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Education and Labor: Berea College’s New Student Residence Hall BY DANIEL F. HELLMUTH AND JAY BUCKNER




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EDUCATION AND LABOR: Berea College’s New Student Residence Hall © BEREA COLLEGE


Fall 2013



ounded in 1855 by Reverend John G. Fee, Berea College is one of the nation’s most distinctive liberal arts colleges and the South’s first interracial and coeducational college.

Located in Kentucky, Berea’s century-and-a-half commitment to social equity is expressed through the college’s mission statement, otherwise known as its Great Commitment. It prioritizes providing educational opportunities for students who have great promise and limited financial resources; serving the community; providing a student labor program; promoting kinship among all peoples; and, finally, following the principles of “plain living,” which is expressed today as a commitment to a sustainable way of life. Berea College’s earliest faculty included ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, and today it is an educational institution firmly rooted in

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its historic and religious purposes that shape the college’s culture and programs. Students and staff alike work toward a vision of a world shaped by their values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peaceful justice. This open environment encourages people to be active learners, hard workers, dedicated members of the academic community, and responsible citizens of the world. The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional and spiritual potentials, as well as the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action. To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself to:

• assert the kinship of all people, and provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites. • create a democratic community dedicated to education and equality for women and men. • maintain a residential campus, and encourage in all members of the community a way of life characterized by plain living, pride in hard work, zest for learning, high personal standards, and concern for the welfare of others. • serve the Appalachian region primarily through education, but also through other appropriate channels.

• provide an educational opportunity primarily for black and white students from Appalachia who have great promise and limited economic resources.

All students admitted to Berea receive a full or partial four-year tuition scholarship. This may be combined with other financial aid and scholarships awarded by • provide an education of high quality with a liberal outside parties or organizations to cover 100% of tuition costs. For most Berea students, the scholarship arts foundation. amounts to nearly $100,000 over four years. • stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions, and emphasize the Christian ethic Berea and the Living Building Challenge and the motive of service to others. • teach all students how to serve in community through the labor program, and demonstrate that labor, both mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.


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Given the innovative and pioneering history of Berea College, the high-level sustainability goals for the new student residence hall came as no surprise. From the onset, the new student residence hall was poised to be



LEFT: Interior shot of the third floor student lounge MIDDLE: Floating top table made for the student lounge


RIGHT: Berea College student residence hall targeting Living Building Challenge Petal Certification and LEED Platinum.

a special endeavor. The college selected two architects to work on the project as equal team players. Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects (H+B) was selected for its innovative, deep green experience with the Tyson Living Learning Center, one of the first certified Living Buildings in the country. Hastings & Chivetta Architects (H&C) was chosen for its extensive experience in student dormitory design and overall higher education experience. Both firms are based in St. Louis, Missouri and had previously collaborated on other projects.

foundation from local rocks, and felled lumber in the Berea College Forest for the oak flooring and woodwork. This tradition was something the team wanted to incorporate in the new residence hall, as it fit handin-glove with the college’s education mission and sustainability goals, as well as the spirit of the Living Building Challenge. Living Building Challenge Charrette as a Vehicle for Discovery and a Catalyst for Innovation

The project designers strived to achieve LEED Platinum “Plus” as the certification goal — the highest LEED rating possible. In addition, the project focused on achieving Living Building Challenge Petal Recognition with a specific focus on Site, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty.

Berea College Forest During the extensive charrette process, the team discovered more details about the 8,000-acre Berea College Forest, located only three miles from campus in the foothills of the Cumberland, and was eager to integrate wood from the forest into the new building. The During the research phase, which included several forest was also just completing its FSC certification, two-day design and sustainability charrettes, H+B meaning it would meet the requirements of both the soon discovered the college’s incredible legacy of stu- Living Building Challenge and LEED. In addition, dent participation in building construction, furniture H+B had recent experience in a similar situation workmanufacturing and arts integration. Berea College ing with forester Travis Mohrman to help secure wood has a long history of student labor in the creation of for the Tyson Living Learning Center. various campus buildings. For example, during the construction of the Phelp Stokes Chapel, students hand-made bricks from local clay, hewed stones for the

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Student Crafts and Fine Arts The team was also introduced to Tim Glotzbach, Director of Student Crafts, who is in charge of all the craft furniture and wood products made by students at the college. Glotzbach was equally excited about the prospect of the students fabricating some or all of their own dormitory furniture. Yet another link was forged with the Fine Arts Department, which gathered a team of local artists to collaborate on a comprehensive Arts Integration Strategy for the project.

residence, and provides a strong connection between place and materials for all the students visiting and living in the residence hall.

Prior to construction and as part of the labor program, students unloaded and installed the finish wood in a storage facility, and also learned how to use a portable saw mill with some of the downed and felled trees on the building site. In the central lobby and lounges, wood is featured on the ceilings, wainscoting, trim and casework. The student study areas have tulip poplar Agriculture trim along with poplar art niches, and the corridors An agricultural focus group, led by Dr. Sean Clark, Di- and dorm rooms are all trimmed in wood. This creates rector of the Agriculture Department, was set up ear- a warm and polished interior not typically seen in ly in the design process to evaluate ways to integrate institutional design. agriculture into the development of the new student residence that would work with student’s interests and Educational Opportunities schedules. This was yet another unique opportunity of working with Berea College that has a hands on agri- Student-Designed and Fabricated Furniture cultural program and over 800 acres of land owned and Berea College has a history of student-made furniture, managed by the college in production and pasture. most recently for the hotel rooms in Boone Tavern, a hotel and restaurant staffed by students. Student laWood Sourcing from the College bor provides not only a workforce, but also an unusual Another unique and challenging opportunity of the opportunity to learn woodworking skills in a largely project was sourcing wood from the Berea College For- liberal arts college. The Woodcraft Department, part est for interior trim, furniture, and timber framing for of the Student Craft Department, makes a variety the central section of the student residence. Working of smaller wooden toys and games as well as smaller closely with Berea College’s Main Forester Clint Pat- furniture pieces that are sold to help fund the college. terson and using skills developed on the Tyson Living Nevertheless, students had not made furniture from Learning Center, H+B created sourcing schedules, their own processed wood for any recent projects. which looked at “windows of opportunity” for marking and felling timber based on time frames for kiln-dry- Before the design of the project was completed, ing, milling and final shaping of the wood. Early efforts the project team had to determine what wood was to utilize forest lumber for timber framing became too available and estimate the number of pieces needchallenging from both a cost and scheduling perspec- ed. Given their recent experience with Boone tive. However, a sustainable harvest which could be Tavern, Glotzbach took on the challenge of makused for both the trim and furniture had already been ing the desks and dressers for the dorm rooms set in motion. in a Shaker style that would closely match the proposed contract furniture. In addition, the WoodDamaged oak trees were harvested and used for the craft Department had the creative opportunity to take initial 5,000 boards of lumber. Once a final material on the design and fabrication of the lounge and study list was agreed upon, a much larger sustainable harvest area tables, which could utilize different types of wood. was felled, milled and kiln-dried. The tulip poplar fin- These pieces used storm-downed timber and wood cut ish wood was used as a central feature of the student from the project site.


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Chester Mullins, a local wood craftsman with significant experience in production, manufacturing and training, was hired to oversee the furniture manufacturing process. Ten students from the Student Labor Program manufactured and built all 246 pieces. As part of the design concept, the furniture pieces consist of an overall interchangeable frame, making assembly easier with pieces that mix and match.

and Archaeology at the time, led her students in the research of the site’s development history. Students performed digs and collected and cataloged various items and artifacts related to the prior use of the building. These objects will also be on display in the new building.

Agriculture Between the college’s hands-on agricultural program and the 800 acres of agricultural land owned and farmed by the college, student labor in agricultural efforts provides both a work force for projects and an educational experience for students. In conjunction with the new Berea College Farm Store, designed by H+B and opening in late fall 2013, plans are underway to tie a variety of new agricultural initiatives to the student residence building. The manager of the farm store, Bethany Pratt, is working with students on an edible landscaping design for the grounds as part of a course on Appalachian plants and people. The college’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Program is working on beekeeping, egg, chicken, fish and mushroom production as part of a new agricultural initiative that will be posted in the main student lobby of the residence hall and featured on the student residence website. The Student Labor Program will provide labor positions to carry out these initiatives, process raw material to create value-added products, and sell them in the farm store retail area and outdoor farmers’ market. The desired result is to produce a complete farm-to-table learning experience that will be tied into the information featured in the student residence.

Sundial Inspired by the Biophilia Imperative of the Challenge, H+B looked for opportunities to connect students with nature and natural cycles on a day-to-day basis. A major driver of the site design was the optimization of the east-west axis and southern roof exposure to provide the most efficient orientation for photovoltaic panels. A sundial on the façade of the student residence seemed a fitting symbol of this effort. It not only interprets the daily and seasonal movement of the sun, but also provides the time. The building committee agreed on using a Kentucky barn quilt pattern for the geometry of the sundial, which has become an iconic symbol on campus and a smaller version will be sold in the Berea College Crafts Catalog.

