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A Revolutionary Reordering of Society Anticipating Our Heavy-Near, Light-Far Future TR A NSFORM ATION A L DE SIGN

THE JUNE KEY DELTA HOUSE: Vital to the Neighborhood’s Livable Future TR A NSFORM ATION A L ACTION


Take Action


Kathleen O’brien

i s sue 011 L I V ING -F U T URE .org

FALL 2011

TRANSF O R M A T IO N A L T H OU G H T Editor in Chief

Jason F. McLennan

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

Michael D. Berrisford

senior Editor

Sarah Costello

M a n aging Editor

Joanna Gangi

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

CopY editor


Erin Gehle Katy Garlington

A dv er t i sing

Joanna Gangi

Jules Bailey, Gina Binole, Ralph DiNola, Jay Kosa, Jason F. McLennan, Briana Meier, Cynthia Moffitt, Patti Southard, Edward Wolf

For editorial inquiries, freelance or photography submissions and advertising, contact Joanna Gangi at Back issues or reprints, contact FALL 2 011, I s s u e 11

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. All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission and is for informational purposes only.


Fall 2011

T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L D E S I G N By gina binole

T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L a c tion b y b riana meier & jay kosa

04 36

Departments 04


Ultra-Sustainable Community Center Key to Neighborhood’s Livable Future By gina binole

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The Aging of the Green Movement TR ANSFORMATIONAL PEOPLE:

Kathleen O’Brien By patti southard



A Revolutionary Reordering of Society By jason f. mclennan



Ambassadors Take Action b y briana meier and jay kosa

contents FA L L 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 patti southard

Features 42

Unleashing the Power of Community


Existing Buildings, The Road Ahead


Cascadia’s Seismic Certainty: Putting Earthquake Safety on the Green Schools Agenda

b y c y nthia moffitt


T R A N S F O R M AT I O N A L thought b y jason f. m c lennan

Nuts & Bolts 74

Moving Upstream: Progress in the


Event Calendar


FWD: Read This!

Bioregion and Beyond!

b y ralph dinola

b y ed ward w olf and jules b aile y


b y gina binole


Fall 2011

T ransformational D E S I GN

Ultra-Sustainable Community Center Key to Neighborhood’s Livable Future: 20-plus years in the making, the June Key Delta Center was made possible by the people, and for the people

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tention of creating a gathering place for community involvement and enrichment. The sorority is comprised of 250 college-educated women committed to public service. Members come from a variety of professions and include teachers, lawyers, administrators, accountants, entrepreneurs, nurses, social workers and engiThe Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s neers. The organization focuses on public service and most rigorous performance standard, was first launched building community projects for the public good. in 2006 as an enhanced way to ensure projects embody and evangelize both environmental and social equity In keeping with the tenets of the sorority, Poole-Jones stewardship. Projects can be certified as “Living” if they has been in charge of the June Key Delta Communiprove to meet all of the program requirements after 12 ty Center project since 2000 and was overjoyed and months of continued operations and full occupancy. It is nearly uncharacteristically speechless when about 300 also possible to achieve Petal Recognition, or partial pro- people gathered to celebrate the Community Center’s gram certification, for achieving all of the requirements of grand opening this past August. at least three Petals when at least one of the following is included: Water, Energy and/or Materials. “I’m almost in awe that we got it done. Well, it’s not totally done,” Poole-Jones says, as if she’s not quite ready Poole-Jones’ Delta Sigma Theta Inc. sorority purchased to give birth and referencing some solar panels that still the parcel at the corner of North Albina and North Ain- must be funded, purchased and installed, a few other sworth streets in Portland, Oregon in 1992, with the in- items still on the to-do list and an ambitious Phase Chris Poole-Jones is a patient woman. Patient with pit bull-like tenacity, which proved to be a perfect combination to serve as project coordinator for the June Key Delta Community Center, the first African-American-owned building to pursue the Living Building Challengesm.


Fall 2011

The June Key Delta Center project expands the existing building —formerly a gas station—for use as a community center. The center will provide activities such as tutoring sessions for school-age children, activities for seniors and youth, including two youth programs serving girls, Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully (GEMS) and the Betty Shabazz Academy, named after Malcolm X’s wife, and Enabling Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence “Everything is coming along nicely. It’s all shaping up program (EMBODI) for boys age 13 to 18. The sorority also intends to host its meetings at the facility each according to the plan.” week, with a larger monthly meeting on Saturdays, Yes, there has always been a plan, albeit an ever-evolv- along with one or two annual events. ing one based on time and funds, for the property adjacent to the Peninsula Park Rose Garden in the Hum- To create this community and carry out its plan, the boldt Neighborhood. When the sorority first bought sorority enlisted the help of the now-defunct Sienna it, the neighborhood was in transition, and the women Architecture. Mark Nye, who was with Sienna at the promptly erected a fence to discourage graffiti, loiter- time and now spearheads Nye Architecture, has been with the project since its inception. ing and other activities. Three, which could include temporary housing for victims of domestic violence. “But we (members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority) are ready to have our first meeting at the end of the month to explain how everything works, and we are already taking requests to use the space. We are getting various requests every day. A healing center wants to do a workshop. And we already have a woman who wants to have her wedding here.

“It wasn’t pleasant,” Poole-Jones recalls. “But all along, we wanted to show that you could take an ugly site and make it attractive using sustainable resources and recycling resources from the area. We wanted this to be a small-scale demonstration project. We always wanted to be different and outstanding. The neighborhood deserves that.”

The development goal, according to Poole-Jones, that emerged from several initial brainstorming sessions was always “green.” Nye, who was in the midst of a Living Building Challenge contest submission at the time, steered the sorority onto the even more sustainable path. It did not, he recalls, take much persuading.


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Pervious Pavers


Infiltration Swales


Brownfield Remediation


Solar Array


On-Site Composting


Geothermal Heat Pump


Urban Agriculture


Highly-Insulated Skin


Covered Bicycle Parking


Cargo Container Reuse


Water Catchment


Landfill Diversion-Glass


Water Storage


Nature & Human Scale


Black Water Treatement


Pervious Pavers


Infiltration Swales


Solar Array


Geothermal Heat Pump


Highly-Insulated Skin


Cargo Container Reuse


Landfill Diversion-Glass


Nature & Human Scale



8 11



9 14 5 4 13



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“What if we built a movement at the intersection of the social justice and ecology movements, of entrepreneurship and activism, of inner change and social change?” — Van Jones


Fall 2011

CONSTRUCTION TEAM: Chris Poole-Jones, Marian Gilmore , Contractors Hermann Colas and Marc Domond, Architect Mark Nye and Contractor Andrew Colas of Colas Construction.

“I knew that it was a special project from the very beginning,” Nye says. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a Living Building in this context, meaning small-scale and community-oriented that had a strong social sustainability component. And in the end, construction costs were roughly $250 to $300 per square foot. That puts it in the realm of the achievable for people who didn’t have a large construction budget.”

“These containers are all over the place, and the thinking was that when you drive along I-5 to Jantzen Beach, there’s a giant stack of them just sitting there,” Nye says. “We had been aware of some interesting projects in Britain that repurposed containers, so we started thinking, what if we retooled them for this project. That could work.”

Nye says the container idea came to him when he was involved in his original submission for the Living City Design Competition while at Sienna.

The Community Center project also transformed an existing open space on the east side of the site into a community garden space, where the sorority aims to

Nye maintains the project has several unique features, The project increased the building from its original but in addition to the containers, he was very enthused 1,507 square feet to 2,757 square feet to accommodate to have diverted glass for the windows from the landa meeting space, two restrooms, accessory office space fill. The glass was not quite the right color for the and a kitchen. The goal for the completed project was University of Washington Library and was headed to for it to contain 50 percent to 70 percent recycled ma- the landfill, until it was donated which ultimately imterials. For instance, two shipping containers were proved the project aesthetics. purchased for about $2,700, one houses the accessible bathrooms and the other, the kitchen. A mere 1 percent “It makes the project look so great,” he says. “We would of the project demolition went to the landfill as metals not have gone for glass quite that large if it had not been and other materials were recycled and repurposed. given to us.”

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Top: The open house ribbon cutting; bottom right: the garden work party kick-off; bottom left: Oregon tradeswomen help with construction


Fall 2011

use it as a tool to teach healthy eating habits, urban agriculture and sustainable living practices. They intend for the garden to serve as a demonstration of how African-American communities heavily burdened by health disparities such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity can work together.

that are prohibited, or red listed by the Living Building Challenge were not used. Colas recalls that during the pouring of the foundation, they had to stop the concrete contractor from spraying the foam that is generally used to seal the penetration between the storm line and the concrete forms. They also had to politely decline donations of a few items, due to the material make-up.

Working together was one of the most rewarding aspects of being part of the June Key Delta Community “That was kind of a balancing act,” Nye also recalls. Center, says Andrew Colas, president of COLAS Con- “Here you have someone who wants to donate and do struction, and the project contractor. a good thing, but we had to tell them that we love that you’re donating, but we can’t accept it if we want it to “We look at sustainability as the wave of the future, and be a Living Building due to the high standard that the we were so anxious to be involved in a leading project Living Building Challenge places on materials.” like the June Key Delta Community Center,” Colas says. The biggest frustration with this project according to The project includes a water reclamation system to cap- Colas? “Oregon weather.” The budget was not large ture rain water and reuse it as graywater for the toilets and enough to include a temporary roof, and workers were irrigation system. A ground source heat pump system will also at the mercy of the rain. One the other hand, one be used to heat and cool the building. There are a total of of his proudest achievements was involving more than nine ground loops that go more than 100 feet into the core 60 percent of the workers from minority- and womenof the earth to draw natural heat from the earth into the owned businesses and small firms. building. Recycled materials in addition to the windows and bathrooms include doors, insulation, siding and sinks. The Oregon Tradeswomen Inc., a non-profit that works to help women have careers in the construction indusOf course, every project has its challenges, and the try, provided two crews and put 633 hours into the June Key Delta Community Center had some unique Community Center project. They worked on everyones related to meeting the imperatives of the Living thing from sheetrocking to prepping the garden beds. Building Challenge, Colas says. “It was just a really unique project,” says Dawn Jones, “Tying the different materials together, such as one area training manager for the Oregon Tradeswomen. “It where you have a cargo container and the next section was inline with our values to be part of the commuyou have wood siding, was challenging from an aesthetic nity. We also teach green building as part of our project and water-proofing standpoint,” he notes. “It wasn’t like curriculum. Ultimately, our goals were similar, to help there were other projects out there just like it to reference. women become empowered to earn enough to support themselves and their families.” “So we worked closely with the architect. We were successful, but that was an area where we spent extra time. The Humbolt Neighborhood Association strongly It was simple once we got with it, and we came up with supports this project and has said it thinks the Comdetails that allowed us to create a nice seam that we munity Center project is a great use for the site and were able to tie together. Working with the architect is very appreciative that the garden space has been on this project was really a great experience.” opened to the community. Neighbors old and new expressed their enthusiasm at the grand opening, welAlso necessitating some worker dialogue and commu- coming the facility and how it will positively affect nity finesse was criticial in order to ensure that materials the neighborhood.

