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Bike LogoLiving Building Learning Challenge: Eco Districts

River at SunsetMid July I was invited to a program on Eco – Districts and how the Living Building Challenge is progressing in our area of the country.  It was an extremely informative learning experience and it was a dynamic call to educate the people here at home.

The Two BIG takeaways of the evening:
#1 It is human structures which are going to end our dependence on fossil fuels.  NO GROUP OF PEOPLE LARGE ENOUGH TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE KNOWS THIS.  Architecture 2030 is trying to get the word out but we need more local people becoming knowledgeable to change codes and elect the kinds of officials who can understand the largeness scope and can actively use collaboration.

Local people need to understand and we need to demand that local developers are held to a 97% compliance to standards and provisions before they receive a building permit.  Local architects are the KEY to this and they need to be educating daily and have numbers in place for local folks to understand how many, many millions of dollars will be saved and made by these changes.  Where are the Local architects doing this – how to do this – crucial?  Are folks hearing the message? Are they numb?

#2 The United States and China are the worst offenders.  11 States in the USA do not even have significant energy codes.  Only 100 architectural firms in the USA have signed on to learn about Living Building Challenge and the Educational Structures involved in that challenge.  The financial crisis of 2008 and recently the small dip are the golden opportunity portals of GREEN work and Architects need to be a noisy gong and not work in old school systems and codes.  They must not acquiesce to the client any more.   This is a time for some of the most creative work and thinking available.   One needs to actively counterbalance competition and compromise with COLLABORATION (know how to understand it and use it)   It is the local people and the local architects which stand to benefit the most and make the most money as they liberate their community from toxins, to reduce high CO2 emissions, to keep their water clean and their citizen healthy.


There were 2 speakers presenting Eco- Districts information of projects under way in their cities Seattle and Portland.

Portland Sustainability Eco District project was presented by Clark Brockman of SERA

Mr. Brockman has 100% compliance with the business owners in the ROSE QUARTER DISTRICT of the City of Portland primary because the business owners can see how they will be making millions of dollars more from their properties and keeping water and air clean.  The beginning changes in the wealthy CONDO district by the river have begun saving money and are keeping the aquifer and river unpolluted.  With lots of education and proof in the numbers they are having celebrating their success at collaboration.  It was inspiring.

From Capitol Hill Housing, Joel Sisolak is the Ecodistrict Project Director in Seattle.

Mr. Sisolak was able to show pictures of the changes to the street and drainage systems on Capitol Hill and the numbers in finely tuned detail of the difference in project costs and ongoing savings.  Having 2 university campuses as a part of the Collaboration efforts has made a difference and already the dorm shower water is being used for the public gardens and toilet flushing.  The grey water system is already in use and now they are adding the PURPLE WATER systems, which I am not sure I understand well enough to write about them here.

One of the points  driven home to me by these presentations was that my community needs much more education on a person to person/project to project basis.  We now have the numbers and some very tangible results to use to teach from and we just need to get the program together and put the show on the road – before the next election.   Challenge the voters to think bigger and not be bought and sold a bill of goods by the fossil fuel fellows attempting to keep us ignorant and foolish.


I was greatly inspired by the pictures from Sweden and Germany and all the progress those countries have made and how much money some communities have saved.  One city in particular where all the public buildings (schools, courthouse, jail, hospital, etc.) produce all the power necessary to run the citizen’s homes was very inspiring.  The people buy their public buildings, solar panels, wind mills, and safe building supplies and in return they pay no utility bills at all.  The savings in CO2 emissions is profound.

Related Reading:
Taking On the Challenge
Net Zero Housing 
Thoughts about Coal Plants and Energy
When Women Were Birds (Patricias Wisdom)

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Sun, August 18 2013 » Discoveries

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