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Our Children’s Cities: The Logic & Beauty of a Child-Centered Civilization TR A NSFORM ATION A L DE SIGN

Challenging a ‘Mission Impossible’: The Hawai’i Preparatory Academy Energy Lab TR A NSFORM ATION A L ACTION

Disconnecting From Sewers, Reconnecting To Nature TR A NSFORM ATION A L PEOPLE

Margaret Wheatley: The Power of Community

i s sue 010 L I V ING -F U T URE .org


T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L D E S I G N By bill wiek ing Editor in Chief

Jason F. McLennan jason@living-future.org

e d i t o r i a l d i r ec t o r

Michael D. Berrisford michael.berrisford@living-future.org

senior Editor

Sarah Costello sarah.costello@living-future.org

M a n aging Editor

Joanna Gangi joanna.gangi@living-future.org

C r e at i v e D i r ec t o r

CopY editor

Erin Gehle ering@softfirmstudios.net Katy Garlington katy.garlington@living-future.org

A dv er t i sing


T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L action b y k atie spataro

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Joanna Gangi joanna.gangi@living-future.org


Bill Wiecking, Joanna Gangi, Jason F. McLennan, Carolyn Aguilar-Dubose, Mona Lemoine, Kelley Beamer, Katie Spataro, April Knudsen, Briana Meier, Jay Kosa, Paul Werder, Jason Twill, GIna Binole



Challenging a ‘Mission Impossible’: The Hawai’i Preparatory Academy Energy Lab By bill wieck ing

For editorial inquiries, freelance or photography submissions and advertising, contact Joanna Gangi at joanna.gangi@living-future.org.


Back issues or reprints, contact trimtab@cascadiagbc.org

All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission and is for informational purposes only. Cover image: “Provocation”, a Living City Design Competition entry by Rollerhaus Pictureworks & Design Co.


Summer 2011

Margaret Wheatley: The Power of Community By joanna gangi

SU M M E R 2 011, I s s u e 10

Trim Tab is a quarterly publication of the International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Office locations: 721 NW 9th Ave Suite 195, Portland, OR 97209; 410 Occidental Ave South, Seattle, WA 98104; 1100-111 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 6A3; 643 S. Lower Road, Palmer, AK 99645.




Our Children’s Cities: The Logic & Beauty of Child-Centered Civilization By jason f. mclennan



Disconnecting From Sewers, Reconnecting To Nature b y k atie spataro

contents s u m m e r Q u a r t e r 2 011


T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L P E O P L E b y j oanna gangi

Features 44

Living City Design Competition Recap b y gina binole

18 92 100

T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L thought b y j ason f. mclennan

Coming Into Our Own b y sarah costello

Book Review: Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy B y j ason twill


A Change Agent’s Perspective on Green Building in Mexico


What does the Nature’s Award look like?


Blending Affordability with Sustainability


A Living Aleutian Home

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Ambassadors Take Action

B y caroly n aguilar- dubose

B y mona lemoine

b y k elle y beamer

b y april k nudsen

Nuts & Bolts 106

Moving Upstream: Progress in the


Event Calendar


FWD: Read This!

Bioregion and Beyond!

b y briana meier and j ay kosa

Collaboration: How to Get it Right b y paul werder

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b y bill wiecking

Challenging a ‘Mission Impossible’ The Hawai’i Preparatory Academy Energy Lab


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T ransformational D E S I GN


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Image © Dana Edmunds Photography

The Energy Lab sits atop a hill in Waimea on the island of Hawai’i.

The words “that’s impossible” have inspired many a voyage, project and quest. Several years ago, in our first Go Green Charrette, the Living Building Challenge was described in just those words – impossible to achieve – especially in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For the past several years, meeting the Challenge has been our team’s goal for the Energy Lab at the Hawai’i Preparatory Acadamy (HPA). Three main tenets ruled our decisions: the Red List, Appropriate Sourcing and sustainable operations. These principles far surpassed the specifications necessary to earn LEED ® 2.0 for Schools certification, which was also recently awarded to the project.  If LEED is like competing in the Olympics, with gold, silver, bronze or “participant” recognition, then the


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Living Building Challenge is like going to the moon: you either make it or you don’t. In the summer of 1969, it was hard to imagine that the United States would be the first nation to have a successful moon landing, let alone that the Russians would be second to accomplish such a feat, and the third country would be… Bermuda! This is how outrageous our success in meeting the Living Building Challenge felt here in Waimea on the island of Hawai’i. I was a boy when John F. Kennedy issued his challenge to the nation in 1961 to “land a man on the moon, and return him safely to the earth”, and I watched with amazement eight years later when NASA did just that. Something changed with that challenge: our nation’s view of what was impossible changed, and with it, our sense of our own boundless capabilities. 

Image © Dana Edmunds Photography

Ala Lindsey, a long-time practitioner of traditional Hawaiian farming, shares his knowledge about planting ‘uala (sweet potato) and kalo (taro) during the school’s International Day. Students learn about sustainability through the restoration of an ancient Hawaiian terrace adjacent to the Energy Lab.

Kennedy’s words echoed in my challenge to HPA staff during the first design charrette: “When you come to a wall too tall to climb, throw your best hat over, for you will be motivated to follow it”. We ‘threw our hat’ over quite a tall wall by pursuing Living Building Challenge certification, and – inspired by the sense of possibility from decades ago – we made it a reality.

A ‘Cathedral of the Future’

Churchill once said: “We shape our buildings, after which they shape us”. The Energy Lab represents different things to many people. To educators it is a new sort of learning space – open, collaborative and flexible. To architects, it is a dynamic space that resonates with its surroundings. To engineers, it is a self-monitoring and adaptive system that becomes more comPursuing the most advanced green building rat- fortable as it is occupied. ing system in the world was not easy by any means. Though I attended school every day as a teacher, I Yet, the best evidence I see that we have succeeded felt like a student again, and as a member of a team with this project is that students come to the Energy of committed professionals I was learning the Liv- Lab for a class and stay beyond the end of the session, ing Building Challenge process. As visionary as the or more importantly, they go out of their way to visit donor who enabled us to reach for something beyond the Energy Lab without any specific purpose, as with our grasp, not only did we throw our hat over the wall other buildings on campus. – we followed its course.

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The photovoltaics at HPA.


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As a K-12 boarding school, we have a chance to see groups of all ages and inclinations use the building: art teachers, science classes, yoga groups, boarders looking for a quiet place to work… each group has its own sense of how this building makes them feel content or inspired. One student called the Energy Lab “the cathedral of the future”. This compliment was due less to the technology within the building and more to its sense of resonance with the ethos of sustainability. Nothing utilized in the construction of the building is toxic in production, use or disposal. All resources are conserved through extensive monitoring, social awareness and ease of use. Students report that they feel different in the Lab, as if they are enabled to do things they cannot do elsewhere. As an educator, for me this enabling of productivity defines success. Students are not only inspired by the possibilities of the Energy Lab, they own its process. Instead of badgering students to believe that a culture of conservation is important, the Energy Lab provides a platform for them to discover that conservation is everyone’s responsibility, and that actively adopting measures to protect resources enables each of us to feel more a part of the solution than merely a victim of unseen change. In Hawaii tourists often stand in the surf, watching the beach. These visitors are often surprised when waves hit them from behind. At HPA, we hope to cultivate change agents in our society who not only anticipate the waves, but learn how to surf them. Several ‘waves’ in our ecological climate will confront these students: energy, water, food and culture are all common challenges in this new century. The Energy Lab demonstrates how to approach these surges and exceed expectations to achieve what is commonly thought to be impossible. This cultural change goes beyond mere conservation strategies, it empowers students to become part of the solution – one that they own – so their future will not be one of fear, but of growth. This is less a skill that can be taught or learned, but is an attitude that is embraced, and it all comes back to the inspiration of Kennedy’s spoken words a half-century ago.

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PROJECT TEAM Geotechnical: Geolabs Civil: Belt Collins Hawaii Landscape: Ken & RMG Structural: Walter Vorfield & Assoc. Architectural: Flansburgh Architects Interior Design: Flansburgh Architects Plumbing: Hakalau Engineering Mechanical: Hakalau Engineering Electrical: Wallace T. Oki, PE Inc Lighting Design: Wallace T. Oki, PE Inc Specialty Consultants: Buro Happold, Sustainability and LEED Quality Builders Inc Contractor: Quality Builders Inc Other: Pa`ahana Enterprises LLC, Project Manager

PROJECT DETAILS Project Area: 95,832 sf Building Area: 5,902 sf Building Footprint: 11,535 sf Start of construction: 09/2008 Start of Occupancy Period: 01/2010 Owner occupied: Yes Number of occupants: 25 Number of visitors: 10 per day Typical hours of operation: Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 5:30pm, as well as evenings and weekends for student work as needed


Image © Dana Edmunds Photography

Lucas Cohen works on the iBoat as part of the Green Technology class at the Energy Lab.

Riding the Waves

centuries past inspired “daydreaming about God”, the Once, when contemplating the construction of the En- Energy Lab inspires daydreaming about sustainability. ergy Lab, the benefactor of the project declared: “Every It is a quiet, comfortable place with all of the comforts day we don’t build this is a day wasted”. He also articu- of a normal school building while using less power lated that “true change will happen with our children than a blow dryer. who don’t believe that their dreams are impossible”. This inspiration is what led our project team to exceed This is one way the Energy Lab differs from other any expectations of the original vision. In an odd para- rarities: it incorporated simple, low-cost, off-the-shelf dox, LEED ® and the Living Building Challenge served devices in creative, clever ways to yield a solution that as guidelines for a project that would have been pio- responds to a particular set of needs and is still transneering regardless of certification. We strived to cre- ferable to other projects, both on our campus and in ate a prototype of an integrated, sustainable building. other locales. It was not easy, nor was it inexpensive. For the price of our investment, the project inspires builders, educa- For example, ventilation is monitored by sensors meators, homeowners, architects, systems engineers, and suring airflow, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity sustainability experts to devise new and innovative and even human presence through motion detection solutions based on our prototype. As the cathedrals of video systems. A recent visitor compared our project


Summer 2011

Image © Dana Edmunds Photography

toring system, coupled with sensors and actuators that use the XML open protocol standard. The system was designed to encourage experimentation by our students, who are developing a program on their own that taps into the data stream to perform analysis within a completely open architecture. This academic activity parallels the project team’s process for the Energy Lab, reminding the students that anything they can envision is possible if they are engaged, committed and passionate about the outcome.

So, where do we go from here? HPA’s mission is threefold: education, outreach and research. Though the Energy Lab is first and foremost a classroom, it is also a teaching tool that has led to additional benefits for the students: its unique functionality affords the opportunity to collaborate with nearby schools and major universities; and as one of the few objective test sites for renewable energy installations with a comprehensive monitoring and telemetry system, it informs research all over the world. Our ultimate vision is for the Energy Lab to serve as Bill Wiecking works with students in his e-Physics class at the Energy Lab. a model for others. In leading by example – both in dreaming big and in being bold in our actions – the Energy Lab will be much more than a building. It will be an inspiration that may metaphorically lead us further than our imagined capabilities of NASA’s first mission team to the open source Linux movement: committo the moon. ted volunteers creating a solution that is in many cases more elegant, nimble and flexible than most commercial software offerings. Indeed, the thought process Click here to view the case was more important than the technology used: This was an exercise in physics, neurology and engineerstudy that details HPA’s ing, all woven together with the ubiquitous computer journey from inspired vision language of XML (the basis for data exchange on the internet) – a vast advancement from our initial tools, to inspirational building. that relied on an antiquated automation protocol based on serial devices that went with the Apollo missions to the moon. Our success was based on a shared vision in a quality solution instead of a more typical closed proprietary business model. We use gnuplot and other open source software in our telemetry, control and moni-

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Dr. bill wiecking resides in Hawaii and teaches at the HPA Energy Lab.


b y joanna gangi

Margaret Wheatley b y joanna gangi

In my twenties I was studying abroad, traveling the world, experiencing different cultures and filled with passion. It was a passion to make a difference and the desire to do something that truly matters. As I get older, now in my early thirties and after recently having given birth to my first child, that passion and desire has changed. I still want my work and life to be significant and matter in some way but the way in which it matters is different. As you live life and grow older


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things evolve, your perspective changes, maybe even your life goals change, and you discover more and more what you care about. Margaret Wheatley addresses the personal journeys people take in their life, the work they are doing and how to discover ones full potential. Margaret Wheatley is a story-teller, a speaker, a consultant, a writer and a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner. In 1991 she co-founded the Berkana Insti-

T ransformational P E O P L E

tute where she works with many different people in countries around the world to strengthen the leadership capacity and self-reliance of their communities. She consults and speaks to a variety of organizations, from the U.S. Army to Girl Scout troops, about preserving their mission and effectiveness in the midst of change. Margaret has the uncanny ability to help people realize their skills and put those

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skills to action in order to be effective change agents. As she states “there is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.� Wheatley speaks to Trim Tab about empowering communities, her message to the green warriors who are fighting for transformation and how to persevere through these troubling times of global climate change and environmental crises.


“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Trim Tab: Your work focuses on helping people and communities to reach their full potential - to take action and create resilient places. How do you connect to individuals in communities that are struggling with oppressive forces? Margaret Wheatley: You start by finding the project, the work or the issue that people care about. You don’t do anything artificial to build them up or train them in certain skills. You first find the issue that is of most concern to them. There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about. You can’t go in thinking that you know what they care about. Through casual conversation you discover what are the issues of most concern. Worldwide it is really essential if you are going to develop community capacity to solve problems, you start with the women, because they are the true change agents in their community. With grandmothers and mothers, then you move on to the youth. You start with whatever is foremost in their minds. You don’t start with a plan or an already designed program; you start with the first set of small actions. That’s how you build peoples self-confidence -which is a real task. It can take several years in a truly oppressed situation. It’s the success of a small proj-


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ect that helps women, in particular, discover that they have capacity, skill and talent. Once they achieve something they are much more willing to take on bigger projects. TT: We talk a lot about resiliency in the green building movement. What does resiliency mean to you? MW: I can tell you what it used to mean. I think it’s a word that I’m starting to question. We do still use it at the Berkana Institute. We talk about creating healthy and resilient communities and by that we mean, communities that can develop greater capability to withstand the next crisis. Resiliency has had this bounce back meaning to it. If you’re resilient you can adapt or withstand the current dilemma, tragedy or natural disaster and then come back. One of the things that we’re tracking at Berkana when we use the word is does a community, by the way it handles any one crisis, grow in competence so people feel more capable of dealing with the next crisis. Resiliency isn’t a skill set that you develop easily. You develop it by going through difficult things. So the thing to measure is how do people get through a current crisis and do they come out of it with greater competencies.

