Search results for "sustainability"

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Eavesdrop> What Climate Change? Florida government allegedly bans the words “climate change” and “sustainability”
  Florida officials have reportedly banned the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from using “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sustainability” in all official correspondence. According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, this “unwritten policy” went into effect in 2011, after Republican Governor Rick Scott took office and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as DEP director. In response to this story, a spokesperson for the department would only say that it “does not have a policy on this.” Rising sea levels are expected to affect 30 percent of Florida’s beaches over the next 85 years. Eavesdrop is no environmental scientist, but if that projection proves true, not mentioning its cause will not make it go away.
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Shanghai Talks> Christopher Drew, director of sustainability for Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill
Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Christopher Drew, director of sustainability for Chicago's Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. In Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower, we talked about responsive design and environmental technology—everything from greenery and air quality to geothermal energy and the possibilities of net-zero skyscrapers. “It's not going to suddenly happen, it's going to happen incrementally,” he said of net-zero tall buildings. “I absolutely believe it's possible.” His comments on disaster and climate resilience were also revealing. In addition to buildings being resilient, Drew said communities need to be able to react to changing weather patterns—perhaps by relocating or changing local land-use and zoning patterns. Ultimately the sustainability director for the firm behind Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower and 215 West 57th Street in New York City was hopeful. “We do have a whole opportunity to build our way out of this, but we can't do it just on our own,” he said. “It has to be through collaboration with the supply chain … we also have to work with the legislators.” Watch more videos on CTBUH's website, and on YouTube. You can subscribe to the monthly video series here.
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Los Angeles’ sustainability chief talks going green in SoCal
Thanks in no small part to the local AEC industry, Los Angeles is a leader in sustainability in several areas, notably green building. But there is still room for improvement, said Matt Petersen, former president and CEO of Global Green USA. Petersen would know: he's the city's first Chief Sustainability Officer, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as part of a broader administrative overhaul. "The mandate the mayor gave me was to build on the great things Los Angeles is already doing, and to put forward a vision for sustainability in the city," explained Petersen. Petersen, who will represent the city at Facades+ LA in early February, has spent the last year preparing Los Angeles' first ever comprehensive sustainability plan. "We're headed toward the finish line as we speak," said Petersen, who expects to deliver the plan to the mayor's office within the next several weeks. "It's been an extensive process of engagement both internally and externally." Water conservation is one of Petersen's top concerns, especially in light of the ongoing drought. In an executive directive released last year, Mayor Garcetti set the ambitious goal of reducing water usage by 20 percent. "The biggest source of water use is outdoor landscaping," noted Petersen. "How do we get Angelenos to replace ornamental lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping?" Architects and landscape architects can play a critical role in encouraging the shift, he said. "Landscape architects have a rich history [of working with drought-tolerant landscaping] in Los Angeles—they've done a lot already." As for non-residential projects, said Petersen, "we're really thinking about how to reuse water or divert it before it goes into a storm drain. How do we start to break from the tradition of moving water as quickly as possible from the building site?" Energy efficiency is another area in which Petersen's priorities overlap with AEC industry goals. "Los Angeles was a little behind for about a decade, because the utility was historically not investing in energy efficiency," admitted Petersen. His office has set a goal that the utility meets 15 percent of its needs through efficiency measures—the highest such standard in the country. On the positive side, Los Angeles already boasts both more Energy Star buildings and more installed solar than any other city. "Can we build on our leadership and expand the number of LEED-certified buildings, not just to have plaques on the wall, but to encourage an integrated design process?" asked Petersen. "An integrated design process, when done right, can deliver so many benefits. We hope that the design and construction community helps us [get there]." To hear more from Petersen, join the movers and shakers of high performance building envelope design and construction at Facades+ LA. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
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Sustainability Gets A Healthy Check-Up
The new headquarters for CBRE Group is a pilot project of the new WELL Building Standards, which promote sustainability and healthy building practices.
Courtesy Delos

Hospital “healing gardens” that double as storm water management systems. Office buildings that are both energy efficient and healthy places to spend time. An “organic tower” built with bricks made from chopped up corn stalks and mushroom byproducts. Edward Gunts looks into the latest developments in “Human Sustainability.”

