Page 1

cascadia’s magaZine For TransFormaTive PeoPle + design

sPring 2010

TransforMaTional THouGHT:

The role oF beauTy in green design: “PulcHraPHilia” TransforMaTional DesiGn:

TWELVE|WEST: neW BeGinninGs for an olD neiGHBorHooD TransforMaTional PeoPle:

JoHn francis

STEWarD Of THE EarTH — planETWalkEr also:

THinKinG aBouT THe fuTure DifferenTly

trim tab



© basil childers eD i TO r i n Chi e F

Jason F. McLennan

M an ag i ng e D i TOr

Joanna Gangi

P r O D UCTi On Chi e F

Bob Potter

C r eaTi V e D i re CTOr

Erin Gehle

aDV er T i si ng

Sarah Costello

C O n T r i BU TOrs

Melissa Peterson, Paul Werder, Peter Dobrovolny, David R. Macaulay, Bill Walsh, George Marshall

TransforMaTional DesiGn:

DEPARTMENTS 05 TransforMaTional DesiGn:

Twelve|West: New Beginnings for an Old Neighborhood

For editorial inquiries or freelance submissions, contact Joanna Gangi at

by dav id r. macau l ay

Elegant, functional and sustainable, a new building in Portland’s West End.

For photography submissions, contact Bob Potter at For advertising, contact Sarah Costello at Back issues or reprints: Contact



TransforMaTional PeoPle:

Dr. John Francis by Joanna gangi

The journey of an environmental practitioner. s P r i n g 20 1 0 , i ssU e 5

Trim Tab is a quarterly publication of the Cascadia Green Building Council, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Office locations: 721 NW 9th Ave Suite 195, Portland, OR 97209; 410 Occidental Ave South, Seattle, WA 98105; 1100-111 Dunsmuir Street, vancouver, BC v6B 6A3.


TransforMaTional THouGHT:

The Role of Beauty in Green Design: “Pulchraphilia:” How Aesthetics and Good Design Improve Performance by Jas on F. mcl e nnan

All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission and is for informational purposes only. Cover photo: © Eckert & Eckert


Spring 2010

contents s Pring qu arTe r 2 0 1 0


TransforMaTional PeoPle:


Thinking About the Future Differently By P e Te r D oB rovo l n y

34 37

Accountability with Heart: The Art of Tough Love


moving upstream


MovinG uPsTreaM:


BooK revieW:


Why We Find it So Hard to Act Against Climate Change



By Pa ul W er D e r

B y G eor G e M a rs H a l l


TransforMaTional THouGHT:

Progress in the Bioregion and Beyond!

Building an Emerald City by lu cia aThe ns re v ie w by me l iss a Pe Te rs on


evenT calenDar

Transparency: There’s an App for That By B i l l Wa l s H

trim tab


Cascadia’s mission is to lead a transformation towards a built environment that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

Out of difficulties grow miracles Jean De La Bruyere







2020 ENGINEERING | Alaska Energy Authority | Alaska Housing Finance Corporation | Arup | BrN Engineering, Inc. CDI Engineers | Clean Water Pipe Council | Control Contractors, Inc. | DA Architects + Planners | DLR Group gBL Architects, Inc. | Gerding Edlen Development | Glumac | GLY Construction | King County GreenTools kpb architects | LMN Architects | Lutron Electronics, Inc. | McKinstry | MCW Consultants Ltd. Northwest Construction | Opsis Architecture | Oregon Electric Group | Otak | PAE Consulting Engineers, Inc. PBS Engineering + Environmental | Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability | Read Jones Christoffersen ReNu Recycling / Nuprecon | Sellen Construction Company | ShoreBank Pacific | THA Architecture, Inc. The Miller|Hull Partnership LLP | Unico Properties, LLC | Univercity on Burnaby Mountain


AHBL, Inc. | Allsteel, Inc. | ARC Architects | Ashforth Pacific | BLRB Architects | BOMA Portland | Boora Architects Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Inc. | Dull Olson Weekes Architects | Fletcher Farr Ayotte | Forensic Building Consultants Fortis Construction, Inc. | Group Mackenzie | Hargis Engineers, Inc. | Ideate, Inc. | Integrus Architecture | Iredale Group Architecture J. H. Heerwagen & Associates, Inc. | KMD Architects | KPFF Consulting Engineers | Lorig Associates, LLC | McCool Carlson Green Natural Systems International | O’Brien & Company | Optimization Technologies, Inc. | Oregon BEST | PACE Engineers, Inc. Portland Trail Blazers | R&H Construction Co. | RIM Architects | schemata workshop, inc. | Studio 9 | Swensen Say Faget United Fund Advisors | USKH, Inc. | Willamette Print and Blueprint | Zeck Butler Architects PS

Spring 2010

Tr an sfor MaTion al D esi Gn BY DAv I D R . M ACA U L AY


Elegant, functional and sustainable, this new green high-rise is a catalyst for change in Portland’s West End.

trim tab


© doug J scoTT / | image courTesy oF glumac


© Timothy Hursley

At 22 stories high and wrapped in its bright façade, the building literally gleams even under cloudy skies. Portland’s plentiful rainfall feeds a green roof, supporting four wind turbines, interior spaces filled with light and fresh air. It is a place, too, that invites interaction, modern, alive, while respecting the history of surrounding streets and structures. And most important, this half-block development offers a clear statement about sustainability and place and people – the promise, a catalyst even, of urban transformation.

Among the newest additions to the city’s West End neighborhood, Twelve|West dominates this area of mostly lowrise buildings and parking lots. Located on Southwest Washington between 12th and 13th Avenues, the tower houses the Portland offices of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP (ZGF), internationally known for their growing portfolio of LEED® projects. The 85,000-square-foot


Spring 2010

building also features ground-floor retail, 17 floors of apartments and penthouse homes, and five floors of below-grade parking. This mixed-used facility is on track to achieve two LEED Platinum certifications – for New Construction and Commercial Interiors – while serving as a laboratory for cutting edge, sustainable design strategies. “Twelve|West represents who we are as a firm,” notes Gene Sandoval, Assoc. AIA, a partner at ZGF and the building’s lead designer. “We felt it is our responsibility to create a new space that reflects our beliefs, our commitment to sustainability and urban place-making as a firm.”

Also instrumental to the project was Gerding Edlen Development, responsible for more than 40 LEED properties along the West Coast, including the 1.7 million-square-foot Brewery Blocks project in Portland’s adjacent Pearl District. For Mark Edlen, the firm’s managing principal, ZGF’s new office “embraces many sustainable features that have become standard to our projects: a raised floor plenum system, solar hot water, recycled content, operable windows, and a highly energy-efficient skin system. And yet, he adds, “Twelve|West presented an exciting new opportunity as well – a pioneering building in a re-emerging neighborhood.”

nick merrick © hedrich blessing

The decision to locate ZGF’s practice within Portland’s downtown core, in fact, became a central expression that defines the entire project. Wedged between West Burnside and Portland’s Central Business District, the West End has been considered prime for redevelopment for more than 30 years. Amid churches, movie screens, park blocks, locallyowned businesses and the Central Library is an urban mix of public housing, surface parking and dilapidated buildings. Throughout the neighborhood, too, exist remnants of the past: single-room occupancy hotels, left over from the turn of the last century to house railroad and mill workers during the time of the Lewis & Clark Pavilion. Where private investment has led to several high-profile developments in the area’s southern half (Fox Tower, Museum Place), the blocks closest to the acclaimed Pearl District were still mostly overlooked, forgotten. That was about to change.

TRANSFORMED: A RETURN TO PLACE Named AIA’s Firm of the Year for 1991, ZGF has garnered more than 400 national, regional and local awards over the last 50 years – establishing itself as an early leader in sustainable design and completing one of the first LEED

trim tab

Platinum projects in the U.S. (University of California-Santa Barbara’s Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management). With five offices coast to coast, the firm’s partners needed more space to accommodate its growing workforce in Portland. Pursuing several possible locations in the city, they finally narrowed their search to several blocks just across Burnside from the Pearl District. Their interest coincided with Mark Edlen’s desire to “extend the energy and street life of the Brewery Blocks to the West End as well” and those of a third party, the Goodman family, who were interested in seeing some of their parking lots converted into highly sustainable, mixed-use buildings over time.

Neighborhood revitalization remained a consistent theme for ZGF – to bring more people into the city’s core and stimulate both economic and cultural development by combining its new office with market-rate apartments and retail. Above all, they wanted to create a 24/7 work environment, for employees as well as tenants. Another clear goal for Twelve|West centered on sustainability: to highlight the firm’s own design principles and capabilities while putting a broad range of strategies on display, from lighting, indoor air quality and materials to water and energy use.


nick merrick © hedrich blessing

nick merrick © hedrich blessing

As one response to city initiatives such as Central City 2000, Prosperous Portland and, The West End Plan of 2002, the $137.86 million mixed-use building became the first major new commercial structure in this part of the West End in more than 20 years. In return, the project attracted support from a number of sources, including a 2008 Green Investment Fund grant and $29 million in New Markets Tax Credits through the Portland Family of Funds to help move this project into the construction phase.

ner with firms willing to take some chances ultimately to achieve something very special.” In addition to Gerding Edlen, the team included Hoffman Construction as general contractor, Glumac as MEP engineer, KPFF Consulting Engineers for lighting design, and David Evans and Associates for structural engineering.

COLLABORATIVE DESIGN, A MODEL OF SUSTAINABILITY Creating ZGF’s greenest building ever began with a series of staff-driven ‘culture’ charrettes to define an open office layout that would encourage interaction and innovation among employees. This led to further brainstorming on workstation design, project workflow, use of private and public spaces, and other considerations. For ZGF as owner and design, assembling a strong project team was equally essential. They selected consultants and contractors based on competencies, but also chemistry. “We wanted to part-


Spring 2010

With broad input from team members, the design charrettes for Twelve|West further resulted in several key objectives for the high-rise: • To carefully unite live/work/learn/play components of the building • To connect the building’s occupants to the urban landscape, while maximizing natural light • To ground the building in a manner that promotes active street life • To use exterior gardens and terraces for areas of interaction as well as respite • To incorporate advanced building systems to promote natural resource conservation • To design apartments that maximize space, light, views and energy saving

Additionally, ZGF, Glumac and Gerding Edlen had all recently signed on to the 2030 Challenge, committing to the team to aggressive design and construction targets for emissions and energy reductions.

Eco-Roof: Building performance begins at the top with a green roof, utilized for storm water management, to increase the roof’s R-value and moderate the heat island effect in warmer months. A two-foot-deep layer of soil covers 80 percent of the roof membrane, estimated to increase its life by two to six times. Further, the landscaped rooftop garden and terrace offer accessible outdoor spaces for tenants and ZGF employees. Also integrated into the roof is a rainwater harvesting system, diverting water to an underground storage tank for treatment and reuse. This system collects an estimated 273,000 gallons of rainwater annually and stores an additional 13,000 gallons of condensation water from air handlers during the summer. Together, this meets 100 percent of irrigation requirements for the green roof and 90 percent of toilet flushing demands for the office.

