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Jason F. McLennan


Michael D. Berrisford


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Erin Gehle Krista Elvey

Jason F. McLennan, Michael D. Berrisford, Peter Busby, Mary Casey, Stephen Choi, Krista Elvey, Harley Grusko, Denis Hayes, Lance Hosey, Jay Kosa, Hilary Mayhew



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Spring 2014



The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre BY PETER BUSBY AND HARLEY GRUSKO


A P R I L 2 014 , I S S U E 21

Trim Tab is a quarterly publication of the International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.




Beauty and Inspiration: Maya Lin BY DENIS HAYES AND KRISTA ELVEY


The Power of Good Design – Beauty as a Force for Change BY JASON F. MCLENNAN




contents A P R I L 2 014








Lights out on Fluorescents



The Coming Revolution


The Rose City: Beauty from Every Angle




BOOK REVIEW: Design for an Empathic World: Reconnecting to People, Nature, and Self BY MICHAEL D. BERRISFORD


Moving Upstream


FWD: Read This


A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR e inherently gravitate toward beauty; it comes in many forms, and graciously commands attention. When I walk down a city street, the banal ends of storefronts and the gradient of impervious surfaces sprinkled with detritus do not strike me — they

serve as a reminder that we missed the mark. What I do notice are the blossoms on the cherry trees, and the sky as the setting sun paints its interpretation of the day while it sinks below the horizon. I first learned of the Living Building Challenge in 2009 while attending a conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. When I toured the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (one of the first fully-certified building under the Living Building Challenge), I was elated. Before me stood a structure with such intentional simplicity — it was beautiful, and it made sense. The OCSL invoked a similar feeling as the cherry blossoms. It isn’t enough to create hyper-efficient cities; these creations must also have great aesthetics. If we hope to continue to grow, then we must deliberately place ourselves in surroundings that are conducive to growth. As you dive into this issue, I encourage you to explore the inextricable link between beauty and sound design, and imagine the possibilities for transforming our cities. The enclosed stories remind us that we’re making huge strides, and we’re planting the seeds of inspiration that urge us to forge ahead. Beauty is not an added bonus, but a necessity that enriches our lives and overall well-being. Nature thrives in part because it knows that beauty is an imperative that resides on an equal plane with all other contributors to life. Let’s continue to work together to create beautiful spaces, and remember to embrace this integral part of the human experience.

KRISTA ELVEY International Living Future Institute Interim Managing Editor of Trim Tab magazine

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How Does Your Building Grow? “Without beauty to lift our spirits and challenge our minds, the sustainable buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods we create will not be loved by people, will not be cared for, and, ultimately, will probably not be around for very long.  How can that be sustainable?  For me, beauty connects place to heart.”  - DAVID WHITTAKER, Ambassador Presenter & Facilitator, Cincinnati, OH These eloquent words spoken by David Whittaker illustrate the imperative for architects to create beautiful, ecologically-sensitive buildings — there is nothing more beautiful than connecting the built environment back to nature. This reconnection is exactly what the VanDusen Botanical Garden sought to accomplish when asking Perkins+Will to design their new Visitor Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre


Flower as Metaphor:

Beyond beauty, a flower is rooted in its own place by harvesting all its own energy and water, by adapting to the climate and site, by operating pollution free and finally, by promoting health and well-being.

Located in the heart of Vancouver, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 55-acre oasis within the city’s increasing urbanization; its  plant species represent ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean, from Louisiana swamps to the Pacific Northwest. Designed to advance the  garden’s mission — “To inspire understanding of the vital importance of plants to all life through the excellence of our botanical collections, programs, and practices” — the new Visitor Centre seeks to create a harmonious balance between architecture and nature,  from a visual and ecological perspective.

tography of living things, including the 1928 book The Alphabet of Plants. His photographs are commonly described as having an architectural aesthetic. Blossfeldt’s representation of an organic structure inspired the architectural concept for the building. This concept served to bring identity, cohesion and focus to the myriad design challenges throughout the project — we often wondered, “How would a flower (orchid) do it?”

Designed to exceed LEED® Platinum, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre is the first building in Canada to register for the Living Building Challenge. Housing a café, library, volunteer facilities, garAdditional inspiration arose from the beauty of the den shop, offices, and flexible classroom/rental spaces, site, and from the adorning form of an orchid leaf, as the 19,000-square-foot building transforms the site’s photographed by Karl Blossfeldt. Blossfeldt was a pho- entrance to heighten public awareness of the  garden tographer, sculptor, teacher and artist who worked in and its conservation mandate. The design of the buildBerlin, Germany. He is best known for his macropho- ing intends to inspire architectural inquisitiveness and


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Above: The Visitor Centre is a dynamic single-story structure with an innovative prefabricated roof form that appears to float above the building’s curved walls. The interior is organized around a central atrium with the roof petals radiating outward. The building uses rammed earth and concrete walls to protect visitors from the noise and commotion of the busy street, while also using transparent walls to orient visitors toward the garden.

bring awareness to the surrounding garden and its sus- Visitor Centre is organized into undulating green roof tainability agenda. ‘petals’ that appear to float above curvilinear rammed earth and concrete walls. Mimicking natural systems, the building is designed to collect water, harvest sunLearning from Nature light, and store energy. As students of nature, we study its  design and systems.  With this building, the goal was to exemplify Through mapping and analyzing the  garden’s ecolthe simplicity and elegance of nature in new ways. ogy, the project team was able to integrate natural and The beauty of nature  —  with  its  integrated sys- human systems, restoring biodiversity and ecological tems and perfectly balanced organization — was the balance to the site. During the design phase, the orienimpetus for the design. tation of the building was optimized to respond to the microclimate on site. The solar thermal array on the Instead of merely determining the building’s form, we roof was positioned only after shading patterns from sought a much deeper understanding of the biology a stand of old growth trees were analyzed. and structure of the flower, as well as its relationship to the earth. Early on, we understood that the flower Early in the formalization of the architectural expresis comprised of a series of complex integrated systems. sion, we undertook a new challenge  —  designing Inspired by the organic forms of a native orchid, the a roof with no straight lines. We envisioned a roof that

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would look and behave like a petal, harnessing the energy of the sun and capturing water from the sky. This roof would encourage flora and fauna to extend up onto it  and  collect rainwater to recharge a natural stream. We were determined to maximize the potential of the roof’s geometry. Similarly complex building forms like Spain’s Guggenheim Bilbao Museum or the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington  have been achieved through the use of steel or concrete,  but  the Visitor Centre  is believed to be the first example of panelized wood used for such a geometrically complex form. The task of creating its undulating and irregular form was ambitious yet actionable because of new digital tools and prefabrication techniques. Curving along all three axes, the roof structure includes 71 different panels, each made of over 100 unique curved glulam beams. The panels were prefabricated and pre-installed with thermal

insulation, sprinkler pipes, lighting conduits, acoustic liner, and wood ceiling slats. A Harmonious Balance of Architecture and Landscape The blurring of architecture and landscape is particularly evident when viewed  from the roof. The roof physically connects with the surrounding site to form a ‘landramp’  that is  designed to encourage integration with the surrounding flora and fauna. The hills and valleys of the landscaped roof surrounded by old growth trees create the appearance that there is no building at all. A new topography is created directly above the original while maintaining all the natural slopes. The effect is also evident at the termination of the westernmost petal, as it uniquely transitions from roof to wall to meet the plaza. Here, the blurring of architecture and landscape results in a further blurring


Below: designed to integrate into existing natural systems in the garden; the roof was shaped to connect the green roof to the surrounding gardens, as well as provide shade and glare-free daylight for the internal spaces.


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sink heats up, the air flow in the building increases in response. The heat sink is sculpturally derived to precisely mimic the tracking angles of the sun.

AIR – The Solar Chimney


Biophilic by nature, the solar chimney serves as lungs to the building while also contributing to the building’s memorable character. Located in the center of the atrium, and exactly at the center of the building’s radiating geometry, the solar chimney highlights the role of sustainability by form and function. Natural ventilation is assisted by a solar chimney, composed of a 13.5-meter-high glazed oculus and a perforated aluminum heat sink, which converts the sun’s rays to convection energy. The heat sink suspended in the oculus is painted with a pattern, based on the sun path, which maximizes gain to encourage air movement due to temperature differentials in the building. As the heat

Water is precious, even in Vancouver’s temperate rainforest climate, and the Visitor Centre seeks to mimic the natural world’s efficient use of water. Rainwater is captured on the green roof, which also acts to control excess rainwater runoff. This rainwater is then filtered and stored in a 79,250-gallon cistern built into the landramp, forming the roof’s northern connection to the landscape. Rainwater is filtered and used for flushing toilets. 100% of the blackwater is treated by an on-site, underground bioreactor  —  a first in Vancouver  —  and released into a new percolation field and garden. Since the City of Vancouver would require chlorination of the drinking water (a Red List


of the tectonics of the architecture. This symbiosis of built form and landscape only further reinforces the building’s connectivity with the earth.