Two of the most popular concepts in the design world today are “sustainability” and “wellness.” Increasingly, architects and interior designers are combining the two ideas—to get an edge on the competition and create better buildings for their clients. One proponent has dubbed the movement “Human Sustainability.”

Is this new push to integrate wellness into design the next major iteration of sustainability? Does it signal a return to a more low-tech, humanistic approach to green design? Or is it a kind of feel-good green washing, resulting in projects that sound novel but actually have little positive impact on users and the environment?

The answers may come from a series of recent initiatives by organizations seeking to marry the best practices of designing for environmental sustainability and healthy buildings. Around the country, architects, interior designers, developers, builders, and property owners are forming alliances with medical professionals, chemists, researchers, and educators to come up with ways to make buildings both greener and healthier for their clients and occupants. In this new effort, design emphasis is shifting from the exteriors of buildings to the interiors, where people spend most of their time.

“This is the first time major corporations and institutions from multiple sectors have come together to publicly commit to improving human health through green building,” said Dan Geiger, former executive director of the Northern California chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which launched one of the initiatives. This growing movement to make sure that health and wellness are seen as vital components of sustainability and green design, he added, is “a tremendous stimulus for the movement for healthy communities for all.”

 
 

“It’s an unmet need” in planning the built environment, said Fernando Arias, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), a Washington-based organization behind one of the initiatives. While sustainability experts have long focused on designs of building exteriors and what works best for the environment, he said, this new breed of designers is focusing on building interiors and what works best for the occupants.

“By taking this human centered approach to design, we’re helping people understand how buildings affect their health,” said Arias. “This will be the Rosetta Stone for a variety of ratings systems and best practices.”

In many cases, collaborators say, the marriage of wellness and sustainability in design means getting health care professionals and scientists to work more closely with building industry professionals to achieve common goals.

“There is a growing recognition in medicine that the built environment has significant health impacts,” said Elizabeth Baca, a West Coast physician who is working with the USGBC to make buildings greener and healthier. “Physicians want to understand the underlying causes of their patients’ conditions. That’s why we ask, ‘Where do you work, live, and play?’ It is imperative that the medical profession and the building industries learn from one another about the health impacts of the built environment.”

One of the first efforts to combine environmental sustainability and wellness design was the Building Health Initiative, launched last year by the Northern California chapter of the USGBC.

The initiative is a two-year program in which leaders from different industries will make pledges in areas where they are positioned to bring about change for a healthier built environment. The pledges include demanding “transparency” in information about building materials, conducting research, promoting health and wellness, providing consultation and education, building toolkits and resources. The initiative has spurred cross-sector working groups focused on revolutionizing procurement strategies and fostering diversity and access to healthy buildings in traditionally underserved communities.

 
David Benjamin’s Hy-Fi pavilion is made of a new biodegradable building material made from agricultural waste.
Courtesy MoMA PS1
 

As part of its initiative, the chapter is planning a Building Health Forum on the Mission Bay campus of the University of California San Francisco in December. It is one of a series of educational events spotlighting aspects of healthy building and communities. The goals, organizers say, are to elevate green building as a public health benefit, accelerate the development of clear standards in building materials, and promote the sharing of best practices and collaboration by experts from different fields.

In partnership with 11 other organizations, the ASID in August announced a commitment to develop “Protocols for Health and Wellness in Design.” The commitment, made as part of the Clinton Global Initiative to stimulate the economy and solve pressing problems around the world, involves training 40,000 interior designers and architects throughout the U.S. to use the ASID protocols, create spaces that promote the occupants’ health, and specify healthier products and building materials, as well as following sustainable design principles. The ASID expects to begin testing the protocols by late 2015.