Twelve|West: Just the Facts Location:

trim tab

Portland, Oregon

Building type(s):

Completed: Architect:


Mixed-use commercial office/retail/ apartments/New construction/85,000 sq. feet July 2009

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP, Portland


Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP, Portland

Gerding Edlen Development Company, LLC, Portland


Hoffman Construction Company, Portland


Glumac, Portland (M/E/P engineer and lighting design); KPFF Consulting Engineers, Portland (structural engineer); David Evans and Associates, Portland (civil engineers); Altermatt Associates, Portland (acoustics); Benson Industries, Portland (curtain wall); Southwest Windpower, Flagstaff, Arizona (wind turbines); Heliodyne Inc., Richmond, California (solar hot water panels)

© Eckert & Eckert

Wind Energy: Four wind turbines mounted on the roof offer the building’s most visible, and perhaps iconic, symbols of renewable energy to passersby. As designed and built, these 40-foot-tall turbines represent one of the first urban applications of small-scale wind energy in the nation. ZGF, Gerding Edlen and the Goodmans were all intrigued with the idea of including wind in the overall design to underwrite the cost of further study. And yet, this is not simply for demonstration purposes: combined, the turbines generate approximately 1 percent of electrical requirements, enough to power the building’s core (elevators); in addition, all energy produced is net metered, feeding any excess power back to the grid.

Comfort: Heating, cooling and natural ventilation schemes provide an essential framework for meeting the 2030 Challenge while achieving healthy live and work environments throughout the building. Designed by Glumac’s Portland office, all systems reflect a desire by ZGF for maximum flexibility so employees and studios can move around the office as needed. Ensuring comfort and energy-efficient use of space was a chief priority as well, further explored through night flushing, radiant heating and cooling and an architectural emphasis on exposed concrete to further condition the building and help stabilize internal temperatures. Still, the biggest direct impact on performance at Twelve|West results from the use of passive chilled beams for perimeter cooling and underfloor air distribution across all office floors. MEP engineers recommended


Four Wind Turbines produce 10–12,000 kWh of electricity per year. Monitoring of wind conditions and turbine performance will improve knowledge for future projects. Solar Thermal panels heat 24% of hot water used in the building, offsetting natural gas use. Roof Gardens clean, detain and filter rainwater and significantly reduce roof temperatures in warmer months. Low-e Glass admits 35% of visible sunlight but reflects 74% of the associated heat, reducing energy use for lighting and space cooling. Rainwater Re-use in toilet flushing on the office floors, and to irrigate the green roofs, reduces use of city water by 286,000 gallons per year. Water-efficient Plumbing Fixtures help reduce water use by more than 44%.

Operable Windows provide occupants fresh air, cooling, and a connection to the outdoors.

Passive / Chilled Beams provide energy-efficient cooling on the hottest days.

Efficient Central Cooling plant in the nearby Brewery Blocks provides chilled water for space cooling.

Daylight Sensors switch off electric lights when there is ample daylight, reducing lighting energy use by 60%.

Under-Floor Air Distribution efficiently delivers moderatetemperature air directly to occupants. Personal adjustable floor vents provide control over ventilation.

Rain Water Harvesting piping gathers 273,000 gallons of rainwater from the roofs.

Exposed Concrete moderates indoor air temperatures. Mass is cooled with cool night air in the summer months and absorbs excess heat throughout the day.


Spring 2010

Water Storage Tank temporarily stores up to 23,000 gallons of rainwater and condensation for re-use.

Condensation of 13,000 gallons of water from the air handler system will collect during summer months.

these strategies in combination after completing a detailed energy analysis and multiple CFD simulations of the space early in the design phase.

TO BRING THE OUTDOORS IN, THE INDOORS OUT Light: Inside and out, Twelve|West’s most defining characteristic is light. ZGF placed a high priority on daylighting for their office, enhanced due to the south-facing building site. As a result, the south façade features floor-to-ceiling, 85 percent vision glass to maximize views while maintaining comfortable interior conditions. “The south wall of our building speaks for the technical proficiency of the team,” says Sandoval, “because you could easily overheat it or over-glare it. So we’re receiving a lot of sun and able to see the changes of the day and the movement of the light like never before.” More than 90 percent of all occupied spaces within the office and apartments feature natural light, even ZGF’s materials library. Using Glumac’s daylighting models as a baseline, remaining spaces rely on addressable and dimmable lighting controls to sense occupancy, shading and demand response. This sophisticated systems allows the firm to fine-tune light levels in areas with sufficient daylight as well as theme pre-sets for meeting areas as they modify how spaces are used within the office. Materials: Recycled, rapidly-renewable and sustainablyharvested materials play an important part in demonstrating interior finishes as well. FSC-certified wood figures prominently within the office space, featuring white oak floors in the reception area and extensive white oak paneling on every floor. Designers also specified bamboo veneers for doors and casework, bamboo flooring, and 100 percent corn fiber curtains and linoleum flooring. In addition to exposed concrete, ZGF selected a wide palette of sustainable materials and finishes such as recycled blue jeans for insulation and 96 percent recycled, locallymanufactured gypsum wallboard; residential housing also features carpet in bedrooms with 25 percent recycled content, granite countertops in kitchens and baths, PVC-free window coverings, and zero-VOC paints. Like the materials, daylight and other design decisions, Twelve|West’s program itself contributes to a sense of open space, movement, connection and sustainability – beginning at street level. Sandoval wanted to make a clear statement about approachability and was deliberate in his placement of the building entrances: “It’s nice when our associates can enter the office in early morning just as the sun is hitting that south wall, and for apartment dwellers

trim tab

who are welcomed by the sun reflecting off the west façade when they come home in the evening.”

The ZGF Portland office begins at the second level reception area, where visitors are greeted by a slide wall displaying 8,000 backlit images of the firm’s work over five decades. Each office floor is then connected by alternating interior stairs – the 2nd to 3rd floor stairway on the building’s east end, the 3rd to 4th floor stairway on the west end, and so forth. To further encourage innovation and collaboration, the practice also opted for custom-designed workstations, widescreen TVs for video-conference and/ or presentation viewing in each of the office’s 13 conference rooms, and a resource library with 1,000 lineal feet of layout/workout space and 1,200 lineal feet of high-density shelf/drawer space for storage.

Immediately above, one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental units start on the building’s 6th floor. The “Indigo @ Twelve|West” apartments and three floors of penthouse homes feature interior materials and colors carefully chosen to enhance the effects of daylighting, each with unobstructed views to the city, mountains or rivers outside. All housing includes Energy Star appliances and water-efficient fixtures, with a central trash and recycling station on every floor. Indigo residents also have access to several onsite amenities, including a 21-seat screening room theatre, a workout room and the rooftop terrace. Urban, vital, sustainable and alive: on July 19, 2009 ZGF and its 240 Portland employees moved into their new office at the corner of 12th and Washington; and three months later the first new occupants began moving into the upper floor apartments, with every space leased by year end. Twelve|West appears to be the start of something special – remembering the past, taking this neighborhood to a bright new future. Dave Macaul ay is author of Integrated Design: Mithun (Ecotone Publishing, 2008) and co-author of The Ecological Engineer: KEEN Engineering (Ecotone Publishing, 2005) and a contributor to AIA COTEnotes and EcoStructure and GreenSource magazines. .



Dennis Wilde:


An Evangelist Francis:for Change

Steward of the earth – Planetwalker In 1971 John Francis witnessed an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay, which compelled him to stop riding in motorized vehicles. A few months later he took a vow of silence…that lasted 17 years. Through his 17 year vow of silence he learned to listen, through his 22 years of walking he learned about the environment and people and how they are connected. He learned that the way people treat each other is fundamental in solving the environmental crisis and that people really can make a difference. During his journey across the world John earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, taught a class on conversation,

earned his Ph.D., and became a United Nations goodwill ambassador. In 22 years he walked across North America, sailed and walked through the Caribbean and walked through South America. All while learning from the people he encountered and the planet that he crossed. Francis’s book — Planetwalker. 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence. — explores his compelling journey through the world and delves into the human spirit. His journey is inspirational, refreshing, and full of adventure that teaches us how to live closer and more connected to the planet. Francis talks to Trim Tab about his journey and the things he learned along the way. story continues


Spring 2010

Tr an sfor MaTion al PeoPle

John Francis is speaking at the 2010 living Future unconference, may 5-7 in seattle.

TRIM TAB : In your book you write about your lifetime goal, which is to “sail and walk around the planet as part of your education, with the spirit of hope that in some way you might help others and benefit the world.” How do you feel that you’ve done this? JOHN FRANCIS : When I first wrote that, I was just finishing my undergraduate degree. My short-term goal was to just finish college. I didn’t really think that I would go on to graduate school, because just going to school and not speaking, while I think I got a lot out of it, it was very difficult. So I didn’t know that I was going to pursue an academic career. I didn’t really know what that meant. I figured I would learn on the way.

trim tab

What I discovered on my walk across the US and studying the environment at a Master’s and Ph.D. level, was that there was so much on pollution, loss of species, habitat, population and things that are traditionally thought of about the environment. But what I didn’t find was that WE are part of the environment. People are part of the environment. And because we are part of the environment, one of the things that I thought was really important and could be our first opportunity to understand what sustainability is —or even understand the environment — is to think about how we treat each other. I didn’t see that conversation happening. I saw all of things that we can do: we can use less energy; we can walk; we can even the do things that I had chosen to do. I concerned myself with pollution right away, but there


was something that I thought was much deeper. And that is how we treat each other and ourselves. I hope, more importantly, that I’ve learned that how we treat each other is really fundamental to environmental stewardship and being an environmentalist. I always think of myself as not an environmentalist but more of an environmental practitioner. TT : What inspires you?

JF : My teachers inspire me, both my teachers that are here with me, whether it is my mother and father, and the inspiration from my teachers that are out in the world. We are all learning and teaching each other. I get a lot of inspiration from the people around me, specifically from people who are doing amazing things that seem to go unheralded. The people that you see doing grass roots work inspire me. TT : Do you see a place for cars in our future?

JF : I drive a hybrid. I had a professor at Madison [University of Wisconsin] do a study [based on the premise that] if we got better gas mileage then we would drive more. And I thought “huh”. This was when I was walking, and I thought, that is probably not me. But now I’m not sure its not me. There’s a smugness that comes from driving a hybrid. I think that technology is going to help us. Cars do have a place. I don’t know how to get rid of automobiles, and I’m not sure that I want to. I believe that if we make that paradigm shift about treating each other well, not looking to rip each other off, not looking to oppress one another…human rights, civil rights, economic equity, gender equality and all those ways that we relate…if we make that paradigm shift, I believe the technology will come through us. It is going to be earthshattering in a sense that we could have never imagined where it is going to take us. So I imagine the automobile that comes out of that mind set; it is something I don’t think we see yet. TT : You talk a lot about how the environmental crisis is related to the human experience and change. How can people learn from this and how they can change in a positive way?

JF : For me change is a very important part of human experience. When I started walking it was because of the


Spring 2010

oil spill and soon after that I stopped talking, and that was because I seemed to be arguing with everyone all of time. I didn’t really know exactly what it was that I was arguing about. I was very good at arguing for the sake of arguing or thinking I had something to say. When I stopped talking, I learned that I hadn’t been listening. I learned that it really takes two people to have an argument, that I could listen without having to argue with someone, and I could respect that person even though I might not agree with what they were saying but that there was going to be something that I’ve never heard before or never understood before in the same way.