Material with the Living Building Challenge), all potable water is supplied by the municipal system. The Visitor Centre is designed to achieve a 60.1% reduction in municipal water use. The facility uses 4.71 gallons/ sf/yr of water — 1.52 gallons of potable water from municipal sources and 3.19 gallons of greywater. LIGHT – Let there be Light. And Views. Daylight and views in the interior spaces  are maximized through large areas of glazing that open the building to the garden. This one-meter clearstory glazing located above all solid walls enables the undulating roof forms to appear to hover over the building.  For 93% of the building, the daylighting levels allow lights to be off during daylight hours; 85% of interior spaces have views to the outdoors; and 60% of the occupied floor area is within 15 feet of an operable window. The projected annual energy consumption of the internal lighting system is 27.2 kWh/sm, representing a 45% reduction over the reference building. WORKING TOGETHER The building’s green roof and surrounding landscape were carefully designed to include only native plants, forming a series of distinct ecological zones. WETLANDS

Creating Delight:

The building is representative not only of a desire to create truly symbiotic architecture that partners with nature, but one whose physical likeness to nature embodies a deeply familiar, spiritual and humanistic delight.


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Improving the ecological function of the garden’s existing water system, the project increases the amount of wetland vegetation, which also creates habitat for fauna, such as red-winged blackbirds and Pacific tree frogs. MEADOW SYSTEM

Encouraging bee and butterfly populations, the project expands on the garden’s existing meadow system by including green roofs, meadow areas for wildflowers and long grasses that sweep down to Livingston Lake. FOREST SYSTEM

Maintaining a diverse forest system, the project site


was carefully regraded to preserve many large trees, which facilitate a system of wetlands, rain gardens and streams that allow rainwater to infiltrate naturally.

covery unit maximizes the benefits from the return air, which is naturally warmed and captured from the oculus or from the thermal mass of the walls.


Through transferring excess heat energy to nearby Shaughnessy Restaurant, the Visitor Centre obtains an equivalent amount of hydroelectric-generated electricity from the grid. By exchanging surplus heat energy for electricity from the grid, the building achieves netzero energy on an annual basis and carbon neutrality.

On-site, renewable systems are used to achieve netzero energy on an annual basis. A solar photovoltaic array, located in the parking lot, provides 11 KW of power to the facility. There are  400  on-site  solar hot water tubes  that are  stored in 50 geoexchange boreholes. This energy is used for heating the building’s water and for heating or cooling needs, depending on the season.  The building’s total annual electrical energy consumption is 28 kBtu/sf, a 66% reduction over the reference building. Passive design strategies were also incorporated: green roofs that insulate the building, the oculus heat sink that facilitates air circulation to cool the building, and wide roof overhangs that prevent heat gain while also providing rain protection. The inclusion of a heat re-

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WOOD AND MATERIALS Continuing on the theme of ‘creating a harmonious balance with the landscape,’ we envisaged the materiality of the new building to have a sense of belonging with the environment. There was a strong desire to enable the visitor to understand the building’s materiality, and for that materiality to be familiar to the user. All materials were sourced locally, giving the appearance that the building was grown from the


Project Team Design Team: Perkins+Will (formerly Busby Perkins+Will): C. Adsit-Morris, P. Busby, A. Chmiel, P. Cowcher, R. Drew,  B. Engle-Folchert, R. Glover, H. Grusko, J. Ho, J. Huffman,  E. Lee, M. Lemay, P. Martyn, M. Richter, S. Schou

Civil Engineer: R.F. Binnie & Associate

General Contractor: Ledcor Construction

Envelope Consultant: Morrison Herschfield

Structural Engineer: Fast + Epp

Acoustic Consultant: BKL Consultants

Mechanical Engineer: Integral Group (formerly Cobalt Engineering)

Commissioning Agent: KD Engineering

Electrical Engineer: Integral Group (formerly Cobalt Engineering)

earth, as simply another plant in the garden. To provide a beautiful and warm environment, the Visitor Centre uses wood extensively, from the panelized roof structure,  to the cladding, furnishings, millwork and wall finishes. Timber is readily available locally and has low embodied energy and renewable qualities, making it appropriate for structural and other material systems. The building is designed to be robust, durable and age gracefully over time. The majority of materials used throughout have natural through-body finishes that require less maintenance and less replacement (meaning less waste) over the building’s lifespan. Providing Leadership The Visitor Centre was designed to raise the public profile of the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, both locally and internationally. Users are presented with a tangible, beautiful example of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and the City of Vancouver’s commitment to providing leadership in sustainable design and meeting  2020 Greenest City Action Plan goals. A center of public education and inspiration, the building is pushing the boundaries of what is possible — and serving as a model that can be replicated at a variety of scales.


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Cost Consultant: BTY Group Code Consultant: B.R. Thorson Ltd.

Lighting Design: Total Lighting Solutions Landscape Architect: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc. with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander

Beauty is Essential In order for sustainable buildings to be accepted and celebrated, beauty is essential. Without beauty, sustainable designs can seem to be merely about faceless energy metrics. By mimicking the purity and simplicity of nature’s beauty, sustainable designs can rise above the status of ‘good idea’ to meaningful landmarks. Beauty in design is not an afterthought — it is essential to making the case for our ability to help heal our planet and live in harmony with nature.

PETER BUSBY , Managing Director of the San Francisco office of Perkins+Will is internationally recognized for his contributions to sustainable design. He was Design Director for the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre. Peter is currently working on a book titled Busby: Architecture’s New Edges. HARLEY GRUSKO joined Perkins+Will in 2005, and has worked on a variety of projects focused on quality design and high-performance buildings. He was the lead designer for the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre.


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Spring 2014



from Maya Lin


Maya Lin is a renowned architect and artist who launched her career in 1981 when she submitted the winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Known for her exquisite memorials, Lin’s works appear on mediums ranging from largescale earth works to delicate pin diagrams, and even to the digital realm. Her artistry thoughtfully combines landscape with history (often well-seasoned with environmental overtones), while lending a perspective that challenges the status quo. Denis Hayes was the national coordinator of the first Earth Day (which he subsequently helped spread to over 180 nations), CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, a sustainability leader and author of numerous books. Denis and his wife, Gail, are working on a new book — COWED — to be published by W.W. Norton next year. To describe Hayes as an environmental champion would be an understatement; he has fought tirelessly for decades on the ground and in the courtroom to push legislation and inspire individuals toward truly sustainable behavior. As a precursor to her keynote at the Institute’s unConference in late May, Lin shares wonderful insights into her current projects in an inspiring discourse with Hayes. The two discuss Beauty & Inspiration as they pertain to the built environment and working toward a Living Future.

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Denis Hayes: Many of your best-known works sit at the

I must allow people to see the beauty of the land.” How did intersection between art and architectural design, imbued you shape the project to draw attention away from itself, with an environmental ethos. When you look at prize- and to the beauty of the land? winning buildings, they tend to be intriguing sculptural works, but are often indifferent to functionality, sustain- Maya Lin: Most of these installations are in state ability, or neighborhood impact. Do you have some ideas parks and national forestry lands. People are going about how to encourage environmental or neighborhood there to see the landscape, so to install one of my largeresponsibility into notions of beauty as it affects the scale earth works would be out of place. Unfortunatebuilt environment? ly, many of these sites have been obscured by parking lots, roads, restroom facilities — victims of unplanned Maya Lin: When you talk about fitting in with neigh- sprawl — the art reconnects visitors back to the landborhoods and communities, this is where you can have scape, and has them rethink the infrastructure planquite a range of aesthetics. We shouldn’t be the ones ning of these areas. saying that in order to be respectful of a community, it needs to look like everything else. Coming from By getting Cape Disappointment to do a transportaa modernist point of view, I would say we should be tion study, they determined that they could reduce the careful to not become the fashion police. We want to parking lot against the estuary by half. We were able separate being respectful of a community and being to restore it to a natural area that absorbed/cleaned responsible ecologically from saying buildings need to the rainwater. Now as opposed to being met by a sea of cars, you’re experiencing the views that Lewis and formally fit into a specific aesthetic point of view. Clark saw when they first got there, both at the mouth Denis Hayes: No place has a fiercer neighborhood de- of the Columbia River and on the ocean side. sign review process than Seattle, and we have the Bullitt Center that doesn’t look like anything around it, yet the Part of my intent is if I go in there now, you’re right up neighbors were enthusiastic about bringing it in with hopes to the water’s edge — although I created a sculptural that it would evolve the design aesthetic. As you are build- element (a basalt fish cutting stone table), most of my ing something in a place, you should be cognizant of how art is in the negation of all that we were able to clean up everything else in that place will be affected by it, in the and restore. same way that nature is. Denis Hayes: Can you free associate the bit about Maya Lin: You can take the microcosm of a city and the meaning of confluence in the context of the green then connect city, to suburb, to farmland; you really building movement? want to think of how we live and connect the dots from the urban to the rural. We tend to compartmental- Maya Lin: I’d like you to answer that question, Denis, ize and try to solve problems linearly, at which point I think you’ve really seen the movement come around we solve problems in isolation. Every time there’s to a very different place. Where do you think we need a model green city, it shows that city and the transit to go? within it, but never begins to connect the dots to how you feed that city, where the energy is coming from or Denis Hayes: The green building movement has done where the waste is going. a wonderful job of weaving together tributaries that have often been viewed as unrelated: taking all of the unhealthy Denis Hayes: Speaking of the Pacific Northwest region materials out of buildings, energy efficiency combined with where the Confluence Project is located, you were quoted energy production, capturing rain water on site, and going as saying, “I can’t compete with the beauty of the land. to only FSC wood, etc. We now need to embrace a more


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Denis Hayes: Back in the 1970s many green buildings were kind of weird looking, and some genuinely ugly. Do you have some thoughts about the interrelationship between beauty and functionality?

