Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Friends of the Urban Forest and SF Environment are offering delivery, pick-up and planting of living, potted trees in time for the holidays. The eight-ft tall trees have been hand-picked to thrive in San Francisco. There are four types of trees to choose from: Southern Magnolia, Small Leaf Tristania, Strawberry Tree, and New Zealand Christmas Tree.

Trees are $90, and orders are available through Tuesday, December 19, 2007. Or visit their Green Christmas Tree lot on Saturday, December 15 from 4-7 pm to tag one for delivery or take one home on the spot.

Delivery and pick-up available to SF residents only. Maybe next year, Oakland?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cargo Ship Spills after Hitting Bridge

Spill closes SF Beaches
Jonathan Curiel, Peter Fimrite, Jane Kay, SF Chronicle, November 8, 2007

Approximately 58,000 gallons of heavy-duty bunker fuel oil spilled from a container ship when it rammed the Bay Bridge on Wednesday. Some 8,000 gallons of oil have been contained since Wednesday's accident, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. William Uberti said this morning. Large patches are still floating in the bay and some has washed up on several San Francisco beaches and the Marin Headlands, officials said today. Some officials say the impacts to beaches will worsen early this afternoon as the tide rushes out of the Golden Gate.

Read the complete story here:

The Energy Cost of Water

An interesting talk about the connection between water and energy given a few months ago by Heather Cooley at the Commonwealth Club of California.

Carbon Calculus

Accounting for the True Cost of Energy
Matthew L. Wald, NY Times, November 7, 2007

On Thursday, a Senate subcommittee approved a bill to establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide, and the Democratic leadership is eager to have the Senate pass it by year’s end. But prospects in the House are less certain. Carbon dioxide is what economists call an “externality,” something that imposes a cost on somebody other than the manufacturer. At some point, the thinking goes, Congress will force industries to pay those costs, either with a tax or a cap-and-trade system in which allowances will cost money. Cost for fuels that result in hefty emissions, like coal and oil, as well as "closet carbon" fuels like corn-based ethanol, would likely increase. And some — sunlight, wind, uranium, even corn stalks and trash, as well as natural gas — would probably cost much less.

Read the complete story here.

And, more green business stories in the NY Times.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Green Festival November 9-11!

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Go to the Green Festival in San Francisco!

One of four nationwide events, Green Festivals highlight what is working in our communities, for people, for businesses and for the environment. Each festival features more than 200 visionary speakers and 400 green businesses, how-to workshops, green films, yoga and movement classes, green careers sessions, organic beer and wine, delicious organic cuisine and live music.

You can:
- attend lectures and workshops by thought leaders, business visionaries and community activists
- connect with like-minded individuals and organizations who are committed to a better world
- learn about organizations effecting positive and sustainable change in our region, our country, and the around the planet
- have fun meeting interesting people who share common interests
- eat delicious, healthy, organic, and sustainably produced food and listen to local musicians

A 3-day festival pass is only $25, and children under 12 are free. Daily tickets are $15.

Learn more about the festival at greenfestival.

Lecture on Climate Change Implications of Waste Treatment

Tuesday, November 13th
5:30pm - 7:00pm
Room 112, Wurster Hall, UC Berkeley

Perry L. McCarty
Silas H. Palmer, Professor Emeritus, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
Winner of the 2007 Stockholm Water Prize

Meet the speaker, 5:15pm - 5:30pm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that four percent of the equivalent anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the world result from methane and nitrous oxide produced from wastewater, solid wastes, and animal manure. However, if such methane gas is collected and used as a biofuel, not only would the methane emissions decrease, but also the need for fossil fuels could be decreased as well. Indeed, the potential to produce methane from wastewater treatment might be exploited to a greater extent than it has at present to turn a potential problem into a significant benefit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. How might wastes best be handled in the future to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and how might this change our current practices?

For more information, contact the Water Resources Center Archives at (510) 642-2666 or, or check out the Colloquium web site:

PDF of flyer for this lecture:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ocean Potion

Toxic Stew the Size of Texas Floats in the Pacific
Justin Berton, SF Chronicle, October 19, 2007

The so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and ocean debris worldwide, has been growing tenfold every decade since the 1950s, says Chris Parry of the California Coastal Commission.
Cleaning it up probably isn't an option, but its growth is certainly preventable. A Greenpeace report found that 80% of the oceans' litter originated on land. According to Parry, "The long-term solution is to stop producing as much plastic products at home and change our consumption habits."