Archaeology During the site design and development process, the Archaeology Department was given the opportunity to develop a course on the social and cultural history of the proposed site, which has had a series of previous uses since the founding of the town of Berea and the development of the Berea College campus. This course investigated the proposed site prior to construction during the fall 2011 term. Julia Hruby, Professor of Art

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Arts Integration

Under the leadership of Arts Director Lisa Kriner, ceramics faculty members Sarah Gross and Phillip Wiggs created a new tile fabrication course tasked with interpreting the colors and producing the tiles for the sundial. The course was designed with student learning and flexibility at its core, with a small group of students involved in every step of the tile fabrication process: conducting material tests, mixing clay, making and glazing tiles and loading and firing the kilns. At the onset of the course, the students toured the construction site and were able to see their work assembled in place shortly after the conclusion of their class. Art Niches and Interior Murals The Residential Life program is currently developing a student-led group to manage and facilitate the display of student art found in art niches in the study areas on each floor. Each niche has been designed for three-dimensional ceramic artwork, but could also


country — a difficult feat in the challenging Kentucky climate. The design team set a goal of achieving an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 29 kBTU/SF/yr. Typical ASHRAE requirements for this climate zone would be an EUI of 90 kBTU/sf/yr. With a current modeled EUI Different wall spaces within the building are current- of 31, this project represents a 65% reduction in energy ly being evaluated for large-scale murals intended to use and is one of the most efficient buildings of its kind. inspire students and create a link between the Berea In addition, the project has a 50 kW roof-mounted PV College Forest and the wood used throughout the system that produces 15% of the power needed for building. Mural themes will focus on social justice is- the building. sues from the history of the college. Living Building Challenge Given the dual social and educational mission- To achieve the Net Zero Water Imperative, the student of Berea College, all of these initiatives had to be residence building was designed with a full composupported by the college and undertaken by student la- nent of modular compost toilets and foam-flush toibor, or become a part of an educational focus by fulfill- let fixtures, along with a graywater irrigation system ing existing requirements or crafting new special focus and rainwater catchment. Regulatory hurdles were classes. In this case the charrette process — in con- encountered during the design phase, which unfortujunction with design team experience and the Chal- nately resulted in a conventional solution. lenge Imperatives — served as a catalyst that, when paired with the capabilities and unique strengths of Meeting Petal Certification under the Living Buildthe college, resulted in tangible and exciting outcomes. ing Challenge was established during the conceptual design phase as an important goal. The financial impact of achieving Net Zero Energy made meeting the Certification Goals requirements of the Materials Petal the only other available path to Petal Certification. Some of the more LEED The project is tracking LEED Platinum, and if it costly materials requirements were addressed in severachieves the goal of earning 89-90 points, it will be al alternates in the bid package, with many of the base one of the highest-scoring college dormitories in the level requirements already included. When bids came

LEFT: Making the sundial MIDDLE: Sundial in place


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be used for prints and fiber art. Informal opportunities exist to hang tapestries, photos and illustrations of the history of Berea College and the building of the student residence.

Project Info and Design Team Contact Name: Daniel F. Hellmuth, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP Company/Organization: Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects, LLC Project Name: Berea College Deep Green Student Residence Building Type: College Residential Housing Gross Square Feet: 41,554 SF Owner: Berea College Location: Berea, KY, USA Project Team Members Co-Design Architect/Sustainable Design Consultant: Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects

in, the alternates came under the established budget limit and were accepted. As a result, the project meets the Living Building Challenge Petal Certification requirements with the Materials Petal as its anchor. Conclusion The Living Building Challenge in the social and cultural context of Berea College has served as a catalyst for engaging students in the design process. Leveraging social justice through participation in construction, art and agriculture created life-learning experiences and proved to be an important piece of the project. The core elements of the Living Building Challenge are alive in the building and in the students. Tours of the new residence are being offered by trained student guides, and excitement is growing as the experience of living in “deep green” unfolds.

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Co-Design Architect /Architect of Record: Hastings & Chivetta Architects MEP Engineer: CMTA Civil Engineer/Landscape Architect: M2D Design Group Construction Manager/Contractor: Messer Construction Structural: Fink, Roberts, and Petrie Commissioning: Aramark Berea College: Larry Shinn, Past President Steve Karcher, Past VP for Sustainability Derrick Singleton, VP for Sustainability Richard Dodd, Capital Projects Director Clint Patterson, College Forester Tim Glotzbach, Director of Student Crafts

DANIEL F. HELLMUTH, AIA, is a principal and co-founder of Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects, L.L.C. His firm has experience on over 30 LEED projects as well as one certified Living Building Project, the Tyson Living Learning Center.

JAY BUCKNER specializes in media relations, video production and electronic communications and has worked at Berea College for more than 11 years, telling incredible stories of how the distinctive and historical mission of Berea College is bettering the world one Berean at a time.




The following feature article is an excerpt from the new book titled “Pliny Fisk III: Creating a Maximum Potential Future” by Sam Martin. The book details Fisk's decades-long evolution from appropiate technology activist to mainstream green building guru, and the article showcases Chapter 1.


Fall 2013



True to his coming of age in a time open to embracing cosmic connections, Pliny is adept at connecting the dots between his experiences, ideas and peer network, and the palpability of that three dimensional web gives him a window into similarities that might be opaque to the rest of us, particularly those more comfortable with a linear view. He applies what he calls “high level ways of thinking” that inextricably link his projects to one another, the thought fragments–intellectual by-products– from one project feeding the next. Eventually, he says, you find yourself struggling to cram new concepts or ideas into the box you created rather than expand the box to accommodate the radical, the new, the previously unimagined. ILLUSTRATION © CMPBS

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n the spring of 1983, Pliny Fisk III landed in Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast in a beat up old cargo plane riddled with bullet holes.1 In his possession: equipment for an earth lab that could test the strength of a new type of cement he was creating from the local soil and rice husk ash for the country’s indigenous Miskito people. Some may have questioned the timing of such a project, if not the location. Nicaragua had been

“The notion of a gringo with Albert Einstein hair and a mad scientist’s bushy mustache whacking his way into the Nicaraguan jungle to teach such a proud and independent group of indigenous people how to live off the land they have settled for hundreds of years seems, at first glance, presumptuous and, at second glance, crazy.”


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locked in a devastating civil war between the revolutionary Sandinista government and an organized and U.S. funded counter-revolutionary force known as the Contras. Fisk did not see that as a deterrent, even after he got rerouted to the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador where he was asked to update his passport (it had inconveniently expired since his last international trip). That unexpected side trip had drained him of the little resources he had, leaving him with not much more than forty dollars and the boots on his feet. But his determination was fixed. After landing, Fisk walked out of the heavily militarized airport and into a thick humid air where he got into a truck with his equipment and headed off into the war-ravaged Mosquito Coast to help the locals build better houses. For centuries the Mosquito Coast has been one of the most inaccessible and autonomous regions in Central America. The virtually road-less Caribbean lowland landscape is a hot and humid savannah interspersed with patches of tropical rainforest where the coast loops in and out in a series of irregular lagoons. A wide and diverse parade of plant life and animals call the forest home, including 200-foot Ceiba trees, jaguar, puma, anacondas, howler monkeys, and the beautiful and mysterious holy bird of the Mayan civilization, the quetzal. The area is constantly wet, with as much as 250 inches of rainfall per year. Several of Nicaragua’s large rivers run through the region, flowing down from the country’s inland volcanic mountain range and into the Caribbean Sea. So remote is this triangular piece of territory between Honduras and Costa Rica, that the Miskito people who have long lived here (and for whom the territory is named), were largely unaffected by the Spanish conquests of the area in the 1600s and 1700s. After centuries of Spanish and British rule in the region, the Miskito still have the same political and social customs they have had for more than 350 years,

including a king whose royal lineage dates back at least seven generations. Many Miskitos still do not recognize the Nicaraguan government, nor do they consider themselves Nicaraguans. Which makes what Fisk was doing even more questionable. The notion of a gringo with Albert Einstein hair and a mad scientist’s bushy mustache whacking his way into the Nicaraguan jungle to teach such a proud and independent group of indigenous people how to live off the land they have settled for hundreds of years seems, at first glance, presumptuous and, at second glance, crazy. But for Pliny Fisk III, a man trained in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning, and a professor and pioneer of the sustainable planning, design, and building movement, overcoming such obstacles is all in a day’s work, even if it means getting shot at. The fact is Fisk has been called many things in his career–mad, megalomaniacal, impatient, relentless and brilliant among them. But the one thing everyone agrees on is that he has had a profound and substantial influence on the current boom in sustainable design and planning. The Green Building movement as a whole, including the LEED rating system 2, the U.S. Green Building Council and all twenty-six of this country’s city-level green building organizations and agencies, has in many ways been shaped by the work Fisk, his wife Gail Vittori, and their Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems have done over the past forty-one years. Fisk’s work in alternative building materials and building systems, renewable energy, resource mapping, new town planning, selfsufficient farming, waste treatment, local economics, and continuing education is beginning to influence a second generation of architects and city planners and has swayed government policy from Washington to Longju, China.

had been involved with in South Texas in 1977. He had been building solar hot water heaters and mesquite burning heating stoves for Crystal City to help wean the townspeople off the privately-run utility company, LoVaca Gas Company, that had recently cut off the natural gas supply after the local government refused to pay what they considered unfair prices. The elected officials in Crystal City had been members of the La Raza Unida party3 movement and many had found inspiration in the events in Nicaragua where, in 1979, the Sandinista revolution had overthrown the country’s decades-old military dictatorship started by General Anastasio Somoza in the 1930s. The Sandinistas had subsequently begun an effort to create a more self-sufficient infrastructure for the country’s indigenous people. The Contras, who were often made up of Miskito and other native people, saw the Sandinista involvement in the countryside as a way to steal traditional lands and eradicate local customs. In a twist, the U.S. government began illegal funding of the Contra effort out of a fear that the Sandinistas would create a communist government. It was the newly formed revolutionary Sandinista government that had invited Fisk to Nicaragua in an attempt to quell some of the friction that arose between the revolutionaries and the native people.

The day Fisk arrived unceremoniously with his earth lab and his Macintosh computer it was his second trip to the region.4 He had been hired by the Nicaraguan anthropologist Galio Gurdian to help design a prototype village system for the Miskito community–everything from building with indigenous materials and farming to creating more local jobs and reducing imports from Cuba. Gurdian directed the Sandinista-sponsored CIDCA (Center for the Investigation and Documentation of the Atlantic Coast), a group that was helping to conserve the Miskito’s Fisk had become involved in Nicaragua and the Miski- native culture. Fisk met Gurdian through Richard to people by way of another revolutionary situation he Newbold Adams, the then head of the Institute of

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Latin American Studies (ILAS) at the University of Texas at Austin and his daughter, anthropologist Tani Adams. Project funding was supported with grants from Oxfam in England and Trocaire in Ireland.

Nicaragua were at a serious risk of getting killed.5 Undeterred, Fisk continued his work with characteristic conviction–until one close call.