Arias said he believes one outcome of the project may be the creation of a new category of design professional: Individuals who are trained to evaluate designs for how well they produce healthy buildings and spaces. He envisions that this new breed of design professional may come to be trained in the same way that architects now obtain training to design buildings that are environmentally sustainable as certified by the USGBC’s LEED program.

Arias said the focus on human health concerns in design goes back to Vitruvius, adding that part of the problem in the past is not that designers have not been able to obtain information, but that they have not had many good ways to select the best products and practices.

A new LYFE Kitchen restaurant in Tarzana, California is another WELL pilot project.

Courtesy LYFE Kitchen
 

A third new initiative, called the Building Product Ecosystems Project, is an effort to “optimize the health and transparency of construction product ecosystems through material research and innovation, process improvements, policy/code evolution, and accessible education.”

The project, whose advisors include a group called the Healthy Building Network, was launched this year by one of the largest developers in New York City, the Durst Organization, which joined forces with Parsons The New School for Design and the City University of New York.

Durst is the company behind 4 Times Square and the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. The project has launched a public lecture series at Parsons, organized a series of working groups in which real estate owners and operators discuss healthy product innovation strategies, and is developing a healthy materials curriculum.

Douglas Durst, one of the Durst Organization’s principals, said during the inaugural lecture in September that his company approached the educators because its principals want to create buildings that are both energy efficient and healthy places where people want to work, but they were having difficulty sorting out information about the appropriate materials to use and the best practices to follow.

Over the years, “what we have found is that the experience of being inside a building is just as important as what goes into it and how it operates,” said Durst. “What are the materials made of? What are their true health impacts?” As developers, “we have a right to know this,” he added. “What is the point of building an energy efficient building if no one wants to work in it?”

 
An OLIN-designed healing garden at Johns Hopkins.
Courtesy Johns Hopkins

Another New York–based developer, Delos, pioneered the concept of Wellness Real Estate and has used the term “human sustainability” to describe projects at the intersection of human health and environmental sustainability. It is behind a fourth effort, a certification system developed by the International WELL Building Institute. The Institute is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to “improve human health and well being through the built environment,” according to its website. It administers the WELL Building Standard, a system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that affect human health. Now in the pilot stage, the WELL Building Standard is designed to address areas such as air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind, in concert with green building evaluation programs such as LEED.

Pilot projects that have been WELL certified include the CBRE Group’s global headquarters in Los Angeles, LYFE Kitchen restaurants in Tarzana, California, and Chicago, Illinois, and the proposed William Jefferson Clinton Children’s Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Related efforts are taking root all over the country. In Wilmington, Massachusetts, the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry has gained widespread attention for its pioneering efforts to help companies create products made with chemicals that are non toxic and environmentally benign.

John Warner, founder of the institute and co-author of the book Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, said during a panel discussion with the Building Product Ecosystems Project that building interiors are filled with products made from chemicals that have proven to be unhealthy to humans, including formaldehyde, mercury, lead-based paint, and asbestos. Warner said these and other products were allowed to come on the market because the chemical industry is not regulated the way many others are. He suggests that universities could play a useful role by training people to test chemicals for human safety before they are used in products meant for interior building applications.

 

In New York, Gavin McIntyre founded a company called Ecovative, which creates healthy, rapidly renewable, compostable materials that can be used in building products and projects. Ecovative has patented a process by which biodegradable building blocks can be made with Mycelium, a byproduct of mushrooms. Applications range from lampshades to plant holders to a Portobello-shaped surfboard. It is also envisioned as a material that could replace Styrofoam.

One designer that used the Mycelium bricks for building is The Living, a New York studio headed by David Benjamin. One of its first completed projects was Hy Fi, a four-story, temporary, open air pavilion that was erected this summer in the courtyard of the MoMA PS I campus in Long Island City, Queens, to provide shade for people coming to hear summer concerts.