I used to listen to someone long enough to see what they were saying, and if it matched what I thought they were going to say, I would stop listening and start thinking about what I was going to say back. The thing about not speaking was that every year on my birthday, I asked myself “does this still work?” It went on for 17 years before I said to myself: “you know your going to have to start speaking now”. The reason I started speaking was I had come to a place where I had something to say. In the experience of being silent, something changed inside of me that allowed me to start speaking. One way of changing is to constantly ask yourself: “Is where you are now where you want to be? Is it helping you get to where you need to get?” When I started walking I never questioned walking. I just grabbed onto walking, as what I was going to do. It took me 22 years to be in Venezuela and walking across Venezuela I had an epiphany. It was about me being in prison and getting ready to escape because I was in a disguise. My disguise was that I was John Francis, a UN ambassador walking past this prison. I felt that I was in this disguise and when the guard asked me for my passport I just said, “I don’t need to show you my passport, I’m Dr. Francis, I’m walking around the world.” And he looked at me and didn’t shoot me, and he could have. I walked away, and it took me about 50 yards, and then I realized what I was doing. For some reason I was playing this thing in my head that I was a prisoner. I realized that I actually had become a prisoner and walking was the prison I was in. I hadn’t questioned walking as I did not speaking.

I discovered that I had become a UN Goodwill Ambassador. I had become a Ph.D. Here I was walking, and I really needed to do some work. I had to stop and think about where I was going and where I wanted to go. It was

difficult for me to let go. While we want to get some place, we have to realize that if we are going to get there we have to let go of who we are on the way. We are all on this journey, and we have to let go of that identity at some point to become the next person, to become the new person that we are striving to be. I think it is really important from time to time to question where we are and look at our intentions about where we are going. TT : Environmentalism is often perceived to be a very white movement. As an African-American environmentalist how can we bridge that gap and promote diversity within the movement? JF : I look at the environmental movement as sort of like the women’s movement. It helped a certain part of us look at ourselves and say, hey, if we are going to do this, it has to be all of us. And then make these changes. It is going to take environmental practitioners, particularly people that have reached high places, to understand that. I really believe that this is happening. In the South after slavery there were all these farmers and people of color growing things organically, people who were really interested in the land. They were a movement unto themselves but they were part of the environmental movement.

Environment and the environmental movement is not just about trees and birds and pollution; it’s about human rights and economic equity and how we share this. It’s a struggle, but that’s the movement, and we each individually have to make the choice to do that. It has to come from each one of us. If anything, my life and journey have shown that you can do something that seems very small and it can make a difference. Each one of us is a bridge builder. A lot of it has to do with our intention. The best we can do is to intend to do good things.

TT : What is your vision of our future with the environment and living in harmony with nature?

JF : My vision is that we keep getting closer to the understanding who we are and that we are all part of the environment; that we think about how we affect each other; and that we look to do good for one another. I see more and more people talk about environment and peace in the same sense. The more we understand that what we are talking about is peace, the closer we are to understanding the environment. We are still on the journey. Joan n a Gan gi is empowered by the fantastic beauty of nature residing in Seattle where she works at Cascadia Region Green Building Council.

Hum. Minds at Work.


Kimball Office’s commitment to relevant, quality products and sustainability is reflected in Hum, through its unique design, locally resourced materials and regional manufacturing processes. Developed with the DfE protocol and certified to BIFMA level one. Hum contributes to LEED CI credits with IEQ: 4.5 and MR: 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 5.2 regional materials.

TT : What is your advice to people who want to get involved in the environmental movement and who wish to make positive environmental change?

JF : I fall back on the principle that it’s really about how we treat each other. And then what speaks to you, what it is that you want to do. What is that you see in the environment, in the way that we live, what we are doing and how we relate to each other, that you feel inspired to do something about? The most important thing is to follow your dream. However simple it is or however difficult it may seem. Have faith in yourself and treat yourself well.

Learn more about our sustainable products at or contact

WHAT’S IN YOUR WATER? If there is rigid PVC piping in your community water system, you and your family could be exposed to bacteria, lead and other toxins. PVC has been banned by: The City of San Francisco The City of Seattle Microsoft Target Walmart Go to to learn more about the potential health and environmental impacts of rigid PVC in your community water system.


for more info about this important issue 16

Spring 2010

Tr an sfor mation al TH OUGHT

by jason f. mclennan

The Role of Beauty in Green Design: “Pulchraphilia” How Aesthetics and Good Design Improve Performance trim tab


Pulchraphilia (noun) The innate need to be surrounded by beautiful and well-designed environments with a particular connection to nature. From the Latin “pulchra” for beautiful and “philia” for love. (a new term coined here in trim-tab)

image used as part of a creative commons licence: FLickr User FHKE

previous page: Louis Kahn’s Salk institute; Below: St. Ignatius Chapel by Steven Holl


Spring 2010

In the early days of the green building movement, wellmeaning designers produced structures that were radical in their energy and environmental performance but disastrous in their aesthetic appeal to most people.

A strong argument can be made that many unattractive solar buildings and energy efficient designs actually set back the movement by at least two decades, because they established a new and erroneous assumption that green buildings are ugly and awkward — an assumption that was only in the last decade beginning to be debunked. It has taken a lot of diligent work by hundreds of green building leaders to debunk this myth and build examples to help the public understand that green can be beautiful, elegant and inspiring aesthetically as well as environmentally. There is a powerful lesson here that needs to be clearly articulated and discussed.

The Urgency of Beauty

Research has shown that humans have an innate love of and need for nature. Our “biophilia,” according to studies, is hard-wired1. We naturally seek out environments where nature is present (including elements such as water, plants and daylight) and react negatively to environments that are sterile, cold and without any connection to nature. There is additional emerging evidence indicating that we also crave beauty in the form of order, proportion, texture, color and localized symmetry. I refer to this instinct as “pulchraphilia.” The pleasure we experience when we witness symmetry in nature – as in sacred geometry or the elegant layout of the human face – demonstrates this powerful force. The green building community needs to fully recognize that ignoring both biophilia and pulchraphilia is disastrous if we seek more rapid adoption. Put simply, without beauty and good design the green building movement will fail. Given that this topic is this profound and foundational, it is surprising that the subject has been so absent from thirty years of the green

trim tab

The project must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to its function. Living Building Challenge™ 2.0, Imperative 19

building dialogue. Yet this silence explains some of the reasons why we haven’t seen more success.

One of the most revolutionary features of the Living Building Challenge™ is our willingness to include seemingly subjective elements of green design and building alongside more measurable and ‘rational’ elements. In addition to calling for the commonly recognized categories of requirements encompassed in any performance standard (water, energy, site etc.), the Challenge takes the unconventional step of requiring beauty and inspiration in the projects it certifies, as we recognize the extreme importance of the human dimension in achieving environmental performance.

We knew when we incorporated these ‘imperatives’ into the Challenge that were making a bold move; we were adding a seemingly unquantifiable set of requirements to a rating system. But we did it with conscious intent. We wanted to highlight a critical set of issues that for too long have been absent from the green building dialogue. Experience has shown us that it is often the so-called ‘immeasurable’ things that have the biggest impact and that it is folly to ignore something simply because we haven’t figured out the best way to measure it. Pretending that good design and aesthetics are separate from performance is a fatal error.


Beauty Petal Intent

The intent of the Beauty Petal is to recognize the need for beauty as a precursor to caring enough to preserve, conserve and serve the greater good. As a society we are often surrounded by ugly and inhumane physical environments. If we do not care for our homes, streets, offices and neighborhoods then why should we extend care outward to our farms, forests and fields? When we accept billboards, parking lots, freeways and strip malls as being aesthetically acceptable, in the same breath we accept clear-cuts, factory farms and strip mines. Living Building Challenge™ 2.0

When we first launched the Living Building Challenge™, many people – especially left-brain types – thought we were crazy to include ‘emotional issues’. They questioned the addition of beauty to the Challenge, insisting that it didn’t make sense as part of a set of building standards. Interestingly, this particular Living Building Challenge™ petal is now recognized by a majority of our users to be the most important one of all and perhaps does more than any single element of the Challenge to help us recruit new practitioners to our growing movement. Inspiring people gets them interested in saving energy and water and resources. Isn’t that interesting?

What Really Counts

As discussed, there is a disturbing societal trend in which individuals ignore things they can’t easily measure or quantify. If we can’t count it, the thinking goes, then we should discount it or deny its existence altogether. The tragedy here is obvious, and it underpins many of the problems we face: If something doesn’t “count” toward a societal benchmark (think GDP) we give it less importance. Just as we undervalue culture, indigenous peoples, clean air, water and democracy, we undervalue the importance that thoughtful design has to life in cities and communities.

The real truth is that many of the most important things in life are the very things that are more difficult to quantify and any system that fails to address them is guaranteed to fall short. Just because something can’t be objectively measured doesn’t mean it has zero value; it may in fact become the most important building block of all. When it comes to green building and environmental performance, beauty and good design play an enormous role in the success of


Spring 2010

any project. In fact, aesthetics contribute to the overall effort in such significant ways primarily because people are involved and we are emotional beings.

Calling for a Professional Commitment – Imperative 19

Our intention with Imperative 19 of the Challenge is to emphasize our need for beauty in our built structures. Beauty must be acknowledged as a precursor to environmental concern; it is inherent in our ability to care for, maintain and properly operate our buildings and systems. If we don’t care enough to create places of beauty in our personal environments, how can we possibly nurture other environments where we don’t live? This standard does not presume to judge beauty. Nor does it seek to project our own personal aesthetic values onto others. Instead, it aims to generate discussion and awareness about people’s intentions and the role good design plays into project performance. The goal is to ensure that sufficient care is taken in any design – whether it is a house, an office, a park or an entire neighborhood – to create spaces and places that intentionally enrich people’s lives. So we ask the architects and the owners of the projects to each submit essays as part of their documentation, conveying in their own words what they feel they’ve done to accomplish beauty in their work. In addition, they are asked to conduct informal surveys of users to learn first-hand about people’s responses to the aesthetic experiences in and around the structures. So while we haven’t figured out how to ‘measure the immeasurable’ we are giving it a full seat at the table.

trim tab



Top: Taj Mahal and the purity of a design idea; Above: A teacup demonstrating the idea of non-being.


Spring 2010

Beauty Let’s look more deeply at the role of beauty in green design. First, we must acknowledge that getting a group of designers to come to a consensus on something is incredibly challenging by its very nature. However, one thing that virtually all designers would agree on is that great architecture (which, in this context, also includes planning, interiors and landscape design) has meaning, spirit and beauty. In great works, the ideas behind the bricks and mortar begin to transcend mere form and materiality. An obvious example, the Taj Mahal, built as an expression of great love, stands as the most famous icon of this concept. The building was conceived to represent perfection and purity personified by the Shah’s wife— Mumtaz Mahal— expressed in stone and meant to last for ages. Let’s explore this notion of ‘ideas and intention’ more clearly. In Taoist philosophy, there is a concept expressed in the Tao Te Ching that says, “Clay is molded to form a cup. But it is on its ‘non-being’ that the utility of the cup depends. Doors and windows are cut out to make a room, but it is on its ‘non-being’ that the utility of the room depends. It is the idea of the cup, the vessel, the building that has power. Not the form – but the formless. It is the idea – the meaning and intention and spirit – that has power.” The same should hold true with sustainable design. It is the mission and intent behind sustainable design that should drive our efforts. Sustainable design is not a building style; it is a philosophical approach to design that should by its very nature be imbued with deep meaning – perhaps the most important possible meaning. Making healthy, responsible, dynamic places for human habitation within the carrying capacity of the planet’s natural

trim tab

systems is what E. O. Wilson called being “part and parcel of creation,” not separate from it.

