keynote speaker Cameron Sinclair, president and co-founder of Architecture for Humanity. Click here to learn more.
SAVE THE DATE—MAY 19 TO 21—FOR GREENING THE HEARTLAND
2010 FEATURING GREEN BY DESIGN.
This year’s theme, BRIDGING, seeks to draw valuable connections between people, places, and ideas to help create a sustainable heartland region and beyond. Specifically, the conference seeks to link such ideas as:
* Sustainable development and environmental protection *Green building and social justice *Community planning and individual health
*Commercial and residential projects (market-rate and affordable housing) *LEED and the Green Communities criteria
Presenting organizations, the Minnesota chapter of USGBC and Minnesota Green Communities, are excited this unique partnership and opportunity to “bridge” our two conferences and bring people together around green building and design from all across the region.
Excellent sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities are available—providing vendors with high visibility and name recognition. Click here to learn more.
By Josie Garthwaite
Posted February 2nd, 2010 at 10:51 am in green building
Tools and services for improving a home’s energy efficiency — things like Energy Star appliances, home energy audits and green roofing materials — often lack the glitz and gadget-appeal of solar panels and other highly visible signs that a homeowner has “gone green.” But according to a new report out today from Pike Research, energy efficiency retrofits, products and services for the residential building market are poised to see a wave of growth as the U.S. pulls out of recession over the next five years.
In particular, Pike forecasts that the home energy auditing market will nearly triple to $23 billion by 2014, up from $8.1 billion last year. The market for efficiency improvements along the lines of roofing and window replacements and upgrades for HVAC systems and appliances will increase to $50.2 billion by 2014, up from $38.3 billion in 2009, the firm predicts. And Energy Star refrigerators and clothes washers could generate revenues of $21.9 billion to $33.2 billion between 2009 and 2014.
After what Pike describes as “a long period of obscurity” for energy efficiency — not to mention a major slowdown in new home sales and remodeling — what’s driving this growth? A big part of it comes from federal, state and local governments offering incentives, tightening building codes (one of our 4 Green Building Trends to Watch in 2010) and developing new green building requirements.
But there’s more to it, says Pike managing director Clint Wheelock. “A number of factors are converging to make energy efficient residential products and services a hot sector over the next several years,” he notes in today’s release, including environmental awareness among consumers and new offerings and rebates from product makers. And As Geoff Chapin, chief executive for home energy retrofitter Next Step Living, told us recently, rebates from utilities for homeowners to get energy audits, install insulation or take other steps to reduce their energy use are also helping to boost business for energy efficiency companies.
But Pike voices concern that the residential efficiency market could see short-lived growth if government programs like President Obama’s so-called “cash for caulkers” initiative supporting home energy retrofits comes to an end at some point. However, regulations like California’s new green building code, adopted last month and taking effect next year, have staying power. And there’s nothing like the simple progression of time to spur interest in some of these technologies and services: Pike anticipates that the aging U.S. housing stock, along with rising utility prices in coming years, will help buoy demand for energy efficiency products.
By Kym Reinstadler | The Grand Rapids Press
February 02, 2010, 8:16AM
GRAND RAPIDS -- The newly renovated Burton Elementary and Middle School has been LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The designation means the building has met green building standards set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for environmentally sensitive building practices.
"Our green buildings are a win-win," said Lisa Freiburger, the school district's chief financial officer. "They provide healthy learning environments for students and employees, while also conserving energy and water, reducing storm water runoff, improving air quality and helping to contain operating costs."
Burton is the fourth of district school to achieve LEED certification. The others are Sibley Elementary, Harrison Park Elementary and Middle School and Ford Middle School.
The U.S. Green Building Council wants to see college campuses across the nation adopt a more complete sustainability model within the next generation.
Tue, Feb 02 2010 at 4:16 PM EST
If the USGBC gets its wish, gone will be the days of one or two LEED certified buildings on America’s college campuses. Instead, all of our nation’s college campuses will adopt a more complete sustainability model within one generation. The USGBC has launched the Green Campus Campaign to help make this goal a reality.
The USGBC wants college administrators to know that greening their buildings isn’t cost-prohibitive and will lead to millions in savings over the building’s lifetime from energy and water use reduction. As sustainability is becoming more important to today’s youth, they will likely look at a school’s environmental record when making a decision about where to attend college. The USGBC’s Green Campus Campaign will help college institutions meet the increased demand for a sustainable focus.