Read the complete story, as well as many others, and get tips on recycling and reducing your carbon footprint in the Chronicle's Green Section.

Flip a Switch for the Earth

Lights Out SF invites you to turn off your lights for one hour this Saturday night, October 20th.

The US consumes more energy and emits more greenhouse gases than any other country in the world.

By turning off your lights for one hour, we could save as much as 15% of the energy consumed on an average Saturday night. Replacing one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent will conserve even more (San Francisco Safeway stores are giving out free CFL bulbs through tomorrow, one per household).

Many SF restaurants will be hosting candlelit dinners, and there will be an acoustic concert in Dolores Park by local band Crowsong.

Lights Out SF is affiliated with Lights Out America, a grassroots community group organizing a nationwide energy savings event on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First Step Towards Cutting US Gasoline Use by 20% by 2017

EPA Will Meet 2008 Deadline To Issue Emissions Rule
Dean Scott, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington, DC, October 12, 2007

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson pledged that the agency will propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks by the end of 2007, with final rules completed in 2008. The rulemaking is expected to expand the use of renewable and alternative fuels, call for increased vehicle efficiency, or mandate some mixture of those approaches.

Johnson said EPA continues to work with other federal agencies, including the Transportation Department, on the emissions regulations but said he has made no decisions on how EPA will proceed. Johnson noted that the transportation sector accounts for approximately one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, second only to electric power generation.

Johnson also said that EPA will have to consider if it should also regulate the capture and storage of carbon dioxide, or carbon sequestration. The technology would help the US, China, and other coal-rich nations to continue their reliance on coal to produce electricity. According to Department of Energy figures, the US has approximately a 250-year supply of coal available given current coal prices and rates of consumption, and coal-fired power plants, which produce nearly half of US electricity, are expected to continue to do so through 2050.

There is no existing regulatory regime, either at the federal or state level, for regulating long-term carbon and capture storage efforts, therefore, EPA may have to consider regulatory approaches given the environmental concerns and technical complexities of one day storing large amounts of carbon dioxide underground.

Read the complete article at Bureau of National Affairs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Green Tags

CO2 offsets fund projects that have a net-positive effect on the environment, thereby nullifying the negative effect of the pollution you create.

TerraPass - supports wind and biomass projects.
Carbonfund - non-profit offsetter that supports solar and wind farms, promotes cleaner industry, and plants trees around the world.
Native Energy - supports Native American alternative-energy projects.
Consumers' Guide to Retail Carbon Offsets - not all offsets are created equal.
Climate Counts - compare the carbon-cutting commitments of several major corporations.

Post borrowed from Ideal Bite.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Park Yer'self

September 21st is PARK(ing) Day 2007!

Conceived by REBAR, a San Francisco-based art collective, PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.

Learn more at PARK(ing) Day.

Top Green Contractors

The Mainstreaming of Green Building
Gary J. Tulacz,, September 19, 2007

Until recently, the notion of sustainable design or green building was hazy. There were standards being issued by groups like the U.S. Green Building Council and the Green Building Initiative, and companies were constructing showcase projects. However, in the last couple years, the concept has taken off. Membership in Washington, D.C.-based USGBC, which had just over 500 members in 2001, skyrocketed to 10,000 within five years, making it one of the fastest growing organizations in the country. Over the past decade USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and En­vironmental Design rating system has gone a long way to define what it means to build green. “LEED is coming to be the definition of sustainable design and construction in the U.S.,” says Michael Deane, operations manager for sustainable construction for Turner Construction and a member of USGBC’s board.

For many firms, interest in green building is rising to new and unheard-of levels. “In 2004, less than 1% of our work was sustainable,” says Ted van der Linden, director of sustainable construction for DPR Construction. “In 2005, it was about 5%. By 2006, about 45% of our new work was green construction. And this year, it is tracking at about 50%.” He says not all of this work will be certified under a third-party rating system, but it will contain substantial sustainable elements.

DPR isn’t the only firm experiencing this level of green activity. “We have about $4.5 billion in backlog and nearly $2 billion is in some form of green building,” says Jeff Hoopes, executive vice president of Swinerton. For Clayco, “Cli­ents raise the issue a sustainability in at least 35% of our projects, and we raise it in the rest,” says Paul Todd Merrill, Clayco’s director of sustainable construction. “Only about 15% of clients don’t want it.”