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Building Area: 2,700 square feet Start of Occupancy Period: 09/05/11 Owner Occupied: Yes No. of Occupants: To be determined. Occupancy is currently 100 • No. of Visitors: To be determined. Grand opening activity, August 10th was 300+ • Typical Hours of Operation: Weekend activities 8:00am to 10:00pm. Week day 8:00am to 9:00pm (dependant on activity)

PROJECT TEAM: • Owner: Portland Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. • Architect: Nye Architecture • Contractor: Colas Construction • Electric: Oregon Electric Group • Landscape: Verde Landscaping • Apprentice Programs: • Oregon TradesWomen Apprentice Program • Constructing Hope Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Regina Hauser, director of The Natural Step Network USA (TNS) praised the project for helping demonstrate that sustainability initiatives are not just for the elite. She also credited it with tackling one of the reasons why, according to TNS principles, we are unsustainable. “We don’t allow people to meet their needs. This center really is about meeting human needs in the broadest sense. It really focuses on the needs we don’t often talk about,” Hauser says. “It’s not a homeless shelter. It’s not a food bank. It’s a social center. “In North Portland, I think something like that might be thought of as frivolous. But it’s vital that everyone have access to nice places to celebrate the things in life that matter. Who knew that a former gas station could turn into those things?”


Fall 2011

Apparently, Chris Poole-Jones and her fellow Delta Sigma Theta sorority members knew just that. PooleJones says they hope the Community Center project will keep on giving. Poole-Jones says they have applied for a City of Portland Green Street, which uses plants and other vegetation to manage stormwater run-off. They also are working to secure funding sources to meet the net zero water and power requirements required by the Living Building Challenge. The building has been designed for efficient resource use so that power generation and water treatment can be plugged in once funding has been obtained. “Sustainability should be accessible, and it shouldn’t be daunting. If these women can have the vision and make that mandate to their professionals, then other people should be able to do it too,” Nye says. “It can be done.” “Oh, it will be done,” Poole-Jones concurs. “We will get it done.”

June Key Delta Community Center officials have entered into a fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to assist with the development of community based programming and to help retire the construction debt at JKDCC. The first fundraiser was scheduled on September 24. The second will be held on Sunday, October 2 as the First Annual Fall Fundraiser. Join them for an early evening affair with music, cocktails, and hors d’oeurves. See for details and to RSVP.

gina binole has nearly 20 years in the communications business, first as a government, business and environmental journalist and now as a PR strategist.

• • • •

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b y jason f. mclennan

When Our Leaders Die The Aging of the Green Movement I woke up recently to an email from a colleague telling me that Waangari Mathai, who was 71 years old died of ovarian cancer. I was supposed to meet her just a week ago at a conference I attended in New York, and I had wondered why she was not there. She was also being considered as the keynote speaker for next year’s Living Future, our annual conference about environmental, social and economic transformation. It is always shocking when someone larger than life – someone who worked so hard on behalf of life – passes on. We imagine that these leaders will always be there, and we want them here with us, fighting on behalf of those without voices. We owe a lot to this Kenyan woman, who from the late seventies onwards worked hard to create a better world through the simple act of planting trees. Her work leading the Green Belt Movement, which created jobs for some 90,000 women and led to the planting of 30 million trees, eventually won her the Nobel Peace Prize. Last month Ray Anderson died of cancer as well. The CEO of Interface Carpets had been struggling with the disease for sometime, a tough ending for someone who also gave his all to create transformation. Ray wanted nothing more than to change the way we make things – with less waste and with greater efficiency, and elegance. He started with his own company, did remarkable things and inspired hundreds of others to copy him and follow his lead. Ray made more than floor coverings – he made green business synonymous with good


Fall 2011

business. That’s a contribution we should all be grateful for. Ray and I never saw eye-to-eye about PVC, which ironically causes cancer, but my admiration for him and what he accomplished was never diminished. He was a true leader and we’ll miss him. He e-mailed me a couple years ago inquiring whether his new home in the Blue Ridge Mountains might qualify for the Living Building Challenge. This meant a lot to me even though it meant bringing up our stance on vinyl, which is banned in the Living Building Challenge standard. There is now a great void in the industry with the loss of Ray. A couple years ago the green building movement lost Greg Franta and Gail Lindsey, two deaths that affected me deeply. Both Greg and Gail were pioneers in promoting responsible design and construction and they were wonderful human beings who were a real joy to be around. Gail also died of cancer while Greg was involved in a tragic auto accident. As young pioneers they were responsible for key leadership through the eighties and nineties, long before green was cool. And they were both much too young to leave us. People don’t live forever. We know this. It’s still hard. But what is important to realize relative to the environmental movement, and green building in particular, is that our movement is still young enough that almost all of the people that helped shape it are still with us. With just a few notable exceptions – our founders are still here. I’m writing this as a gentle reminder that we must all give our appreciation now to those who have paved the way

Waangari Mathai

Ray Anderson

for all of us to follow. You know who they are. They are the folks that have been doing this for twenty to forty years. You’ve read their books and heard them speak at dozens of events. They were originally called ‘crazy’, then ‘pioneers’ and now ‘founders’. They are our elder statesmen and women and we stand on their shoulders. People like Pliny Fisk, Sim Van Der Ryn, Bob Berkebile, Bill McDonough, Amory Lovins, Hunter L. Lovins, Ed Mazria, Janine Benyus and many many more come to mind.

ment that hopes to endure – especially one as young and as important as our movement. Other movements only celebrate their founders and leaders after they die. But our movement is about life – and we celebrate people when we can hug them, look them in the eye and say “thank you.” Take a moment to think about who first turned you on to green building and sustainability. Post something on your facebook page or tweet/blog about it. Let them know you appreciate them and what they’ve done.

Not long ago – before the thousands filled conference halls at Greenbuild – there were only a few hundred people in the whole country who consistently pushed for deeper green standards for energy, materials, water, health and more. They defined our movement. They stretched its boundaries and broadened our shores. They did the hardest work in the dark and we should recognize them and thank all of them while we still can. An understanding of history and context is essential to any move-

Thank you. Jason F. McLennan

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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.


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b y patti southard

Kathleen o’brien b y patti southard

We wish it were not so but Kathleen O’Brien is on the brink of retirement as president of O’Brien & Company – the leading-edge sustainability consulting firm based in Seattle, Washington. It is difficult to imagine this green warrior stepping away entirely and, as it is with many genuinely dedicated citizens, she fully intends to keep her hand in special projects. A nationally recognized expert in the field of sustainable design, construction and development, Kathleen has given the green building industry more than 25 years of tireless energy and passion and we should all hope that she will continue to teach, share and steward


Fall 2011

future projects with the knowledge and vision that has defined her impressive career. Kathleen’s accomplishments include organizing the first regional conference in the Northwest for the green building industry and working with local chapters of the National Association of Home Builders to develop several award-winning green building programs. As a result there are now over 20,000 green homes certified in Washington, Hawaii and California. She also has worked on several early green building demonstration projects around the region and has continued to

T ransformational P E O P L E

consult on leading-edge initiatives, such as the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol, a green building standard for public schools in Washington State. As a writer that has contributed to many green building journals and as the co-author of The Northwest Green Home Primer (Timber Press 2008) Kathleen is a natural story-teller. Kathleen received her bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education at University of Buffalo (summa cum laude); her master’s degree in environment and the community at Antioch University; and is both a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor and a LEED Ac-

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credited Professional. She and her husband built a home that achieved the highest rating from the non-profit Built Green, won the Parade of Homes Environmental Achievement Award, and has been featured on Home and Garden TV for its sustainable features. In 2008, Cascadia Green Building Council recognized Kathleen O’Brien as a Cascadia Fellow – the organization’s lifetime achievement award and acknowledging her dedication to the sustainability movement King County recently named September 13th “Kathleen O’Brien Day”.


Patti Southard: What led you to help found the

end user; the consumer. When discussing true “sus-

green building movement and then later O’Brien

tainability” versus just “green,” what advice do you

and Company?

have for clients who are striving to balance the triple bottom line while trying to be a trusted source

Kathleen O’Brien: I did not see myself as founding

to public interest?

a movement, for me it was a common sense expression of what was necessary in design to eliminate

KO: When talking about sustainability in this indus-

waste and conserve energy. I grew up with depres-

try, look for specifics versus generalities so you can

sion era parents so this was obviously practical. I

understand where the knowledge is coming from,

later felt inspired by my grandchildren to seek out

and look for people’s credentials. Our work should be

best practices that would hopefully serve their gen-

driven by evidence, and I have brought some skepti-

eration in the future. In the early years, I worked for

cism to the table in my work. That skepticism is there

New England Solar Energy Association (NESEA)

to avoid green washing which is something we see

where I met Steve Loken, another founder of the

far too often in the consumer markets. Green build-

movement. I was also a contributing editor to the

ing is not just a business proposition, but should also

Journal of Light Construction and after hearing a

be perceived as a citizen’s responsibility to assist in

story about a “builder with a conscience,” I pitched

solving community scale problems related to sus-

the story to the Journal. It turned out the builder

tainability. I have a 3-part lens based on experience,

was Steve Loken’s cousin.

knowledge and credentials which is how I manage my skepticism and I hope to share that with others.

PS: It was a small green world in those days! PS: The initial foundation of your work with Built KO: Yes. Steve Loken challenged me and a woman

Green’s residential certification came from efforts

named Debbie Allen, who specialized in solid waste

to reduce waste in the building industry, including

issues, to produce a conference. While we were do-

the development of deconstruction guidelines and

ing our research Debbie and I realized that everyone

training for industry professionals. What is your im-

was associating different words with sustainable

pression of how the management of waste is pro-

design. I called it “resource efficient construction”,

gressing so many years later?

because as an editor I found this to be more concise. I decided to do a workshop to create a common nomenclature. I was determined to come up with a common definition of what green building was and share it nationally. O’Brien and Co was founded in 1991 because I like to work in close association with others. The following year I went on to collaborate with the original members of the Northwest Eco Building Guild to help get

a business proposition, but should also be perceived as a citizen’s responsibility

the organization started.

to assist in solving

PS: You have often times served clients who work

community scale problems

beyond the green building industry such as governments and corporations doing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and eventually what you have in the end is a product developed for your clients’


“Green building is not just

Fall 2011

related to sustainability.”

