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Jason F. McLennan


Michael D. Berrisford


Joanna Gangi


Krista Elvey




Erin Gehle Joanna Gangi

Michael D. Berrisford, Sonja Bochart, James Connelly, Joanna Gangi, Richard Graves, Brad Jacobson, Jason F. McLennan, Stacia Miller, Richard Piacentini, Bill Reed



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Trim Tab is a quarterly publication of the International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission and is for informational purposes only. COVER IMAGE © ISTOCK - GIOADVENTURES 2

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Packard Foundation Headquarters BY BR AD JACOBSON


Jay Harman: Nature as Master Teacher BY MICHAEL D. BERRISFORD


A Living Transportation Future: Getting Around in a Regenerative Society BY JASON F. MCLENNAN




contents J A N U A R Y 2 014









Moving Upstream


FWD: Read This

Awakening the Spirit in Living Buildings BY RICHARD PIACENTINI AND SONJA BOCHART


Removing Barriers to a Living Future


Falling in Love With Life





he built environment informs human emotion and has a profound impact on our everyday lives. The average person spends the majority of time indoors and thus grows increasingly disconnected from nature and its beauty. Modern technological innovations have exacerbated this disconnection, making harmony with the natural world even more elusive. I often find my head buried in my iPhone to see what is trending on social media rather than simply looking at my surroundings as I walk down the street. The green building and design industry has made huge steps toward curbing climate change and making things “less bad” for future generations. But what if, rather than making things “less bad,” we actually aspired to “good”? What if all buildings — and on a larger scale, all communities — were built to be socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative? In order to do this, we need to explore what inspires us and how we incorporate beauty and spirit in design and, more broadly, in everything we do. We explore the topic of inspiration in this issue of Trim Tab. As you read, ask yourself what inspires you. Whether it is nature, future generations, the next version of iOS…how can we reconnect to the natural world and redefine our relationship to the resources upon which we rely?

JOANNA GANGI International Living Future Institute Managing Editor of Trim Tab magazine

We don’t just say we’re sustainable. At PROSOCO, we live and breathe our commitment to sustainability through resilient, transformative and high-performing building products. The Living Building Challenge serves as a blueprint to many of our formulations that surpass the highest green standards in contemporary building design and construction. All of this is part of PROSOCO’s broader mission to make products that maximize energy efficiency while leaving a minimal impact on the natural environment.

We live sustainable.

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he David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which strives to build a culture of environmental sustainability, made a conscious decision to live the values they support in their home community of Los Altos, California. When designing their headquarters for Net Zero Energy Building Certification and LEED Platinum certification, they did not know what they could accomplish, but knew they were setting the right goals. Today, the office building is now the largest to achieve Net Zero Energy Building Certification. The building is a physical manifestation of the Packard Foundation’s long-term commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world, aligning them even more closely with the important work their grantees do every day. Most importantly, the Packard Foundation headquarters demonstrates that a building like this can be designed and built elsewhere, opening the door for others to move toward constructing more environmentally sustainable buildings, too.



EHDD was invited to interview for the privilege of designing the new headquarters for the Foundation, who was looking for an architectural team to “challenge conventional wisdom” and conceive of a building “designed and constructed to the highest level of sustainability.” EHDD, a sustainably focused firm, had recently completed the IDeAs Z2 Design Facility, the first building to receive Net Zero Energy Building Certification from the International Living Future Institute (the Institute). At 49,000 square feet, the Packard project would be seven times the size of IDeAs and the largest certified Net Zero Energy building to date; this seemed an appropriately ambitious goal for the Foundation. However, for the project to truly succeed, EHDD argued that this goal needed to be embedded within a larger agenda of organizational sustainability. In short, to get to true sustainability, you have to get beyond the building. This approach turned out to be exactly the challenge that the Foundation sought.


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The project is serving as intended – a catalyst for broader sustainability initiatives within the Packard Foundation. It now stands as the cornerstone of their effort to demonstrate how an organization can improve its effectiveness and employee quality of life while emitting carbon at the rate needed to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. ORGANIZATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY The project began with a comprehensive greenhouse gas assessment (GhG), which included how employees get to and from work, as well as the Foundation’s air travel, purchasing and internal operations. Sustainability goals were set based on California’s landmark “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006,” which mandates statewide carbon reduction of 80 percent by 2050. With the building’s overall greenhouse gas footprint as the ultimate measure for project success, the team


aimed for eliminating net annual gas and electricity GETTING TO NET ZERO use in buildings, while aggressively addressing transThe headquarters is a building shaped by daylight and portation impacts through the project process. access to the outdoors. Two 40-foot wide office wings The GhG assessment identified transportation as the are pulled apart to create a landscaped courtyard space Foundation’s biggest emissions sector and individual at the figurative and literal heart of the site. In that narcar commuting as the single biggest source. Rather row building footprint, all occupants are within easy than incentivizing solo car commuting by building reach of daylight, views and operable windows. Inteunderground parking for all staff, the team analyzed rior shades are user-controlled to combat glare but use patterns to identify opportunities for change. automatically raise each night as a default to a fully While local zoning code required 160 parking spaces, daylit mode. To harvest the potential energy savings the team documented a much lower demand for 67 made possible by the exceptional daylighting, electric spaces and developed a Transportation Demand Man- lighting automatically dims when daylight levels sufagement Plan (TDMP) to reduce demand further fice, and undercounter LED task lights are controlled over time. Coordination with the City of Los Altos by occupancy sensors at each desk. The daylighting allowed the elimination of a planned $8 million un- design aimed for “perceptual brightness” — a space so derground garage from the project, thereby reducing well daylit that no one thinks to override the lighting project embodied carbon emissions by one-quarter, all controls. To that end, the design included linear skywhile incentivizing alternative modes of commuting. lights and lightshelves throughout the upper floor and a ground floor made as tall as possible to extend the reach of daylight. The modeled design showed a 40 Left: View of Entry Court from Second Street. Traditional materials, such as stone, wood, percent reduction in lighting energy from baseline. In copper and glass, are composed with modern practice, first year lighting energy use was actually 26 detailing to give the building a rich, contemporary percent better than modeled due to the effectiveness of but contextual character. Below: A Green Roof adds a vibrant foreground to the view from the the daylighting system. Boardroom and adjacent hallway.

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Staff and visitors converse in a wide range of collaborative indoor/outdoor meeting spaces. To the right is a sliding glass wall that opens to allow a large meeting room to accommodate all staff meetings.

Triple-element glazing (R-7.7) was used to eliminate thermal bridging, and continuously insulated woodframed walls (R-24) were included in the building to eliminate the need for perimeter heating. The low heating demand allows an all-electric (truly zero energy/carbon) system providing heating through ventilation supply air. Chilled beams and radiant panels provide cooling, using chilled water created at night by compressor-free cooling towers and stored in 50,000 gallon underground tanks, resulting in cooling energy being reduced by 90 percent from a conventional chiller and VAV-reheat system. Building systems were designed utilizing only electricity as an energy source in order to be fully capable of achieving net zero energy and net zero carbon through on-site solar energy collection. A 285kw PV system was sized to meet yearly energy demand.

energy use of an efficient office building. The team monitored office equipment loads in the Foundation’s existing buildings and developed recommendations that reduce plug load energy by 58 percent primarily through a purchasing plan aimed at buying the top 5 percent of Energy Star equipment. First year plug load energy actually beat this targeted performance, which is a testament to the commitment of the staff. The various energy-saving strategies proved to be a success for the building. First year actual energy use was 22 kBtu/sf (58 percent less than code) while PV production was the equivalent of 26 kBtu/sf. The result is a Net Positive building where electric vehicle charging stations make use of the surplus production to charge employee cars with carbon neutral electricity. WATER AS A PRECIOUS RESOURCE

Plug load reduction is essential for Net Zero Energy design, as these loads that are typically ignored by en- Until WWII, Los Altos was an agricultural town ergy codes can make up over 50 percent of the actual dominated by apricot orchards. By the 21st century,


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Second floor offices benefit from a range of daylighting strategies aimed at improving “perceptual brightness”. The result is a building where lights are generally not needed during daytime hours.

the project site was 97 percent impervious, covered in substandard, mostly unoccupied buildings and asphalt parking lots two blocks from Main Street. The challenge was how to densify and enliven the historic downtown with daytime office workers while improving site ecology in the process. Rainwater from the roof was routed to a 20,000 gallon underground cistern to meet 90 percent of toilet flushing and 60 percent of irrigation demand — the first rainwater for indoor use system in Los Altos. The cistern overflows into a detention pond designed to minimize any stormwater actually reaching the public storm system.

volumes are reduced approximately 50 percent from pre-project levels.

All runoff from impervious surfaces is treated via vegetated swales, rain gardens or underground infiltration basins. The project voluntarily retrofitted both sides of existing street frontage on Second Street by removing the sidewalk and constructing flow-through “rain gardens” — the first in Silicon Valley — which will treat and infiltrate road runoff. In sum, the stormwater peak flow rates and

On the surface, net zero energy is a math problem: Can we match watts produced to watts consumed over the course of a year? But the more significant accomplishment of this project is the demonstration that a more sustainable life is simply a better life, through a building whose architectural design stimulates the senses and enriches people’s ability to work together on solutions for critical problems fac-

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Overall, the project achieved a 40 percent water use reduction and complete capture or infiltration of all rainwater falling on the site and adjacent sidewalks. The project makes a strong push toward net zero water use in a water-constrained region expected to grow dryer over the building’s lifetime. SUSTAINABILITY IS ABOUT A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE


A central courtyard figures large in daylighting, natural ventilation, and biophilic strategies, while serving as the most popular meeting room in the building.

ing our world. This element of beauty is central to the Living Building Challenge and a requirement of the Net Zero Energy Building Certification. As one building occupant remarked in a post-occupancy survey, “It’s a bit hard to gauge increased productivity, but my mood/senses of well-being is enhanced by the beauty of the space (and the courtyard this spring!), the good feeling I have working in a net zero building, and the ease of recycling and composting.” Post-occupancy survey data shows that 97 percent of occupants report high satisfaction with the building and the thermal comfort satisfaction ranks in the 96th percentile of the CBE survey database. The


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occupant and visitor cannot help but experience how sustainable attributes are inextricably linked to these high levels of productivity, comfort and delight. The client wanted a building suited to the benign California climate that invited people and nature to flow seamlessly between indoors and out. Natural ventilation displays on laptops and within break rooms alert occupants when outdoor conditions are right to open windows. On the ground floor, sixteenfoot wide sliding doors open up to the courtyard on all sides, inviting use as a meeting space for most of the year. It is the largest “room” in the project and is


PROJECT TEAM Owner: David and Lucile Packard Foundation Client Representative: Rhodes Dahl Architect: EHDD MEP Engineer: Integral Group Civil Engineer: Sherwood Design Engineers Daylighting: Loisos + Ubbelohde Structural: Tipping Mar Lighting: Janet Nolan & Associates Landscape: Joni L. Janecki & Associates Commissioner: Amir Yazdi, CTG Energetics – The CADMUS Group General Contractor: DPR Construction, Inc.

one of a range of meeting spaces distributed throughout the building to support a collaborative and conversational work environment. “I enjoy having the option to grab my laptop or a stack of reading, and move from my workspace to one of these common areas,” says one Foundation staffer. “It’s also a great way to have casual meetings with colleagues. Zero energy buildings need to scale up — and fast — in order for us to achieve the economy-wide carbon reductions necessary over the next two decades and avoid the worst climate change scenarios. Therefore, the challenge before us is not just to design demon-

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strations projects over the next two decades, but also to figure out how to fundamentally transform a building industry in time to achieve our 2030 targets. Leaders like the Packard Foundation are showing that Inspiration is far more powerful than fear. The future is bright. BRAD JACOBSON is a Senior Associate at EHDD.