To read the rest of ENR's article on green buiders, visit

To see ENR's list of 2007 Top 50 Green Contractors, visit (note SF-based Swinerton at No. 4!).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Breaking News: Automakers Lose

Court Rules Against Automakers in Global Warming Case
Justin Hyde, Free Press Washington Bureau, September 12, 2007

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the U.S. auto industry's attempt to block California and 14 other states from setting tough new fuel economy standards, saying the industry had not proved the regulations were illegal, unsafe or unattainable.

The ruling was a big loss for the industry in the fight over whether California and other states can require more efficient vehicles to reduce emissions linked to global warming. The auto industry - Detroit and foreign companies alike - maintain the standards calling for cars to average 43 miles per gallon by 2016 isn't achievable, and would force the industry to stop selling many models.

The U.S. EPA has yet to rule on whether California can proceed with its standards, but environmental groups have expressed concern that the Bush administration will deny California and other states permission to proceed while federal regulators create their own greenhouse-gas controls for vehicles.

Read the complete story at

Also covered in the SF Chronicle:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coastal Cleanup Day

The 23rd Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day is 9:00 am to noon this Saturday, September 15th!

Visit the Coastal Commission’s website to find a cleanup site near you.

Top Ten Trashy Creeks

Save the Bay lists the area's most garbage-filled waterways
Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle, September 11, 2007

Save the Bay recently released a list of the 10 worst trash hot spots ringing the San Francisco Bay, including waterways flowing through communities from San Francisco to San Jose and from Berkeley to San Rafael.

It depicts creeks and sloughs lined with diapers, cigarette butts, batteries and all kinds of household rubbish...not just from factories or refineries or sewage plants. Ecologists say the situation will get worse unless regulations are passed requiring trash-filtration systems or other cleanup measures in the many waterways flowing into the bay.

The trashiest waterways, according to Save the Bay, are Alameda Creek in Hayward; Colma Creek in South San Francisco; Coyote Creek in San Jose; Damon Slough in Oakland; Grayson Creek in Martinez; Guadalupe River in San Jose; Laurel Creek in San Mateo; San Rafael Creek in San Rafael; Strawberry Creek in Berkeley; and Yosemite Slough in San Francisco.

Read the complete story at

Friday, September 7, 2007

Green Investing

Launched in 1999, the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes are global indexes tracking the financial performance of corporate sustainability leaders. The indexes provide asset managers with reliable and objective benchmarks to manage sustainability portfolios. DJSI links companies implementing sustainability principles and investors wishing to support corporate sustainability (and make a few bucks in the process).

What is corporate sustainability, you ask?

According to DJSI, "Corporate Sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. Corporate sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder value by gearing their strategies and management to harness the market's potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks."

Visit DJSI for more information.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Greening the Bay

Financing Wetland Restoration in San Francisco Bay
Save the Bay, August 2007

Save The Bay's Greening the Bay report documents the total projected cost to nearly double tidal wetlands in San Francisco Bay. This report identifies inadequate funding as the greatest barrier to re-establishing 100,000 acres of tidal wetlands, critical habitat that scientists say is needed for a healthy bay.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update from the Sustainable Remediation Forum

SuRFing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
Maile Smith, August 22, 2007

You may have been wondering why I wasn't hassling you for your input on the MEW feasibility study this week. It's because I'm attending the Sustainable Remediation Forum (SuRF) meeting in Newark, New Jersey. SuRF was founded and meetings are organized and chaired by DuPont. This is the group's fourth meeting, but my first. I can assure you, however, that it won't be my last. This is a thoughtful and tenacious group of practitioners--representing industry, regulatory agencies, consulting companies, and NGOs--that is working to accomplish an extremely challenging objective: to establish a framework that incorporates sustainable concepts throughout the remedial action process that provides long-term protection of human health and the environment and achieves public and regulatory acceptance. Of course, the "how" to accomplish this objective is complex and will likely evolve as our understanding of sustainability and remediation science evolves. But, we are off to a great start.

Today's session began with a presentation from Deb Goldblum of EPA Region 3, about a pilot project at the DuPont Martinsville, Virginia site. A primary goal of this project is to add sustainability as a balancing criterion in RCRA remedy selection. In order to do so, they have developed a quantitative credit and debit matrix to measure the sustainability criterion.

