Monday, November 26, 2007

Going Green

Going Green – Understanding the Complexities

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
4:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
Rock Salt on Latitude 47
1232 Westlake Avenue North, Seattle

Please join us at 4:00 p.m. before the session for the MPAC Meeting to plan future programs.

Program Description

As the Muppets’ Kermit the Frog soulfully sang: “It’s not easy being green.”

Join us for a presentation on how Sustainable Design is actually being implemented in the Northwest and the complexities of going green. Our discussion will explore questions such as:

How can agencies respond to the market while protecting Public safety and the environment?
What of leadership strategies are needed to assist smaller groups managing volunteer projects?
How to effectively review green projects and why it’s not business-as-usual.
How do we consider life-cycle costs vs. capital costs on sustainable projects?
Can we use multiple scenarios during project selection to identify potential weaknesses in plans?

Our speakers will draw from project and professional experience to discuss these topics, with an emphasis on storm water management and lessons learned. They will discuss present and future green drainage design guidance, associated regulatory framework, relationships between agencies and private partners, retrofitting of existing facilities with green features, and components for successfully completing a Low Impact Development (LID) project from planning through the operations and maintenance phases.

Peg Staeheli, ASLA, LEED® AP, is president of SvR Design Company, a Seattle-based landscape architecture and civil engineering firm specializing in integrated and environmentally responsible design. SvR recently won the ASCE Region 8 Outstanding Project Award their work on the High Point Redevelopment and Storm Drainage Project. SvR’s practice includes green infrastructure, complete streets, facilities, civic and community centers, mixed-use development, housing, parks, and restoration. Peg works with public agencies and private clients on planning, selecting, and funding capital improvement projects. Peg has presented on sustainable and low impact development approaches encouraging a shift in our industry at venues including APWA, Stormcon, the National Low Impact Development Conferences, Seattle Great Cities and the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Christopher W. May, Ph.D., is a member of the urban watersheds group at Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). Chris is a freshwater ecologist with an environmental engineering background and expertise in urban watershed assessment and management. Chris specializes in stormwater management, low impact development (LID), watershed analysis using geographic information systems (GIS), salmonid habitat assessment, urban stream rehabilitation, water quality monitoring, stream biological assessment, and watershed restoration. Chris is an adjunct faculty member of Western Washington University, Huxley School of Environmental Studies, University of Washington, Tacoma Environmental Science Program, and the University of Washington, Professional Engineering Program.


4:45 - 5:30 pm Registration, Appetizers and No Host Social
5:30 - 6:50 pm Presentation and Q&A
7:00 - 7:45 pm Dinner and Discussion

Registration Fee (includes dinner): $37.00
Please register by Wednesday, December 5, 2007.
Refunds: No refunds for cancellations after noon on Monday, December 10, 2007. “No shows” that have not pre-paid will be billed.

Prepayment is encouraged and greatly appreciated by our volunteer registration staff at the meeting.

Register and pay by mail at or online at and follow the direction for registration and prepayment. Print the registration confirmation/invoice form and bring a copy with you to the meeting. Registrations may be paid through PayPal or you may mail a copy of the invoice with your check (payable to APWA) to:

APWA/MPAC December Meeting
c/o Municipal Research and Services Center
2601 Fourth Avenue, Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98121-1280

Confirm your reservation at, click Online Registration for the current meeting, and at the bottom of the page click on Attendee List. Contact Holly Stewart at MRSC at (206) 625-1300 for questions about registration.

This training session may qualify for 1 Professional Development Hour (PDH). Participants are responsible for tracking their own PDH.

Please call Sheila Harrison, PE, at (206) 441-9385 or Mo Kashani, PE at (425) 388-6493 for more information about the program.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Solar Decathlon: A Heated Competition

Twenty teams, two years, ten contests and one big old sun--the essential ingredients of the Department of Energy's solar contest on the Mall

Penny Bonda

Interior Design · October 29, 2007

This time the sun cooperated. Unlike the cloud-covered 2005 Solar Decathlon, the twenty teams representing colleges and universities from around the world had plenty of natural power to fuel the solar homes they built on the National Mall this October in Washington, DC. Good thing, because the homes were, for the most part, spectacular.

Here's the challenge: submit an application and win a coveted spot in the competition; spend two years fundraising and securing sponsors; design an 800 square foot house that will run solely on solar power according to very specific criteria; build it so that it can be deconstructed and transported across the country or an ocean; cross your fingers and hope that everything arrives intact; reconstruct and keep it operating for ten days while judges (hopefully) award points and hundreds of thousands spectators wander through. At the end you hope to place in the top three.

The 2007 Solar Decathlon's top honor went to the entry from Germany's Technische Universitat Darmstadt. The house is most notable for the photovoltaics integrated into the oak louvers of the full height doors running the length of the east, south and west elevations. A tracking system automatically tilts the louvers to follow the sun and to provide shading and privacy. PVs are rarely thought of as beautiful but the German team's design of the louvers and the translucent and patterned panels installed on the roof of the south porch is more than just functional. The combination provides dramatic plays of shadow and light and adds a wonderful aesthetic to the home.

