Sunday, January 27, 2008

Carbon Studies Explain Role Forests Play

Kate Ramsayer from The (Bend) Bulletin
In the ponderosa pine forest near Black Butte, a skinny scaffolding tower rises above the trees.From the top of the 100-foot-tall tower, the panoramic views of the butte and Three Sisters in the distance are some of the best in the area. But the instruments attached along the span of the tower are providing scientists with information about an unseen side of nature.
The equipment measures how much carbon dioxide is passing back and forth between the atmosphere and the trees, shrubs, soils and dead vegetation in the forest. It's one station in a nationwide network that, when the data is compiled, helps scientists investigate how much carbon dioxide forests across the continent remove from the atmosphere every year.And in this era of concern about global warming, it's information that interests researchers and forest managers alike.
For instance, the data from stations in Oregon has shown that forests take in the equivalent of between 30 percent and 50 percent of carbon released statewide annually in fossil fuel emissions.And through measuring this carbon exchange in the Metolius Basin and other types of forests, Bev Law and others hope to understand more about their role."We call it 'the breathing of the biosphere,'" said Law, a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the science chairwoman for AmeriFlux, the network of more than 100 such carbon measuring sites across the United States and other countries.
Through their studies, the researchers can figure out when forests start acting as storage sites for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and how much of that gas is released into the atmosphere when forests burn or are cut down."The goal of the program is to be able to quantify and understand the role of terrestrial ecosystems in the global carbon balance," Law said.The Metolius Basin was the site of one of the first stations in the AmeriFlux program, which started in 1996. Law, who had previously done work across Oregon, chose the site because of its ponderosa pines."We were intrigued by ponderosa pine because it's very widely distributed globally, so it's an important species," she said.And by placing these towers and instruments near the Metolius, Law and her colleagues have been able to determine differences between young and old forests, between wet and dry years, and also contribute to regional studies of the movements of carbon dioxide.

The instruments collect information about the precise levels of carbon dioxide in the air, recording measurements as many as 20 times a second. But the equipment on the tower also gathers other kinds of information.The researchers are studying water vapor as well, to see how it relates to carbon dioxide levels, Law said, and are looking at different layers of wind speeds and temperatures through the forest canopy.
Wind speed is also measured because it can affect how much carbon dioxide can be picked up by the instruments, said Christoph Thomas, a research associate with OSU who works on the project.From all this information, researchers can get results about how much carbon the forest is absorbing or releasing.
Trees absorb carbon through photosynthesis, Law said, but they also release it through respiration.And then there's the rest of the organic matter in the forest, like soil, roots and vegetative litter being chewed up by microbes, which people sometimes forget about when they think of carbon cycles in forests, she said.
One question that scientists had been considering, she said, was how long it takes a new forest to go from being a carbon source, where it releases more carbon to the atmosphere than it takes in, to being a carbon sink, where the ecosystem absorbs more carbon than it releases.Through studies at the Metolius sites, Law and her colleagues have found that in a ponderosa pine forest that has been disturbed by fire or harvest, the length between those phases can be considerable."
It took those sites somewhere between 15 and 20 years before they became carbon neutral again," she said.From there, forests continue taking in increasing amounts of carbon until they're between about 70 and 150 years old, Thomas said. At that point, they still store more carbon than they release.But that doesn't mean older forests are no longer useful for storing carbon."People need to understand that these old-growth forests are very important," Thomas said.Studies in both Western and Eastern Oregon have shown that after a major disturbance in a mature forest, like a catastrophic fire or a clearcut, it could take between 100 and 200 years to get back the amount of carbon that had previously been stored in the ecosystem, Law said.
Information like this can be useful on multiple levels, Thomas said. It answers some scientific curiosity about such things as what happens in forests of different ages.But when information from across the AmeriFlux network is compiled, it can also be used to help answer larger-scale questions, he said, such as how much carbon dioxide forests across the continent remove from the atmosphere every year.
Determining when carbon is stored in trees and how much is stored there is a complex question, said Brian Tandy, silviculturist with the Sisters Ranger District.But it's something that people could start thinking about, he said, adding that he recently had a conversation about the possibility of setting up a carbon credit program, where people could reforest areas and get a credit for the carbon that would be absorbed by the trees in future years."It's a huge thing that I don't know anybody has a handle on," he said, "but there's lots of stuff to consider."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Green for Food

Green for Good is a new community and network of sites to connect people and companies. We are committed to providing information, ideas, entertainment and products aimed at encouraging a sustainable, healthy, ecologically robust planet. Our business practices follow the philosophy of doing minimal or no harm, while at the same time promoting a more hopeful vision of life. Steps need to be taken immediately in order for the planet to continue to sustain life as we know it. Humans are capable of great, positive change when faced with an unmistakable crisis, and GFG fosters an environment that provides information and the necessary resources to facilitate these changes.

