Saturday, December 26, 2009

Green Talk Radio

We enjoyed a very Green Christmas Eve by joining hosts Katie Duncan and Maurice Showers on Green Talk Radio 1230 KLAV. The free-flowing conversation covered topics including:
  • Tips for greening your own home
  • What's involved with a "green" design consultation
  • Local green happenings
  • Green community design projects including the Ward 5 "Model Green Demonstration Home" and Marble Manor
Click here to play streaming audio (MP3 file) from the show...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ongoing Needs at Marble Manor

Marble Manor is a local housing community with ongoing donation needs for their Family Self Sufficiency center and adult education programming.  Please feel free to share this update with anyone that may be interested in investing in-kind or cash donations for the ongoing projects.

The Community Center's transformation has continued to roll ahead.  On September 16th, the Career Training and Adult Learning Center had its Grand Opening.  The original plan to locate a Children's Reading Area in the Community Center was altered to meet the urgent need for adult education, job search assistance, computer skills training and GED support. The Computer Lab, sponsored by Bechtel SAIC, now provides five workstations and computer training in partnership with UNLV.

The Children's area will instead be located in Marble Manor's Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) center on J Street. Stacey Bostwick at (702) 922-7016 or can provide additional details.

We have lists for the needs for both centers, and ongoing exterior improvements to the playground.  Please ask for a copy!

Exterior Improvements - Shade Structure, Exterior Benches, Decomposed Granite.
Adult Learning Center - Computer Lab Chairs, Training Tables & Chairs, Exterior Signage, Bulletin Boards.
Family Self Sufficiency Center - Children's Seating and Book Stands (9' x 12' area)

Cash donations can be received through The Housing Authority's 501(c)3 R.O.S.E. Foundation.
Call (702) 922-6060 for more information.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2009 Green Building Snapshots & Trends

Although limited by its restriction to the LEED rating system standard, the latest Green Building Market & Impact Report 2009 by Rob Watson is a useful snapshot of current status and projections for the green construction industry.  USGBC's Green Jobs Study, prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton, evaluates the economic impact of green buildings in terms of the "total number of direct, indirect, and induced jobs created from green building expenditures."

GBCI currently has over 20,156 LEED registered projects totaling 322 million square feet, and that's great news for improving our industry's impact on the environment.  As champions of green building, we'd welcome a total green square footage estimate that takes LEED, Green Globes, and other local Green ratings systems into account.  Although not a comprehensive solution, we still see the investment in LEED certification as being valuable for long-term value and as a road map to green performance outcomes.

The latest studies are also investigating the interconnection of green building and our economy.  Moving from a "triple bottom line" (ecological, social and economic responsibility), the trend is an "integrated bottom line," with environmental and social concerns enhancing profitability.    USGBC's study projecting over 7.9 million jobs and $396 billion in labor earnings from green construction for 2009 through 2013 is encouraging for our industry and nation's economic recovery.

LEED's requirements are useful guidelines for sustainable design and construction whether certification is pursued or not.

Owners and developers must carefully weigh the value of green construction and LEED certification in terms of immediate financial and PR returns, as well as long-term risk versus reward.  One example of this balance is the LEED v3 requirement to provide performance data for a five-year period following construction, or risk revocation of LEED status.  The building team's commitment to five years post-construction must be sufficient to ensure adequate performance, and may need to be contractually defined to protect the Owner's investment.  LEED's requirements are useful guidelines for sustainable design and construction whether certification is pursued or not.  For a thoughtful discussion of economic pluses and minuses of using the LEED system, in the context of university campus development, read Peter W. Bardaglio's "To LEED or not to LEED." 

Eventually we anticipate a broader, consumer-driven ratings approach that draws upon proven life-cycle data from constructed green buildings. A recent article on explores this possibility, and the growing demand for transparency of information in green building. Energy Star's work with home performance and new homes moves the residential sector in this direction of proven results, while its Building and Manufacturing Plants program addresses the commercial sector. However, Energy Star's ratings still reflect a thin slice of ecological impact with its energy-centric ratings system.  Life-cycle Assessment (LCA) is already starting to inform LEED's next generation, and will continue to shift the industry, and consumers, to consider our built and consumable environment in regenerative (C2C or Cradle to Cradle) terms by addressing impact before and after the use stage. 

Report downloads:
Green Building Market & Impact Report 2009
USGBC Green Jobs Study 2009

See our 2009 Green Building Reports article for some highlights from the above reports.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

America Recycles Day - November 15

America Recycles Day was celebrated this weekend.  Even if you missed your local events, take a moment to refresh your recycling know-how with ARD's tips and more: 
* Reusable is a better alternative to plastic.  Bring your own, or buy an affordable option in your grocery line.

