How can we make sustainable design an unconscious effort?

Read the full story from Multibrief.

Sustainability is a word that is used a lot these days. Our built environment is constantly being evaluated for how sustainable it is.

Architects and interior designers who are regularly practicing the principles of sustainability will tell you it isn’t about the placard on the wall, the number of LEED points they can get or how many LEED platinum buildings they design. They do it because it is ethically the right thing to do.

As more building code authorities start taking this in to account, we have a responsibility as a profession to create sustainable buildings so consciously that it actually becomes an unconscious process. We need to make sustainable design for all building types the standard for modern architecture, interior design and construction.

Why the next frontier for green building is manufacturing

Read the full opinion piece in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Conjure an image of a factory and smokestacks come to mind. “Green” building isn’t in the picture. But in fact, factories around the world are going green at a remarkable pace. Today, there are 500 million square feet of green factory space, including pace-setting construction, here in Chicago.

Why? Green manufacturing saves big money in the long run. Manufacturers do well by doing good.

This Detroit House Is Being Turned Into A Living Model Of Cost-Saving Sustainable Design

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Instead of going to grad school like most of their classmates, three architecture students in the Netherlands bought a house in Detroit when they graduated. Their goal: to turn the rundown home into a living demonstration of low-cost, DIY techniques that neighbors can use to make their own homes more sustainable.

Philadelphia keeps stormwater out of sewers to protect rivers

Read the full story at

Tropical Storm Girard unleashed a torrent of water on West Philadelphia in March.

Missed that news? It was not a real storm, but it might as well have been.

Philadelphia Water Department employees turned on a fire hydrant on West Girard Avenue for three hours, enough to fill up two longish ditches with 35,000 gallons of water – an experimental simulation of 3.5 inches of rain. Then they watched it disappear.

The ditches are rain gardens, brimming with grasses, flowers, and monitoring equipment, and they are part of an underground revolution.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of a consent agreement signed with state environmental regulators, and the city says it has met its target of keeping more than 600 million gallons of rain out of the aging sewer system each year.

It has done so with hundreds of water-absorbing “tools”: plant-studded green roofs, parking lots made of permeable pavement, stormwater trenches, and rain gardens such as the two on West Girard.

It’s a Lawn Mower! It’s a Weed Whacker! No…it’s a Herd of Goats!

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

EPA’s research facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island recently enlisted the help of a highly skilled landscaping team to create more pollinator-friendly habitat on the premises.  The team doesn’t use chemicals or pollute the air with carbon emissions, can work on just about any terrain or slope, and loves to eat poison ivy.  So, who is this slightly peculiar dream team? A herd of goats from Laurel Hill MicroFarm in Hope, Rhode Island!

Before the goats and their herders arrived, the facility had a maze of invasive plants plaguing the perimeter of the property, however, over the course of 10 days, these impressive eaters were able to safely consume all the poison ivy and invasive vegetation in the area.

If Companies Move Into Modern Offices, What Are They to do with Their Old Furniture

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Many corporations are moving their staff into modernized green offices in LEED buildings. But the left-behind furniture and equipment often end up in landfill. It’s better to recycle, resell, and donate them to minimize your footprint, recover costs, and benefit charities. Let’s see how Chevron did it and what you can learn from their experiences for your next move or renovation.

Tiny Houses: Affordable, Energy-Efficient and Often Illegal

Read the full story from Stateline.

Some local governments around the country are welcoming tiny houses, attracted by their potential to ease an affordable housing crunch or even house the homeless. Cities such as Washington, D.C., and Fresno, California, have eased zoning and building rules to allow them, and in May California’s housing department issued guidance to help builders and code enforcers know which standards they need to meet. They are even the subject of the HGTV shows “Tiny House, Big Living” and “Tiny House Hunters.”

But lost in the enthusiasm is the fact that in many places, it is hard to live in them legally.