On the anniversary of Earth Day we continue to remember the commitment our company shows towards Green technologies and energy conscious design. Stemming from that mission we have entered into a new phase of being good stewards of our finite resources.
Recently, the second largest school district in Virginia, Prince William County Schools, committed to retrofitting existing properties through a combined process of energy education and Performance Contracting with Moseley Architects leading the charge. Through the auditing of energy usage in existing schools we will be identifying energy conservation measures associated with system improvement and equipment replacement. Engineering data will help us quantify lower levels of fuel(electric, natural gas etc) consumption through equipment replacement or operational streamlining. In turn this will reduce annual utility costs. Those savings provide a source of available funds for the improvement costs themselves.
In addition to Performance Contracting, a curriculum will be introduced throughout the county to begin enabling the end users; teachers, students and school personnel to contribute additional reductions in consumption through conservation.
Many clients are looking for unique ways to address ongoing maintainability and sustainability issues. Please contact Brian Gorham if you feel you may have a customer interested in Performance Contracting, maintainability and energy conscious facility operation.
Sometimes when my kids make a mistake, they will say, “I didn’t mean to.” And I say, “I believe you, but did you mean not to?” And that question always gets them thinking a little bit harder about what they can do to avoid making the same mistake again. I think that’s how I “eco”, as well. It’s not good enough to say we didn’t mean to pollute the Earth. What we need to ask is…did we mean not to? And if we “mean not to” then we can be purposeful, thoughtful and determined in each decision we make.
Jill Buck – Founder of the Go Green Initiative
In the Charlotte office, we are trying to be purposeful and deliberate with our own Green Initiatives. We have continued the many practices started upon our early induction of our Green Team, but have placed an additional spin on our efforts in 2009. This year we are focusing on our clients, colleagues, and communities through the opportunities of education.
Some of these opportunities include helping to bring awareness and integration of the Go Green Initiative to our K-12 School Clients. The Go Green Initiative is a comprehensive environmental education program for schools which has been widely adopted in the western portion of United States but has remained undetected by a good portion of our clients in the South East. We are working with the GGI to find out how we, as architects, can best serve our clients and help them to tap into the many resources and programs available through the GGI.
Also, we are working on both an elementary school and middle/high school program helping to introduce sustainable practices to children in their daily lives at school as well as to start them thinking about how their actions now will affect their lives tomorrow. Indian Land Schools, part of the Lancaster County School District in South Carolina, is already on board with the importance of bringing sustainable awareness to their schools through their self started ECO program. Indian Land Elementary and High School will be our pilot schools for these programs.
Lastly, Our Green Team also hopes to one day be able to bring a LEED exam prep class to UNC Charlotte School of Architecture. We are still working with school administrators and our Richmond team of environmental analysts to find the best media and format in which to present such a class and hope that this can become a reality when the new testing format is established.
After certifying the first (and currently only) LEED schools in North Carolina, the Raleigh office has another two LEED Registered projects – and is actively pursuing more. One of the more exciting prospects being pursued at Chapel Hill Elementary School 11 is a combination of solar thermal and photovoltaic panels designed to earn the LEED EA Credit 2 for On-site Renewable Energy – and hopefully take advantage of production incentives offered by Duke Energy and NC Green Power.
In addition to its LEED efforts, we are making a special effort to ensure that every RDC project goes through the Sustainability Checklists in Vision – as well as participating in local events such as the NC Sustainable Energy conference and USGBC Triangle Chapter workshops. Our office is already geared up about Earth Day and hoping to see continued growth in green building during the coming year.
Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and enjoy lunch al fresco on our garden roof! If you bring your lunch from home, consider using a lunch box and re-usable containers instead of paper bags and plastic baggies. Bring your own flatware instead of using plastic utensils if possible.
Often confused with the tasty staple of Mediterranean dishes (that would be hummus, with two m’s), ‘hew-mes’ is the soil’s layer of partially decomposed plant matter – and is essential for vigorous plant growth. Mankind’s relationship with this source of fertility took an interesting turn when, at the end of WWII, scientists derived a means to convert excess chemical stock from our munitions plants into pelletized fertilizer for our crop plants.
While producing improved yields in the short term, problems of water pollution from excess application can be seen in our own Chesapeake Bay. In that chemical fertilizer can also harm the long-term productivity of the soil, people have started to take note of the wide variety of store-bought organic soil treatments on the market… and with such appetizing names as blood meal and worm poo, who could resist? Your wallet, for one, as these things aren’t cheap.
In the end, you may find that the most effective, economical and sustainable choice is to start composting your food scraps and yard trimmings. This can be done in something as simple as a makeshift heap in the corner of your backyard – piling on layers “waste” materials as they become available – or as elaborate as rotating polyethylene barrels matched with enzyme solutions that speed up the process considerably. Earthworms can also be invited to the party, but are inherently more difficult to wrangle and keep happy… Bryna can share some ‘humorous’ stories about this for those with a soft-spot for invertebrates.
Whatever method you choose, composting is one of the truest forms of recycling: converting what we have mislabeled as “waste” into future harvests, thereby closing the loop on the nutrient cycle. Because compost also improves soil structure, drainage and water retention, your soil can become like a day spa for your plants – rather than a battlefield.
To get started, check into the aptly named howtocompost.org for more information than you ever thought possible on turning dead plant matter into black gold. For those interested in the broader philosophical issues undergirding American landscape care, Michael Pollan’s new book “Second Nature” comes highly recommended. Good luck and happy decomposition!