B Y M I C H A E L D. B E R R I S F O R D

Jay Harman is a keynote speaker at the Living Future unConference in Portland, OR


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n Australian-born adventurer, inventor and entrepreneur, Jay Harman is fascinated by the organic shape of design. According to Harman, the innovation wave of the future is rooted in millennia of evolving natural models from particles to galaxies, and more. He is a leader among a growing field of scientists and designers who are seeking biomimetic solutions to the planet’s most pressing problems tied to energy use and climate change. Harman believes that the severe issues of resource depletion, the pending energy crisis, and the wide-scale pollution of our air and water can all be solved by first studying, then applying nature’s time-tested, elegant designs to the reinvention and eco-engineering of our systems — mechanical, medicinal and otherwise. Harman has dedicated his life to restoring the ecological balance of the planet through biomimicry, and he believes with absolute confidence that the answers are right in front of us. Harman implores us all to look closely at nature through biomimetic eyes to learn from and then emulate the omnipresent natural efficiencies and systems design in our industrial processes and products.  Jay Harman is a proponent of swirling geometry and turbulence, asking us to value flowing solutions over the conventional wisdom of straight answers. After all, as Harman points out, “Nature has carried out trillions of competitive parallel experiments for millions of years,” so it makes good sense to pay attention. We may just learn something.

JAY HARMAN: Nature as Master Teacher “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” -— LEONARDO DA VINCI trim tab


How does an adventurous, nature-loving, Australian boy go from swimming and fishing the warm, clear waters of the Indian Ocean to becoming an acclaimed inventor and CEO of California-based PAX Scientific?

cal world. When I realized that others were applying the same principles to everything from chemistry to architecture to organizational development, I found my community. Janine’s contribution is enormous, because she and her team have spent years developing a systematic process for biomimetic design and skilled Jay Harman: I wonder that myself at times! After educators who can teach it. This means that I can asmore than a decade serving as a senior field officer and sure anyone who is interested that they, too, can beboat captain with the Fisheries and Wildlife Departcome a biomimic — even if they didn’t grow up in the ment of Western Australia, it was painfully clear to me bush of Australia. that conservation and economic development were always at odds. I would work for years to protect pelican What is the archetypal shape of movement and the nesting sites, for example, but the land would be turned streamlining principle? over to developers for shorefront homes. It struck me that the best way to protect our environment was to Jay Harman: Most of the fluid flow we see in nature— show that there was more profit to be made in protect- from wind to waves to rivers to clouds to flames— ing and learning from nature than from destructively seems chaotic. Yet there is an underlying pattern to all exploiting it. That started me on a path of founding of that movement. All movement in nature swirls in a series of companies in Australia and the UK that vortical patterns, like the whirlpool that you see when were inspired by nature. California has a culture that you pull the plug from your bathtub. By understanding supports innovation, strong academic resources, and working with this core pattern, we can deliberately and access to investment capital, so that’s where we create vortices that allow fluids to move in streamlined founded PAX Scientific, which aims to streamline the flow paths. industrial world. How can the spiral geometry of a seashell inform urban planning and renewable energy production?

Experts such as Enrich Fromm, Edward O. Wilson and Janine Benyus have been pioneers in the surging field of biomimicry. How have their contributions informed your work?


Jay Harman: Nature’s spiral geometry underpins almost all of her designs, and all of her systems require less materials and less energy to get the job done than Jay Harman: I didn’t realize that I was a biomimic un- human-designed processes. So whether it’s urban til I read Janine’s book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired planning, renewable energy production, or any other by Nature. I was immersed in nature and recognized human need, there are design lessons that we can take patterns that clearly seemed essential to nature’s supe- from nature’s geometries to improve efficiencies and rior efficiencies but had been overlooked by the techni- reduce waste.


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In your new book, “The Shark’s Paintbrush,” you state that “I’m on a mission to halve the world’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through biomimicry and the elimination of waste.” With oceans acidifying, compromised fresh water stores, denuded forests, and escalating energy demand, it’s evident that humanity is depleting the planet’s resources at a vastly unsustainable rate. What has to change to turn the tide and what does nature offer in the way of solutions that we can act upon immediately?

Jay Harman: A sustainable future means exactly that — a future will only exist for life on earth if we become sustainable. The alternative is terminal. The only model we have for sustainability is biomimicry, so to turn the tide, all designers and engineers need to study and apply the principles of biomimicry. Education and dissemination is essential to ensure rapid uptake. There are over 200 biomimetic products already on the market, with total sales in the billions of dollars per year and growing rapidly. To help your readers identify solutions that can have an immediate impact on green building and the built environment, I have three suggestions. First, Biomimicry 3.8 is a fantastic organization that leads biomimicry education in the world. Their online and in-person courses, consultants, and regional networks are outstanding resources for learning how to apply biomimicry to design and business practices. A number of their regional networks have also studied the “genius of place” of their specific area and can assist the green building community with valuable insights as well as promoting collaboration. ( is one of Biomimicry 3.8’s offerings. It’s a searchable database that includes the 200plus bio-inspired products that are already on the market, like Lotusan self-cleaning paint, and the over 2,000 (and growing) case studies that are in the research or development phase. Third, as a result of years of collaboration with Biomimicry 3.8, HOK recently released a Genius of Biome report that looks at the lessons that may be learned from the species in a particular biome. This is becoming an online tool that will be an

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extremely exciting and important tool for architects and designers. The metaphor for the Living Building Challenge is to emulate nature’s self-sustaining architecture. The Challenge places particular emphasis on net zero water and energy, healthy, locally-sourced building materials and Beauty and Inspiration. How do the principles of the Living Building Challenge mesh with the tenets of natural design?

Jay Harman: There may be some differences in semantics or emphasis, but the underlying principles are absolutely the same. The idea of running your business or designing your building like a forest is a prime example that is taught in biomimicry courses, where each species contributes in synergy to the others, all resources are gathered from that one footprint, and everything is recycled. Again, Biomimicry 3.8 and HOK’s Genius of Biome project is a great example of how well these principles overlap and the resources that are emerging to move us toward living buildings. How does designing and building with nature’s proportions decrease our environmental footprint?

Jay Harman: First, nature has evolved to accomplish the most for the least — whether in energy or materials. By utilizing nature’s proportions, we too can achieve far more for far less environmental impact. We see this in the fans that we’ve designed, which use up to 45 percent less energy tha the competitor product while using the same or less material. Our PAX water mixers are on tripods that are only four feet high with impellers that are just 6 inches high by 4 inches wide, but they fully circulate water tanks of up to 10 million gallons for only 300 watts of power. These mixers decrease energy use and chemical use by 80 percent compared to competitor products. Those are just two examples of the power of nature’s geometries. What biomimetic solutions for power generation, HVAC, and materials (health and resiliency) are available to dramatically advance the green building movement?


Jay Harman: Thankfully, the number is growing so rapidly that I couldn’t list them all here. To give a few concrete examples, however, there are a number of biomimetic innovations in power generation, with those impacting green building primarily in the solar space, such as Dyesol out of Australia. Power-saving technologies include REGEN Energy, which uses swarm logic to manage electricity demand. There are a number of research groups focused on bio-inspired materials, including a Swedish group at the Royal Institute of Technology dedicated to understanding fiber to improve materials, particularly for the built environment. Sharklet Technologies in Colorado has developed a patented surface that stays free of bacteria solely by its nanoscale structure, which mimics the way that sharks stay free of biofilms and algae. It’s available in films for doors, for example, and is being introduced in office furniture by Steelcase. Close to home, PAX Scientific has developed solutions for many aspects of HVAC and air circulation and we’re looking for partners to pilot them. What are the guiding principles behind green chemistry and what does this branch of Biomimicry offer in the way of practical solutions for the built environment?

What is the Da Vinci Index and why should the green building movement be paying attention to it?

Jay Harman: The world is currently run by folks who are focused on “the bottom line.” The Da Vinci Index marks a threshold, because it is the first time that bio-inspired design is being recognized and tracked for its bottom line value — including the number of patents being filed, scientific research articles, and grants. The Index, along with an economic impact report that was also generated by the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University, is an important indicator to the financial community. When investors and lenders can see the projections that biomimicry will result in over $2 trillion in global GDP by 2030, and over 1.6 million jobs in the United States by 2025, the field can be recognized as an important emerging discipline with powerful economic potential. You are a featured keynote speaker in May 2014 at the ILFI’s Living Future unConference in Portland. What key messages do you hope that attendees will take away from your address?