Mark your calendar for November 15 of next year!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009 Green Building Reports

Report downloads:
Green Building Market & Impact Report 2009 (GBMIR)
USGBC Green Jobs Study 2009 (GJS)

Some highlights:

By 2050 LEED projects should equate 1/2 of a carbon wedge. (GBMIR)

Green Construction projected to contribute $554 Billion, including $396 billion in wages, to U.S. GDP between 2009 and 2013. (GJS)

•  “Our goal is for the phrase ‘green building’ to become obsolete, by making all building and retrofits green – and transforming every job in our industry into a green job,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of USGBC. (GJS)

• Despite economic flattening, LEED registered and certified floor area in 2009 is estimated to grow by over 40% compared to last year’s totals, for a cumulative total of over 7 billion square feet worldwide since the standard was launched in 2000. (GBMIR)

• Total water savings from LEED through 2009 is estimated at 15 billion gallons, comprising 0.5% of annual non-residential water use. By 2030, LEED results in nearly 1.3 trillion gallons of saved water, equivalent to 30% of current annual non-residential water use. (GBMIR)

• Annual carbon dioxide savings from LEED buildings is approximately 2.9 million tons from energy efficiency and renewables, a figure that is expected to grow to 130 million tons per year by 2020 and almost 320 million tons annually by 2030. (GBMIR)

• In the coming 3-year cycle Existing Building standard certifications, LEED EB/EBOM, are expected to exceed the New Construction certifications. (GBMIR)

• Based on average materials costs, green building materials represented approximately $7 billion in cumulative spending through 2009, which is expected to reach a cumulative $230 billion by 2030. (GBMIR)

• Embodied energy in buildings that are renovated instead of demolished is expected to save as much energy in 2030 as we import this year from Saudi Arabia. (GBMIR)

• An average of over 60% of construction and demolition waste was diverted from LEED projects, totaling 25 million tons to date. (GBMIR)

• The residential sector in the U.S. represents the largest share of the environmental burden of buildings and in response LEED has now certified nearly 3,000 units, with several thousand more awaiting certification. LEED for Homes project activity did not reflect the market as a whole and still remains strong. (GBMIR)

• An average of at least 580,000 employees are currently enjoying improved indoor environments in LEED buildings at present, and the "green building workforce" is expected to approach 29 million by 2020 and almost 64 million by 2030. The productivity benefits from LEED buildings to date range from $230 to $450 million. (GBMIR)

Watson's Green Building Market & Impact Report 2009 also points out the impact of green building outside the United States, and projects a 30% increase in non-U.S. LEED registration this year, mostly due to green building booms in China, India, and the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Preview "Green Building Market & Impact Report"

FREE webinar Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 12:30pm EST

This presentation promises to show how green building choices both provide a very high return on investment and a significant decrease in our environmental impact.

During this 60 minute webinar a sneak-preview of the Green Building Market & Impact Report 2009 will be presented by the report’s author Robert Watson, Editor and industry leader. This report is an integrated assessment of the land, water, energy, material and indoor environmental impacts of the LEED for New Construction (LEED NC), Core & Shell (LEED CS) and Existing Building (LEED EB) standards.

JohnsonDiversey President & CEO Ed Lonergan will also highlight the importance of sustainability in today’s business environment, offering insights and examples of the company’s work toward improving the sustainability of its customers’ facilities as well as its own. This presentation will detail JohnsonDiversey’s own focus on LEED certification for many of its facilities worldwide.

Learn More.
Sign Up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chamber Launches Green Roots

Green Roots Levels

We're excited to to see that the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has a new initiative to support greening businesses.

Here's the information from their website:
Date: Thursday, October 1, 2009
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Location: EMBARQ® Business and Conference Center
at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce

Take advantage of a brand new benefit at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce! The Chamber Green Roots program is a one stop resource for increasing the sustainability of your business. All of the information, tools and resources you need to begin and continue making green efforts at your company will be provided. Walk through the member tables at this mini green expo and get first hand, face-to-face, practical advice on how you can achieve a green business designation, increased exposure and recognition in the Chamber's online membership directory through participation in Green Roots.

Email Lauren Boitel,
or call 702.586.3893 for more information

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Live Green with ARRA Tax Breaks

Live greener and enhance your cash flow.
The recent passage of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) opens the door to tax savings for energy efficient home improvements, commercial renewable energy development, and many other green choices.

For homeowners, the new law increases the credit rate to 30 percent of the cost of all qualifying improvements and raises the maximum credit limit to $1,500 for improvements placed in service in 2009 and 2010. Examples of improvements include insulation; heating or cooling systems; roofs (metal and asphalt); and energy efficient exterior windows, doors or skylights.

Qualifying standards for energy efficiency are increasing, so stay tuned. In the meantime, homeowners may continue to rely on Energy Star labels for exterior openings in determining whether product purchased before June 1, 2009 qualifies for the credit.

Renewable energy improvements also are funded with the residential energy efficiency property credit as the previously imposed maximum amounts are removed. This allows for a credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of qualified improvement. Residential installations of solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and small wind turbines all qualify.

Businesses and new developments can benefit substantially with tax credits and grants for renewable energy investments. ARRA also supports greener transportation options with income exclusions for employer-provided benefits for transit and parking, and tax credits for purchase of or conversion to plug-in electric vehicles.