Gil Meyer, DuPont, gave a presentation on the history of human reactions to new technologies. Technologies typically go through cycles of acceptance and controversy, facing four general factors for acceptance: (1) relative economic advantage or existing technology; (2) social value and prestige; (3) compatibility with vested interests; and (4) visibility of the direct advantages. The road to public acceptance often bounces between initial enthusiasm, commercialization, and familiarity, and rumblings of concern, public protests, and, hopefully, eventually, acceptance. The perception of risk is based on hazards + outrage, with outrage stemming from whether or not the risk is voluntary as opposed to involuntary, who is in control of the risk (e.g., I’m comfortable holding both nail and hammer, but not holding the nail and someone else swinging the hammer), if the risk familiar or not (e.g., chemicals under the sink are familiar, “not voodoo”), if the process is fair (was I or my representative involved in the process), moral issues (e.g., risks particular to children or reproductive health), and if the risk is artificial/man-made or natural.

A presentation followed from Nicola Harries, CL:AIRE (contaminated land: applications in real environments), on their UK sustainable remediation meeting. The meeting brought together attendees from UK government, regulators, industry, environmental consultants, technology vendors, contractors, other European organizations, NGOs, and academia to come up with success criteria for judging sustainability in remediation. They identified four areas for further research: literature survey (output: policy development, metrics), cost-benefit analysis framework, existing tools outside industry (e.g., life-cycle analysis), and existing tools inside industry (e.g., those developed by DuPont, Shell, etc.).

Charles Iceland, World Resources Institute, gave a presentation on their corporate ecosystem services review (ESR). His group rightly asserts that businesses are heavily dependent on ecosystem services: they both contribute to ecosystem change and use ecosystem services. WRI is partnering with Meridian Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development to develop the corporate ESR methodology, which is being “road-tested” by DuPont, BC Hydro, Monsanto, Rio Tinto, and others.

Dan Watts, NJIT, presented on the challenges of quantifying the longevity of CO2 in the atmosphere. This seems like it should be a very simple question, but it has a very complex answer. The answer lies in the balance between additions (deforestation, burning of fossil fuels) and deletions (absorption by atmosphere and oceans), which equals the amount absorbed on land. This question needs to be answered in order to determine how and when we can stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels, if for only the reason that CO2 concentration, temperature, and sea level continue to rise long after emissions are reduced.

Frank Evans, National Grid, gave a presentation on the use of metrics to make better sustainable remediation decisions. National Grid is a global utility company, operating in the UK and US. It has different drivers for remediation of surplus and operational land, but four common general objectives of sustainable remediation: social progress, environmental protection, prudent use of natural resources, and maintaining high and stable economic growth and employment.

Carlos Pachon from EPA, OSWER (his specific group runs Clu-In and Tech Direct), presented preliminary "flash" findings from their initial analytical approach to energy and carbon footprint for site cleanup treatment technologies in the Superfund remedial program. Their working definition of “green remediation” is the practice of considering the environmental effects of a remediation strategy early in the process and incorporating options to maximize the net environmental benefit of the cleanup action. Their preliminary goal is to foster the adoption of greener remediation practices across cleanup programs by benchmarking the state of the practice, identifying opportunities for improvement at cleanups, capacity-building and networking practitioners, and creating enabling mechanisms. So far they have found that pump-and-treat results in by far the highest energy use and carbon emissions (per project and per year and projected into the future), e.g., 402M vs. 32M kWh energy use per project and 275K vs. 16K tons of carbon emissions per year for P&T vs. multiphase extraction, respectively.

The final presentation of the day came from Dave Ellis, DuPont, which was a survey of several case studies on the use of sustainability metrics at their sites.

We finished the day with a question for the group: What are the metrics issues that most concern you?
Answers included:
- How to evaluate new factors (e.g., recycled concrete)
- The detail, implementability, and consistency of metrics
- The scale of our impact (from remediation) vs. other impacts
- Over-rating or over-valuing the sustainability criterion in remedy decisions
- How to assign value to time
- What equivalent to assign to different metrics when screening technologies or selecting remediation options

Seem like a lot to cover in one day? It was! But, to borrow a term from Ray Anderson, we've only just begun our ascent of Mt. Sustainability. We've got an exciting journey ahead of us.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

CARB Chair Conflicted?

California Air Resources Board chair owns stocks in 13 energy firms
Matthew Yi, SF Chronicle, August 18, 2007

The new chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board owns stocks in several oil, coal and utility firms, some of which are likely to be affected by rules the agency implements as part of the state's groundbreaking law to fight global warming, The Chronicle has learned. The air board is expected to consider wide-ranging regulations that will affect what kind of fuel motorists pump into their vehicles and help dictate what sources of energy utility companies can use to generate electricity.

Mary Nichols' stock holdings include shares in oil giants Chevron Corp., BP PLC, and Royal Dutch Shell, a stake in a Bermuda tanker company that transports crude oil, the world's largest coal company, Peabody Energy Corp., and utilities including Edison International, whose subsidiary, Southern California Edison, serves most of the Southern California electricity market.