Visions of the Future

For our movement to endure and for green architecture to succeed, the things we build must be as beautiful, meaningful and filled with spirit as the manifestations of any prior movement in the history of design and construction. We also know that for any building to survive through the ages, it must have great meaning and its designers must find ways to make its meaning evident, otherwise, it will be easily destroyed and replaced. Yes, many beautiful buildings are unfortunately destroyed each year, taking with them their embodied energy and resources. But structures offering beauty and substance are much more likely to endure.

Examining the Goals

As leaders in the green building movement, we have an opportunity to enrich our communities and the structures in them. By paying careful attention to energy and resource issues and finding ways to express them through design, we actually elevate the very concept of architecture beyond what is created when we focus solely on pragmatic and human-centered needs. Ironically, when we focus on issues other than those that meet only human needs, we end up creating higher quality places for people. In addition, I believe there is a chance to renew the professions by interjecting purpose into even the most mundane of structures. In so doing, the architect becomes a leader in the community, the engineer becomes a hero of resources, and the developer becomes a healer rather


image used as part of a creative commons licence: FLickr User seth tisue

LEFT: AMISH BARN; right: Paul Rudolphs Art and Architecture building at yale; opposite: Louis Kahn’s Salk institute

than a destroyer of places. What a story each project could become! By doing our jobs as living building leaders, we become agents of hope.

So we must do a better job of understanding how we can bring meaning, spirit and beauty to green building.

The Meaning of ‘This’

The first thing to understand is that any design infused with a rich cultural process is naturally imbued with meaning, as opposed to designs that attempt to strip away any connection to place, culture, climate or the era in which it resides. Context, in other words, matters – and when we build with great care, great love or great passion the result transcends building and transforms experience. Mere building turns into architecture. This cultural infusion of meaning does not have to be complex. It can actually be relatively quick and deliberate, as in Amish barns raised in a week.

These barns are physical representations of the culture of the Amish people and are beautiful while being functional and pragmatic. The pragmatic functions of collecting rainwater or generating energy could similarly find elegant and beautiful expression. Alternatively, meaning can also be the result of a more haphazard evolutionary process involving hundreds of individuals, requiring time and the collective infusion


Spring 2010

of change over several generations to create a magical, meaning-rich experience. My favorite example of meaning introduced through gradual experimentation is the Ponte Vecchio in Florence which evolved through hundreds of minor adaptations by the citizens of that place.

Meaning can also come from perfectly resolved design ideas. In these cases, the designers and artisans allow visitors to experience, even if only subconsciously, a higher order of clarity so that the power of a clear design idea transcends. To give an example, Sainte-Chapelle in Paris is quite possibly the most clearly resolved idea of what a Gothic building should be. Being inside is a breathtaking experience. I don’t want anyone to think that simple nostalgia for past centuries’ architecture drives my point. On the contrary, I believe strongly that each generation produces examples of design clarity within its contemporary realities of how materials are made and buildings are constructed. Consider the clarity of Paul Rudolph’s building at Yale, which emerged from Parti to schematics and onto final design in the early 1960s. Or look at the power and strength of Kahn’s Salk Institute, designed and built during the same period.

Additionally, architectural meaning emerges from utility expressed honestly and clearly as in industrial buildings or in agricultural and mining structures. In a sense, these projects wear their meaning on their sleeves, communicating their purpose without pretense. Idea and intention

image used as part of a creative commons licence: FLickr User NAHIB

The green building movement is waiting for its Salk Institute or SainteChapelle to emerge and motivate this generation.

trim tab


top: Ponte Vecchio; Above: Mont Saint-Michel image used as part of a creative commons licence: FLickr User way wuwei

Modern Realities

Naturally, in any discussion of architectural beauty – and how far most North American cities have fallen – we must mention the scourge of “big box” retail buildings and ‘strip’ development. It’s almost too easy to pick on them, but they define too much of the aesthetic landscape of American cities to look elsewhere for examples of the point being made. Indeed, they beg identification and I can’t resist doing so, since it is through these buildings’ intention that meaning and spirit have been stripped away in order to allow the brands and the logos to sit alone on stage. To the corporate marketing strategist the personal humanizing element is distracting while the impersonal focuses people on a singular purpose: to shop and consume. I can think of no better example of the impoverishment of beauty, and our society’s fixation on quantity, size and consumerism. Compare this to the earlier example of the Ponte Vecchio, which offers a diverse multi-purpose experience of being in a community and a place, all while shopping.

which now serves as the headquarters of the American Lung Association of Oklahoma. Through skillful use of resources and thoughtful attention paid to ecological impact, this building has been re-purposed in ways that will allow its embodied energy to be pro-rated over multiple generations rather than just a few years. Its mission went from fighting fires in the 1930s to fighting asthma in the present day, with a new meaning still focused on protecting the public.

Everything in its Rightful Place Spirit and meaning in design emerge from a deep understanding of place. Bio-regional design relies on basic knowledge of what works for a given climate, its topography, the path of the sun, wind and light. A community

image used as part of a creative commons licence: FLickr User AKA Kath

begin to shine through together. There is great power and spirit in these structures. So much so, in fact, that when their original functions are no longer needed, they find other uses. People from all walks of life, including those who care not for farm and field, gravitate toward them. Some of the best examples of building reuse come from former industrial buildings because of this meaning. There was a time not long ago when even lowly public works projects providing the most humble of services were designed with a sensitivity and craft that allowed the spirit of the designer to come forth. There was an element of the personal and the individual that created meaning.

Unfortunately, it is all the more common for our communities to be developed in ways that are devoid of ideas, devoid of meaning derived from skill. Order is too often applied not to improve the human condition but merely to satisfy minimum setbacks and jurisdictional regulations. What meaning can be derived from places like this? Meaning is also created through an investment in permanence and place. When materials and details are utilized in ways that ensure that a building’s lifespan will extend beyond its original intended use, the structure becomes part of its surroundings. The Hagia Sophia, for example, is Istanbul. The Opera House is Sydney. On a more modest scale, certain structures can find new purpose that usher in new meaning. I worked on a project that helped save and restore Tulsa’s Fire Alarm Building

trim tab

Above: big box stores and ubiquitous subdivisions that have lost the meaning of place — they could be anywhere


image used as part of a creative commons licence: FLickr User way Edwwward

above: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater ‘belongs’ to its site in the same way that this beaver dam does.

is not in a geographical region, it is of that region. Its structures should be perfectly adapted to the site.

It is encouraging to think that as a species, we have the capacity to enrich the natural environment by creating artifacts of our existence that truly belong where they are. Seeing Mont Saint-Michel or Falling Water where architecture and landscape merge in person is like a punch to the gut. It serves as proof that we can enhance a place by adding structures to it, much as the beaver adds to the beauty of its environment by building a dam. Through careful observation, sensitive site design and bio-regional-based thinking, we can bring true meaning into human habitation by connecting ourselves to the larger habitat upon which we depend. The best designers understand these complexities, and have the skills and instincts to know what it means to build in the Northwest rainforest, the arid Southwest or the frigid Plains – which demands that such buildings look and operate very different from one another. Yet despite our potential, the majority of what we now know and experience when it comes to place is the vast geography of nowhere – places that are the same as everywhere else. Consequently, no place is special. With this attitude and lack of intention comes great impact to the natural world, both locally through complete site destruction and globally through transportation impacts.


Spring 2010

Perhaps most disturbing is what is done to our emotional connection to place. Without an emotional connection, we have no motivation to preserve and protect anything. If we learn to “turn off,” habituating apathy or even hatred for our communities, we will destroy them and the environment nearby. If nowhere is special, then why care for it? When we can’t tell where we are by looking at the architecture of the place, what have we lost? Too many so called ‘green buildings’ merely add to this problem and the addition of solar panels or a green building rating does nothing to ensure that the building will endure and enrich human experience.

The Interdependence of Humans and Nature

We must do more to reinsert humane scale and the role of humans in the landscape. We should strive to create places where we fit and where we belong; places with both prospect and refuge that appeal to us on a deep psychological level; places that invite nature in, rather than insulating us from the outside world. Such places would deliver a sense of scale that is relatable and touchable, even if industrial materials and mass-produced systems are used. We should be allowed to bring our own meaning to the place, helping us relate and encouraging us to blur the lines between outside and inside. Nature should be prominent

Imagine if every green building: • • • • • • • • •

trim tab

was infused with cultural meaning, honestly expressed its utility . demonstrated clarity and order, celebrated and took meaning from site, place and climate, honored the creativity of the individuals involved, was durable and adaptable, respected human scale and the human dimension and reconnected us with nature, the seasons, sun, wind, light and inspired us through its beauty and meaning?


and central, fitting into a scale to which we can personally relate and in which we fit comfortably. A building that is in touch with the seasons can’t help but connect people with the earth, even igniting passion for the environment. Most of our current communities have been designed around modules that have nothing to do with the dimension of human life. Instead, they are based on 20- and 30-foot mechanical forms of locomotion (automobiles) that separate us, divide us and expand scale beyond the point where any meaning can occur.

The Role of Fashion

Along these same lines, beauty and meaning in sustainability are not the same as decoration and fashion. Applied ornamentation without meaning is mere consumption, just as fast food offers nothing but empty calories. When something is done merely to adhere to fashion trends, the project is vulnerable to premature replacement as people eventually discard what is out of date. (Consider the fact that most carpet is thrown out well before the end of its useful life due to changes in fashion.) Our landfills attest to our whimsical treatment of building materials and other products. For sustainable design to be successful, we must avoid these distractions. To expand on the thought, meaning is not about extravagance. Using resources wisely, including using salvaged materials, can create more profound spaces where greater experiences are achieved for smaller price tags. Look, for example, at the spirit in Sam Mockbee’s work. Who knew that such a spiritual place could be crafted from discarded tires?

The reverse is also true. Green technologies tend to gain mainstream acceptance only if they also possess pleasing design. If an environmentally-friendly product or system is ugly, it doesn’t matter how green it is to most people. Its success will be subverted. If it is prematurely destroyed – as so many buildings in this category are – it will take with it all the energy required to create it.

Our Joint Responsibility

As a movement, we need to captivate and inspire. We must collectively agree that beauty is absolutely necessary. As long as composting toilets look so unappealing they will never be widely accepted, even though the composting toilet is a rare “silver bullet” technology that can dramatically reduce environmental impact. We need to demonstrate the use of solar in ways that are beautiful and inspiring and to


Spring 2010

build super efficient structures that excite and motivate. Until we learn that design is critical to consumer acceptance of everything, we will continue to struggle with mainstream adoption of environmentally-friendly alternatives.

At Cascadia Green Building Council, we believe that in order to realize a world of Living Buildings in the future, we need green architecture to be meaningful, beautiful and filled with spirit. The Living Building Challenge™ is the first green building rating system in existence to acknowledge beauty, spirit and meaning as part of performance. While we aren’t trying to judge beauty in the traditional sense, we are trying to make sure that intention is there and that the right dialogues are taking place. We want to ensure that while we pursue the highest levels of measurable performance, we don’t forget the power of the un-measurable.

