Eco-Notes

What Does it Mean to “Build Local”?

What Does it Mean to “Build Local”?

Most of us are familiar with the economic and environmental benefits of “buy local”: contributing to our local economy, minimizing the energy spent transporting our purchases, and supporting organizations capable of responding to the unique needs or desires of our community. If we expand this approach to building a home or small business space, it is clear that the same strategies apply – from obtaining materials from local and regional sources, to working with nearby designers who understand the local climate and lifestyle. The “build local” approach is also essential to accomplishing a more ephemeral feat: what architects often term a “sense of place.”

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Leading Force Energy and Design Center: A Space for Powerful Ideas

Leading Force Energy and Design Center: A Space for Powerful Ideas

There is a revolution underway in the building industry based on a simple, yet powerful idea: collaboration produces better results. This seems like an obvious truth. So why is it so revolutionary in the building professions? Isn’t this the way buildings are built?

As it turns out, it isn’t–at least, not historically. The traditional approach to building design and construction is what the American Institute of Architects (AIA) calls the “building triad” — comprised of the owner, architect, and contractor. This triad forms the top of the project hierarchy and additional subcontractors and specialists are brought into a project as needed. But this way of working is outdated. It fails to harness and apply specialized knowledge. It leads to inefficiencies, miscommunications, and missed opportunities.

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Upgrading a Mid-Century Classic

Upgrading a Mid-Century Classic

With the recent revival of the housing market, it is a great time to think about upgrading existing homes to improve their livability and longevity. We recently had the opportunity to recommend an upgrade strategy for a mid-century home in Bellevue, WA. Mid-century homes offer many desirable features and renovation possibilities. While surface updates are the most immediately appealing, energy efficiency upgrades are essential to the long-term sustainability of any home. We recommend getting started with an energy audit to identify the most effective strategies. Many mid-century homes are...

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Flowers, Buildings, and a Sustainable Future

Flowers, Buildings, and a Sustainable Future

The Living Future Institute recently released their updated guidelines for the Living Building Challenge – a program that outlines rigorous building standards geared towards creating a more sustainable built environment. The Challenge is at once a philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program. Living Buildings are intended to lead by example and demonstrate the realities of the environmental, social, and economic goals outlined in the document.

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Emergent Leadership

Emergent Leadership

The greater Seattle area is an amazing place to practice sustainable design. One of the numerous benefits of practicing here is the many choices of enlightening sustainable building events to attend. In just one month’s time this fall I have 6 days blocked out for conferences (EcoBuilding 2013 and Built Green), design slams (Seattle 10x10x10), panel discussions (WNSF’s Women in Building), and site tours (Bullitt Center). And that was after filtering out the events that I couldn’t find time for! Yet even with all these events to feed my green design appetite, the one I’m most thrilled to attend this year is the Emerge Leadership Workshop at Islandwood in early December. I interviewed Kathleen O’Brien about this project almost two years ago on The EcoLogical Home, and have been longing to participate ever since.

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Lessons Learned on Z-Home – Podcast

Lessons Learned on Z-Home – Podcast

Z-Home has been in the spotlight recently as the first zero-net energy and carbon neutral multi-family development in the United States.  Now that construction is complete, we examine some of the lessons learned from this first of its kind development.  Z-Home project manager Brad Liljequist of the City of Issaquah’s Resource Conservation Office joins Terry on The Eco-Logical Home to share his insight in this 30-minute interview.  Follow this link to listen!...

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