I think the most interesting thing is the schism between what happened in Europe and in the United States. When you look at some of the European architects from that era, and how energy efficient and gorgeous (in a more standard notion of beauty) the designs are, one could argue that the driving factor was the price of electricity; it was extremely high, and regulations were tough, whereas American energy efficiency standards and the price of electricity were much lower.

Maya Lin:

Confluence Project is a multi-sited, collaborative effort between Maya Lin, Pacific Northwest tribes, civic groups, and a number of architects and designers stretches over 300 miles along the Columbia River and Lewis and Clark trail. “We teach you a history of a place by taking into account Lewis and Clark’s observations of these places. We delve deeper and reveal the meaning of the site from both a Native American tradition, as well as highlight the environmental changes that have occurred in the past 200 years.” There are seven points along the trail that serve as project sites; learn more at


holistic process — instead of value engineering a building where typically you can pull this and that out to save a few bucks. When we fully developed our concept for the Bullitt Center, we really couldn’t pull anything out of it without having vast consequences beyond the individual element. This is how a building should be — a wholesome work of creation.

The `70s movement in the US was beautiful because it was a grassroots movement; maybe it emerged from the oil embargo, or Earth Day, or generally caring for the environment. Unfortunately, the designs were pretty bad, and perhaps for that reason it was harder for Americans to embrace design that was great for the environment, but also align with an aesthetic model that is more acceptable as ‘beautiful.’ It should be required that we have extremely efficient buildings, but it doesn’t have to become the absolute theme or artistry of your building.


We lacked the financial and regulatory incentive to push for greener designs. Instead, there was a voluntary approach that had the world thinking about energy efficient buildings, but these designs were pretty fringed with their aesthetics.

One approach to that is to learn from a couple billion years of beta testing by Mother Nature. Denis Hayes:

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What is Missing? Known as Maya Lin’s last memorial, this project challenges the traditional idea of the word — it’s a multi-dimensional work that exists as a website (nexus), physical installations, and a print and online book. WIM brings awareness to the planet’s alarming decrease in biodiversity and habitat; a significant problem that is directly influenced by mankind. Lin says, “The website for What is Missing? has three components: a map of the past, present (which links 40 environmental groups), and future. We want to show people what the world could look like, plausible future scenarios. The ‘What You Can Do’ section shows really doable solutions — not so fantastic that people are turned off. People want to help, but are overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible scale of the problem. The final phase of What is Missing? will be Greenprint. This will reflect on how we live, where we live, the energy we use, what we throw away — it will rethink our needs and our practices, and pose new ways that we could live to restore balance between the needs of humans and nature. Cities are a critical part of the solution along with the areas we choose to make signifigant gains in efficiency, livability and sustainability.”


For more information, visit


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How important a role do you think that ­biomimicry (following the design principles of nature) can play in architecture? Maya Lin: The design principles are critical in a larger

picture; if you think about what you’re doing and how we should view a building — a consolidated holistic living system. We should think of a city the same way, and scale that up; how do you feed that city, or get rid of waste? Biomimicry asks us to look at things in their entirety: the flow of energy, waste, inputs and outputs. How much of the content on the What is Missing? site has been influenced by the additions of other people? You have almost created an instance of participatory art.

Denis Hayes:

Currently, there are over 1,000 historical stories from all over the world that talk about former ecological abundance. People have been adding incredibly poignant memories. The website connects people to nature on a personal way, starting with asking them to think about what they’ve personally seen disappear from nature — this is a memorial to the planet that is both personal and global in scope.

Maya Lin:

People know me for the memorials, and there is an assumption that it’s all about memory and loss. Memorials are teaching tools about history, and we have to accurately remember our past in order to have it teach us, and guide us. Most people would say, “Oh, it’s just about things that are gone,” and that’s the problem. I’m not here to point out things we can do nothing about, quite the contrary. This is what we’re doing, now wake up. We have to do something to help stop this. My facts have to be really smart and correct because I’m an artist, and you don’t want to be discredited because you’re the artist. At the same time, what can an artist do? Maybe we can look at the problem in a different light. For instance, if you took the entire world’s population today, and we all lived at the density of Manhattan, how much space would seven billion people take up?

The answer is the state of Colorado. When I show this to people, we don’t get gasps of, “I don’t want to live like that.” We get, “Is that all?”

something, we’re not really looking at it because we already know what it is. If you can stop someone from making that reference point, they absorb it differently.

Just by framing it differently we can see that this is a question of land use and resource consumption, not just population. That’s what we have to focus on. I don’t think we enjoy sitting in traffic for three years of our lives; that doesn’t make a great neighborhood. There are ways we could rethink; suburban sprawl is not an ideal living situation. Our suburbs should have growth boundaries, our agricultural footprint and our transit system ate all things we need to reconsider.

We tend to think ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ which is probably why the oceans are insanely polluted. If you think about how much we’ve learned from the `70s and Lake Erie catching fire — look at what we’re still dumping into our waterways. It’s incredible what we’re still doing because we don’t see it. Maybe I can get you to see it.

The theme of the Living Future unConference this year is Beauty & Inspiration. Do you ever experience the artistic equivalent of writer’s block? If you do, what do you do when you need inspiration? Denis Hayes:

I don’t ever try to force an idea out; I believe in the percolation process. I’m careful to not work on real deadlines, because of the great fear of rushing something when it’s not ready. Maya Lin:

DENIS HAYES is CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and chair of the international Earth Day Network. His new book COWED examines all the impacts of bovines on America, describing the myriad unseen ways that cows have fundamentally reshaped the nation. KRISTA ELVEY is the Communications Coordinator at the International Living Future Institute and the Interim Managing Editor for this issue of Trim Tab. Trim Tab final spring ad.pdf 1 4/2/2014 8:11:52 AM

As far as writer’s block, anyone in the creative realms can make a work that we’re really proud of, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to make something else that we’re going to like, or that we think is going to be good. There’s always that fear — just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean you’ll do it again. You’ve got one instant minute of glory, and then it’s back to the desk. I recently participated in the Marfa Dialogues in New York City and had a chance to see some of your pin work. In your discussions with people about these artistic works, such as Pin River Sandy (which marks the boundaries of Hurricane Sandy’s flood plane) do you find that they stretch peoples’ imaginations? Does it make them more creative or more committed? Denis Hayes:









If I can arrest your assumptions of what you’re looking at so that you can literally look at it again, you might rethink what it is. As we get older, we obtain a wealth of information. When we look at

Maya Lin:


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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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MAY 21-23, 2014 PORTLAND, OR

Aspire to Nature’s Elegance. Through design and construction, we shape human emotion into enduring reality. It’s time we build all communities to be beautiful and inspiring.


Maya Lin Artist, Maya Lin Studio

Join the world’s leading deep green practitioners for advanced education sessions, unforgettable keynotes and provocative conversations at the only conference rooted in the principles of the Living Building ChallengeTM.

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

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THE POWER OF GOOD DESIGN Beauty as a Force for Change By Jason F. McLennan

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.”– Dante



or a long time it seemed like ‘good design’ was the exclusive providence of European or Japanese designers — especially around products and the everyday things in our lives. In North America, it always felt like we put quantity over quality and size over substance. Our cars, clothing, furniture, consumer goods and even architecture were always considered better in Italy, Scandinavia, France, Spain or the UK. Americans had more ‘stuff,’ but our stuff’s designs seemed cheap and poorly considered, especially as we outsourced the actual manufacturing to faraway places.

threw out every good design principle — places of beauty became the exception, and entire communities in North America often lacked a single beautiful place that hadn’t been created prior to World War II.


The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the countries that were producing such beautiful I became even more convinced of this as I began to things enjoyed a culture of study design in its various contexts — as applied ar- design. Rather than priorichitecture and the design of neighborhoods and cities. tizing size and quantity, as Just look at the transformation of our urban and sub- we North Americans did urban environments between the 1960s -1990s. When (and still do, although to we redesigned everything for the automobile, we a mercifully lesser ­extent),

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Beauty becomes the key fulcrum for change — when you appeal to people’s desires, you have the potential to break down barriers that were keeping them from embracing the critical issues of how design impacts people and the planet.

paired up with social justice and sustainability. The convergence of these three issues provides incredible promise for change. Beauty, social justice and sustainability are three critical legs of a stool to reimagine the future of all of humanity’s artifacts. Of these, beauty become the key fulcrum for change — when you appeal to people’s desires, you have the potential to break down barriers that were keeping them from embracing the critical issues of how design impacts people and the planet.

Early Aesthetic Barriers to Green Building We have watched a similar pattern play out with the green design movement from the late sixties up until today. In the early days of the movement, ‘green’ buildings were lauded for their environmentally friendly, energy-conserving performance, but were often seen as ugly, uncomfortable and impractical. The lack of beauty in many of the pioneering green projects actually set the movement back at least two decades — people equated green design with bad design. Let’s face it: Few sustainable structures built between the 1970s and the early 2000s would have won any beauty contests. They were undeniably innovative and broke important ground that ultimately benefited the movement, but they were perceived as unattractive, and a schism grew between those who practiced green design and those who practiced good design.1 For a long time, green clients were few and far between because people did not want an ungainly green building. As a result, many people who now embrace sustainable design waited to do so because they thought green buildings failed to offer form, function and favorability.

these foreign cultures valued beauty and quality; design was something that was discussed and appreciated by the greater population. People in these places were sophisticated enough to understand the importance of craft and good design, whereas we abandoned this culture in our all-encompassing adoption of mass consumer culture. It was the difference between a philosophical shift as a nation of “consumers” versus “citizens” who sometimes consumed things. The difference was evident when even mass-produced items coming from such regions were given better design consideration. Think about the revolution that was IKEA, with the Swedes showing us that even massTrying to sell people on green design back then was produced, inexpensive items should be well designed. a lot like pushing castor oil: People knew it was benefiIKEA understood that people deserve to be surroundcial but just couldn’t stomach the idea, or the bad taste. ed by things that show manufacturers care for them. The diehards would do it, but the taste was just too bad for the masses to adopt it. Architects felt that sustainThe thing I find very interesting right now is that ability would interfere with their craft, while project all of this appears to be shifting — both here in the United States and Canada, and more generally around the world. A new culture of design is emerging, and it has great potential, especially because it’s sometimes 1 This schism has also persisted in schools of design and architecture.