Fisk had been rustled out of bed one morning by CIOn his first trip he discovered that the Sandinistas DCA’s Gurdian, who told Fisk that a small Sandinista were urging the Miskitos to build their dwellings in military convoy was making a trip into one of the more a west coast style. Since the west coast of Nicaragua remote villages Fisk had been working with. This trip is colder and gets far less rain than the east coast, the would be a good opportunity to check in on them and new dwellings were not performing like the locals see how the progress was coming with a few of his new needed them to. Also, the Sandinistas were import- acquaintances and some of the few lumbering operaing cement from Cuba, rather than using local mate- tions still operating in the region, and to “ground truth” rials. Because the design was coming from the other mapped information he had received from ILAS. Fisk side of the country and some materials from out of threw on the previous day’s clothes and pulled on his the country, the Miskito and their well-meaning new mud-stained boots. Before heading out the door he landlords, the Sandinistas, were effectively outsourc- picked up his AK-47 and slung it over his shoulder. ing work they could be doing themselves, and their local economy was suffering because of it. In the There were perhaps twenty men in military trucks and preceding years, the United Fruit Company had de- old jeeps guarding each end of the column. “Some of nuded most of the pine savannah to grow bananas, us were asked to provide minor military support in only to find that the soil type and parasites would between,” says Fisk. The convoy had barely started to not support banana production. So, the government inch across the muddy and sweeping landscape, when invited Fisk to take a look at the situation and to de- Fisk realized he could not go. That day was to be the velop dwellings with materials and design indigenous final day of firing his samples of alumina clay and to to Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast. begin testing the compression strengths of a series of indigenous cements using a combination of fired rice His solution was to develop a master plan for the entire husk ash and alumina clay.6 Missing the test would area by carefully studying and mapping local examples, mean having to start all over again with the mixes and including culturally and regionally relevant tropical the firing and it would postpone certain projects that housing that included stilted buildings and backyard were already behind. He had to turn back. Gurdian gardens. His idea was that the local people would con- agreed, so they pulled over, let the rest of the convoy tribute to the designs, gather the resources since they pass, and headed back. knew where they were and how to get them, and build the various elements according to the techniques Fisk After the day’s work, Fisk was invited to a local offioutlined through interactive training workshops. cial’s house for dinner. It was raining again and the fading sunlight under the rainforest canopy had brought The one wild card, of course, was the war. Fisk was its sounds to a crescendo. Howler monkeys groaned given the task of setting up labs to test the strength of in the distance while stripe-breasted wren whistled various materials, but he was also given an AK-47 and into the sticky evening air. All around giant raindrops shown how to shoot it. Despite the fact that the Con- caromed off tree limbs and giant banana leaves to the tras were being funded by the CIA, many Americans in forest floor.


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Just as Fisk and the rest had tucked into a plate of gallo pinto, tomatoes and fried tortuga, there came a somber knock at the door. The official got up, answered the door, exchanged a few quiet words with the messenger and came back to the table.

1 The DC3 Fisk was flying that day from Managua to Puerto Cabezas tried to take off four times before actually getting off the ground. Says Fisk: “On the fourth try we got airborne. By this time everyone in the plane, having done his or her rosary, got up to go to the bathroom almost at once. I was in the back of the plane where I could see holes in the fuselage from bullets. The barbs of the pierced metal were pointing

“They’re all dead,” he said without sitting down.

inward. I was nervous. Seeing everyone get up to go to the bathroom made me want to get up too, which I did, but I had forgotten to undo my

Fisk and the others looked up from the table.

seatbelt, and my entire seat rose with me when I stood. Apparently, the plane was retrofitted with seats when it wasn’t being used for military

Outside in the drizzle two men were unloading fiftytwo plain wood coffins from their trucks and stacking them in front of the house.

cargo and the grounds crew didn’t see the need to spend the time bolt-

“I’m the local coroner,” the official said.

2 LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

ing the seats in place. Of course, any crash would have created a sardine can of human bodies stacked on top of each other.”

The LEED rating system is a way to gauge the “greenness” of a build-

The entire convoy had been ambushed by Contra rebels, and there had been no survivors. Had Fisk not turned back that morning, one of those coffins surely would have been his own.

ing. See Chapter 11 for a detailed history and explanation of the LEED rating system. 3 The Raza Unida Party (RUP), or Partido de la Raza Unida in Spanish, was the political arm of the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It began in Crystal City, Texas, in 1970 and later spread to

Pliny Fisk III is a man with courageous intentions when it comes to tackling the challenges he deeply believes in. From his early endeavors in the Nicaraguan jungle to his commitment to advance sustainable design and building technology, he has worked tirelessly to create positive change. Fisk’s career is nothing less than remarkable: helping indigenous populations live sustainable lives and importantly, remain indigenous; initiating policy reform in many different countries; and influencing an entire industry. As a true pioneer and champion of the green building movement, Trim Tab salutes Pliny Fisk III. SAM MARTIN is the director of digital strategy at Texas Monthly. Sam is the author of several books, is a former senior editor at This Old House, Mother Earth News magazines, and was a contributing writer at The Austin Chronicle.

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California and Colorado. RUP was a viable third party in Texas politics in the 1970s with members winning local and county-wide elections in south Texas. The party even fielded candidates for Texas governor throughout the decade. 4 The Mac 128 that Fisk used to do his work with the Sandinistas was probably the first Mac 128 in all of Nicaragua and one of the first purchased in Austin, Texas. 5 In 1987, Benjamin Linder, an American engineer working on a hydroelectric dam for the village of San José do Borcay, was shot and killed by a band of Contra rebels. His death sparked intense debate in the U.S. media and government over the “covert” war in Nicaragua and eventually spurred the U.S. Congress into officially prohibiting U.S. funding for the war. 6 Nicaragua has a rich supply of high-alumina clay kaolinite which, when heated to a high temperature, can replace Portland cement as a binder for concrete.



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BECOME A MEMBER “Cascadia brings together the people who most regularly operate at the junction between what the built environment could be and what it is. I apply knowledge gained from my involvement with Cascadia every day.” -  Alec Mesdag membership

US GSA Federal Center South USACE Headquarters

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206-342-9900 23

B Y J A S O N F. M C L E N N A N

The Social Justice Label Providing a framework to transform business… because the ‘company you keep’ matters.


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Imagine for a moment. Imagine how your organization can contribute in a powerful way to the creation of a better, more socially just and equitable world. Imagine making life better for people from all walks of life. Imagine giving a voice to those people who rarely   have one. Imagine every architecture, engineering, and construction firm needing a JUST label to compete for work. Imagine manufacturers quickly changing their policies   and improving their social behavior in order to be recognized as a JUST organization. Imagine how JUST could change who does business   with whom. Imagine how JUST could realign government procurement. Imagine how JUST could change entire supply chains   and accelerate local and regional economies. Imagine how JUST could elevate under represented issues   and result in new policies for greater social justice and worker rights using market forces rather than regulations. Imagine how JUST could well serve your organization   and its priorities. Imagine all sorts of positive outcomes for a Living Future. Imagine JUST! It is time to make social justice your business. It is time to be a JUST organization.


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We believe that it should be impossible to have an “unjust” Living Building.

merous and varied impacts of the building industry on communities. The International Living Future Institute (the Institute) believes that a true living future — with a world of Living Buildings and Living Communities — can only be achieved through equally powerful and transformative programs that make the world more equitable and JUST.


Social justice and equity have been issues of interest and discussion for many years within the green build- In 2012, the Institute launched its Declare program, ing industry, and yet very little has been done to move calling for manufacturers to be transparent, disclose the ingredients in their products, and to be free of Red these issues forward with greater clarity and focus. List chemicals and materials. The Institute believes In 2009, the Living Building Challenge (the Chal- strongly in the power of transparency and the power lenge) launched the Equity Petal, the first time any- of the market to create a future that is socially just, where in the world that a green building standard not culturally rich and ecologically restorative. In a short only explicitly addressed these issues, but made them amount of time, Declare has started to have the impact a core part of the program. While Equity was ad- we seek: convincing manufacturers to reformulate dressed in relation to some of its aspects — equal ac- their products and to pursue competitive advantage by cess, accessibility and rights to nature — the focus of showcasing that their products are free from Red the program did not go far enough to address the nu- List chemicals. Emboldened by this success, we now


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launch JUST to further harness the power of transpar- their employees and where they make financial and ency and market forces for greater social change. community investments.

The International Living Future Institute’s JUST program is a voluntary disclosure program and tool for all types and sizes of organizations including, but not limited to: for-profit and non-profit businesses, government agencies, public and privately traded companies, trade unions, and family-owned businesses anywhere in the world. It is not a verification or certification program. Rather, JUST provides an innovative social justice transparency platform for organizations to reveal socially relevant information about their operations, including how they treat

The JUST program provides participating organizations a clear and focused way to be transparent and publicly announce how they measure up in terms of the JUST label’s 22 specific social and equity indicators identified within the six general categories of diversity, equity, safety, worker benefit, local benefit and stewardship. These categories and indicators provide a common tool and a common language for organization comparison. Similar to the Challenge’s Declare program, the JUST program acts somewhat like a “nutrition label” for socially just and equitable organizations. This nutrition label approach requires reporting on organization and employee-related indicators such as gender and ethnic diversity, gender pay and pay-scale equity, living wage and full-time employment, occupational safety, health care and worker happiness, local control and sourcing, responsible investing, charitable giving, community

The goals of the JUST program are simple yet profound:


In order to accomplish these goals, the Institute calls for all organizations, whether part of the building industry or not, to accept social responsibility and to be truly transformative and transparent by publicly declaring and showcasing their social justice and equity policies and practices. JUST is, quite simply, a call to social justice action.

1. to elevate the discussion around social justice in all organizations, 2. to create a common language for social justice issues, 3. to elevate the causes of those individuals who spearhead these issues, 4. to change the policies and   practices of thousands of organizations worldwide, and 5. to make life better for people   from all walks of life.

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An innovative social justice transparency platform through which organizations can shed light on their operations, including how they treat their employees and where they make financial and community investments.


Organization Name: Organization Type: Headquarters: Satellite Facilities: Number of Employees:

22 Social and equity indicators. Social Justice and Equity Indicators:


Worker Benefit

Non-Discrimination Gender Diversity Ethnic Diversity


Worker Happiness Employee Health Care Continuing Education

Local Benefit

Local Control Full Time Employment Local Sourcing Pay-Scale Equity Employee/Union Friendly Living Wage Stewardship Gender Pay Equity Responsible Investing Family Friendly Community Volunteering Positive Products Safety Charitable Giving Animal Welfare Occupational Safety Transparency Hazardous Chemicals

Asking all companies and organizations to accept social responsibility and to be truly transformative and transparent by publicly declaring and showcasing their social justice and equity policies and practices through the indicator metrics.