Is it too much to ask that a living building be so profound? That all ‘green buildings’ be so well designed? Green architecture has an opportunity to change the way our cities and towns and the buildings within them are designed to work and to get people excited again about architecture in North America.

A beautiful environment, whether in nature or our manufactured surroundings, inspires us to dream and to seek solutions to problems yet to be solved. Innovation follows inspiration, and we are desperate for innovation in how we use energy, water and materials. Doesn’t it follow that we must inspire our movement to deliver beauty in order to create meaningful change?

We envision a world of Living Buildings and Living Communities that harness the creativity of individuals, celebrate the wisdom and depth of regional cultures, and form deep connections to climate, ecology and place. There are so many talented designers taking up the charge and prioritizing the topic of beauty in their larger professional discussions. They realize that green buildings must also be beautiful buildings, offering form and function and sustainability, all reinforcing and improving upon one another. With this balance, we can succeed. Beautifully. ENDnotes:

[1] We recommend Stephen Kellert’s books on Biophilia.

jason f. mcl en n an is the CEO of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council. He is the creator of the Living Building Challenge™, as well as the author of three books, including The Philosophy of Sustainable Design.

There’s strength in numbers Become a member today and take your place at the leading edge of the green building movement.

cascadia green Cascadia Region Green Building Council building council Join Today

The City of Seattle has unveiled a new Living Building Pilot Program which will provide code flexibility and permit facilitation to projects attempting to meet the International Living Building Institute’s Living Building Challenge™ ( Specifically, this program would expand the design review process for accepted projects to allow consideration of departures from most Land Use Code requirements including limited exemptions for height, FAR, parking, and accessory uses. Project facilitation through the existing Priority Green program would also assist applicants in addressing issues with other City of Seattle codes. Applications for the program are being accepted at any time; however, the program is limited to 12 projects over three years. This program is part of a comprehensive project to facilitate and expedite green building projects. More information on all of these programs is available at the Seattle Green Permitting Website at:

trim tab


Living Building Pilot Program Created


Thinking about the FUTURE differently in a fresh new decade Applying lessons learned from Sustainable Building to motivate Sustainable Community by Peter Dobrovolny

Generally acknowledged to have begun with the 1987 Bruntland Report, Our Common Future, sustainable development was defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.” There is a growing abundance of articles, reports, studies and proposals detailing both likely changes in the future due to climate change and continued environmental degradation, as well as proposals for remedies: from the series of reports by the International Panel on Climate Control to the publications of the McKinsey Global Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council to the widely


Spring 2010

adopted 2030 Challenge. Each new report seems to indicate that previous estimates of climate change, species extinction, sea level rise, and greenhouse gas emissions have been under-estimated in severity, not over-estimated, and that outcomes are not predictable and time to avoid irreversible change grows shorter. We generally understand the prospects of change. Though sustainable building hasn’t transformed the entire development market, we have developed much of the technology needed to make changes. We’ve made convincing life-cycle business cases. We have models to guide us, LEED and others for buildings, and the Lloyd Crossing principles, the Natural Step, and One Planet Communities for community planning. The Living Building Challenge™ v2.0 can now be applied to individual buildings as well as neighborhoods. Yet little changes. Climate change and environmental degradation information communicated, even if urgently, seems insufficient. What’s missing? Was Einstein right? “We can’t solve probelms by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein

What do they say the fUTURE is if we do nothing DIffERENTLY? • • • • • •

CO2 is 450 ppm and rising Potable water supplies challenged Global struggles to acquire and control dwindling resources Weather we’ve never experienced food sources dwindling with ecosystem changes and collapse Resistance to adapting to change

What is the fUTURE they say we might ACHIEVE if we do things DIffERENTLY? • • • • • •

CO2 leveled at 350 ppm Secure water supplies A cradle to cradle culture Weather we can accept Stable, local food sources Acceptance of the reality of change

If there is not action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment. Rejendra Pachauri, Chairmain, IPCC


Spring 2010

Lessons Learned from Green and Sustainable Building Over the last ten years a transformation in the way buildings are conceived and constructed has emerged. Conventionally, design parameters reflected the client’s programmatic requirements with an over-arching focus on minimizing first costs. This often dictated, or at least implied, an architectural appearance that fit into the surrounding context, however meaningless and bland, and of course it was necessary to meet minimum land use and building code requirements.

Initial barriers to change stemmed from a familiar, comfortable and historically successful linear decision-making process (described in the graphic at the left). Risk of change in a competitive industry and concern about the viability of new, untested technologies resulted in a short term perspective, largely focused on cost before value. Of course, the biggest barrier came from decision makers’ uncertainty that change was even needed. The experience of early projects pursuing green building quickly indicated that business-as-usual couldn’t deliver the desired results. Three initial changes were needed to confront the barriers created by the conventional way buildings were designed. These changes paved the way for a fundamental transformation in the project team mind-set. They are presented in reverse order of occurrence and adoption to draw a conclusion about a fourth, ultimately desirable change.

A change in the linear decision making structure.

Green Building pioneers soon learned that the conventional decision making structure would need to change, from project inception through completion. Early performance goals and strategies needed to be established to avoid

trim tab

missing sustainable opportunities. More inclusive and active participation of all stakeholders could expand the range of available opportunities and greatly increase the sustainability of the finished product. Life cycle cost (LCC) analysis helped justify how operational savings could justify increased first cost. One of many graphic representations of integrated decision making is shown to the left.

Third party facilitation

Initiating the change from conventional to more sustainable building required use of third party facilitators to help project development teams comprehend and incorporate the changes required. These were most often the early leaders in green building who understood the imperative for change and knew that sustainable opportunities need to be identified and analyzed early in the design process, before committing to building form and design. Goals and performance targets needed to be established in order to select appropriate systems, while still satisfying programmatic functional requirements and cost. Costs needed to be considered from a whole system perspective, not segmented by specification category.

The introduction of goal setting and benchmarking tools. Growing awareness of the environmental impacts of buildings in energy, water and material use led to the development of LEED and other green building benchmarking tools. Motivation by non-profits, like the USGBC, and by political jurisdictions, prompted early timid attempts to begin to address and reduce these impacts, initially selecting relatively low cost and easily achievable credits. A new foundation for understanding sustainability became the three legged stool with the legs being financial (economic prosperity), environment (ecologic, planetary health), and society (equity for all people), often expressed with three P’s or three E’s.


if we can envision the future we think we need



if we backcast to where we are now



we can begin to create a pathway to the future.

All of these have created important changes in the building industry. But even these were often insufficient to get beyond incremental improvements and to achieve truly sustainable solutions. Individually and collectively, project team participants were constrained by conventional understanding of building technology and development processes. Their collective ability to develop goals and strategies relied on past experience that generally avoided experimentation with new techniques. LEED and other greenbuilding benchmarking tools are very useful for measuring performance but weak in establishing transformative thinking about high performance goals. To do so requires one last ingredient. Below are two examples of alternative goal setting strategies.

Final Desired Change: A change in the dominant project team mindset.

Brightworks, a green building consulting firm headquartered in Portland, uses the Natural Step four conditions with their most successful projects, supplemented with an evolving template that challenges project participants to envision ultimate sustainability goals, framed within the context of current practice, potential strategies, opportunities and barriers. The Living Building Challenge™, a product of the Cascadia Green Building Council, singularly offers a vision of no impact development. Experience with projects pursuing the Challenge indicates that adopting the goals of the twenty imperatives supplants the need for collectively developing alternative project goals. The imperatives become the goals and provide a framework capable of transforming the design decision making process to consider solutions beyond incremental improvements to the status quo.


Spring 2010

Completed and emerging results of project teams using goal setting frameworks like the Natural Step and the Living Building Challenge™ clearly indicate that when employed in a facilitated, restructured and integrated decision making environment, project teams can envision and create sustainable solutions that transcend incremental improvements. This transformation in collective thinking empowers project teams to explore alternative opportunities more deeply and broadly and to “tunnel through the cost barriers” to create financially viable solutions based on environmental performance, social equity and programmatic requirements. In summary, to achieve a transformation in project team thinking and decision making that can create futurelooking design solutions requires:

• Both motivational goal-setting frameworks and benchmarking tools.

• A restructured and integrated decision making process. • Facilitation by professionals versed in sustainable thinking, often acting independently of the project stakeholder participants.

Translating Sustainable Building Lessons Learned to Community Planning The urgent and increasing challenges before us suggest we need to elevate all development projects to the highest level of sustainable development. At the same time we need to expand our thinking to include the existing built environment and the neighborhoods, communities and regions the built environment occupies, as well as the transportation methods that connect them.

An important distinction needs to be made between sustainable building and sustainable planning. Even buildings designed to be flexible to evolve over time are a finite conception with a defined point in time for completion and occupancy. Planning should create a future-looking, long term vision through which to make many development and redevelopment decisions over time, all focused on achieving that vision.

Common to both building and planning is the new and unfamiliar challenge of climate change, with a commensurate urgency to aggressively confront this challenge and the multiple environmental and social challenges integrally connected to it. Business-as-usual planning processes will likely be no more successful in creating an achievable vision of sustainable community than business-as-usual building design processes have been in achieving sustainable building. The ability of comprehensive plans, neighborhood and district plans, zoning regulations and codes to motivate and inspire sustainable development decisions over time will rely on the inspiration of their creation. As this should be a future-oriented decision making process, the three changes that are transforming the way buildings are designed might be applied to creating planning visions.

Introduction and use of motivational goal setting frameworks as well as benchmarking tools. A variety of frameworks are currently available. Some project teams and jurisdictions, particularly in Portland OR, have used the Natural Step four conditions as the basis of establishing goals. One Planet Living and One Planet Communities presents 10 principles that incorporate so-

trim tab





cial health and equity into more familiar environmental performance principles. The Living Building Challenge™ version 2.0, with new scale jumping characteristics, contains 20 Imperatives that can be applied at the neighborhood level. The Lloyd Crossing Study for Portland, OR, established five principles to be achieved over a forty year period of development and redevelopment. These four frameworks are presented in Appendix A. ICLEI, the APA and others have developed similar planning frameworks. Planning goal setting frameworks should establish a future vision as the basis for developing short, mid and longer term targets and strategies to achieve the ultimate vision. Benchmarking tools like LEED ND are more useful as a means of measuring progress at various points in time than in establishing long term goals.

There is a natural and appealing tendency to want to create unique planning frameworks based on understanding


of local conditions and aspirations. The wheel doesn’t need to be recreated. It is likely easier to agree on and adopt an institutionally or professionally developed, well conceived and complete existing framework with a track record of implementation success, making modifications as appropriate to reflect local conditions, aspirations and strategic solutions. In other words, get on with the important work of creating a new future.

A change in the conventional decisionmaking structure.

Goal-setting frameworks with a clearly articulated future vision can facilitate crafting a decision-making process capable of developing the steps necessary to achieve that vision. In The Power of Sustainable Thinking1, Bob Doppelt suggests we ask four questions to help us create a new vision of sustainability and decision making guidelines:

1. 2. 3. 4.

How sustainable are we now? How sustainable do we want to be in the future? How do we get there? How do we measure progress?

Doppelt further suggests using backward thinking, or backcasting, to develop climate and sustainability visions for a time period in the future, absent constraints, in which people, organizations and cultures would look and function to be completely climate positive and sustainable, contrasted to an inventory of current conditions, in order to define quantifiable and measureable interim steps.

