A Visit to the World’s Greenest Office Building

05/29/2013 § Leave a comment

By Bill Brown, Director of IU Office of Sustainability

The International Living Futures unConference in Seattle last week allowed attendees to learn more about the leading edge of sustainable design that aspires to design “living buildings” that make more energy and water than they use, while also achieving 18 other seemingly impossible “imperatives.” The Living Building Challenge has attracted over 140 registered projects around the world and a four have already met the challenge.

Bullit-frontOne of the contenders is the greenest office building in the world, The Bullitt Center, a 52,000-square-foot, six-story office building in Seattle that I was fortunate to visit after attending the conference. Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, was the director of the first Earth Day in 1970.

The most distinctive element of the Bullitt Center is its dramatically cantilevered perforated canopy of solar panels that mimics the tree canopy of the nearby pocket park. It is no small trick to power a six-story office building with solar photovoltaic panels in cloudy Seattle and the size of the canopy makes that clear. One would assume that getting enough Bullit-interiorprecipitation to achieve all the water requirements for the building would not be difficult in Seattle, but Bloomington receives more annual rainfall than Seattle, so the canopy also helps collect rainwater.

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Riding Responsibly

05/28/2013 § 5 Comments

By: Graham Dewart, Bicycle Friendly Campus Intern

The cycling culture at Indiana University is one of a kind. The school is a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly University and is home to the largest intramural bike race in the United States. The wide range of cyclists at IU strengthens the alternative transportation movement and adds diversity to the streets. Unfortunately, irresponsible behaviors while riding hinder the work of bicycle advocates and create tensions between drivers and cyclists. In order to create a safer and more bike friendly community in Bloomington, racers and commuters must form an alliance to ride responsibly.

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The missing link between sustainability and green buildings

05/28/2013 § 5 Comments

By: Kayleen Glaser, LEED Tools, Processes, and University Standards Intern

Here at the Office of Sustainability, we define sustainability as “thriving within our means to achieve balance between environmental health, economic prosperity, and social equity.”  In context of the built environment, sustainability most often translates into green building practices.   As an intern working on streamlining the university’s LEED certification procedures, I initially wondered, “How could green buildings help improve environmental health?”  It doesn’t take much stretching of the imagination to see how green building could be connected to economic prosperity — I won’t drone on too long with phrases like “stimulating economic growth,” “reducing overhead costs,” or “creating new job markets.”  How green buildings affect social equity is a topic too large to be discussed in one blog post.

The US Green Building Council’s LEED seal; Source: http://www.heavyconstructorsinc.com/~heavycon/images/leed.jpg

First, for those unfamiliar with LEED, let me give you a quick run-down:  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a framework the US Green Building Council developed to help building owners identify and implement green building solutions.  There are 100 possible points a building may receive on its path to certification; these points can be accumulated from five main credit categories: (1) Sustainable Sites; (2) Water Efficiency; (3) Energy and Atmosphere; (4) Materials and Resources; and (5) Indoor Environmental Quality.  Perhaps this is the missing link between environmental health and green building practices!   « Read the rest of this entry »

The Important Stuff

05/28/2013 § 4 Comments

By: Sarah Hanauer, Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale Coordinator

Growing up, I always felt a little deprived. All my friends bought their lunch from school every day, and my mom packed mine. Everyone had cable TV, complete with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, and I had broadcast, which for a short time had One Saturday Morning. Kids got brand new clothes and backpacks before school started each year, and I had to use old clothes, hand me downs, the same old backpack. Even when I got my first apartment, I was sent with my twin sized bed from home instead of being allowed to buy a full sized bed.

When I was young, I was embarrassed that I didn’t have as much new stuff as my peers. It was cool to have stuff. My mom always said “it’s not necessary.” She was always right – I had more than I needed already, and was just caught up in consumerism. What I’ve come to realize is that the coolest thing is this:

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The view from an overlook in San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica. Photo by Sarah Hanauer

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Small Plot, Big Change (and Big Work)

05/27/2013 § 5 Comments

By Audrey Brinkers, Campus Garden Intern

I drove home this weekend, and it was disheartening.  There are lots of cornfields in Indiana, and they are big.  Like, really big.  And they were mocking me, looming into the distance, perfect green expanses for miles.  All I could think about as I looked out on those perfect rows of commercial crops were my own little half-plots of struggling kale, planted by my unsteady hand and aging trough.  I was reminded of my lettuce that was growing bitter in the heat, and of those rusting tomato cages that collapsed in the slightest breeze.  And I did not appreciate it.

But then, I thought about communities, and I thought about changes, and I thought about impact.  I thought about how no one got to experience these farms but the farmers, and about how they didn’t get rambunctious volunteer groups that filled the garden with efficient weeding hands and lots of good stories.  I thought about how they didn’t get to see the future of their food, just shipping it off and not hearing about the taste or smell or feeling after eating fresh celery.  I thought about how their work was done by big machinery and not by hand, and about how they didn’t get awesome thistle callouses and bragging rights over tanlines.

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Sustainability Education Station

05/20/2013 § 3 Comments

By Sarah Baulac, Academic Initiatives Working Group Intern

Part of my work as the AIWG intern is to update the sustainability course listings on the IUOS website. This list is a compilation of courses across campus related to or focused on sustainability. It serves as a tool to help students gain a quality sustainability education.

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There are two types of courses on the list: courses related to sustainability and courses focused on sustainability. The IUOS website defines these terms as follows:

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Pondering Sustainability

05/20/2013 § 4 Comments

By Angelo F. Bardales, Green Teams Coordinator

From the onset of our internships at IUOS, we are encouraged to start thinking about what sustainability means to us, to form our own definition on a personal level—if we hadn’t already started doing so beforehand. In our first reading from A Conservationist Manifesto, we encounter an etymological approach to such words as growth, wealth, and patriotism. While we do not need to take such a detailed approach right off the bat, we can use it as a starting point.

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