Friday, December 05, 2008

Dallas Design Charette

The City of Dallas will host a full-day “Design Charrette” this Friday to examine the necessary framework and community impact of what will become the first fully sustainable, urban square block in the United States. The Charrette, attended by community design and urban planning experts from across the nation, will be held at City Hall from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm. The outcome of the day will include a series of recommendations which will in turn structure an international design competition to create the actual block. That competition, which kicks off in January 2009, will invite architects and planners from around the world to translate the needs of the Dallas Community into structural designs for the future city block.
“The goal is to create the first fully sustainable block downtown,” said Brent Brown, Dallas architect and founder of the building community WORKSHOP . “And by sustainable, we mean a place that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy. We’ll take the first step in that effort on Friday.”

Hosted by the City of Dallas, San Francisco-based Urban Re:Vision and Dallas’ building community WORKSHOP, the Charrette will look at the common city block in an uncommon way, examining the impact of this particular city block’s development on the City of Dallas and its surrounding area. In rethinking the city block, experts will re-assess the potential value of available resources like water, waste, and air and how to strike the delicate balance between economy and equality.

“Our job on December 5th is to explore how pivotal the city block is in the urban landscape, and how it can be used as a catalyst for a whole new way of living,” said Stacey Frost , Founder of Urban Re:Vision. “This process is one that puts real people first and promotes sustainability.”

Potential requirements, barriers, and changes will be examined in an effort to pave the way for the implementation of the proposed site. This examination will also serve to aid both site-specific, and regional decision-making. Topics will include: energy systems, transportation, the natural and developed environment, community, the economy and technology.

Additional groups involved include Downtown Dallas, The Real Estate Council, Central Dallas Ministries, The Institute for Urban Policy Planning, Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, Enterprise Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Vision North Texas and others. Participants from outside the Dallas area include representatives of the Biomimicry Institute, Architecture for Humanity, ARUP, Organic Architect, United States Green Building Council, and others.

Media attendance will be strictly limited, RSVP required
Location: Dallas City Hall
Date: December 5, 2008

8:30 - 10:30:Registration, Discussion & Mayor’s Welcome
12:00 - 1:30: Lunch / Interviews
4:00 - 5:30: Presentation of Regional Plans / Question and Analysis

Monday, November 17, 2008

another one for ike...

Just had to share this last piece composed of a pine slab wish simple and clean glass shelves by design lush

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ike Trees

After Hurricane Ike's passing I'm sure we all witnessed the demise of so many beautiful oaks among many other trees that lined our streets and yards.

The city of Houston proposed a contest- Recycle Ike - for the best idea of what to do with all these fallen trees (aside from converting it to mulch).
The site said it was "looking for ideas that are creative, practical, sustainable, adaptable, and make a big impact. Ideas should also address green house gas reductions, economic issues (benefit/cost ratio), and sustained creation of enterprise. The wood debris consists of branches, limbs, natural wood, woody prunings, stumps, trunks, and other woody vegetation."

Although the deadline has passed and the winners are yet to be announced, it seems like everywhere i look i see ideas. These are a few I'm quite fond of:

Simple stools or drink tables at a lounge in D.C.

These mutli-purpose tables/stools are dried in a solar-powered kiln and painted with VOC-free milk paint. According to the Pfeifer Studio site, the paint is made with the "same basic ingredients used during the Colonial era—milk protein, lime, and earthly pigments."
Custom teak coffee table:
I can't imagine how heavy this piece is but beautiful none the less.

Log Bowls from Loyal Loot. Made from reclaimed wood logs and water-based glossy finish

New York based Shimna has created some new natural pieces of furniture for 2008. They are the ‘Log’ table made from a walnut tree trunk with a 12″ round glass inset and the Susquehanna Coffee Table made from solid walnut with an individually carved seat. As an added bonus the coffee table has hidden storage.

Side table made out of glass and wood branches from fallen trees -

Friday, October 10, 2008

In The News

+ Texas Architect Magazine recently covered UofH Design Exploration Building in which Green Team Houston members were credited! yay!
"Faced with the imminent demolition of a World War II-vintage structure adjacent to the University of Houston’s College of Architecture, school officials devised a metamorphosis that not only honors the original building’s utilitarian design but also enhances scholarship on the urban campus."

+ Wall Street Journal Covers Green Roofs- "Even without the incentives, the extra cost of building a green roof -- a 30% to 50% premium, compared with a conventional roof -- can be recouped within about five years, says Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow for sustainable development at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C." See Video Below:

+ also had an interesting story on America's Hottest Green Job Markets:
"...the green economy could soon become the nation's fastest-growing job segment, accounting for roughly 10% of new jobs over the next 20 years. The report forecasts that by 2038, renewable electricity production will create 1.23 million jobs; alternative transportation fuels, 1.5 million jobs; engineering, legal, research and consulting positions will be more than 1.4 million; and commercial and residential retrofits at 81,000 jobs, for a total of 4.2 million.