Jay Harman: I hope that attendees will feel informed, excited, and optimistic about the wave of activity and credibility that is happening in bio-inspired design and Jay Harman: The twelve principles of green chemisits tremendous potential for collaboration with the try were defined by pioneering chemists John Warner green building movement. and Paul Anastas, and are based on sustainable design principles. Simply put, following the principles of green What do you consider to be your greatest chemistry results in the creation of non-toxic chemicals achievement yet to be realized? that do the job just as well or better than the conventional chemical for the same or less cost. The design process Jay Harman: That every industry on earth impleaims to dramatically reduce the use of harmful com- ments biomimetic principles through every aspect of pounds, energy, and resources in industrial chemicals their business, thereby greatly reducing and eventually by thinking proactively about potential environmental eliminating waste, pollution, CO2 emissions, and envieffects. The impact green chemistry will have on the ronmental degradation, while improving the quality of built environment in everything from non-toxic clean- life for all who breathe. ing supplies and solar panels to paints to fabric coatMICHAEL D. BERRISFORD is the ings and on and on is enormous. The Fermanian BusiDirector of Ecotone Publishing for the ness and Economic Institute’s economic impact report International Living Future Institute projected that over 15 percent of chemical manufacand the Editorial Director of Trim Tab magazine. turing could already be impacted by green chemistry by 2025.


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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 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 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 cargo and the grounds crew didn’t see the need to spend the time bolting the seats in place. Of course, any crash would have created a sardine can of human bodies stacked on top of each other.” 2 LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED rating system is a way to gauge the “greenness” of a building. 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 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,

BEAUTY AND INSPIRATION when heated to a high temperature, can replace Portland cement as a binder for concrete.


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


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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — BUCKMINSTER FULLER


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umans have always been on the move. In pre- So here we are in the 21st century, despite futuristic historic times, getting from one place to the predictions of how we’d get around by now 1, living in next was a matter of survival as we followed the a highly polluting, dangerous and culture-eroding soherds, weather and seasons. For thousands of years, ciety that is dominated by automobiles, the logical outwe moved only by foot. Several thousand years ago, come of an early 20th century technology. As we drive a small portion of humanity was aided by beasts of blissfully forward while staring blankly at our dwinburden and early sailing vessels to enable travel farther dling supplies of oil, it does little good to bemoan past decisions to build the interstate systems, suburban and farther afield. landscapes and unending sprawl that have so disconThe modern story is all too familiar: we’ve progressed nected us from nature and from each other. to the point where our modes of transportation — our cars, buses, trains and planes — are major contributors It is tempting to wish that we could go back a hundred to the decline of the planet’s life support systems. The years, armed with our current knowledge, and ask the more we travel, the more we imperil the planet’s future. people who were just setting out on this path, “What Humans have introduced transportation technologies would you think of creating a transportation paradigm that threaten the health of people, the environment, that will destroy city patterns and community life, poison the environment, be responsible for thousands of our communities and our very quality of life. accidental deaths and injuries each year, and require If we had been blessed with a more critical foresight, a fuel source that is so scarce and unevenly distributed perhaps we would have stopped and asked more ques- that it will pit armies from various continents against tions, been more objective, and questioned the long- one another, causing the deaths of untold innocents?” term impacts of each new technology on people, cul- We’d like to think that no person would have embraced ture and the environment. Instead, we continue to such a model because it makes no sense, though the alforge ahead in the name of progress, innovating our lure of profit and speed would likely still prevail. Yet, way forward, overly proud of our accomplishments in we find ourselves today in the midst of that nonsensical the pursuit of going farther, faster. mess; we can’t go back in time, but our past decisions have bound us to the current paradigm.


The more we travel, the more we imperil the planet’s future.

WHAT IS POSSIBLE? What we’ve learned time and time again is that guilt is a poor motivator for change. We’ve known about the negative impacts of our current transportation paradigm for at least four decades. We’ve compiled the stats and we’ve educated people on alternatives, yet year-in and year-out, we lose ground because we haven’t offered a compelling alternative that creates the same levels of comfort and convenience that people seek in any transportation paradigm. The Institute is providing a new vision that is beginning to reshape the conversation around buildings — 1 It was predicted in the fifties that we’d live in outer space, in moon colonies and travel by nuclear powered vessels by now.


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When the automobile was introduced, it was unfathomable that this unreliable, loud transportation technology could ever prevail without road, fuel and repair networks.


THE FOOT ERA Humans first relied on our own bodies to get us where we needed to go. This phase lasted for most of human history.


THE ANIMAL ERA Next, we turned to other living things to help move us and our cargo.


THE WINDS AND CURRENTS ERA Our early transportation machines called on energy generated by the air and the water. They were essentially non-polluting, but at the whim of nature.


THE RAIL AND STREETCAR ERA Then our innovations (and the materials required to build them) began to pollute as we took ‘control’ of transportation future – the steam era began.

Living Buildings that are beautiful, inspiring, more comfortable, healthier, and economically justifiable. Living Buildings have no future if they are ugly, provide occupant discomfort or are cost-prohibitive. If we want our transportation paradigm to change, the same must happen. The solutions, like with Living Buildings, must be holistic and interconnected, and they must address the problems of entire underlying systems, not just the individual parts. It’s time to plan for a healthy, compelling alternative: a living, regenerative transportation network that will carry us into the future. As is true with so many sustainable solutions, we have the technology now to achieve this goal, so this is not a matter of

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THE AUTOMOBILE AND AIRPLANE ERA In the name of convenience, our modern methods have begun to alter the climate of our planet and sicken us as a species. Soon, we will run out of the fuel required to power these machines. The era of the internal combustion engine.


THE REGENERATIVE TRANSPORTATION ERA A healthy human transportation future, relying on technologies that already exist, is possible. We are only now getting glimpses of this era’s possibilities.



having to wait for new inventions (although certainly refinements are needed to further improve all aspects of the system). We simply need to embrace and reimagine the ideas we’ve already begun to develop. For example, bicycles have always been relevant as a major component of our transportation future, and we’ve already created electric cars and trains that function beautifully. Now is the time to think bigger, imagining sustainable systems and policies that will meet everybody’s transportation needs without diminishing the planet’s life support systems. Some of our solutions may not be elegant at first, but we continually learn the most from our failures. Switching infrastructure systems is never easy, but it is always possible, and success typically depends primarily on overcoming cultural and attitudinal barriers, which can only be done if the paradigm introduced offers a more compelling vision and promise than the one it is intended to replace. Converting to a revolutionary transportation paradigm will yield winners and losers, just as was true when we transitioned from the horse to the automobile. When the automobile was introduced, it was unfathomable that this unreliable, loud


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transportation technology could ever prevail without road, fuel and repair networks. Experts of the day thought that it could never replace the horse and buggy. But within two decades the automobile had done just that, and all the systems needed to sustain the auto culture were in place. Money and profit potential drove much of the change (and sometimes political scandal), and that’s still true today—so a new vision must excite people economically and experientially. It is my belief that framing a living transportation future in a compelling fashion will succeed if we follow the same principles required to create a living building future. In fact, the next iteration of the Living Building Challenge, version 3.0, will more fully integrate the concept of transportation. In other words, the goals of the new paradigm must meet the same performance requirements we demand from living buildings. We imagine the need for a transportation future that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative, where every single act of locomotion helps regenerate and restore our communities and the ecology underpinning them. A CHALLENGING ADVENTURE The International Living Future Institute was inspired to tackle the topic of regenerative transportation in part because of our work with the historic 1913 schooner Adventuress, which is now used for environmental and maritime education in the waters surrounding Seattle. As part of its centennial


We imagine the need for a transportation future that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative, where every single act of locomotion helps regenerate and restore our communities and the ecology underpinning them.


Freight Vessels

Trains & Subways



Illustration: The above pyramid shows the emphasis we place on our current modes of transportation. The most polluting forms of travel at the base of the pyramid and the most regenerative at the top with the least use.

restoration, Adventuress is being refurbished according to the framework of the Living Building Challenge. This inspirational effort has proven that the principles of the Challenge can apply just as readily to the vessels that move us around as they do to the built environment. UNDERSTANDING THE OLD AND NEW PARADIGMS. Current Transportation Paradigm Today, we draw disproportionately on systems whose damaging effects far outweigh their benefits. A Living Transportation Paradigm By making human- and renewably-powered methods of transportation the norm, and only rarely relying on resource-hungry machines, we will flip the old system on its head.

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POWER TO THE PEDAL When it comes to transportation, one of the greatest paradigm-busting examples is the ELF pedal/ solar hybrid vehicle. Made by Organic Transit in Durham, North Carolina, the ELF delivers the mobility of a bicycle with the added boost of an electric assist. Built to be ridden like any standard bike, the ELF’s rooftop solar panels provide enough supplemental clean power to carry its rider/driver at speeds of up to 30 mph. The ELF is a bike first and foremost. But when the circumstances, terrain or dress code require supplemental strength, it can become a renewably motorized vehicle. At just 95 pounds, the ELF gets the equivalent of 1,800 miles per gallon (even though it requires not a drop of fuel). Referred to by various early reviewers as a “sunbike,” a “solar tricycle” and “the next big thing for eco-commuters,” the ELF shows what is


A LIVING TRANSPORTATION HIERARCHY Dirigibles & Planes Electric Vehicles for long-haul travel

Electric Trains & Light Rail

Electric Assist Specialty Vehicles



Illustration: This new hierarchy puts walkable communities as the foundation of our transportation future, followed closely by bicycles, electric assist bikes and vehicles.

possible when change is required. I, for one, am looking forward to going for a spin. I am the proud owner of an ELF and will use it for miscellaneous commuting and short in-town travel. It’s still a bit rough around the edges in its 1.0 version — but it holds great promise as a new class of vehicles that could begin to fully dominate the transportation scene. Imagine if we used vehicles like this for the majority of our in-town commuting. We’d be healthier and safer, have more fun commuting, and our cities could begin to be reshaped around a more human scale. REINVENTING THE CAR By now, most environmentally-aware consumers are familiar with Tesla Motors and the revolutionary Tesla all-electric luxury sedan. While Tesla was not the first company to offer an electric automobile by


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is, in my opinion, the start of a revolution. Imagine our country without the need for gas stations, super tankers, oil refineries, without air pollution and not caught up in Middle Eastern wars! Tesla is singlehandedly creating a system that could make the existing paradigm obsolete. With enough traction, this system will be rapidly copied and in a couple of decades we could be completely weaned from oil.2