KO: Waste management is a very big issue in communities, relating to social equity and is grossly imbalanced on a global scale. Solid waste is rarely managed in the community in which it is generated, and the fact that it can be re-directed to poorer communities creates a social imbalance. If we, as a culture, did a better job of recognizing waste as a resource and kept it local, we would do a better job of reducing it and turning it into (usable) byproducts. We have all of these problems right here in our own backyard! Take Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), for example. If communities had to manage all the waste related to the PVC they used, including during its manufacture, we would not see it specified in products anymore. PVC, its manufacturing and incineration would not be readily received in the Pacific Northwest if we had to manage it. The run off from manufacturing processes and health related issues to workers is a long distance issue for us, as a result we unfortunately do not hesitate to buy it and pass

Kathleen is co-author of The Northwest Green Home Primer (Timber Press 2008).

that risk to other regions. The Cascadia Green Building Council has done the best job of any USGBC chapter in raising awareness around these persis-

ings and communities if done right. In the past it

tent toxic pollutants through the materials red list.

was assumed that an owner and/or architect would

We inherently want to be able to color in between

somehow represent all of these stakeholder groups.

the lines, especially the grey areas of product se-

The community needs to function as a whole and

lection, rarely are we successful without identifying

so do buildings; we need buildings to become liv-

core values. In the end we still have a lot of room

ing like an organism. Socrates spoke of what some

for improvement in product stewardship and our

humans assumed they could comprehend from a

biggest resource for addressing these issues is our-

situation. In the IDP process we ask each potential

selves. We all have to take individual action steps to

stakeholder to speak for themselves versus creat-

address pollution because it poses the highest risk

ing an illusion of representation. IDP helps us learn

to our health apart from cultural degradation.

and respect all stakeholder needs and use them in the design. There are unquantifiable needs such as

PS: I have heard you quote Socrates in relationship

love, and those needs are not always represented by

to the concepts of integrated design process (IDP)

traditional stakeholders. This process truly requires

and whole systems thinking. Can you elaborate?

a team of people to take risks. We need everything to function together, not as separate entities. If you

KO: IDP is a series of inquiries that happen in a de-

put a bunch of things together they will not just

sign process; the inquiries start big and scale down.

become an organism, a lung and heart on a table

Until we can formalize into implementation the feed-

do not constitute a human body. Integrated Design

back loop continues to generate more questions. It

Process forces a new model of design, planning and

is important that we include all stakeholders in this

development, and asks all participants to think be-

process to prevent polarization, this works for build-

yond themselves and their own needs and to work

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Seattle and King County green building leaders thank Kathleen for her service to the movement.

collaboratively together. This is truly a commitment

boundaries to bring people together - the environ-

to all people involved.

mental crisis is an invitation to work in your community to make real change!

PS: What’s next for Kathleen O’Brien now that you have completed your book on green remodels and

Kathleen O’Brien has dedicated a great deal of her

now that you are wrapping up full time tenure at

life – a quarter century to be exact - to the better-

O’Brien and Company?

ment of the building industry. As a writer, a speaker and a green warrior she has been instrumental

KO: I’m working on a book on leadership and how to

in many green building successes throughout her

build capacity, after all, it can’t be done by yourself.

career. We wish her well in her retirement and are

I am also hoping to spend more time with my fam-

thankful that she will continue to make contributions

ily - particularly my aging parents. I recently have

to the over-arching mission of creating a healthy and

returned from a trip where I hiked over two hundred

sustainable world for all.

miles through France, it gave me a lot of time to think on what is truly important. PS: Do you have any advice to give us; the builders, architects, government staff, elected officials and consumers? KO: Save the best resources but use the worst what has been spoiled needs to be restored. Cross


Fall 2011

PATTI SOUTHARD is Project Manager of King County GreenTools and creative director for the internationally acclaimed EcoCool Remodel Tool. Patti is currently president of Northwest Natural Resource Group, and board member for the EcoVillage in New Orleans, LA.

Beyond your notion of certified wood ceilings. Within your budget. Why specify 9Wood EcoGrille? • Economical: around $10/SF • Light color — stains well • Qualifies toward MR-7, IEQ-4.4, MR-5 • Made from Pacific Albus® Why Pacific Albus? • Grows 5-10x faster than Maple, Birch, Oak and Ash • Relieves pressure on natural forests • Grown in the Pacific Northwest • Certified FSC Mixed Credit

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b y jason f. mclennan

A revolutionary Reordering of Society Anticipating Our Heavy-Near, Light-Far Future


Fall 2011

T ransformational thought I m a g e © [g u]

This article is about a simple, singular idea, yet the significance of the idea to modern society is profound and far-reaching. Here it is: In the near future anything heavy will become intensely local while at the same time the limits to things that are “light”, ideas, philosophies, information will travel even further than today- literally and figuratively. This is a new paradigm for humanity and it has huge implications for the complete reordering of society.

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Environmentalists, economists and sociologists agree: we are in an incredible state of flux, and this transition is simply the beginning. The planet is undergoing massive change and critical resources are diminishing, conditions to which the human race must respond. Population growth, resource scarcity and climate change will propel us, whether we like it or not, toward a new energy, food and resource paradigm. The world’s economies, based on cheap, plentiful energy and the


exploitation of people and the environment, are starting to crumble. We are beginning an era in which the cozy assumptions of the last half-century are turned upside down, a time when the institutions and technologies that run our civilization are re-engineered. To understand how radical this new paradigm will be, let’s explore similar reorderings in the past.

cultures, by necessity, stayed close to home, keeping beliefs and ideology very local – sometimes as local as a family group or a small village. The world had hundreds of languages, thousands of dialects and even more foundational stories, creation myths and ways of looking at the world. Most of human existence has operated under this paradigm of “Heavy-Near” and “Light-Near”.

A Heavy-Near, Light-Near Paradigm: Thousands of Years of Human History For most of human history, everything in a person’s life was intensely local. People all over the earth had a deep understanding of their place and the world that they could literally see, touch and feel. Moving things that were physically heavy was difficult and limited first to what people could carry, then limited by the capacity of domesticated animals. Culture too was necessarily local – with people only a short distance away having differences in language and customs. These cultural differences emerged in relation to climate, the range of species migration and other place-based distinctions. Oral

There were intermittent exceptions of course – moments when bursts of innovation launched our species on great journeys (almost like punctuated equilibrium). The great Polynesian migrations and Viking explorers come to mind, but even they, after finding new islands for habitation, typically settled back into local realities. Global population during this protracted era of our species’ history was relatively stable and our impact on the planet was largely within the carrying capacity of each place we lived. However, as discoveries, inventions and innovations expanded our collective knowledge, the traditional paradigm was destined to end.

Hunter/gatherer societies understood their place on a profoundly deep level. Everything was local.


Fall 2011

The great Polynesian voyages were intermittent - huge burts of exploration followed by intensely local island settlements

For most of human history, everything in a person’s life was essentially local. People all over the earth had a deep understanding of their place and the world that they could literally see, touch and feel.

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The tall ship era began to open up the world, but largely only the most wealthy benefited from such trade.

Heavy-Nearish, Light-Somewhat Far Slowly as new inventions arose and were refined, our species began to move some physical objects (“heavy”) and ideas and beliefs (“light”) across the globe. The emergence of agriculture, the domestication of animals and the written word made change inevitable. During the rise of the first great civilizations, resources like gold, jewels, salt and spices were transported through caravans, sailing vessels and on the backs of slaves. Along with them new ideas and information was disseminated, including the beliefs of all the world’s great religions. The range of cultural travel – both “heavy” and “light” – grew in proportion to the size and influence of the empire behind it. During this era energy was still a precious commodity and because of the extreme costs to move goods and people, it was only the most valuable things that really traveled far – and it was only the richest and most powerful members of the society who benefited. For most of humanity this second age was still intensely local with only glimpses of any world beyond their own.


Fall 2011

By the Middle Ages, some ideas (particularly religious beliefs) began to spread more widely. Exploration or conquest began to transcend language barriers. However, religious and political leaders held many of the most important ideas closely, limiting the general public’s access to them in order to control their populations and to keep “divine information” in the hands of the “anointed”. So, even widely-traveled belief systems like Christianity and Islam were localized in a different way, carefully released and controlled by the intellectual elite. Priests, monks and royals were the typical gatekeepers. With the rise of empire based on the success of agriculture, population quickly grew – sometimes outstripping local ecological carrying capacity as happened in the middle east and parts of the Mediterranean. But for the most part the planet did not feel too many ill effects from our civilizations under this overarching paradigm – there were simply too few of us and our technologies not yet transformative to planetary health.

Our ability to transport things was until recently limited to what beasts of burden could carry.

Ideas and key technologies have also until recently been kept by the rich and powerful with strong local control of the masses.

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These days we ship heavy things all over the globe.

Ideas – just like goods – travelled the globe, first through printed publications and then through even more powerful mediums such as the radio, the telephone, the television and finally the computer. In the last century, ideas finally began to move not only across physical boundaries but also across socioeconomic, racial and gender boundaries, with the average person in modern society having access to information and ideas from anywhere on the planet.


Fall 2011

Heavy-Far, Light-Far Most of the history we now study is centered on the huge changes that occurred globally in the span of just a few hundred years. From the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to today, ideas, technologies and inventions have allowed us to radically remake the world. The beginning of this age often saw violent clashes between civilizations still operating in earlier paradigms with the civilizations that had rushed ahead. The old paradigms always lost. The “civilized” speech of empires eclipsed tribal languages and beliefs the world over, which weakened and, in most cases, disappeared. Large-scale manufacturing models called for inexpensive human labor and the scourge of human slavery spread.

isms, partnered with human ingenuity and invention that did not see or believe in limits. Moving heavy objects like stone, concrete, furniture and even people require enormous inputs of energy. Coal and petroleum met the need and easily satisfied the demand. Ideas – just like goods – travelled the globe, first through printed publications and then through even more powerful mediums such as the radio, the telephone, the television and finally the computer. In the last century ideas finally began to move not only across physical boundaries but also across socio-economic, racial and gender boundaries, with the average person in modern society having access to information and ideas from anywhere on the planet.

By the 1980s and 1990s, we could – and did – ship anyGutenberg paved the way for many modern inventions thing anywhere. We shared ideas and stories with othwhen he introduced the printing press in the mid-15th ers across the globe. There was no limit placed on the century, allowing language and ideas to be distributed distribution of anything. Indeed, our society completewidely for the first time in human history. The Indus- ly reordered itself around this reality within the span trial Revolution enabled the most dramatic change in of a single lifetime– while seemingly being completely our ability to move the fruits of our labor, first with the oblivious to the long-term disruptions it would cause. steam engine and eventually with the combustion engine. Advances in weaponry – gunpowder in particu- Gradually, in the midst of this “success,” people queslar – changed the rules forever. Suddenly, anything we tioned the sanity of the paradigm – and the modern enmade or conceived of could reach people in the farthest vironmental movement was born only thirty years ago. corners of the planet simply by shipping it overland or And here we are – a world with 7 billion people, rapidly overseas. As new nations, the United States and Can- closing on 8 billion – a world where the era of cheap enada were shaped by some of the first products of this ergy is quickly disappearing, as is the economic house new paradigm and the cultural mythologies that exist of cards it was built on. with us today (and are so hard for us to shake) are a result of these pervasive influences. What is next? After thousands of years in the first paradigm, then a couple of thousand years in the second, we fully transformed to this third paradigm in the span of just a few hundred years – with exponential acceleration happening in the last one hundred years and matched graphically with the huge explosion in human population. Sometime early this century this unprecedented population growth, and the accompanying human toll on the environment, suddenly tipped beyond what was sustainable. All of this transformation was made possible through the availability of cheap, plentiful energy, borrowing on the stored carbon of millions of years of dead organ-

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A familiar sight as we ship goods everywhere.