Click on the links above for details on the IRS website.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting Cash Back for Greening Your Home

There are several ways to make energy efficient improvements to your home, while improving your bank balance.  A few quick links follow:

Federal tax credits
NV Energy cash rebates
NV Energy RenewableGenerations
Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) rebates
Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM)

EEMs are offered by federally insured mortgage programs (Federal Housing Authority and Veterans Administration) and the conventional secondary mortgage market (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

More local information is available through Nevada Energy Star Partners.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Packaging gets a Green-Lift

In recent months, we've noticed a trend in retail packaging design: less is more! No longer limited to eco-boutiques, it's thrilling to see mainstream manufacturers and big box retailers adopting eco-friendly packaging practices.

The goal: Less in the Landfill.

What we're seeing out on the shelves:
  • Elimination of plastic and shrink-wrap
  • Smaller product labeling (recyclable & recycled, of course)
  • Product labeling attached with biodegradable hemp or jute string (instead of plastic loops)
  • Reusable packaging (paperboard and tins - for refills and repurposing)
  • Compostable bags and clam-shells
  • Flat packs
Less on-shelf packaging means effort must be invested on the back-end with protective shipping design. However, this need can be met with recycled and biodegradable products such as Geami Protective Packaging System and compostable cornstarch peanuts*. Get in-depth info about reducing secondary packaging, and more, from the pros on Sustainable is Good.

As a consumer, your purchases are a positive vote for these trends. As a design client, you can be assured that adopting these approaches will save short-term production expense, and pay long-term dividends with the new eco-savvy consumer.

*eco peanut's design background

Monday, June 15, 2009

Green Drinks Las Vegas Celebrates 2 Years

Green Drinks Las Vegas celebrated its 2-year anniversary last Thursday at the Springs Preserve.
It was a great turnout with more than 70 attendees, the new logo unveiling, and a preview of Green Living Nevada magazine.

The coming year promises to be an exciting one with Green Drinks' vision to be the preferred hub for individuals and businesses to connect over a common green interest.

Check out Green Drinks for yourself each 2nd Thursday of the month, 6:00-7:30 pm at the Springs Cafe by Wolfgang Puck at the Springs Preserve. Or join the Facebook group.

Logo design courtesy of Anne Johnson AIA.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Building Permits Impact Home Sales

As design professionals, building permits are a standard requirement for our projects.

However, we sometimes have clients that question the utility and value of the process.  Getting a permit is worthwhile.  Consider the following reasons:
  • A licensed and bonded contractor will get a permit if required by the work.
  • Using a licensed and bonded contractor protects you through the Nevada State Contractors Board.
  • A permit review helps to ensure that the construction meets current building codes*.
  • Real estate transactions discover un-permitted work, resulting in requirements for retroactive permits prior to appraisal and sale.  Pay now or pay later.

* Your design professional is also responsible to design to current building codes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Since Earth Day lands in the middle of the week this year, here are some tips for the weekend. Enjoy celebrating and greening our world!
Local Events,
Saturday April 25:
Global Events
Find Recycling Centers

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Marble Manor Dedication

It's finally here! Marble Manor's playground and Community Center enhancements will be dedicated this next Friday, April 10 at 3 p.m.

Location: 912 Gerson, Las Vegas, NV 89106

Our friends and colleagues are welcome guests. Please join us for some light refreshments, and to hear some inspiring words from Councilman Barlow and members of the community/artist team.

This multi-agency project, completed over almost two years, enhances the Marble Manor Community Center and playground, and will serve 235 households and over 600 children.

If you'd like to contribute, please consider donations of children's books, sport equipment, or funds for the Housing Authority's 501(c)3 Rose Foundation. Call us for more information (702) 553-3323.

We'll be posting photos of the renovated interiors soon, including the Bechtel SAIC Technology Center!
See more about this project... (scroll down after clicking link)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Design Consultation - Architecture

If you're looking for some quick answers, a Design Consultation may be the best solution.

These consultations are excellent for business owners, commercial property owners, new homeowners, and existing homeowners who want a roadmap before proceeding with upgrades.

We spend 1-2 hours at your location, and discuss how to maximize:
- Function
- Aesthetics
- Energy Efficiency

Examples of consultations include plan or elevation layout sketches, ideas for graphic or color enhancement, material or color selections, general code information, and overall approach to energy efficiency.

If you want a more in-depth approach, see our Feasibility Study option.

Learn more about the other Professional Services we offer.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Harness This: Solar Power!

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
-Thomas Edison to friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, 1931

Image of solar flare from NASA.
Need I say anything about clean coal?
Read an article with more about Edison's future-thinking...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Today I reflect on hope. Will our new President have the ability to guide us to a equitable, stable and sustainable future? Will we be able to take ourselves into that future? My hope is we can, together. Let's set the bar high: stabilized global economies, opportunity to get a good education, adequate healthcare for those in need, stewardship of the environment, and renewable energy and energy-generating buildings as the new standard. Perhaps we can value and grow from the interdependence that we, and our world environment, share. Here's to hope. Here's to action.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Housing Authority Presentation

It was an honor to receive this acknowledgment from the Housing Authority. What a great team! From artists, to landscapers, the City of Las Vegas Arts Commission, Metro and the Housing Authority. Proud to be a part of it.

A lovely sentiment on the plaque:
"Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it - William Arthur Ward"