A LOOK AT A NEW ERA I envision a regenerative transportation era that prioritizes humans and our communities, not cars and any stretch (indeed, I owned an early Corbin Sparrow their freeways. To make this vision work, our cities for ten years), it has taken things to a new level with have to change. Since societies are built around their its powerful design, incredible battery technology and dominant form(s) of transportation, it’s time to start perhaps most importantly with its growing network of rebuilding our cities with healthier ways of moving Supercharger stations. Until now, an electric car’s utili- citizens around as a top priority. Let’s unpack this ty was limited to its range. They offered an ideal way to idea further: travel short distances but were not a realistic option for longer journeys and therefore unpractical for most peo- First, it is important to understand that it is not enough ple. Even when I owned my electric car, I still had to have to simply change the ‘mode’ of transportation. As much as I admire Tesla and other electric cars, merely a second gas vehicle for longer trips. replacing all internal combustion engines with elecTesla is changing the paradigm, first by extending the tric motors does not get us to the place we seek and range to a couple hundred miles per trip. The com- indeed can create other challenges, although this is pany’s newly emerging Supercharger stations are now a good early transition step.3 Electric cars matched cropping up throughout the country, with more on the with renewable energy-based charging gets us closer, way. (As of this writing, the company website lists lo- but still does nothing to heal the damage that personal cations in most U.S. and Canadian metropolitan areas automobile transportation has done to the fabric of and expects to have enough stations in place by next our communities. The spatial dynamics of planning year to serve 80 percent of those countries’ residents.) around cars and the resulting decentralization of comA Tesla sedan can take a full 120kW charge in less than munity need to be challenged. Our cities need to 30 minutes, giving the car up to another 300 miles in planned around the scale of people, not around giant range, essentially guaranteeing free energy. Each sta- machines, and the huge swathes of land that have been tion offers or is situated near other amenities, so travel- given over to auto enablement need to be repurposed. ers can eat, shop or connect with other travelers while A living transportation paradigm requires cities and their cars repower. The result is a safe, gorgeous, clean-powered vehicle that can take its passengers farther afield without doing damage along the way. While I still believe in minimizing the number of automobiles on the road due to their significant negative impacts on urban form and safety, the Tesla model and its supercharging network

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2 Here is a prediction, as the Tesla begins to gain even more market share, expect the oil industries and conventional automakers to begin to work hard to limit and discredit it as a system. Watch carefully for how the media portrays any problems that Tesla has—playing up any accident as potentially a giant fault in the vehicle even though gas powered vehicles routinely have safety problems and aren’t held to the same standard. 3 You still have to get electricity from somewhere – and if it’s from a dirty grid then you’ve made the problem worse in some areas.




Above left: The removal of San Franisco’s Embarcadero freeway made the city a better place.


towns to be planned differently, with the highest pri- many other communities that have abandoned rail and ority given to the pedestrian and the cyclist, and the freeway sections. automobile reserved for very specific and specialized In place of auto infrastructure we now have greater transportation needs. room for increased density, for daylighting streams When communities begin removing auto infrastruc- and providing landscaped channels for storm water, or ture they find that it can greatly revitalize the area and even for avenues of urban food production and habitat. allows for a restitching of the urban fabric. The removal of San Francisco’s Embarcadero, and the soon-to-be- Providing infrastructure for bikes is the top priority; removed Seattle viaduct, allows for vital reconnection dedicated bike lanes and bike sharing programs like to the waterfront as well as visual and auditory relief. the green bikes in New York City start to reinforce Repurposing abandoned infrastructure can also cre- a bike culture similar to one that is so strong in Portate new and rich urban experiences, such as the New land, Oregon, where people of all ages and demoYork Highline (perhaps the best new landscape design graphics bike to work each day—rain or shine.4 We since Olmsted), which is now serving as inspiration for have to support emergent companies like Organic Transit, which themselves are extending the power, utility and climate acceptability of bikes through new vehicle typologies. The trend of adding light rail, even in currently autodominated communities, is highly positive because it makes leaving the auto more viable for people who still need to travel greater distances. A well thoughtout grid of light rail allows people to walk, bike, and 4 In some communities teens are shunning the normal right of passage of getting their drivers license in favor of the bike, which is seen as more hip and responsible.


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Above: Our nation needs a network of high speed trains which could revolutionize travel and significantly reduce transportation impacts.

hop on trains to traverse the city as well as or better than getting into cars. Connecting this grid to an enhanced national rail system (with fast trains) will allow for seamless and enjoyable mid- to long-haul journeys journeys. Funding a national high-speed rail system should be a top political priority. The fact that our nation’s trains are so inefficient when compared to those in other countries is embarrassing — and an opportunity missed.

You were surprised by how quickly the auto paradigm changed once the right systems were in place. All the experts said it couldn’t happen, but with a new generation and better transportation models emerging, the transition was quick. Sure, service vehicles— police, fire, ambulances and construction—still exist, and all are now able to navigate more efficiently to their destinations.

With communication technology as advanced as it is, you often work from home, or from parks and cafes, reducing transportation needs considerably. Your work-life balance seems much easier—regaining the hour per day that you used to spend commuting has been wonderful. When you do need to travel to meetings or for other activities, you typically walk or ride your bike. This transition might not have been easy at first, but now it’s the most pleasurable part of the day. IMAGINE If it’s raining, you might rent a covered electric-assist Imagine you live in a city where the vast majority of bike or walk with your umbrella to the light rail stop, people don’t own cars—they don’t need to, and they which is never more than a few minutes away. Because don’t want to. Sure, there are some cars available be- of this daily pattern, you see and know your neighbors cause each neighborhood has a ‘vehicle hub’ where you more, you’ve lost weight, and you feel healthier and can rent an electric truck or car on the rare occasion more fit. You take greater notice and care of your street, one would be necessary, but the costs associated with your park, and your doorstep. In general you’ve slowed car ownership have completely disappeared, along down, and you can feel how much less stress there is. with local air pollution, auto accidents, noise, and the You can’t help but notice how your community has vast parking and auto transportation infrastructure. been greatly strengthened in the last few. Somehow, Ultimately as the transition unfolds over the next couple decades, our city infrastructure is radically changing — we will have new street standards and street sections, greatly diminished parking requirements, and a human powered and solar powered hierarchy of travel. Let’s imagine life in a city with a Living Transportation Paradigm:

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reclaim the streets: 93 acres returned to the public.

Above: An image of a living future community with a completely re-aligned transportation paradigm.

Rates of depression are down, as are crime rates because of more ‘eyes on the street’ and pride of place. You are delighted to hear that the United States, which once had some of the highest health care costs per perGone is your long commute, and now even when you son of any nation, now has among the lowest. You smile do travel farther by train or light rail you can read, so- when you think of the demise of giant parking lots, big cialize, eat or nap. It’s no longer something you dread. box retail stores with blank facades, and giant signs You’ve noticed that community revitalization is up in that once dominated the auto landscape. Developgeneral — fewer tax dollars being drained into road ments like these have all been reimagined — initially repair and the huge interstate system, which has now materials were repurposed for use in other buildings or been abandoned. The last time you rented a beautiful redeveloped into dense, walkable villages connected to electric sports car to visit the coast, you noticed that your community. It’s even been two years since you’ve the local roads and the small towns that line them are had to get on a plane, since your train pass grants now healthier, too — no longer bypassed and ignored. you access to the entire national network with ease Your town’s main street and central business district and speed. are livelier, with cleaner air and more people walking and spending their money locally. And it’s so quiet You pull your bike into your bike locker and walk up to compared to the old days; you can even hear birds sing your porch. Things sure have changed. You are home. downtown! Avenues are no longer filled with parking stalls and parking meters but with fruit trees, street furniture and bikes! even though everyone is going slower, everyone seems to have considerably more time, which many now spend in ways that bring the neighborhood together.

On weekends you love to jog along the new habitat corridors, and you notice that others, like you, are healthier. You’ve read that as obesity has declined, so has the prevalence of diabetes and upper respiratory illnesses.


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JASON F. MCLENNAN is the CEO of the International Living Future Institute. He is the creator of the Living Building Challenge, as well as the author of five books, including his latest: Transformational Thought.



Connecting people to nature for over 100 years.

Columbia Forest Products’ PureBond hardwood plywood made with no added urea formaldehyde is a responsible building material solution for Living Building Challenge projects. Look to our extensive product line and knowledgeable staff to help you through the specification process.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has emerged as one of Earth’s greenest buildings. Journey through the CSL and explore for yourself the possibilities for a better world at




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Recently, the architecture school at the University of Hawaii asked the Institute to teach an executive education program for architects, planners, engineers and interior designers from China. Knowing the ecological challenges faced by China and the scale of the potential impacts of Living Buildings and Communities, we jumped at the opportunity.

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Left: Ahupua’a image that describes traditional Hawaii’s ecological land management system. Right: Pre-development Manoa Valley.

As the biggest and fastest-growing construction market in the world, the greening of China’s building and construction industry is a global imperative. By 2025, one-quarter of all the world’s construction will be taking place in China.1 The energy consumed by China’s building industry is skyrocketing, and water is also becoming increasingly scarce. Toxic pollution from the manufacturing and the construction industries has so degraded the environment that China’s State Environmental Protection Agency has classified 40 percent of all surface water as polluted.2 The mainstream international response to this crisis is to focus on the next great technological “fix.” However, as David Orr states, “the unfolding problems of human ecology are not solvable by repeating old mistakes in new and more sophisticated and powerful ways.”3 Some of the green buildings you see in China (and in 1 Global Construction 2025, Global Construction Perspectives, July 1 2013 <>> 2 China’s river pollution “a threat to peoples lives”, Shanghai Daily, February 17, 2012 3 Orr, David W. The Nature of Design. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. 2002. p. 20.


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the rest of the world) make this mistake.4 If China follows the failed development models of the West, and creates car centric cities with hyper green sealed glass skyscrapers, they will never create a living future.5 Ecological design does not begin with what we can do, but with what we value and with what we want to do. Building is essentially a reflection of our place in the world and our view of the world. It begins with a mindset. So we began the executive education program with a set of questions: How do you connect human purpose to the larger patterns of the natural world? How do natural systems inform our understanding of the limitations of human development but also inspire opportunities to connect to a broader framework?

4 Connelly, James. The Fallacy of Glass and Steel, China Dialogue < https://> 5 Connelly, James. The Problem with Utopian Dream Cities, Ecocity Notes <>

The Manoa Valley today.