Heavy-Near, Light-Far: The Responsible Paradigm We are about to take a dramatic leap into the next era: the modern age of Heavy-Near, Light-Far. In a world where energy is increasingly scarce and expensive, we simply will not be able to transport goods and people over far distances. We need to prioritize energy use for technologies that bring us together virtually – that allow us to connect and share regardless of the distances between communities. The world is about to get simultaneously bigger and smaller depending on the field of human activity concerned. Imagine an America where people stick much closer to home; where we are not defined by the open road, but by the quality and depth of our neighborhoods and communities; where the majority of the things in our lives – our clothes, furniture, food and building materials come from close at hand rather than being globally sourced; where we eat according to seasonal varia-

tions and see the reemergence of incredible regional diversity in architectural and cultural expressions. At the same time it must not be a return to provincialism and hierarchical society. Rather, what is called for is an intensely localized economy, punctuated by key global technologies that keep us connected, informed and up-to-date, with uniform access to information and ideas despite socio-economic, gender or racial backgrounds. Within this responsible paradigm, the possibilities for environmental and social/cultural healing is immense. Yet, this radical reordering will not be easy for us and will, at times, be violently resisted by those rooted in the current paradigm. I believe that the riots we have been seeing around the world are natural permutations of this emerging paradigm – a world where the average person is super-connected with one another and informed – and frustrated with the status quo world power that refuses to change.

People are connected like never before - regardless of background or wealth.


Fall 2011

The future will see an interesting paradigm between ultra low tech solutions like bicyles and high tech solutions like tablets and smart devices.

Here are some of the characteristics of the new reordering as I see it:

• The “global economy” as it is now defined will shrink rapidly between 2012-2030, as energy scarcity will limit our ability to ship things all over the world. In a short span of time the cost of transporting human or material cargoes over any appreciable distance will simply be too high and the market will begin to correct itself. In its place will emerge strongly local “living economies” with an emphasis on local materials, local knowledge, durability and craft. • Super-sized retailers and one-stop shops will all but disappear. If Wal Mart, Costco, Target and others like them survive, it is because they will have learned to operate on a new business model based on locally produced goods-globally managed through information management technologies (“heavy-near”, “light-far”).

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• A renewed focus on food and goods that can be grown or made locally will have a positive effect on reinvigorating local cultures and revealing regional variations. Artisanship will reemerge and quality will trump quantity. Food and drink will become quintessentially local – inspiring the re-emergence of creative cuisines and local flavors. Wine from France or Australia will once again be a true luxury in North America – but, thankfully, equally good vintages will be available close to home! • “Winning” technologies (as defined by those technologies we will continue to invest in) will be those that require less energy to make and operate relative to the benefits they provide. Web-enabled cell phones are a perfect present-day example, as they put a world of information in the hands of any user and draw very little energy in the process, which is why they already are ubiquitous in third-world


The bicycle is the vehicle of the future.

countries. Small solar panels will power hand-held electronics and tablets. Larger machines such as cars, elevators, and HVAC systems will either be completely reengineered to be super-efficient or will disappear. Larger utility infrastructure such as regional energy grids and regional waste treatment plants will give way to a network of decentralized, distributed technologies.


travel. The costs of mechanized transport will limit our ability to travel overseas and relocate on a whim, but virtual communication will expand our ability to share ideas with our across-the-world neighbors. So, while you may increasingly talk and share ideas with people in other countries, the chances of physically visiting them will diminish. The flip side is that we will know our own communities much more intimately while maintaining open dialogue with our fellow global citizens. Information will become even more democratic and widely shared.

• The era of the dominance of the automobile will finally end. Expect a rapid “de-autoization” of our culture over the next twenty years despite the introduction of better electric vehicles and hybrids. While some larger specialty vehicles will continue to be supported (we will keep trains and specialized automobiles for key tasks like ambulances and fire suppression), the original mechanical horse – the bicycle – will emerge as the world’s transportation vehicle of choice even here in the United States as it is already in many places. Electric assist for bicycles will extend our ranges.

• The ultra-rich will continue to be the exception to most of the rules. Wealthy individuals will pay – dearly – for the privilege of globetrotting and having heavy special goods shipped from afar. Yet in a world where the exploitation of the environment and other people is no longer tolerated, what it means to be “rich” will begin to be redefined as well.

• As we become more globally connected via electronic information exchanges, we will become more physically disconnected beyond a small radius of

• The network of Certified Living Buildings around North America will grow and become beacons of hope for the future of our homes, buildings and offices.

Fall 2011


Smart phones and mobile computers are a key part of this future paradigm.

“PATCH\WORK PHILADELPHIA” A Living City Design Competition Winner from Team “OLIN”

Modern technology matched with age-old culture.

Making Global Lemonade • live in a world of relative scarcity compared to what we had in the 20th century, but be more connected We delivered ourselves here on the very vehicles that and abundant from deeper connections to place we are managing to make obsolete. Therefore, it is up and culture and a proper relationship with the natto us to plan for this next natural cycle of innovation so ural world that we can embrace it mindfully. The path I have described is, of course, by no means certain. The future could spiral in many directions – some quite dire. But • rely on the human machine and “current solar income” to propel us forward, and enjoy the vitality I am hopeful of the path that I think is quite possible – that follows “Heavy-Near”, “Light-Far.” I believe we will: • return to an essentially local way of living, and one that is globally conscious

The transition will not be easy, and we will weather many storms, but there is a chance, I believe, to find equilibrium on this planet again.

• continue to innovate, and share our new ideas with friends we will never meet • eat and wear what is available in our region, and we will create culturally rich communities as we do so • work with colleagues who live in various countries around the world, and we will embrace the beauty of our virtual collaborations

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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 briana meier and jay kosa


Fall 2011

T ransformational action


take action Our Take Action article features stories of Ambassadors who are courageously starting new conversations. Numerous exceptional individuals are already preparing their communities for large-scale transformation, yet in many ways, the Ambassador Network is only just beginning to develop. A world of opportunity remains for increased collaboration among Ambassadors across continents, and within similar bioregions. Some of the possibilities beginning to emerge are captured in the following pages.

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Houston, Texas:

Bankers introduced to restorative design principles

into the Living City Design Competition, and is connecting with other local groups to get the word out. Amanda explains, “Our main goal is educational, with

Ambassador Julie Hendricks recently introduced

a hope to inspire living building projects in our area.

the concepts of the Living Building Challenge to an

There are many “challenges” for our climate zone

association of realtors and bankers in Houston, Tex-

within the Living Building Challenge, and we hope to

as, a group not yet primed for taking up the princi-

have a dialogue to address these and help interested

ples of restorative design and development in their

people speak the language of other experts so that

day-to-day practices. After her talk, one participant

barriers can be overcome. I am involved personally

asked, “Do you realize that what you are presenting

because I believe that with seven billion people on

is contrary to the lifestyle enjoyed by all the people

the planet and a finite amount of resources, we must

in this room? Imagine how disruptive and expensive

evolve into a new consciousness.”

it would be to try to implement these things!”

Central Eastern Europe:

Julie took the opportunity to explain why she feels

Green building councils converge

such level of change is necessary, and shared a di-

Timea Paal, a representative of the Romania Green

agram below with the group, explaining: “This line

Building Council (RoGBC) is initiating new conversa-

graph illustrates the concept of overshooting the

tions of her own, and recently introduced the Living

earth’s resources. The x axis is time and the y-axis is

Building Challenge to staff members from ten differ-

resources; the area under the horizontal line we call

ent European Green Building Councils. At the Build

the “carrying capacity of earth”. The point of this

Green Central Eastern Europe conference held this

graph: no matter how long we continue on the “less

past July, Timea spoke with representatives from Ro-

bad” path it will never take us where we need to go.

mania, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Re-

We’ve all just got to get on the green line.”

public, Poland and Turkey, as well as the Netherlands and Spain. She used the presentation as an opportu-


in us



re g



s sa



nity to encourage international collaboration. Timea




explained, “since the Green Building Councils of the Central Eastern Europe region are small compared to the USGBC, for us, getting to know one another and




at ive

acting together is essential.” The RoGBC is also spurring action beyond the realm of the PowerPoint, and is actively guiding the renovation of a town library with the goals of achieving Living Building certifica-

carrying capacity of the earth

tion and serving as a model of advanced green build-







ing possibilities for Central Eastern Europe.

Atlanta, Georgia:

Students put theory to the test In the southeastern United States, volunteer presenter

Julie and fellow Ambassador Amanda Tullos are invit-

Pace Pickel started out with an all-together different

ing attendees at presentations like the one described

kind of audience: university students. As an architec-

above to establish an ongoing presence as change

tural representative of a building products manufac-

agents in the Houston-Galveston area by participat-

turer in Atlanta, Pace works to balance the concep-

ing in the area’s Living Building Challenge Collabora-

tual and the material elements of building. He’s found

tive. The Collaborative sponsored Galveston’s entry

an effective strategy in complementing architectural

Fall 2011

theory taught in schools with examinations of various

isn’t called a challenge without reason. That said, we

applications currently practiced in the field.

believe that few things worthwhile are accomplished without a great deal of effort. Personally, I seldom

When Pace presented the Living Building Challenge

think the easy way isn’t all that interesting.”

to a sustainable design class at the Art Institute of Atlanta, he reinforced the central theme of the Chal-

The paradigm shifts these Ambassadors are call-

lenge, “the ultimate goal should be to create a build-

ing for are inherently difficult. Ambassadors, by the

ing that truly benefits every one and every thing in-

very definition of the word, accept the bold work of

volved; occupants, community members, passersby

exchanging ideas with new audiences, in new terri-

and even wildlife in surrounding spaces.” The presen-

tories. Bolstered by the support of their peers within

tation succeeded in prompting critiques and ques-

the Ambassador Network, these leaders are calling

tions, particularly regarding the roles of social equity,

for fundamental reconsiderations of conventional ap-

education and beauty in the design process. Mov-

proaches to building practices, and they are taking

ing forward, Pace is eager to present to more stu-

critiques for what they are, opportunities to prepare

dents in the Atlanta region. Pace is not alone in his

new ground for growth.

efforts. He recently joined volunteer facilitator John Mlade and several other area building professionals

New audiences—whether students, developers or

at the kick-off meeting of the Atlanta Region Living

representatives of burgeoning green building move-

Building Challenge Collaborative. The group plans to

ments—present a risk of resistance and cynicism,

meet regularly to support each other’s efforts to take

but as many of our Ambassadors have found, they

green building in the region to a new level.

also offer unique insight and the potential for future

Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

New Collaborative kicks off with an affordable housing design competition Along the shores of Lake Michigan, Ambassadors Jerry

collaboration. Asking people to consider restorative principles may not always be easy, but as with all worthwhile endeavors, the results are worth the effort. In the meantime, we can take heart in finding ourselves in good company.

