Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

There is a new world order looming.

The days where we turn to institutions, particularly profit-motivated entities, for our information are numbered. In the future we will turn to each other and the internet. The changes are coming quickly. Ten years ago, if you needed to know something, say who designed Freeway Park in Seattle, you might poke around on the internet, but your’d probably fail.  Your best bet would have come from a purchased encyclopedia or correspondence with an institutionally-sponsored expert (think: university professor).  Now a quick search on Wikipedia reveals the designer is Lawrence Halprin. The information would go from an interested expert, to you, with minimal go-between.  The change doesn’t stop there. When we all have better access to the web and our own wikis, this sharing of knowledge will happen with no intermediaries.

People like Joseph Kenyon are fomenting this revolution.

Kenyon runs a website that offers small, economical, house plans to anyone, free of charge.  Though plans are endlessly reproducible units of information, they often cost thousands of dollars. This significantly increases the cost of building one’s own, even small, home. People like Joseph Kenyon aims to change that. By offering the plans for free he hopes to assist those who want there own small place to live but maybe can’t afford it. After the purchase of materials any person with time and effort can have their own shelter.

Joseph Kenyon

Credit: Joseph Kenyon

According to Kenyon, he hopes his site can help even just one person avoid becoming homeless. The changing dynamics of information sharing mean it could do so much more. I can imagine a whole village of Kenyon’s homes replacing the shanties of Juarez or Lagos, cities where some have literally made their homes out of garbage. If the could find the materials Joseph Kenyon could provide the building know-how and help to house thousands.

In the future there may be a million Joseph Kenyon’s and a million plans online, helping to house the worlds poor. Until then I encourage you to visit Kenyon’s site, help spread the word about it and please:


You can bring about the new world order as a safer, warmer, better place for everyone.


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Portland’s historic Heathman Hotel has just completed a remodel of its 155 rooms with a eye toward sustainability.  “Greening” a historic structure can be touchy subject to some preservationists.  The ever-so-complex balancing act between profitability, utility and historical accuracy is made even more difficult when sustainability enters the rubric.   I once took part in a spirited discussion over whether or not incandescent light bulbs should remain in use in future historic structures.  It was my opinion that they should be replaced with LEDs even if it affected the authenticity of a space. There are many beautiful buildings but only one earth after all.

It appears that Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects, the firm that designed the remodel, agrees.  They used LED lights throughout the remodel.  Sustainable woods, low-flow toilets and water saving showers were also used and (perhaps this will satisfy any hardcore preservationists out there) 95% of the materials removed from the bathrooms were donated to ReBuilding Center where the hope is they will be recycled into new buildings.  The designers also opted to use local artists in the redesign plans to reduce shipping and transportation; a move that likely kept costs down and definitely lowered the remodels carbon-footprint.

Perhaps the most green thing about the 1920’s palace is that it is still standing.  Nothing is more wasteful and nasty than a needless tear-down.

I’d love to see the new interior.  I will have to stop by.


Hat-tip to: http://www.greenlodgingnews.com and http://greenbuildingelements.com

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