The program had three parts: the history of the green building movement, the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge and the requirements of the Living Building Challenge as a rating system. In addition, we asked the students to work in teams to transform a LEED® Gold building at the university into a Living Building. It was obvious from the beginning that the students wanted to talk about technical details of the Living Building Challenge rating system, and they wanted to be given a toolbox of technologies necessary to meet these requirements. Our emphasis on the philosophy of the Challenge and an understanding of the water, energy, food, and material cycles of a place to inform design and technology was met with skepticism at best. For this group, it was the act of transforming the building on the campus and understanding the ecology of the University of Hawaii in the Manoa Valley that started to change their minds. In Hawaii, before the arrival of Captain Cook, the land was managed according to the ahupua‘a system. The

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system was organized around the watersheds, and each valley was part of a cohesive system. What happened in an upstream portion of an ahupua‘a affected the other parts of the system. The people worked in collaboration and shared interest to protect, preserve and regenerate land and water resources. This interconnected system of clouds, mountains, forest, streams, fishponds, farms, villages and sea was not only sound resource management, but also provided for a population of around a million people (equal to that of modern day Hawaii) relying only on the resources of the place. 6 For the Chinese students, traditional Hawaii — much like ancient Chinese society — offered an example for how a people can live in harmony with their natural surroundings.7 As the students studied the water and energy cycles for the site of the building on campus and became familiar with the Living Building Challenge, they began to see 6 Adapted from 7 Can we get the rights to the photo?


Student sketch of the transformed University of Hawai’i technology center.

their project as part of the water cycle that connected them to the ahupua‘a of the Manoa Valley. In fact, this connection was so strong that the teams gave themselves Hawaiian place names: Manoa (the valley), Aloha (respect), and Ahupua‘a (the system). In their early analysis, the microclimate of the building site showed that this was a place that had water in abundance. A deeper investigation of energy, food and materials would be necessary to achieve the optimum design. The students impressed us with their quick realization that since water was an abundant resource at the site, instead of wasting it, there were probably other places in the watershed that needed that water. Therefore, the building should store water to share it with other parts of the campus — turning a water challenge into a beneficial resource.

• Start with knowing the limits of the natural resource cycles of the place. The understanding of these limits gives insight into the integration of nature and human development. • Informed of the ecological limits of development, the team transformed their thinking from the impossible to the possible and realized they had no limits in their minds to pursue concepts and strategies for Living Building.

The underlying principle of the Living Building Challenge is that all development projects should use nature as the ultimate measurement stick for performance — the Challenge uses the metaphor of the flower to illustrate this principle, but the watershed of the Manoa Valley works just the same. All elements of the One team described the process of finding opportu- built environment are rooted in place and need placenity from a perceived challenge with a word diagram: based solutions to meet all energy, water and resource kNOw limits. After struggling with the concept of Liv- needs, and to maintain balance with the surroundings. ing Buildings, this team emerged with a brilliant in- Within the Challenge, an ecological standard measight into the analysis of resource cycles: sures the sustainability of innovations. The ecological standard introduces a paradigm based not on what we


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can extract from the natural world, but on what we can learn from it.

building with this mindset disconnect us from nature and each other. They also use too many resources.”

With a new mindset, the teams vigorously explored the possibility of creating a Living Building at the University of Hawaii over the next few days. We shared stories of Living Buildings in other places, and they shared stories about the challenges of their work in China.

He began erasing the box and added two horizontal lines to the character, saying, “I know now that true progress and what we have been learning over the last few days is about breaking down the separation of humanity and nature and creating designs that are in balance with the natural world.”

On the last day of class, the students presented their final projects, and we were amazed at the deep understanding of the Living Building Challenge they now demonstrated. Their designs not only met the requirements of the Challenge, but also its spirit and beauty. As teachers, we were so proud of the class. When one of the designers went to the whiteboard and began to present the project of one of the teams, he explained that they now understood not only the philosophy of a Living Future, but also what it meant for him and for his work in China. He drew the Chinese character for human and said, “Human: this is where we began: humans connected to the natural world with no boundaries and no limits.” Then he drew a box around this character and said, “For the last thirty years in China as we have become ‘modern’ we thought this was progress. We could build boxes to control nature to give us the life we want. This is a mistake; the buildings and communities we are

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He pointed to the altered character on the whiteboard, which had been transformed from the symbol for human to the symbol for heaven, and said, “This connects us to nature and Heaven.” In that very moment, the teachers became the students.

RICHARD GRAVES is the Executive

Director of the International Living Future Institute, and an architect who combines design thinking and transformational community leadership. JAMES CONNELLY is the Living Building Challenge Manager at the International Living Future Institute.


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




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STEWARDING SPONSORS Ankrom Moisan Architects Architectural Nexus CALMAC CertainTeed COOKFOX + Terrapin Bright Green Coughlin Porter Lundeen

Forbo Flooring GBD Architects Mary Davidge Associates Mithun Oregon BEST Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Thornton Tomasetti

SUPPORTING SPONSORS 2020 Engineering 7Group Balfour Beatty Construction Bettisworth North Architects & Planners Big Ass Fans BNIM Architects Brightworks Building Envelope Innovations Building Stone Institute CDi Engineers Centerbrook Architects Chesapeake Bay Foundation Construction Specialties dbHMS ECI/Hyer Architecture & Interiors GBL Architects Guttmann & Blaevoet HKS, Inc. Hourigan Construction

Hughes Condon Marler Architects Integrated EcoStrategy Integrus Architecture Iredale Group Architects Johnson Braund KMD Architects LMN Architects Lord Aeck & Sargent Mackenzie Mark Horton Architecture McCool Carlson Green Meyer Wells Opsis Architecture Otak Inc. Schemata Workshop Sellen Construction Walsh Construction Weber + Thompson Willamette Print + Blueprint

COMMUNITY PARTNERS CSA Architect David Baker Architects JD Fulwiler & Co. Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects trim tab

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Awakening the Spirit in Living Buildings © SONJA BOCHART 42

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any of the significant global environmental problems we currently face can be attributed to the fact that we are not only disconnected from nature but also live in a society that values the importance of “me” rather than “we.” Today, we fail to see that all life is connected and, as a result, the repercussions for our planet and ourselves have been great. Despite losing our way, the majority of us still remember and long deeply to rekindle our kinship with the natural world. But this is not easy to do, and our highly wired, hectic lives further isolate us from nature, and its cycles and seasons. Making matters worse, experts predict that “by 2050, 75 percent of the earth’s population will live in cities.”1. So how can we find and embrace what we have lost in light of such challenges?

celebrate the interconnectedness of all human and natural processes. Known for its ability to bolster human performance and foster appreciation for the earth, biophilic design can lead us in the right direction. And while direct connections to nature are paramount, in order to reap biophilia’s highest rewards we must go beyond a typical approach and enter a deeper realm of exploration. Only then can we begin to restore our innate bonds to nature.

Biophilic design should be subjective and thoughtful, not based on checklists. In fact, in order to really bring out the Spirit of a building, the habits and methods of conventional design will not suffice. Instead, we need to approach design from a different place, one through which we first understand ourselves; as Peter Kahn3 It is imperative that we adopt a different view of our- explains, “in fostering the human relationship with naselves and our roles as global citizens. As Thomas Berry ture we need to pay attention not only to nature, but states, “intellectually and spiritually, everything in hu- to human nature.” This starts with a process rooted man life depends on how we experience ourselves, how in awareness, engaging occupants and guests with we respond to our life situation, and whether we man- patterns and themes that reconnect us to all life — age the human condition in a creative or destructive particularly through works of art. direction.”2 In an attempt to lighten our environmental footprint, we build green structures that are intended to be less bad and maybe even regenerative, yet impor- Process tant pieces to the puzzle are still missing. We provide views of nature, access to natural light and ventilation, Methods and Foundation — Rooted in Awareness and use natural materials in the buildings and furnish- In a similar manner as we would we tend to a garings but they can feel sterile, cold and uninspiring. We den, we must approach biophilic design by first thoralso often expect occupants to put up with uncomfort- oughly knowing the soil and the foundation in which able conditions as a price for “being sustainable.” our seeds will take hold, grow and flourish. This can be achieved by considering a more mindful apLiving Buildings, which are based on systems think- proach to design that involves slowing down, geting, support inclusiveness, regeneration and resil- ting in touch with how we feel and staying present. ience, but in order to reach their full potential we must awaken their Spirit . One of the most important ways First, we must breathe deeply and realize the great valwe can do this is by awakening the true Spirit of our ue of being fully conscious and grounded in our direcbuildings, creating spaces that both remind us of the tion. This may seem contrary to the methods of Westincredible beauty of nature, and demonstrate and ern society but taking the time to care and connect is essential. Next, we must have the courage to stay fully present, freeing ourselves from the need to multitask, 1 Merritt, Elizabeth (2013) Trendswatch 2013: Back to the Future. American Alliance of Museums, Washington, DC, p. 36

2 Berry, Tomas (2009) The Sacred Universe. Columbia University Press, New York, NY, p. 18

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3 Kahn, Peter H. Jr. (1999) The Human Relationship with Nature Development and Culture. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 226




control, make assumptions about, or establish boundaries in our designs. Finally, to move from a place of awareness means that we must give ourselves permission to trust the intelligence of our own bodies and spirits to interpret information instead of relying solely on our often-limiting rational minds. This involves listening more carefully and compassionately as we ask questions; watching for unexpected gestures and flows of information; engaging the senses to be fully aware of surrounding spaces; and hearing what nature may be relaying about the site. We must trust self-intuition and instinct, and feel and guide ourselves.

generalizations and assumptions. We must try not to rely on secondhand information and, when possible, visit personally, listen to stories of local traditions, and compassionately become acquainted with the surrounding areas. In this phase, themes of resilience and regeneration serve as our guides, opening us up to ideas that spontaneously arise. It is also imperative to record the essence of experiences and perceptions, and allow for quiet time to explore and gather information. Remember and honor. The Present

The foundation for this alternative approach to awakening the Spirit of our projects can be explored by re- In this process, we must become centered, grounded membering the past, understanding the present and and connected to the present moment, allowing for visualizing the future. unhurried time to have meaningful conversations with occupants, staff and visitors. Additionally, we must be willing to hear their stories and be fully present as we The Past listen, watching how they interact and move and realizing the potential for their stories and experiences To know the past, we need to comprehend the his- to be added to the project. We must also feel with all tory of the land, regardless of the size or type of of our senses to discover the forms, colors, shapes, our projects, and move beyond initial judgments, sounds and textures found in both our immediate


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natural surroundings and in neighboring areas. Stay open and connect. The Future In order to imagine the vast possibilities for Spirit and story within our projects, we must find ourselves in places where we can liberate our minds. Beginning with mindful meditation assists in allowing new ideas to surface, allowing us to shift our thinking and roles as controllers and creators of designs to those of conduits for creative vision. This approach can propel design from being ego-driven to being more integrated, inspired and full of potential for spiritual richness and meaning. Visualize and dream.

the patterns themselves may often overlap and weave together to tell a story. These themes often center on authenticity, connection, nature, life and interconnectedness; and their variations, uniqueness, and how they unfold will certainly be guided by exploration of past, present and future. Thoughtfulness pertaining to how people experience a space is also as critical as the work itself. Pattern 1: Scale When exploring scale, we must contemplate expressions that challenge our assumed grand place in nature and show honor, respect and awe for our planet, looking to impactful, memorable examples from nature that exude detail and grace, and pronounce more clearly our interdependence on each other and on the sacred relationships between all species.