Watch an interview with Rachel Gutter, Director of the Education Sector, USGBC :
To help promote the Green Campus Campaign, the U.S. Green Building Council is asking sustainability-minded college students to form a USGBC Student Group. These groups are made up of students that are interested in green building and design, not just those that are majoring in a related degree program.
For more information on the program, visit the USGBC’s Green Campus Campaignwebsite.
FEBRUARY 01, 2010
WASHINGTON — Saying he wants to lead by example on global warming, President Barack Obama on Friday directed the federal government to reduce its emissions of heat-trapping gases by 28 percent in the next decade – a goal that exceeds targets for the country as a whole.
As the single largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, Obama says the government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008. He says achieving the new pollution goal would cut federal energy use by the equivalent of 205 million barrels of oil, the same as taking 17 million cars off the road for one year.
Obama’s announcement comes a day after the United States pledged to address global warming by cutting the nation’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020. The commitment to the U.N. climate body must get approval from Congress, which is not guaranteed.
The initiative on federal agencies follows an executive order Obama issued last October and requires agencies to set targets for reducing climate-altering pollution from buildings and fleets. The initiative does not apply to the emissions of companies that supply the federal government or those from federal employees’ commutes.
Obama said the initiative would lower costs, reduce pollution and shift federal energy expenses away from oil and toward renewable energy.
by Molly Waite GVL Staff Writer
On the third floor of Mackinac Hall, the view from the philosophy department office windows does not include a gray, concrete rooftop but rather a lush expanse of plants. The grasses and other flora did not grow there by mistake but through the careful planning and efforts to reduce Grand Valley State University's impact on the Grand River.
As an important part of the university's commitment to sustainability, green roofs provide a natural and cost-effective way to manage storm water. Storm water is the run-off caused by man-made surfaces such as parking lots, sidewalks and building roofs. The water also carries chemicals and other pollutants with it, causing harm to the Grand River and other local ecosystems.
"We like to show people that we have a green roof and that we're serious about storm water management," said John Koches, associate research scientist of the Annis Water Resources Institute at GVSU. "Having the green roofs is just one way to deal with storm water that would ordinarily flow off the roof. It also prevents storm water flow from the parking lots, cleaning out chemicals that would end up in the river. We've made a conscientious effort to curb all of our storm water flow."
Green roofs are layered with sand, gravel, loam and other coarse textiles to naturally filter out pollutants and absorb excess water flow. Koches said the plants chosen for green roofs are called succulents: low-maintenance, drought tolerant plants with deep root systems.
Norman Christopher, executive director of the Sustainable Initiative, said the plants are put on the roof in trays, so if a group of greenery does not thrive, it can be removed and replaced without serious cost or effort.
"We're still learning about the benefits of green roofs," Christopher said. "The green roofs help us understand the whole concept of waste water management and lessening the impact on our environment."
Green roofs are not the only way GVSU reduces its impact on the Grand River. Indigenous plants strategically placed around campus to form rain gardens function in much the same way to cleanse pollutants picked up by run-off water.
"A lot of people just see them as a beautiful garden, but actually the indigenous plants and flowers, which naturally grow in Michigan, process storm water," Koches said. "A lot of people don't understand that these are not just gardens, but engineered structures with a purpose. There's more to it than just planting pretty flowers."
The installation of green roofs not only limits storm water flow into Grand River but reduces GVSU's carbon footprint.
James Moyer, assistant vice president for Facilities Planning, said green roofs have the ability to sequester carbon, making them a part of the 2010 Climate Action Plan released last Friday. Green roofs also insulate buildings, reducing the costs of heating and cooling.
Some 33,800 square feet of green roof have been planted on four buildings across campus to date and GVSU is also scheduled to install an additional 2,500 square feet of green roof on two more buildings this spring.
"I think that what we've discovered is that these processes are very cost effective, easy to implement and low-maintenance," Koches said. "We're handling water discharges internally and adding the water back to the groundwater systems where they would have ordinarily gone back without man-made structures. It leaves the functions of the landscape intact, serving to keep the campus environmentally friendly at a low cost while maintaining the natural integrity of the sites they manage. The university has really bought into this process, and I think that they're doing a very conscientious job."
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Mission: To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, in a way that improves the quality of life in West Michigan.