Please join us a! After you have visited the site, please email me and let me know what you think and pass this email on to your friends and family!

David Kaufer,
Founder & Chief Green OfficerGreen for Good

Friday, January 18, 2008

REI LEED Store in Round Rock Texas

From Boulder to Round Rock – REI to Open Second Prototype Store

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, today announced that Round Rock, Texas will be the second location for the company’s prototype store initiative that aims to test retail design and green building concepts. Expected to open in the fall of 2008, the new store will complement the co-op’s commitment to community involvement, environmental stewardship and providing a gateway to the outdoors.

The two-story, 32,700 square-foot store at University Oaks Shopping Center follows REI’s first prototype location in Boulder, Colo., which opened in October 2007. For the store’s design, the co-op has again partnered with Gensler, a leading global design, planning and strategic consulting firm. Round Rock is the second REI store to be built using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Retail rating system, which is currently in pilot. It also joins six other Texas REI locations, including two stores in Austin.“Our increased focus on green buildings and the community began with our Seattle flagship store in 1996.

Since then, we’ve continued to develop stores that represent our dedication to the outdoors by reducing the environmental impacts of such buildings and helping to inspire outdoor recreation,” said Brian Unmacht, REI’s senior vice president of sales, store development and logistics. “Boulder helped bring our commitment to the next level, representing a new REI standard for sustainability.

Round Rock will build upon that even further, continuing our efforts to better align our stores with the co-op’s overall mission.”As part of its commitment to the outdoors, the store will feature a mezzanine level devoted to the local community. This space is intended to help connect co-op members and customers to resources for regional recreational opportunities, outdoor and conservation clubs and non-profit organizations, and service projects to help protect local natural spaces.

To lessen the building’s carbon footprint, several of the planned green building features include the use of natural lighting and energy efficient systems, solar hot water, sustainable materials and water reduction measures.“We’ve received positive feedback from the Boulder community thus far and are eager to incorporate the insights from our experience into the new store in Round Rock,” said Doug Ludlow, REI’s senior project manager of store development. “While our first prototype store was a remodeled and expanded one-story space, Round Rock provides us the opportunity to experience the process of opening a two-story location in a new community from the ground up.”

REI first announced its prototype initiative in May 2006 to help the company determine where it can enhance the store experience for both employees and customers, lessen its environmental footprint, make more sustainable business decisions and better align its stores with the values of the co-op. The company will analyze the Boulder and Round Rock locations extensively prior to opening a third prototype store currently targeted for 2010.

Findings from these stores will help REI make decisions on how it approaches store design and construction in the future.For the construction of all new REI buildings, the company uses the LEED point system to measure success, looking to meet or exceed LEED standards whenever possible. In 2004, REI’s Portland, Ore. location became the first retail store in the country to earn a LEED Gold rating for Commercial Interiors, followed by REI’s Pittsburgh store with LEED Silver for Commercial Interiors in 2006. REI Boulder is anticipating a LEED Silver rating for the Retail – Commercial Interiors pilot program.