Pattern 2: Intrinsic Connection Certainly connection to nature and expressions of exTouchstones for Meaningful Design Practice terior and interior spaces are considered paramount in Spirit, as it pertains to our projects, can and should hold biophilic design. However, many of the detailed, gentle many different meanings; nevertheless, there are com- and thoughtful gestures linking the two with our expemon threads that many of these expressions share and riences in the buildings we inhabit are not being fully

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Pattern 5: Beauty A relevant theme in biophilic design, the profound effect of beauty in speaking to the human spirit cannot be understated. As a society, we are attached to a somePattern 3: Subtlety what limited definition of beauty—one that has condiCreating spaces that are free of loud distractions and tioned us to appreciate a plant’s flower but not its roots. sensory overload, and instead draw our senses and at- Our work, then, is not to provide mere decoration but tention inward is critical: Imagine thoughtful, soft and to create spaces that evolve to replicate and celebrate natural textures, forms and rhythms, both in and of the splendor of our connection to nature. nature, presented in a mild and quiet manner, pulling people into the space and creating depth and richness Pattern 6: Mindfulness in a gentle way. To be mindful means to be fully present. Noticing real-time information allows us to be more flexible Pattern 4: Sensory Rich with how we respond to the world, nature, ourselves In this work, engaging the senses of all those expe- and each other. We may also become less confined to riencing a space is key. To promote a shift to higher the past, old habits, expectations or assumptions, and consciousness and connection, we must seek designs more able to respond to events with compassion, kindthat communicate beyond a visual context, offering ness and love. Our challenge, therefore, is to design opportunities to touch, feel and listen. The inclu- buildings, spaces, forms and artwork so that they invite sion of plants to offer sweet scents and delight; fluid others to pay attention and connect. and organic art like a hanging mobile that catches the rise and fall of the air’s movement and circulation Pattern 7: Rethinking Possible within a building; or even an appropriate installation Speaking to the abundant strength, resilience and true of natural sound can all evoke the Spirit of a space as nature of the human spirit, enhanced biophilic design perceived through the senses, allowing for feelings of can also represent our greatest potential. Our goal, complete immersion. then, should be to propose forms and representations in our spaces that ignite the fire within, elevate spirits, and activate those areas in our minds and bodies that may have become dulled or complacent. ©SONJA BOCHART

explored and represented in detail and in human scale. We must remember that simplicity in expression of connection can yield powerful outcomes.

Pattern 8: Cycles and Seasons Pushing the boundaries of our work to bring attention to the beauty found in full life cycles and seasons allows us to reconnect and rekindle our appreciation for the endless variations in nature to which we are also connected. Pattern 9: Symbolic Geometry The essence of spirit can often be found in our connection to symbolic, or sacred, geometry—forms that are repeated in nature and in our own bodies, making them some of the most powerful. Embraced by ancient and modern cultures, these symbols


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reveal the actual Spirit of a place and connect us with nature. Going beyond traditional biophilic methods can be a truly transformative experience, allowing for much deeper exploration of themes and elements that Pattern 10: Interactive To fully engage our communities in our buildings we complement one another as they move those who inmust reach out to and connect them with our work, to teract with the space. At the end of this process, our each other, to nature and, ultimately, to themselves. buildings should be rich and inviting, express beauty This experience moves even beyond multisensory ex- and inspiration, and connect us to ourselves, each othperiences to fully participatory ones, including reflec- er and the rest of the world. tion and contemplation. A fully engaged person is one who is immersed physically, mentally, emotionally and RICHARD PIACENTINI is the executive spiritually in an expression. director of Phipps Conservatory and embody the intuitive knowledge of the universe, and each sustains energy as it serves a special function.

As a society, we spend an estimated 80 percent of our lives in buildings, and more and more of these structures are found in urban settings. Given this reality, the built environment represents the greatest opportunity we have to reconnect people to nature and nurture the behaviors that will curb planetary devastation. It is clear that Living Buildings incorporating biophilic principles can have a profound impact on occupants and guests; however, a design approach based on mindfulness and thoughtfulness is what is really needed to My Kaywa QR-Code

Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he looks for the vital connections between people, plants, health, planet and beauty. He also serves on the board of the International Living Future Institute. SONJA BOCHART is a Senior Interior Designer and Principal with SmithGroupJJR, where she designs for wellness. An Arizona native, she lives with her family in Tempe, where she teaches yoga, hikes, and practices a mindful life.

The thoughtful inclusion of sound is often overlooked as a way to incorporate biophilia in our buildings. Preview an excerpt from "Of Earth and Sun", natures sounds in the built environment, a Sound Art project for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes.

Download the Kaywa QR Code Reader (App Store &Android Market) and scan your code!

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ne of our primary goals at the Cascadia Green Building Council is to promote policy leadership toward true sustainability. Across the bioregion, we see local jurisdictions grappling with the challenges of incentivizing green building. Political hesitancy, a fear of change and numerous other factors result in slow regulatory progress, which persists despite the urgent need for high-performance buildings and reduced greenhouse emissions.1 Cascadia works with our members and jurisdictional partners to overcome these obstacles and develop best practice policy language. Once again, our colleagues at King County are leading the charge.

“By embracing the highest greenbuilding standards in the nation, we are taking action to meet our goal of cutting in half the climate impact of County operations”

For more than a decade, King County has been a change agent influencing local green building efforts. Through its Green Tools program, active guidance on –Dow Constantine, King County Executive the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration and the Regional Code Collaboration, Sustainable Infrastructure Scorecards, and many other initiatives, capital projects are consistent with the latest sustainable the County has continually managed to raise the bar development practices. on sustainability. “By embracing the highest green-building standards in Most recently, it has renewed its efforts to reduce ener- the nation, we are taking action to meet our goal of cutgy consumption and incorporate sustainable practices ting in half the climate impact of County operations,” into its building stock and infrastructure. As part of its said Executive Constantine. “At the same time, we commitment to the Strategic Climate Action Plan, the will save money on the energy needed to operate our County revised the Green Building Ordinance, there- facilities,” noting the County’s support for the Living by distinguishing themselves as one of the greenest ju- Building ChallengeTM and Built Green’s Emerald Star risdictions in the country. programs as a significant priority when updating the Green Building Ordinance. In anticipation of the sunsetting of the 2008 Green Building Ordinance at the end of 2013, Executive Dow The revised policy encourages all new construction Constantine and staff worked alongside County Coun- projects to seek LEED® Platinum, a commitment made cil members to pass the updated policy on December by only one other locality in the United States. All 9, 2013. Ordinance 2013-0124 ensures that the plan- major remodels and renovations must achieve LEED ning, design, construction, remodeling, renovation, Gold certification, wherever practicable, and the new maintenance and operation of all King County-owned policy pushes for high performance in energy, water and waste reduction. 1 The efforts of the Washington state Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup, established by the Legislature and led by Governor Inslee, highlight the impact of the residential, commercial and industrial sector in contributing 21% of the state’s total emissions. This trend is common across the United States and internationally.

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In addition to its stipulations regarding County buildings, Ordinance 2013-0124 also states that infrastructure projects should be designed and built according


to sustainable practices, thereby improving the value and resilience of public infrastructure. By supporting transit-oriented development and improved access to green affordable housing, the County’s policy demonstrates its continued leadership by thinking about green building in a holistic way—prioritizing equity, energy and water efficiency, public health, and walkability in its local communities.

This learning will be encouraged through the ordinance’s encouragement of alternative green building rating systems, including the Living Building Challenge—the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. The ordinance legislates permitting support and the removal of code barriers to Living Buildings® through a demonstration ordinance, which will go through full policy development in 2014. This demonstration ordinance will also support the estabThe new ordinance is more than smart policy for lishment of a technical advisory committee (TAC) people and the planet; it is also beneficial for the pub- made up of partner jurisdictions around the County. lic purse. Time and again, we see how green buildings The TAC will review Living Building Challenge projare more efficient and achieve vast savings on opera- ects in King County and develop staff capacity in tional costs. As a result of implementing LEED across smaller jurisdictions in order to encourage more Livits portfolio, the General Services Administration has ing Buildings and Living Communities countywide. reduced its water usage by nearly 15 percent since 2007 and its energy usage by approximately 20 percent since We are proud to have worked with the County on their 2003. On average, LEED buildings cost 19 percent less new ordinance and will continue to work with them to operate.2 The County’s new policy also taps into the through its implementation. Across the bioregion we economic growth potential of the building industry’s have seen an overall increase in LEED projects, but green sector. Nationally, the industry supports nearly not enough market uptake of the more rigorous stan8 million jobs, and across the bioregion the value of dards. For example, Washington State has over 720 green building exceeds well over $100 billion. LEED-certified projects, but only 45 of them are to LEED Platinum standard. We know that the realizaWith its new ordinance, King County is planning for tion of a socially just, culturally rich and ecologically the future. The policy supports the uptake of truly restorative future will require more sustainable buildsustainable building practices and focuses on con- ing practices. King County’s new ordinance is a critical tinual improvement. It encourages all projects across step in that direction. departments and project types to analyze and learn from their green building experiences. Cascadia Green In the Cascadia bioregion, King County has set a new Building Council is proud to support the replication of bar for what the public sector can do to support highthis performance-based approach across the bioregion. performance buildings and sustainable infrastructure practices. It is time to remove all regulatory barriers to Over the next year, we will support the County to de- a living future. Are we ready to meet this challenge? velop training materials for its staff and to identify best practices to be shared more broadly with other localiSTACIA MILLER is Cascadia’s Policy & ties. We will continue to work with the Sustainable CitAdvocacy Manager and wishes you all ies Roundtable and other groups across the bioregion a very happy 2014! to help jurisdictions model new policy language that incentivizes green building.

2 The Pacific Northwest Laboratory concluded that LEED-certified federal buildings use 27% less energy and cost 19% less to operate compared to the national average.