Knapp and Juli Kaufmann are starting up a Living Building Challenge Collaborative in preparation for nothing less than a complete transformation of the way homes are built in Milwaukee. Inspired by the Institute-spon-

You can join in. Visit

sored Living Aleutian Home Competition, Jerry, Juli

and other collaborators plan to launch a design compe-


tition for an affordable home in Milwaukee that meets the requirements of the Living Building Challenge. Jerry explains the group’s bold first step: “The past few years have fostered a greater awareness of the needs within our community. There is a palpable sense of urgency in Milwaukee to change the way we think about

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.

and deliver basic human needs like housing. We recognize that sense of urgency, as do our other Challenge partners. If our Collaborative can help stimulate conversation and action, I think we will have accomplished something worthwhile. There are regulatory, financial, political and social barriers that make building a Living

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.

Building Challenge certified structure quite difficult. It

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Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Soderstrom Architects Starbucks/Tazo Tea Company Stoel Rives LLP Swenson Say Faget The Collins Companies Trilibrium United Fund Advisors Yost Grube Hall Zeck Butler Architects Zipcar

Metropolitan Alliance For the Common Good Milepost Consulting Neil Kelly Cabinets New Buildings Institute OMSI One Energy Renewables Oregon State University Partners For A Sustainable Washington County Community Pathways/OI Partners Paul Horton Consulting Group Portland Community College Portland Energy Conservation, Inc. Portland Roasting Portland State University Post Carbon Institute RBA Design REACH Community Development Regional Arts + Culture Council Renewable Northwest Project Second Nature

Smith Freed & Eberhard Sokol Blosser Winery Strategic Development Solutions Structures NW Sustain Environmental, Inc. Sustain Jefferson Sustainable Fox Valley Network Sustainable Interiors Sustainable Twin Ports SWANCC The Bike Gallery The Climate Trust The Fiddlehead Group TonkonTorp Travel Oregon Tualatin Valley Water District University of Oregon WasteCap Nebraska Winsome Homes LLC

community partners 9Wood, Inc Abundant Harvest AHA! Alliance For Sustainability Ankrom Moisan Artemis Foods Axis Performance Advisors Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce Benton County Blue Marble Media Blue Tree Strategies Brightworks Broadleaf Architecture Calbag Metals Company Carollo Engineers CB/2 Architects & Construction Celilo Media Group Change Catalyst Group City of Albany City of Corvallis City of Lake Oswego City of Milwaukie City of Oregon City City of West Linn City of Wilsonville

Crave Catering Cycle Oregon Earth Advantage Eleek, Inc. Emertia LLC Entermodal Environmental Training & Consulting ESA Consulting Everett Chiropractic Center EyeLevel First Independent Bank Food Alliance Forest Fractal Friends of Outdoor School Garten Services gDiapers Geochord Green Team Spirit greenREACH Hawthorne Auto Clinic Heathman Lodge Kalpa Consulting Kelp, Inc. Kilmer Voorhees & Laurick Meeting Strategies Worldwide

b y c y nthia moffitt

Unleashing the power of community: common ground, an affordable housing neighborhood on lopez island

Common Ground, a project of Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) is a unique development that has successfully incorporated the power of community while creating an affordable housing and net-zero energy neighborhood. The project is located on picturesque Lopez Island in Washington State and was completed in 2009 with eleven homes, two studio apartments and office spaces. Common Ground is a depiction of a model community – a socially just, sustainable community that was only made possible with the citizens’ committed involvement. Common Ground homeowner, Chris Greacen, said “Common Ground is about reinventing the American dream. In the years ahead, Americans will be compelled to shed some deeply ingrained habits of mate-


Fall 2011

rial consumption. These adjustments can be endured, nay, embraced, if people are confident that the country is headed to a more fulfilling transformation. I believe this transformation is fundamentally about discovering what it means to be truly human, not as ‘consumers’ but citizens, neighbors, friends, co-creators of a compelling new story that embraces social justice and a healthy planet. It’s about smaller footprints and larger lives.” Common Ground embraces the community while weaving sustainable living into the fabric of its citizens. Since 1989, LCLT has been a leader on the island through established programs that include affordable housing, sustainable agriculture and rural development, and energy initiatives and has developed four award-winning affordable housing ownership projects

using the community land trust model, including the Common Ground project.

systems, passive solar design, straw bale construction, earthen plasters and elements of permaculture design.

Developing a net-zero energy neighborhood The vision of Common Ground was to create a place that was sustainable and affordable for islanders. The Executive Director for LCLT, Sandy Bishop, describes Common Ground; “In 1989 LCLT was created in response to the rapid rise of real estate prices. Escalation of home prices threatened the very fabric of our community. Common Ground is our fourth affordable housing development and the first net-zero energy neighborhood.”

Common Ground is home to people of at least five diverse cultures and interests, eleven children, and includes teachers, small business owners and those who are self-employed. It is a testament of living comfortably and sustainably with a greatly reduced carbon footprint.

In 2010 LCLT won the Home Depot Foundation Award of Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly for Common Ground. The award came with a $75,000 prize to be used for affordable housing. For an overCommon Ground was developed for replication: model- view of the completed development, see: http://vimeo. ing rain water catchment, solar electric and solar thermal com/16942789.

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View off the coast of Lopez Island. Creative commons image by Joe Mabel.

Integrated Design Process Both the design team, owners and the community were included during the design phase of Common Ground. A three-day design charrette began in March 2006 where the owners and design team gained essential development expertise. The goal setting, programming, design and construction involved not only the Lopez Community Land Trust and professional consultants but also those who were to become the residents of the community. The community aspect of “community land trusts” is woven into LCLT’s approach to housing development. The following excerpt from The Community Land Trust Reader portrays the importance of this model; “Community means place. It is the place where we live, the place where we make our living, the place we care about which nurtures us. But community is more than a commitment to place, community is a commitment to the people in that place—to all of the people in that place, but first and foremost to those in greatest need. Finally and critically, community is a commitment to development models that protect and preserve—that retain and recycle the income and the assets of the people derived from that place.” In addition to unleashing the power of community the following goals were established during the integrated design process: • Achieve “zero-net energy” as an annual balance of consumption and on site energy production within five years of occupancy. • Encourage community collaboration for all aspects of completing the construction, future maintenance and care of homes. • Establish a resource room and office that will promote, demonstrate, and exemplify the emerging culture for independent living and sustainable community on Lopez Island. • Promote, in measurable ways, energy and water independence and local self-sufficiency while preserving the rural character of the site. • Improve the natural diversity and habitat of the site and surroundings.


Fall 2011

The Design Elements

Ecology Based Land Use:

The 6.5 acre site is located within the Lopez Island Urban Growth Area (UGA) , approximately a 3/8 mile (6 minute walk) north of Lopez Village. Phase I took place on approximately 2 acres of the 6.5 acre site. The site was gently sloped from high on the north side to low on the south side with three distinctive vegetative zones: the forest which occupies the north half of the site, the transitional habitat edge which is scalloped and varies in width along the east west axis, and the meadow or field which occupies the southern third of the site. The concept of permaculture was employed as a primary basis for planning the site design. The completed village has gradients of human inhabited and more naturalized habitat. Water and sun are treated as resources that enrich and are central to the life of the community. Approximately 50 percent of the site was retained as a forested wildlife corridor. Water Balance:

The site receives 26 inches of rainfall a year. Potable water usage in all buildings are reduced by utilizing dual-flush toilets and high-efficiency fixtures. A rainwater system further reduces potable water consumption in which water that falls on the buildings is captured and sent into a 38,000 gallon rainwater catchment tank before it is pumped back into houses for use in washing machines, toilet flushing and garden and site irrigation. Each house has a rainwater budget of 35 gallons per day and current measured usage is 17 gallons per day. Excess rainwater overflow from the tank and site is stored in a pond and used for supplemental irrigation. Potable water is supplied by a 74-foot-deep on-site well with a budget of 75 gallons per day. Measured use is approximately 40 gallons per day. Each house has both a rainwater and a potable water meter. Rain gardens are installed at the parking area to collect gas/oil run-off from vehicles that is filitered before it leaves the site. Wastewater is pretreated in a septic tank and the remaining effluent is treated by the local sewer district. 

Common Ground Neighborhood (Image credit: Mithun | Juan Hernandez)

Owners and LCLT staff provide “sweat equity” to the project

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lopez community land trust & common ground cooperative lopez island, washington

1. Homes sizes are small to reduce energy and resource use. 2. Overhangs engineered for heat gain in winter and shading in summer. 3. Vegetated trellis for shading at lower windows. 4. Super-insulated roof and walls. 5. Straw bales at north, east and west walls for insulation, resource use, and interest in natural building by interns and local community 6. High efficiency, operable windows for solar performace, natural cooling and ventilation. 7. Solar shades on window interiors. 8. Insulated night/light shades at windows. Concrete floors add thermal mass. 9. ENERGY STAR appliences and compact fluorescent lighting. 10. Low-flow plumbing fixtures. 11. Solar hot water heating. 12. Rainwater catchment for toilet flushing, washing machines and stormwater control.