What I’m looking at now is not just did we learn enough from that crisis to be ready for the next but what are the deeper attributes of us as individuals where we feel that we can cope with the incessant demands on us…and are not being incapacitated or destroyed in our inner-being by the amount of fear, stress and aggression that now characterizes our world. I don’t understand any of the decisions being made by governments around the world today. Things are so destructive. For all of the optimism and track record of Cascadia Green Building Council and the green building movement, what is happening still around climate and government decisions is sheer lunacy because it is so destructive of the future. A Chilean poet created the phrase ‘undoing the future’ to describe our current actions. So perseverance has become a major requirement. How do we keep going in the face of so much fear and stress? It is a different cut than just being resilient. Resilience is just being prepared for the crises. When you shift it to perseverance you are actually taking in the fact that this is truly a very dangerous time. We are struggling with the potential collapse of the planet. Being able to take that all in and feel committed to our work is more contained in the word perseverance than resilience. TT: Many people attribute extraordinary power in dedicated belief, notably “hope”. Can you describe to our readers your feelings on hope as it relates to social injustices and environmental crisis?

MW: Hope always brings fear with it. It’s the alternate side of the same coin. If you hope that you’re going to make a contribution, if you hope you are going to reverse climate change then you are also terrified if you fail or when things aren’t going well. The place beyond hope and fear I characterize as a place of clarity. TT: What is your message to weary green warriors that have become discouraged by the seemingly insurmountable challenges of their work? MW: This is especially poignant for the people that are engaged with the planet because we now know more about what is happening to destroy ecosystems and the land. We need to acknowledge the deep grief and acknowledge the great loss that is going on among ecosystems, species, cultures, and languages. If you choose to be a green warrior or warrior of the human spirit you try and find a place beyond hope. The place of clarity where you can realize this is your work and you embrace it and are willing to understand that maybe you won’t make a difference but you will have tried your damndest. Reaching the point of giving up needing to have results and getting much clearer about the value of the work itself. You act as if it is the most important thing in the world but you also hold it as completely unimportant. In our goal-oriented society we aren’t brought up in this way of holding our work, which is to be totally committed to it and yet to let go of it needing to make a difference.

“If you choose to be a green warrior or warrior of the human spirit you try and find a place beyond hope.”

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TT: Your life-long pursuit of knowledge through education combined with a broad collection of experiences around the world has made you a highly influential leader. What advice would you offer to other would-be leaders that desire to be effective change agents? MW: Let go of results and get more clear about what work feels right for you to be doing. Finding that inner-knowing of accepting what our different skills are, what our different gifts are, what our different histories are and offering those freely to the world. The space beyond hope and fear is a place of liberation where you can just go for it. When you can get over fear you can relax about the level of contribution you may or may not make. The qualities of the place beyond hope and fear are exactly what we want - qualities of clarity, commitment and motivation. So the place beyond hope and fear is very liberating. It is just hard to see in this culture of measurement, outcomes and achievement. When you let go of needing your life to mean anything then it becomes very meaningful. TT: Reflecting on the early stages of your evolving career, was there any particular events, occurrences or people that profoundly influenced your path?

“Once we’re back in our reflective mind we can see power in things and think about the future”


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MW: There were a number of people that have influenced me. My activist grandmother was my most powerful role model growing up. The other thing that really formed me was my time in the Peace Corps. I joined in 1966 and that was a way to capture all of my desires to be out in the world and to serve. I was in Korea, not long after the Korean War, and the culture was very traditional with no modern things. I realized that after living in a completely different culture, with a different alphabet and a different language, where nothing looked familiar when you were walking down the street – that I can go anywhere in the world. It gave me confidence in knowing how to be with people where culture became an interesting difference but not a barrier. TT: You recently returned from a one hundred day silent retreat. What was your motivation for undertaking such an extraordinary personal sanctuary? What did you take away from the secluded experience? MW: As a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner my teacher motivated me to do this because she knew that it would be a great benefit to me and it was. Now I’m back out in the world and one of the things that still remains so clear is the quality of mind I had when there were no distractions. I had all this time by myself to study, meditate and think. I discovered a completely different mental capacity. I could remember things, I could make connections, I could develop deep awareness and understanding. Now that I’m back in my very full life I don’t have that mind anymore. I walk across the kitchen and can’t remember why I’m doing that. Or I pick up a book and have no interest in reading it at that time. One of the things that I’ve really focused on is how much we have destroyed our mental capacity. The capacity in Buddhism is mind and heart are one. In our present way of living that is filled with distractions and stress we destroy 95 percent of our brain capacity. I’ve experienced that firsthand, so now I’m adamant

MW: The first thing is we need to focus on letting go of the belief that someone knows the perfect formula for creating global transformation around green building. The second thing is realizing that life changes from small, localized efforts that get connected. There is no one size fits all approach. If you look at ecosystems it’s all different species working together. So different projects, different experiments, different communities working together but doing it their own way that is dependent on their context. The more we strengthen connections among these disparate efforts the more we have the possibility of life’s wonderful process of truly taking things to scale will kick in.

wheatley’s newest book, walk out walk on: a learning journey into communities daring to live the future now, is now available for purchase.

with people that they need to find time to reflect and find time to be quiet. That is the only way to rediscover that you have a very fine mind. Once we’re back in our reflective mind we can see power in things where we can think about the future and we can encounter ethical dilemmas. Once a week, find an hour where you go off and reflect or find ten minutes every day to just be quiet. TT: Everyone, every organization, every faction can do better. From your point of view, how could the green building movement increase its scope of influence and be more effective in invoking change?

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It’s called ‘emergence’ – from many connected parts a new system emerges and becomes the dominant system. I think that has happened in some aspects of the green revolution to date. But it is still very superficial in some places. So it’s a combination of doing your work really well at the local level, connecting with others at conferences and such, and then letting life handle the scale issue. Then suddenly it all catalyzes and all of our efforts emerge in a system of influence where we have much more power and capacity as the sum of the parts. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to see if our planet is giving us enough time but I know that this is how life creates transformative change.

To find more about Margaret Wheatley including her books and to download articles and podcasts, please visit margaretwheatley.com.

joanna gangi is empowered by the fantastic beauty of nature residing in Seattle where she works at the International Living Future Institute as the Managing Editor of Trim Tab magazine in the Ecotone Publishing department.


image © daniel + maximilian zielinski

b y jason f. mclennan

We know a lot about the ideal environment for a happy whale or a happy mountain gorilla. We’re far less clear about what constitutes an ideal environment for a happy human being. One common measure for how clean a mountain stream, is to look for trout. If you find the trout, the habitat is healthy. It’s the same way with children in a city. Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people. —Enrique Penalosa 18

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T ransformational thought

Our Children’s Cities The Logic & Beauty of a Child-Centered Civilization

Change is coming to our cities in the next 10-20 years, whether or not our culture is ready for it. As cheap oil disappears and we firmly enter the age of ‘extreme energy’1 and additional finite resources diminish to scarce levels, we will be forced to adjust to new ways of building and living with a global population approaching eight billion - almost exclusively in urban settings. 1. Marked by deepwater drilling, Alberta tar sands and mountaintop coal removal trim tab

Even as our cities mushroom in size, the very mega-infrastructure projects that built them become obsolete – created in a world where cheap energy was substituted for common sense and ethical planning. During the post-World War II era we redefined and recreated communities of all sizes to support the transition to an automobile age within the span of only three decades. The North American landscape was 19

image © Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation

“Will we simply spiral towards the visions found in many science fiction novels and Hollywood movies?” Movie still from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).

changed forever – and its about to change just as radically, over just as short of a timeframe yet again. The types of infrastructure and planning that separate us within our own communities – urban sprawl, big box retail, interstate freeways, mega powerplants, centralized sewage treatment systems and absurdly tall skyscrapers will suddenly become impossible to sustain. In its place will emerge a new urban landscape supported by new kinds of infrastructure responding to the new reality of energy, food, water and population – that we’ll remake civilization is guaranteed – how we’ll do it is the only question. Will we simply spiral towards the visions found in many science fiction novels and Hollywood movies? Will our cities become versions of an unhealthy, ecologically depleted, crowded, dirty Blade Runner future? Or will we use


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this opportunity for change as a course correction to create a healthy, vibrant and beautiful living future? How do we begin to create a future that brings out the best of humanity and safeguards the planet’s fragile ecosystems?

Putting Kids First As simplistic as it may sound, the best way to plan our cities to function as nurturing, dynamic communities for all people is to design them well as places for children first. Regardless of function or location, all re-development and new planning should be grounded by asking the questions – “is this good for children?” “Does it relate to a scale that children relate to?” Why is it that so much of the built environment

“Broadacre city”, 1958, by frank lloyd wright

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1958 vision of the future’s suburbia, Broadacre City.

is unfit for our most sensitive and vulnerable citizens? The disturbing answer is that other than dedicated school yards and some city parks, children are mere afterthoughts in the ‘serious business’ that is city and community planning. For the last sixty years we’ve designed our communities first around the scale of the automobile, and secondarily around the scale of adult men and women. By leaving children out – we have left out the best of humanity – and the chance to connect our future leaders with functioning workable urbanism. Whole generations now have no experience with how fantastic well-done urbanism can be. The best cities in the world have a walkable, relatable scale that children and adults alike can relate to. They tend to be safer, more accessible and more culturally rich. They give us greater opportunities for social

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interaction as well as chance encounters and educational opportunities. Think about what makes a place great for kids: a focus on found learning 2, serendipitous personal interactions with others, opportunities to interact with nature and natural systems – water in particular, right-sized designs that aren’t intimidating and automobile-based, a city with an all-around gentle touch. Now consider a city that extended such considerations to everybody. If communities were built 2. We undervalue in our society the concept of ‘found learning’ having traded opportunities for children to be exposed to the inner workings of our communities (bakeries, factories, community infrastructure etc.) with only structured learning in classrooms. We shuttle our children from inside domain to inside domain and they miss out on learning about how the world really works.


“For the last sixty years we’ve designed our communities around the scale of the automobile and around the scale of adult men and women. By leaving children out we have left out the best of humanity” in ways that nurtured children rather than worked around them, all ages would be the better for it. By catering our infrastructure to those among us who have the least control, we actually usher in greater opportunities across multiple demographic segments. It’s bad enough that typical futuristic images of our cities are ecologically impossible3; what’s also crazy is that they never appear to be very nice places for children. It seems that the visionaries who craft these plans of soaring buildings and concrete landscapes – or even present-day housing developments with endless rows of identical homes– have forgotten the importance of what it means to just go outside and play. 3. We could never sustain cities the way they are often depicted from a resource standpoint alone.


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Even many much-heralded ‘eco-developments’ seem to contain few genuine child-friendly opportunities – unless one counts the occasional recycled plastic slide in a fenced-in play area. It’s time to turn our attention back to our children and do what makes sense for them, for us and for the environment. The good news is that child-centered city planning is not simply generous; it’s practical.

Doing What We Do Best – A super-quick history While its very easy to feel defeated and pessimistic by the overwhelming evidence of energy and water scarcity, climate change and worldwide economic upheaval, I consider it more useful to look at these significant

The scale of the automobile now dominates our cities, when it should be the scale of the child, not even the adult should dominate.

interstates through many of their cores to do so. Waterfronts were often cut off and historic urban neighborhoods were carved up – with the most impact disproportionately in poor communities. In our quest for the elevated fast lane, we discarded street-level scenes and structures. We exchanged a sense of community for take-out and parking lots. We converted the scale of our communities from a human to a highrise level.4 The scale of the child has been left behind After all, we’ve done this before. In the period fol- in most of America. lowing World War II, virtually every American city, town and village modified itself to embrace the new As we began to rob our cities of structural integrity realities of the modern age: the rise of suburbia, an while making it easier to travel in and out from them, expanded reliance on automobiles and the promise of we very quickly began to abandon the older, central disthe “American dream”. In creating the national highway system, we connected our cities but rammed the 4. See “The Tyranny of the Big and the Beauty of the Small” in the Fall 2010 challenges as opportunities to re-imagine civilization in a way that ensures our long term place in it. Many people have a hard time believing that we can redesign our cities within the span of a few decades, but the truth is it will happen regardless of our intentions. The question is whether we will steer things towards the best possible outcomes or see impacts continue to move in the wrong direction.

issue of Trim Tab.

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The great American dream of suburban home ownership has not made people happier.

tricts of cities and spread outward. Those with means wanted to live at the city’s edge where they pursued what they felt was safer, cleaner and more spacious surroundings. Larger suburban lots promised more impressive lawns, more substantial garages, more enviable status. Unfortunately the exodus of a large proportion of the middle-class took its toll on essentially all American cities. Those who remained in the city tended to be of lower socio-economic classes, so metropolitan tax revenues plummeted and inner-city development rates dropped off. Urban crime rates began to climb, schools suffered and communities withered.

Questioning the new suburban normal

Statistics now show that people didn’t actually become happier once they attained what was billed as the great American dream of suburban home ownership with 2 cars in the garage. (In their paper “Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox,” Swiss economists Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer found that workers with one-hour commutes must earn 40 percent more money to have a sense of well-being equal to that of a person who walks or bikes to work. Longer commutes, they assert, undo any perceived emotional benefits of suburban living.5) In his powerful book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam explores Meanwhile, suburban enclaves thrived. Housing de- how Americans have become more insulated in the years velopments boomed, shopping malls cropped up in since we’ve fled the city. Suburban populations, he asnearly every community, parking lots exploded in serts, are so disconnected from family, friends and neighnumber because cars were now a necessity. The new bors that it has impoverished our lives and communities. American society was an automobile paradise, built to cater to people – and shoppers – of all ages. What’s worse, this escape from the city has actually gotten us farther from nature since suburban develThe American dream was here. We had arrived. Or 5. http://ftp.iza.org/dp1278.pdf had we?


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opments tend to eat up farmland, raze forests and drain wetlands. Residential houses have gotten bigger and bigger6 as their occupants have become addicted to debt and surrounded by bland same-ness. Our reliance on inexpensive energy is tied to an erosion of our former sense of place – a sense of place that used to define where we came from. In the midst of the mid-century, post world war renaissance, there was great optimism for the future of our society as well as our cities. Yet, we were too quick to shed the old ways and urban patterns that built our original communities to make way for the new. Now nearly every North American community is surrounded by the same list of big-box retailers that stand at the gates welcoming visitors coming in from any direction. And children are left with residential neighborhoods that no longer have the cultural benefits of functioning urbanism or the ecological benefits of functioning ruralism. No wonder they play so many video games!