In Baltimore, as part of a $1 billion expansion designed by Perkins + Will, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions created healing gardens that double as stormwater retention zones. One of them, called Sara’s Garden, was named after a former patient named Sara Wilhide, who was treated at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for a congenital heart condition and died in 1989 at the age of 3. The garden was funded by her parents, Steve and Cheryl Wilhide, and inspired by her favorite book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Designed by OLIN, Sara’s Garden features volcanoes that children can climb on, an interactive sculpture that lights up like the stars, and a baobab tree.

Besides absorbing rainwater, administrators say gardens are a good way to harness the “healing power of nature” in a health care setting. Natural settings, they say, aid in the healing process by providing “a counterbalance to the stresses faced by patients and their families.”

Proponents of initiatives that combine wellness and sustainability say it makes good sense for designers to seek ways to make buildings healthier while they strive to make them greener. They say the movement has the potential to transform the way designers think about buildings and the way people interact with them, in the same way that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring sparked a movement to protect the outdoors.

“It’s helping people thrive in the built environment because their health outcomes are maximized,” said Arias. “That’s what sets this method of thinking apart from what has come before.”

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November 11> Sustainability, Innovation, and More at Facades+ AM Seattle
As AEC professionals who have practiced in different cities know, each place has its own unique architectural culture. That is one of the lessons Mic Patterson, VP of Strategic Development at Enclos, has learned during his years of involvement with the Facades+ conference series. “Instead of holding one annual conference, we’ve been doing three a year in different cities,” said Patterson. “My observation is that each of those has been different.” The newest event in the Facades+ stable, Facades+ AM, was inspired in part by a desire to bring the conversation about high performance facade design to more locales. The inaugural Facades+ AM four-hour program takes place next week in Seattle. “Everywhere makes sense to talk about building envelopes,” said Kerry Hegedus, architect at NBBJ and seminar chair of Facades+ AM Seattle. At the same time, he added, “in Seattle, we have a great architectural community that can be very experimental and, most importantly, aspirational. We need a forum like this to share these thoughts and developments.” A prime example of the seaport city’s aspirational architecture is the Bullitt Center, the subject of one of three panels at Facades+AM Seattle. Designed by Miller Hull and often referred to as “the greenest office building in the world,” the Bullitt Center embodies a no-holds-barred approach to sustainable design. “The Bullitt Foundation is that missing link the profession needs to evolve to a new, higher density, sustainable future,” said Hegedus. “We will find, I suspect, that this is not just a skin, but an integral part of the strategy of how this living building became a success. We need to build on this project’s great success.” But while some of the Facades+ AM program next week will be specific to Seattle, much of the discussion will hold value for designers and builders working in different contexts. More importantly, the lack of a script makes way for spontaneous, collaborative problem-solving. Speaking of another panel, on innovations in facade design and construction, Hegedus observed: “The beauty of this format, with this wildcard ‘Facade Futures,’ is that we don’t know what is going to come out of this.” To learn more about Facades+ AM or to register, visit the event website.
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Sustainability Expert Juan Betancur Talks Integrated Facades
In a high-performance building, argues Juan Betancur, director at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the envelope must never be an afterthought. Rather, it should be a material expression of the overall environmental strategy. “The key to what we’re doing with energy and sustainability is: how do the systems become the facades themselves?” he said. “If we make it part of the building, it’s an integrated systems solution.” Betancur will outline his firm’s approach to sustainable facade design in a dialog workshop at next week’s facades+ Chicago conference. “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive,” led by Betancur with panelists Anthony Viola (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture) and Craig Burton (PositivEnergy Practice), will focus on two very different examples of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s recent work: the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) office high-rise in Seoul, South Korea (2013), and the 174 hectare campus for EXPO-2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan (2017). In the workshop, Betancur will walk participants through the design process, beginning with site analysis. “The first thing we do is understand the weather data, and get an understanding of what we can do on that particular site,” he explained. “We have our basic toolkit of ideas and systems that can be used both in facades and in buildings overall. Then we begin to take a specific building and see how it works. We see how the building has to be manipulated to take advantage of these conditions.” Technology plays a critical role in enacting the designers’ sustainability strategy. “We work back and forth with the manufacturers,” said Betancur, exploring, for instance, the application of photovoltaics to a spherical structure. “We look for new technologies, and ask how we can alter them to fit what we’re trying to do, and balance that with economic conditions.” In some cases, as at the Wuhan Greenland Center (2016) the scale tips toward passive rather than active systems. “We’re balancing first costs and life-cycle costs,” said Betancur. In addition to providing a more elegant design solution, integrated facades are easier for clients to digest, said Betancur. In some cases, as in Seoul, local officials require energy offsets. FKI’s owners signed on to an energy-generating design, he explained, “not because they wanted to, but because the government forced them to.” Other clients prefer solutions that privilege first-cost over life-cycle savings. “The way we approach the basic principle of sustainability is to try not to talk about it as a separate item,” said Betancur. “If we start talking about it as an additive process” clients are likely to balk, he said. Instead, “we say: ‘Here’s an entire building.’ They never think of it as a separate thing, if we can make it work financially.” To sign up for a dialog workshop or to learn more about facades+ Chicago, visit the conference website.

