Hatching butterflies from buildings and other new ideas
Great Forest’s Director of Sustainability, Anna Dengler, reports from the Urban Green Expo:
Thanks to everyone who dropped by Great Forest’s booth at the Urban Green Expo in late September. We came away with great ideas and insights from the various conference sessions and wanted to share some here.
Architect William McDonough gave a rousing keynote challenging the crowd to adjust the sustainability paradigm. He called on all to replace the objective of reducing negative impacts of commerce with a new goal of maximizing positive environmental impact. Instead of doing “less bad,” McDonough wants us to do more good. For example, a building he designed in Barcelona actually includes a natural habitat for butterflies in the atrium.
Another great idea we learned – the importance of training operations and maintainance staff on efficiency techniques. In existing buildings, this could mean training staff to optimize the performance of old equipment instead of simply buying new models. In new buildings, this could mean making sure updated knowledge is transferred to staff so that they understand how the new high efficiency equipment is intended to work. I was reminded that sometimes simple educational solutions are overlooked.
Another session I attended explored the opportunities of using geothermal energy in urban areas. For our readers in New York, NYSERDA’s Flex Tech Program will supply half the cost of a feasibility study for geothermal projects. Contact Sheila Sweeney, Great Forest’s Director of Energy Services to learn more.
Nate Kimball, Great Forest’s Sustainability Metrics guru, was inspired by a session on achieving deep CO2 reductions in large portfolios…or should I say, increasing our positive climate impact? It all lies in the data collected (as we say, “what gets measured gets managed,”) and Nate learned a few new ways of looking at and interpreting information that will give a truer picture of actual energy use. Nate and I have been working hard on carbon footprint analysis and CO2 reductions for clients this past year. Please contact us for more details.
The Expo has inspired us for another great year of sustainability work and research.