6. See “The Righteous Small House” in the Spring 2009 issue of Trim Tab.

1. How would things change if we used a child-centered ‘modular’ instead of an adult one? 2. Children need unstructured play in nature. 3. Too many hours connected to technology is changing how children interact with each other.


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“The fact is that we’ve been sucking the youthful life out of our children because of the way we’ve designed our communities.” Stealing from the Innocent Children in every neighborhood – urban and suburban – have been robbed of opportunities as we’ve drained the life out of our cities and created vast sprawl of bland and unhealthy suburbia. Most profoundly, kids across all strata have lost a sense of freedom. City children have sustained a figurative loss as their neighborhoods’ vitality and relevance has faded leaving many without hope for the future. Suburban kids experience a more literal loss as they spend an unhealthy amount of time in the car getting from one spot to another in their over-bland environment leaving many bored, unengaged and overweight. When schools are built on inexpensive land on the edge of a community, kids from all segments of the population spend more time on buses than in their own residential surroundings.


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We wouldn’t let our children play in a dump, yet we continue to design our communities in ways that are just as dangerous for children’s development.

With automobiles in dominant roles, it is less safe for children to bike, walk or play outside. Our increased isolation and lack of connection to our neighbors has made us increasingly paranoid (egged on by irresponsible fear-mongering media), prompting us to restrict our children’s ability to enjoy unstructured time outdoors. Children spend more time in front of screens, substituting virtual connections for personal interaction. Inner-city poverty requires parents (often single) to take on more work hours, leading to lack of supervision for urban kids already at risk. Rates of childhood obesity, depression and attention deficit disorders are on the rise. Funds supporting public health programs for low-income city kids are quickly diminishing. These trends feed on themselves and problems only escalate.

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The fact is that we’ve been sucking the youthful life out of our children because of the way we’ve designed our communities. It’s the same thesis offered by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv believes – and I agree wholeheartedly – that we are actually damaging our children by disconnecting them from the environment, natural life cycles and the sources of their food. I assert that we shouldn’t have to choose between the city and nature. Admittedly, we have all suffered. But kids feel the disconnection more acutely not just because they are more vulnerable, but also because many of them know nothing else. They’ve lived either in dying inner cities or in sterile suburban settings their entire lives. Are we


Why are most of our communities unfit for our most precious citizens?

raising whole generations of Americans and Canadians who have neither a personal relationship with nature nor appreciation for a thriving urban core? Are we raising a whole generation that does not have a chance to learn naturally what it means to be both a functioning citizen of a community as well as the natural world? Are we in fact robbing our youth of key experiences needed for future maturity?

Adjusting to the Inevitable

to return our focus on the urban core and responsible density, and in so doing, bring back the beauty that is also possible in great cities. It will take a commitment to maintain the values necessary to support truly regenerative neighborhoods. Most importantly, it should usher in a new commitment to our children.

But the shift won’t stop in our larger metropolitan areas. I The good and bad news is this: the age of cheap oil believe the new oil-free society will reinvigorate the smallis almost over. The days of the suburban experiment and mid-sized towns and farming communities from are numbered. People simply won’t be able to afford which people have fled for decades. I predict a reverse midriving everywhere and communities won’t be able to gration to many rural places where families can support sustain the miles of sprawl that were built on specula- themselves over the course of several generations.7 tion in an era of both cheap energy and cheap labor. We now have neither. The only possible response is 7. But I digress. I’ll reserve further comment for a future article on this subject


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A traditional European street filled with activity and learning opportunities for children.

“children are left with residential neighborhoods that no longer have the cultural benefits of functioning urbanism or the ecological benefits of functioning ruralism.� trim tab


“Places that delight and inform are more likely to be beautiful And beauty most certainly opens the door to grace – which is something that people can appreciate at any age.�

A universal door handle


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image © Röllerhaus Pictureworks & Design Co.

It’s time to rethink our cities through the eyes of children. If we did, what we’d see would be completely different.

Relying on Universality Universal design offers an excellent parallel to the notion of child-friendly urban planning. Universal design was originally introduced to architectural practices as a way of facilitating access and use to individuals with mobility disabilities. As it became more widely adopted and solutions became more clever, universal design has often proved to improve functionality for everyone, regardless of physical ability or age. Thanks to universal design, many buildings now incorporate systems and designs that cater to any user. (Even an able-bodied person carrying a heavy load is hampered by a traditional doorknob but can easily enter a door by using an elbow to push down on a universally designed door handle.) The beauty of universal design is that it caters to those users who may have more difficulty but benefits users across

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the spectrum. It asks what the more vulnerable among us need, then creates designs that deliver what we all need. It’s time to apply universally child-friendly designs to our cities.

Painting the Picture My own experiences as a kid growing up in an industrial community helped shape me as an environmentalist. My current-day role as a father of four only strengthens my commitment to child-friendly cities. Having spent considerable time in more functioning European cities, I see what our cities can and should be: healthy, safe places that nurture our youth and surround us in natural beauty. What, then, would a children’s city look like? Here is a sampling of what I think we are collectively capable of creating:


1. Opportunities for families. A child-centered city would provide a diversity of housing typologies that suits every variation of family make-up and re-instills a degree of elegance to urban family living. Prices would be manageable across all types of units so that people from a mix of economic backgrounds could afford to rent or own, even when they house multiple generations under one roof. This needs to be done within the context of mixed economic neighborhoods rather than in neighborhoods comprised of uniform socio-economic status. Housing for working families should combine form and function, not sit like stacks of soul-less boxes with token three-foot balconies. Multi-unit structures that achieve ideal urban density should offer adequate acoustic separation as well as genuine (not manufactured) outdoor play spaces.


2 1. Living City Design Competition Second Place Winner by Atelier G40, “City.Makes”. Image © Atelier G40. 2. Living City Design Competition Provocation Award Winner by [gu]; “Dense City: Biological building materials, reintroduction of wildlife, softening of hard surfaces, evolved transportation”. Image © [gu] 3. Living City Design Competition Second Place Winner by Atelier G40, “City. Makes”. Image © Atelier G40. 4. School children participate in a gardening lesson.

2. Clusters of urban services. We must return our city neighborhoods to their former glory as diverse multi-use environments. If restaurants, markets, playgrounds and daycare centers filled in urban spaces, families could find what they need closer to home and we would have no need to look beyond our cities’ borders for basic amenities. Many urban centers like good essential services like grocery stores and daycares.


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3. Inner-city nature. As we shifted our focus to the suburbs, we abandoned the natural capabilities of our cities. A child-centric city must offer an abundance of nature – features that can offer both practical and environmental advantages while giving children easy access to clean water, climbable trees and fresh air. Urban tree reforestation programs and the re-emergence of daylit streams bring natural systems within the urban context. The idea here is to call upon nature to do double duty, providing amenities that support urban infrastructure.

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4. Educational neighborhoods. There is a nearly endless number of teaching opportunities in any urban setting. Children’s cities should celebrate the natural relationship between schools and neighborhoods. Teachers and students need only to step outside their classrooms and pay close attention to the natural and built environments in order to explore the science, art, math and music that surrounds them. As described in Alexander’s Pattern Language – “Shopfront Schools” where children learn within the fabric of community should be encouraged. Every building in a children’s city can offer multiple benefits, as can every citizen. By remembering how to trust our neighbors, we can rely on them to help educate our youth.


6. Revealed systems. Today’s cities bury their infrastructures, hiding water, waste and food systems from the very citizens who rely on them to survive. Tomorrow’s cities should reveal their operations, giving adults and children alike direct knowledge of their societies’ inner workings. Just consider the relative impact of a dairy farm field trip versus a pamphlet about milk production. The same could be said of daily urban living. We can adhere to modern standards of health and safety without sanitizing away our connections to municipal systems. We could all learn a thing or two from daylit streams, urban farms, community composting programs and localized wastewater systems.

6 5 5. Real places to play. As the automobile loses its prominence, children will be able to make better recreational use of city streets, sidewalks and squares. (We may even see a hopscotch revival!) Urbanites will gather in civic spaces that offer expansive and safe areas to sit, walk and play. (Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District offers a tremendous example.) With diminished need for vehicular right of ways huge opportunities will emerge to create places for recreation, urban food production and greater urban density without the need for buildings above walk-up scale.


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5. Children play hopscotch on the sidewalk. Image © Ilya, via Flickr. 6. Girl interacts with a chicken at a local farm. Image © jakesmome, via Flickr. 7. A neighborhood of three-story apartment buildings in Brooklyn, New York’s Park Slope district. 8. New York City’s Central Park. Image © Jens Karlsson, via Flickr.

7 7. Appropriate density. At the risk of repeating myself, I will return to a subject I’ve previously covered. 8 This time, I’ll touch on the topic of density as it relates to kids. Nobody can truly believe that a skyscraper is an acceptable setting in which to raise children. How can they experience a sense of community when they dwell so high off the ground? How can they connect with nature when they spend more time with potted plants than with wilderness? Children’s cities should offer a saner level of density, in which people interact with the natural world as frequently as they interact with one another. There is a density sweet spot, and it remains closer to the ground. 8. See “Density and Sustainability: A Radical Perspective” in the Spring 2009 issue of Trim Tab.

8. A soul. By thinking first of how urban plans would benefit children, we will naturally design places of greater substance. Places that delight and inform are more likely to be beautiful. And beauty most certainly opens the door to grace – which is something that people can appreciate at any age.

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8 jason f. mclennan is the CEO of the International Living Future Institute. He is the creator of the Living Building Challenge, as well as the author of four books, including his latest: Zugunruhe.


b y katie spatar O

Disconnecting From Sewers, Reconnecting To Nature

In urban and suburban areas, current practices for managing wastewater involve conveying our wastes through a network of pipes to large-scale, centralized facilities where water is treated prior to being discharged back into the environment. Around the country, these systems—many of which were built in the early to mid 1900’s — are now in urgent need of repair or expansion in order to meet stricter water quality regulations and to avoid the kinds of catastrophic risks to public health and safety that are imminent when these systems fail.


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T ransformational action Students at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, help with the testing and monitoring of the onsite constructed wetland designed to treat 100% of wastewater from the building. The naturally-treated water is then reused for toilet flushing and irrigation. trim tab

Photograph courtesy of Andropogon Associates, Ltd.


Current practices for wastewater treatment involve large-scale infrastructure to convey and treat wastes.

Photograph courtesy of Andropogon Associates, Ltd.

An onsite constructed wetland at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. designed to treat 100% of wastewater from the building.


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Using water to carry away our waste, at one time in history, represented an important advancement towards protection against serious and fatal diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Indeed the modern sewer system has largely allowed for urban growth, enabling our cities to support larger and denser populations by transporting human wastes farther out of sight and subsequently further out of mind. However, the same technologies and solutions that served us well over the last century are now the same ones responsible for the growing financial burden, political strife and disconnection between our wasteful behaviors and its impact on the natural world around us.

with treating wastewater for their growing populations, green building proponents and others are advocating for a more holistic approach to water use and waste treatment in the built environment. Smallerscale onsite or neighborhood-scale systems—such as composting toilets or greywater reuse— are gaining greater acceptance as viable alternatives to connecting to conventional sewers for managing water and wastes. However, regulatory obstacles, cultural fears and a lack of information on costs and operational requirements still prohibit broad-scale adoption of these systems.

To help shed light on how smaller-scale treatment approaches compare to conventional practices, the International Living Future Institute embarked on an analysis to evaluate the relative environmental impacts associated with centralized wastewater treatment systems against four alternative, decentralized systems using Life Cycle At the same time that cities around the country are Assessment (LCA). LCA is a tool that evaluates envifacing tough decisions about how to meet the capac- ronmental impacts of a product or system across its enity needs and address the economic costs associated tire life-cycle—from the acquisition of raw materials to The time is ripe for a reshaping of our relationship to wastewater, respecting both water and “waste” as precious resources that need to be well managed, appropriately sourced and treated at many scales.

Photograph courtesy of Farshid Assassi

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, New York—one of the first certified Living Buildings—uses plants, bacteria, algae, snails, and fungi to treat wastewater from the surrounding campus before the purified water is then used to recharge the local aquifer.

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When compared to centralized treatment systems, composting toilets and constructed wetlands have considerably lower global warming impacts over a 50-year life span. In the Institute’s analysis, this represents a 40% - 44% reduction in carbon emissions— roughly the equivalent of a mid-size city removing 1,000 passenger vehicles on the road annually.

The LCA results provide insight on the pros and cons of commonly proposed decentralized and distributed treatment systems and how they relate to conventional pracThe wastewater LCA study is intended to provide valu- tices at different density scales. What the study has shown able data on where and when decentralized approaches is that those systems that require the lowest operating enare preferable, providing a resource to building owners ergy, and therefore rely heavily on the natural processes and design teams considering alternatives for their proj- of decomposition or gravity to treat or convey waste, are ects. In addition, it serves as a tool for community leaders those with the least negative environmental impacts over in cities both large and small who are taking a hard look time. Specifically, composting toilets and subsurface conat policies and infrastructure planning to accommodate structed wetlands, the two lowest energy scenarios evaluated, represent between 40-44% fewer global warming the growing burden of wastewater management. impacts (measured in kg CO2 equivalents) when comFor the comparison, alternative systems were selected pared to centralized treatment and conveyance. representing a wide range of scale (small to large footprint), costs and operating energy requirements. Pas- By contrast, more mechanical and energy intensive desive, low-energy systems such as composting toilets centralized approaches, characterized by the recircuand gravity fed constructed treatment wetlands were lating biofilter and membrane biofilter scenarios in the compared to more energy intensive biofilters and mem- LCA study, represented significantly greater environbrane bioreactors. An in depth analysis of conveyance mental impacts when compared to centralized systems, systems looked at how density relates to a system’s in fact upwards of 85% more. This trend of results from overall environmental impacts associated with moving the LCA study is the same across nearly all environmenwastewater from its point of generation to a central loca- tal impact categories studied including: acidification, tion, regardless of the treatment technology employed. aquatic ecotoxicity, respiratory effects, ozone depletion impacts associated with manufacturing, transportation, operations and use through final disposal.


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and smog. A full report of the findings and analysis from this study will be available soon. Underlying this study is the invitation issued by the Living Building Challenge and similar initiatives to envision a different future of waste treatment, both in the buildings and neighborhoods we design and build as well as in our cities as a whole. This invitation asks that we reconnect with the knowledge of where and how our water is sourced and treated, even in densely urban areas, and evaluate alternative systems at appropriate scales due to their lowest environmental cost, not just the lowest economic cost. Doing so will largely require a step outside the businessas-usual approach to policies and planning around largescale infrastructure and move towards a more restorative approach to managing water and waste. Under this vision, new technologies that minimize or eliminate wastewater from the start are coupled with distributed treatment at the site and neighborhood scales to minimize energy needed for conveyance that maximize reclamation of nutrients onsite. By utilizing composting and micro flush/ flow technologies, water is used wisely, reused and then only treated to the level necessary for its reuse purpose.