Fall 2011


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Energy Independence:

themselves, or with volunteer building partners. Both The design strategy for energy load reduction in- during the building and after homeowners moved in cludes small unit sizes, together, with envelope im- LCLT conducted training seminars. Each household provements. It consists of R-30 blown-in cellulose was gifted a manual about their home and its operainsulation for framed walls, straw bale construction tions, as well as a bag of various non-toxic household and advanced framing. R-50 insulation for roofs and cleaners. The homeowners met together with staff in energy efficient air ceiling techniques were used in the the homes and talked about the best practices for living design. Only ENERGY STAR lighting and appliances in a net-zero, environmentally friendly home, includwere selected for the project. ing concerns about energy use reduction, wastewater and what types of cleaning products to use. The conPassive solar gain was a primary goal of the design. versations were lively and because everyone had been Buildings were positioned with the front elevation, fac- a part of the construction and preparing the homes for ing south on the site, in order to take advantage of the occupancy there was a fair amount of acquired awaresun’s heating and natural lighting potential. Placement ness and receptivity. and shape of buildings were mocked-up, using sun shading analysis and modeling, to ensure the orienta- In 2010, the first year of occupancy for Common tion, glazing types and thermal mass were optimized. Ground, four of the eleven households reached netIt is estimated that the homes receive a 48 percent re- zero energy. Of course, how the entire project achieves duction of required energy due to passive measures. this result depends on the individual energy use by the residents. Those who conserve energy will not pay enThe passive solar design requires active participation of ergy bills beyond the minimum user fee and those who the occupants and provides interactive, visible and oper- do not conserve will pay accordingly. This has helped able components such as: use meters, insulated night/ bring awareness to residents and will hopefully help light shades, operable windows, and vegetated sun- change the energy use behavior of the residents. screens that people can use as tools to make their homes Social Equity: and offices more comfortable and resource efficient. A major goal for LCLT is to provide housing for people Additionally, LCLT helps residents understand and who are part of the community but cannot afford its keep their homes in tune by providing continuing edu- prices. In order to make this a reality LCLT buys land, cation on site and an innovative homeowners manual develops neighborhoods and sells the homes while re( that illustrates the sea- taining ownership of the land. The land is leased back sonal strategies and features of the homes that will re- to the owners on a 99 year, one-time renewable term so that there is a 198 year commitment to security of land duce resource and energy demands.  while retaining affordability.  On site renewables include a solar thermal hot water system, installed in each unit and an active grid-tied Houses in Common Ground carry a mortgage of between $80,000 and $150,000. Buyers must have lived on photovoltaic system.  the island for two years and show income to match the The People mortgage requirements. Currently ten households fall Collective Wisdom and Feedback: within 45 – 80 percent of Area Median Income and one The participation of future homeowners during the below 95 percent. construction and occupancy phase was a unique and critical aspect of the project. All homeowners were Community Soul: required to put in a minimum of 22-26 hours of la- For all the challenges building Common Ground, there bor per week in the construction of the homes, either has been plenty of laughter and good times shared by


Fall 2011

Straw wall demonstration mock-up for future owners and island community.

the community. One of the most onerous tasks was sifting over 150 yards of clay soils, sand and manure for the earthen plaster mix. Despite the initial groaning about the piles, people stated, “We have the best conversations while doing that endless sifting! It’s the one job where we have uninterrupted time to get to know one another better!” Citizens of Common Ground have a real feeling of empowerment when it comes to their neighborhood. They have come together as a collective whole to help create a place to call home.

Lopez Islanders are asking themselves what their role is, what they can offer and what windows of opportunity there are to make the future a brighter one. This quote by The Little Prince is a great reflection on this sentiment. “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Affordable, sustainable and communal neighborhoods create positive and healthy places to live and learn. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE And places like Common Ground offer a glimmer of LCLT and the residents of Common Ground are con- hope for what is possible for future developments. cerned, yet optimistic for what the future holds. Rhea Miller, LCLT Assitant to the Director, states: “Along with the rest of our Lopez community, we are adjusting to challenging economic times, unfamiliar weather Cynthia moffitt is a planner and a member of the Lopez Community Land and limited resources. Yet our deep love for precious Trust Board. She has spent more than islands and its inhabitants continues unabated. We talk 20 years working with municipalities on constantly with local residents about ways not only to sustainable regional growth managesustain our community but to see it thrive.” ment coordination.

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GREAT PEOPLE WORKING ON GREAT PROJECTS We do Sustainable Building Systems Design. Our Consulting Engineering Services Include: • MEP Engineering • Commissioning • Energy Services • Lighting Design • Technology Integration • CFD Modeling

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Seattle Fall 2011

| Portland | Corvallis | Sacramento | San Francisco | Silicon Valley | Las Vegas | Los Angeles | Irvine | Shanghai

CleanBin is a new recognition program sponsored by King County GreenTools. The purpose of CleanBin is to encourage clean recycling streams for construction and demolition (C&D) materials, primarily through the use of, at a minimum, a garbage-only container and at least one recycling container on job sites. Ultimately, the program seeks to increase code compliance and to eliminate the use of only one bin (which results in extra processing costs and extra residual/garbage at processing facilities).

What is CleanBin?

For more information: Contact Kinley Deller at or 206-296-4434.

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Plan to attend one of our workshops in Vancouver BC, Seattle or Portland in January 2012.

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Fall 2011

Existing Buildings, The Road Ahead part one: building context

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building industry crossroads

As we emerge from the worst recession in a century, we have a golden opportunity to both lead the transformation of the building industry and dramatically reduce its environmental impacts. A renewed focus on the renovation and reuse of existing buildings is imperative. Over four years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Fourth Assessment Report. It stressed the urgency of addressing the causes of climate change and offered what the IPCC considers the most practical solution – a focus on energy efficiency in buildings. Improvements to existing buildings are likely to provide us with the most immediate and deep cuts to carbon emissions of any potential strategies before us. Emerging research will provide building industry leaders and policy makers with the data and analysis necessary to direct this needed transformation. characterizing our building stock

The U.S. building stock is as vast as it is complex. The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and Residential Energy Consumption Survey provides dozens of data-filled spreadsheets that help paint a picture of our current inventory. The most recent report provided by the EIA in 2006 found that there are more than 110 million housing units and 4.8 million commercial buildings, which accounts for more than 328 billion square feet of buildings in the U.S. u.s. building stock

– billion square feet commercial 71.6 billion square feet

residential 256.5 billion square feet


Fall 2011

While commercial buildings represent 71.6 billion square feet of space, the vast majority of the building stock is residential, with 256.5 billion square feet of built space throughout the country. Less than 13.5% of the residential building stock was built prior to 1940. Little more than 3.7 billion square feet of commercial buildings, or 5.28%, date before 1920. Interestingly, evidence from CBECS shows that commercial buildings of today use about the same amount of energy per square foot as those built prior to the 1920s. The majority of the buildings in the U.S. were built after World War II and these are our worst energy performers. Existing commercial buildings are ripe for renovation – using common energy efficiency measures; these buildings can reduce their current energy use by 20% to 40%. Ultimately, the choice to renovate, demolish or build a new building is driven by the complex workings of the building industry. building culture

Howard Davis, in his 1999 book Building Culture, suggests that, “the culture of building is the coordinated system of knowledge, rules, procedures, and habits that surrounds the building process in a given place and time. It is responsible for the character and formation of everyday buildings around us, in addition to building landmarks.” Our current building culture is the product of centuries of design and construction practice and evolution combined with prevailing values, attitudes and financial conditions. Teams of architects, engineers, specialty consultants, bankers and real estate professionals support the development of renovation projects and new buildings. Knowledge and skills are highly specialized in today’s building industry and development projects are influenced by many complex and institutionalized practices and policies, making change sometimes slow and difficult. The complexity and cost of successfully completing a development project means many developers will only work on projects of a particular scale. Small projects require many of the same efforts and incur similar costs as larger projects, making the potential for a good return on investment more uncertain and

Residential and commercial buildings are frequently demolished to make way for new development.

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projects require many of the same efforts and incur similar costs as larger projects, making the potential for a good return on investment more uncertain and therefore, more risky.“


The vast majority of the existing commercial building stock is comprised of smaller buildings less than 25,000-sf. Fall 2011

therefore, more risky. In many ways we have a current building culture that values large, new and lower risk buildings. These tendencies have evolved over the past several decades – all cultural trends which result in a prejudice against renovation over new construction. However, the emergence of sustainability over the past decade has brought a significant shift to our building culture. Our initial emphasis on design and construction practices leads to deeper questions about how development is financed and which policies enable or hamper advances in sustainable development. With an industry so focused on new construction, how can we focus more attention on the environmental value of existing buildings? building economy

The building industry’s connection to the economy appears in the news daily as a measure of economic health based upon new housing starts, construction jobs, and the manufacture of durable goods. What may not be well understood is the magnitude of our reliance on the building industry – and especially new construction – to keep the economic engine moving. In 2009, the building industry was responsible for approximately 9% of U.S. Growth Domestic Product, almost one tenth of our economy. At the same time, among other environmental impacts related to buildings, the operation of buildings contributed over 40% of CO2 emissions in the U.S. due to electricity and direct use of fossil fuels. What is less well understood and often times left unnoticed is the magnitude of the carbon emissions that results from a robust building industry in good times and the relative impacts of existing building renovation compared to new construction. In what often appears to be a boom-and-bust cycle, the building industry is closely connected to the macro economic cycles we experience in the U.S. Called “The Real Estate Cycle,” this sine curve of the real estate business parallels our economy. A notable element of this cycle is the shift from a focus on new construction when the market is favorable to renovation when replacement cost exceeds the value of existing real estate.

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over building

lower replacement cost

market saturation sell

decline buy

rent growth


decreasing vacancy buy

the real estate cycle

Called “The Real Estate Cycle,� this sine curve of the real estate business parallels our economy.


On the upward swing, the economy is strong and available leasable space becomes limited in certain market segments, thereby driving up rents in existing buildings. As rents rise, they cross a threshold in which the replacement cost of space in a new building is lower than rents in the market, spurring the development of new buildings. With a boom in new buildings, many developers attempt to time their projects to sign up new tenants when the buildings are complete. Often, they attract tenants from older existing buildings with the latest building concepts for their market sector, be it commercial office or housing. Once too many projects hit the market, the cycle starts on a downward trend and over saturation of a particular building type leads to rents softening and dropping below the replacement cost of space in new buildings.

major renovations occur on the upswing, when buildings change hands and new space in old buildings is desired and capital is available; while minor retrofits and tenant improvements in existing buildings occur throughout the cycle. Often, as rents soften and leases are set to expire, tenants choose to move to take advantage of lower rents in better buildings with new tenant improvements.

Renovation and demolition activity also generally follow this cycle, but with subtle differences. Most

Merchant developers seek the highest possible internal rate of return for their investment while providing

Fall 2011

Building demolition is often the result of new development pressure in the rising market, but can also follow a significant recession. This is especially true where abandoned buildings and communities are blighted and the expedient solution is to remove the abandoned and derelict buildings in order to prepare sites and neighborhoods for new development.


demolition is often the result of new development pressure in the rising market, but can also follow a significant recession. this is especially true where abandoned buildings and communities are blighted and the expedient solution is to remove the abandoned and derelict buildings in order to prepare sites and neighborhoods for new development.“

a valuable product in the market. With this focus on the bottom line, building the highest possible ratio of rentable space to gross building area is a goal. By building as fast and as cheaply as the market will bear, developers keep site development and construction costs as low as possible, thereby reducing risk; and building for what the real estate market desires or will accept. More recently, sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming an important part of the value proposition, thereby influencing developer choices. Tenants and real estate brokers also have significant power and influence over building performance. As participants in an economic exchange with the landlord, they may have different goals or incentives for building efficiency, which can lead to conflicting approaches. This is commonly referred to as the split incentive. The split incentive often disconnects tenants and building owners from issues of sustainability and

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leads to less investment in efficiency upgrades in order to reduce construction costs. One most common example of the landlord-tenant split incentive is when the tenant pays utility costs. The landlord has no direct incentive to pay for energy efficiency upgrades since they are not a beneficiary of future energy savings. Likewise, if the landlord pays utility costs and makes efficiency upgrades, the tenant has no incentive to use energy efficiently. Therefore, the split incentive hampers our progress toward dramatic efficiency upgrades in buildings, yet this issue is commonplace in the real estate market today. demolition and new construction

The cycle of demolition and new construction is also ingrained in the building industry with little regard for its associated environmental impacts. According to the Brookings Institution, between 2005 and 2030, 27% of existing buildings will be demolished,


CAPTION HERE Existing buildings are demolished for a variety of reasons. Yet their environmental value is not well understood.

or just over 1% per year. In their place, or on greenfield sites, new buildings continue to be built. While the rate of new construction tracks with the broader economy, the average rate of new construction from 1950 to today was approximately 1 billion square feet of commercial buildings and 3.4 billion square feet of residential buildings per year, for a total of about 4.4 billion square feet annually, or about 1.3% a year of our existing building stock.

area development, the building’s poor physical condition due to lack of maintenance and that the building was not considered suitable to the anticipated use. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is our perception of the potential for a building to be reused and the effort that it may take.

