Louise & the Eco Machine

Can’t resist sharing my good luck, this past week I finally had a chance to check out the Omega Institute’s Eco Machine. An Eco Machine is a natural wastewater treatment system. Omega’s plan is to use the resulting graywater to irrigate gardens and flush toilets.

Omega is a pretty fascinating place all around, but their Center for Sustainable Living is pretty remarkable, they are expected to be the first building in the United States to receive the Living Building designation in addition to receiving LEED Platinum certification. Some highlights:

  • wastewater turns to greywater within 36 hours through constructed wetlands
  • 20 geothermal wells
  • concrete that complies with the Living Building Challenge’s Red List*
  • net metering from solar array
  • partial green roof
  • No PVC
  • plywood in mechanical room from Obama’s inauguration stage!

To top it off I got to meet Louise Schaper who traveled to New York (coming all the way from Arkansas) to visit family and added a stop into Omega to check out the Eco Machine with me. Not quite sure which I was more excited about!

*LBC Red List (The project cannot contain any of the following red list materials or chemicals.):

No added formaldehyde
Halogenated Flame Retardants18
PVC19
Mercury20
CFC’s
HCFC’s
Neoprene (chloroprene)
Cadmium
Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene21
Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol
Polyurethane
Lead22
Phthalates

ChargePoint America

ChargePoint America is a program sponsored by Coulomb Technologies to provide electric vehicle charging infrastructure to nine selected regions in the United States. The is made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the Department of Energy and the objective is to accelerate the development and production of electric vehicles to substantially reduce petroleum consumption, reduce greenhouse gas production, and create jobs.”

9 program regions:

  • Bellevue-Redmond, WA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • San Jose-San Francisco Bay Area
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Austin, TX
  • Detroit, MI
  • New York City, NY
  • Washington D.C.
  • Orlando, FL

“Charge It”

The June 7-June 13, 2010 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek had an article called “A New Meaning for the Phrase “Charge It” alerting the business community to the demands electric cars will have for power:

“Two chargers are needed for each car” – one at home and one at work.”

There’s an iPhone app for drivers of electric cars to locate chargers.

People are reporting “range anxiety” – the fear of being stranded with drained batteries.

As President Obama and the car industry march forward with the push for lessening America’s reliance on foreign oil more and more drivers will be looking for a place to “charge it.”

What if public libraries across the country became known for having charging stations? Not a bad marketing idea eh?

If you are lucky enough to be planning a new building, major expansion or just redoing your parking lot consider integrating a charging station into your plans, your community may (eventually) thank you!

May is National Bike Month

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21.

Here are some bike rack location tips from the International Bicycle Fund:

  • Visibility: Cyclists should easily spot short-term parking when they arrive from the street.  A highly visible location discourages theft and vandalism. Avoid locations “off on the side”, “around the corner” or in un-supervised parking structures or garages.
  • Access:  The parking area should be convenient to building entrances and street access, but away from normal pedestrian and auto traffic (see below).   Avoid locations that require bicycles to travel over stairs.
  • Security: Surveillance is essential to reduce theft and vandalism.   For security, locate parking within view of passers-by, retail activity, or office windows. Better yet: officially assign building security, parking lot attendant or other personnel to watch for suspicious behavior.
  • Lighting: Bicycle parking areas should be well lit for theft protection, personal security and accident prevention.
  • Weather Protection: Whenever possible protect bicycle parking area from weather.  We recommend that you use an existing overhang or covered walkway. Alternatively, construct a canopy or roof — either freestanding or attached to an existing building.
  • Avoid Conflict with Pedestrians: Locate racks so that parked bicycles don’t block the pedestrian path.  Select a bike rack with no protruding bars that could trip or injure cyclists or pedestrians.  Very low bar-type racks can be a hazards to pedestrians — not recommended.
  • Avoid Conflict with Automobile: Separate bicycle parking and auto parking and roads areas with space and a physical barrier. This prevents motor vehicles from damaging parked bicycles and keeps some thieves at a distance.  Most professional bike thieves use vans or similar vehicles to hide there activities and make a get-away with their booty concealed. The closer bicycle parking is to automobile parking, alleys, roads, etc., the better the opportunity for a bike thief.

PLA @Portland

I just returned from the Public Library Association Conference in Portland, OR. I was really impressed with the city and convention center from a green perspective.

From the MAX light rail system (which clearly marks the stop for the library!) to the bike friendly features of the city to solar powered trash compactors – around every corner was a new piece of evidence of thoughtfulness towards the environment.

The Oregon Convention Center (LEED-EB Silver) was another refreshing experience – clearly marked recycling points throughout the building, dual flush toilets, a large rain garden to mitigate storm water run-off from the site… and they had great signage alerting attendees to the sustainable features of the convention center – something I am highly critical of is when LEED buildings do not take the opportunity to educate users of the facility to the green features of their buildings. OCC does a great job in this area.

They city is eclectic, fun and funky and I appreciated the opportunity to visit.