Where will they be? The country's big cities, like Houston."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rice Gallery Opening

Free Energy Modeling

via Inhabitat

Hope everyone is doing ok after Ike.
I figured a free-b could help lift some spirits.

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) is offering a free plug-in for Google SketchUp that will energy modeling on projects.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kirby trees

Some of the live oak trees that lined Kirby Drive were removed overnight as part of a controversial reconstruction project between Westheimer and Richmond.
Video by Jason Witmer. July 29, 2008

SAFE Green Toys

Green Toys uses recycled milk containers as the main ingredient in creating their toys. Next, the milk containers are reprocessed into super clean fresh plastic. The plastic material we use is called high-density polyethylene (or HDPE). This material is considered one of the safest, cleanest plastics around.

Made in California, USA: Less Transportation, Less Energy

All Green Toys products are 100% made in the USA. To be more specific, they
are produced in California, a state known for strict toy safety and environmental laws...
The raw materials and toys aren't shipped from overseas, which saves a lot of energy and reduces greenhouse gasses.

Environmental Packaging
All Green Toys products are packaged in recycled corrugated boxes with no plastics, cellophane or
twist-ties, and are 100% recyclable.

Friday, July 18, 2008

ABC news on "deconstruction"

Are you building a home or remodeling one? There may be a way to save some cash and help the environment."

Watch their video as they tour the Habitat for humanity storage facility and talk to several Houstonians about the benefits of reclaiming goods for their construction projects.

" The benefits of deconstruction are many. First off, it cost consumers less and preserves old architecture.... Also, it more importantly keeps the Earth a little cleaner."

If you'd like to get involved with Habitat For Humanity, click here, or use this link to find out more about Historic Houston.

Green Living Home

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Green as Sexy

I don't think this is the first merger of consumer energy price angst with Madision Avenue marketing suave, and it probably won't be the last. Personally, I'm glad green is sexy and mainstream (it's long overdue). watch the video ;)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Greening with Moss

I just love moss... the color, the softness... its persistance. I recently dug out some clumps from my sidewalk and have it in a dish... sometimes I forget it's there and it doesn't look too great... but I spray it and it comes back to life in no time.

Since they obtain all their nutrients from the air (moss has no true roots), moss plants require nothing more than shade, acidic soil, and adequate moisture to flourish. Moss also seems to prefer poor quality soils with low nutrient levels. SCORE!

Below are some "designed" examples using moss for inspiration.

-Home by Japanese firm NENDO

Moistscape - This is a cool moss installationinstallation using moss by frcll in NYC - "spatial configuration of these verdant planes - they vary in size, height and proximity to the visitor - creates a range of possible encounters."

Moss Covered Solar Powered Vending Machine-

Fuji Electric's solar powered vending machine, where the panels supply sufficient energy to heat and cool the beverages, while the moss covering "helps improve insulation.

Moss Installation and graffiti by Edina Tokodi

-A prototype green wall installation for the 2008 AIA convention in Boston in May - aims to transform a blank brick wall into ‘a lush green environment’, both bringing attention to underutilized sites in Boston and providing a green solution to improve public space in the city.

Actually i think these are sedum but i can easily see how it could be moss. :)

TIP: Before utilizing moss as part of your shade gardening plans, the soil bed for the moss plants should first be tested to ensure that the pH is between 5.0 and 6.0 (lower is o.k. - 6.5 is max., but not ideal).

+ Wall Greening System Using Moss
+Moss Acres on HGTV
+Moss Gardening: Including Lichens, Liverworts and Other Miniatures [ILLUSTRATED] (Hardcover)

+ Recipe for Moss Graffiti

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Green Choices

How to Choose Green
Here are some factors to consider when choosing for maximum sustainability:

Product Weight:
Products that weigh less require less raw materials to create and consume fewer natural resources than comparable, heavier products. The energy and fuel required to transport products can also be reduced by lighter-weight products.

Number of Parts:
Products designed for both maximum function and simplicity will, by their very nature, require as few parts as possible. Fewer parts mean fewer manufacturing processes, less shipping, and less packaging, all of which save energy and carbon emissions.

Recycled and Recyclable Content:
While recyclability is often a hallmark of a green product, use of recycled materials is a better sign of an earth-conscious manufacturer. Select products that contain both recycled and recyclable content for maximum sustainability.

Ease of Disassembly and Upgradeability:

Products designed for quick and simple disassembly are more likely to be recycled than those that are difficult to take apart. And products that can be easily upgraded in the field-for instance, the replacement of spent cushions on task seating-enable longer product life. This, in turn, limits the waste that could be generated by the disposal of used products as well as the resources that would be required to replace products in their entirety.

Aluminum Components:
The use of lightweight aluminum signifies quality as well as green characterisitcs. Aluminum never degrades, so it can be recycled infinitely, and because recyclers are paid a premium for aluminum scrap, the likelihood that a product containing aluminum will be recycled is higher than products made of less valuable components like recyclable plastic.