There is a tempting trap in community planning to expeditiously prepare a future plan to then “present” in carefully orchestrated public meetings for review. The hope is that consent outweighs dissent. To avoid this top down appear-


Spring 2010

ance, planning agencies often select or appoint citizen advisory boards to “represent” the various interests of the community. Reflection back on integrated decision-making successes at the building design level might suggest a more inclusive, exploratory and evolutionary process, involving many key stakeholders, early in the community planning process, using charette-like community workshops to develop a vision with future goals and alternative targets and strategies.

We can begin to create a pathway to the future. Similar to sustainable building design, an integrated process of iteratively exploring alternative systems opportunities and strategies should inform and precede land use planning decisions.

Third party facilitation.

Facilitation can assist planning efforts to select appropriate goal setting and benchmarking frameworks, to develop future goals of sustainable community and to create an effective value based decision-making process to achieve the goals. This doesn’t replace conventional planning processes of demographic, geographic, spatial and economic analysis and evaluation, the use of public process, the development of alternative strategies and solutions, the preparation and publication of planning documents and the development of enabling policies, regulations and legislation. It restructures the decision making process, folding sustainability into it, asking the four questions above to generate a vision of a sustainable future and define the changes and steps necessary to achieve that vision. To be most effective, facilitation should be led by professionals with experience in integrated decision making and implementation of goal setting frameworks and sustainable development strategies.










Final DesireD Change: a change in The dominanT communiTy mindseT. Addressing new and unfamiliar challenges at the community level requires changes from conventional community problem solving. In The Power of Sustainable Thinking, Bob Doppelt summarizes the interventions required to motivate organizations to adopt sustainable thinking in protecting climate, natural environment and social wellbeing, as the wheel of change towards sustainability.

Though beyond the scope of this article to explore how the seven changes Doppelt describes can achieve sustainable thinking at the community level, they can be seen to be a part of the process changes above:

goal seTTing

Adjusting Parameters (Policies and Procedures) and Altering the Goals of the Systems (Visions and Principles) – creates the opportunity to introduce new goal setting framework(s).

decision making sTrucTure

Rearranging the Parts of the System (Teams), Restructuring the Rules of Engagement (Strategies), Shifting the Flows of Information (Communication), and Correcting Feedback Loops (Learning and Motivation) – can restructure the conventional planning process to view problems and opportunities differently and to explore solutions and strategies not evident before. Then, facilitation well versed in sustainable community thinking – the third change – can result in:

trim tab

changing The dominanT mindseT Interventions are required to change the mental perspective and mindset of planning participants to collectively think sustainably in creating a future vision that can positively address climate change, the natural environment and social well-being. These can only effectively be accomplished through the process changes described. And, in closing, it should be noted that when all the elements successfully integrate in envisioning pathways to sustainable buildings or sustainable communities, something special happens, best explained as the missing fourth leg of the three legged stool.

Goal setting frameworks, restructured decision making processes, experienced facilitation and a transformation to sustainable thinking will only create an achievable vision of a sustainable future and the steps to achieve it with passion, commitment and dedication. The familiar, comfortable business-as-usual design and planning just won’t get us to the future we need to create.


[1] The Power of Sustainable Thinking: Bob Doppelt. Earthscan Publications Ltd. (July 2008)

PeTer DoBrovol n y is an architect and planner by profession, currently the Green Building Specialist with City Green Building in Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, and a past Cascadia Green Building Council board member.


Thinking about the FuTure differently in a fresh new decade

communiTy Planning goal seTTing Framework resources one PlaneT communiTies The naTural sTeP The living building challenge™

lloyd crossing susTainable urban design Plan & caTalysT ProJecT

THE GREEN WASH This is my new LCA Machine. It can give you any answer you want!



Spring 2010 | 503.804.1746

We can help make your home and environment better through energy efficiency.



Andrew Morphis


Certified Passive House Consultants.


WanT TO reaCh nearlY 20,000 leaDing PraCTiTiOners? contact us to advertise in the next issue! THe MaGaZine for TransforMaTional PeoPle

+ DesiGn

liKe WhaT YOU see? forward this to a friend and have them sign up for Trim Tab

Trim Tab reaches an audience of green professionals four times a year —


trim tab



accountability with Heart: The arT OF TOUgh lOVe


here is nothing more precious than the colleague who will hold you to your highest standards of excellence. Traditionally, accountability occurred between the hierarchical authority and the subordinate. Accountability with heart can occur among anyone with heart — and in all directions. It has nothing to do with hierarchy. It is all about excellence and our commitment to one another. It boils down to who in your world loves you enough to never let you settle for mediocrity or being limited by your blind spot! Tough love, of course, requires deep mutual respect and an open invitation for others to call us to our high-

est standards of excellence. You begin by allowing others to hold you accountable – without reservation or defensiveness. You do this by declaring that you care more about your contribution, professional growth, and the team’s success, than your own recognition or appearance of “having it all together.” Leadership is a messy job that requires the humility and courage to ask people to contribute to you every time you show up less than your best. When you allow people to offer you their tough love, you open the door to the possibility of returning the favor. Once you are known for your genuine openness to coaching and being held accountable, you need to focus

on and emphasize other people’s virtues, best qualities, positive intentions, and accomplishments. You need to love them for who they are, in spite of how they underperform or disappoint you sometimes. You also need to be totally committed to their success. This requires spending time with them to discover what their highest intentions are and how they define success. It often involves inspiring them to reach for a higher standard than they’d come up with on their own. Your appreciation for who they are allows you to do this effectively. Tough love also requires putting aside your judgments and upsets when you are speaking to them about excellence and any concerns you have about their performance. The toughness in tough love is not about being hard on people when they fall short of expectations. It is about challenging people to declare the level of excellence they aspire to, and then reminding them of their intentions when it gets tough to achieve them. It’s best done with a smile on your face and love in your heart!

Your role in this accountability conversation is to help them discover that they have the strength to look at and address the gap between their own standards of excellence and their performance. No one does this well when they are being criticized or feeling inadequate. Your spoken message is “You’re better than this” or “You’re ready to take your game to the next level,” as opposed to “You’re not good enough.” Your unspoken message is, “I’m going to love you enough until you discover who you are when you are at your very best.” To do this well, you will need to remind people to reflect on their attributes and accomplishments, while owning up to their shortcomings and renewing their commitment to excellence. In addition to “being” the person we’ve described above, there are some sequential steps that will help you have an effective conversation that provides accountability with heart. Let’s look at a brief overview:

Your Highest Intention – remind the person of your

intention to support them to achieve their best possible performance and most desirable outcomes. Communicate that you come in peace and only want to support their ultimate success. Your Observation – let the person know what factually

occurred without adding your perceptions, opinions, or judgments. “I see you have mustard on your face,” is much preferred to “You have unprofessionally bad manners.” You can also remind them of what they’ve previously declared about their intentions and openness to your coaching.

trim tab

Your Feelings – you may have some emotions that

are relevant and important to share. For example, “I’m feeling frustrated…surprised…disappointed…hesitant… discouraged” or “…hopeful…encouraged…dedicated… enthusiastic…grateful.” If you have genuine feelings to share and you disclose them with compassion, it will help solidify the trust between you.

Your Needs – you certainly need permission to have this

conversation now, but you may have other needs related to the person’s performance or level of commitment. Spelling out how this person’s contribution impacts what you or the team needs to be successful, will deepen the sense of connection and interdependency between you. Your Part of the Breakdown or Solution – every sit-

uation that does not realize a commitment to excellence has two sides. If you have contributed to something not going well, and you own up to it, you are allowing the person to focus on their part. Likewise, if you have a role to play in the solution that is needed for excellence, and speak to that, you are offering the support that it’s not all up to them.

Your Request – ultimately any conversation for account-

ability ends with a new agreement or a renewed dedication to excellence. Your request is an invitation to the person to declare their renewed commitment.

Your Appreciation – once the person has declared their

next steps toward excellence, you can further solidify your experience of mutual respect with appreciation. It takes a strong person to accept tough love and strive for their highest level of performance. It is an extraordinary opportunity to work with people like this, and it merits that level of recognition.

With the world in its current condition, the sustainability movement has a critical opportunity to provide real leadership. A global healing is needed. Everyone on the planet has to step up to higher and higher levels of excellence. It is not time to avoid tough conversations. And it does not work to be hard on people. Criticism does not heal, love does. And tough love is required to heal our toughest difficulties. Paul Werder is founder and CEO of LionHeart Consulting Inc. This article is part of a series on leadership he is writing specially for Trim Tab.


What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? Announcing‌

The new version of this certification program covers all building at all scales and is a unified tool for transformative design, allowing us to envision a future that is Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Benign. Download your copy of the Standard:


Spring 2010

FW: Read This! subJecT:

FW: Read This!

Can tracking air pollution improve your health?




Articles, websites and other social media that are also turning the ship

Dear Readers, This section contains interesting and forward-thinking social media pieces that are also raising awareness and facilitating change. We encourage you to check them out! Simply click to view:

Are Kites the Future of Renewable Energy? Find out about the fastest growing renewable energy source.

Amazon Rainforst vs Chevron Crude, a documentary film investigates the $27 billion class action lawsuit in Ecuador. Has the oil industry affected the environmental damage and health impacts of the region?

Will changing fuels, reducing vehicle miles traveled, or changing traffic patterns be the most effective way to reduce pollution in an area? Learn how the EPA is reducing air pollution by finding main sources of air pollution in Cleveland, Ohio. Who wants better road designs? Watch Gary Lauder explain the impacts of stop signs and roundabouts in this very convincing video on why it makes sense to change. The numbers say it all! Featured Products From Greenbuild Phoenix 2009 Learn about featured green products such as Cradle to Cradle Gold rated residential siding made of tulip tree bark.


CEO of Cascadia and the International Living Building Institute Vice President of the International Living Building Institute J o h a n na B ric k Man Director of Sustainable Design for Zimmer Gunsel Fransca ra Lp h d inoL a Principal of Green Building Services Br a n d nies Director of Sustainable Design for BNIM Architects kat h y WardLe Director of Sustainable Design for Busby, Perkins and Will kat h W iLLiaM s CEO of Williams and Associates Jas o n F. McLennan ed e n B r ukM an

The Living Building Road Show

check the ILBI website for workshop dates and to register:

Thirty cities* throughout the United States and Canada: u sa Anchorage, AK Phoenix, AZ Living Building challenge™ has Los Angeles, CA swept north America. With more Sacramento, CA San Diego, CA than sixty projects in process San Francisco, CA from coast to coast, interest Denver, CO continues toDC rise. in response to Washington, Miami, FL frequent requests for introductory Atlanta, GA presentations, we have decided Chicago, IL toBoston, hit theMA road and create an Detroit, MI opportunity to share the tenets Minneapolis, MN City, MO with advanced ofKansas the program St. Louis, MO practitioners in the united States Albuquerque, NM New York, NY and canada. Cleveland, OH Portland, OR Pittsburgh, PA Austin, TX Houston, TX Seattle, WA

coming soon to a city near you! c a n a da

Calgary, AB oPPoRTuniTiES ARE SPonSoRSHiP Vancouver, BC AVAiLABLE; conTAcT EDEn BRuKMAn Winnipeg, MB Ottowa, ON Toronto, ON * Some locations may be subject to change.

attracted to all that is alive and vital?

earn 3 aia lus aT THis session

Dive into the subject of Biophilia presented by renowned biophilic design expert Judi Heerwagen, CEO of Mithun Bert Gregory, and Teresa Heinz Professor Timothy Beatley. This session and other advanced offerings available for on-demand viewing at


Spring 2010

by George marshall

Why We Find It So Hard to Act Against Climate Change Solving the “It’s Not My Problem” problem. A psychologist on what keeps us from coming to terms with the climate crisis.