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This article is the second of three. In the first, “Regenerating the Whole, from Living Buildings to Building Life” (Trim Tab, Spring 2013) we introduced aspects of the different thinking required to engage in the practice of living system development or regeneration; how this thinking is different from the leftbrain, piecemeal, technical efficiency approach to sustainability; and why this shift is essential to achieve a sustainable condition. This second piece is intended to emphasize the necessary shift in our state of being. This is the right-brain, heart, and consciousness aspect of human being. Developing our state of being is not generally considered a useful practice by the culture of Western thought. We demonstrate this bias, or fear, of its legitimacy by limiting our professional focus almost exclusively to the other half of the story. The story the green building community has implicitly been telling is that green techniques and technologies, and the facilitation of human interrelationships, are sufficient. As if, with these efficiencies, we will transform our culture and relationship with life; that somehow, we will be transformed, magically, into understanding and caring for life on the planet in a way that benefits and respects all the living processes and systems. While mechanical technologies must support the effort toward sustainability, the greatest source of leverage is within humanity’s inner development and outer practices: developing the understanding of why, and the practice of how, to be in right relationship. The third article will address some processes to practice living system design and development and the ways various practitioners are attempting to bridge the world of things and relationships into engaging in the wholeness of life. How do we help our clients, stakeholders, and ourselves live into and develop this way of being? ©ISTOCK - JZABLOSKI

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What of life can we sustain if we do not love it? And what of life can we sustain if we do not love ourselves?

• All living organisms are continually evolving as a natural response to ongoing genetic and environmental stimuli. Homo sapiens are also affected and transformed by our ever-changing, omnipresent technology, which affects how we live, what we think is important, what we value, and what we love. Our fascination with, and increasing dependence upon, all forms of technology accelerates our separation from the wonders of the natural world and the interdependent, life-giving processes of all other living organisms. Our technology has, on a personal and experiential level, largely removed us from the natural cycles and seasons of weather and of relationship with other species. Certainly, our awareness of and affinity for the natural world has been altered, just

as this disconnect has fueled our disregard for it. As a species, we have exchanged our love of nature for a love of technology and a love of our own cleverness. We have misplaced our love. We need to ask, and answer, a very serious question. What of life can we sustain if we do not love it? And what of life can we sustain if we do not love ourselves? • Advocating for technology as a universal remedy for ecosystem woes is a misguided approach — technology alone cannot save us or our natural environment. The role of technology is not to elevate us above nature, but rather to elevate us within our nature, and within nature itself. As we have witnessed on countless occasions worldwide, technology is a poor substitute for life. From the degradations of land, water and air, from mining and forestry activities to the smog-laden, polluted industrialized

The role of technology is not to elevate us above nature, but rather to elevate us within our nature, and within nature itself.


THE OTHER HALF OF THE STORY — A call for greater human-nature bonds

cities, we have tried to force our will on nature — but we have suffered the negative consequences. Technology has dulled our sensitivity, our understanding, and therefore our care of the fundamentally essential healthy relationship with how life works and our potential for role in the process of evolution. All that can save us is a sustained awakening of the human heart to nature and the consciousness of our responsibility and role to shift this relationship to one that is mutually beneficial. How do we develop a close and caring bond with nature and, in essence, be one together? OUR ROLE ON THE PLANET — Defining Homo Regenesis


In our opinion, the idea of “Homo regenesis” is the next evolution of the human species. Beyond that of a “sapien,” or thinking creature, is a creature that thinks, knows, understands, and appreciates its place and therefore the nature — or state of being — of its role in the wider web of life. This evolution will culminate when every human action helps to create greater opportunities for life — rather than diminished opportunities. Although the seeds of Homo regenesis can be found throughout history, especially in a few indigenous cultures, a ‘taker’ mentality has been

All that can save us is a sustained awakening of the human heart to nature and the consciousness of our responsibility and role to shift this relationship to one that is mutually beneficial. preponderant (to use a term from Daniel Quinn in his book Ishmael). The following definition of life resonates with us: “life is the process of becoming,” 1 a continual process of a continual process of consciousness and rebirth. If we aren’t evolving, we are dead. And if we are not aware of who we are and how we are being, it is difficult to evolve consciously. So, who are we? What is our position or context within life? What, then, is our role supporting the evolution of all life so that we are supported in return? First, it helps to know that there are patterns of life that can teach us about what it means to be in right relationship with nature. Humans are nature; we are not inherently better than or worse than any other aspect of nature, we are simply integral to it. For life to be most diverse, resilient and healthy — meaning whole — humans are supported by, and therefore need to be supportive of, multiple systems of life. Currently we aren’t doing so well with this co-evolutionary relationship due to arrogance, ignorance, and a misplaced belief that we are the most important creatures on the planet. In fact, the quality of our lives is nested within smaller 1 Author Anaïs Nin, quotes/a/anaisnin107685.html

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universes of living systems and the larger systems that are readily visible, such as forests, rivers, oceans, and other plant and animal habitats. Systems of Life Supporting Humans It is helpful to reconceive our place in the natural world — to fully recognize that we are nature. This regenesis requires a new view of ourselves, of our role as a species, and of our relationships within our species and the rest of nature’s systems. An important research project is currently bringing some clarity to these intricate interrelationships and offers some valuable insights to how we are not a ‘singular species’ but part of a beautiful and complex system of life.


These microorganisms, which consist of bacteria, viruses, and other single-celled organisms, are estimated to outnumber human cells by a ratio of ten to one and exceed the total number of genes in the human genome by a factor of 200.

body, including nasal passages, oral cavities, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital tract, and to analyze the roles of these microbes in human health.2 The NIH notes that traditional microbiology, focused on the study of individual species as isolated units, has not had much success in successfully isolating the majority of microbial species for more in-depth analysis. The researchers suggest that this isolation problem exists because the growth of these species is dependent upon a specific microenvironment that has not yet been replicated in a laboratory experiment.

The human microbiome contains a collective of microorganisms that live both on the surface of and inside the body, in areas such as the mucosal linings, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. These microorganisms, which consist of bacteria, viruses, and other The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) demon- single-celled organisms, are estimated to outnumstrates how we should more accurately view our bod- ber human cells by a ratio of ten to one and exceed ies as an entire ecosystem. It brings a new clarity to the total number of genes in the human genome by how complex and connected human life is to other life a factor of 200. While bacteria are often perceived as forms. The scientific evidence on the nature of human negative and linked to infections, we are unable to live life is humbling and makes us see ourselves in a new without them. Our bodies are dependent on bacteria light. The HMP, under the auspices of the National In- for processes such as digestion, immune regulation, stitutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and the production of certain vitamins. In addition and Human Services aims to characterize the microbial communities found at several sites on the human 2


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to these known and essential functions, the human microbiome may also influence susceptibility to other diseases and chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As a result of its necessary, far-reaching function and its critical significance for life, the human microbiome has even been described as an organ. To show this critical significance to each of us, consider how a mother’s microbiome has a profound, lifelong effect on her children. It is amazing to consider that the only time we exist as a ‘singular’ species is when we are in the womb—completely helpless and dependent on the mother’s health (and that of her microbial community) to live and grow into a baby. During birth, as the newborn passes through the birth canal, it is provided with a variety of bacteria that act as a ‘starter’ for the child’s own microbiome and are absolutely necessary for its future life and well-being. These microorganisms include bacteria that assist in lactose digestion and help prepare the child for consumption of breast milk. A child born by caesarian section will receive these bacteria from the mother’s skin surface but often has a diminished microbiome initially. Breast milk itself performs both prebiotic and probiotic functions, feeding the microbiota and introducing a population of healthful microbes from the mother’s intestinal tract. The point here is that each of us may have only one singular moment as a human self—without bacteria and other microbial cells—when we are a fetus in our

Only now are we really beginning to learn about and appreciate bacteria as a vital part of our existence, and as just one facet of the entire web of life we rely on — the roles that insects, plants and animals of all kinds play in a mutually supportive fashion.

mother’s womb. Otherwise, we do not exist alone. Our conception of ‘self’ is skewed and much too egocentric. Only now are we really beginning to learn about and appreciate bacteria as a vital part of our existence, and as just one facet of the entire web of life we rely on— the roles that insects, plants and animals of all kinds play in a mutually supportive fashion.


Science/technology can strengthen, not weaken our connection to nature

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The Human Microbiome Project, with its scientific movement towards a holistic focus on the interconnectedness of the complex whole, serves as a meaningful model for how we should view all human-nature relationships. We can and must use advances in science and technology to provide us with astounding information on, and enhanced understanding of, the nature of life and our connection to life. We are a community and a universe that is constantly changing. We must


We must reflect on what we must become and how we can evolve and then undergo a renewal — a move beyond Homo sapiens . . . to Homo regenesis.

reflect on what we must become and how we can evolve and then undergo a renewal — a move beyond Homo sapiens . . . to Homo regenesis. Humans in Support of the Systems of Life Research indicates that past humans had a different relationship with life. For example, before European settlers inhabited the eastern coast of North America, the aboriginal peoples managed the eastern forests in a sophisticated and elegant way by burning ‘cold fires’ in the spring and autumn, among other techniques. These cold fires consumed the leaf duff from the previous season. They burned quickly and without significant heat, due to the lack of built-up dried and dead material. The fires deacidified and added carbon to the soil, thinned out the thin-barked beeches and maples and allowed the thick-barked chestnut, oak, and hickory trees to thrive. This managed ecosystem allowed for a greater diversity of species and food sources, environmental stability, predictability, and the maintenance of ecotones3. The eastern forest had relatively few (but 3 Henry T. Lewis, Why Indians Burned: Specific Versus General Reasons, p 77


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extremely large) trees, which provided openness and protection for multiple levels of food crops. The journals of early European settlers describe these practices and the open nature of the forest that they could drive wagons through — a much different and healthier ecosystem than we have today, even in our park systems. We now have substantial evidence in support of this. One paper, References on the American Indian Use of Fire in Ecosystems, by Gerald W. Williams, Ph.D., of the USDA Forest Service, provides hundreds of sources documenting this way of being. In Tending the Wild, M. Kat Anderson examines Native American ecological knowledge and the management of California’s natural resources prior to the arrival of European settlers. The rich oral history and cultural stories passed on by generations of Native Americans show how these indigenous peoples understood the complexities of living bountifully with, and as part of, the natural system. They were active participants in environmental use, change, and stewardship. They in fact were gardeners. Gardeners are more than stewards, there is a reciprocal exchange of ‘tending’

Gardeners are more than stewards, there is a reciprocal exchange of ‘tending’ multiple systems of life in a beautiful dance — the soil, the microbes, the plants, the trees, the animals, the human animals.

multiple systems of life in a beautiful dance – the soil, the microbes, the plants, the trees, the animals, the human animals. Quite simply, they lived sustainably. Anderson argues passionately that we must make full use of this traditional ecological knowledge, learning from the past, if we are to meet the present-day challenge of thriving.