JUST label is valid for 12 months, starting with the date of issue.


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Left: Blank JUST label is simple for companies to measure and track their internal policies and procedures. Right: The JUST and Declare labels working seamlessly together.

Transparent and open communication and honest information sharing are fundamental to a Living Future.

volunteering, and transparency. Each of the indicator metrics asks for simple yet specific and measurable accountabilities in order for the organization to be recognized at a One, Two, or Three Star level. This is then elegantly summarized on a label that organizations can use to market their commitments to these issues. The Institute will also transparently post this detailed information in our public database, so that individuals may dig deeper into an organization’s practices if desired. With this approach, organizations can test how they are doing in regard to these social justice metrics and, as a result, may choose to work toward greater social justice and worker rights. While it is recognized that not all organizations will seek public use of the JUST program, some may choose


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Organization Name: Super Paint Corp. Organization Type: LLC Headquarters: Amherst, NJ Satellite Facilities: Portland OR, Houston Texas, Montreal CDN Number of Employees: 3,220

Product Name Manufacturer Name

Social Justice and Equity Indicators:



Worker Benefit

Non-Discrimination Gender Diversity Ethnic Diversity


City, State/Province, Country Life Expectancy: 000 YEARS End of Life Options: Recyclable (42%), Landfill

Ingredient One (Location, ST), The Second Item (Location, ST), NextIngredient (Location, ST), Living Building Challenge Red List*, Different Part of the Product, Another Component, More Stuff, US EPA Chemical of Concern, Yet Another Item, Non-toxic Element, Pieceofthewhole, Component of Concoction, ThirdFromTheEnd, ECHA REACH Substance of Very High Concern, Last Ingredient.

Worker Happiness Employee Health Care Continuing Education

Local Benefit

Local Control Full Time Employment Local Sourcing Pay-Scale Equity Employee/Union Friendly Living Wage Stewardship Gender Pay Equity Responsible Investing Family Friendly Community Volunteering Positive Products Safety Charitable Giving Animal Welfare Occupational Safety

*LBC Exception Applied I11-E1 PVC & Code

Hazardous Chemicals

XXX-0000 ZONE 0

Certification Status


EXP. 10/26/2014

EXP. 12/2010

00 00 00

LBC Red List Compliant LBC Red List Free Declared




to use it privately as a roadmap to improve their corporate social equity until such time as they feel comfortable sharing that information with others. On the other hand, many organizations are already exemplary and proud of how they measure up to these indicators, and will willingly make their information transparent. These organizations will be the early adopters and proponents of JUST. For organizations that manufacture products and participate in the Declare program, there will be a seamless disclosure option if they wish to provide information about their people and policies as well as their products. The Institute also recognizes that it is possible for organizations to make deceptive, inaccurate or false disclosures about the status of their social justice and

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equity indicators. Nevertheless, the Institute believes that the majority of organizations have honorable and moral leaders who will ensure that the information submitted to JUST is a true representation of each individual organization. We are also assuaged by the culture of information oversight that now exists. The close scrutiny from employees, consumers and corporate watch groups that flows from publicly posted information helps ensure that organizations will be judged on their true merits. The Institute has no interest in being a watchdog or auditor, or monitoring an organization’s behavior in these regards. Its intent is to offer a common self-assessment and disclosure tool and platform for organizations to improve, and to let the market self-regulate. The JUST label does not constitute an endorsement, verification or certification from the Institute.



Instead, the information provided reflects the integrity of the specific organization as affirmed by one of the organization’s senior leaders. While the Institute reserves the right to revoke use of the JUST label by any organization, it typically allows use of the label if an organization’s submitted information meets the program’s established criteria. The Institute accepts their integrity because our collective success in creating a world that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative depends on mutual trust. Transparent and open communication and honest information sharing are fundamental to a living future.

and improve how your organization measures up against the JUST indicators. We’d also like you to consider encouraging your suppliers and business partners to use JUST. Together, in a short amount of time, we can make significant change. Piloting JUST

The Institute was the first organization to test itself through the JUST lens. The process was an eyeopening and informative experience. We realized that we did not have many of the policies we should have, and thus had to create them. We also had to — JUST marks the beginning of a new era of corporate in a few instances — improve our employee benefits. transparency, and the Institute invites organizations Meaningful and positive impacts immediately oceverywhere to evaluate themselves through this social curred for our team. Most importantly, the process justice and equity lens and become a JUST organiza- shone a clear light on where we needed to improve. In tion. With support from participating organizations, particular, we scored poorly on the issue of ethnic diJUST will help create a better, more socially just and versity, an area in which our whole industry needs to improve. It was a great progress report and a valuable equitable world. reflective experience, and the process is something we We would like to encourage all Trim Tab readers to use highly recommend. JUST, evaluate the benefits your company provides,


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During this pre-pilot phase, we widened the review circle by inviting a diverse group of organizations to test the JUST standards. We were delighted to get a range of feedback from architecture, engineering, NGO, foundation and corporate partners. You can find these first JUST labels on our website, and we are grateful for the early leadership shown by these partner companies.


Organization Name: International Living Future Institute and Cascadia Organization Type: Charitable Organization Headquarters: Seattle, Washington Satellite Facilities: Portland, OR, Vancouver, BC Number of Employees: 23

Social Justice and Equity Indicators:

Armed with this invaluable feedback, we were ready to launch the pilot program at the Clinton Global Summit in New York on September 26, 2013. During the pilot phase, we have an open request for any and all organizations to begin using the protocol and providing us with feedback. We will also be reaching out to social justice and equity organizations to see how JUST can help them achieve their goals, and to ensure that we are adequately representing the issues on which they focus. By mid-year 2014 we hope that JUST will be refined enough for full use by any organization.


Worker Benefit

Non-Discrimination Gender Diversity Ethnic Diversity


Local Benefit

Local Control Full Time Employment Local Sourcing Pay-Scale Equity Employee/Union Friendly Living Wage Stewardship Gender Pay Equity Responsible Investing Family Friendly Community Volunteering Positive Products Safety Charitable Giving Animal Welfare Occupational Safety Transparency Hazardous Chemicals


How to Use JUST in Your Organization

Worker Happiness Employee Health Care Continuing Education

EXP. 10/26/2014



1. Who can participate in the JUST program?

The International Living Future Institute’s official JUST label.

The program is open to all types and sizes of organizations including, but not limited to: for-profit and non-profit businesses, government agencies, public and privately traded companies, trade unions, and family-owned businesses anywhere in the world. If an organization has employees, it should have a JUST label.

organizations from registering in the program and moving issues of equity and justice forward, there is no set or compulsory registration fee. Instead, there is a suggested annual fee based on the size of the organization involved. We encourage each organization to give what it is able to support this important program.

2. Who can I contact to discuss the JUST program?

Begin by downloading the JUST user manual that explains all the program metrics. When you are ready, use the e-contact form found on the JUST website (, and a staff member will get back to you as soon as possible. 3. What is the cost to register for the JUST program?

Because the Institute does not want the cost to deter

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Refer to the JUST program’s Guidelines for Voluntary Payment of Fees found on the Institute’s website to learn more. 4. What is the minimum number of categories and indicators that an organization must provide information on in order to receive a JUST label?

An organization must provide information on all of the 22 specific indicators within the six general categories. This information will be used for the


organization’s individualized JUST label. A JUST label will not be issued without complete information.

be updated at least once annually to maintain a current and valid JUST label.

5. Why should an organization register for the JUST program?

9. Where is an organization’s JUST program information kept?

The JUST program demonstrates an organization’s commitment to social justice and equity issues related to every category and indicator in the JUST metrics. The JUST label can be marketed by an organization to show commitment and public transparency on these issues. We think the benefits are obvious, and we are happy to discuss them further.

All of an organization’s submitted information is maintained in the JUST program’s publicly viewable database. It is important to understand that the label is merely a summary of performance. In the spirit of transparency, all submitted information is posted in a viewable but non-editable format. Because of this, organizations are asked not to submit any confidential or sensitive information.

6. When does an organization become certified as a JUST organization?

The JUST label does not constitute an endorsement, verification or certification from the International Living Future Institute. Instead, the JUST label is granted solely through our permission and reflects the integrity and transparency of the organization that submitted its information on the social justice indicators. Organizations may not use the JUST label without registering and posting all information in our publicly viewable database. 7. When can an organization use the JUST label?

An organization can use the JUST label after it provides all of the required information for the JUST program, pays or opts out of the voluntary registration fee, and receives confirmation of use from the Institute. 8. When can an organization update its JUST program information?

An organization can and should update any of its information with the JUST program on an ongoing basis so it is current and accurately reflects its commitment to social justice and equity. An organization must pay a renewal fee if changes are made more than once annually. Each organization’s information must


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10. When can JUST be revoked?

Use of the JUST label can be revoked for any reason and at any time by the International Living Future Institute. That said, the Institute will not revoke labels unless there is a substantive reason to do so. These reasons may include but are not limited to: a. evidence that shows information provided by an organization is patently false or inaccurate. b. use of the JUST label that is in conflict with our branding and marketing guidelines for fair use of the label. (See the branding and marketing guidelines in the appendix for more information.) 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 five books, including his latest: Transformational Thought.




East Meets West:

Socially Responsive Design


Fall 2013



s an architect, I was taught to be creative and that the sky is the limit. At the start of my career, I assumed that any fictional design could be pasted on the surface of the earth without relation to place or people. I thought that my designs needed to be unique and have a “wow” factor in order to be a successful architect.

The struggle started as an inner argument about what type of buildings we, as architects, should design. Should a building achieve an architect’s vision, or should it be tailored to its environment and meet the social needs of those who will use it? This raises an important question for architects: Do we have a moral responsibility to design socially and environmentally considerate buildings, or should we simply express our creativity?

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Before a stay in India and before moving to Australia, I never realized that the vast vernacular of architecture has evolved in relation to social and environmental issues pertaining to a particular place. When I was first introduced to sustainability in Australia, however, it had an adverse effect on how I perceived my chosen field. For the first time in my life, I felt like architects were missing the point of designing buildings, the cornerstone of centuries of existence. The basic function of buildings has always been, and still is, to meet human needs such as shelter and comfort.


