I came across the Genuine Stone website
recently, a very nicely done website indeed - one that's owned by the Natural Stone Council, a collaboration between various business and trade associations that wish to promote natural stone for commercial and residential design and construction.
On its website, the council bills natural stone as an earth-friendly alternative to competing materials. But as with most everything when it comes to environmental sustainability, there are pros and cons to using natural stone products.
Let me first say that I absolutely LOVE granite and other natural stone surfaces!
While I marvel at the wonderful variety of options offered by all of the different types of natural stone and am amazed and inspired by the beauty of travertines and limestone, river bed granites, fossilized stone, and other natural stone products, I'm also greatly concerned about the environmental and local impact of granite mining around the world.
Once stone is in place, it's durability and permanent beauty is very evident. Just think of all of the enduring monuments and buildings throughout the world that are made of stone. With regard to permanence, stone is very sustainable. However, while the mining industry has made improvements in recent years, the mining and transportation of stone is generally not very environmentally friendly at all.
Issues include heavy water consumption, what happens to the mining site once the natural resources have been extracted from it, radon and other gaseous byproducts, and the use of heavy equipment for mining, processing and transportation.
One way to minimize the impact upon the environment when using natural stone is to use locally mined products. Not only does doing so minimize the impacts associated with transportation of the materials, but it also helps the local economy.
Another is to purchase products that come from mines where environmentally friendly practices are used. For example, refer to this Green Building Matters blog page
for an interesting and thoughtful discussion regarding the Cold Spring Granite mine in Minnesota and some of things Cold Spring is doing to minimize the impact upon our planet.
Have you heard about the 2030 Challenge? It was conceived by architect Edward Mazria, who launched www.architecture2030.org
, a not-for-profit website to help achieve a dramatic reduction in the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector by altering the way in which commercial buildings and residential structures are planned, designed and constructed.
The 2030 Challenge asks the global architecture and building community to adopt certain energy savings targets over time for new construction, culminating in carbon-neutrality in the year 2030. To achieve this goal, the 2030 Challenge calls for the following goals / targets:
- All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 50% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
- At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 50% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
- The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to 60% in 2010, 70% in 2015, 80% in 2020, 90% in 2025, and 100% in 2030.
These aggressive targets can be achieved through a combination of sustainable design approaches, renewable on-site power generation and the purchase of renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits (20% maximum).
"The road to energy independence, economic recovery and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions runs through the Building Sector." -Edward Mazria
I recently read an online article
about lighting that I found quite illuminating (pun intended).
With the current focus on phasing out incandescent lighting, on increased use of compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), and on new technologies like LED’s (light emitting diodes), the lighting field is changing at a very rapid pace, and it’s important for designers and consumers to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated the phasing out of incandescent lighting beginning in January, 2012. This chart
illustrates phase-out dates and compares replacement options such as CFLs, halogen bulbs and LED’s.
With the shift from incandescent lighting to CFLs, questions about the mercury in CFLs abound. Here is a comprehensive look at compact fluorescents and mercury. Some of these facts
may surprise you - they certainly surprised me!
Wishful thinking, but let’s hope someone comes up with a mercury-free, toxin-free every day household bulb that provides great lighting!
In celebration of National Landscape Architecture Month, the April issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine
has been posted online for free downloading and viewing, compliments of Kornegay Design. Here's a link to the magazine
Check out pages 36 through 44 for an excellent article about a competition to restore a large, previously neglected section of riverfront property in Minneapolis. Each of the four featured competition finalists focused on green concepts and technologies. The finalists are features on this Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition
Happy April--National Landscape Architecture Month!
Check out the Green Thinker Network at www.greenthinkernetwork.com
. Green Thinker Network is an online source of information and a catalog for the green building industry. The website features products and building materials, service providers such as architects and building professionals, LEED information and guidelines, recycling information, articles and blogs, and links to websites promoting green practices and products.
GTN recently announced its "Sustainability 2011" competition, which seeks the best sustainable products. Judging criteria includes post-consumer content, recycled content, third party certifications, LEED Points, life cycle, energy efficiency studies, and renewable energy production and usage.
For more details about "Sustainability 2011", click here
The Green Thinker Network will have a booth at GreenBuild in Chicago from Nov. 17-19.
Autodesk and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) recently announced the People's Choice and Jury selections for the 2010 Student Sustainable Design Challenge.
In recent years, temporary shelters for disaster-stricken and otherwise depressed communities have become a necessary focus area for the architectural profession. Temporary housing and community structures such as makeshift medical facilities have been built by numerous organizations and individuals along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, in tsunami-affected areas of Thailand, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and elsewhere during the past several years.
The Autodesk and AIAS design contest wanted to draw attention to these efforts by challenging design students in North America and other regions to develop sturdy, eco-friendly, single-room schools that could be easily constructed in Port-au-Prince with minimal construction experience and locally and inexpensively available materials.
Ms. Willey's and Mr. Siegel's school structures were selected as the most original and most cleverly designed and described entries by peers and a panel of judges, respectively. Entrants were required to abide by a number of different design criteria and use Autodesk's Revit® Architecture software and Ecotect® Analysis software when creating their design concepts.