I do lots of things for the environment.

It’s not me — it’s those other people.

It should be easy to deal with climate change. There is a strong scientific consensus supported by very sound data; consensus across much of the religious and political spectrum and among businesses including the largest corporations in the world. The vast majority of people claim to be concerned. The targets are challenging, but they are achievable with existing technologies, and there would be plentiful profits and employment available for those who took up the challenge.

So why has so little happened? Why do people who claim to be very concerned about climate change continue their high-carbon lifestyles? And why, as the warnings become ever louder, do increasing numbers of people reject the arguments of scientists and the evidence of their own eyes?

These, I believe, will be the key questions for future historians of the unfurling climate disaster, just as historians of the Holocaust now ask: “How could so many good and moral people know what was happening and yet do so little?” This comparison with mass human rights abuses is a surprisingly useful place to find some answers to these ques-

trim tab

tions. In States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering, Stanley Cohen studies how people living under repressive regimes resolve the conflict they feel between the moral imperative to intervene and the need to protect themselves and their families. He found that people deliberately maintain a level of ignorance so that they can claim they know less than they do. They exaggerate their own powerlessness and wait indefinitely for someone else to act first—a phenomenon that psychologists call the passive bystander effect. Both strategies lie below the surface of most of the commonly held attitudes to climate change.

Climate Denial “It’s not real”But most interesting is Cohen’s observation that societies also nego­tiate collective strategies to avoid action. He writes: “Without being told what to think about (or what not to think about) societies arrive at unwritten agreements about what can be publicly remembered and acknowledged.” Dr. Kari Marie Norgaard of the University of California reaches a very similar conclusion, and argues that “denial of global warming is socially constructed.” She observes that most people are deeply conflicted about climate change and manage their anxiety and guilt by excluding it from the cultural norms defining what they should pay attention to and think about—what she calls their “norms of attention.”

According to Norgaard, most people have tacitly agreed that it is socially inappropriate to pay attention to climate change. It does not come up in conversations, or as an issue in voting, consumption, or career choices. We are like a committee that has decided to avoid a thorny problem by conspiring to make sure that it never makes it onto the agenda of any meeting.


WHY WE DO IT Our response is strongest to threats that are:

climate change is:



With Historical Precedent



Drawn Out

With simple causality

A result of comples causes

Caused by another “tribe”

Caused by all of us

Direct personal impacts

Unpredictable and has indirect personal impacts

There are many different ways that the proximity of climate change could force itself onto our agendas. We already feel the impacts in our immediate environment. Scientists and politicians urge us to act. The impacts directly threaten our personal and local livelihoods. And, above all, it is our consumption and affluence that is causing it.

However, people have decided that they can keep climate change outside their “norms of attention” through a selective framing that creates the maximum distance. In opinion poll research the majority of people will define it as far away (“it’s a global problem, not a local problem”) or far in the future (“it’s a huge problem for future generations”). They embrace the tiny cluster of skeptics as evidence that “it’s only a theory,” and that “there is still a debate.” And they strategically shift the causes as far away as possible: “I’m not the problem—it’s the Chinese/rich people/corporations.” Here in Europe we routinely blame the Americans. In all of these examples, people have selected, isolated, and then exaggerated the aspects of climate change that best enable their detachment. And, ironically, focus-group research suggests that people are able to create the most distance when climate change is categorized as an “environmental” problem.

If we take a step back we can see that the impacts of climate change are so wide-ranging that it could equally well be defined as a major economic, military, agricultural, or social rights issue. But its causes (mainly pollution from burning fossil fuels) led it to be bundled with the global “environmental” issues during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. From that point on it has been dealt with by environment min-


Spring 2010

isters and environment departments, and talked about in the media by environmental reporters. The issue was then championed by environmental campaigners who stamped it indelibly with the images of global wildlife and language of self abnegation that spoke to their own concerns. The current messaging of climate change—the polar bears, burning forests, calls to “live simply so others may simply live” and ‘‘go green to save the planet”—has been filtered through a minority ideology and worldview.

Thus, within a few years, the issue had been burdened with a set of associations and metaphors that allowed the general public to exclude it from their primary concerns (“I’m not an environmentalist”), as could senior politicians (“environment is important but jobs and defense are my priority”).

Progressive civil society organizations also avoided the issue because of its environmental connotations. Two years ago I challenged a senior campaigner with Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization, to explain why Amnesty did not mention climate change anywhere on its website. He agreed that it is an important issue but felt that Amnesty “doesn’t really do environmental issues.” In other words it was outside their “norms of attention.” Far more aggressive responses that stigmatize environmentalists create further distance. In a 2007 interview, Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryan Air, the world’s largest budget airline, said:

“The environmentalists are like the peace nutters in the 1970s. You can’t change the world by putting on a pair of dungarees or sandals. I listen to all this drivel about turning down the central heating, going back to candles, returning to the dark ages. It just panders to your middle-class, middle-aged angst and guilt. It is just another way of stealing things from hard-pressed consumers.”

O’Leary’s diatribe—which could be echoed by any number of right-wing commentators in the United States—plays further on the cultural norms theme. By defining climate change as an environmental issue that can be placed firmly in the domain of self-righteous killjoys who want to take away working people’s hard-earned luxuries, his message is clear: “People like us don’t believe this rubbish.” But, as is so often the case with climate change, O’Leary is

speaking to far more complex metaphors about freedom and choice. Climate change is invariably presented as an overwhelming threat requiring unprecedented restraint, sacrifice, and government intervention. The metaphors it invokes are poisonous to people who feel rewarded by free market capitalism and distrust government interference. It is hardly surprising that an October 2008 American Climate Values Survey showed that three times more Republicans than Democrats believe that “too much fuss is made about global warming.” Another poll by the Canadian firm Haddock Research showed half of Republicans refuse to believe that it is caused by humans.

This political polarization is occurring across the developed world and is a worrying trend. If a disbelief in climate change becomes a mark of someone’s political identity, it is far more likely to be shared between people who know and trust each other, becoming ever more entrenched and resistant to external argument. CLIMATE HERO

Sally Bingham Rev. Sally Bingham, founder of the Regeneration Project, helps places of worship get greener and more energy-efficient. READ MORE. This being said, climate change is a fast-moving field. Increasingly severe climate impacts will reinforce the theoretical warnings of scientists with far more tangible and immediate evidence. And looking back at history there are plentiful examples of times when public attitudes have changed suddenly in the wake of traumatic events—as with the U.S. entry into both world wars.

In the meantime there is an urgent need to increase both the level and quality of public engagement. To date most information has either been in the form of very dry topdown presentations and reports by experts or emotive, apocalyptic warnings by campaign groups and the media. The film An Inconvenient Truth, which sat somewhere between the two approaches, reinforced the existing avoidance strategies: that this was a huge and intractable global issue. The film was carried by the charm and authority of Al Gore, but this reliance on powerful celebrities also removes power from individuals who are, let us remember, all too willing to agree that there is no useful role they can play. It is strange that climate communications seem to be so deeply embedded in this 19th-century public lecture format, especially in America, which leads the world in the

trim tab

study of personal motivation. Al Gore, after all, lost a political campaign against a far less qualified opponent whose advisors really understood the psychology of the American public.

How people get involved

How can we energize people and prevent them from passively standing by?

We must remember that people will only accept a challenging message if it speaks to their own language and values and comes from a trusted communicator. For every audience these will be different: The language and values of a Lubbock Christian will be very different from those of a Berkeley Liberal. The priority for environmentalists and scientists should be to step back and enable a much wider diversity of voices and speakers. We must recognize that the most trusted conveyors of new ideas are not experts or celebrities but the people we already know. Enabling ordinary people to take personal ownership of the issue and talk to each other in their own words is not just the best way to convince people, it is the best way to force climate change back into people’s “norms of attention.”

And finally we need to recognize that people are best motivated to start a journey by a positive vision of their destination—in this case by understanding the real and personal benefits that could come from a low-carbon world. However, it is not enough to prepare a slide show and glossy report vision that just creates more distance and plays to the dominant prejudice against environmental fantasists. People must see the necessary change being made all around them: buildings in entire neighborhoods being insulated and remodeled, electric cars in the driveway, and everywhere the physical adaptations we need to manage for the new weather conditions. If the U.S. government has one strategy, it should be to create such a ubiquity of visible change that the transition is not just desirable but inevitable. We need to emphasize that this is not some distant and intractable global warming, but a very local and rapid climate change, and we need to proclaim it from every solar-panel-clad rooftop. George Marshal l wrote this article for Climate Action,

the Winter 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. George is founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network. He is the author of Carbon Detox: Your Step by Step Guide to Getting Real About Climate Change ( and posts articles on the psychology of climate change at



Transparency: There’s an app for That iPad launch Steve Jobs discusses a slide that declares the iPad arsenic-free, BFR-free, mercury-free, PVC-free system, and highly recyclable


Spring 2010

You know that transparency is cool if it gets its own slide at the iPad rollout.1 And it’s pretty cool to find transparency featured in the rollout of two new initiatives to establish green building products business groups. It’s further evidence that the age of radical transparency is coming to the green building movement. Apple’s about-face is a harbinger of things to come. In May of 2007, the head of the notoriously secretive company answered environmental critics of Apple products with an open letter in which he “apologiz[ed] for leaving you in the dark,” and declared: “Producers must also take responsibility for the design and material choices that create the product in the first place.” This year’s environmental checklist for the new iPad reads like our wish-list for healthier building products: arsenic-free, brominated flame retardant (bfr)-free, mercury-free and PVC-free systems (gotta work on those pesky cords!) Historically, in the green building movement, there has been no greater opponent of transparency than manufacturer trade associations. That’s why it is so intriguing to find the new Green Products Association staking its claim to “providing the only vehicle in the industry to address the most challenging issues of transparency, third party standards and more,” through a vision that “all construction and building operation products meet a continuously increasing level of sustainability… and that their performance criteria and metrics will be visible to all.” The GPA is a project of the Boston-based Green Roundtable. Underwriters Laboratories Environment has signed on as an early partner. Another effort, to be launched in May, will focus on the building products supply chain. The Construction Specifications Institute along with EPA and GreenBlue will host a founders’ meeting for the Green Building Products Coalition (GBPC). The GBPC is targeting businesses concerned that “genuine innovation and transparency are getting lost in the rush to green marketing,” and lists among potential projects to be determined by its future membership, “developing responsible building product design and disclosure guidelines.”

trim tab

To be sure, these are only indicators, not examples, of a new era of transparency. Apple, after all, is only telling us what is NOT in their products. They have not disclosed what the iPad is made of. The fledgling business products groups are in the early stages of enlisting industry support for a vision, not a defined commitment, to transparency. The record of trade association influence over LEED materials credits is decidedly negative. What, one might ask, is to prevent “transparency” from degenerating into a mere marketing buzzword like “sustainable” and “green?” The difference is that while greenwash strategies came to dominate and dilute terms like “green” and “sustainable” until they were rendered meaningless, the movement towards transparency marks an “informational sea change” as “the control of data shifts from sellers to buyers.”2

We are learning this from our own transparency project, Pharos. A gratifying number of manufacturers have stepped forward to disclose basic information about their product ingredients, earning recognition for 100% transparency within the system. A major health care system now uses Pharos as part of an RFP process to review sustainability and environmental safety. Pharos researchers are able fact check claims and fill in the blanks leveraging unconventional tools, from Google Earth to the US Patent Office database, into green product screens. We think of these as “transparency apps” for Pharos. Like the myriad of iPhone apps that have transformed what we expect from the people who make what we used to call “cell phones,” there are a myriad of transparency tools that will transform what we expect from the people who make what we used to call “green” products. So, if you find it annoying to know that there are no BFRs or PVC in an iPad, but not know what’s in a carpet pad, hang on. We might just have an app for that. FOOTNOTES: [1] Watch the Steve Jobs discuss the iPad environmental attributes in his Macworld keynote at starting at 29:10. [2] Goleman, Daniel. Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. Broadway Books / Random House 2009, p.11.

