Saturday, November 28, 2009

Green Building

A sustainable building, or green building is an outcome of a design philosophy which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal. Though green building is interpreted in many different ways, a common view is that they should be designed and operated to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:
  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation
A similar concept to green building is natural building, which is usually on a smaller scale and tends to focus on the use of natural materials that are available locally. Other related topics include sustainable design, green architecture, and energy efficient buildings.
Green building brings together a vast array of practices and techniques to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of buildings on the environment and human health. It often emphasizes taking advantage of renewable resources, e.g., using sunlight through passive solar, active solar, and photovoltaic techniques and using plants and trees through green roofs, rain gardens, and for reduction of rainwater run-off. Many other techniques, such as using packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of ground water, are used as well. Effective green buildings are more than just a random collection of environmental friendly technologies, however. They require careful, systemic attention to the full life cycle impacts of the resources embodied in the building and to the resource consumption and pollution emissions over the building's complete life cycle. Before focusing on materials and techniques, some believe that the first priority for green building is to reduce the building's demand on resources and energy, and recognize the direct relationship between a building's size and its demands.
On the aesthetic side of green architecture or sustainable design is the philosophy of designing a building that is in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the site. There are several key steps in designing sustainable buildings: specify 'green' building materials from local sources, reduce loads, optimize systems, and generate on-site renewable energy.


Building materials typically considered to be 'green' include rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo (because bamboo grows quickly) and straw, lumber from forests certified to be sustainably managed, ecology blocks, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable (e.g. Trass, Linoleum, sheep wool, panels made from paper flakes, compressed earth block, adobe, baked earth, rammed earth, clay, vermiculite, flax linen, sisal, seagrass, cork, expanded clay grains, coconut, wood fibre plates, calcium sand stone, concrete (high and ultra high performance, roman self-healing concrete, etc.) The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) also suggests using recycled industrial goods, such as coal combustion products, foundry sand, and demolition debris in construction projects Polyurethane heavily reduces carbon emissions as well. Polyurethane blocks are being used instead of CMTs by companies like American Insulock. Polyurethane blocks provide more speed, less cost, and they are environmentally friendly.
Building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally to the building site to minimize the energy embedded in their transportation as well.
For more information about Green Building: Green Building A to Z: Understanding the Language of Green Building by Jeffy Yudelson.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens primarily have been created to monitor, categorize, and document growth, and habits for scientific purposes. Botanists and horticulturalists tend and maintain the garden's vast library and herbarium of plants and plant material. Botanical gardens often also serve to entertain and educate the public, upon whom many depend for funding. Not all botanical gardens are open to the public: for example the Chelsea Physic Garden. According to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, "Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education."

Starting in the 18th century, European botanical gardens sent plant-collecting expeditions to various parts of the world and published their findings. Voyages of exploration routinely included botanists for this purpose. Subsequent scientific work studied how these exotic plants might be adapted to grow in the garden's locale, how to classify them, and how to propagate rare or endangered species. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, near London, has continuously published journals and more recently catalogues and databases since this time.

For more reading on botanical gardens: Great Botanic Gardens of the World by Sara Oldfield.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

National Gardening Association

The National Gardening Association (NGA), founded in 1973, is a nonprofit leader in plant-based education. The NGA provides any with materials engineered to develop an appreciation for the benefits of gardening to a society.

The National Gardening Association's thought is that "plants have the power to change our lives. They enable the simple and therapeutic pleasure of working in one’s own garden. They play a basic role in providing clean air and serve as a nutritious basis for healthy living. And they are uniquely effective teaching tools." The National Gardening Association has been working for over 30 years to sustain and renew the connection between people, plants, and the environment through the principles taught in gardening.

The NGA's programs and initiatives seek to highlight the opportunities for plant-based education in schools, communities, and personal backyards throughout the United States. They strive to serve as a connection from people to gardening in five core fields:
  • Plant-based Education
  • Health and Wellness
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Community Development
  • Responsible Home Gardening
National Gardening Association's Core Fields of Emphasis
General Programs and Activities of the NGA
Web Sites
For more reading on Gardening with Children: Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children. By Sharon Lovejoy.

Sustainability News

Check back for more news later


I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.