Video> Facade design experts discuss sustainability, energy efficiency
Today's facade designers cannot afford to ignore the question of sustainability, and in particular energy efficiency. James O'Callaghan (Eckersley O'Callaghan), William Logan (Israel Berger & Associates), and Will Laufs (LaufsED) sat down with our partners at Enclos during April's facades+ NYC conference to talk about the push and pull between aesthetics and environmental performance in building envelopes. Top AEC professionals will continue the conversation at facades+ Chicago on July 24–25. For more information or to register, visit the conference website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.
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Andropogon’s Dual Design for Sustainability, Recreation in Philly
The Philadelphia Water Department wanted a 3 million gallon sewer overflow tank. Neighbors wanted maintenance of current community recreational space. Now, landscape architecture firm Andropogon has split the difference for Philadelphia residents concerned with the fate of Lower Venice Island. Using high performance landscape design, the firm has envisioned the 5-acre island between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal as a space for both water maintenance and for community promenade and play. In collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department and the Manayunk Development Corporation, designs for the stretch of Philadelphia waterfront are “fluid” in their “integration of both uses of the area,” describes the city’s Grid Magazine. Andropogon renders the land still with an EPA-mandated sewer overflow basin, but combines active and passive landscape design to provide additional function as a public green space. This intelligent planning sees the landscape with its water-locked environment in mind. Solutions for stormwater retention and wastewater overflow are incorporated into the design. Gardens and children’s water features run along a central, lighted pedestrian walkway, which also manages the flow of rainwater. A 250-seat performing arts center by Buell Kratzer Powell is raised 7 feet above the island’s floodway and plans for riverbank restoration further protect the area as a space for community recreation. Transforming a water development project to enhance a public play area, Andropogon’s sustainable landscape design serves both sides of the Venice Island debate.
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Resiliency & Sustainability Intertwined
A planned tidal barrier would help create a more resilient Coney Island.
Courtesy NYC Mayor's Office

A year ago, Super Storm Sandy made the abstract notion of rising sea levels and climate change tangible to millions in the mid-Atlantic and northeast regions. For a city as complex as New York, the prospect of frequent inundation is both mind boggling and threatening. New Yorkers have responded with a flurry of investigations and proposals of what a more resilient city would look like and how it could be built. The city’s design community—particularly its architects and landscape architects—has been well primed to consider these issues after working under PlaNYC and other Bloomberg sustainability efforts.