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owners hesitated to gamble on what were considered experimental approaches.

Ive4 and others in Apple did to reinvent music, computers, animation and telecommunications.

Still, the green design movement moved forward, thanks to the relentless work of pioneers who understood what was at stake. Slowly, design and quality began to merge with performance and responsibility.2

Having said this, I am not a total Apple ‘fanboy’ — design alone is not success — and Apple received considerable (and deserved) criticism for the lack of environmental and social progress they were making in their overseas factories. Apple still has work to do in order to demonstrate that all three issues (beauty, social and environmental responsibility) are at the core of their business, and the company could take a page from Gates on philanthropy.

The Apple Revolution I was an early fan of Apple® because they were one of the few American companies founded on the premise that design really does matter. Even as I tracked the company’s ups and downs in the marketplace during the 1990s, I always felt confident that they would persevere. In fact, I was adamant that the Apple way would one day dominate the market. I admired how they prioritized the way consumers would feel while using their products. Instead of focusing exclusively on what their stuff did, they thought about why people would buy and how the product could change the customer experience forever. Apple was among the first manufacturers to consider experience alongside performance. Everything from the font designs to the ergonomics was carefully thought through, and only the beautiful options made the final cut.3

Architecture gets on board Just as Apple helped shift public opinion about the importance of beauty in manufactured goods, we are now seeing a dramatic shift in people’s insistence on beauty in the green building movement. Green buildings are, dare I say it, getting sexy. Over the last decade in particular, beautiful, deep green projects have emerged. Their designs are beginning to embody a depth and meaning that ultimately gives them greater value in financial, environmental and emotional terms.

We have LEED to thank in part for pushing this trend. As the standard began to build steam, it brought many Apple is successful because beauty and experience are new projects into the fold — many of these competcarefully integrated into their products, wrapping ex- ing for design excellence as well as LEED points. More isting technologies in well-designed packages. I don’t clients expressed interest in green elements, which believe it’s an exaggeration to credit Apple with plant- pulled more designers onto the projects. Suddenly, ing the seeds of a culture of design that was previously sustainable projects were winning design awards and lacking in North America — it’s remarkable what Jobs, the days of “green is ugly and weird” as a construct were coming to an end. It was the Living Building Challenge (in my biased opinion) that tipped the issue completely. 2 It’s important to emphasize that this period of engineering and systemsoriented innovation was integral to the movement’s ability to advance. We stand on the shoulders of the men and women who pioneered these ideas, and we would not be where we are today without their contributions. 3 When I came to Cascadia in 2006, one of my first executive acts was to convert the office computers from PCs to Macs. This idea was met with more than a little resistance, particularly from those who said the existing system worked just fine. But I felt strongly then, as I still do today, that our organization needs to ref lect our core principles: first, that we must project success in order to achieve success and secondly, that beauty and performance can exist in harmony. We donated our PCs, shifted to a Mac environment and then watched with interest as the iPhone came out the next year.


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The Living Building Challenge was the first standard to include a Beauty requirement; here is a program that sets the highest bar in the world for environmental performance, yet insists that good design and 4 John Ive is the head of design for Apple and the creative force behind Apple’s amazing products.


Photos: The simple yet beautiful SFU Childcare Center — a Living Building project.

aesthetics meet or exceed the quality of the world’s best architecture. This simple step (which was so obvious in hindsight) was a bit of a revolution, as it emphasized the experiential as on par with the performance metric — neither dominating, but both important to success. Initially, this generated a great deal of discussion. Skeptics argued that such a subjective, unquantifiable thing shouldn’t be included alongside measurable aspects like energy and water performance, and that this would diminish the ‘seriousness’ of the program. We insisted that this aspect of the Challenge was arguably one of its most critical, as no Living Building can succeed unless it offers and inspires beauty. Our obligation is to create a better world — if Living Buildings were ugly, we wouldn’t be successful. In fact, these structures should be more beautiful than others of the built environment, because they are imbued with more meaning. Ironically, it is the Beauty petal that has probably inspired more people to take up the challenge than any single program element.

how this focus has challenged the thinking of even leftbrained individuals. When you have engineers asking “How can I make my mechanical system beautiful?” you know you are on to something special.

The Products Revolution Building on what Apple has started, there has been a huge shift in the consumer product market. This shift has begun to change the consumer experience, and consumer expectations are now rising. It’s no longer enough to compete with price and options. People now expect their products to change experience. As these expectations continue to rise, it is time to further inject corporate social and environmental responsibility into the experience. Here are a few examples of the new thinking that is emerging:

NEST. Who could have predicted that people would clamor to buy a thermostat, or go to an Apple Store to purchase one? The idea that a thermostat could be Now that stunning Living Buildings are blooming all sexy and change behavior was groundbreaking. NEST around the world, the one-time skeptics have come is powerful because it makes something that is ubiqaround to our way of thinking. A responsibly built en- uitous in all our buildings beautiful and fun to use, vironment, they now see, depends fully on its beauty. whereas other thermostats are ugly and daunting to One of the most rewarding things we’ve witnessed is use. The net benefit is that people save considerable

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Photos: The new paradigm of products that reinvent the experience of using everyday objects.

energy with such a small investment, and more importantly, they begin to change their relationship with energy. The thermostat and the user begin to learn together. Imagine 20-30% energy reductions simply through a simple interface? NEST is on a roll now with their new smoke detector — changing the paradigm and experience that will literally save lives.

products are category definers — influencing every other company in their sector to think differently.

Beats. Dr. Dre and his product designers put the ‘cool’ back in over-the-head headphones with the introduction of Beats in 2008. While plenty of competitive products now offer a comparable listening experience, Beats fly off the shelves for hundreds of dollars because Dyson. Here, too, is a company that redefined their they changed the story and design factor around their niche through design. Fed up with the paradigm of products. As far as I know, Beats has not yet embraced ugly, poorly performing and messy-to-clean vacu- the other two legs of the stool, but they represent the ums, they didn’t tinker — they redefined. The Dyson kind of thinking about form and function that is a good vacuum has been instrumental in changing the con- starting point. sumer mindset around what was acceptable around a product. They continue to branch out and are rede- Tesla. I’ve written previously about how much I adfining the hand-drying experience and special faucets mire this company and its innovations. They took an that incorporate the drying unit into the faucet itself idea that always had promise — the electric car — and — eliminating mess. They think about common con- infused it with bleeding-edge technology to reimagine sumer challenges and present solutions that are more the product category. Early generations of electric cars effective, often more energy efficient, and always more suffered from mechanical issues, poor range and mebeautiful. Like all the products I mention here, Dyson’s diocre performance profiles. Electric cars used to be


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Photos: Its time to reinvent many simple building materials as I did with the Earth Measure reclaimed stone product line.

like taking the castor oil. Tesla changed all of that with a paradigm-shifting alternative that can take you from Boston to LA with free recharges along the way — all while looking drop-dead gorgeous. As the company moves into more affordable production vehicles, it has the potential to change everything about the automotive industry. Imagine the end of gas stations and the polluting, corrupt pipeline behind it? Tesla can.

here is vast — imagine if it was a good thing to throw something away; imagine if our waste could build soil and return nutrients; imagine if our packaging was completely non-toxic and edible.

Earth Measure. Sometimes you have to rethink ageold building materials and recognize their inherent sustainability. Natural stone is one of the greenest products currently available, but for some reason it Ecovative Design. This company has proven that has been overlooked by the green building industry. anything can be wrapped in beauty. Ecovative’s young Earth Measure (who just won a Top Ten Green Prodfounders came up with a way to grow organic mush- uct award from Building Green) could change all that room mycelium and combine it with agricultural waste by turning the waste stream of the stone industry to create packaging, insulation and consumer products into a cladding and paving product instead of downthat are environmentally restorative. Their “Mush- grading it. This product offers great promise and highroom Materials” have the potential to rid the world er value, and it captures the embodied energy that has of plastic packaging.5 What could be more beautiful already been expended to serve as a durable product than that? I was pleased to serve on the jury of the 2013 for the next few hundred years. It has been my pleaBuckminster Fuller Prize that they won. The potential sure to work with ColdSpring on this new product line, which takes what was once discarded and converts it 5 Ecovative Design was a 2013 winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

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Good design, in all its forms, will win out.

sexification of energy — photovoltaic panels that once aroused ardent NIMBYism are now incorporated into the aesthetic strategies of many structures. New companies are redefining their products in ways that make things that people once ignored into important components of their lives — and along the way are saving energy and resources.

into a useable material with patterns inspired by the natural world.

