Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

June 24, 2017 by  
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The following is an edited excerpt from “Emerge: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community” by Kathleen O’Brien (New Hope Press, 2016).An introduction from the author:

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Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

June 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The following is an edited excerpt from “Emerge: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community” by Kathleen O’Brien (New Hope Press, 2016).An introduction from the author:

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Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

These tiny houses help minimum wage workers become homeowners in Detroit

June 7, 2017 by  
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Detroit, Michigan, may have one of the highest rates of poverty in all metro cities in the U.S., but a new initiative launched by local non-profit Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) aims to make it easier for low-income individuals to escape lower class living. The organization is constructing 25 tiny homes which will house tenants who don’t have the funds to rent their own living quarters or purchase a home. Homeless people, students, and low-income seniors will be given priority. A fundraiser was kicked off last week when CCSS invited the public to tour six completed tiny homes . Located in the two vacant blocks between the Lodge and Woodrow Wilson Street, each home will have a unique exterior, and will range in size from 250 to 400 square feet. The development will also be in walking distance to popular social, education, recreational and health services at Cass’ main campus. Said Cass’ executive director, Reverend Faith Fowler, “The structures are being built with the permission of the city, and with the help of professional tradespeople and volunteers . The project is using a rent-to-own model, with rental prices set at $1 per square foot, meaning that a 300-square-foot house would cost $300 in rent per month. Each will have its own basic furnishings and appliances, but no bedroom — so they are not meant for families.” Potential tenants need to meet low-income eligibility requirements and go through an interview and selection process. Rent is capped at no more than one-third of their monthly wages and after a maximum period of seven years, they will officially own the house . The cost of utilities is expected to run around $35 per month. The initiative is applaudable, but there is a catch: tenants are required to attend financial coaching and home maintenance classes once a month. Related: Tiny house startup Getaway to launch off-grid tiny homes in NYC this weekend “It’s good for everybody. It’s good for the environment , as tiny homes have a small carbon footprint. It’s good for the renter to become homeowners because [they will someday have] an asset. It’s good for the neighborhood because 25 more lots will be filled with people and repopulated. It’s good for the city because they’ll become taxpayers. It’s good for the larger community, especially the homeless community, to see that somebody who used to be homeless now is a stakeholder in our neighborhood. So it’s really good on so many levels, and we’re excited about it,” said Fowler. As TreeHugger reports , the tiny house project is primarily funded by private donations and foundations, including the Ford Motor Fund, the RNR Foundation, and the McGregor Fund. Cass’ ultimate goal is to help revitalize the surrounding area. Because there are over 300 vacant properties within a one-mile radius, the non-profit envisions rehabilitating unoccupied buildings for low-income residents and operating on the same rent-to-own basis. Via TreeHugger Images via CassCommunity WordPress , Cass Community Facebook

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These tiny houses help minimum wage workers become homeowners in Detroit

This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution

April 28, 2017 by  
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Residents of Arizona Sky Village abide by one simple rule: “Turn off your goddammed lights .” The 21-household community near Portal, Arizona is comprised of stargazers and astronomers, and almost every home has its own domed observatory. But some people also wonder if the small community could hold the secrets of fighting light pollution in America. In Arizona Sky Village, clear night skies are a major priority. There are no outdoor lights allowed, and every single window in every home must have blackout curtains. Nighttime driving isn’t forbidden, but it’s discouraged, and most residents are too busy gazing at the stars to drive anyway. Co-founder Jack Newton condensed it all into that one colorful rule: turn off those lights! Related: What City Skies Would Look Like Without Light Pollution Newton, who is nearly 75, said he spends “90 percent of my time up in my dome.” He’s made three supernova discoveries in 2017 alone, and the International Astronomical Union christened an asteroid 30840 Jackalice after him and his wife Alice. He doesn’t even own the largest telescope in the community; that honor goes to neighbor Rick Beno , who has a 24-inch telescope. Many residents once had scientific careers and now spend their retirement in Arizona Sky Village – like retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak – but Newton managed department stores during his career. Few Americans benefit from the starry skies of Arizona Sky Village. The American Astronomical Society says people have a universal right to starlight; but around 99 percent of Americans actually live with a constant sky glow, according to The Guardian. Light pollution isn’t just bad for stargazing; it could have an impact on health as well. Blue lights streaming from cellphones and laptops have led to insomnia in some users and evidence isn’t conclusive yet but some studies suggest changing the light and dark rhythms in our bodies could increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cancer. International Dark Sky Association astronomer John Barentine said in Arizona Sky Village, “the people are already practicing what we recommend.” Kitt Peak National Observatory director Lori Allen told The Guardian to help keep skies dark, “There are three simple things people can do. Shield their lights, dim their lights, and use the right color bulbs.” Via The Guardian Images via John Fowler on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution

NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

April 3, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could mean the kiss of death for New York City’s community gardens . More than 500 of the communal spaces across all five boroughs depend on a program called GreenThumb , which is administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation . Initiated in the wake of the 1970s fiscal crisis, which resulted in the widespread abandonment of both private and public land, GreenThumb has turned hundreds of derelict lots into tillage. Most of its funding comes from federal Community Development Block Grants—the same ones the budget blueprint seeks to eliminate. Should the budget pass, GreenThumb risks losing $1 million a year out of a $2.4 million budget, according to WNYC . Related: Detroit nonprofit seeks crowdfunding for new East Side community garden “It would be devastating to GreenThumb, it would mean laying off a dozen workers or more, and it would be less money for supplies, for bulbs, for tools,” said New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Levine, WNYC adds, is working on securing more money for community gardens, as well as the restoration of jobs for 150 Parks department gardeners and maintenance workers. Via WNYC Photos by Unsplash

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NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

New Dutch bicycle bridge doubles as a green roof for a school

April 3, 2017 by  
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Who said bridges can’t be fun? A new bridge in the Dutch city of Utrecht is not only pulling double duty as a pedestrian and bike path, but it also forms a roof garden over a local school that’s surrounded by a green public park. Designed by NEXT Architects , the unique Dafne Schippers Bridge – which will officially open on April 3rd – covers the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal in Utrecht and provides the community with plenty of space to run, bike and play. Working under commission for the city, NEXT Architects collaborated with Rudy Uytenhaak Architectenbureau , Arup and Bureau B+B landscape architects , to create a unique design that focused on the needs of the community. Although typical bridges tend to be solitary, functional structures, the ambitious layout of Dafne Schippers Bridge makes it an integral part of the area’s urban design , complete with smooth cycling and walking lanes, all surrounded by expansive greenery. Related: Lush Green Lilypad Bridge Spins Open to Accomodate Boat Traffic The bridge itself is approximately 360 feet and connects the old part of Utrecht with the new district Leidsche Rijn. From the Utrecht district of Oog in Al, cyclists and pedestrians follow a long bend upwards through Victor Hugo Park. The path leads through the green roof of a local Montessori school. Marijn Schenk, from NEXT architects explains that this cohesive design is meant to create a seamless connection for the community, “In one fluid movement, the cycle route, park, and school are brought together to form a cohesive whole of infrastructure, architecture, and landscape,” + Next Architects

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New Dutch bicycle bridge doubles as a green roof for a school

Historic Missouri church rises from the ashes with an eco-friendly twist

April 3, 2017 by  
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When the 2011 catastrophic fire ravaged the historic Westport Presbyterian Church in Kansas City , much of the church’s structure and finishes were completely destroyed. Fortunately, however, the original limestone facade survived in good condition. Rather than knock down the building and start anew, Kansas City-based design firm BNIM reconstructed the iconic church, from the painstaking restoration of sacred components to the creation of a new addition that features modern and eco-friendly elements. Built in 1905, the 27,000-square-foot multi-story Westport Presbyterian Church is one of the most iconic buildings in Kansas City’s historic Westport community. BNIM and the community came together to rebuild the church and tackle the challenges of preserving original elements while crafting a space that was also dynamic and progressive. Parts of the church considered not sacred were deconstructed and large amounts of salvaged material —from the reclamation of 40,000 feet of pinewood framing material to the reuse of original limestone—were used in reconstruction. The restored and renovated church features a new addition with a 150-seat sanctuary, 40-seat chapel , gathering space, fellowship room, 3,000-square-foot multipurpose room, a 1,000-square-foot street-facing “community room”, administrative offices and office space that will be leased to a Westport area nonprofit. The renovation includes energy saving elements such as LEDs and contemporary stormwater management practices. All stained glass was restored and reinstalled in contemporary mounting. The project won an AIA Kansas Merit Award and an AIA Kansas City Citation Award. Related: Stunning see-through church is made from stacked weathered steel “This is one that put a smile on all our faces,” said an AIA Kansas City jury member. “There was a fire, and it destroyed just about everything on this church except for the stone walls. For the community to come together and rebuild this, and do it in such a thoughtful, elegant, and modern way, was something the jury really applauded.” Another jury member added: “It wasn’t just a restoration, it was a repositioning of the whole church itself. It made for a better building, and we think more connected to the community.” + BNIM Images via BNIM

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Historic Missouri church rises from the ashes with an eco-friendly twist