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When discharged back into the environment, it is done so in a way that mimics natural systems, is celebrated as an amenity rather than viewed as a nuisance, and is cleaner going out than it was coming into the system. While this vision represents a far stretch from the path many communities are currently on to design, regulate, and plan for the future, the concepts and technologies are simple and attainable. Many tools and resources, such as the wastewater life-cycle assessment study, are available to support designers and decision-makers seeking to address the many obstacles to realizing a preferred path forward. When armed with a deeper understanding of the long and short term ecological, financial, and health risks of our current systems, we are in a better position to advocate for more resilient and restorative approaches with respect to water and wastes. Katie Spataro is the Research Director at Cascadia Green Building Council and the International Living Future Institute.


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by gina binole

Living City Design Competition Recap The Living Building Challenge is driven by one fundamental idea: “What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place?” This is a deceptively simple question – the very act of asking it inspires a new vision for our relationship with the built environment and the resources upon which we rely. This is not a fantasy of living without an impact; every living thing affects its surroundings, and humans are no exception. Instead, it raises the possibility that people can learn to thrive in partnership with the planet, instead of consuming its bounty to satisfy their needs at the expense of other life forms.

The Living Building Challenge has always been more than a performance standard. It is also a philosophy and an advocacy tool. It is based on the premise that by transforming our concept of the built environment and reframing our role within it, we will leap well beyond the building scale and begin the long process of restoring our overstressed ecosystems.

In May 2010, the Living Future Institute partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to launch the Living City Design Competition to expand its defining “what if” question, asking: “What if we repurposed our existing infrastructure to bring whole cities into As a certification program, the Living Building Chal- alignment with the Living Building Challenge?” “What lenge has already passed a critical milestone. To date, if our vision of an urban future was shaped by hope raththree multidisciplinary teams have met the Living er than self-fulfilling prophecies of degradation?” Building Challenge’s rigorous “what if ” performance imperatives with their projects and achieved full More than 80 teams responded to the Living City Decertification. Another project earned “Petal Rec- sign Competition, with entries covering 69 cities in ognition” for fully meeting the requirements of the 21 countries. In the context of an urban ecosystem, Challenge’s Water, Site, Health and Beauty Petals. each team set out to explore how existing areas might (See ilbi.org/lbc/casestudies for more information achieve and even transcend the imperatives set forth on these pioneering endeavors.) Many more teams in the Living Building Challenge. A selection of enare currently pursuing the Challenge in places as far tries were displayed, and the winning entries were unflung as Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Suceava, Roma- veiled at Living Future 2011 in Vancouver, B.C., where nia, Thoum, Lebanon and Brisbane, Australia. Each a seven-member panel judged them “on their ability to of these projects is having an outsized impact on its capture the attention and imagination of a broad auregion and is spurring others to redefine their expec- dience and reassess assumptions about a future filled tations of the built environment. with high-tech, ecologically dislocated cities.”


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image © daniel + maximilian zielinski

first place: Reinterpretation of Paris Taking home top honors and a $75,000 cash prize was the team of Daniel and Maximilian Zielinski of the United Kingdom for their updated, ecologically inspired vision for Paris. Noting the team’s deep respect for place, the judges praised the Zielinski brothers’ skillful and thoughtful balance of all necessary components: engineering, infrastructure, landscape, beauty and human connectivity. Said the judges: “Daniel and Maximilian crafted an elegant interplay of design solutions with very realworld strategies. It achieved the end goal in a way that welcomed and incorporated the present, and instead of simply showing how the ‘natural world’ might colonize urban environments, it created fertile ground for people thriving in partnership with nature.” The Zielinskis, who both work for the global architectural firm, Foster + Partners of London, said they have long been interested in sustainable design, and they chose Paris, in part, because they knew they would be facing an inter-

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national jury. More importantly, Maximilian Zielinski says: “What we’re trying to prove is that not only emerging and developing cities can benefit from the Living Building Challenge but also existing and highly developed cities like Paris. It’s a great opportunity to develop our existing cities and make them role models for the new cities to come. Our goal is to improve the living standard and to create a beautiful and sustainable environment for coming generations. The Paris of the future will evolve with a real motivation to make it an ecologically sustainable city and because of that, it is in no danger of losing its appeal.” Since winning the competition, the Romanian-born brothers have been overwhelmed by the amount of attention they have received, appearing on TV and radio in online and offline newspapers and magazines, including the cover story for Forbes magazine Romania. Says Maximilian Zielinski: “We are looking forward to seeing some of our ideas implemented in the cities of tomorrow.”


second place: Bellingham: City Makes, City Lives A University of Washington team of graduate students captured second place and a $25,000 cash award for its entry “City Makes, City Lives,” centered in Bellingham, Washington. The jury was impressed with the strategic nature of the team’s approach to urban transformation. The jury couched this entry as a cleanly conceived approach that showed a deep cultural understanding of its place.

Potish says. “But we quickly discovered the best way to overcome this was through simply jumping into the problems wholeheartedly. We certainly learned a lot along the way.”

Team member Rob Potish explains the breadth and depth of knowledge required to put together a compelling entry was indeed a challenge. “The wide range of topics covered by the seven petals seemed daunting at first, especially when considered at the scale of a city,”

“We looked beyond technological fixes or systems design and considered new lifestyles, new spaces and new experiences that simultaneously enable and are the result of a Living city,” Potish says. “We will take this with us moving forward as designers.”

The team now is in the process of bringing the ideas to local PDAs and the city of Bellingham. While the proposal in its entirety suggests a massive change to the existing city, Potish says the team believes it is a stratThe students say the competition provided the perfect egy that can be implemented in a phased, meaningful forum for them to tackle meaningful issues and chal- way over time. lenge themselves, drawing inspiration from a wide variety of sources, from utopian manifestos to medieval As for the team, the competition forced them to queswalled towns to European patterns of urban develop- tion what it really means to live in a truly sustainable ment to the history of the city itself. urban environment.


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COMPETITION WINNERS FIRST PLACE: Team name: Maximilian Zielinski Project name: Reinterpretation of Paris Team members: Daniel Zielinski, Maximilian Zielinski

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AND LIVING BUILDING COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD: Team name: Alvarez & Sanchez Project name: Chamizal Connection (Mexico City) Team members: Maria Alvarez & Norma Sanchez

SECOND PLACE: Team name: Atelier G40 Project name: City Makes. City Lives. (Bellingham) Team members: Andrew Brown, Jonathan French, Robert Potish, Ryan Drake

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD: Team name: ZGF/PoSI Project name: Symbiotic Districts: Towards a Balanced City (Portland) Team members: ZGF Architects, Portland Sustainability Institute, CH2M Hill, David Evans and Associates, Greenworks PC, Newlands and Company, Inc., Portland State University, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and Sparling

CAN-DO AWARD: Team name: Team CDA Project name: Coeur d’Alene After the Reign Team leader: Luke Ivers THE IMAGES THAT PROVOKE AWARD: Team name: [gu] Project name: [gu] (Seattle) Team members: Gundula Prokosch, Joshua Brevoort, Lisa Chun, Mac Lanphere, Lauren McCunney, Cameron Hall

LIVING BUILDING COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD: Team name: The Miller Hull Partnership Project name: Fight for Your Right of Way (Seattle) Team members: Brian Court, Mark Johnson, Case Blum, Nicole Walter, Thomas Johnston, Mike Jobes, Sarah Bergman, Adam Amsel, Adam Loughry, Jeff Floor, Julie Parrett, Nate Corimer, Sian Roberts and David Miller

Team name: Röllerhaus Pictureworks & Design Co. Project name: Reclaiming Nature’s Metropolis: A LIVING BUILDING COMMUNITY CHOICE Living Building Language (Chicago) AWARD: Team members: Kevin Scott, Alex Jack, Team name: International Sustainability Institute Matthew Wagner, Carl Sterner, Trevor Dykstra Project name: Pioneer Square: Living Green+Blue (Seattle) THE CITIES THAT LEARN AWARD: Team members: Todd Vogel, Lesley Bain, Team name: Ashok B Lall Architects Ginger Daniel, Kevin Daniels, Katie Doyle, Pam Project name: Delhi (Re)Generates Emerson, Chris Ezzell, Ray Gastil, Brian Geller, Team members: Ashok Lall, Shruti Narayan, Brian Gerich, Jenny Hampton, Joe Lano, Susan Dr. Jaideep Chatterjee, Akshay Kaul, Chitranjan Jones, Anika McIntosh, Nancy Rottle, AJ Silva, Kaushik Liz Stenning, Stephanie Weeks Team name: OLIN Project name: PATCH\WORK PHILADELPHIA Team members: Richard Roark, Skip Graffam, Jen Toy, Jeff Goldstein, Scott Page, Leah Murphy

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from the judges for their powerful visuals. The jury noted that “these entries make the viewer feel Unconventional Prizes for an Unconventional physically transported into an imagined reality.” The Chicago team achieved this effect by “overlayCompetition As it was first conceived, The Living City Design Com- ing the prairie on the city,” while the Seattle project petition included an additional stand-alone prize of achieved what the jury termed: “Watershed: Re$25,000 to be awarded to the entry that best incorpo- claimed, City: Bubblewrapped“. rated historic preservation into its vision for the future. During the review process, however, the jury conclud- A Cities that Learn Award was given to Ashok B Lall ed that because all of the leading entries fully incorpo- Architects of New Dehli, India and Team OLIN of rated the historic character of their communities, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The “evolving blocks” exoriginal intent of the award was no longer warranted. plored in “Patchwork Philadelphia” and the “catalyzInstead, the jury awarded five teams $5,000 each in ing the emergence of healthy diversity” envisioned in New Dehli both demonstrated nuanced conceptions recognition of their unique contributions. of how the cultures and traditions developed in differEarning the Can-Do Award for its entry, “Coeur ent neighborhoods might interact. These entries acd’Alene After the Reign,” a student team from the knowledged cultural realities and explored how social University of Idaho was recognized for its ability to equity might lead to ecologically restored cities. demonstrate how a post-oil world might also include healthier, more supportive and more meaningful com- Four other submissions were selected by attendees at munity life. The jury summed up the theme of this en- Living Future ‘11 as the winners of the People’s Choice and Living Building Community choice awards. try as: “The Future’s Gonna be Fun.” “Chamizal Connection” by Alvarez and Sanchez was Two entries took the Images that Provoke Award: honored in both categories for its regeneration of an Team [GU] of Seattle and Rollerhaus Pictureworks urban zone in Mexico City. “Symbiotic Districts: To& Design Co. of Chicago each earned high marks wards a Balanced City” by Portland Ecodistricts was


Summer 2011

“The Living City Design Competition embodied the critical first steps needed if we are to redefine our urban ecosystems and their relationship with their natural environment.”

also selected as a People’s Choice award. “Fight for your Right of Way” by The Miller Hull Partnership and “Pioneer Square - Living Green and Blue” by International Sustainability Institute were also chosen as Living Building Community choice award winners.

The recently announced Living Aleutian Home Design Competition aims to inspire teams to bring the tenets and principles of the Living Building Challenge to Atka, an Aleutian Island community with a population of 61 people. This contest raises the bar for innovation, challenging teams to create a prototype JUST THE BEGINNING for affordable, sustainable residences in a rural comThe Living City Design Competition embodied the munity confronted with sky-high construction costs, critical first steps needed if we are to redefine our ur- an extreme climate and a pressing need for adopting ban ecosystems and their relationship with their nat- alternative fuel strategies. ural environment. The International Living Future Institute is dedicated to perpetuating this process, en- As Jason F. McLennan, the International Living couraging engagement on the local level and with de- Future Institute CEO notes, “We stand a chance of veloping a program to support education, outreach and battling the environmental threats we face and ensuring a future for our children and their children awareness on a much grander scale. that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically Functioning now as the umbrella organization for restorative.” Cascadia Green Building Council, the Living Building Challenge, The Natural Step Network USA and Ecotone Publishing, the Institute will promote an international vision for community-driven transgina binole has nearly 20 years in the communications business, first as a formation and help ensure the visions outlined in government, business and environmental the Living City Design Competition are not lost, journalist and now as a PR strategist. but evangelized and eventually executed and replicated across the globe. And of course, new challenges will be issued.

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FIRST PLACE Maximilian Zielinski | “Reinterpretation of Paris” | Daniel Zielinski, Maximilian Zielinski


Summer 2011

second PLACE Atelier G40 | City Makes. City Lives. | Andrew Brown, Jonathan French, Robert Potish, Ryan Drake

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can-do award Team CDA | Coeur d’Alene After the Reign | Luke Ivers

images that provoke award [gu] | [gu] (Seattle) | Gundula Prokosch, Joshua Brevoort, Lisa Chun, Mac Lanphere, Lauren McCunney, Cameron Hall


Summer 2011

images that provoke award RÜllerhaus Pictureworks & Design Co. | Reclaiming Nature’s Metropolis: A Living Building Language | Kevin Scott, Alex Jack, Matthew Wagner, Carl Sterner, Trevor Dykstra

the cities that learn award Ashok B Lall Architects | Delhi (Re)Generates | Ashok Lall, Shruti Narayan, Dr. Jaideep Chatterjee, Akshay Kaul, Chitranjan Kaushik

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THE CITIES THAT LEARN AWARD OLIN | PATCH\WORK PHILADELPHIA | Richard Roark, Skip Graffam, Jen Toy, Jeff Goldstein, Scott Page, Leah Murphy

PEOPLES CHOICE & LIVING BUILDING COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD Alvarez & Sanchez | Chamizal Connection | Maria Alvarez and Norma Sanchez


Summer 2011

PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD ZGF/PoSI | Symbiotic Districts: Towards a Balanced City | ZGF Architects, Portland Sustainability Institute, CH2M Hill, David Evans and Associates, Greenworks PC, Newlands and Company, Inc., Portland State University, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and Sparling

living building community choice award

living building community choice award

The Miller Hull Partnership | Fight for Your Right of Way | Brian Court, Mark Johnson, Case Blum, Nicole Walter, Thomas Johnston, Mike Jobes, Sarah Bergman, Adam Amsel, Adam Loughry, Jeff Floor, Julie Parrett, Nate Corimer, Sian Roberts and David Miller

International Sustainability Institute | Pioneer Square: Living Green+Blue | Todd Vogel, Lesley Bain, Ginger Daniel, Kevin Daniels, Katie Doyle, Pam Emerson, Chris Ezzell, Ray Gastil, Brian Geller, Brian Gerich, Jenny Hampton, Joe Lano, Susan Jones, Anika McIntosh, Nancy Rottle, AJ Silva, Liz Stenning, Stephanie Weeks

competition presented by:

At WSP Flack + Kurtz, our mission is to ensure that today's built environment preserves the natural environment in which we live.