The new paradigm Elevating good design is about creating a new normal for a new generation. As a society, we need to elevate our expectations. Everything we make has an impact on people and on the planet; it’s our responsibility to ensure that we carefully consider all of these impacts and only produce things that are worthwhile. Producing products and buildings we love and care for helps create a framework for extending our expectations outward to the impacts to people and the environment. It would be unfortunate if this new culture of design only led to buying more stuff. I am optimistic, as I believe this new culture is changing how people look at and evaluate the things around them — to ask more deep questions — to ask “Do I need this? Will this enrich my life?” The results of thinking differently can be profound. As beauty becomes commonplace, the consuming public (including building owners and developers) will come to expect nothing less. We’re even seeing the


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Soon, when it comes to our buildings, our communities, and all the things we fill them with, the ugly, polluting and unjust simply won’t be tolerated. By proving that we can simultaneously achieve good design and good environmental performance, we are changing the status quo. People will no longer blithely accept that cities should be broken up by interstates; that skyscrapers should climb so high that occupants lose all connection to nature; that nuclear power plants should dot the rural landscape. Good design, in all its forms, will win out. To elevate the value of beauty, we must pursue it in everything we design, everything we use, and everything we build — beginning with the most basic ingredients we choose, and extending outward into the largest cities we plan. As humans, we are wired to crave beauty. As citizens of the planet, we are responsible for surrounding one another with built and manufactured environments that elicit emotional connections. Beauty is the tie that binds; ugliness is incompatible with a restorative world. 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.

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A BEAUTIFUL COLLABORATION The Ambassador Network is a global volunteer initiative to encourage the rapid and widespread adoption of restorative principles guided by the Living Building ChallengeTM. Participation in the Ambassador Network not only forwards the philosophy and advocacy goals represented by the Living Building Challenge, but it is also fundamental to the rapid dispersal of knowledge about the need for true sustainability in the built environment As it relates to the Living Building Challenge directly, the Ambassador Network helps broaden the Institute’s base of knowledge, connections and support; Living Building Challenge Collaboratives are an essential contribution to the realization of the International Living Future Institute’s goals. Collaboratives are the community-based, in-person groups of Living Building Challenge enthusiasts. They provide an opportunity for individuals to gather for informal learning experiences and to advance community transformation. Collaborative Facilitators lead these groups and come from myriad backgrounds. Some are seasoned community organizers, while others are more comfortable discussing technical aspects of the Living Building Challenge than managing the dynamics of a group. Collaboratives welcome the diverse experiences of their members and create a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who is interested in pushing the envelope in the built environment. A Collaborative has the potential to assemble a uniquely diverse cross-section in a community. Through a Beauty & Inspiration tour, the Sydney Collaborative broke out of typical silos and reached beyond existing networks to create a successful, inclusive Collaborative. Enjoy their inspiring story. — Hilary Mayhew

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We are all artists. Throughout history, we have exhibited a strong desire to interpret and express our relationship to the world around us, and the wonders held within it. These adorned objects of wonder (whether experiences or tangible things) are known to us as ‘Beauty.’ Beauty is intrinsically understood as a dialogue; you need both an object and a beholder. Beauty asks for and offers the opportunity to engage our whole person — all of our senses, our hearts, and our memories. Beauty is an internal and individual experience: To share it is a generous choice — and a risky one. Making the effort to appreciate someone else’s idea of Beauty requires us to pause and potentially reconsider our perception of both the Object and the Beholder.







To imagine a Living Future, we will all have to get very good at being in this kind of head space — at being open and non-judgmental when someone shares their personal sentiments of what they perceive as beautiful. Developing an appreciation for the diversity of forms in which beauty can arise, and the spectrum across which it can be experienced, helps us not only appreci- intent was to subvert the conventional relationship of ate our environment, but also develop our appreciation ‘speaker and audience,’ and make it genuinely particfor one another. ipatory. We wanted it to be fun, and in a format that anyone could replicate anywhere in the world. Hence, Beauty is an exercise in patience, respect, slowing we chose the Imperative of Beauty + Spirit,1 and began down, and taking time to appreciate the richness of to plan a walking tour of Sydney, Australia. experience that surrounds us every day. A small group of us in The Living Building Challenge Sydney Col- Once a date was set for the walking tour, we purchased laborative decided to facilitate a walking tour, an act of a map of Sydney and drew a line around the area of the collaborative Beauty, to help remind each of us that we city that we wanted to explore. We created a video to are all artists. promote the event, and then sent the map and video out into the world through our Collaborative Facebook page and Twitter account, inviting anyone to nominate A Collaborative Creation anything that they found beautiful within the selected While we were developing the ‘Beauty Tour,’ we were area. We prompted them to describe in 50 words why also looking to create a public event to formally launch the Sydney Collaborative. We wanted it to be part of 1 Collaboratives often choose a Living Building Challenge Petal or The Living Building Challenge, and we also wanted Imperative as the theme for an event. The Beauty + Spirit Imperative is under the Beauty Petal and states, “The project must contain to differentiate our event from those typically associ- organized design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of ated with sustainable built environment tools. The culture, spirit and place appropriate to its function”.



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“I think it was fantastic and creative. Social media is a powerful platform to reach the masses. I like the way we co-created the tour by nominating our favorite spot.” just wait until it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and we’ll have a discussion about the context-specificity of fortitude). We arrived at the Hyde Park fountain, our beginning point of the tour, and saw that we did indeed have a rugged, though small, contingent armed with wellies and brollies, ready to tramp through the city in search of Beauty. We had a wander through the Central Business District, then into a historic district known as The Rocks, and then around Circular Quay, past the Opera House and into the Botanic Gardens. As the different beauty descriptions we had been voting for began to they found the space beautiful, without disclosing the unveil themselves in the things that we were seeing, specific name and location. Every beauty description it was like finding answers to riddles. It was particuwe received was posted on our Facebook page, and larly lovely when the person who had submitted the we invited everyone to vote for the most moving de- original description was there to tell us more about the scriptions. Finally, one day before the tour, we issued Beautiful Site. a map highlighting the most-voted-for entries. Voila! A Beauty Tour of our Sydney was created with the help By the end of our wander, the sun had come out, and of its community. The map nominated a meeting point we found a semi-dry spot in the grass and settled down to begin and an end point where a picnic would be held, to a lovely potluck picnic. We enjoyed some music and with a number of treasures in between. kicked a plastic ball around while the Opera House and Sydney Harbour sparkled in the background. A Beautiful Day We looked up at the dark and gloomy sky the morning of the tour, and said something that is not fit to print. Then we thought, “No, you know what? This will make it more interesting. Rain is just a test of your resolve.” (We will freely admit that Sydneysiders are uber-wimps when it comes to rain, so all of you reading this in the Northwest scoffing at our lack of fortitude,

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An Unexpected Journey Along the way, we learned a few unexpected lessons. Having kids along was not just a nice-to-have; it was a must-have because they changed the dynamic of our group And we should have designated a smaller area within which to walk — it felt a little hurried to get through all the stops before it was too late for lunch!


“I liked that it was a one-way journey, culminating in Sydney’s best picnic spot. The Hyde Park fountain was a great meeting place, because I always walk past it but never linger there, so it was nice to talk and look at it.”

Photo: Sydney Collaborative members celebrate their hard work in creating the first ever Beauty Tour. This concept is soon to be replicated in Living Building Challenge Collaboratives all over the world.

In bringing the event together, participating, and reflecting upon our experience of it, we realized that the impact of the Beauty Tour was far more than just skin deep. It made us think about how to connect with other people differently. It made us think about our connection to our city differently. And it made us think about how using the Living Building Challenge would lead to working in a fundamentally different way with this requirement as part of the framework. At a deeper level, we really gained a better appreciation of how any form of Beauty is both an inner and a shared experience. On the one hand, it has a deeply personal component, which is entirely yours, but it is also more powerfully experienced when shared. It requires us to be vulnerable; to tell someone else what you think is beautiful reveals something of ourselves. We often forget how much richer an experience of a place can be when you learn why that place is moving or significant to others. This tour allowed the people who participated to get to know each other and the city. I now look at those places where we stopped and smile, thinking of the people who walked around in the rain with us that day. What Happens Next? We currently have Beauty Tour 2.0 under development, and are looking forward to a smaller radius to


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explore, and a bigger group to explore with. The Sydney Collaborative hopes that this Trim Tab article will inspire other Collaboratives to create a Beauty Tour in their own places and share the results so that we know where to go when we visit!

STEPHEN CHOI is the Co-creator of the Beauty Tour, long-standing member of the Sydney Collaborative, Living Building Challenge Ambassador Presenter, and of course, a lover of beauty. Stephen is from the UK, and is an architect, an artist, and a practitioner for a better built environment. MARY CASEY is the Facilitator of the Sydney Collaborative, Co-Chair of the Board of the Living Future Institute of Australia, project manager, mural painter and recovering architect. Originally from Texas, she made Australia her home over a decade ago, and is continually inspired by the uniqueness and beauty of its ecosystems. HILARY MAYHEW is the Community Manager of the International Living Future Institute. She is responsible for supporting all 60 Collaboratives and the 300+ members of the Ambassador Network. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her adorable Maine Coon, Ginny.