This article was previously published on February 18, 2010 in Healthy Building News. Bil l Wal sH is the Executive Director of the Healthy Building Network.



mayor mcginn Takes aim aT energy wasTe in exisTing buildings in seaTTle

nw Power Plan Focuses on eFFiciency and reducing emissions

Read about this new Ordinance that requires large commercial and multi-family property owners in Seattle to annually measure energy use and provide the City with ratings to allow comparison across different buildings.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has just approved… a nuts-and-bolts plan to achieve a clean and affordable energy future by using the plan’s efficiency and renewable energy recommendations Learn about their roadmap for shutting down coal plants to actually reduce climate pollution enough to meet state and regional climate-protection goals…[and] a study showing that the power from the four lower Snake River dams, the greatest continuing threat to endangered wild salmon, can be cheaply and effectively replaced.

hawaii requires solar hoT waTer in new homes New single-family homes in Hawaii must be equipped with solar thermal water heating in order to receive a building permit.

san Francisco uses ProPerTy Taxes To Finance green uPgrades researchers unveil green raTing sysTem For roads The Northwest is leading the charge to take sustainability standards from buildings to roads. “While the Federal Highway Administration prepares to select a team to create national guidelines, the University of Washington and engineering firm CH2M Hill have already compiled a comprehensive system called Greenroads”. The metrics will include noise mitigation, storm-water management and waste management. “We view it as a living document,” says [lead author Steve] Muench. “Really, our goal for this year is to get it out there and get people to look at it.” Check out new sustainability research and requirements for green roadways for yourself.


Spring 2010

San Franciscans now have a special tax district to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements. Will Washington State follow?

vancouver convenTion cenTre wesT geTs leed PlaTinum raTing Find out about the first convention centre project in the world to be awarded LEED Canada Platinum.

walking: a simPle Focus For The smarT growTh movemenT Is the pedestrian an indicator species of a healthy community? The EPA’s Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus thinks so and many at The New Partners in Smart Growth conference in Seattle agree. “When people talked about walking…there wasn’t a big focus on how walkable neighborhoods are a benefit to the climate, public health, and public safety. Everyone here seemed to understand that already. Instead, people talked about how they simply liked being in places that were built to the scale of people, not autos.” The conference sought to develop an agenda of change for a leading environmental, economic, and social problem: “Americans live too damn far from where they work”. ToP Ten greenesT and brownesT Things abouT vancouver A look at what makes Vancouver successful and what gets in the way.

suPer green design For briTish columbia University of British Columbia’s Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability will be a candidate to be regarded as one of the greenest buildings in North America. The building’s mission statement captures the spirit of the vanguard of sustainable design: “The first goal is to build a building that as far as possible lives off its biophysical income”. Special attention is paid to solar, wind, and water assets as they arrive on the site. Not only is the building designed with many sustainable attributes, but also the work housed inside will research and study new strategies and technologies for our sustainable future. For example “demountable structure that is constructed from precast concrete and wood… will allow easy deconstruction and material recovery” so materials can be swapped out and various systems can be studied under the same environmental conditions.

trim tab

greening The higher educaTion camPus Higher education institutions are beginning to integrate sustainability principles into curriculum. Arizona State University is heading the way by vowing to become carbon neutral by 2025. Read on to find out how other universities are paving the way towards greening the higher education horizon.

June key delTa house geT huge boosT The June Key Delta House slated for a Living Building Challenge™ project recently received funding to help the project move forward. Construction is expected to begin as early as April!

PorTland’s sTorm sewer sysTem is a TourisT aTTracTion To eco-TourisTs Portland’s “Green Streets” program publishes maps to direct tourists to the most exciting storm sewer sites. Read how the city developed the program and the many benefits associated with innovative storm water strategies.

making progress? Do you have a lead on cuttingedge green building progress in the region?

Contact and put “Moving Upstream News Lead” in the subject line.


The 2010 Cascadia Programming Guide Your catalogue to planning a year of learning, networking and sharing at Announce the cutting edge of the green yourself as an building movement. Using this guide is simple.

industry leader sponsor an individual event or make a lasting impression by underwriting a whole series.

Find the event or topic that interests you and then visit to see the latest information, dates and prices where applicable. Now... Sit back and plan your 2010 calendar for green building leadership.

Download yours at or pick up a copy at our events!


Branden Born “Food Systems” 6/15 Portland, 6/30 Seattle


Spring 2010

book review


Building an emerald city: a Guide to creating Green Building Policies and Programs Lucia Athens Anyone who has spent time with Lucia Athens knows that she brings thoughtful reflection and depth of experience to the field of sustainability. In the City of Seattle and elsewhere she has made tremendous strides in establishing green building programs and policies through her work in the public and private sectors. In Building an Emerald City, Lucia frames the process of establishing green building policies and programs from her own experiences and the work of colleagues in places like Seattle and Austin. This knowledge base is supplemented with research, programmatic and theoretical resources and examples from other organizations and agencies engaged in the development and maintenance of green building programs.

trim tab


In many ways, this book is a retrospective of the experiences and processes of early adopters within the green building industry.

The book begins by establishing why public policy is an appropriate avenue for encouraging sustainability in development. Immediately, the reader is drawn in by the hopeful determination of the author’s early experiences, and called on toward action in communities large and small across the country. Each chapter addresses a different component of the development process of policy initiatives, in the context of the green building industry. Topics range from identifying stakeholders early in the process to establishing incentive programs, from certification tools to performance metrics. Within each topic area, theory is supported by national and regional resources, programs and tools, tabular comparisons of implementation strategies or pathways, and case studies highlighting real-world implementation of the concepts described. There is significant buzz around ‘sustainability’ in the marketplace, but the need for programs and policies to encourage and support the inclusion of green building strategies in development remains high. It seems Lucia was striving to cut through some of the word confusion in selecting a title for the book, as she writes,

I use the term emerald to suggest a deep and singularly transparent shade of green. Many of us are on the path of transforming our cities to become deeply green and sustainable urban environments. How can we learn from others? The variety of approaches we can take to create this change are as multifaceted as a polished gemstone.

Within the green building industry, engaged participants thrive on collaborative and open-source communication – this book celebrates and encourages that ethos. Building an Emerald City will be a useful guidebook and ‘toolkit’ resource for agencies and organizations engaged in establishing green building programs within their locality. While the book relies heavily on LEED-specific


Spring 2010

programming and examples, a number of other resources and programs available at the national and regional scales are also described. There are many valuable case studies highlighted as they relate to specific components of establishing and implementing green building programs. These experiences provide an exemplary context to the framework concepts described in each chapter. Evaluation strategies for assessing program success are discussed, with special attention paid to the comparison of anticipated and realized building performance (postoccupancy). The book concludes with a look forward to ways that public programming and policies can impact current challenges within the green building industry – including an emphasis on community-scale impact and existing building infrastructure. These experiences hold valuable lessons for communities across the nation, and can continue to inform both the development and on-going implementation of public programming. This book inspires the reader to engage in the public and private sectors to move the sustainability conversation forward – to learn from the lessons and challenges of past experiences, and to be an active participant in shifting local attention from the building scale toward community-scale efforts along the pathway toward sustainability.

Mel issa J. Peterson works as a Program Officer for Enterprise Community Partners, a national intermediary engaged in the development of affordable housing. She is based in Portland, OR and serves on the Cascadia Board of Directors.

Event Calendar: April-July 2010

Transformational Lecture Series

Living Building Challenge™ Road Show

Thomas Auer Portland, OR – 04/26 Seattle, 04/22

Toronto, ON – 04/12 Ottawa, ON – 04/14 Montreal, QC - 04/15 Calgary, AB – 04/20 New York, NY – 04/21 St. Louis, MO – 04/21 Washington DC – 4/23 Seattle, WA – 05/5 San Francisco, CA – 05/26 Pittsburgh, PA – 05/26 Winnipeg, MB – 05/26 Clermont, KY – 05/28 Detroit, MI – 06/1 Chicago, IL – TBD Phoenix, AZ – 06/8 Denver, CO – 06/9 Boston, MA – TBD Atlanta, GA – 06/14

Brandon Born Portland, OR – 06/15 Seattle, 06/30

Workshops Presented by Cascadia Seattle Branch Quarterly Workshop Seattle, WA – 04/15 Design & Build New Energy - Efficient Schools Vancouver, BC – 4/28

Conferences and Other Events Presented by Cascadia Living Future Seattle, WA – 05/5 – 05/7 GreenTools Government Confluence Seattle, WA – 05/5

Other Events Canada Green Building Council National Conference Vancouver, BC – 06/8 – 06/10

Workshops, lectures and other opportunities throughout the bioregion

For complete details, please visit trim tab


LIVING FUTURE 2010 MAY 5-7 SEATTLE WASHINGTON What will you find at the unconference: - Non-traditional, interactive learning environments - Design strategies and tools to achieve Living Buildings and Communities - Brilliant ideas that will change the world - ‘Red-list’ Ready Tradeshow – no greenwash allowed! - The Big Bang Event – a party with a twist - Tours of some of Seattle’s most innovative “green” buildings and neighborhoods - Creating networking sessions - Community projects and events - Pre- and post-conference activities around one of the most bicycle and kayak friendly cities in the bioregion. Bring family or friends to enjoy the experience with you!

I don’t know of another group like this, really, anywhere in the world…these are the real pioneers. Denis Hayes, Environmental Visionary, Describing Living Future 09.


cascadia green building council’s annual gathering of leading sustainablity thinkers and practitioners is just around the corner. Join us. KeynoTe sPeaKers:

JoHn francis, PH.D Founder & Director of Planetwalk

JaMes HoWarD KunsTler Pliny fisK iii Urban Planning Expert, Social Critic, Co-Director, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems Author, Journalist


Jason f. Mclennan CEO, Cascadia Region Green Building Council

cHanGe aGenTs

Green aDvocaTes

coMMuniTy ParTners

suPPorTinG sPonsors

cDi engineers


energy Trust of oregon


coughlin Porter lundeen

The Bertschi school

forWarD To frienDs:

liKe WhaT YOU see?

forward this to a friend and have them sign up for Trim Tab aDverTise:

WanT TO reaCh nearlY 20,000 leaDing PraCTiTiOners? contact us to advertise in the next issue!


Spring 2010

Trim Tab v.5 - Spring 2010  

International Living Future Institute's Magazine for Transformative People + Design