DID YOU KNOW in partnership with:

Built Ecology is a specialty group that works exclusively with WSP F+K engineers to provide our clients with cutting edge, integrated, innovative, and deep green design solutions that link building systems and architecture. Built Ecology’s focus is on:

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new york

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san francisco

seattle boston washington dc www.wspfk.com


las vegas


Prehispanic Mexico-Tenochtitlan mural painting by Diego Rivera

by carolyn aguilar-dubose


Summer 2011

A Change Agent’s Perspective on Green Building in Mexico

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Facilitated workshop for MLBI, IBERO, Mexico City, March 2010

First Steps In November 2009, Jason McLennan, CEO of the International Living Future Institute, was invited to lecture at Universidad Iberoamericana Mexico City Campus (IBERO) as part of the Design of Sustainable Communities Diploma course. There he presented the Living Building Challenge and carried out a workshop with a group of forty students, comprised of professionals belonging to a wide variety of disciplines. The enthusiasm demonstrated by the students suggested the possibility of forming a Living Building Institute of Mexico (LBIM), to spread the seed of deep green design and construction. The Department of Architecture (DA) constituted a core team to plan an exploration workshop that would guarantee a plural and transparent participation from many sectors of the green building and design industry in Mexico, as well as a wide range of stakeholders interested in promoting a better built environment. The Mexican building industry is currently at the crossroads experienced by the USA over a decade ago. LEED速 as a certification method is just barely building


Summer 2011

momentum in Mexico, and the Living Building Challenge is a big stretch for developers looking for high profits. It will take some years for the market to be convinced that LEED速 is not enough. This challenge will require a forward thinking enterprise willing to sacrifice rate of return for demonstrative value. A government agency, a foundation, a large corporation, and a non-profit organization are key to this endeavor. The workshop was designed to offer seven facilitated dialogue tables, four of which addressed the Living Building Challenge 2.0 Petals, while the other three focused on organizational topics. The dialogue centered on the regional conditions in Mexico and how the Living Building Challenge certification method would be applicable in this context, as well as on the organizational challenges associated with the creation of a LBIM. Concerning the organization of the LBIM, an important aspect is the adaptation to Mexican conditions without losing the international touch. In a global world, quality is achieved by adjusting to high standards of developed countries with respect to legal

In a country where seventy percent the





are rapid

urbanization, equity and beauty become crucial but they are rarely discussed. They seem elusive topics that do not mix with the everyday






shelter or food. Jason McLennan at a workshop on the Living Building Challenge, IBERO, Mexico City, October 2010

procedures and compliance issues. The challenge is to build a process and not a static enterprise, to act as a change agent and not a certificate dispenser.

local conditions of a country not altogether in the same cultural, social, economic or geographic circumstances as the mostly anglo-saxon United States and Canada. For one thing, land use policies in Mexico are bound to In the framework of the findings of this exploratory ex- plans that do not always coincide with political decisions ercise, there is still considerable work that needs to be or the speed in which infrastructure is put into place. done before LBIM can be formally established. This exercise was a unique and historic event in the con- Historical centralization of the decision-making process text of the way things have usually been promoted and has burdened water basins outside Mexico City’s own propelled in Mexico. Initiatives usually begin in small supply, causing stress and overinvestment in hydraulic interest groups with personal benefits in mind and are infrastructure in an effort to maintain an inefficient and seldom addressed with the transparency and plurality obsolete system. It would be necessary to formalize rules with which this workshop was carried out. and standards that emulate the ecological performance of a watershed on the one hand, and an educational proIBERO has been recognized as a leader and convener gram to avoid wasteful behavior on the other. in the sustainability arena and is prepared to fulfill this role in its commitment to education, to the environ- In Mexico, one is allowed to generate energy but not sell it. Federal and local authorities have been resistant ment and to a higher order in building practices. to engaging in a modern approach to energy, stubbornExisting Realities ly defending a very dated government monopoly. Our Besides the intrinsic demanding requirements of the most viable source of renewable energy, solar, has yet Living Building Challenge methodology, one must con- to be harnessed and change will probably come from sider the extrinsic challenges of the adaptation to the the private sector. A key beginning for efficiency in

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energy use is bioclimatic design and this depends on student formation in the architecture studios at the undergraduate university level. Material toxicity is an area in the construction business not really considered a priority. Although it causes a strain in the healthcare sector, there is no incentive or regulation for product and process certification, or for research. Research is being carried out at IBERO on green materials to build momentum, but more financial resources need to be deployed.

The Aztecs built a city on an island and enlarged it through building artificial islands



homesteads, and ceremonial spaces, with intricate land and water causeways.

In a country where 70 percent of cities are the product of rapid urbanization, equity and beauty become crucial but they are rarely discussed. They seem elusive topics that do not mix with the everyday resolution of immediate concerns like shelter or food. Having said that, the building of “community” is perhaps more viable when the formation of a neighborhood implies a collective effort during a long period of time which, in turn, guarantees commitment to, responsibility with, and social pride in achievements however small.

They built dikes, sluices

There is a window of opportunity that must not be missed in understanding that a self-built neighborhood has greater potential for self-improvement, as its inhabitants have more knowledge of and respect for each other, and are more willing to sacrifice individual interests in favor of common aspirations. A self-built neighborhood is where you find mixed use, proximity to mass transit, higher densities, amenities, formative public space, and a sense of identity, which are all conditions that foster sustainability much more than in low-income housing projects provided by private or public developers.

ing”, and “challenge” when they are transported to a romance language like Spanish. Our first attempt at a title was “El Reto del Edificio Vivo”. Eden Brukman, of the International Living Future Institute, sensed the importance of this bridge between the anglo-saxon and latin ethos, and shared some thoughts about the “meaning” of these words in English, stating that in the English language the words living, building and challenge have the benefit of double meanings: “living”, meaning evolving, adapting, being; “building”, meaning creating, growing, constructing; “challenge”, meaning thought-provoking, stimulating, engaging.

Bridging The Gap Towards this ambitious endeavor, the Department of Architecture took a second step with the translation of the Living Building Challenge version 2.0 into Spanish, in order to bring this outstanding methodology closer to its target audience in Mexico and be accessible to the rest of Latin America as well.

and levees to control flood waters and to separate salt water from fresh water.

The answer to this “semantic challenge” was that, in Spanish, reto means a challenge, but also a commitment; edificio means a physical building, but also a social structure, a production, an invention, an institution, a foundation, an establishment, an elevation, an ennoblement; vivo means living, but also alive, enthusiastic, intense, smart, expressive, persuasive, fast, It is not easy to find the exact words to convey the bright, merry, ingenious, intense, strong, clear, real, same concepts of the English words “living”, “build- current, remembered, ever-lasting.


Summer 2011

Prehispanic Mexico-Tenochtitian mural painting by Diego Rivera illustrating the Aztecs’ use of artificial islands, dikes, sluices and levees.

Still trying to give the phrase a more substantive, musical and poetic meaning, and using the hidden semantic network of definitions, reto was substituted for desafìo, which means a difficult enterprise to be faced, a motivation to learn, an acceptance of a code of honor. The title of The Living Building Challenge version 2.0 in Spanish is El Desafío del Edificio Vivo, which also conveys a certain “sound”, a special “music” if you will, whether you say it out loud or you read it. You may now find the Living Building Challenge in Spanish at ilbi.org/countries/mexico The translation into Spanish was formally and personally delivered to Jason McLennan during his second visit to Mexico City in the framework of the Diploma course on Design of Sustainable Communities in October 2010. His visit was followed by the attendance of faculty members from IBERO at the Living Future unConference who presented the result of this workshop and IBERO’s commitment to the quest for a more sustainable world.

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This translation effort, the search for the right words in languages of different backgrounds and huge idiosyncratic differences was a lesson in itself. Both the English and Spanish languages are the product of a racial and cultural mixture, with divergent ethical codes, a difference in accent, emphasis and sound. Despite all this, there is common ground in the search for ideals and universal aspirations.

History Repeating Itself Mexico has had a long tradition of sustainability that has been ignored and is critical to bring to the fore. Our ancient prehispanic lore encompassed a great understanding of and care for nature. When the Spaniards arrived in 1521, they found a formidable, Amsterdam-like urban center, surrounded by great engineering feats within a systemic understanding of the watershed dynamics. The Aztecs built a city on an island and enlarged it through building artificial islands for cultivation, homesteads, and ceremonial spaces, with intricate land and water causeways. They built dikes, sluices and levees to control flood waters and to separate salt water from fresh water.


from La ciudad de Mexico en el Fin del Segundo Milenio by Gustavo garza Plan of Mexico City in 1628

They created floating gardens naturally anchored to the bottom of the lake by the root system of the endemic ahuejote trees (a type of willow) planted in the perimeter to protect seeds from being blown away by the wind. They used soil from the bottom of the lake to fertilize crops, an agricultural system that is used to this day.

Arcaded streets and squares would protect from the rain and the sun, fostering mixed use and mixed income. The inexorable uniformity of the grid would be countered by the use of local materials, conveying each city with its own identity.

The Spanish type building of Moorish influence, based on a central courtyard or “patio� was well suited to the hot and The European colonization effort attempted to adapt humid, hot and dry and temperate climates of the diverse to the climatic conditions of a very diverse geography regions of Mexico. The patio functions as a chimney shaft through the use of an efficient grid layout encouraged that creates a current of air and lowers the temperature by the Laws of Indies. The system adjusted to topogra- by convection. High ceilings, tall windows and doorways phy and climate considering bodies of water and pro- allowed cross-ventilation, sun penetration and outdoor views. Patios also allowed proximity to plants and nature. tection from north winds.


Summer 2011

Xochimilco floating gardens, Mexico City

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Courtesy of carolyn aguilar-dubose

Arcaded facade square, Mazatlรกn Port City, 2009

Courtesy of carolyn aguilar-dubose

Santo Domingo Convent, principal patio, 2010


Summer 2011

Courtesy of Gabriela Lee

Modern Mexico City viewing the volcanoes

In modern Mexico, some elements of the Living Building Challenge, namely Equity, Beauty, Health, Materials, Energy and Water, resonate with di-

IBERO continues to be the forerunner of the Living Building Challenge in Mexico and the main center of convergence of the interest in this methodology. The Department of Architecture at IBERO has the conceptual design for a new architecture studio for advanced students, with the intention of it being an example of good practices in and beyond the campus. Technical and financial resources are still needed to put this project in motion. More information on this project and IBERO’s commitment to sustainability can be found by contacting Carolyn Aguilar-Dubose at carolyn. aguilar@uia.mx

verse expressions of a Mexican historic legacy surpassing 700 years. It is time to honor this legacy.

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carolyn aguilar-dubose, architect, M.A. Urban Design, is the Dean of the Department of Architecture, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City and is a key leader in the efforts to formalize the Living Building Institute of Mexico.


by mona lemoine

What does the Nature’s Award look like? The greenest buildings on the planet. Seven petals. One award. One petal at a time.


Summer 2011

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In the spring of 2010 the International Living Future Institute (the Institute) issued a call for artists, as individuals or teams, to submit designs for the Living Building Challenge Certification Award for the Building and Renovation Typologies. Buildings, Renovations, Neighborhoods, Landscape and Infrastructure projects can seek either ‘Living’ status (full program certification) or “Petal Recognition” when projects satisfy the requirements of three or more Petals, provided that at least Water, Energy or Materials is included. This Award is to be presented to project teams that achieve the defined requirements of the Living Building Challenge (the Challenge).


Summer 2011

The Challenge is comprised of seven petals, each of which represents the essence of a performance area. Expressing the requisite features of beauty and inspiration while emulating natural forms, processes, and ecosystems, the Award needed to reflect the significance of the certification accomplishment. Beautiful, organic, non-toxic, and natural, the Award would help create awareness about the Challenge and serve as a visual symbol of its value and innovation. One of the difficult tasks that Award design teams faced was how to make this Award appear complete when reflecting Petal Recognition and still motivate people to continue performance improve-

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ments in order to achieve full certification under the Living Building Challenge. The Award design should also create awareness that the projects achieving certification are not only built using sustainable practices but also demonstrate a progressive and necessary movement, in thought and design, towards a future where all new construction is restorative. Krista Jahnke and Tom Ngo have been friends since 2002 when they started their undergraduate program at Carleton University’s School of Architecture in Ottawa, Ontario. They read about

the call for artists on the Institute’s website and thought it would be a challenging design project to work on together for the first time. While, the Institute received a number of compelling submissions, their entry immediately stood out – congratulations Krista Jahnke and Tom Ngo on your winning submission!

Artists’ Statement The artists felt the Award should act as a tangible celebration of notable achievement by the project teams that earned it, as well as being a source of

Living Building Challenge Certified projects also receive a certificate that features artwork by Richard Britz, an architect, artist and author living on Bainbridge Island. It is framed with FSCcertifed Madrone from a small forest owner in Oregon. The wood was milled by hand by Baer Charlton, a local artist who also assembled the paper-cut piece - mounted on iridescent raw silk to reflect the changing light throughout the day.


Summer 2011

The Original Proposal

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pride for the building’s inhabitants and members of the public. Incorporating an often overlooked design element -the door handle- as the basis for the Award, the winning design team made the Award a readily noticeable feature to the building entrance. The concept behind the Award design is that each person entering into a certified building is literally able to feel and personally able to experience the Award. The functionality of the Award is such that it becomes a tactile reminder of this notable accomplishment. It acts as a medallion that is easily identifiable and distinguishes itself as a sustainable-designed project.

Krista Jahnke is a multi-disciplinary designer and photographer based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2006, Jahnke graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree and in 2009, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Tom Ngo is an Intern Architect and mixedmedia artist based out of Toronto, Ontario. Ngo graduated from Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies in 2006 and he earned a Master’s degree in Architecture in 2008.