The company’s second distribution center, which opened in November 2007 in Bedford, Pa., was built to achieve Silver under LEED for New Construction.Information on REI’s comprehensive environmental initiatives is available at, including its focus on carbon footprint reduction, green building design and construction, responsible paper purchases and usage, waste reduction, and the design and manufacturing of more sustainable products and packaging. In April 2008, the co-op will release its second annual stewardship report, a review of the company’s social and environmental impacts.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Recyclable Hotel

An Eco-Friendly 'Recyclable' Hotel
UK (TGW) – The British hotel chain Travelodge is building what they claim to be the first ‘recyclable’ hotel.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Phinney Ridge Home Design and Remodel Fair

HOME DESIGN AND REMODEL FAIR : Imagine, Explore, Build Sunday, January 27, 2008 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Admission: $6 for PNA members, $9 for the general public, children under 12 Free
The 11th annual Home Design and Remodel Fair will offer local homeowners a chance to meet with trained professionals and get advice on remodeling and home improvement projects.
More than 75 exhibitors ranging from general and specialty contractors to landscape professionals to architects and designers were on hand to offer advice and resources needed to complete any home improvement project. Many of the exhibitors have a "green" emphasis.Hear from the Experts: Short Presentations Presentations are located in Room 3 on the main floor (enter from the NW corner of the lobby). Talks are about 25 minutes and include a Q & A session at the end.
10:30 am -- Choosing & Hiring a Contractor presented by Wayne Apostilik, NW Homecrafters
11:10 am -- Expand Up or Down? presented by Tom Kayser, Architect
11:50 am -- Working with an Architect presented by Betty Torrell, Architect
12:30 pm -- FSC Certified Wood Product presented by Stewart Matthiesen, NW Natural Resource Group
1:10 pm -- LEED and BuiltGreen Certification presented by Lise Glaser, Cascadia Consulting Group
1:50 pm -- Insulation Options presented by Scott Finley, Atmosphere, Inc.
2:20 pm -- Green Interior Finish Choices presented by Alicia Silva, Synergy Design Studio
3:10 pm -- Financing Your Remodel presented by Bob Fish, HomeStreet Bank Click here to see a list of the 2007 exhibitors.(2008 exhibitors will be listed soon.)

Businesses interested in participating, click
here for the href="../PDFs/homefair/2008 Business Invite.pdf">invitation and href="../PDFs/homefair/2008 Business App.pdf">application form.
Non-profit or governmental organizations, please use this href="../PDFs/homefair/2008 Non-Profit Invite.pdf">invitation and href="../PDFs/homefair/2008 Non-Profit or Gov App.pdf">application
For additional information, contact Judith Wood at (206) 783-2244 or e-mail judith @

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mudslides and Logging.....

Panel hears testimony on mudslides, logging

OLYMPIA -- Logging practices, as well as the state's oversight of clearcutting on steep slopes, came under scrutiny Thursday at a special legislative hearing on whether logging and development might have played a role in December's devastating Southwest Washington floods.
The hearing, before the Senate Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation Committee, was sparked by a Seattle Times photograph showing severe mudslides on a steep Lewis County mountain slope that had been clearcut near a Chehalis River tributary.

Numerous slides crashed into Stillman Creek, adding to the mix of mud, wood debris and floodwaters that inundated homes and farms in the Boistfort Valley west of Chehalis.
"I felt it was imperative to make sure the committee was taking a look at this," said Sen. Ken Jacobsen, a Seattle Democrat who chairs the committee.

Officials with Weyerhaeuser Co., which owns more than 2 million acres of commercial forestland in the region, said a combination of snow, wind and rain from the December storms created a "rare and extreme magnitude" weather event that dropped as much as 20 inches of rain in some areas.

And they displayed another photo of the same hilltop depicted in the newspaper photo, but taken from a different angle. The second photo showed a mudslide in an area covered by trees.
"Landslides are going to occur," said Bob Bilby, senior scientific adviser with Weyerhaeuser. "They're going to occur regardless of what type of management you do on the land."

Eric Schroff, region manager for the state Department of Natural Resources' Pacific Cascade Region, told lawmakers that a majority of landslides occur "in direct relation to these intense winter storms" and that the effect of timber harvesting is "highly variable."

But David Montgomery, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, argued that current forest practice rules don't protect against major landslides.

Snohomish County's To-Do List

Snohomish County is catching its breath. Job growth is down from hyper toward normal. The housing market cooled and inventories are up. An opportunity to tidy up after the party.

Following a dizzying growth spurt, and expecting more, the county is settling in to work on long-haul issues that shape the future: the link between land-use decisions, population pressures and affordable housing, and a commitment to agriculture as a sustainable part of the economy.

The topics are not new, of course, but county-level politics have whipsawed regulations and standards back and forth between partisan majorities and grumpy party politics for the past half-dozen years.