In Australia, issues relating to the sustainable built environment and social equity are a major concern, whereas in India they are perceived as a Western concept. In Australia, the concern for people with disabilities is of prime importance. For example, it is relatively easy for people with disabilities to be mobile in public without feeling isolated, thanks to special pathways and other features.



When I was first introduced to the Living Building Challenge, I was immediately drawn to the Equity Petal. As a Collaborative Facilitator, it quickly became apparent that the Equity Petal would meet with the biggest resistance. Equity as defined by the Living Building Challenge implies the creation of communities, with universal access for people with disabilities, and full participation in the major elements of society for those who can’t afford private forms of transportation. This aspect has either been lost by the current social fabric or ignored by the majority due to our modern materialistic lifestyle. This drove me to analyze how equity is perceived in both Western and Eastern cultures, with a focus on Australia and India.

as well as the lack of resolve among government bodies to implement the equity and access laws. The Living Building Challenge Collaborative in Bangalore, India is active in implementing social justice and sustainability aspects in the region. We have reached out to the School of Architecture at M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT) to start the Net Zero Now Initiative, which brings composting and solid waste management to the campus. The ultimate goal is to reduce waste flowing into the landfill and eliminate further pressure on the fragile plumbing infrastructure. This issue is a major concern for the region as many people and buildings are not connected to modern plumbing technologies. The other major concern pertaining to how the built environment is perceived in India is the right to nature. The Right to Nature Imperative in the Challenge states that a project may not block access to, nor diminish the quality of, fresh air, sunlight and natural waterways for any member of society or adjacent developments. In India, this would be incredibly difficult to achieve. A building’s design does not adhere to the bylaws of the place, and the mindset of the people is that a built structure should utilize every inch of the plot with no regard to adjacent properties. This results in daylight and ventilation problems within the building, among many other issues.

It is more difficult to implement the social justice piece of the Living Building Challenge in India. Although there are stringent laws pertaining to equity access within the built environment, they are rarely followed in practice. For example, most Indian cities don’t have pedestrian pathways. This is due to infrastructure issues where narrow roads leave no room for sidewalks, The attitudes of the people in Australia and India seem to be the same regarding community interest and


Fall 2013

Another major concern in India is that developments are allowed on natural waterways. In 1960, there were 280 natural lakes in the city of Bangalore. Today only 93 remain, all of which are either dry or in the process of being sold for development. This type of development has greatly affected the groundwater table. In some areas the groundwater used to be at 300 feet, but has now dipped below 1,000 feet. Furthermore, these developments are being recognized as the greenest buildings in India. This anomaly is mainly due to a misinformed public.



adjacent neighbors when it comes to sunlight and fresh air. The main difference is that in Australia, and likely in most Western countries, the regulatory authority intervenes. In India, the regulatory system is weak, giving rise to buildings that ignore a community’s basic rights to nature.

in many Eastern cultures, it will take the will and determination of the entire society to achieve the Equity Petal as described in the Living Building Challenge. It will require every individual to change his or her current mindset about and attitude toward the built environment. This attitude adjustment would eventually lead to pressure on the government to create a better monitoring policy to implement current laws, and to enact stronger ones. It will also require a shift in every architect’s thinking. It is up to the architect to educate the client on equity and the benefits that it can reap within society. Designing socially and environmentally responsive buildings that are an integral part of a community is every architect’s duty.

After studying both Eastern and Western attitudes about the built environment, I finally found the answer Within the Ambassador network the goal of the Col- to my question about the responsibility of an architect: laboratives is to educate, advocate and collaborate to create beautiful buildings, yes, but more imporwithin the local community, spreading the restorative tantly to support the beautiful communities that will principles of the Living Building Challenge. The Ban- use them. galore Collaborative is tackling the issue of a misinformed public by holding educational events focused on the Petals and Imperatives within the Challenge, and is gaining steam every day. In many Western cultures, including Australia, the issues relating to equity are addressed by a strong regulatory framework, which makes change easier to implement within the built environment. In India and

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SYED SARMAD is Co-founder and Director at Engaging Spaces with a Masters Degree in Sustainable Design and Building from the University of Sydney, Australia.


We thank our industry partners for their support in envisioning a living future. ANGEL SPONSORS




Fall 2013



Santa Fe


Construction Specialties, Inc. Coughlin Porter Lundeen GBD Architects IMAGINiT Mithun

Oregon BEST Oregon Electric Group Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Pidcock: Architecture & Sustainability Thornton Tomasetti

SUPPORTING SPONSORS Access Consulting Ankrom Moisan Architects Balfour Beatty Construction Berger Partnership Big Ass Fans BNIM Architects Brasfield & Gorrie CALMAC CDi Engineers Centerbrook Architects Chesapeake Bay Foundation dbHMS DCI Engineers ECI/Hyer Architecture & Interiors Epsten Group GBL Architects Gerding Edlen HKS, Inc. Hourigan Construction

Integrus Architecture KMD Architects KPFF Consulting Engineers LMN Architects Lutron Electronics Mackenzie Mary Davidge Associates McCool Carlson Green Meyer Wells Opsis Architecture Otak Inc. RAFN Company Redside RIM Architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz Triangle Cables Tube Art Group Unico Properties Weber + Thompson

COMMUNITY PARTNERS CSA Architect Ecotope Northwest Environmental Business Council

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Sustainable Connections Urban Fabrick


FLOURISHING: The Next Frontier for Sustainability? Paul Werder is currently working on a fellows team at Case Western Reserve University’s Fowler Center for Sustainable Value. Its purpose is to explore the role of spirituality as a key factor in helping businesses thrive in service of a sustainable world. This is the fourth article of a four-part series that shares the highlights of their work.

Click here to read the first articles in this series of Trim Tab.


Fall 2013

A Flourishing Society and Genuine Wealth In our first three articles published in previous issues of Trim Tab we proposed the idea that a flourishing society would require flourishing businesses, which can only be created by flourishing human beings in a flourishing ecosystem. We also suggested that reflective practices are the best means to become flourishing people, and we must simultaneously transform ourselves and the larger systems we work within.

The draw for those who are not yet that far-sighted may be the invisible value in their companies’ “harder” intangible assets that are currently not accounted for on a traditional balance sheet, particularly patentable inventions, novel business processes or copyrighted materials. When softer intangible assets are captured on a genuine wealth balance sheet, executives will have reliable metrics on a company’s human and relational capital. Business leaders will annually measure the growing or

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Pursuing these ideas has opened up the synchronicity that is only possible with such a spiritual inquiry. Trim Tab reader Wil Meyhew in British Columbia reached out to me to discuss how this sentiment has touched him: “Your article made me want to come out of retirement!” Meyhew then connected me with the Genuine Wealth Institute in Edmonton, which specializes in building flourishing economies. Mutual interests sparked a collaboration focused directly on doing the hard work: discovering how to inspire business executives to embrace the value of creating a flourishing society with a deep understanding that there is more to business success than money. This genuine wealth model represents the natural environment as the foundation of our hierarchy of needs, which is the most promising idea yet with the power to transform our economic paradigm: measuring what matters! Once all five capital assets that contribute to the expanded view of genuine wealth (financial, built, human, social, environmental) are accounted for, it will be clear that no one can succeed in business if eco-systems are not flourishing.


All people long for genuine wealth: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. declining trust between their companies and their key stakeholders, such as customers and supply chain partners. Measuring each employee’s level of mission alignment and personal wellness every year will provide a more powerful way to assure that the spirit of an organization is flourishing. Most importantly, everyone will eventually see that the underpinning of all corporate assets is the preservation of natural resources that are currently being used beyond capacity, without being considered on anyone’s balance sheet. These ideas can become the new corporate yardstick, providing a much more comprehensive look at the bottom line than the traditional profit and loss mentality. Focusing on what is truly valuable and not simply money must become the new reality, the unifying cornerstone of a flourishing economy. Long-term thinking will become more prevalent than the quarter-to-quarter pressure to impress Wall Street. Strategic planning will focus on preserving and increasing all five capital assets: financial, built, human, relationship/social and environmental. Why is this inevitable? In 1945, 80 percent of a corporation’s assets were tangible. Today, only 20 percent of assets are tangible, while the other 80 percent (intangible assets) are unaccounted for on financial statements. This leaves room for both huge errors and huge opportunities in the decision-making process that everyone will eventually discover.

a company asset. Within two years of cutting this cost, the engineer started a competitive firm and took millions of dollars of revenue away from his former company by recruiting customers who were more loyal to his expertise than the company he formerly worked for. In an example where decision makers “saw the light,” a software development firm was initially turned down for a $3 million bank loan it needed to launch its new higher-end product after years of reinvesting all discretionary revenue into research and development. The traditional approach to profits, losses and balance sheets made the company look like a risky investment. When it obtained permission from external auditors to redo the last five years of financial statements as management reports with genuine wealth-oriented policy changes, the company had a dramatically different outcome. The new approach added $4.5 million worth of intangible assets to its genuine wealth balance sheet, and showed strong and growing profits over the past five years that had been reinvested into intellectual property assets. This resulted in the same bank providing the company with the requested loan, with no increase to its tax liability. This saved the company from having to sell 33% of its stock to outside investors for the money necessary to launch the new product. After much reflection and research, I am convinced that all people long for genuine wealth: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. And there is a practical way to achieve it. It will require great jobs in flourishing companies that people are proud to work for. Wise executives will lead the way by changing the game and measuring what matters. Wise people are already declaring that this new economy is non-negotiable. Investing ourselves in spiritual transformation that leads to genuine wealth and a flourishing society will make it a reality. PAUL WERDER , founder of LionHeart

In one unfortunate example, a very creative and highly compensated engineer was terminated because of his “excessive salary.” The decision maker was obviously not considering his expertise as


Fall 2013

Consulting, is the author of The ­Zugunruhe Mastery Guide with Jason F. McLennan.

