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Save the Date: AIANE 2011 Livable Communities in the American Landscape

Knockout Logo_FINALcolor_OThe Western Mass AIA is hosting this year’s AIA New England Conference with the theme “Livable Communities in the American Landscape.” Save the dates for October 14-16 in downtown Northampton, “Where the coffee is strong, and so are the women”. Join us for a fun weekend of workshops, events, and tours. In addition the AIA New England  Design Awards (call for entries)  will be announced at the conference, and projects in the bonus Livable Communities category will be on display in the A.P.E. Gallery right here in Northampton October 1-15.

Registration will be announced soon. If you are ready to book your stay, check out The Hotel Northampton, where a block of rooms is available at a special conference rate. I recommend making arrangements early; the conference will be held during peak foliage, and accommodations may be hard to come by at the last minute. I’ll post additional details as they are available.

nohosign

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Waterford High School Groundbreaking

credit Paul Petrone

credit Paul Petrone

Our latest LEED consulting project broke ground last week. Read all about the Waterford High School groundbreaking ceremony and see the video here. The project is pursuing LEED certification under the 2009 LEED for Schools rating system.

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film + riverscaping | architecture through film series

Norwottock Rail Trail Bridge

Norwottock Rail Trail Bridge

The Western Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (WMAIA) presents a film series each year, usually with some off-beat and quirky selections. The 2011 series looks pretty juicy:

2/7/2011 Trouble the Water (2008, Carl Deal, Tia Lessin) + The River (1938, Pare Lorentz)

3/7/2011 The River (1951, Jean Renoir)

3/28/2011 Apocalypse Now (1971, Francis Ford Coppola)

4/25/2011 Burden of Dreams (1982, Les Blank)

Are you sensing a theme here? The river’s prominent role is coordinated with the Riverscaping project at the Five College Architectural Studies Program. The project is a one and a half year exploration of the river and its impact on community, with the Pioneer Valley and Five Colleges partnering with peers in Hamburg, Germany. From the film series description: “The river is connection and separation. It is passage and obstacle. It is community and battlefield. It is music and noise. It is art and function. It is power and vulnerability. It is local and global. It defines our past and will define our future.”

All of the films are shown at the Pruyne Lecture Hall in Fayerweather Hall (which is an 1894 McKim, Mead, and White building) at Amherst College at 6:30pm. CEUs are available to AIA members.

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From Bar-ba-loots to High Speed Rail: 4 Green Challenges in the State of the Union

The Lorax can be purchased at the Springfield Museum store. Check out the Dr Seuss sculpture garden while you are there.

The Lorax can be purchased at the Springfield Museum store. Check out the Dr Seuss sculpture garden while you are there.

I frequently read The Lorax by Dr Seuss to my son. In the story, The Once-ler develops a new business; chopping down Truffala trees to make Thneads (which everyone needs). As more and more trees are used, the Bar-ba-loots, who depend on the Truffala trees’ fruit, no longer have enough to eat. The Lorax pleads with the Once-ler to stop chopping their trees, but the Once-ler responds “business is buisness! And business must grow regardless of crummies in tummies you know. I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.”

Last night, I watched our President’s State of the Union Address. As expected, much of the content focused on the economy and job creation. There was no mention of climate change. After noting that China now has the largest solar research facility (non-government) as well as the fastest computer (the Tianhe-1A), he stated: “And now it’s our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”(Applause.) An admirable goal, and yet it sounded quite a bit like the Once-ler’s desire to keep ‘biggering’ and ‘biggering.’ Economic growth and job creation are critical in our time, but just as critical as avoiding the fate of the Bar-ba-loots.

I’m not a political commentator, but I do experience first hand how government policies impact green buildings. As state incentives and funding for on-site renewable energy has dwindled, clients are opting not to install these systems. When the state of Connecticut began requiring state-funded buildings over certain budget thresholds to meet LEED-Silver or equivalent, there was a trickle down effect. Clients who were not required to meet the standard were still inquiring about it. Last night,  I was relieved to hear these 4 goals and challenges related to green building, technology, and energy. Let’s hope that some of them come to fruition. We should’t keep ‘biggering’ just for ‘biggering’s’ sake.

highspeedrail

High Speed Rail in Taiwan

1. “With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. (Applause.)… And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.”

2. “I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.”

3. “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.”

4. “We’re selling acres of federal office space that hasn’t been used in years, and we’ll cut through red tape to get rid of more.”

.

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Lake Hitchcock Organizing Group

glhmapLooking for a local USGBC presence? Stronger networking and education opportunities in sustainable design and green building?  I’ve been participating in the Lake Hitchcock organizing group, which is planning to become an official committee, then branch of the MA USGBC Chapter in the coming months.

Our membership base is the area of the Glacial Lake Hitchcock region, which was formed 15,000 years ago when the Laurentide ice sheet began to retreat northward along the Connecticut River. At its maximum extent, Glacial Lake Hitchcock expanded from Rocky Hill, Ct to St. Johnsburry VT. Similarly , our green building community expands beyond the boundaries of the pioneer valley.

This winter we hosted a LEED Green Associate Study Group at UMASS amherst, and our first two graduates passed the LEED GA exam.  We will be announcing spring events and networking opportunities soon. Let us know if you’d like to be included.

By the way, Amherst College’s free Museum of Natural History has a neat exhibit on Glacial Lake Hitchcock.

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Shake Your Lulav!

It is that time of year again. Summer is ending, fall is upon us, and I’m building a Sukkah! Sure, you can check out the snazzy Sukkah City projects, but my own humble yet elegant sukkah is my favorite. Simple, easy to assemble, and delicious smelling – the lattice is cedar.
A progress photo:

Next year, Cooper [...]

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High Efficiency Hand Dryers: What to do to avoid scaring children or disturbing adults.

I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about toilet rooms at work. I’ve had meetings and dedicated to waterless urinals, pressure assisted toilets, and a variety of toilet room smells. The latest round of conference calls has focused on high efficiency hand dryers in several projects.
First, high efficiency hand dryers are the new-ish models [...]

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Hawi Wind Farm

On a recent trip to Hawaii, which involved 5 plane flights, I effectively negated all of my carbon reduction efforts for the year. On the plus side, I saw some amazing things that I’ll never forget.
I took my toddler son to see the Hawi wind farm. He was amazed, I was amazed. We drove up the spine [...]

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Ride in Style

I’ve come across some pretty cool and well-designed bike products recently. My commute is now a 15 ft walk across the hallway, but I’m a recovering Philadelphia bike commuter. People often ask me how did I do it? Did you bike in the rain? What about the snow? Did you need to change your clothes?  [...]

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Earth Day 2010 Eye Candy

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” — Neil Armstrong
“We can see our planet earth [...]

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