The design community is still wrestling with what resiliency means at the scale of the city and of the individual building, and how resiliency relates to sustainability. While these issues can sometimes seem unrelated—for example, raising the mechanicals of a building to the second floor has no bearing upon their efficiency or on the carbon count of that building—I would argue that any serious conversation about resiliency is inextricably linked to sustainability, especially as it relates to energy efficiency.

While the menace of climate change becomes more immediate by the day, the news is not actually all bad. The United States, long the world’s largest contributor of greenhouse gases, has actually begun to turn a corner. You may not have heard—amid all the gloom and doom—that in recent years our carbon emissions have dropped significantly. Last year emissions dropped to a twenty-year low, dipping to levels last seen in 1992, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a division of the Department of Energy.

Many factors have contributed to this drop, including important regulatory changes around gas mileage and power plant emissions (which have prompted many utilities to switch from coal to natural gas and increase renewables). But average Americans are also changing their habits by driving fewer miles (and in the case of the young, often not even bothering to get a drivers license), buying smaller cars and more efficient appliances, choosing smaller homes in more walkable neighborhoods, and taking transit in far greater numbers. Individuals are retrofitting their homes and institutions are building new green buildings. Taken together, these efforts are beginning to have a meaningful impact on America’s contribution to climate change. They also demonstrate how much more could be done with better-focused and smarter regulations of emissions and incentives for energy efficiency.

Which brings us back to the conversation about prevention versus adaptation, or sustainability versus resiliency. Given the shifting shorelines and extreme weather patterns that will come with unmitigated climate change, a narrow conception of resiliency is a dangerous proposition. There are not enough floodgates or revised FEMA maps or restored coastal wetlands in the world to protect us unless we continue to reduce our carbon emissions at even greater rates. Just as when we build new communities, we must take coastal conditions into account and not repeat the mistakes of the past, a truly resilient building must necessarily be an energy efficient one. In our existing communities we must adapt as best we can by layering on new green and grey infrastructure, but also by continuing to reduce the emissions associated with the buildings we design, operate, and inhabit.