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Mercury was a problem with compact fluorescent lights that we all ignored … it was nice to assume that the bulbs would always be properly disposed of. The reality is that most people throw their compact fluorescents in the trash and don’t dispose of them properly. The bulbs inevitably break, and suddenly there are many little mercury bombs that create significant problems of their own. If you gather enough fluorescent bulbs together, you literally have toxic waste, so the reality of CFL bulbs is kind of like a medicine that kills you before the disease does. More often than not, the bulbs didn’t work as long as they were intended to and their light quality was poor — thus eliminating


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the ‘payback’ argument. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the push for compact fluorescents continued to perpetuate the story that going green is good in the long term, although less comfortable and elegant than conventional measures. The curly bulb became a green symbol, but a flawed one. For good reason, compact fluorescents were a hard sell for many years. They sat at the back of shelves, and people were deterred by how expensive they were. That all began to change over the past few years — as a new design allowed for smaller bulbs, the prices decreased, and the quality improved. Fluorescents in general improved as the commercial world moved first to T8s, and then to T5s. Mercury counts dropped as well, but the bulbs still posed a hazard. In 2005, when writing the first version of the Living Building Challenge, I had visions of being able to ban compact fluorescents and fluorescents overall in the near future. The Institute included mercury on our original red list (deservedly so) because of the danger it poses, but we had to create an immediate exception for lighting systems because other technologies were either more toxic or not yet available on the market. When the program officially launched in 2006, LEDs were unreliable and expensive, consumed more energy, and didn’t work well in most applications — a true niche light. However, things have changed dramatically in a short period of time. LEDs have truly arrived, as cost, quality



remember very clearly a presentation I gave in the late nineties about saving energy and holding up two light bulbs for the audience to see. “On my left is a heater that happens to give off light” I said, describing the iconic Edison incandescent that we all think of when we think of a light bulb. On the right was a clunky-looking, curly light bulb, part of the new breed of compact fluorescents that those of us in the environmental world tried so hard to pitch to people back when these CFL bulbs were bigger, didn’t fit in all light sockets, and were way too expensive — because we knew that CFLs saved so much energy and reduced emissions significantly. “On my right is a light bulb that happens to give off a tiny bit of heat.” It was accurate; most of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb is wasted as heat — and the implications are significant for greenhouse gas conditions and even the distributed spread of mercury from coal-fired power plants.


and the range of applications have all seen rapid improvements. Suddenly, we are in a position to do what I have been hoping for since 2005 — to dump fluorescents forever and leapfrog to LEDs. While there are still some issues to address environmentally, LEDs are a significant improvement in all categories, including toxicity, light quality, maintenance and tenability. The efficiency of the bulbs is rapidly improving as well.

This year, incandescents are being phased out of production and will disappear from shelves in the United States—it is the end of an era. Good riddance! And also this year, another notable milestone — The International Living Future Institute will ban fluorescents in the new version of the Living Building Challenge 3.0, due out this May. It will be the first The promise for LED lighting not only to support green building program in the world to ban this former good visual acuity but also to increase human health ‘green icon,’ which we think sends a powerful signal to relative to our circadian system is exciting. Our circa- the world about how we can’t tolerate toxic chemicals dian system, almost completely misunderstood until in our supply chain anymore. only a few years ago, plays a critical role in regulating our internal body clock and producing the chemical The Institute predicts that within the next ten years signals that control sleep patterns and impact nearly the fluorescent industry will be nearly gone, and the every system in our body. We have been harming our- Living Building Challenge will have led the way. selves with our lighting for years, (by exposing people to the wrong wavelength of light at the wrong time of It’s lights out for both incandescents and fluorescents! day) and currently only LEDs have the potential to be tuned for circadian support.1 JASON F. MCLENNAN is the CEO 1 Which is not to say that every LED is circadian-supportive. There is still more work that needs to be done, and control systems are key. In general, people should strive to have no light present at night when they are sleeping, and be outside in daylight as much as possible during the day.

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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.


Photo: RTKL, “RE-FLEX.” Modular, expandable passive light control system that mimics tree leaves and flower blossoms. For an interaction demonstration of RE/FLEX, see Texas Architect, March/April, 2014. article-detail/Re-Flex-by-RTKL-Associates/i5/

Bridging the gap between “good design” and “green design” could change everything about architecture. BY LANCE HOSEY



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“’Green’ and sustainability have nothing to do with architecture.”1 Famed architect Peter Eisenman is not alone among designers with this attitude. “Sustainability has, or should have, no relationship to style,” Rafael Viñoly contends.2 And Frank Gehry, the most famous architect of our time, has dismissed the entire green building agenda as “bogus.” 3 Many of the most celebrated designers reject sustainability altogether. In 2010, Vanity Fair asked 90 architects and critics to name the “greatest buildings of the past 30 years,”4 and their picks revealed a glaring lack of green. The top slot, with nearly three times the number of votes of the second choice, was Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain — a building that represents, according to Green Architecture author James Wines, “mind-boggling waste.” 5 Sustainability, it seems, is not much on the minds of the architectural elite.

first poll showed up anywhere on the entire list of 122 projects in the second. Clearly, standards of design excellence and of environmental performance don’t match, for the “greatest” buildings of our time are far from the “greenest,” and vice versa. What accounts for this rift? Designers care about image, and the green movement, like it or not, has a reputation for being all substance and no style. Many believe sustainable design deals exclusively with energy efficiency, carbon emissions, and material chemistry — issues they feel belong in a technical manual, not on a napkin sketch. The most widely accepted measures for environmental performance exclude basic considerations about form, space, and image. Even the most ambitious sustainable design can be unattractive because attractiveness isn’t considered essential to sustainability. Consequently, much of what is touted as “green” is not easy on the eyes. The ugly truth about sustainable design is that much of it is ugly.

“Some of the worst buildings I have seen are done by sustainable architects,” hisses Eisenman.7 ConventionTo test this, I conducted my own poll. For my then-col- al wisdom portrays sustainability as incompatible with umn in Architect magazine, I asked a hundred experts beauty.8 “Sustainability and aesthetics in one buildto pick the “greenest buildings of the past 30 years.” If ing?” mused the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007.9 The Vanity Fair’s poll represents the “A List” of architec- American Prospect magazine has gone so far as to ask, ture, I wanted to identify the “G List.”6 The differences “Is ‘well-designed green architecture’ an oxymoron?”10 were dramatic. Not one building ranked among the In other words, sustainability isn’t just occasionally winners of both surveys, and no American architects ugly — it’s inevitably ugly. appeared on both lists. (Of the two architects who did — Italian Renzo Piano and Briton Norman Foster — Of course, there are plenty examples of attractive susVanity Fair featured their older, less environmentally tainable design. Yet, usually what makes them look ambitious work.) In fact, none of the winners of the good has nothing to do with what makes them green. Fundamental decisions about appearance typically are decided by the personal taste of the designers, so when 1 Vladimir Belogolovsky, Interview with Peter Eisenman, MAS Context, it comes to aesthetics, sustainable design is business ND. as usual. 2 Quoted in Josh Stephens, “Starchitecture and Sustainability: Hope, Creativity, and Futility Collide in Contemporary Architecture,” Planetizen, November 1, 2009. 3 Michael Arndt, “Architect Gehry on LEED Buildings: Humbug,” Businessweek, April 07, 2010. 4 Matt Tyrnauer, “Architecture in the Age of Gehry,” Vanity Fair, August, 2010. 5 Quoted in Kriston Capps, “Green Building Blues,” The American Prospect, February 12, 2009. 6 Lance Hosey, “The G List,” Architect, July, 2010.

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7 Belogolovsky interview. 8 For example, one journalist refers to “the constant battle between aesthetics and sustainability.” Barbara Pardo-Tiangco, “Living green in style,” The Philippine Star, August 23, 2008. 9 John King, “Sustainability and aesthetics in one building?” San Francisco Chronicle, October 15, 2007. 10 Capps, “Green Building Blues.”


Rendering: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Louvre, Abu Dhabi. An enormous mesh umbrella lets dappled sunlight pass through in variegated patterns, like a forest canopy. Imagine if the design were informed by fractal research. Courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

But there’s another way. What if we were to develop a completely different approach to aesthetics, one driven purely by sustainability — that is, by the aim to create measurable social, economic, and environmental benefits? Can we be as smart about the way things look as we are about the way they work?

the least material for the greatest strength. “There is not a particle to spare in natural structures.” 11

The same can be true of artificial structures. Mark West and his students at the University of Manitoba experiment with concrete formwork to rethink one of the most common material applications in all of construction. For any given structural component, such as a beam, stress and strain are not consistent along its This new approach — the aesthetics of ecology — length, yet beams tend to be built as continuous seccould transform design by subverting some of the most tions sized around the worst-case scenario (the most familiar ideas of modern architecture. It presents an demanding load). In other words, structures typically opportunity not just to make green building more at- use far more material than is necessary. tractive — it could erase the very distinction between sustainability and beauty. Fabric formwork solves this problem. Flexible textile molds can be sewn like a dress, taking more fluid Embracing three principles — conservation, attrac- shapes that are at once more complex and cheaper and tion, and connection to place — could bring about easier to assemble. A concrete beam can be formed a revolution in architecture. by putting the material only where it’s needed, like an animal skeleton. West calls it “net shape fabrication.” The result is extraordinarily efficient, using Form follows performance: shape for half the concrete of an equivalent rectangular beam conservation and 300 times less weight in formwork. The porpoise“Beauty rests on necessities,” wrote Emerson. “The like shape transforms an otherwise mundane bit of line of beauty is the result of perfect economy.” The honeycomb and the feather quill, for example, use 11 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Beauty” (1860), in Essays and Lectures (Library of America, 1983).