Summer 2011

The artists’ original design concept was refined and completed by Institute staff, Jason F. McLennan, CEO, and Eden Brukman, Vice-President, and Erin Gehle, Graphic Designer, in collaboration with Meyer Wells (www.meyerwells.com), a Seattle– based company that builds elemental furniture from reclaimed urban trees. Although the type of wood may vary depending on the location of the certified project, the final Awards fabricated for distribution in 2010 and 2011 were made from Seattle, WA urban salvage locust timber and finished with a red list compliant, non-toxic material. Each Petal that is achieved is inlayed in brushed stainless steel to complete the flower and allows for additional Petals to be earned over time. Each Award discreetly includes the Institute’s name and logo, as well as the year the project was certified and the title and version of the program. The form of the awards for the Neighborhood, Landscape and Infrastructure projects will be equally suitable and special. Let the beauty of nature inspire these designs. mona lemoine is the Director of Education and Training for the International Living Building Institute.

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b y kelle y beamer


Summer 2011

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When we use the word habitat, we usually think of an environment or specific conditions that allow an organism to grow and prosper. For a salmon it is a cold, clean, ocean-going river. For the northern spotted owl, it is the cool coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest.

how do we expand affordable home ownership while protecting our greater ecological systems? This relationship is now being forged in Central Oregon between Cascadia Green Building Council’s High Desert Branch and the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity (BAHFH). In realizing common goals encompassed The word habitat is also a Latin verb meaning “inhabits, in the word habitat, both organizations are uniting to or dwells in.” It is this definition that anchors the work of build simple, decent and affordable homes that are also Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization found- healthy, efficient and environmentally responsible. ed on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Like Founded in 1989, Bend Area Habitat for Humanity is any other species, humans thrive when provided a stable the only organization in Bend that provides home ownand healthy environment. Studies show that the stability ership opportunities for low-income families, thereby for children in an owned home produces measurable re- helping them to break the cycle of poverty. They are sults in higher math and reading scores, fewer behavioral offered a hand up not a hand out. Each partner family invests roughly 500 hours of “sweat equity” in building problems and higher rates of high school graduation. their homes or by serving Habitat in other ways. HabiThe ecological and anthropological underpinnings tat homeowners also must complete personal finance of the word habitat set the stage for a unique partner- and homeownership classes to prepare them for a lifeship between affordable housing advocates and green time of homeownership. When the home is complete, building professionals to address the crucial question: Habitat sells the home to the selected family using a


Summer 2011

from Cascadia to achieve the certification. Ground breaking is scheduled for early March. While building a single LEED home is a remarkable success, both Cascadia and BAHFH envision a longterm program that would allow every new Habitat home to be built to LEED standards. But they can’t do it alone. To explore the idea of creating a self-sustaining green building program, Cascadia and BAHFH 20-year, zero-percent interest mortgage. As mortgage co-hosted an eco-charrette in January. The organipayments come in they are used to build more homes. zations convened green building experts, public emTo date, Bend Area Habitat for Humanity has built 91 ployees, affordable housing advocates and designers homes using this model. in the banquet room of the Deschutes Brewing Company, where a panorama of windows showcased the Since 2006, BAHFH has been using green building beautiful Cascade Mountains. The charrette process techniques. All Bend Habitat homes are NW Energy let the regular BAHFH construction volunteers and Star certified and built to Earth Advantage Gold stan- green thinkers come together to exchange perspecdards. As a result, the homes are already 30 percent tives and even ponder each other’s points of view. At more efficient than homes built only to current build- the end of day, the fertile conversation and collaboraing code standards. Habitat homes are also using pho- tive thinking led to general buy-in to develop a green tovoltaic solar panels. In an area like Bend that rests building program that is sustainable and affordable on the eastern slopes of the Cascade range, sunshine is over the long term. abundant and is easily harnessed for natural light and heating. The energy efficient, environmentally respon- The potential of creating affordable new homes that sible choices also happen to be affordable. are also healthy and environmentally responsible creates a ripe opportunity. We at Cascadia can help by enFor people living on low incomes, energy costs repre- gaging our community of green building experts and sent a significantly higher proportion of household ex- volunteers to support the greening of affordable houspenses than for people with middle or higher incomes. ing projects around the country. Bend Area Habitat for Humanity has committed to addressing this issue by providing renewable energy Project organizers include: sources to their homeowners. • Mark Quinlan, Executive Director of Bend Area In addition to optimizing energy efficiency in its new Habitat for Humanity homes, BAHFH also wants to address sustainable site • John Weekley, BAHFH board member and selection, materials, water efficiency and other avenues Cascadia member for environmental stewardship. This is where Casca- • ML Vidas, charrette facilitator,  BAHFH board dia Green Building Council volunteers have stepped member and Cascadia board member onto the scene to help. Cascadia’s mission is to “lead a transformation of the built environment toward a kelley beamer is Cascadia Green future that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologiBuilding Council’s Oregon Advocacy cally restorative.” With support from local High Desert and Outreach Manager. She works with Branch volunteers, BAHFH is pursuing its first LEED the sustainability community in Oregon to create a positive environmental influhome. BAHFH secured a grant from the US Green ence through the built environment. Building Council and will use volunteer LEED APs

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Start the year off on the right path.

Become a Cascadia member! Stand with the bioregion’s leading green building thinkers and practioners. Make an investment in your green building community and join Cascadia today.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently... you can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things… Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. —Jack Kerouac

• 50% of membership dollars directly support your local branch* • Receive discounts on all Cascadia events, including Living Future • Earn up to 14 LEED CE hours, at no extra charge • 100% of your membership contribution is tax deductible in the US** *In the United States, Cascadia is a 501(c)(3) notfor-profit; membership fees qualify as charitable contributions. In Canada, Cascadia is pursuing charitable status. Consult with your tax professional to determine how you can benefit. **Branches will receive 50% of net revenue from all annually renewable memberships. Lifetime memberships are not included in this policy.


Summer 2011

Morel is proud to support Cascadia Green Building Council and all who are on the fore front of green building policy and action.

503 736 0111 • www.morelink.biz


Partner with us and… • Join a network of the most influential green building thinkers and practitioners • Announce yourself as an industry leader • Support locally relevant and globally inspired training, lectures, programs and standards

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sarah Costello via email at sarah.costello@living-future.org or by phone at 503.228.5533.

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b y april kn u dsen

A Living Aleutian Home Redefining Sustainability in the Land of Wind, Rain & Fire


Summer 2011

In a land marked by a harsh environment and skyhigh construction costs, a visionary group is re-imagining how homes are built. The Aleutian Housing Authority, in partnership with Cascadia Green Building Council and the International Living Future Institutesm, is sponsoring a new Living Building Challengesm design competition,

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calling for single-family home designs that are ultraefficient, environmentally sound and affordable. A $35,000 prize will go to the winners, who will also receive the satisfaction of seeing their work come to life; the Aleutian Housing Authority has committed to building a home based on the winning design and the winning team will have first right of refusal for a contract to serve as the project’s architect. But in truth there’s far more at stake: the design work of this competition could lay the groundwork for transforming how the Aleutian built environment is created, inhabited and maintained. “This competition is designed to demonstrate that we have what we need to thrive in partnership with the ecosystems we inhabit, whether we live in dense cites or remote communities,” says ILFI and Cascadia CEO Jason F. McLennan. “In the five years since the Living Building Challenge was

issued, project teams have proven that buildings can benefit their environments. Our new partnership with the Aleutian Housing Authority will push the green building community even further, daring designers to rethink everything about how buildings are designed, how materials are sourced and how people interact with the built environment.” The Aleutian and Pribilof Islands region of Alaska covers approximately 100,000 square miles extending westward from the end of the Alaska Peninsula. This area of Alaska is often called the “birthplace of the winds” – a 1,050-mile archipelago that is a treeless, windswept land of steep, high volcanoes, flower-strewn, moss-covered meadows and long, rocky beaches. Home to some of the world’s longest continuously occupied communities, the islands in the Aleutian

The Aleutian and Pribilof Islands region of Alaska covers approximately 100,000 square miles and is a treeless, windswept land of steep, high volcanoes, flower-strewn, moss-covered meadows and long, rocky beaches.

Kanaga Volcano from Adak Island


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Clockwise from top: Atka, Alaska; Russian Orthodox church in Atka; House to be replaced with Competition winner.

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Top: Bald eagles nest – on the ground – throughout the Aleutian Islands, using ridges and sea stacks. Bottom: Steller’s sea lions on Little Tanaga Island.


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competition opens

10.01.11 “Our new partnership with the Aleutian Housing Authority will push the green building community even further, daring designers to rethink everything about how buildings are designed, how materials are sourced and how people interact with the built environment.” — Jason F. McLennan

archipelago have been developed over the last 8,000 years by the Unangan people, named the Aleut by their Russian neighbors. The Unangan supported themselves with a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years, and while these activities are still part of daily life in the region, residents began a transition in the 20th century to taking jobs that provide cash income, including commercial fishing, health care, education, and tribal/ corporation management. The communities in this region are among the most remote in the United States, accessible only by air or boat. Currently, all of these communities produce electric power from diesel oil and space heat from heating oil – fuel that is shipped thousands of miles each year and stored in large tank farms. In recent years as concern for the region’s dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuels has grown, several communities have begun to partially replace fossil fuel sources with renewable sources like hydro and wind power.

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In April 2010 more than fifty representatives of the region’s communities, tribal organizations, civil servants and corporate entities convened the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Energy Summit in Anchorage. The Summit was pre-dated by the work of “The A-Team,” an informal committee that began meeting in 2009, that included representatives from Aleutian Pribilof Islands Community Development Association, the Aleut Corp., Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Eastern Aleutian Tribes, Aleutian Housing Authority and the Aleut Foundation. Key to the work at the two-day summit was a shared understanding that there is an urgent need for reform in the region’s dependency on fossil fuels. “Energy is more than the cost of electricity and gas. It’s intricately tied to Alaska’s various economies, and those economies are tied to the social health of communities and to the state,” noted Gene Therriault, senior policy advisor to Alaska Governor Par-


nell. Two explicit objectives came out of the summit – first, to develop a comprehensive energy policy and plan for the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Region for implementation no later than spring 2011, and second, to reduce fossil fuel use in the region by 85%. Dan Duame, Executive Director of the Aleutian Housing Authority (and part of the A-Team) understands the challenge of combining affordability with leading-edge green building technologies, and hopes the competition stimulates creative solutions in both areas. “The Housing Authority already builds homes to a high standard, but given the recent and rapid changes in building science, materials and technology, I am convinced we can do better in terms of costs and building performance,” he says. “I want to make a quantum leap forward in how we build homes in this region.” A conversation with former Cascadia Board member Lauri Strauss led Dan to Mark Masteller, Alaska State Director for Cascadia. “I asked Mark what he thought about a competition similar to the current Living City Design Competition, but focused on building one incredibly efficient home. We don’t have in-house architects or engineers, and commissioning home designs is expensive. Instead of going to one architecture firm and asking them to design a sustainable home suitable for the Aleutian region, why not ask lots of architects to work on the problem?” Mark brought McLennan, the creator of the Living Building Challenge, into the discussion. Soon after, the Living Aleutian Home Design Competition was born. The Aleutian Housing Authority has identified a home in the community of Atka that is rotted beyond repair and must be replaced. In keeping with the Living Building Challenge emphasis on building only on previously developed sites, the housing authority has selected this location for the first Living Aleutian Home. Atka is located on an island of the same name, 1,200 air miles southwest from Anchorage and roughly in the middle of the long Aleutian Island archipelago. A small, mostly Alaska Native population supports itself through sub-


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sistence living and halibut and black cod fishing. The community also boasts a seasonally operated fish processing plant. The proposed home designs must be cost-effective – and there is no doubt that combining the Living Building Challenge 2.0 framework with the need for affordability presents a significant design challenge. Currently, AHA spends between $350,000 and $430,000 to construct a 3-bedroom, 1200-square-foot home. (More detailed information regarding current home building costs from AHA, as well as competition details and timeline, maybe found at the competition website at www.competitions.living-future.org/AleutianDesign.) With this competition the Aleutian Housing Authority, Cascadia and the International Living Future Institute are planting a flag and challenging design teams to create twenty-first century Aleutian homes. Homes that do more than just provide shelter, homes that are creative, affordable, livable and – above all – responsive to the rich environmental, cultural and historical cues of the Aleutian region.

Aleutian Housing Authority is the Tribally Designated Housing Entity for 12 federally recognized tribes in 10 communities within the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands region. Since inception in July 1977, the housing authority has successfully developed 304 single-family homes, 65 low-rent units, and 17 fair market rentals. Aleutian Housing Authority continues to own, manage, and operate 258 housing units throughout the region.

APRIL KNUDSEN is Communications Project Coordinator and the Living Aleutian Home Design Competition Project Manager for the International Living Future Institute.

b y briana meier and jay kosa


take action Last winter, community transformation commenced in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley when a group of local practitioners converged to submit an entry for the Living City Design Competition. Since then, these Ambassadors of the Living Building Challenge have kept up a fast pace effort toward proving that the visions for the valley’s future laid out in their competition entry are within the community’s reach. After sparking intrigue with a well-attended public event that showcased the team’s competition design, the group moved promptly into a month-long series of lunchtime talks on how to bring the ideas of their designs to life. But they haven’t stopped at talking. Ambassador Tom Dishlevoy recently formed a Living Building Challenge Collaborative, a local group for enthusiasts to share insights and figure out how to put their ideas to work. Tom notes, “The process of re-designing our place on the planet has ignited a passion in everyone touched by the idea. And it all started with a simple notion: Understand the land where you live and shape your life accordingly.” The emerging Comox Valley initiative demonstrates how communities might leverage the Living Building Challenge into a visioning process that not only educates and inspires, but also moves swiftly toward on-the-ground implementation.


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Comox Valley Ambassadors join a growing global network that includes the San Francisco Bay Area Collaborative, one of the first to form when the International Living Future Institute Ambassador Network was launched in 2010. The group was founded by local industry leaders inspired by the way the collaboration of a couple of Living Building Challenge project teams in Seattle was helping all involved to overcome technical issues. The Bay Area Ambassadors realized that, while many firms were interested in applying the Living Building Challenge, no single organization possessed all of the expertise necessary to succeed. Since Summer 2010, the group has been meeting quarterly to foster a much needed—and well-received— knowledge sharing network. As in the Comox Valley, the Bay Area Ambassadors recognize that while inspiration and education are important, meaningful action is essential. Mary Davidge, one of the Collaborative’s founding members, explains, “The Collaborative strikes a balance between inspiring people to push on to do deeper green work, and finding ways to actually accomplish our visions. We recognize that we cannot succeed at this work alone. The Living Building Challenge is a real challenge, so continually motivating one another is necessary to move the agenda forward.”

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IMAGE © Tom Dishlevoy The work of the Comox Valley Living City Design Competition Team served as a foundation for the creation of the Living Building Challenge Collaborative.