Tiny Scottish island powers itself with community-owned off-grid energy system

March 31, 2017 by  
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When you think of the future of electricity in the world, you probably don’t envision a small island off the coast of Scotland leading the way. But the 12-square-mile Scottish island of Eigg has become a shining example of how communities that aren’t connected to larger grids can do it themselves with clean energy . As the BBC reports, Eigg made the revolutionary move in 2008 to shed its noisy diesel-generated power in favor of an off-grid electric system that uses only wind, water and solar power . It was the first community in the world to make this bold move, and what’s more, the clearly self-reliant residents pretty much taught themselves how to build and run the system. Since the diesel generators they previously used only ran for a small part of each day, getting rid of them in favor of clean energy also meant the community had power available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first time. The community-owned system, Eigg Electric , keeps energy flowing on a regular basis by integrating three power sources from wind, solar and hydroelectric. A set of four wind turbines feed up to 24 kilowatts into the grid, while a set of solar panels contribute an annual average of 9.5 percent of their rated output of 50 kilowatts. Shoring up the rather unreliable wind and solar power components are three hydroelectric generating stations spread throughout the island. One puts out up to 100 kilowatts, while the others generate 5 to 6 kilowatts each. Related: Australia announces massive $1B solar farm with the world’s largest battery Working together, these three power sources provide 90 to 95 percent of the island’s electricity. Occasionally they have to fire up their two backup generators when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and sometimes they produce more power than they need. In the latter case, the excess power benefits the community by automatically turning on heating systems in shared spaces like the community hall—so everyone benefits. Their system and public ownership model has already reached other communities around the world that a face the same challenge of not being connected to the grid. Community Energy Malawi , a sister organization to Community Energy Scotland , sent representatives to Eigg last year to study the system. They were encouraged by the fact that people with a non-technical background could learn to build and operate a reliable renewable energy system. Via BBC Images via W. L. Tarbert , Wikimedia Commons and isleofeigg , Flickr Creative Commons

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Tiny Scottish island powers itself with community-owned off-grid energy system

Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

March 23, 2017 by  
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Madison just became the first city in Wisconsin and the largest city in the Midwest to commit to 100 percent clean energy in just the latest example of how President Donald Trump can’t stop the renewables revolution. The state capital and college town is the 25th US city to commit to the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy following Tuesday’s city council vote. The vote allocated $250,000 to develop a plan by January 18, 2018 for city operations to achieve goals of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, including electricity, heating and transportation. “Madison’s historic commitment to 100 percent clean energy shows that we are determined to lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment,” Madison Common Council Alder Zach Wood said in a statement. “The benefits of a transition to 100 percent clean energy are many. These goals will drive a clean energy economy that creates local jobs, provides affordable and sustainable electricity, and results in cleaner air and water. I am proud to be a part of this council that has made the historic commitment that will lead our community to a more sustainable future.” Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy Abita Springs, Louisiana also voted on Tuesday to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. The Sierra Club said that Madison and Abita Springs both committing to 100 percent clean energy demonstrates that there is bipartisan support across the country for a renewable energy future because liberal Madison voted for Hillary Clinton while conservative voters in Abita Springs went for Donald Trump. “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy, and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs,” Greg Lemons, mayor of Abita Springs, said in a statement. “Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense. By establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal, we have an opportunity to use solar power that we can control in our community, for our community. Clean energy is a way that we can save money for Abita Springs both today and in the future.” Other American cities that have made the 100 percent renewable energy pledge include Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; the California cities of San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose; Rochester, Minnesota; St. Petersburg, Florida; Grand Rapids, Michigan; East Hampton, New York; Greensburg, Kansas; and Georgetown, Texas. Via Sierra Club Image 1 , 2 via Good Free Photos

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Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

Incredible video of Mars stitched together by hand from 33,000 images

March 23, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to get up-close and personal with Mars , check out this incredible video recently released by NASA that shows the Red Planet’s surface in stunning detail. Entitled “A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars,” the video is a composite made from about 33,000 of the 50,000 high-resolution stereo images of the planet’s terrain made over the past 12 years by the powerful camera used in NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). These stereogram images depict the planet’s surface in incredible detail, which can only truly be appreciated in still images by using 3D glasses—or when merged together into an active, three dimensional, fly-over view, as was done by Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman when creating this video. As Wired notes, Mars’ dusty atmosphere obfuscates its surface with massive storms so regularly that the only way to get a decent look at the planet is through imaging technology. So that’s what NASA did. “The best way to see the planet’s surface would be to take a digital image and enhance it on your computer, said planetary geologist and principal investigator for HiRISE, Alfred McEwen. Related: The UAE joins the race to build first city on Mars https://vimeo.com/207076450 Enter Fröjdman, who assembled the flyover shots piece by piece and colorized the monochrome images captured by the HiRISE camera. He was also responsible for identifying features like craters, canyons and mountains, then matching them between pairs of images. The 3D panning effect was the result of a painstaking process that involved stitching the images along reference points and then rendering them as frames in a video. Fröjdman spent three months working on the project, during which time he picked and stitched by hand more than 33,000 images. The result of his work is worth the effort—a truly stunning video. Via Wired Video and image via Jan Fröjdman , Vimeo

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Incredible video of Mars stitched together by hand from 33,000 images

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