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Natural fractals: These self-similar patterns appear everywhere in nature and have been called a “universal aesthetic” and the “fingerprints of nature.” Courtesy of the author.

building (the lowly concrete beam) into something extraordinarily elegant. The product of such techniques might be called SelfSustaining Form — geometry that improves performance. Imagine if we applied the ingenuity of West’s beam to every aspect of a building, even its whole shape? What would an architecture of such dramatic innovation look like? Would we stop living and working in boxes and cages as buildings evolve to become more like coral reefs, termite towers, or aspen groves? In Louis Sullivan’s famous phrase, “form follows function,” function means use: “the tiers of typical offices, having the same unchanging function, shall continue in the same unchanging form.” 12 An office building should look like an office building should look like an office building. The idea that the shape of a building would emerge not just from programs — how buildings are used — but from the conservation of energy and materials — how resources are used — alters one of the most familiar ideas in modern architecture. Form doesn’t follow function. Form follows performance. 12 Louis Sullivan, “The Tall Building Artistically Considered” (1896), in Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings (Dover Architecture, 2012).

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Beauty is in the genes of the beholder: shape for attraction “When you look at what people find attractive, it is consistent across cultures,” evolutionary psychologist Hanne Lie has said. “We have some innate or hardwired beauty detector.”13 Our response is not so much cultural as it is chemical, she explains, since looking at beautiful things fires up the same reward circuitry in the brain that food and narcotics do. As Science News has put it, “Eye candy might more appropriately be called brain candy.”14 Growing research reveals a universal, biological basis for visual preferences that often transcend individual and cultural differences. Psychologically and physiologically, we are drawn to certain shapes, patterns, proportions, colors, and spaces we find deeply satisfying. To paraphrase biologist E. O. Wilson, beauty is in the genes of the beholder.15 Take fractals. Irregular, self-similar geometry, they occur seemingly everywhere in nature — coastlines and river ways, snowflakes and leaf veins, our own lungs. In recent years, physicists have found that people 13 Quoted in Elizabeth Quill, “It’s written all over your face,” Science News, January 2, 2009. 14 Ibid. 15 Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species (Harvard UP, 1986).



i­nvariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals — not too thick, not too sparse. We respond so dramatically to this pattern that it can reduce stress levels by as much as 60 percent — just by being in our field of vision. One researcher calculates that since the US spends $300 billion a year dealing with stress-related illness, the economic benefits of these shapes, widely applied, could be worth billions.16 Just looking at something could help us all become healthier and wealthier.

Photo: Sauerbruch Hutton, KFW Westarkade, Frankfurt, Germany. A 4-story podium follows the street, while the 10-story tower above follows the sun, wind, and views to optimize heat gain, ventilation, and comfort, making this one of the world’s most energy-efficient office buildings.

Science can help designers understand better why people treasure some things and not others. Beauty is more than skin deep; it is as much an emotional experience as it is a physical pleasure. The mechanics of affection, the mathematics of attraction, can help ensure that images and objects will resonate with people and create lasting value.

Yet, many architects think of design not as science but as art, specifically as an opportunity to develop a personal voice. “If you believe in democracy,” insists Frank Gehry, “then you must allow for personal expression.”17 Yet, to confine a building to a preconceived aesthetic — a signature style — prevents it from evolving on its own terms, to become whatever it needs to become. A signature style could be the single biggest obstacle to sustainable performance. Nothing is beautiful alone: shape for place We often speak of “the environment” in the singular, which suggests one unvarying continuum rather than 16 See the research of physicist Richard Taylor, University of Oregon. http:// 17 Yael Reisner, Architecture and Beauty: Conversations with Architects about a Troubled Relationship (Wiley, 2010).


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an endlessly diverse series of unfolding terrains, peaks and plains, hills and haddocks, woodlands and wetlands. For ancient peoples and indigenous cultures, concepts of the universe arise from experience in a particular setting — worldview depends on an actual view of the world. Space is not a vast void, for every locality has a particular meaning and is honored as such. Modern architecture conceived the world quite differently. Mies van der Rohe defined architecture as “the will of an epoch translated into space.” The International Style renounced local flavor in favor of the global taste. Time, not place, defined architectural aesthetics, which Henry Russell-Hitchcock and Philip Johnson described as “unified and inclusive, not fragmentary and contradictory.” Today, design is subject to quick trends and fleeting fashions. As the Wall Street Journal has put it, “Looks come and go.” 18 The lack of difference from place to place can be devastating. “To be rooted,” maintained the philosopher Simone Weil, “is perhaps the most important and 18 David A. Keeps, “Top Ten Interior Design Trends for 2014,” Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2013.

Design for sustainability by definition should embody a beauty born of its place — the sense of its terrain, the sensibilities of its people. This is the essence of ecology, the interconnectedness of things. “Nothing is quite beautiful alone,” Emerson believed.20 A new aesthetic

Above: RTKL, Mixed Use Project, Dubai, UAE. The place-driven form, inspired by the date palm and by Mashrabiya porches, reduces energy costs by 21%. Courtesy RTKL.

least recognized need of the human soul.”19 We long to belong. Design can play a dramatic role in connecting people to place. Cycladic houses of the Aegean islands are dressed in chalky white to reflect heat and stay cool. Thai houses wear woven skins and tiptoe with stilts on soft terrain. Chinese dwellings in the silt belt of the Honan area are carved into the earth to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. The Persian windcatcher (badgir) reaches for the sky, capturing the breeze and driving it below. The compact box of the New England Colonial holds its heat in winter, its roof pitch sheds snow, and its sparing windows dissuade drafts. A Virginia dogtrot is the opposite, lying low and yawning in the middle to breathe in the breeze. Among contemporary designs, there are Rick Joy’s sculpted houses of rammed earth in Arizona, Miller Hull’s pareddown Pacific Northwest lodge look, and Lake/Flato’s streamlined Texas prairie buildings. Different forms for different places.

19 Simone Weil, The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind (Routledge Classics, 2001).

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Some of the world’s smartest designers seem oblivious to the aesthetic potential of sustainability. “A sophisticated building in an environmental sense is not ipso facto a sophisticated building in a design sense,” claims architect Eric Owen Moss. “I wouldn’t mix the two.”21 Others proclaim that “green building is dead.”22 At the end of 2012, the American Institute of Architects removed sustainable design from its members’ annual continuing education requirements.23 Sustainability is either so familiar or so irrelevant, the AIA suggests, it no longer needs to be studied. Not only does sustainability not limit design — it can liberate it. And architects are just beginning to scratch the surface of possibilities. Following its principles to their logical conclusion could transform architecture to become something at once wholly new and deeply sensitive to tradition. Sustainability isn’t dead. It’s just coming alive.

20 Emerson, “Beauty.” 21 Josh Stephens, “Starchitecture and Sustainability: Hope, Creativity, and Futility Collide in Contemporary Architecture,” Planetizen, November 1, 2009. 22 Paul Eldrenkamp, “Green building is dead—its time has passed,” Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, March 14, 2009. 23 “AIA Mainstreams Sustainable Design Education” (2012). http://www.

LANCE HOSEY is an architect, author, and Chief Sustainability Officer with the global design leader RTKL. His latest book,  The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design  (Island Press, 2012) has been Amazon’s #1 bestseller for sustainable design.





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In recent years, Portland, Oregon has earned a reputation as a world leader in green building, sustainable living, recycling, mass transit, bicycle infrastructure, local food and overall livability, not to mention the city’s obsession with craft beer, books and live music. At this point, it may be overkill to propose that “Most Beautiful City” be added to the city’s ever-growing list of superlatives. Never mind that the city lacks pristine beaches, iconic monuments or a towering skyline. Portland’s is a subtle beauty best reflected in the values and the culture of its people. The Rose City’s unique aesthetic will be on full display as it hosts more than a thousand building industry leaders for the Living Future 2014 unConference this May. It’s a fitting setting for delegates to explore the roles of beauty and inspiration in the creation of truly sustainable communities. In anticipation of the unConference, we’ve asked members of Portland’s green building community to share their perspectives on the most beautiful places in Portland. Living Future 2014 delegates eager to explore the city’s hidden treasures can follow the guidance of these vignettes.

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Johanna Brickman Director of Collaborative Innovation, Oregon BEST MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: St. John’s Bridge, Cathedral Park

Portland’s St. Johns Bridge is a triple threat. The design of this iconic bridge, which was built in 1931, makes it more than merely a means for getting us across a divide. Nor is it only a beautiful object in the landscape; the bridge is also a frame for public space at the ground level that offers the sense of being in an expansive outdoor Gothic cathedral. Hence the aptly named Cathedral Park below the east end of the bridge, with views of Forest Park to the west. The St. Johns Bridge is a great example of generosity in design. When my daughter Sylvie’s third grade class took-on the Portland tradition of exploring the design and engineering of all 11 bridges over the Willamette River last year, she and I talked about our favorite bridges. As I said then, I love the St. Johns Bridge for its verdigris color and its delicate form, but perhaps more importantly because it gives a fantastic outdoor space to the community. One can board a #16 bus from downtown and head across the bridge.  From the first bus stop on the far side of the bridge, it’s an easy walk down to the river to visit Cathedral Park.


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Chris Forney Principal, Brightworks MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: Forest Park

From my house in North Portland, I get to see Forest Park on the other side of the Willamette River. Known as The “Green Necklace” of Portland, and inspired by Olmsted’s Central Park in New York and Boston’s Green Necklace, Portland’s Forest Park provides eight miles of mountain escape right here in the city. In stark contrast with Northwest Portland’s industrial lands and Swan Island in the foreground, Forest Park gives me a visual escape even when I’m across the river. Within minutes I can be deep within a secondgrowth forest.