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Coming Soon to South Los Angeles: Green Alleys Will Promote Walking, Sustainability
Los Angeles’s alleys have a bad reputation. They’re perceived, rightly or wrongly, as dirty, dangerous places; havens for illicit activity. All that might change soon, thanks to a demonstration project planned for South Los Angeles' South Park neighborhood. Called the Avalon Green Alley Network Demonstration, the project aims to transform at least eight segments of alleyway into an inviting pedestrian thoroughfare. The Avalon project is an initiative of Parks for People—Los Angeles, a Trust for Public Land program that has been working toward a citywide green alleys program for four years, since the USC Center for Sustainable Cities released a report on Los Angeles’s alleys' potential as environmental and social resources. The report looked at green alleys programs in other large cities, including Chicago and Seattle, and concluded that LA’s 900 linear miles of alleys might be put to use solving another of the city’s major problems:  a shortage of public space. What does it mean to “green” an alley?  As Laura Ballock and Tori Kjer, both of Parks for People, explained, it’s more than just improving stormwater drainage or providing cafe seating. In South Park, alleys targeted for greening will receive one of two treatments. First-tier alleys will see asphalt pavement replaced with absorptive materials, to reduce stormwater runoff. They’ll also be planted with vegetation and fruit trees and accented with public art. The remaining alleys will be cleaned up and beautified with vines and artwork. One section of alley in the Avalon area will be transformed into a pedestrian mall, with vehicular access prohibited. As important as these physical changes to LA’s alleys may be, they won’t make a real difference unless the city’s residents embrace them.  To that end, Parks for People has already done extensive outreach in South Park.  According to Kjer, residents who hadn’t previously met their neighbors are working together, attending meetings and forming “green teams” to clean their alleys.  On the design side, the demonstration project will include pedestrian-scale elements and other graphic cues to encourage regular use.  “We want it to become something so that you don’t avoid alleys, but go down alleys because they look cool, and maybe are better than the sidewalk,” Ballock said. Parks for People chose South Los Angeles as the site of their green alley demonstration project because of the “possibility for real impact,” Kjer said.  The area, which has been neglected in previous rounds of infrastructure improvements, is notoriously park-poor.  In addition, its proximity to the Los Angeles River means that any reduction in stormwater runoff will aid the local ecology.  “We could’ve chosen alleys in a more affluent part of the city, where there would be less barriers to the project.  But for the Trust for Public Land, the mission is land for the people, Kjer said.  We haven’t even put a shovel in the ground yet, but the work already paying off.  It’s definitely worthwhile.”
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Student Winners Design for Sustainability and Strength in ACSA Steel Competition
Proving the beauty and sustainable capability of steel construction, the winning projects of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) 2012-2013 Steel Design Student Competition have been announced. The competition, launched last spring, called for comprehensive and environmentally thoughtful steel designs in two categories. The first, Building to Bridge, sought a plan for a long-span pedestrian bridge whose location would be enriched by the connection it created. And the second, Open, allowed for full flexibility in student design ideas of steel construction. The ACSA chose winners whose projects represented “creative and innovative use of structural steel in the design solution, successful response of the design to its surrounding context, and successful response to basic architectural concepts.” Building to Bridge Category, First Place: Stream_Line Stream_Line by Christopher Garrow, Heather Martin, and Kaitlin Shenk of Philadelphia University designs a pedestrian walkway connecting the north and south ends of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Building off existing abandoned Reading Viaduct railroad tracks, Stream_Line provides an exterior green pathway and an interior pathway for protection from the elements, an exhibition space, a café, and a gift shop. Similar to the High Line in New York City, the bridge is meant for congregation. Situated over Interstate 676, its transparent façade lights up at night “to provide an after hour presence.” The overall project uses sensible materials, like recyclable wood, in addition to its steel construction and plans the bridge's multiple levels for optimized solar shade. Renderings Courtesy ACSA. Open Category, Winner: Injection Trevor Larsen and Ben Pennell of California Polytechnic State University have reimagined a performance arts center in their winning project, Injection. A steel cube sliced horizontally and vertically to create two voids, then stacked and heavily trussed, is a design that aims to insert “randomness, improvisation, and intimacy into the architecture of musical performance.” The entire building contains three theater spaces, one partially sunken below ground and two “floating” within the steel truss structure. The façade on each side of the center is of a different opacity, corresponding to its solar exposure. The vertical plane of the cube that receives the most light is constructed of photovoltaic cells and assorted ventilation spaces. Renderings Courtesy ACSA. Open Category, Winner: Inverted Landscapes Responsibility for the environmental health of the Tijuana River Watershed is shared the two countries that border it: the United States and Mexico. Inverted Landscape, created by Byron Marroquin and Sal Vargas of Woodbury University, designs an international forum space as a physical steel bridge floating over the water itself. Creating large steel landmasses that parallel the landscape in an inverted view, the project provides a Bi-National Auditorium for debate and collaboration on policies regarding the shared body of water. The jury commended Inverted Landscape’s thoughtfulness on the properties of steel; the design could not be constructed in any other material. Renderings Courtesy ACSA.
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Los Angeles Names First-Ever Chief Sustainability Officer
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last week named Global Green CEO Matt Petersen as the city’s first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Peterson, according to the mayor's office, will be tasked with "making the city's departments greener and neighborhoods healthier, and fulfilling Garcetti's campaign promise of creating 20,000 new green jobs." Peterson should also have his hands full, not only getting each city department to cooperate, but on thorny issues like regulation of the city's ports and transit corridors. Global Green, if you're wondering, is a non-profit dedicated to "advocating for smart solutions to global warming including green building for affordable housing, schools, cities and communities that save money, improve health and create green jobs." Since its founding almost 20 years ago it has organized design competitions, testified in congress,  hosted awards, and raised money on behalf of green causes.