Monday, February 25, 2008

4 Story biofilter - A Living Wall, University of Guelph-Humber

Business Edge
Mission Green

This wall looks amazing! Four stories of ferns, potato vines, English ivy, and the tropical tradescantia vine. ... umbrella and spider plants, the leathery-leafed silver vase, shiny crotons, hibiscus and benjamin fig.

Orchids and other flowers bloom randomly throughout the year "giving off a feel-good effect of texture, scent and vibrant colour even as the wind howls and the snow swirls outside."

The wall installation was the idea of architect Birgit Siber of Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc., who also designed the building that houses classrooms, offices, labs and an Internet cafe. This was a joint venture with the University of Guelph and Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

As with most innovative ventures...a major selling points of the wall is the potential to save money. "Most buildings maintain indoor air quality by bringing in fresh air from the outside through ventilation systems. In the winter, outdoor air must be heated to room temperature, and in the summer it needs cooling....A biofilter can substantially reduce the need to bring in fresh air by generating clean air indoors. If it is used to its fullest capacity, Darlington estimates it can save 0.3 to 3.5 kilowatts per person in the height of summer and winter."

Another benefit of course is the positive psychological effect of green plants.... Studies from Washington State University found that greening indoor space can reduce absenteeism by 10 per cent and increase productivity by 12 per cent.

The wall requires pruning and trimming so that it doesn't get weighed down so the student at guelph college maintain the wall on a weekly basis. Also, because this is a continuous living research project the student study the plants and filters.

Capital costs: $500,000 for the design & installation
$21,000 annually for maintenance.

Air Quality Solutions has installed smaller biofilters at Queen's University in Kingston, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority head office, and an office building in downtown Toronto, but the Guelph-Humber system is the largest so far.
More reads:

+ University of Guelph

+ Back to Nature- the biowall returns clean air to commercial spaces

Friday, February 22, 2008


Korks 4 Kids is a not-for-profit program, organized
through Recycle Cork USA, LLC. to raise funds from the recycling of
cork for Children's Charities.

You can make a difference - your corks combined with others can help in finding a cure for many childhood maladies.

Once you have a sizable amount. Send your corks to :

Korks 4 Kids Program
510 Wynwood Road
York, Pennsylvania 17402

Korks 4 Kids is also interested in partnering with restuarants, taverns or wine distributers...
Read more here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Upcoming Houston EVENTS

CLEAN is featuring Manufactured Landscapes as part of our 2008 Environmental Film Series.

Manufactured Landscapes is the portrait of one man’s voyage as it follows celebrated still photographer Edward Burtynsky on a tour of Asia. Burtynsky takes large-format stills of industrial landscapes: factory workers lined up in infinity, giant ships eviscerated, massive recycling dumps, expansive strip mines. His goal is to portray humanity’s relationship to nature as we pursue progress. When Burtynsky speaks, he neither celebrates or condemns but simply explores who were are in relation to our planet. We extract things from the environment to survive, and that is damaging the world.

When: February 20th @ 7 pm
Where: Rice Media Center, Rice University (Entrance #8 located at Stockton and University Blvd.)
Fee: None, however, donations will be accepted at the door.

**View Trailer**

More on upcoming film screenings

Land Use in Houston:The Gulf Coast Institute, Blueprint Houston, Houstonians for Responsible Growth, and the Greater Houston Partnership will sponsor a free public forum about land use issues in the City of Houston.
Listen, learn, and help decide Houston’s future.

WHEN: February 26th from 5:30-7 pm
WHERE: George R. Brown Convention Center
For More information, see invitation

Friday, February 15, 2008

Houston and Nuclear

To follow on a recent GTH post on Nucluear energy I thought I would draw attention to a recent article in CLEAN (The Citizens League for Environmental Action Now):

The Dirt on Nuclear Power

by Vicki Wolf, February 2008

NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG) has applied for the licensing of two new nuclear reactors for the South Texas Project in Matagorda County, near Bay City. Seven more new reactors are proposed for Texas. But these plants don’t need to be built. According to Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., an electrical engineer, specialized in controlled nuclear fusion, there is no need to rely on the dirty energy of nuclear, fossil fuel or biofuels made from food crops for future energy needs. He has systematically analyzed the energy situation and found it is quite possible to have a clean energy future, relying on efficiency, conservation and clean, renewable technology.

comments/editorial: Pause for Precaution...

UTNE Magazine had a great article with the pros and cons of nuclear worth a read titled ATOMIC DREAMS.
I thought it was pretty thorough.

Ashby Highrise Concerns

This post has been long and late in coming. What is going on with the Ashby Highrise?

The Buckhead developers ,Kevin Kirton and Matthew Morgan, requested a meeting with representatives of the Stop Ashby High Rise Task Force to discuss alternatives to the construction of the 23-story commercial/residential building at 1717 Ashby that they originally proposed.

Apparently they're willing to negotiate a deal where:
  1. They'll Reduce the height of the structure to 19 stories by building fewer, bigger condominium units, but they reserved the right to build as many units as originally proposed if they could not sell enough of the larger units.
  2. If they received a cash payment of $2.65 million, they would build a 6 story building consisting of two floors or parking and four floors of apartments.
As of this morning the Council approved a motion by Council Member Clutterbuck to delay consideration of the high density ordinance for two more weeks. The Buckhead developers have also agreed to delay any permitting on the Ashby High Rise for this same two week period.

My 2 cents (i have to):
Some have tried to argue that people should not fight change. I agree some change is inevitable and allows us to progress as a community....

but somehow i don't think that this is the with a lot of development in Houston, the main focus is usually on $$ to be made... of course... but shouldn't there be some consideration and thought taken on how they might also improve or add to a neighborhood....thus making such a development even more desirable? Thoughtful design is good design. There's nothing that says that developers and residents couldn't have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Well, just in case you have my same sentiments maybe you'll want to sign the petition to stop the ashby 23 storey highrise. ;)

Have a great weekend!

Other reads:

+ Ashby highrise ordinance delayed again
+Houston Strategies
+Recent Houston Chronicle Article