Distribution Practices:
Products and packaging designed to use the fewest and smallest boxes possible not only reduce waste, but allow more items to fit on delivery trucks to cut back on emissions and fossil fuels. Packaging should be eliminated entirely whenever feasible.

Quality and Durability:
Quality counts when it comes to sustainability. Long-lasting, high performance products require replacement less frequently than lower quality choices, reducing the impact of disposal and replacement.

Additional Green Practices:
Manufacturers can lead by example by utilizing green vendors themselves-such as using printers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to create marketing materials-and by supporting environmental causes and reputable organizations.

~ Good design achieves more with less--especially when it comes to our Earth's limited resources. At Humanscale, environmental sustainability is integral to every step of product development to complement function, quality, and aesthetics for tools that provide maximum ergonomic comfort with minimal environmental stress.
For more information about Humanscale products contact us at (713) 871-8686 or by visiting the website

Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Distinguished Speaker Series

"The combined costs of housing and transportation are most affordable in areas well-served by public transit."
- Scott Bernstein

Thursday, June 26, 7 pm United Way

Nobody has spent more time studying the relationship of transporation and housing in America than Scott Bernstein, who will give a lecture in Houston on Thursday, June 26, 7 pm, at the United Way Community Resource Center, 50 Waugh Drive. Admission is free.

Bernstein will be hosted by the Gulf Coast Institute, as the first in the Distinguished Speaker Series, funded by the Anchorage Foundation of Texas.
The title of Bernstein's talk is "Flying blind? Or fully aware? - How smarter use of scarce resources can fuel economic success"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Third Ward TX

3rd Ward, TX is a 57-minute-long documentary on a community planning initiative in Houston, Texas’ third ward as depicted by filmmaker Andrew Garrison. As quoted from the website:

Project Row Houses is the unexpected home of cutting-edge art and visionary thinking about inner-city renewal…When deep-pocket developers arrive, art, life, and real estate collide and Project Row Houses must offer new thinking about livable communities.

Watch the trailer on the blog:

You can purchase the documentary HERE.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Watch TV

....Tomorrow, June 4th at 6pm to see the launch of Planet Green, the first and only 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network.

They're weekly schedule will remind you of shows you're interested in watching such as Wa$ over substance on Thursday or Solar Showdown on Sunday.

Their site also has a lot of fun and useful info such as green guides for cars, pets, computers and even womens jeans.

Go to their Channel finder to find out what channel you can watch it on...anywhere.

Monday, June 02, 2008


and "Green"....?
My sister recently sent me a link to finding cheap gas in my area....i think CNN recently did a story on it's accuracy... which got me thinking about other ways to $ave....and apparently a lot of other people as well from congressional offices to my husband are thinking this way.

According to these energy saving techniques you can save $60/yr using CFL's, $150/year using a programmable thermostat, $274 per year caulking and weatherstripping windows.

That's a saving of almost $500/yr just with THREE things. Imagine if you did a couple of more things:

Carpooling, driving the speed limit... switching to a fuel efficient vehicle?
Last month we went to San Francisco and rented a hybrid. We drove for 4 days from S.F. to various areas in Oakland and Contra Costa county in California traffic and back. Our surprise came at the pump when we went to fill up. $20 (about 5 gallons!) THAT'S IT!?!!? I was so impressed because it costs $50 just to fill up my Mini!

WATER: Saving water with low flow faucet and bathroom fixtures or using aerators, Xeroscaping with Natives, Rain barrels to capture and reuse rainwater...(from hurricane season??? :|) Also use energy star efficient appliances such as your dish washer or clothes washer.

Buying local: such as farmers markets supports your local economy, healthier, and actually is saving on gas by not buying grapes that have to be transported from chile.

Shopping bags, containers...(I was thinking of this the other day in the shower as I used a sample bottle of shampoo... why do i keep buying travel sizes... i could just reuse one of the travel sizes refill with my big bottle of shampoo and also avoid using the hotels travel sizes...which i realized i have a whole drawer full of old hotel travel shampoos... lots to trash and what a waste of space !)

And of course Recycling. You can recycle just about anything these days from your cell phone and ink cartridges via the USPS to large appliances by listing them free on freecycle, craigslist, or donating to .... you can even check out the Steel Recycling Institute to find out where the closest place you can recycle your steel appliances such as that old fridge sitting in your garage.

I can't help to think that perhaps this crisis has spurred some positive personal responsibility in all of us out of the desire/need to save money... not that the high gas and food prices are a good thing...but perhaps this train of thought will persist.

If you have any other suggestions or other resources on how to "$ave" please feel free to comment and share the knowledge. HAPPY MONDAY!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The story of Stuff

For those of you who haven't seen this....Great story of production, consumption and disposal...and as a result a little long... but definiltey worth a watch and some thought. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

UH Green roof + Metropolis

Last month Metropolis Magazine published the University of Houston's green roof on the Burdette Keeland design exploration center. Very cool! ( Click on the images to get a better read/look. )