In total, she and her husband, John Daum, an attorney who represents Exxon in the ongoing Exxon Valdez oil-spill case, have a financial stake in 13 energy-related firms in a diversified stock portfolio that contains 84 companies, according to statements she filed on Tuesday with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Nichols is highly regarded by some in the environmental community as a longtime environmental lawyer who served on the air board three decades ago under then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

Read the complete story at

UPDATE: (SFGate, September 27, 2007)

Home Depot Agrees to Settle Haz Waste Lawsuit for Nearly $10 Million

Home Depot Settles Waste Dumping Suit
Associated Press, August 18, 7:33 am ET

Home Depot agreed Friday to pay nearly $10 million in penalties and investigation costs to settle a lawsuit alleging it mishandled hazardous waste from its California stores, officials said.
The world's largest home improvement store chain came under investigation after a hazardous waste container exploded at Home Depot's store in Marina Del Rey in May 2004, the lawsuit said. The fire forced the evacuation of store employees and customers. Investigators later found that chemicals were mixed together in the 55-gallon drum.

Home Depot ranks 44 on the Fortune 500 list of the world's largest companies. In 2006, its revenues were nearly $91 billion and it earned over $5.7 billion in profits.

Read the complete story at

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Wombat

A brief message from the Wombat...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eco-Friendly Treads

The Benefits of Stylish Sneakers
Choose recycled and organic over PVC and chromium-tanned leather.

Some options:
Simple Shoes - turns recycled tires and soda bottles into sassy sneaks.
Terra Plana - incorporates recycled clothes and car seats into creatively designed sneakers.
Nike Soaker - men's high-tops designed to let you run through water, made from eco-materials like recycled mesh and eco-rubber.
Toms Shoes - women's red canvas slip-ons with recycled rubber soles; one pair is donated to kids in need for every pair you buy.

Brought to you by Ideal Bite.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Green Building Rating System Expands to Community Scale, Integrating Smart Growth, New Urbanism and Eco-Efficient Design

LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot Launches
238 New Developments Nationwide Join Pioneering LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot

LEED for Neighborhood Development – the pilot rating system launched jointly by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) – is off to a promising start. A total of 238 developments have signed up to participate in the pilot program, which will be the first national certification system for sustainable neighborhood design and development. LEED for Neighborhood Development will integrate the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building into the design and development of communities, moving beyond the single green building approach. The LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot is on track to be one of the largest launches yet for a new LEED program.

About USGBC: The U.S. Green Building Council ( was founded in 1993 and is the nation's leading non-profit composed of corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations working together to transform the way buildings are designed, built and operated.

About NRDC: Founded in 1970, the Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.

About CNU: The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl.

For more information about the LEED for Neighborhood Development program, visit

Tap vs. Bottled

Water, Water Everywhere, but Guilt by the Bottleful
Alex Williams, NY Times, August 12, 2007

In the last few months, bottled water — generally considered a benign, even beneficial, product — has been increasingly portrayed as an environmental villain by city leaders, activist groups and the media. The argument centers not on water, but oil. It takes 1.5 million barrels a year just to make the plastic water bottles Americans use, according to the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, plus countless barrels to transport it from as far as Fiji and refrigerate it. The issue took a major stride into mainstream dialogue earlier this summer, after the mayors of San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and New York began urging people to opt for tap water instead of bottled.

Read the complete story at

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Run for Safe Drinking Water

One-in-six people do not have easy access to safe drinking water, and water-related illnesses are the leading cause of human sickness and death.

The Blue Planet Run Foundation's mission is to create global awareness of the world’s safe drinking water crisis. Its primary goal is to provide safe drinking water to 20 million people worldwide by 2015 and 200 million people by 2027.

The Blue Planet Run Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that delivers 100% of the donations it receives from individual contributors to safe drinking water projects around the world. Since 2004, it has funded 11 NGOs that have in turn implemented 135 sustainable water projects in 13 countries. The Foundation’s signature awareness and fundraising event is the Blue Planet Run. Starting in New York City on June 1, 2007, a team of 20 athletes will run 15,200 miles, across 16 countries and 4 continents, 24 hours a day for 95 days to mobilize citizens of the world to solve the problem of inaccessible safe drinking water. The Run will end back in New York City on September 4, 2007.