There was a growing split between spending on new construction versus renovation. In 2006, prior to the economic downturn, spending on new construction The median lifetime of commercial buildings is 70-75 outpaced spending on renovation nearly two to one. years, but buildings with different uses have different Remember that new construction represents less than survival rates. Many of the most abundant building 1.5% of total existing buildings square footage, yet we types also have some of the longest life spans – which were spending twice as much on new construction anmay be considered an obvious outcome. For instance, nually. The downward slope of the real estate cycle in warehouses, office buildings, mercantile and schools recent years has undoubtedly reversed that trend, and represent 60% of the commercial building stock and therein lies our opportunity. As we come out of the have the longest survival rate, a median lifespan of 80 recession, we need to build additional momentum beyears. A 2004 survey conducted by the Athena Insti- hind rehabilitation and retrofit. According to McGraw tute determined that the most significant reasons why Hill Construction, in 2010 commercial building ena building was demolished was related to pressure from ergy efficient retrofits represented 66-75% of the $41


Fall 2011

According to national survey data, pre-1920s buildings, such as this traditional “Main Street� type of development, often use the same or less energy than buildings built today.

support building industry professionals and policy makers. As these key players continue to evolve their practices and codes toward deeper levels of sustainability and as they identify potential incentives and policies that monetize preferred environmental outIf scientific data showed that building reuse had sig- comes, they can engage the building industry with nificantly lower environmental impacts and resulted market-based mechanisms. in dramatically lower near-term carbon emissions than new construction, could this evidence support Part two of this article, published in a future edition the transformation of our building industry toward Trim Tab, will provide an overview of the study results a prevailing culture of building reuse? A new study and analysis, along with a challenge to the building infor the National Trust for Historic Preservation be- dustry to respond to this information with a new reing conducted by Cascadia Green Building Council, spect and fresh approach to our existing building stock. Green Building Services, Quantis and Skanska may soon provide such proof. The study, called Quantifying the Value of Building Reuse, utilizes life cycle Ralph Dinola is principal at Green assessment to explore the relative environmental Building Services and board member of impacts of building reuse compared to new conthe International Living Future Institute. struction for six distinct building types in four cities across the U.S. The purpose of the study is to provide analysis and interpretation of the findings to billion of major renovation spending and renovation represented 64% of all construction projects. By 2014 that share is anticipated to rise to 85-95% of $53 billion in renovation spending.

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Fall 2011

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b y edward wolf and jules baile y


PUTTING EARTHQUAKE SAFETY ON THE GREEN SCHOOLS AGENDa Before dawn on April 18, 1906, the ground lurched without warning along nearly 300 miles of California’s San Andreas Fault. For almost a minute, the San Francisco Bay Area shook, and then for three days the city burned. Over 28,000 buildings were destroyed. That fall, Portland, Oregon mayor Harry Lane joined other municipal leaders in a call for fireproof schools.

losopher John Dewey to create modern, safe learning environments for young Oregonians. The result: beautiful brick and concrete structures that have withstood nearly a century of continuous use. Yet today those historic schools, designed and built with fire safety in mind, include buildings that some structural engineers rank among the most dangerous public buildings in Oregon.

His plea slowly gained traction. At a gathering four years later, Portland’s civic leaders insisted on “the substitution of fireproof buildings for the (wood) frame af- While conventional wisdom said that Oregonians needn’t fairs now put up by the Board of Education.”1 be concerned about earthquakes, none of the school architects of the early 20th century could have known that The call for fireproof schools unleashed a wave of earthquakes vastly more powerful than the Great San school construction that joined cutting-edge school Francisco Earthquake had struck repeatedly throughout architecture with the progressive learning ideas of phi- the region’s history, shaping the Pacific Northwest environment. The last great earthquake to shake Cascadia 1. “School Buildings Are Called Unfit,” The Oregonian, July 31, 1910.


Fall 2011

IMAGE © Gary Wilson Photo/Graphic

Class in session at Rosa Parks Elementary School, Portland, Orgeon

occurred on January 26, 1700, nearly a century and a half Using new methods to study seabed sediments, pabefore the first settlers crossed the Oregon Trail. leoseismologists have documented forty-one great earthquakes of magnitude 8 and larger along all or Few schools designed and built in the Pacific North- part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone during the last west took earthquakes into account until the 1990s, 10,000 years. Eighty percent of the intervals between when Oregon adopted its first seismic building codes. known Cascadia quakes are shorter than the 311 years Since schools tend to be some of the longest-lived that have elapsed since the most recent temblor. Availbuildings in their communities, hundreds of thousands able data suggest that the Cascadia fault may be “nine of schoolchildren in British Columbia, Washington, months pregnant and overdue,” says Yumei Wang, an and Oregon attend classes in structures liable to col- earthquake risk engineer for the State of Oregon. lapse when a powerful earthquake strikes. Earthquakes along Cascadia, a fault with a geology North of California, few architects or engineers took similar to the plate boundary off northern Honshu that steps to mitigate a risk that most considered remote. generated the Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami Discovery of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a plate- of March 2011, can shake a region from Ashland to Vanboundary fault stretching 650 miles from Cape Men- couver with ground motions lasting as long as three to docino to Vancouver Island, forced a re-examination of five minutes. The fault can generate earthquakes of those long-held assumptions.

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Retail district north of Market Street devastated by the Great San Francisco Earthquake, April 1906.

Of the 2,161 public school buildings in a state inventory comprising most of Oregon’s 1,355 public elementary, middle, and high schools, 2,027 (94 percent) pre-date the state’s first seismic building codes.

magnitude 9 and above, triggering landslides, severing pipelines, and toppling bridges and buildings. Whatever else it may be, this precarious geology is also Cascadia’s deepest ecology. Great earthquakes and tsunamis have shaped the coastlines and landscapes of the region since time immemorial. Native peoples of Vancouver Island, coastal Washington, and Oregon recount tectonic upheavals in their myths and stories. Great earthquakes are as native to this place as the spawning journeys of Chinook and Coho salmon.


Fall 2011

The case for earthquake-resilient schools echoes the rationale for improving the energy efficiency of our schools. Aging public schools lack seismic fitness for the same reason they are energy inefficient: most were built decades before these aspects of our built environment were understood, during an era characterized by cheap energy and ignorance of the region’s true seismic risks. Green schools advocates take justifiable pride in new schools like LEED Gold-certified Rosa Parks Elementary in Portland’s Portsmouth neighborhood. The school, unique in the Portland district’s 85-school in-

ventory, represents an advance in the design of learning environments as significant as the Progressive Era school architecture of the last century – and it complies with current seismic building codes. But given the longevity of school buildings and the challenges of financing school construction, opportunities to build schools like Rosa Parks Elementary will remain rare. The retrofit of existing schools will be the central challenge for green schools innovators in Portland, as elsewhere in Cascadia, for decades to come. Consider these numbers from Oregon: Of the 2,161 public school buildings in a state inventory comprising most of Oregon’s 1,355 public elementary, middle, and high schools, 2,027 (94 percent) pre-date the state’s first seismic building codes. Eighty percent were constructed before the energy price spikes triggered by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Sixty percent are more than fifty years old. From an energy standpoint, these aging schools are sieves; from a seismic standpoint, many resemble a house of cards. A statewide assessment of seismic risk 2 found that 1,018 public school buildings, 47 percent of the total reviewed, rated “High” or “Very High” risk of collapse in a strong earthquake. The study employed a Rapid Visual Screening methodology developed by FEMA 2 Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. 2007. Statewide Seismic Needs Assessment: Implementation of Oregon 2005 Senate Bill 2 Relating to Public Safety, Earthquakes, and Seismic Rehabilitation of Public Buildings. Open-File Report O-07-02. Salem, OR.

to prioritize structures that need thorough structural engineering check-ups. By any measure, Oregon’s public schools are highly compromised. Over 300,000 Oregon children attend classes in buildings with a better than one-in-ten chance of collapse during the several minutes of shaking that a Cascadia earthquake is expected to generate. Many public schools rate 100 percent risk of collapse. How to come to grips with a challenge of this magnitude? Enter the Cool Schools vision. Governor John Kitzhaber campaigned for office on a pledge to bring energy efficiency to Oregon schools, a sweeping statewide vision designed to save money, create jobs, and reduce Oregon’s dependence on fossil fuels. As schools lowered utility and fuel bills, savings could be directed straight to classrooms or used to cover interest on funds borrowed to pay the upfront costs of insulation or highefficiency lighting. Kitzhaber set a goal of bringing such efficiency improvements to at least 500 Oregon schools. To achieve the Governor’s vision, a bipartisan group of lawmakers came together with school administrators, contractors, and energy professionals during the 2011 legislative session to craft the legislation that became Cool Schools, HB 2960. Facing a record state budget deficit, Cool Schools advocates knew that efficiency upgrades would have to be financed using only existing funds and programs. Oregon’s Small-Scale Energy

IMAGE © Gary Wilson Photo/Graphic

Green features of LEED Gold-certified Rosa Parks Elementary School in Portland, Oregon include extensive daylighting, native and drought-tolerant landscaping, a high-efficiency gas boiler, and a 1.1-kw demonstration photovoltaic system.

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Governor John Kitzhaber signs landmark Cool Schools legislation in the Oregon State Capitol, June 23, 2011.

Loan Program (SELP) and public purpose charge rev- To make energy efficiency loans pencil out for older enue to schools provided a platform on which to build. buildings, Cool Schools advocates favor diverting a portion of the “avoided cost” of energy savings to pay interAs the Cool Schools bill moved through committee, est charges on loans for upgrades. Left uncorrected, the several legislators, led by Representatives Cliff Bentz structural deficiencies of many Oregon schools would (R-Ontario) and Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach) undermine this key Cool Schools assumption. A buildmade integration of seismic and safety upgrades a pri- ing destroyed or rendered unsafe to enter by earthquake ority. While the Cool Schools bill provides no new damage effectively ends the payback from energy savfunds for seismic upgrades, it does prioritize schools ings. Seismic upgrades to collapse-prone buildings prothat also use a small state grant program for seismic vide a kind of insurance policy for energy upgrades. retrofits. Including seismic resilience in the vision for Cool Schools made good policy and financial sense, As every owner of a vintage home knows, taking steps and it attracted additional support. Oregon’s business to modernize an old structure can be costly. Comcommunity saw that both energy and seismic projects bining seismic and energy projects offers a way to accould create jobs, a top priority for the governor. On complish both goals at least cost, using tax money efJune 20, 2011, Cool Schools passed with unanimous ficiently and saving scarce dollars that can be directed support in both the House and Senate. to classrooms.