On a recent visit to one of my stone and countertop suppliers, I started looking at some wonderful glass products that offer beautiful and environmentally friendly alternatives to stone. I specified Bio Glass for a kitchen and bar area countertop and adjacent family room fireplace surround in a seaside home in the color "Oriental Jade
," which picked up on the aqua color of the nearby ocean.
The unique, translucent qualities of Bio Glass are produced by recycling hollow glass, tableware and factory shards, and the results are reminiscent of sea glass.
The possibilities for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, shower seats, bar tops, and even walls and partitions are very exciting. The really wonderful thing about Bio Glass is that it offers a fresh and new approach for countertops and other surfaces.
Another product that offers recycled glass and great possibilities is Vetrazzo
, from a company named Polycor. With a great website and a story behind each product, the Vetrazzo line offers countertops and surfaces for residential and commercial use.
Vetrazzo uses 100% recycled glass - most of the glass used for Vetrazzo products comes from curbside recycling, and 85% of the finished product is made from the recycled glass (the other 15% being cement, additives and pigments). The product selection ranges from finely grained to "chippy".
My current favorite is "Charisma Blue with Patina," which is made from recycled beer, wine and soda bottles. The color descriptions for each variation are really fun to read, and are powerful reminders of how effective recycling can be.
Another company, Fireclay Tile
, offers products with recycled content. I particularly like their "Debris
" tile, which is fashioned from recycled glass bottles. The Debris series is available in more than 100 fantastic glaze colors and in several sizes, shapes, trims and decorative options. The company is also developing a countertop surface called "Bottlestone" with 80% post-consumer recycled glass content. "Bottlestone" looks like it will offer a fine-grained appearance (rather than chunks of glass) in four unique colors.
Yet another company, Stardust Glass
, offers tile with very high recycled glass content (87-97%), using pre-consumer recycled glass that is collected and harvested within 250-500 miles of the company's manufacturing facility that's located in Portland, Oregon.
With a wide variety of fun colors and shapes, Stardust offers some terrific ways to use tile in kitchen and bath design, as well as solutions for fireplace surrounds, floors, tiled walls and more. Commercial applications are highly possible as well, for interesting counter/service areas, funky commercial bathroom designs, and beautiful display areas.
The FSC is a non-profit dedicated to promoting responsible management of our world’s forests by offering certification for landowners and companies that purchase or sell timber or forest products to ensure that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way.
Independent, FSC-accredited certification organizations carry out assessments of forestry practices to determine whether FSC standards have been met. These certifiers also verify that companies claiming to sell FSC-certified products have tracked their supply back to FSC-certified sources.
Architects, builders and designers who purchase or specify building materials, furnishings, or paper or other products with an FSC label such as the one shown above can be confident that the products were harvested or manufactured using environmentally sustainable practices.
According to a recent study by The Freedonia Group
entitled Green Building Materials
, U.S. demand for green building materials will exceed $80B by 2013 and FSC-certified lumber and wood panels are expected to be the fastest growing green products, with demand more than tripling between 2008 and 2013.
The Forest Stewardship Council maintains a list of retailers who sell FSC-certified product on this page
where you can search for retailers or download an up-to-date PDF list of all retailers. Notable retailers on the list include Pottery Barn, Pier 1 Imports, Crate & Barrel, L.L. Bean, Williams Sonoma and Restoration Hardware. Buy Green! And remember, look for the FSC Seal!
I recently read a book entitled "Green Building Through Integrated Design
" by Jerry Yudelson. Author of several books about green and sustainable design, Yudelson is a professional engineer who has chaired Greenbuild
for six years running and who has trained 3,500 people in the LEED green building rating system since its inception.
While the author's writing style is a little stilted, I found the content to be quite informative. The book takes a look at where things are today and where they're headed relative to Green Building and the integrated design process.
Yudelson examines the business cases and costs associated with environmentally friendly and sustainable building design, architecture and construction, and then walks the reader through predesign, conceptual and schematic design considerations, as well as the development and documentation phases.
The author not only looks at the design process from an environmental and public health perspective, but also from a cost/benefit perspective. He gives information about critical success factors such as delivering projects on-time and within budget while managing domestic and/or international certification processes, and does so by studying over 30 LEED Platinum projects.
To learn more about the book or to purchase it, click here
Ever read Contract Magazine online? You can read past issues two different ways. It's pretty neat, actually.
I subscribe to their newsletter, so when I click on one of their article links from a past issue, I'm brought to a virtual article viewing page
which gives me a nifty way for me to read the article, almost as if I'm reading the actual magazine. I can flip through the pages, zoom in or out to change the font size and perform searches for specific keywords or keyphrases. There's even a little virtual crease down the middle of the page. The technology is provided by nxtbook.com.
Virtual Magazine Viewer - Flip through Contract Magazine articles online
If you don't have a fairly good-sized LCD display, you're probably not going to enjoy the experience as much as you would otherwise. But you can also read the same article on the Contract Magazine website
. It's just not quite as fun!
There are a couple of important notes if you intend to use the virtual viewing pages:
- The initial load can take 10+ seconds, so be patient!
The particular "Pure Platinum" article featured above is about the Audubon Society's newly-completed LEED-certified New York headquarters building. All materials selected for the project were sustainable at some level. Definitely a worthwhile read.. Enjoy!