Just north of the equator in Santiago de Cali, Colombia, architect Jose Mejia is hard at work motivating his peers to take on the Living Building Challenge. Jose explains that the Challenge is particularly important in Colombia because, “this nation has been affected tremendously by climate change, as unexpected flooding has displaced entire communities, and thousands of farms have been destroyed by heavy rains. It is a difficult and unprecedented scenario for us.” Jose’s work is jumpstarting the conversation about how building professionals can work together to implement new strategies, protect forests and adapt to a changing climate. In just a year’s time, Jose has introduced the restorative principles of the Challenge to hundreds of colleagues, students and government officials, sparking many


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important conversations about much needed industry change. Like the dandelion in the metaphor to which we often refer, Living Building Challenge projects help to prepare otherwise inhospitable ground, which allow for others to more readily emerge. Ambassadors in Missouri are helping to catalyze the transformation initiated by the Tyson Learning Living Center by teaching both present and future community leaders about the project. Patrick Ladendecker, an architectural designer with Hellmuth and Bicknese Architects, notes the importance of introducing young people to the principles applied in the project: “The elementary school tours are by far the most inspiring part of sharing the Living Learning Center’s story. The students are so engaged – the

ing a global audience about the need for fundamental change. We are already well on our way. Some Ambassadors are leading the design and construction of projects, while others are serving as trained volunteer presenters or facilitators to local Collaboratives. Still others are contributing by sharing inspiration and spreading the word about the Institute’s mission through their social networking. There are a myriad of opportunities for engagement, and no action is too big or too small. We have many more stories to share. Be sure to tell us your story of how you are acting as an Ambassador at http://bit.ly/lTAKZU, and encourage fellow Ambassadors in your community to get in touch with you by adding a “pin” to our World Map at http://bit.ly/mQUUeW. If you are a new Ambassador, head to the Take Action section of livingbuildingchallenge.org and explore ways to start making a difference today. © 2010 Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects Architect Dan Hellmuth leads a 5th grade class on a tour of the Tyson Living Learning Center.

complexity of their questions would surprise you. I’ve found that it’s the demand from students that drive changes in schools and universities. They understand the concept of sustainability, but showing them how it affects the built environment is the best way to create a lasting change.” The above are just a few accounts of ways extraordinary individuals are cultivating a movement with the power to reconcile the relationship between the built and natural environments. These Ambassadors form the core of a global network established in 2010 by the International Living Future Institute. This Ambassador Network seeks to foster the creation of Living Buildings, Sites and Communities in countries around the world while inspiring, educating and motivat-

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Those close to the green building movement know that environmental challenges often seem to grow more daunting by the day. The Ambassador Network reminds us that we are not striving for change in isolation. We flourish collectively when we support each other, and when we innovate, teach, learn, persevere and celebrate together.

briana meier is the Community Manager for the International Living Future Institute. She supports the Living Building Challenge program, as well as the ILFI Ambassador Network.

jay kosa is the Community Coordinator for the International Living Future Institute. He supports the Living Building Challenge program, as well as the ILFI Ambassador Network.


b y sarah costello

Coming Into Our Own

We made a major announcement this April. The International Living Building Institute, launched in 2009 to support and promote the Living Building Challenge™ on an international stage, has been renamed the International Living Future Institute and is now the umbrella organization for the Cascadia Green Building Council, the Natural Step Network USA and Ecotone Publishing. This change has been a long time in coming, and makes official the evolution we have been undergoing since we were first established, over a decade ago.

projects. In little more than ten years, the movement had gone from systematizing the steps needed to improve building performance to demonstrating that buildings can capture all of their own energy and water, be composed of non-toxic, sustainably sourced materials, and be beautiful and inspiring to the people who encounter them. We still have a long way to go, but it is worth pausing every now and then to acknowledge that we have travelled a great distance in a short period of time.

Over these years we also clarified our own role within A working board of green building pioneers founded the movement we serve. As green building and sustainCascadia in 1999, the year that saw the emergence of the ability moved from the margins into the mainstream first LEED pilot projects. From the start, we dedicated (see “The Third Age of Green Building” Trim Tab, ourselves to pushing the green building movement us- Summer 2010), the quantity of raw data and impasing every available tool. Last year, as we began to explore sioned opinions about sustainability and the built enour next steps as an organization, we celebrated the cer- vironment ballooned. The developments predicted by tification of the world’s first Living Building Challenge E. O. Wilson, in his 1998 book, Consilience, proved to


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be dead on. “Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in cost. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens.” But as Wilson observed, facts in and of themselves have little meaning. “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” Our role from 1999 to the present has been to provide the resources, incentives and tools for exactly this kind of synthesis. Over the past decade, we have consistently served as a convener and gadfly, bringing the building professionals, policy makers and others together to share their insights and pushing them to develop concrete strategies for advancing the built environment. By 2006, when we launched the Living Building Challenge, it was clear that green building practitioners already possessed the knowledge and skills needed to transform the built environment. The Challenge’s core innovation was bringing all of these elements into one program and then daring the building industry to embark on the difficult process of drawing the best thinking together to create a solution that is both deeply innovative and grounded in the history and ecology of each specific site. We did not set out a prescriptive path for how the Challenge would be met, instead we defined a clear end goal and encouraged teams to develop the strategies that made sense for each community. The fearless project teams who committed themselves to our Challenge have emerged as world-class synthesizers, people whose approach to the environmental leadership had been fundamentally changed

ECOtone publishing company

As the Living Building Challenge took hold, we moved to simultaneously deepen our place-based efforts within the region and to expand the Challenge’s reach on a global stage. By launching the International Living Building Institute, we opened up new opportunities for people outside of our region to engage in the critical thinking process required to transform the built environment. Our Ambassador program quickly gained

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steam and we developed partnerships with far-flung communities that saw in the Challenge a powerful framework for conceptualizing and addressing critical social, economic and cultural problems. In 2010, when the Natural Step Network USA came to us to begin exploring a partnership, we saw an opportunity to expand our scope and incorporate a complimentary framework for transformation. As with the Living Building Challenge, the Natural Step does not prescribe cookie-cutter strategies for sustainability. Instead, it offers a structure for “making important choices wisely.” With the additional acquisition of Ecotone Publishing, which deepens our ability to share the innovations and accomplishments of our community, we needed to create a new structure that would allow us to truly come into our own as an environmental NGO dedicated to spurring leadership. “The International Living Future Institute is best understood as a hub for visionary programming,” said CEO Jason F. McLennan, who announced the changes during his plenary speech at the Living Future ’11 conference. “As our pioneering Living Building Challenge project teams have discovered – ‘green buildings’ don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of a web of influences moving from the materials we build with, to the structures we create and maintain, and on to the communities we inhabit. The International Living Future Institute promotes and cultivates solutions that reach across these scales even as it addresses individual behavior and organizational culture. The new institute formalizes our evolution in recent years and positions us to address many of the issues that will define this decade.“ On a day-to-day basis, we will continue serving the role we’ve developed over the past decade. The Institute will integrate multi-faceted research, education and advocacy efforts to advance its core programs: The Cascadia Green Building Council remains a strong chapter of both the United States and Canada Green Building Councils, and maintains its network of 14 branches in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon and its promotion of LEED


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and other GBC programs. It is an advocate for progressive green building laws, regulations and incentives. Cascadia will translate the Institute’s focus on globalscale transformation to the cities and communities of the Cascadia bioregion. Living Building Challenge, as a performance-based standard, will continue to address development at all scales — from landscape and infrastructure to renovations, new construction and neighborhoodscale development. The first three projects were certified in 2010 and there are nearly 100 potential Living Buildings in the design, construction or evaluation phase worldwide. The Natural Step Network USA provides the framework for transformation. It helps organizations and communities take steps toward sustainable business practices through education and collaboration. It remains an affiliate of The Natural Step International. Ecotone Publishing is the first publisher to focus solely on green architecture and design. As the outreach and communication arm of the Institute, it will publish books, manage content creation and distribution of Trim Tab, and assemble Living Building case studies. In a 2010 keynote address, McLennan remarked that we have entered the last decade we have in which to avert the worst effects of climate change. “The Institute takes this urgency seriously,” he commented. “If we are truly in a critical moment for action, we have to take the principles that have informed the Living Building Challenge and apply them aggressively to aspects of the built environment and to the humans and organizations that shape it. The Institute’s prime directive is to do just that.” sarah costello is the Development

Director of the International Living Future Institute.


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b y pa u l werder


How to Get it Right

In order to truly make positive environmental change we all know at some level we can’t get it done ourselves. Not only do we need one another every time we sit down at the table to change the world, we need more tables of great people devoting themselves to sustainability. Genuine collaboration with an expanding movement of committed leaders is our only hope. The problem occurs when we bring the worst out of one another as we attempt to work together. This only occurs when we forget to work from our hearts, which wastes precious time and isn’t the best invitation to others who are thinking about joining the table. There are two methodologies that work really well for effective collaboration, much better in fact than the familiar “forming, storming, norming, performing” model that we’ve all heard of.


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The first methodology, Appreciative Inquiry, comes from the founder of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value, David L. Cooperrider and his colleague Frank Barrett.1 It is a simple and elegant approach to problem solving that builds on the idea of focusing on what’s going right.2 If you want to bring the best out of people, Appreciative Inquiry is a very wise approach because we all want to be noticed for our best character traits and contributions. Innate to the human heart is the longing to be connected with one another; we all have the longing to feel loved. Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath have been demonstrating the truth of what spiritual mystics have been 1. weatherhead.case.edu/centers/fowler 2. For those who want to put this idea to work, visit our toolbox that includes a specific set of steps at lionhrt.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/ LionHeart-web-2011-Appreciative-Problem-Solving-white-paper.pdf

telling us forever: we are hardwired for collaboration. You can explore this research at www.heartmath.org. It’s just the way we are built and meant to be with one another. So why not look at and listen to our colleagues that way all of the time instead of most of the time? Great question! We forget to see the beauty in one another because we forget to see the beauty in ourselves. A wise man once said, “When we open our mouths to describe something, our words say more about who we are in that moment than what we are describing.” In other words, when it comes right down to it, I am what I judge. In the moment I look at your performance and say you are “uncommitted,” I am being uncommitted to bringing the best out of myself and the best out of you. My judgment may be partially or completely accurate at a superficial level, but it’s not the whole story and the judgment puts up a wall between us, instead of a bridge.

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We all know that on some level, we are our own harshest critics. In practical terms this means that when we are not at peace within ourselves, we cannot be at peace with the perceived shortcomings of others. This leaves us unable to bring the best out of ourselves and others. Why does this happen? Well, that’s a long story. Fortunately, a brief understanding will suffice. We all got cut from the baseball team, or left out of a party, or fired from a job, or “whatever” many times in our lives. Our hearts have been “broken” by moments of life we did not welcome or know how to handle. Without the ability to deal with these moments, we just carried on with those hurts to the best of our ability. I have noticed that even the most successful among us haven’t completely resolved all of our past painful moments completely. So when I say you are uncommitted, there’s a part of me that’s not at peace inside with some-


thing to do with my own commitment – otherwise I could speak with you effectively about what happened, as opposed to getting judgmental.

My addition to Scott Peck’s work was focused on what we empty and how we empty it. In short, many of the personal hurts that interfere with group dynamics are lifelong phenomena that seem to be bigger than us and The good news is that we do not need therapy to deal beyond our ability to release. The good news is that we with our “broken” hearts because we’re not really bro- do not need to go back and dredge up all of the times ken at all. We are simply feeling hurt and being forget- we got our hearts broken. Yuk! ful of who we really are. Therapy is not required. All we have to do is identify But we do need another group dynamics model to col- how our upsets with others appear to us as problems laborate most effectively when our hurts and forget- that leave us with a (belief in a) compromised future. fulness impede our ability to appreciate one another. You know, something like, “He’s not committed, so it’s This second methodology was pioneered by Scott all up to me.” Then we can cross examine the truth of Peck when he offered a community building model in that statement and discover that statement is not true The Different Drum in 1983. I built upon his work with at all. It’s a self-imposed prison sentence that we have Building Unity in 2007.3 the key to free ourselves from when we declare, “I’m not buying into ‘it’s all up to me’ so my heart must have Again, there is simple elegance to this work. Group dy- a better answer than that.” Sometimes that does the namics occur in four phases. We begin in Pseudocom- trick and we find a better way to address the perception munity, where we withhold our upsets and pretend we of low commitment and we work through the problem have no differences. It’s being superficially friendly without compromising anything. when inside we are not really in harmony with one another. The second stage is Chaos where our differences Other times we need to dig deeper into our hearts are out in the open and we are blaming and judging one with the practice of remembrance. This is a specific another as adversaries. When this type of fighting oc- approach to mindfulness or meditation that calls in curs it is so unpalatable that we often scurry back to spiritual energy to wash away what’s troubling us. My Pseudocommunity. The fourth phase is Unity where experience is that the practice of remembrance is the we can “fight gracefully” and honor our differences as most powerful tool that allows us to genuinely bring we become a group of all leaders working together for the best out of ourselves and others. But please do not the common good. It is the experience of “flow” when believe me; you will have to do your own experiment the team is just rocking and having fun doing what no to see if my “field research” is relevant to you. So if you one thought could be done. are interested, here’s our step by step set of instructions to explore a new and empowering approach to both What about phase three? That’s the tough part, but leadership and collaboration: lionhrt.com/wp/wpit’s the transformational active ingredient. We call it content/uploads/2011/02/LionHeart-web-2011-TheEmptying because it requires a high degree of self- Remembrance-white-paper.pdf. Let me know what responsibility as we acknowledge and let go of our you discover! own contributions to this particular conflict or upset. To break out of Chaos we must own up to our own judgments and attitudes that inhibit harmonious and Paul Werder , CEO of LionHeart Conunified group dynamics and let them go – until we get sulting Inc, is the author of Mastering back to a state where we can appreciate one another Effectiveness. You can reach him at beyond our differences. paulw@lionhrt.com. 3. lionhrt.com/product-offerings/building-unity-the-book


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Steel + Wood It doesn’t get any


Photos Nic Lehoux

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Building a Greener Northwest Using Structural Steel To learn more about gaining the benefits of using sustainable structural steel on your next project contact our Northwest Regional Office at 206.226.7551 or email allbritton@aisc.org.



There’s always a solution in steel. trim tab



b y jason twill


Ecological Intelligence The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy By Dan Goleman Broadway Books, New York, 2009

Danger! Poison! Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May be fatal or cause blindness if swallowed. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant. Read carefully warnings on back and side of package.”

purchasing this product, but what about the millions of other products that aren’t labeled at all in this fashion? Think of all the merchandise you see today as you walk up and down the supermarket isle touting “green” or “earth friendly.” Are these products really sustainable or are there adverse impacts that we’re not being made aware of?