The 2007 election allowed 2008 to blossom with the spirit of rapprochement. A nifty word, eh?
County Executive Aaron Reardon breezed to a second four-year term without breaking a sweat. I will take a risk here and go way out on a limb: I suspect he has higher political aspirations. No, really.

The path to wherever his Democratic instincts and opportunities lead him will be shaped by the next four years. His political career is well-launched beyond the Gee-Whiz phase of his youthful ascent to a need to produce demonstrable results that build a case for higher office.

Every new resident drawn to Snohomish County as an attractive place to live, work and raise a family sharpens the tension between affordability, density and open space. The county is living with egregious planning that shoehorned more units onto building sites if transparently easy development requirements were satisfied. No sidewalks, packed roads.

If Reardon can point the County Council toward a longer view of land-using planning and move it away from annual, selective tinkering with the comprehensive plan, that will be a constructive start.

Pursuit of affordable housing has meant helping mobile-home dwellers to buy their homesites, working smarter on density issues, and avoiding past, shameful mistakes. A recent loud "no" from the County Council helped make the point.

Nothing promotes as well as success, especially by solving problems everyone struggles with. Reardon is intent on making Snohomish County a model for leadership on climate change. His enthusiasm for biofuels is a good example. Reardon is moving the county vehicle fleet to a healthy diet, but also working to make Snohomish County an ally in biofuel crops and manufacture.

All that circles back to the county's agricultural economy. Four years ago, as Reardon puts it, there was a recognition the county could not have farms without farmers. They needed economic incentives, which took the county toward promotion of buying local, organic offerings and ethanol production. The county teamed nicely with initiatives by Washington State University's county extension programs.

Now, Reardon says there is renewed recognition the county cannot have farmers without farmland. Efforts to preserve farms through transfer or purchase of development rights have a new burst of energy. For the first time in years, there is a measurable increase in farming activity. The industry adds an estimated $127 million to the county's economy.

A key to success on all these fronts is the prospect of a better working relationship between Reardon and the Snohomish County Council. In the past, there has been a layer of frost separating them, regardless of the weather. Some of it was blatantly partisan; a lot was personalities plus a healthy measure of sensitivity over turf and prerogatives.

The election added two Democrats to the council to cinch an unambiguous Democratic majority. The new chairman, David Somers, a wholly reasonable fellow, expresses a willingness to move ahead with the executive, but quickly adds the effort must cut both ways.

Yes indeed, Reardon explains, he worked closely and successfully with Brian Sullivan and Mike Cooper on complex issues in the Legislature. Topics infinitely more complicated than those facing the ... well, nevermind. Let us be an instrument of peace.

Here is a no-brainer to kick-start work toward common goals:
Going into the 2008 legislative session, the county executive and council can draft and sign a strong, clear resolution of support for a four-year university in Snohomish County.

Lance Dickie's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is; for a podcast Q&A with the author, go to Opinion at

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Walking Tour of High Point, a Built Green Community

Saturday, January 12th, 2008, 11 AM

Meet at High Point Public Library
3411 SW Raymond Street, Seattle

High Point is a vast in-city redevelopment that has received many accolades and both national and international awards. The first phase is nearly complete and almost fully occupied. It is located within the city limits in West Seattle.

Get an up-close and personal look at the environmental aspects of this Built Green certified community:

~ Bioswales
~ Porous streets and sidewalks
~ Community gardens
~ Pocket parks
~ Pond and waterfall features

If you would like, you can tour available models and resale homes currently on the market on the day of the walk.

The organizer and tour guide, Wendy Hughes-Jelen, is a licensed real estate professional and hold the designation of Built Green® Certified Agent. She has lived in West Seattle for over 10 years. When she saw the new HP she sold her home to move there. She also writes a blog called Green Spaces Real Estate.

An Energy Efficient mortgage professional will also be here to answer questions about special financing available for these new kinds of homes. (Amelia K Dickson, Entrust Lending Group, LLC)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Natural Step Training January 23, 2008



A One‐Day Intensive Workshop

Duke Castle & Regina Hauser
Bob Willard

JANUARY 23RD, 2008
8:00AM TO 5:00PM
The Everett Station
3201 Smith Avenue
Everett, Washington

Register NOW