Murray Cizon Education and Training Coordinator, International Living Future Institute MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: M. Lloyd Frank Residence and Estate Gardens

Listed on National Register of Historic Places and at the center of what is considered by the Princeton Review to be one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, the M. Lloyd Frank residence (Herman S. Brookman, 1926) and estate gardens are stunning examples of Jazz Age opulence in a city that’s dominated by Victorian and arts and crafts dwellings. My alma mater, Lewis & Clark College, acquired the property in the 1940s and has acted as a respectful steward since. Alan Scott Principal at Cadmus Group MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: Forest Park

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There are so many places where I find beauty in and around Portland — the dynamic and ever- changing sky, the verdant city, views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, public art everywhere, the Columbia Gorge, culinary creations — I could go on, but one of the beautiful places that captured my heart when I first moved here and still holds me today is Forest Park. It was my escape, my pressure relief valve, where I could run wild and free after a long day of architecting, and it is where I take my kids today to slow down and open all the senses — the texture of fir bark, the smell of damp duff, the music of bird and brook, and shades of green, from delicate Vancouveria hexandra (duckfoot) by the trail to the soaring Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir) overhead. Rare is the place where a few steps take you out of the city and into wildness, where only an occasional low flying plane betrays the proximity of urbanity. I am grateful the planners of Portland treasured this gem and preserved its beauty for generations to come.



Nick Hartrich Community Engagement Manager, Cascadia Green Building Council MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: Ecotrust Building

Located in the heart of the Pearl District, the Ecotrust Building (aka the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center) dates back to 1895. Designed as a distribution center, the building later became the Central Truck Terminal shipping goods across the Pacific Northwest. Amy Jarvis Sustainability Engineer at Mazzetti MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: Washington Park

One of my favorite places in Portland is Washington Park. The Hoyt Arboretum, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, trails, amphitheater and fields offer a variety of different nature experiences. I love seeing how these environments change over the course of a year and how the different colors and smells evolve. The interplay of sensory experiences is harmonious, calming, and beautiful.


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Today, the building stands as an icon for urban revitalization, green infrastructure (the first LEED Gold certified building in the Northwest, 2001) and is home to many leading environmental organizations, including Cascadia Green Building Council and the International Living Future Institute. This building is the reason I moved to Portland (bikes & beer aside), and anyone who has spent some real time beneath the big timbers in the courtyard or atop the green roof understands why this work of art has played home to a thousand different ideas for bettering the way we live, work and play.

Ralph DiNola Executive Director, New Buildings Institute MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN PORTLAND: Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is on the top of my list of Portland’s most beautiful places and should not be missed, especially in the spring. The Portland Japanese Garden has been hailed as the preeminent example of Japanese gardens outside of Japan. The garden design integrates traditional Japanese garden plants, sculptures and architecture and blends them with the awe-inspiring natural beauty and topography of Washington Park. You can wend your way through the four seasons and contemplate a living future in one of the most peaceful and inspiring places in Portland. 

In an effort to recognize and appreciate the beauty of communities around the world, we invite our readers to participate in the International Living Future Institute’s Beauty from Every Angle project. Contribute your perspective by posting pictures to Instagram using the hashtag #LF14Beauty. We’ll display these photos at Living Future and on the Living Future website to create an inspiring mosaic. Learn more at To register for the Living Future 2014 unConference, visit unconference2014.

Beauty from Every Angle Campaign: #LF14Beauty Perhaps unsurprisingly, Portland’s green builders share a common bond in that they draw inspiration from places that offer access to nature. With more than 200 parks, the city offers a cornucopia of green space in which to exercise, unwind, recharge and reconnect to the environment. If Portland is any example, declaring a city both green and beautiful may be an exercise in redundance. These and countless other places and spaces help define Portland’s allure, and in turn, engender an appreciation and a culture of stewardship that keep its people striving toward a Living Future. While the city is truly unique (some prefer the word ‘weird’), every community is filled with beauty, or at least the opportunity to create something beautiful.

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



Design for an Empathic World:

Reconnecting to People, Nature, and Self BY: MICHAEL D. BERRISFORD Architect, Artist, Activist, Teacher, Philosopher For five decades and counting, Sim Van der Ryn has been creating and designing with nature in mind. Known worldwide as one of the original pioneers of the green building movement for his contributions to architecture and education, Sim’s additional talents as both a writer and a painter shed insightful light on his visionary understanding, compassion and hope for a built environment in harmony with nature. Following are several excerpts from the foreword to Sim Van der Ryn’s new book, Design for an Empathic World. Aptly titled “A Sustained Awakening of the Human Heart” and affectionately written by Jason F. McLennan, a fellow Green Master and change agent, the foreword elegantly sets up Sim’s deeply meaningful message.

Author: Sim Van der Ryn Publisher: Island Press Washington, DC 2013 ISBN 978-1-61091-426-0 Hardcover/Cloth, 7.25 x 8.25 Pages: 192 List: $35.00


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“And now with this book, Sim focuses on the most important understanding of all, that the only thing that can truly save us is a sustained awakening of the human heart.” “Empathic design as practice is a critical resource offered by our wise sage of the green building movement at the right time, when so much interest in the topic is finally here. For new students of architecture, planning, and engineering, it is essential that they learn what is essential and be exposed to, and encour-

aged to get in touch with the profound beauty that is life. For longer practitioners, this book serves as a powerful reawakening.”

in this publication that will resonate deeply with readers who are also interested in pursuing a truly sustainable future.

“While this is not a big book, it is large beyond its size. It reminds us of what is essential; it tells us a story of where key ideas for the green building movement came from, and teaches us about the key principles that need to guide and shape architecture and the built environment into the future.”

Those people who have had the privilege of crossing paths with Sim have experienced his brilliant intellect, authentic spirit, and affection for humanity. This thoughtful, richly illustrated collection of his life experiences and art provides a precious opportunity to get to know Sim Van der Ryn on a deeper level. Design for an Empathic World is Sim’s story, outlining, in part, his contribution to the sustainability movement, and it is a passionate treatise calling for a virtuous reconciliation between people and planet.

Sim encapsulates the purpose of his book, stating, “I share my thoughts and experience about the design of our world today. I focus on both the strengths and the weaknesses of our approach to the design of our communities, regions, and buildings with a critical eye and suggest how we can help create a better world for others and ourselves.” Van der Ryn does indeed provide well-qualified and wise counsel, addressing the shortcomings and strengths of modern design and construction. Nevertheless, I would suggest that it is his gratitude for life and his love of humanity shown

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MICHAEL D. BERRISFORD is the Director of Ecotone Publishing for the ILFI and the Editorial Director of Trim Tab magazine. Michael’s first book, Generation Green: The Making of the UniverCity Childcare Centre, a part of the Living Building Challenge Series, releases in May 2014.




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MEMBERSHIP Planting the Seeds of Transformation in Your Community Why become a member? • You support the uptake of the Living Building Challenge and other visionary programming in communities around the world. • You invest in the infrastructure needed to create a robust global network of Living Building Challenge Projects, Ambassadors and Collaboratives. • You amplify the deep green voice in critical policy issues. • You give a gift to yourself: members receive discounts on all our events, including our Living Future unConference • Your membership contribution may be tax deductible.* • You make a public commitment to creating a Living Future for all to share

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MOVING UPSTREAM & MAKING WAVES TUHOE CELEBRATE NEW HEADQUARTERS The Tuhoe people celebrate the opening of their new


headquarters (a Living Building Challenge project)

University of Oregon students received a bigger than

located in the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North

expected turnout at their Charette at University Omar

Island. This building represents a new beginning for the

Bongo, Gabon, and the process they underwent was,

Tuhoe, and exemplifies their culture and values. Watch

and is resulting in, a beautiful thing.

this exciting clip from Maori Television to learn more.


AN URBAN FOOD FOREST IN SEATTLE Seattle’s Beacon Hill Neighborhood is conducting a beautiful

Over 90% of the world’s salmon have been destroyed.

experiment in trust, sustainability, and possibility. A variety

More than ever, it is important that we are behaving in

of stakeholders and volunteeers are working hard to turn 7

a way that promotes wild salmon. After all, they are the

acres of public land into an incredibly productive food forest

canary in the coal mine here in the Pacific Northwest.

using permaculture techniques.

Click to explore the program and find out the lengths that Portland is going to be Salmon Safe.

AN EXPLOSION OF GREEN BRILLIANCE Tune in on May 12-16th to hear free conversations with 35 of the world’s sustainability and green building leaders. Click to sign up and join in on this great opportunity, it is sure to be truly inspirational!

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.


Spring 2014



Fractals are everywhere, and they are exquisite. Explore the variety and diverse forms in which fractals exist in this mesmorizing 25-minute documentary.



Let’s face it -- when it comes to beauty and design, nature gets it right. When it comes to capturing this beauty, National Geographic has always been one of the best. Take a moment to browse their ‘Photo of the Day’ section. It’s a lovely little break for your work day.



This collection of video from Scenery Station had our staff entranced – a great way to refresh yourself during a work day.



Louie Schwartzberg is a pioneer of timelapse cinematography, and has been filming flowers for over 35 years. In this TED talk, Louie explore the simple beauty of pollination, and gives us a whole new apprecation for nature’s elegant processes.

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

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