Task Force to Clarify Reporting on Hazmats and Alternatives
Architects seeking safe, sustainable materials for their buildings have often had to operate in either an information vacuum or wade through an array of rating systems that can be burdensome and baffling. The complexity of supply chains sometimes means that no one is certain what substances a product contains; in other cases, a known material passes muster with one program while raising red flags with another. Manufacturers, too, struggle with the discrepancies and redundancies of different programs' reporting requirements. Now, with support from the U.S. Green Building Council, four major green-manufacturing organizations are striving to simplify the process of assessing and reporting materials' effects on human and environmental health.
Interview with Barbra Batshalom, Founder of Sustainable Performance Institute
Architects have not begun issuing sustainability reporting nearly as decisively as they have adopted CAD or BIM transition, but Barbra Batshalom is working to speed the transition. As founder of the Boston-based Sustainable Performance Institute, Batshalom teaches design firms and real estate owners to institutionalize sustainability. The organization also audits the effectiveness of firm-wide sustainability programs, a first-of-its-kind certification that HUD has since incorporated into its Affordable Green Initiative.
A team from WORKac led design of the transformation of the 550-student elementary school’s patch of asphalt into an urban idyll. The New York–based architects finalized the inaugural effort last December with the official opening of a structure that combines kitchen classroom, greenhouse, and systems all on one site.
A New Study Stresses Need for Increased Awareness of the Benefits of Healthy Design Practices
Kensington High School is one of four case studies included in a new report, “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings,” released this week by McGraw Hill Construction, the parent company of Green Source and Architectural Record. The school demonstrates how today’s design practices and construction can directly affect occupants’ health and well-being. While sustainability has become an increasingly significant part of the mainstream conversation about architecture, the impact of the built environment on people’s quality of life hasn’t received the same attention.
A Vintage Manufactured House is Made Contemporary
A Deck House has several identifying characteristics, including natural finish materials such as mahogany and slate, that differentiated them from other manufactured homes of mid-century America. Today, casual observers might notice their low-slung gable roofs with wide overhangs, or cantilevered second-story volumes that connect to outdoor patios. Contemporary occupants, meanwhile, enjoy the drama of vaulted interiors featuring tongue-and-groove ceilings and a fluid indoor-outdoor dialogue courtesy of sliding glass doors, numerous windows, and screen porches.
A decade ago, artist Rachel Sussman found herself on the lush island of Yakushima looking up at a colossal gnarled cypress tree called the Jomon Sugi. A trip to Japan brought Sussman first to Kyoto, where ancient temples stand only a short distance from commercial strips filled with Starbucks branches and office buildings. She felt the urge to see something different, be somewhere more remote, so she traveled to Yakushima, off the southern end of Japan, in search of the Sugi, a tree between 2,180 and 7,000 years old. But it wasn't until a year later—when telling friends about her travels and recalling the sight of this long-surviving Sugi—that she hatched the idea to trek to the far-off corners of the world to photograph organisms that have been alive at least 2,000 years.
A month after the White House held its Solar Summit last April outlining plans to advance solar energy, the Obama administration announced that the installation of a solar-panel system on the White House was finally complete. It took nearly three decades to re-introduce panels, first installed by President Carter in 1979 but removed by President Reagan following roof repairs in 1986. White House officials posted a video in early May showing workers diligently mounting the last ones—a gesture demonstrating the administration's commitment to energy efficiency, coinciding with the announcement of new measures to reduce carbon emissions.
Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Unveiled in New York CIty
It’s nothing short of building a city within a city overnight.
Residential Development in Los Angeles Aims to Create a Micro-Neighborhood
Blackbirds, an 18-unit residential project in Los Angeles, designed by local architect Barbara Bestor, broke ground this spring, and its developers hope it becomes a new prototype for adding to the city’s density while preserving a sense of community. Built on a hillside in Echo Park, by sustainably-minded development company LocalConstruct, Blackbirds is a mix of houses ranging from 1,350 to 1,950 square feet on a one-acre lot (made possible because of a 2004 small lot ordinance that allowed a number of home lots to be subdivided). All of the units are fully detached single-family houses, explains LocalConstruct co-founder Casey Lynch, but some appear to be duplexes or triplexes because the units only have four inches between them to maximize density.
Newsmaker: Eric Cesal
Eric Cesal is the new executive director of Architecture for Humanity (AFH), the nonprofit’s board of directors announced today. A longtime volunteer, Cesal joined AFH full-time in 2010 to start the Haiti Rebuilding Center in Port-au-Prince. Since 2012 he has led the organization’s global post-disaster rebuilding efforts from its headquarters in San Francisco. Cesal replaces founding executive director Cameron Sinclair, who, with cofounder Kate Stohr, announced their resignation last fall.