Second place: University of Maryland's indoor water wall (photo credit: Amy Gardner)The University of Maryland won second place for its LEAFHouse, inspired by the simple, yet vastly complex leaf. "Just as the leaf changes throughout the year, so can this house, given the mood of the owner," says Jake Zager, student and co-manager of construction. Inside the design does, in fact, mimic a leaf at the ridge of the ceiling where exposed steel supports "branch out" from a wooden spine. The most innovative feature, however, is the indoor water fall designed into the living room's media wall. A liquid desiccant system that's used to control humidity and reduce the load on the air-conditioner works by mixing calcium chloride, a type of salt and a highly absorptive material, into the sculptural design of the water wall where it captures moisture out of the air. As far as the team knows, such a system has never been used for a home.

Third place went to Santa Clara University, located in Silicon Valley, for the design of a house that, not surprisingly given its roots, relies on dynamically smart computer technology to run its systems. The electrochromic windows, for example, darken or lighten with a flip of a switch to help control thermal comfort. There is also a prototype solar thermal unit with absorption chillers used for space conditioning and water heating—a technology more common in large buildings but successfully used here in a small (727 square foot) space.

Third Place: Santa Clara University (photo credit: Kaye Evans-Lutterodt/Solar Decathlon)
About the contests: to compete, the teams must design and build energy-efficient homes that are powered exclusively by the sun. The houses must be attractive with seamlessly integrated energy efficient technologies, and be easy to live in by all including the disabled. They must maintain a comfortable temperature, provide attractive and adequate lighting, power household appliances for cooking and cleaning, power home electronics including televisions and computers, and provide hot water. These houses must also power an electric vehicle to meet household transportation needs.

Whew! This tall order yields plenty of lessons for home designers and builders. Primary among them—household energy efficiency is so much more than the commonly used strategies of changing out light bulbs and turning down the heat. As Amy Gardner, a faculty advisor to the Maryland team states, "LEAFHouse demonstrates that the way forward to a more responsible built environment is through multidisciplinary, integrated, holistic design." That's the message designed into the criteria by DOE and delivered by all twenty houses. The greenest homes use a system of strategies dependant on and reinforcing the others.

There were some very unique features in the houses, such as a sunlight diffusing milk bottle wall in the Penn State house, or the translucent walls made from of polycarbonate sheeting and an aerogel filler used by the Georgia Tech students. At the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign house, the heating and cooling is all radiant via ceiling panels that resemble refrigerator coils yet are oddly attractive. By necessity, all the houses are pre-fabricated modular buildings. The University of Colorado/Boulder house, however, used its shipping container decoratively to form the walls and mechanical spines of the central core.

The houses also had many features in common. Because universal design is a requirement, the bathrooms are larger than expected for such small homes and many of the multi-use spaces are defined by sliding walls. In fact, panels on rollers were so ubiquitous it was unusual to see a house without them. Many panels were made of lightweight decorative materials such as 3form. Furniture, often custom designed by the students, served many purposes, such as in the German Darmstadt house where the "lounging pit" and the "sleeping pit" cleverly concealed ample storage.

Lighting strategies almost universally included an LED / fluorescent mixture. However, the MIT team used some incandescent lighting explaining that its house produced more than enough energy to do so. Hmmm? Many of the houses used lighting as a decorative element as well as a functional one. The students from the New York Institute of Technology concealed energy efficient lighting sources behind large stretched fabric frames to good effect.

Kitchens, typically a household energy hog, featured very efficient appliances with almost all teams opting for induction cooktops. Materials selected for their green attributes—recycled content countertops, responsibly forested woods, and locally sourced goods—were common.
But the Solar Decathlon is all about energy—renewable energy. "The earth receives more energy from the sun than the world uses in a whole year. The tools for harnessing that energy are available now," Maryland's Amy Gardner states. "The work of these students has advanced the breadth and depth of all team members' knowledge and abilities, preparing them to bring about a brighter future for all."

Go solar!

article credit go to

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Greener Buildings website

The resource center for environmentally responsible building development.

Click here to learn more

Monday, November 05, 2007

Starbucks Center Earns National Green Certification

Seattle's Starbucks Center is the largest and oldest building in the country to earn a national green certification for existing buildings, its owner announced Thursday.

The U.S. Green Building Council certified the building through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, giving it a gold rating -- the step below the top rating of platinum, Seattle developer Nitze-Stagen & Co. announced.

The Union Pacific Railroad built the original center in 1912 to lure Sears, Roebuck & Co. to Seattle. Owners added to the structure in subsequent decades, and it now totals 1.5 million square feet.

Green measures in the center include installation of energy-efficient lighting and waterless urinals; use of recycled office materials and green cleaning products; purchases of renewable energy for nearly 31 percent of the center's electricity; encouragement of alternative transportation with steps like providing storage and changing rooms for bicyclists, Flexcars for employee use and preferred parking for alternative-energy vehicles; and diversion of 48 percent of the center's waste from landfills.

Jim Hanna, environmental affairs manager for Starbucks, said the company worked with the U.S. Green Building Council since 2001 on a LEED standard that could certify a series of prototype Starbucks stores.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

US Mayors Meet in Seattle

U.S. mayors meet in Seattle to push for a green revolution

City has met a big goal, but more action is needed


Fluorescent bulbs were climate change activism on training wheels. For the next generation, it's time for a green revolution, for overthrowing the old order and ushering in the new, environmental and local elected leaders say.

They talk about a campaign as passionate as the civil rights movement, as nationally unifying as World War II patriotism. They're talking put-a-man-on-the-moon-sized investments in the development of clean energy. They want strict standards for vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions. They're begging the public to pressure national politicians to champion ambitious efforts to curb global warming.

Click here to read the article in the PI