It’s time to make social justice your business. SM

Organization Name: Super Paint Corp. Organization Type: LLC Headquarters: Amherst, NJ Satellite Facilities: Portland OR, Houston TX, Montreal CAN Number of Employees: 3,220 Social Justice and Equity Indicators:


Worker Benefit

Non-Discrimination Gender Diversity Ethnic Diversity


Worker Happiness Employee Health Care Continuing Education

Local Benefit

Local Control Full Time Employment Local Sourcing Pay-Scale Equity Employee/Union Friendly Living Wage Stewardship Gender Pay Equity Responsible Investing Family Friendly Community Volunteering Positive Products Safety Charitable Giving Animal Welfare Occupational Safety Transparency Hazardous Chemicals

JUST™ is an innovative social justice transparency platform through which organizations can shed light on their operations, including how they treat their employees and where they make financial and community investments. JUST provides participating organizations a succinct way to demonstrate how they measure up in terms of the JUST label’s social and equity indicators. JUST also works seamlessly with the International Living Future Institute’s Declare™ materials label and the Living Building Challenge™. Your organization can contribute to the creation of a better, more equitable world. Become a JUST organization today by visiting justorganizations. com or by filling out the form below.


EXP. 10/26/2014




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Beneficial Banking:




Fall 2013


s revealed by the financial crisis of 2008, incentives are dangerously misaligned in the banking industry. Banks and the bankers who run, them too often pursue shortterm profitability to benefit wealthy citizens and large corporations at the expense of society overall and the long-term financial stability of the economy. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and One PacificCoast Bank (OPCB) is pioneering a new paradigm that proves it. OPCB calls its model “beneficial banking,” with a vision of “a banking industry that is fair to the person with the least bargaining power and provides access to financial services for all our communities.” OPCB achieves this by flipping the banking business model on its head: All of the bank’s economic shares are owned by the not-for-profit One PacificCoast Foundation. The Foundation is mandated to invest all profits back into local communities and the environment. This innovative approach frees OPCB from traditional incentives for short-term profitability and risk aversion, and allows for a better aligned business strategy with the long-term values and needs of its employees, customers and community. OPCB offers capital for industry sectors that might have trouble getting loans from traditional banks, such as renewable energy, green building and low-income housing. Its demonstrated success with this model has the potential to transform the traditional banking marketplace.

“JUST has the potential to transform the way the banking industry makes lending and investment decisions by highlighting key aspects of business that often are overlooked by the market.” –Kat Taylor, CEO of OPCB As a financial institution, OPCB is accustomed to having its financial fitness scrutinized by banking regulators. It excels on those evaluations, and participating in the JUST program promotes the holistic view of the organization. While OPCB did not set out to meet any specific criteria when creating its business practices and policies, its leaders were happy to have JUST validate their effort to meet and greatly exceed industry best practices in almost every category. Looking at the organization through the JUST lens also highlighted some areas for improvement. This selfreflection led the bank to reevaluate its practices and policies, and it also influenced the evolution of the JUST metrics themselves, helping the Institute refine this new program.

Diversity OPCB has recently taken the next step to promote an As a company overall, OPCB has a very diverse workeven greater level of corporate responsibility and trans- force. Employees with various ethnic backgrounds exparency by becoming a pilot company in JUST, the new ceed the U.S. average (29% versus 28%). As a commusocial justice label for businesses and organizations. A nity bank, OPCB also tries to ensure that its employees program of the International Living Future Institute reflect the areas in which they reside. The bank’s (the Institute), JUST is a standardized metric against California and Oregon locations aligned with the dewhich organizations can evaluate their business prac- mographics in their state, but the Ilwaco, Washington tices, and offers a transparent platform to publicly dis- location did not have any non-white employees, resulting in a 1-star score for Ethnic Diversity. This suggests close their scores. an area for improvement for OPCB; however, the Ilwaco branch’s rural location in a majority Caucasian

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Organization Name: One PacificCoast Bank Organization Type: Community Bank Headquarters: Oakland, CA Satellite Facilities: Seattle WA, Ilwaco WA, Portland OR, Sacramento CA Number of Employees: 62 Social Justice and Equity Indicators:

Diversity Non-Discrimination Gender Diversity Ethnic Diversity


Worker Benefit Worker Happiness Employee Health Care Continuing Education

Local Benefit

Local Control Full Time Employment Local Sourcing Pay-Scale Equity Employee/Union Friendly Living Wage Stewardship Gender Pay Equity Responsible Investing Family Friendly Community Volunteering Positive Products Safety Charitable Giving Animal Welfare Occupational Safety Transparency Hazardous Chemicals


EXP. 10/01/2014



Pal that is an alternative to the predatory payday loan. Through this program, employers can offer small payday advances of $500, $750 or $1,000 to their employees to help them get through a short-term emergency or crisis. These small loans also help improve an individual’s credit and financial literacy. To date, 1,100 borrowers have taken part in the pilot, and OPCB is attempting to re-launch the Pal Loan program during the first quarter of 2014. Internally, One PacificCoast Bank’s performance on the JUST equity indicators has validated its efforts to create a just and equitable workplace. A 2012 AFLCIO study found the average CEO from the S&P 500 was making 380 times more than a typical U.S. worker. In 1980 that ratio was 1:42, illustrating a remarkable growth in inequality in the U.S. in the past three decades. In stark contrast, the ratio of the highest-paid employee to the lowest-paid employee at OPCB is less than 1:15, scoring 3 stars (the highest possible) on the Pay Scale Equity indicator metric.

community will make meeting Washington state’s av- Furthermore, there is virtually no distinction (less erages difficult, implying that further refinement of than 2%) between men and women’s pay in any parthe JUST indicator metrics may also be necessary. ticular pay class at OPCB, a clear 3-star score in Gender Pay Equity. Employees are offered Full-Time EmThe JUST assessment of the bank’s gender demo- ployment and paid a Living Wage 10% higher than the graphics informed the program’s indicator metrics as average calculated for their community, resulting in well. OPCB has a majority female workforce, which a 2-star score. is a significant achievement in an industry historically dominated by men. The gender variance is greater Since OPCB has fewer than 50 employees within than 20% female, which would score 0 stars for the a 75 mile radius, it is exempt from the Family Medical Gender Equity metric. However, based on feedback Leave Act (FMLA). However, in the interest of its emfrom piloting organizations, the Institute revised the ployees, the bank created a policy that allows 12 weeks metric to award a 1-star score to companies that have of unpaid leave, which meets the FMLA requirements majority female workforces in industries with a histor- and resulted in a 1-star Family Friendly score. In pracic over-representation of men. tice, the bank allows even longer leave periods when requested, and is now considering extending the forEquity mal leave allowance as a result of its JUST evaluation. Equity is another important aspect of OPCB’s values, reflected in the bank’s mission to work with tradition- Worker Benefit ally underserved markets of low-income individuals Worker benefit is another area where OPCB confirmed and women- and minority-owned businesses. The that its generous benefit package exceeds the industry bank recently piloted a loan program called One Pac standard. All full-time employees are provided com-


Fall 2013

prehensive Health Care benefits and at least a $1,500 allowance for Continuing Education, both 3-star scores. Furthermore, Monique Ngyuen, Human Resource Generalist & Corporate Secretary, argues that in practice its policy is even more generous, stating that “any employee with a reasonable request for continuing education would likely be approved.”

• Clean Tech, Green Energy and Green Chemistry • Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses • Resource Efficiency and Conservation in the Built Environment • Upcycling, Recycling and Repurposing • Rural Community Development and Support of Natural Resources

Local Benefit OPCB is committed to developing local, sustainable economies and is a proud member of the Business Alliance or Local Living Economies (BALLE). OPCB CoFounder and CEO Kat Taylor lives within 25 miles of the bank’s headquarters in Oakland, and 100% of the senior executives live within 50 miles of their office locations, meeting the 3-star criteria for Local Control.

This commitment exceeds the 3-star requirements for Responsible Investing and is a model for how companies can make an impact while generating a great return on their investment. In fact, in 2012 the bank ranked in the top quartile of its peers for quarter-on-quarter loan growth. The bank’s 401k plans also include SRI options, which the Institute is now considering including as a requirement for the JUST program.

OPCB also has a policy to promote ecologically sustainable and socially responsible purchases. It received 3 stars for Local Sourcing by procuring the majority of external goods and services either locally or regionally from independent, locally-owned and operated businesses. All profits are also invested in the local communities through the One PacificCoast Foundation.

In addition to required financial disclosures, the bank also reveals its annual greenhouse gas emissions and buys carbon offset for the full amount, earning 3-stars for Transparency. OPCB is also planning to report on water usage and waste generation this year.

Community Volunteering is another category where the JUST program has inspired changes to the bank’s policies. While employees are involved with numerous Stewardship The responsible management of resources is the cat- non-profit boards and volunteer activities, the written egory where the JUST program and OPCB have the policy only allowed eight hours per year in unpaid leave greatest alignment of values, revealing an incredible for volunteering. The bank is now revising this policy opportunity to work together to transform the market in 2014 to 32 hours of paid time off, a strong message of support for its employees to get involved in their for social good. local communities. OPCB not only gives all its profits to the OPCB Foundation; it also targets specific market segments with its Finally, by offering a range of beneficial financial prodinvestment to make the greatest social impact. Accord- ucts to underserved markets with potential for positive ing to the 2012 Beneficial Banking Report, approxi- change in their targeted sectors, the bank clearly met mately 83% of loan dollars met the criteria for mission- the 3-star criteria for Positive Products. aligned and Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) in Harnessing Market Forces the following sectors: for Social Justice • Affordable Housing, Multi-family and Neighbor- One of the most exciting aspects of the partnership between JUST and OPCB is the impact that transparhood Stabilization ent reporting of corporate social equity practices may • Sustainable Food, Fisheries and Agriculture • Low-Income Community Economic Development have on the lending market. OPCB has been refining

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its loan screening methodology, and the social justice and equity criteria within JUST provide a new way to evaluate organizations that have applied for a loan or are being considered for investments. Senior Vice President and Chief of People Madison Le believes that the JUST label can create a community of like-minded organizations: “Every company and organization needs a bank, and OPCB is excited to be investing in organizations that share its values through participation in JUST.”

term sustainable business strategy. And as demonstrated in the article titled “Business Case for Transparency,” published in the May 2013 issue of Trim Tab, a growing body of research shows companies that embrace sustainability and transparency are actually the most profitable businesses around.