We have to date nature to find a lifelong love of the natural environment and its true essence.

California Indians believe that when humans are gone from an area long enough, they lose the practical knowledge about correct interaction, and the plants and animals retreat spiritually from the earth or hide from humans. When intimate interaction ceases, the Falling in love is a process. First, we become aware continuity of knowledge passed down through genera- of someone, then we date, then we develop an tions, is broken, and the land becomes ‘wilderness’. understanding of that person, and finally we come to love that person for who she or he really is, not simply — Tending the Wild, M. Kat Anderson their first-impression personality or their surface features, but their essence.


FALLING IN LOVE WITH NATURE — Developing a Relationship with Nature and Place as a Process of Design

To carry the analogy further: we may be attracted by certain characteristics of an individual, such as their smile, humor, or intelligence. Yet we also learn to downplay their foibles and negative characteristics, Connecting, or reconnecting as the case may be, is the such as anger, impatience, or lack of awareness. Ultifirst step in the development of a new or a renewed re- mately, what we truly fall in love with is the uniqueness lationship between humans and the rest of nature — of that person — how the deep and consistent patterns a relationship that leads to understanding, apprecia- of that person express themselves in interactions and tion, liking, and then loving. Analogous to the process purpose that demonstrate what is really important and that a person typically goes through when falling in meaningful — the core of that being. love with another person, we need to date and fall in In a similar way to how we date to find true love of love with nature. a person, perhaps love of a potential life partner, we have to date nature to find a lifelong love of the natural environment and its true essence. We need to become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the natural world — specifically the areas near at hand we call home — and gain knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of its complexity by engaging, interacting, and connecting with life in many ways and on many different levels. Only with these personal, engaging experiences can we hope to comprehend nature’s complex, yet uncomplicated, living essence patterns and processes, and the interconnection of all life in each unique place. Only then can we develop a love for

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So, how will we recognize when we are on the correct path to Homo regenesis? …when we recognize that we are nature …when we recognize that we are life—we are an ecosystem …when we recognize we are an important part of an interconnected system and we ourselves are a system …when we recognize that only life regenerates—not things …when we recognize that regeneration occurs at all scales, with all life forms …when we recognize that life requires diversity and diversity is resilience …when we recognize the uniqueness of all places and fall in love with life …when we understand our unique role and each unique place we work and live in



nature that will be sustained throughout our life. And when we are called into conditions or situations where nature is affected, we can make better and regenerative choices with what we choose to support. While it certainly is necessary for present-day adults to connect and reconnect with nature, it is critically important that we ensure our children, the future generation of people who must care about and love nature, are introduced and continually connected to all aspects of nature and life. If we consciously and purposely strengthen the early connection between children and the natural environment, they can learn to love it and then continue this love affair throughout their lives. Simply put, you cannot love what you do not know. It is in their formative years that children are most successfully introduced to, become familiar with, and experience nature in many forms and on many different levels. In effect, this link to nature forms a bonding relationship with life. Children who are encouraged to participate in outdoor activities in natural settings such as forests, streams, lakes, and mountains learn to know and value what nature offers. When they enjoy positive, firsthand experiences like camping, fishing, gardening, and hiking and otherwise get involved with nature, they engage with life on a different and enhanced basis. As a result, they think and act more positively in regard to the natural environment. A love of nature and a love of life are nourished and instilled in their being and will endure over the course of their lives. The dating process with nature has to begin early in children’s development. When nature is truly known, it is truly loved. And connecting and reconnecting to life on our planet is a prerequisite and a crucial choice for our own survival. This process works with adults, too. The opportunity in the process of project design is to develop this understanding amongst the stakeholders. Before design begins, engaging in the understanding of the nature of place and its people can enrich and motivate mutually beneficial relationships. This adds excitement and meaning to the process of design.


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It is in their formative years that children are most successfully introduced to, become familiar with, and experience nature in many forms and on many different levels.

FALLING IN LOVE WITH HUMANITY — Human and Community Relationships

Pick two that were successful and two that were agonizingly unsuccessful.

We will discuss a few processes to incorporate this way of being and becoming with nature in the third installment of this series. How can we incorporate this process of understanding and create a new relationship in the watersheds and the communities within which we are developing and designing projects? To provide a quick perspective in the interim, we’ve been using a simple and instructive exercise with various groups. In this exercise, we ask people to take five minutes to meditate on the nature of the projects and activities they engage in:

Image the process of working on these projects or activities. What are the root causes that either limited or created high levels of success? What made the difference? note. . . Take five minutes to reflect and do not read ahead to see how you’d naturally respond)

In the time we’ve been doing this exercise, we ‘ve gotten a huge variety of answers, yet all of the answers In your mind, identify four projects from your experience share very similar root ideas. In general, success and (a building project, cooking a large dinner with a group failure hinged primarily on positive human interacof people, a committee working on research — any effort tions (motivation, enthusiasm, clarity, intention) with a beginning, middle, and an end). and mature personal responses and feelings (trust,

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When nature is truly known, it is truly loved.

humility, lack of ego, empathy). There is always something that is never mentioned as important in these reflections: Manufactured Technologies & Stuff. The work of life has first, and most importantly, to do with human interrelationships, the internal ability to manage our own egos, care for each other’s ideas and growth, and the larger effect of our work on the world. Successful projects are rarely, if ever, about ‘me’ or technology. Developing Ourselves as a Process Of Design The process of engaging with something larger than us, such as the patterns of life in the workings of nature and our communities, is a humbling and beautiful process. Practicing the process of relationship — a true and mutual learning dialogue around core beliefs, philosophies, and purpose — can lead to the founding of common principles for a project. This work of relationship in the context of caring for the different forms of life that comprise the context of a project — the natural and social, the land and city — is the


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beginning of a profound process of discovery. The key aspect of this work is that it is an intentional practice, not a one-time event or ‘charrette.’ To be most effective, this transformation requires continual practice — extending long into the future, forever. Relationships, like gardens, must be tended. At a minimum, it seems this work requires a shift in the intention of how we practice the process of design so that we can assist every stakeholder in developing the capability to understand and sustain living relationships. 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. BILL REED is a partner at Regenesis and a renowned pioneer in the fields of Integrative Process and Regenerative Development. He is the author of many articles and co-author of The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building.

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And nd firmly fi y on the h path p h to zero waste. aste. Appreciation. Thanks to the generous input and support from our community stakeholders, the new King County Green Building Ordinance is a reality. Higher standards. Everything is now in place to further push the green building envelope and accelerate sustainable development in our region. Like King County’s goal of achieving zero waste of resources by 2030. Or our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations by 50% and cutting overall county-wide emissions by 80% by 2030. Platinum. We’re using the updated Green Building Ordinance to deepen green standards for not only our buildings but also our infrastructure projects. Platinum will be the goal for LEED and Sustainable

Infrastructure Scorecard projects. All while reducing regional emissions, solid waste, energy use, and water use. And we’re making sure stormwater makes it to our roots rather than the storm drain. Thanks. We’re heading in the right direction, thanks to you! From our roots in C&D recycling and sourcing sustainable materials, Living Buildings and Built Green projects, regional collaboration and sustainable cities, to our newly adopted Green Building Ordinance, King County GreenTools is successful because of partnerships with the greater green building community. Together we can commit to finding solutions that will bring us to a future where there is zero waste and a restorative community. To learn more, visit

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Join us in a well-deserved round of applause for Miller

Tesla Motors is making huge strides with providing vast

Hull Partnership with the leadership of Denis Hayes;

ranges and convenience with their Supercharger Stations.

they won the 2013 World Architecture News (WAN)

Model S owners can now cruise the idyllic Highway 101

award for the brilliant design and execution of the Bullitt

from San Diego, California to Vancouver, BC worry-free,

Center. Housed in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill

and the company is fast-approaching their goal of providing

neighborhood, the Bullitt Center has been coined the

coast-to-coast travel. Check out the regularly-updated

“greenest office building in the world”, and lucky for us,

Supercharger Station Map to plan your next trip, or to see

is also the home of the Institute’s Seattle office. Learn

charging availability in your area!

more about this amazing achievement, and find out why the Bullitt Center is so deserving of this title.

A BRIGHT AND CLEAN 2014 Renewable energy and electric vehicles are becoming an affordable option, energy retrofits and efficiency targets are on the rise, and major companies are finally starting to internalize the cost of carbon – all indications of a hope-filled and prosperous 2014! The Rocky Mountain Institute recaps the most significant clean energy milestones of 2013 to reassure us that we’re moving in the right direction.

MOVING BEYOND THE EXHAUST FUMES Commuter traffic is an unfortunate and painstaking norm in today’s cities (not to mention a serious human and environmental health hazard). Fortunately, it seems there is an end in sight. Mexico City is a prime example of how cities can truly make the shift to sustainable transport in just a few short years. Formerly one of the most traffic-congested cities in the world, Mexico City took home the 2013 Sustainable Transit Award presented by the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy. Learn about their impressive new systems, and see which cities received honorable mentions. .

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



Thanks to sites such as Couchsurfing and Air B&B, travelers now have many alternatives to the drab hotel scene. Out’n’About Treehouse Treesort in Oregon has taken things one step further (and cooler), and guests can spend a relaxing weekend in a beautifully-crafted treehouse — a perfect way to re-kindle the child-like curiosity in all of us.



Biomimicry challenges us to look to nature, the ‘Master Teacher’ for answers to our design problems; but where do we begin in that process? The Biomimicry Institute has developed a Design Lens to help guide designers and thinkers. They even generously offer this great tool via Creative Commons, so download a free copy now!


It’s winter, but every gardener is already thinking about new landscaping plans and which new varieties they’re going to try this year. Get creative this spring with tips from the master-inspirers of beautiful gardens, Sunset Magazine. Click here for tips on how create a tiny, luscious ecosystem in pretty much any space.


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What if we invited the future of society to join in the design process? Studio H is literally putting the future of cities in the hands of youth. This innovative studio teaches high school students to dream, design and build structures that help improve the community. These kids are an incredible inspiration to all of us.





Take a cinematic trip through the eyes of five modern northwest architects in the documentary, “Modern Views”. Learn how the revered climate and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest have shaped and influenced the region’s structures.




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