How often are we actually cognizant of the environmental, health and social consequences of the products we buy? More importantly, what information can be made available to establish this level of awareness? In his latest book, Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change So reads the warning label on a common canister of Everything, psychologist Daniel Goleman not only paint remover found at virtually any hardware store addresses these questions, but offers us a glimpse of in world. While I appreciate the notion that the man- how information technology may very soon offer a ufacturer is trying to save my life by placing a label pathway to dramatically alter our everyday purchaslike this on their product, it begs the question of why ing decisions. something so harmful is allowed to be made in the first place. Is it really worth potentially losing your eyesight, Regardless of how environmentally conscious you are, let alone your life, to remove some old paint? A label its still fairly difficult to be an ethical shopper these such as this might dissuade the average person from days. In the past decade, with the increased popular-


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ity of green building rating systems, the organic food movement and general eco-product labeling, people are slowly beginning to move beyond the basic decision criteria of cost and quality to a myriad of other considerations. Does it contain harmful chemicals? Is it organic? Is it cruelty-free? Was it locally made or harvested? Is it ethically traded? For most products, finding the answer to these questions isn’t as simple as reading the label on the package. Unless you put complete faith in a company’s marketing material, additional research into the true environmental and social merits of a product are warranted – but who has time for that? With technical guidance provided by Harvard-based industrial ecologist Gregory Norris, Goleman delves into the field of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) arguing that the only way we can really know the true impact of – say a TV or a refrigerator – is by assessing it over the full course of its lifespan, from raw material extraction, to the manufacturing and disposal process. He describes the enormous amount of data that isn’t currently disclosed to consumers about a products full embodied energy and environmental impacts. Even for something as mundane as a glass jar, the amount of data is astounding. Goleman is a proponent of the idea that only through further promotion and adoption of LCA’s in the materials economy will we fully begin to “understand an item’s adverse consequences in three interlocking realms” – those of the geosphere (soil, air, water, climate), the biosphere (our bodies and those of other species) and the sociosphere (the conditions of workers). The book also addresses the glut of green products now on the shelves and how many corporations are merely “cashing in” on the green movement and resting their laurels on a single planet friendly attribute that may be included in their product. Goleman calls this new suite of sustainable products the “green mirage” and takes on the rampant green washing issue by telling the story of a t-shirt he purchased that extolled on its label “100% Organic Cotton: It Makes a World of Difference.” What this proud t-shirt maker

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The book addresses the glut of green products now on the shelves and how many corporations are merely “cashing in” on the green movement and resting their laurels on a single planet friendly attribute that may be included in their product.


didn’t convey was that it took almost 720 gallons of water to grow the cotton for that one shirt. That the cotton was dyed dark blue through a process that included the use of chromium, chlorine and formaldehyde, three toxic chemicals in there own right. Furthermore, since cotton doesn’t readily absorb dye, there is a significant amount of contaminated wastewater run-off which is harming the entire eco-system surrounding the factory where it was made and also harming the workers themselves. The fact that all these “negative externalities” are not made known to purchasers (for something as simple as a t-shirt mind you!) points to the more systemic issue in our economy of “information asymmetry,” a term coined by economist Joseph Stiglitz, to describe the deep inequality between companies and consumers in terms of key access to information. This lack of transparency and regulation is exactly how the majority of corporations like to see the industry. Most will provide just enough information to legally sell their products, but certainly not enough to enable purchasers to know the full impacts of their purchasing decisions. Nor are they required to do so. Stiglitz stated that “wherever externalities or imperfect information existed markets wouldn’t work well” and by doing so he was essentially slapping down the “invisible hand” theory of neoclassical economist Adam Smith. Stiglitz won a Nobel prize in 2001 for his work in this area, yet we have only seen little, if any, economic regulatory changes since the time he first proposed this theory. According to Goleman, however, the major power shift we need in the global economy, from corporations to consumers, may be just around the corner. At the heart of Goleman’s book is the notion that we are entering into an era of “radical transparency” where the power of information will be placed squarely into the hands of shoppers just prior to the point-of-sale. Imagine if, with the tap of a finger on your smart phone, you could know, with the precision of an industrial ecologist, the hidden impacts of everything you buy? Goleman cites the examples of companies like GoodGuide Inc. (www.goodguide.com) and the En-


Summer 2011

Imagine if, with the tap of a finger on your smart phone, you could know, with the precision of an industrial ecologist, the hidden impacts of everything you buy. vironmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), that are working to make this a reality. Founded by U.C. Berkeley professor Dara O’Rourke, GoodGuide provides shoppers with an online database of thousands of commonly used products that have been rated based on their health, environmental and social impacts. They even have a smart phone app so shoppers can scan the barcodes of their favorite items while in the store and instantly see how they stack up. The Environmental Working Group created a similar website for the cosmetics and body products industry called Skin Deep (www.ewg.org/skindeep). Empowered with this level of information, Goleman sees the emergence of something he describes as “collective ecological intelligence” among shoppers, who, through increased ethical purchasing, will begin to shift markets and transform entire industries for the better. In an age where we have the ability to blog, Tweet or use Facebook to post detrimental information about a companies product or policies and potentially reach millions of people in a manner of seconds, I believe Mr. Goleman may just be on to something here. I say tweet away! Jason Twill manages sustainability initiatives for Vulcan Inc. in Seattle, Washington and currently serves on the board of the International Living Future Institute.



in-house workshops Designed for your needs, delivered to your office.

understanding the living building challenge


This 6-hour workshop provides an in-depth introduction to the program, and also includes discussion of contextual information such as development patterns and density, and regulatory, financial, behavioral and technological barriers and incentives. Learning Objectives:

• • • •

Identify the key components of the Living Building Challenge

Describe the Living Building Challenge Community resources and certification process

Discuss the rationale for restorative design principles Understand successful strategies for compliance with each performance area Recognize financial, regulatory and behavioral barriers and incentives related to high performance design

Understanding the Living Building Challenge is approved for 6 AIA Learning Units and 6 GBCI Continuing Education Hours

For inquiries on pricing, further details and to schedule an In-House workshop, contact education@living-future.org. View other educational offerings online at www.ilbi.org/education.


Summer 2011



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The Essential Role of Women in a Restorative Future TR A NSFORM ATION A L DE SIGN

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From Concept to Certification TR A NSFORM ATION A L ACTION

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The Tooth of the Lion: Beauty, Logic and the ILBI Logo


Removing the Roadblocks to Material Reuse The Path to Net Zero: Oregon’s Story How Do We Love More? is s u e 0 0 8 c a s c a d i ag b c . o r g

Leaping Ahead Without Leaving Others Behind Book Review: Half the Sky


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Moving Upstream The Challenge

HPA – Worlds Greenest K-12 School Building

This film by our friends at FILMTHROPIC reminds us - again - on how dire change really is in making

The Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab recently

our planet socially just, culturally rich and ecologically

met all of the Imperatives of the Living Building Challenge


version 1.3 making it Hawaii’s first Living Building. If an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean can do it then so

FSC vs. SFI – The Battle Heats Up The good news is - the advocacy group ForestEthics

can you!

Regulatory Pathways to Net Zero Water

recently announced that seven major companies, including Allstate Insurance and Office Depot, would

Intended for projects pursing net zero water strategies,

stop using SFI-certified paper products.

this report describes obstacles present within current codes, identifies possible alternative pathways for seeking

Educational Sprawl

approvals, and provides guidance to Seattle-area design teams pursuing the goals of the Living Building Challenge.

The Jasper Sustainability Club for Youth designed this presentation to be presented at the Living Future unConference in Vancouver in April of 2011. “The

making progress?

term Educational Sprawl relates to our contention that unsustainable (sprawled) communities are a result of the traditional school system.” Watch part one and part two.


Summer 2011

Do you have a lead on cutting-edge green building progress in the region? Contact joanna-gangi@living-future.org and put “Moving Upstream News Lead” in the subject line.

Customized support for


Designed for your needs, delivered to your office.


The Early Bird Gets The Worm.


Measure Twice, Cut Once.

WHAT IS IT? Customized training is available as an optional service for organizations and project teams to ensure that everyone has a shared fundamental understanding of the Living Building Challenge or particular Petal area. HOW DOES IT WORK? Whether there is a specific area of interest or a desire for a private presentation of an established curriculum, the Institute can bring the education to you. The most common workshop requested is a full-day introduction to Living Building Challenge that also includes discussion of contextual information such as development patterns and density, and regulatory, financial, behavioral and technological barriers and incentives.

WHAT IS IT? To steer teams toward innovative yet feasible solutions for their Living Building Challenge projects, the Institute offers an optional service to lead the kick-off meeting or “charrette” and help define fundamental, strategic goals. HOW DOES IT WORK? The charrette should take place at the beginning of a project when the potential to explore is at its fullest. The one-day meeting format focuses on fostering an interactive dialogue that allows participants to consider each area of impact. The two- or three-day format allows time for a deeper examination of promising ideas. The Institute designs the agenda, facilitates the session, and provides a follow-up summary.

WHAT IS IT? This optional service is intended to improve a project’s potential to comply with the Living Building Challenge requirements at a point in the design process where adjustments are still possible. HOW DOES IT WORK? The Institute spends a day with the team to learn how the project accounts for each Imperative of the Living Building Challenge (an option for a virtual meeting is also available). Following a review of the project documents, we will issue a report outlining our guidance for the team to improve their ability to succeed. It is possible to receive feedback on the Imperatives within a single Petal, select Petals, or all seven Petals of the Living Building Challenge.

HOW DO I GET STARTED? For more information on fees and scheduling, email: certification@livingbuildingchallenge.org

Living Building ChallengeSM is a philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program that addresses development at all scales. It is comprised of seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. At the International Living Future Institute, we believe that a compelling vision is a fundamental retirement of reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world.


Event Calendar

july – September 2011


Workshops, lectures + other opportunities throughout the Cascadia bioregion and beyond.


Events And Workshops Presented By Or In Partnership With The International Living Future Institute Building Green with LEED: LEED Canada for New Construction

Vancouver, BC – 07/11 through 07/15 Understanding the Living Building Challenge

Portland, OR – 07/13 The Living Building: Tacoma’s Next Challenge

Tacoma, WA – 07/20 Respecting the Principles of Sustainability: The Natural Step Framework

Webinar – 07/21


Transformational Lecture Series: Yancy Wright

Eugene, OR – 09/06; Bend, OR – 09/07; Klamath Falls, OR – 09/08 Transformational Lecture Series: Kathleen O’Brien

Bellevue, WA – 09/06; Kelowna, BC – 09/07; Nelson, BC – 09/08 Hidden Assets in Plain Sight for Sustainability: The Natural Step

Webinar – 09/15 Understanding the Living Building Challenge

Chicago, IL – 09/20 Transformational Lecture Series: Stephen Kellert

Webinar – 08/09

Portland, OR – 09/20; Seattle, WA – 09/21; Vancouver, BC – 09/22

Understanding the Living Building Challenge

Other Events

Introduction to the Natural Step Framework

Atlanta, GA – 08/25 Energy, Innovation and the Future of Design Understanding the Living Building Challenge

Seattle, WA – 07/13

San Francisco, CA – 08/30 Northwest EcoBuilding Guild 10x10x10 O+M 251: UNDERSTANDING THE EXISTING BUILDING

Kenmore, WA – 09/10


Portland, OR - 08/16 through 08/18



Portland, OR - 08/16 through 08/18

For complete details, please visit www.cascadiagbc.org/calendar

fwd: read this! The Jasper Kids Rock Out One of the many special moments from Living Future 11. The Jasper Sustainability Club kicks off its 15 Minutes of Brilliance with a cover of Arcade Fire’s Sprawl II.


A 3x3x3 meter Eco-home Check out this little video about this little home. Dr. Page’s design that is modern, comfortable, and has minimum impact on the environment.


The Ban on the Yellow Pages – Finally! San Francisco, Seattle and cities across the nation are beginning to ban the distribution of the Yellow Pages, otherwise known as a tree of a phone book. San Francisco receives almost 1.6 million Yellow Pages phone books annually, which creates nearly 7 million pounds of waste annually. Seattleites, you can put your name on the opt out list as well.


What you don’t know about green tech - but should North America does not have to import any oil: we made an active choice to import oil and that decision costs us billions annually. It’s true, and it is one of six green facts that few people know.


Architecture for Humanity Founder Cameron Sinclair Becomes Advisor to President Obama The committee will help the present administration deal with the decisions and interactions surrounding aid given by the US government to private organizations providing assistance to people in need around the world.


FWD: READ THIS! If you have something that should be included here please send it to us at trimtab@cascadiagbc.org.

Are you of the opinion that community action picks up where rhetoric leaves off? Are you someone who leverages common ground to inspire innovative solutions? Are you a steadfast steward of the natural environment and its resources? Are you tired of waiting for a living future? Are you an Ambassador?

we are all Ambassadors. The International Living Future Institute Ambassador Network supports a variety of opportunities for individuals to engage with the Living Building Challenge: •

Join or form a Collaborative, a community-based group of Living Building Challenge enthusiasts who share knowledge and enrich human habitat.

Introduce the Living Building Challenge to new audiences as a trained volunteer presenter.

Share ideas, art and imagination – essential contributions that are as much a part of transforming the built environment as brick and mortar – across multiple online platforms and in-person with other local advocates.

Ambassadors, play a critical role in inspiring, educating and motivating action within our communities. Thank you for doing your part. To take action through the Ambassador Network, visit www.ilbi.org/action/network where you can place yourself on the Ambassador world map. Connect via the Living Building Challenge Facebook page.

For more information, visit competitions.living-future.org.

CASCADIA-IN-THE-HOUSE Living Breathing Buildings

Green Building Education Designed for Your Needs, Delivered at Your Office


Is your organization looking for customized green building education? Check out Cascadia’s menu of targeted educational topics. We’ll bring expert practitioners right to your office and get you and your colleagues caught up with the tools and know-how you’ll need to create Living Breathing Buildings . SM

SAMPLE TOPICS OF COURSES AVAILABLE INCLUDE: • Living Building Challenge Roadshow • Site Design • Energy • Materials • Water • Business • LEED • Process Please contact us at info@cascadiagbc.org for inquires on pricing and further information, or pick up a copy of our program guide. Let us know if there are other topics you are interested in and we may be able to help!


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Trim Tab V.10 - Summer 2011  

The International Living Future Institute's Magazine for Transformational People + Design

Trim Tab V.10 - Summer 2011  

The International Living Future Institute's Magazine for Transformational People + Design

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