If organizations like One PacificCoast Bank and other lenders begin to evaluate themselves and the companies they do business with based on the positive impact they have in the community and how well they treat their workers, it could unlock a groundswell of investThis focus on social justice is not only for the com- ment dollars for the social good. As consumers and climon good; as the sustainable business and transpar- ents start selecting companies and products based on ency movement catches fire, JUST companies may these attributes, revenue and profits will grow in a virbecome more attractive to consumers and therefore tuous cycle. We encourage organizations from all sectors to join One PacificCoast Bank and do their part more profitable. to transform the market toward greater social justice The self-assessment platform in JUST helps organiza- and equity. tions internally align their policies and practices with their missions, increasing employee retention, commit- “As part of the Beneficial Banking sector — devoted to ment and productivity. Transparent disclosure and pub- the triple bottom line of social justice, environmental lic statements about an organization’s values also help well-being and financial sustainability — OPCB supthose organizations engage with stakeholders to reduce ports certifications and labels that help beneficially risk and align with their customers. In the same way shift corporate practices and outcomes. JUST has the Declare — the ingredients label for building prod- potential to transform the way the banking industry ucts — encourages companies to remove toxic chemi- makes lending and investment decisions by highlightcals from products, JUST sheds light on potential ing key aspects of business that often are overlooked worker rights and equity issues. Removing a toxic by the market,” says Kat Taylor, CEO of OPCB. “JUST ingredient from a product’s formulation can reduce provides a unique and powerful tool for evaluating a company’s legal liability and position it to take a com- companies and organizations along the dimension of petitive advantage in the future, just as dealing with social equity, which in our view is a critical component a significant social justice concern like gender pay eq- of sustainability.” uity or worker safety may reduce long-term liability. Ensuring a safe and equitable workplace is also the Find more stories of JUST organizations participating right thing to do, and people want to work for and buy on the JUST stories blog. products from companies they trust. Using the JUST label to communicate a company’s commitment to equity and social justice has the potential to bring in new customers and clients, and improvement within the performance metrics helps keep workers healthy, fulfilled and committed to the company’s mission — all critical aspects of a long-


Fall 2013

JAMES CONNELLY is the Living Building Challenge Manager at the International Living Future Institute.


“To know Pliny is to love his creative genius. He is the mad scientist of the green building movement–always one or two decades ahead, identifying the most critical challenges and coming up with innovative solutions before the industry recognizes there is a problem. The green building movement owes Pliny and the Center an enormous amount of gratitude because we stand on the shoulders of his leadership, passion, and limitless brilliance.” —Jason F. McLennan, CEO International Living Future Institute $29.95 US/CAN ISBN 978-0-9826902-8-4  

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Humility, Patience and the Subtle Beauty of the June Key Delta Community Center


Fall 2013


wo years ago, a crowd congregated at the corner of North Albina Avenue and Ainsworth Street on a golden summer afternoon in North Portland. Neighbors, members of the Portland Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and local project team members erupted in applause as Chris PooleJones and then-Portland Mayor Sam Adams cut the ribbon on the June Key Delta Community Center. More than a decade after procuring the site of a dilapidated gas station, the Delta Sorority — under Poole-Jones’ leadership — realized its dream of transforming a brownfield and neighborhood eyesore into a deep green community center. This is where the majority of green building profiles end. A site is transformed, and the reader is urged to extrapolate that the transformation will extend to the building’s occupants and the surrounding community. We in the building industry are enamored with groundbreakings, openings and first-of-its-kind certifications. After that, it’s on to the next project. In reality, the real work of place-making and building performance begins after the wide-angle photographs are taken and the two ends of ribbon flutter to the ground. The International Living Future Institute profiled the inspiring grassroots effort that led to the construction of the June Key Delta Center in Trim Tab Magazine after its grand opening in 2011. Two years later, I was curious to find out if the building was still doing its part to foster community in North Portland.


Chris Poole-Jones happened to be attending a monthly Delta Sorority leadership committee meeting when I stopped by the center on a humid, overcast evening. I thought about offering to come back another time, but she assured me she was always happy to talk about the building and the people who use it.


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I was most interested in whether or not the building had lived up to the Deltas’ expectations. The organization had viewed the project as the perfect embodiment of its mission — to create community service projects for the public good in the areas of education, physical and mental health, economic development, arts and social action. The sorority took a bold course with its Community Center by choosing to pursue certification under the Living Building Challenge. Sorority members saw the Challenge as a pathway for demonstrating that with the support of local minorityand woman-owned businesses, a small non-profit could build an ultra-sustainable hub for community education and engagement.

In addition, groups regularly tour the building to study its sustainable features. For example, Portland Community College professor Linda Polk brings her students to the Community Center to help illustrate lessons in her Living Building Challengebased curriculum.

As for the site’s appearance, I was surprisingly unmoved by what I saw when I first arrived at the Center. The building’s exterior hasn’t changed much in two years. The landscaping looked a bit wilder and the community garden was grown over with weeds, despite producing a decent harvest of squash and cabbage. Poole-Jones explained that the garden has its ups and downs, again due to the limits of relying solely on Poole-Jones affirmed the building had exceeded ex- volunteer hours. She was excited to add that the Center pectations, while qualifying that because the center is was considering a partnership with the Trillium Charrun entirely by volunteers, it isn’t utilized as much as it ter School in which K-8 students would tend the garcould be. Poole-Jones went on to list the organizations den and get a hands-on educational experience. that use the space for workshops, events and meetings, including Oregon’s governor; the local neighborhood In addition to the grounds, the building itself remains association; the AARP; youth mentoring programs a work in progress. Poole-Jones mentioned that they like Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully experienced issues with the geothermal heating sys(GEMS); the Betty Shabazz Academy; EMBODI; and tem, which have since been addressed. Hearing this, local non-profit organizations like the Columbia Land I also asked for an update on the solar array. At the Trust. Just a week prior to my visit, the Center had time of the grand opening, the PV installation planned for the Center’s roof had not yet been installed due to hosted an exhibit featuring the work of local artists.


Fall 2013


a lack of funding. Of course, this meant that the Center’s bid to meet the Net Zero Energy Imperative of the Living Building Challenge — and therefore qualify for full certification — would be on hold as well. PooleJones nonchalantly replied that the installation of the 18.36 kW array would be completed within the week, thanks to a Blue Sky grant from Pacific Power. As with all other aspects of the project, patience and diligence paid off.

building sustainable. The neighborhood tutors, educators, mentors and organizers, along with the children, students, seniors and other occupants, make the building a community center. They are the real catalysts for community transformation. Change hasn’t been swift or dramatic — real change rarely is — but that doesn’t make it any less powerful.

The building is a demonstration of how a building can bring together a community and promote sustainTime will tell if the June Key Delta Community Cen- ability, just as the dedicated women of the Portland ter, already the recipient of several brownfield recla- Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority mation projects awards, will achieve full certification hoped it would be. Before I left, I asked Poole-Jones if under the Living Building Challenge. More important the Community Center had changed the community than certification, however, is that the building has for the better. She said, “I think the community has successfully supported the noble work of community changed and developed, and we’ve changed and develbuilding while illustrating the reality that sustainable oped along with it.” buildings need not be extravagant or absurdly expensive to have a meaningful impact. Prior to its occupancy, the new building at the corner of North Albina and Ainsworth was a vast improvement over an abandoned gas station, but it was neither green nor a community center. For a building to create community and be truly green, it takes people. Volunteers like Chris Poole-Jones, who donate time to open doors, host events, lead tours and tend the garden, make the

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JAY KOSA is the Communications Manager at the International Living Future Institute.





Fall 2013

For over two centuries, most communities around the globe have been polluting local waters by discharging waste into nearby water bodies. As concerns emerged about waterborne disease, people abandoned their primitive methods in favor of centralized systems. These new systems were built using miles and miles of pipe leading to large treatment plants, encouraging a new cultural understanding of ‘waste’ predicated on flushing it away for someone else to manage. This historical mindset of ‘‘out of sight, out of mind’’ persists today as we continue to build and connect to large, centralized treatment systems. As a result, our modern approach is actually a conventional one. It does not reflect today’s challenges of increased demand and limited supply, nor does it acknowledge advancements within modern-day medicine and technology.

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER

every year. Magnify this impact internationally — where atmospheric carbon recently crossed the 400 parts per million threshold — and we can no longer ignore the connection between our daily water use and worldwide environmental degradation.

We see the realities of this conventional approach each The truth is that our common approach to manag- time centralized systems cannot cope with extreme ing water fails to address the economic realities, so- events. The Alberta floods of June 2013 are just one cial impacts and environmental costs of such an example of water-related catastrophes in which people died, thousands of homes were destroyed and repairs antiquated system. cost billions of dollars. As our weather patterns conThe damage is apparent in our waterways, which are tinue to shift in response to a changing climate, we are polluted with oil and waste and where many species likely to experience more extreme and more frequent are threatened with extinction. As we continue to flush storms that will cause extensive damage. our waste away, we risk ruining not only the environmental beauty of the place but its economic produc- Unfortunately, the systems designed to mitigate risk tivity as well. For example, in the Pacific Northwest, during these extreme weather events are in desperate the Puget Sound generates $370 million per year for need of repair. Much of the water supply and wastewathe local economy through trade, travel, shellfish and ter treatment infrastructure on which our communifish harvesting, marinas, sport enthusiasts and recre- ties rely was built over 100 years ago. These systems ational users. Even though industries, communities, need widespread and costly repairs or extensions simagriculture and tribes all rely on the Puget Sound and ply to maintain the status quo; upgrading them to adsurrounding waters for economic prosperity, nearby dress both climate change impacts and increased usage communities continue to flush away their waste much would require a completely different scale of investas those primitive communities did over 200 years ago. ment. For example, in the United States, it is estimated that engineering costs to upgrade water infrastructure On top of localized destruction, our traditional ap- would likely exceed $250 billion. proach to water management causes global environmental damage. In the United States alone, drinking The insurmountable price tag of upgrading the nawater and wastewater systems account for approxi- tion’s water infrastructure undermines local resiliency mately 4% of the country’s total energy use, and con- efforts. The unfortunate reality is that as long as we tribute at least 45 million tons of greenhouse gases continue to rely on centralized systems, we perpetu-

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international case studies and published a list of urgent actions in a whitepaper titled “Making the Switch” (available on our website: Our research reveals that there is a slow willingness to change within the Puget Sound region and around the globe. Faced with multiple and diverse barriers, many jurisdictions are struggling to progress along the path to decentralized and resilient water systems. Instead, jurisdictions are favoring a slow process of change.

ate the risk to surrounding communities if and when the system fails. And because local residents and businesses often argue against the placement of centralized treatment facilities in their neighborhoods, the risk and associated lack of resiliency is most often borne by lower-income and disenfranchised communities. This status quo is simply unacceptable. To address these issues, the Cascadia Green Building Council has worked for several years to transform our relationship with water. We continue to encourage a shift to the integrated approach articulated within the Living Building ChallengeSM so that communities can operate efficiently using the resources available to them, are climate adapted and view waste as a resource.