To learn more, visit the Blue Planet Run website:

Blue Planet Run

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Recycling Options Abound in SF Bay Area

The San Francisco bay area offers a wealth of options for disposing of waste.
Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, July 20, 2007

From San Francisco to Oakland to San Jose, recycling options in the region are some of the most eco-friendly available, experts say. Most cities and counties offer single-stream recycling -- you can throw all your recyclables in one bin -- and many are beginning to provide each home with a composting bin. Also, nearly all of the jurisdictions in the region have exceeded the state's mandate of a 50 percent diversion rate...

Read this complete story at

...and many others in the Chronicle's Green section:

Monday, July 16, 2007

What is our VISION?

What will Northgate be in the future?

We want to embody the principles of sustainability, but what is our vision for getting there?

At a recent Green Team meeting we asked ourselves what it will feel like when our vision becomes reality, from the perspective of our staff (people), our organizational structure/culture, our practices, our clients, our community, and the environment. From these perspectives we will shape the purpose of our sustainability strategy, define our vision, and learn how to get from our current to our future reality.

people - have the flexibility and energy to be creative and innovative, feel connected as a group/team/family, feel pride in "doing good"

organizational structure/culture - has 3 prongs: internal, external now (current clients/markets), external future (new clients/markets), is flexible and adaptive, understands what impacts our actions have, reaches out to the community, works toward a common goal, solves problems using a combined administrative, technological, and strategic approach

practices - external: forward-thinking and holistic, analyze resource use and environmental costs, consider long-term restoration and potential uses in all development/redevelopment projects, incorporate sustainable design whenever possible; internal: inclusive, opportunity-increasing, lead by example, "green" office practices (reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim, refuse), move toward paperless project documentation, LEED APs

clients - fulfill regulatory and legal requirements, realize internal desire to "do what is right", increase profitability, increase marketability, improve their reputation, reduce long-term costs, reduce long-term liabilities

community - trusts us, feels inspired, knows that we value their interests, is healthy and knows that we act to protect their health, knows that we care

environment - is protected for the future, sees a real net benefit, is less competitive, sees more infilling and less sprawl, is restored

purpose - eliminate prioritizing and trade offs from the environmental impact of our actions on our receptors so that each receptor sees a benefit or a "win", have a healthy and happy work environment, be leaders, increase capital (natural, financial, intellectual, human, social, cultural) internally and externally, return blight to beauty

what would YOU add to this list?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustain what??? For what or for whom? And, for how long?

There are many definitions of sustainability:
- meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
- ensuring an equitable and healthy future for all people and the planet
- using natural capital at a rate that does not exceed the rate of resource regeneration

...but what does sustainability mean to you?

Monday, July 9, 2007 Magazine

Cover Story, July 9 2007
Walking the Walk, Firms Lighten Up Their Environmental Loads
Construction industry companies of all sizes are turning shades of green, implementing internal sustainability practices that range from recycling paper to building LEED-platinum headquarters buildings. They are driven by an assortment of ethical, economic and marketing factors, but whatever their reasons, the shift is resulting in a change in construction's workplace environment and attitudes. Read the full story at

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

USGBC Developing IAQ Design Guide

June 13, 2007 -- Washington, DC
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), along with other key organizations will develop a design guide which will address indoor air quality (IAQ). The guide will describe an integrated process for achieving improved IAQ in all elements of a building. USGBC will collaborate with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) on this endeavor. The design guide will consist of a textbook and a professional development course, which will be designed for the building and design community.Upon its completion, these tools will function as a prescriptive compliance path for Indoor Air Quality. The tools will assist building professionals in implementing high-performance designs and improving IAQ performance in buildings. The book is slated to be published in April 2009, followed by the professional development course.

LEED energy performance requirements increase

Energy Performance Requirements within LEED Rating System to Increase 14%
The U.S. Green Building Council’s membership overwhelmingly approved a new requirement for all LEED certified projects to achieve at least two “Optimize Energy Performance” points within LEED, which will improve the energy performance of all LEED certified green buildings by 14% for new construction and 7% for existing buildings.
Beginning today, all newly registered commercial LEED projects will be required to achieve the two “Optimize Energy Performance” points within LEED. The new requirement will reduce the environmental and economic impacts associated with excessive energy use and maximize energy performance of buildings through cost effective energy efficiency measures. To help projects achieve the new energy reduction requirements, a prescriptive compliance path is currently under development as an alternative to energy modeling. The two mandatory points will count towards a project's LEED certification.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Welcome to the Northgate Sustainability Forum!

This is where we'll develop and share our vision for environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Tell us your ideas and let us know what you think!