Fall 2011


Journeyman carpenter Tom White drills holes for anchor bolts to secure the roof in a seismic retrofit at East Portland’s Floyd Light Middle School, August 2011.

The nationwide green schools movement has much to teach the architects and engineers who will design and implement a new generation of seismic retrofits. Green features involving water, energy, and ventilation are commonly designed to be seen, even explored, by building occupants; a green school reveals its systems in order to teach by example. “Architecture as pedagogy,” USGBC Center for Green Schools advisor David Orr calls this, adding that “buildings have their own hidden curriculum that teaches as effectively as any course taught in them.”3

base isolation – seismic analogues of green roofs and bioswales – can serve to remind people in schools and other public buildings that shaking should be expected here. Schoolchildren who share awareness of seismic features with their parents can motivate safety investments at home that will also save lives. Structural features that confer resilience, like those that achieve sustainability goals, should be designed to engage and delight. In this way, the built environment can foster a culture in which seismic resilience becomes second nature.

In Cascadia, revealing and explaining seismic features of the built environment can teach in a similar way. Reinforced shear walls and visible bracing or

Such a culture does not yet exist in Cascadia, but there are signs of progress. British Columbia, several years into a 15-year overhaul of provincial schools, has spent more than half a billion dollars on seismic upgrades. Thanks to a decade-long effort by Senator Pe-

3 “Architecture as Pedagogy,” in David Orr, Earth in Mind (Washington, D.C. and Covelo, CA: Island Press, 1994).

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An example of seismic bracing

ter Courtney, Oregon has a small but promising grant program in place to retrofit public schools and emergency response facilities, and the state’s Cool Schools initiative may help grow interest in seismic projects and attract new funding. What steps can green building professionals take to weave seismic resilience with sustainability? First, become educated on the region-wide risk of a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. The science is advancing fast, the risk is large, and unlike many other natural disasters, the region’s next earthquake will strike without warning. Second, recognize that seismic upgrades provide a key piece of risk mitigation for energy-saving projects. Prudent approaches to risk can lower interest rates, making financing for resource efficiency improvements more affordable.


Fall 2011

Third, advocate for public investment in seismic resilience. Inspiring as a new green school can be, vast numbers of existing schools expected to serve for decades need public investment to perform safely. Architects and designers can help keep a spotlight on this risk over the many decades it will take to address it. Schools are the flagships and beacons of living communities. As flagships, they supply neighborhood pride and identity. As beacons, they can set powerful examples that resonate widely through the urban built environment. Green schools like Rosa Parks Elementary demonstrate that a new way of living in Cascadia is possible. Earthquake resilient schools can help impart the message that a new way of living in Cascadia, informed by the region’s deepest ecology, is necessary.


Portland’s Franklin High School, built in 1915, exemplifies “fireproof” Unreinforced Masonry construction in the Colonial Revival style of the early 20th Century.

Not even the oldest of Cascadia’s residents has experienced a great earthquake and tsunami here. But the certainty of the next earthquake is no longer in doubt. To live gracefully and responsibly in Cascadia requires both sustainability and seismic resilience. Architects, designers, innovative engineers, and foresightful public officials must work together, as they did in crafting Oregon’s Cool Schools initiative, to forge the synthesis that Cascadia needs. A century ago, school architects shocked by the Great San Francisco Earthquake responded with fireproof schools. Their design response was only half right. “Why is it that so much of our built environment is unfit for our most sensitive and vulnerable citizens?” Jason McLennan asked poignantly in the Summer 2011 issue of Trim Tab.4 Green schools advocates, architects 4 Jason F. McLennan, “Our Children’s Cities: The Logic & Beauty of a Child-Centered Civilization,” Trim Tab, Summer 2011.

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and builders can answer his question by matching their deep understanding of the sustainability challenge with a determination to address Cascadia’s seismic certainty.

Edward Wolf, a freelance writer and public school parent who writes frequently on seismic resilience, is a contributing author of Worldchanging 2.0: A User’s Guide to the Twenty-First Century (Abrams, 2011). Jules Bailey is a consulting economist and a two-term State Representative from Oregon House District 42 (inner Eastside Portland). He led the unanimous passage of the landmark Cool Schools bill. He’s a member of the USGBC 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Advisory Committee.


Public Workshops Coming to a City Near You: Oct. 4 – Toronto, ON (at Greenbuild) Oct. 28 – Portland, OR Nov. 3 – New York, NY Dec. 6 – Sacramento, CA

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

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 View other educational offerings online at 72

Fall 2011


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

The Living Building Challenge

WANT TO REACH NEARLY 25,000 LEADING PRACTITIONERS? Contact us to advertise in the next issue!

From Concept to Certification TR A NSFORM ATION A L ACTION

There’s Danger Underfoot. Where Do You Stand? TR A NSFORM ATION A L PEOPLE



Trim Tab reaches an audience of green professionals four times a year — A L SO:

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

For more information, visit

trim tab


Moving Upstream Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction Begins

Clean Water, Healthy Sound The International Living Future Institute just released a life cycle analysis of decentralized wastewater treatment

The new commercial office space broke ground recently


in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The project is aiming for the Living Building Challenge certification which make it anything but a typical office building.

Sensitivity Analysis: Comparing the Impact of Design, Operation, and Tenant Behavior on Building Energy Performance This study (from the New Buildings Institute) was designed to try to quantify the degree to which operational energy-use characteristics affect building energy use and compare these variables to the relative impact of what are typically considered building design characteristics.

The Evolving Green Story of Phipps: A Living Building Takes Shape Watch the fascinating story of why and how the Phipps Conservancy in Pittsburgh decided to pursue Living Building Challenge certification for its Center for Sustainable Landscapes.

13-Year-Old Makes A Solar Breakthrough With Fibonacci Sequence This is truly Biomimicry at its best. Solar panels that mimic the leaves of trees – and invented by a 13 year old. Who would of thought?

Google is Adopting Greener Ways Google is beginning to build greener office spaces that support the health and productivity of their employees. And they use materials free of the Living Building Challenge Red List.


Fall 2011

making progress? Do you have a lead on cutting-edge green building progress in the region? Contact 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:

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 OCTOBER – DECember 2011



Events And Workshops Presented By Or In Partnership With The International Living Future Institute Update on Ecology’s draft Stormwater Permit Rules

Seattle, WA – 10/04 LEED 201: Core Concepts & Strategies Workshop

Anchorage, AK – 10/05 BD+C 301: Implementing the BuildingDesign + Construction LEED Rating System

Anchorage, AK – 10/06 Transformational Lecture Series Featuring Ralph DiNola: The Business Case for Green

Victoria, BC - 10/11 Transformational Lecture Series featuring Dave Ramslie: Connecting Cities with People

Spokane, WA – 10/12 Bellingham, WA – 10/13 Transformational Lecture Series Featuring Yancy Wright: The Business Case for Green

Bend, OR – 10/12 Klamath Falls, OR – 10/13 LEED Canada for New Construction: Technical Review 2009

Vancouver, BC – 10/18 LEED Canada for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance: Technical Review

Vancouver, BC – 10/18 LEED for Homes 301: Implementing the LEED for Homes Rating System

Seattle, WA – 10/21 Green Associate Study Course

Vancouver, CA – 10/26 – 10/27 Net Zero Building Envelope Design

Tacoma, WA – 10/28

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


LEED Canada for New Construction: Technical Review 2009

Victoria, BC – 11/01 – 11/02 Transformational Lecture Series featuring Denis Hayes: The Green Bubble

Portland, OR – 11/01 Transformational Lecture Series featuring Robert Costanza: Ecological Economies

Seattle, WA – 11/02 Vancouver, BC – 11/03 Understanding the Living Building Challenge Workshop

New York City, NY – 11/03 Green Associate Study Course

Victoria, BC – 11/09-11/10 Transformational Lecture Series featuring Bert Gregory

Kelowna, BC – 11/09 Why Storytelling is the “X” Factor in Harnessing Your Sustainability Efforts

Online – 11/17 Transformational Lecture Series featuring Stephen Kellert + Film Screening - Biophilic Design: the Architecture of Life

Vancouver, BC – 12/01 Other Events Victoria Sustainability Symposium

Victoria, BC – 10/11 Whidbey Island Bioneers 2011

Clinton, WA – 10/14 – 10/16 EcoDistricts Summit

Portland, OR – 10/26 – 10/28

For complete details, please visit

fwd: read this! CLICK

What Does A New Energy Era Look Like?

“Learn why moving from today’s fossil fuel reality to a new energy future powered by efficiency and renewables makes sense and makes money.” View the Reinventing Fire infographic from the Rocky Mountain Institute to discover the pathways to put the idea into action.


3 of the 13 “Best bills of 2011” are in Oregon

Many new policies that have been passed this year certainly do not seem very progressive or even very positive. This is a look at 13 state bills that could possibly help turn the ship… and 3 of them are in Oregon.


Tar-Sands Oil Pipeline Protests

Recently there have been international protests about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, for Canada to the Gulf Coast. Where do you stand on the issue?


Rainwater Harvesting in King County is Becoming a Reality

Homeowners in King County look to take more steps down the path of sustainability through the use of rainwater harvesting systems as a sole source for potable water.


The Path of Coal to Asia

As major coal companies are looking to expand their monopolies throughout Washington, more and more residents affected by the industry’s harmful transportation tactics are fighting back. Learn how you can help!

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


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 or by phone at 503.228.5533.


Fall 2011

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.

We make buildings smarter and more energy-efficient. In the process, we reshape the world around us.

• 50% of membership dollars directly support your local branch*

This is Energy for Change™

• Receive discounts on all Cascadia events, including Living Future • Earn up to 14 LEED CE hours, at no extra charge

TrimTab 1-4 Page Aug.2011.pdf 8/18/2011 4:56:50 PM

• 100% of your membership contribution is tax deductible in the US**


*In the United States, Cascadia is a 501(c)(3) notpeci-trimtab-ad-FINAL.indd for-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. C





9/20/2011 12:36:13 PM

Advanced Green Roof Maintenance, Introduction to Rooftop Urban Agriculture, Integrated Water Management for Buildings and Sites, and Green Walls 101 (2nd ed.) manuals are now on sale for $175 ea. Take the online courses online for $125 until Oct. 31st and receive the manual for $95 plus shipping!





To purchase manuals go to: For online courses go to:

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities: trim tab




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Trim Tab v.11 - Fall 2011  

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

Trim Tab v.11 - Fall 2011  

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