In the Netherlands, the traditional water management systems began to yield ground to a more holistic approach only after massive flooding caused widespread damage. In Australia and Canada, governments tend to support federal efforts that face resistance within local jurisdictions. And around the Puget Sound basin, local jurisdictions are gradually considering alternative options. These case studies confirm that around the globe there is a tendency toward incremental change, not a fundamental shift in how water is managed. Locally and internationally we see common challenges, including a lack of multi-level governance, failed engagement and limited local implementation. While many practitioners agree that the customary approach to water management no longer works and causes more problems than it solves, we seem to be reliant on small changes and gradual evolution. As a result, our actions lack urgency and are not yielding the change we need. Innovation is remote — we wait for catastrophe to modify our perception. We flush away our problems, and communities remain at risk.

Instead of making small and reactive changes to the As part of our ongoing efforts to inspire action, we system, we should instead focus on a profound transrecently completed a research project that lays out formation. To put it another way, in the words of R. a roadmap for urgent next steps to achieve this transi- Buckminster Fuller, “To change something, build tion. Thanks to the generous support of the Sustain- a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” able Path Foundation, we worked with public and private sector partners to explore local barriers, examined In our “Making the Switch” report, Cascadia proposes that this new model must address four types of


Fall 2013

barriers — behavioral, regulatory, technological and financial — and that local jurisdictions, utilities, developers and communities must implement 20 urgent actions to make this transition. One such action is the implementation of multilevel governance so that jurisdictions embrace both top-down as well as bottom-up action. Rather than continue the dialogue with the usual suspects, we must collectively deliver effective engagement that brings the public to the table. Local knowledge, creativity, resources and support will ensure that our transition to integrated water management reflects community needs and is more likely to be implemented successfully.

permitting constraints, lengthy challenges and costly deviations. Put simply, any building proposal that does not hook up to existing pipes is hindered, if not prohibited, by existing regulation. Proactive effort by local government is urgently needed to not only remove these hurdles, but replace them with incentives. Regulatory reform needs to be supported across multiple jurisdictions in order to provide builders, designers and communities with consistency. To do this, local governments should work together to identify lessons learned and best practices. In addition, leadership from state and provincial governments is needed to establish an aspirational vision for future water management, along with aggressive targets.

Alongside implementation of regulatory incentives, practitioners need greater exposure to and experience with new technologies supporting integrated and decentralized water management. Pilot projects need to open their doors to industry representatives and the public so that residents, designers, permitting officials and others can see how innovative systems are Our cultural attitudes about water management are protecting public health while managing water and reflected in our regulatory pathways. Innovative wastewater. Collaborative training programs approaches to harvesting, using, reusing and dispers- and water audits will encourage greater uptake of ing our water and wastewater encounter code barriers, new technologies. Alongside public engagement, we must challenge our cultural perceptions of water and wastewater. No longer can we support the cultural values of the past century that resulted in flushing water through miles and miles of pipe. We must change our habits and accept our responsibility for the future of water management.

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In addition to cultural, regulatory and technological actions, full cost accounting is needed to transition toward integrated water management. Water costs remain relatively low and do not reflect the social and environmental externalities of our conventional approach. Instead we should pay a true price for water, thus rewarding conservation, incentivizing holistic design and speeding up payback on investment. We must take action to develop a new economic model that no longer relies on new sewer connection fees. We can no longer limit access to integrated systems and sustainable buildings to those few consumers who can afford a premium cost. Instead, jurisdictions and utilities should cooperate to decrease permitting and connection fees for new or remodeled buildings with distributed water systems. Along with remuneration for ongoing water conservation, rewards should be prioritized for buildings that address local overflow issues and improve community resiliency through flood management. A collective effort across sectors and levels of government is required to implement the actions recommended in “Making the Switch.� Together we must embrace a new philosophy of change that focuses on visionary leadership, demonstration of success and passionate resolve.


Fall 2013

We cannot wait for incremental change. Our communities continue to grow, and the costs of our customary approach increase: thousands of gallons of precious water disappear in leaking infrastructure; nutrients that our fields need are flushed away; billions of public dollars are invested in a system that is no longer tenable; and vast amounts of energy are used to pump water over hundreds of miles. We cannot continue to use conventional methods that do not reflect our present-day medical, technological, regulatory and social advancements. No longer can we rely on a few innovators, nor can we turn a blind eye to ever-increasing catastrophic events. We must turn away from the conventional approach and transition to integrated and decentralized water management. The Cascadia Green Building Council is ready to make the switch — are you? The full Making the Switch report can be downloaded at: makingtheswitch STACIA MILLER is Policy and Advocacy Manager for Cascadia Green Building Council. She resides in Seattle, WA.

NEW RELEASE Stories from the leading edge of deep green design.

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Risk, Reward & the Creative Mind


Fall 2013

Every summer I make my annual pilgrimage back to Maine. It is a chance to reset with the universe and connect to a place I know on a deep level: ecologically, socially and culturally. For a long time, I have thought of this journey as a rebalancing of my mind with nature. An intuitive connection with the patterns in the landscape strengthens me, especially when hiking in Acadia National Park or kayaking on Branch Lake. On my last trip, I discovered another aspect of this connection. One day I was driving along the coast to meet a friend for coffee, and I was struggling with a decision. Like many decisions, there were two paths: one was logical and felt planned and safe; the second was risky but felt right. As I drove, I passed a sign with this quote from Shakti Gawain: “When the universe gives you a sign, read it.” We all have within us a deep wisdom, but education and training have invalidated our intuition. Our culture emphasizes rationality, reason, and everything that is measurable. Yet our intuition can guide us toward inspiration and meaning, two elements of life that are impossible to measure yet crucial to our happiness. Of course, sometimes our intuition is wrong, and making decisions based on what is not measurable can be very difficult, but these leaps of faith are part of being a connected and intuitive human being. Real power and innovation come from transcending the polarity of intuition and rationality. We should listen to our minds and our intuition, and integrate the two. This is the creative mind, and it’s the kind of thinking that we need to achieve a Living Future. It won’t be easy and it won’t feel safe, but to all you risk takers, rule breakers, and innovators, I say: Go forward. Act boldly. The universe needs its green warriors now more than ever.


RICHARD GRAVES is the Executive

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Director of the International Living Future Institute, and an architect who combines design thinking and transformational community leadership.


Thanks to our partners, the future is blossoming

When you join forces, you can accomplish some pretty great things. At GreenTools, we believe partnerships are the foundation to driving sustainable development. Like working with Built Green to certify more than 20,000 living units since 1999. Our partnership with Island Press and its world class authors supports education to local governments and the building community. There’s also our Sustainable Cities Roundtables to facilitate learning, advance green initiatives and leverage capacity among city governments, and the ongoing work with

Cascadia Green Building Council to bring the Government Confluence to life. Together with the help of all our partners, we’re creating a bright and sustainable future for all of us. Thanks to our partners for making 2013 a year of blooming ideas and growing opportunities! Join GreenTools at the 2013 Built Green Conference, November 6 at the Brightwater Center in Woodinville. Visit to register.

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Your ingredients here. Declare your product and stake your claim in the transparent materials economy.  Consumers are demanding a new kind   of information about the products they buy. They want to know what’s in the air they breathe, the food they eat and the ­buildings they occupy. Declare. It’s an ingredients label for the ­building industry, and it lets you connect with your market on a whole new level.

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Image of the Bullitt Center by Nic Lehoux



Officials in Vienna, Austria are changing the way cities

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental

the city; accounting for things like additional lighting

broke ground this fall. Hourigan Construction, the general

are planned by focusing on how women move throughout to make walking at night safer for women, improving

pedestrian mobility to accommodate day-to-day things like taking children to the doctor and picking them up

from school, and more. Check out the link above for an interesting look on gender-equal urban planning.

CONGRATS TO OUR PARTNERS OLSON KUNDIG FOR WINNING 2 AIGA (Re)DESIGN AWARDS Olson Kundig Architects have been recognized for their great work on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Visitor Center, and Mushroom Farm, an experimental

mushroom growing installation and food education center at [storefront] Olson Kundig Architects. The competition recognizes what “looks good and strives to improve the lives of people and impacts on our planet”.

Center project that is targeting the Living Building Challenge contractor, has dedicated a blog to follow the process from a contractor’s lens. Check out their blog at the link above and track the innovative project take shape.

YOGA + THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE The Yoga Union, a new community wellness center, is

aiming to meet the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge as they seek responsible construction. The

building will house a studio, child-care area, café, wellness

center and much more, for what will be Southeast Portland’s uber-sustainable new Yoga Union.

ENGAGING FAMILIES TO HELP COMMUNITIES The cycle of poverty can be a hard one to break. A new approach to family engagement hopes to transform

communities and help children on the path to a strong future.

MAKING PROGRESS? Do you have a lead on cutting-edge green building progress in the region? Contact with “Moving Upstream News Lead” in the subject line.


Fall 2013



Fellow green building leader Lance Hosey recently wrote about JUST while he called for the green building industry to become a greater force for social justice. “This is long overdue, sustainability is defined as the intersection of social, economic, and environmental value — the “triple bottom line” — but often the social dimension gets lost.” Click the link above to read the full article.



ARCH 100, an undergraduate course, offers students a glimpse into the world of architecture by immersing them in the design process. Other components of the class included lectures from faculty in the College of Built Environments and field trips to some of the finest architecture

projects in Seattle. The Bullitt Center was one of the selected projects, where future architects learned about the Living Building Challenge.



Every piece sold at Sustainable Northwest Wood must meet or exceed the standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the world’s most respected “green seal” for wood products. The majority of the wood comes from local sources where the lumber yard owner can tell personal stories about the origin. Check out this innovative lumber yard and know where your wood is coming from.



Check out these TED talks that explore sustainable design — both past and present — and its beautiful, inspiring results.

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

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