Our embedded nature

23rd bday pic copy


Another year gone by, exactly 1 year since my convocation and another annual birthday blog post. This year is my 23rd one on the planet and my 5th one involved in trying to make it a little greener. A year ago I had just returned from travelling overseas and was profoundly influenced by how far ahead many parts of the world were compared to all that I had known. A year ago I had a funny little idea to become a rock star of sustainability, frolicking across the continent spreading the financial and environmental merits of consciously designing and constructing the built-environment. I couldn’t see myself just helping already converted building owners achieve their green goals, but rather attempt to enlighten others and empower them with tools to progress North American building practices. My goal for humanity has always been progress and I am satisfied if I can play a tiny role in pushing our lifestyle in the ‘right’ direction, to prosper in a sustainable future.

In this past year I have held green building training classes in over 60 unique cities to over 1000 students and professionals. From sustainably minded Burlington, Vermont to the vineyards of Virginia and driving down the coast of California; I met countless personalities who expressed perspectives that I never knew exist. I encountered individuals who would only eat organic foods, whilst fighting tooth and nail for their right to bear arms, others who only saw the green industry as a way to make profit and extremists on all ends of the spectrum. The one idea that stuck with me was our embedded nature in their idea of what is right and wrong and the challenge of shifting that embedded nature. At one point this year I even turned to politics to see how lobbying groups and grass roots movements affect our political parties but this realm is engulfed in stubborn people unwilling to listen. This is the issue that is plaguing our society from the top of our pyramid to the bottom - our inability to change and see the light at the end of that tunnel. However, as I continued my travels I began to see that each person had a kryptonite, whether it be financial possibilities, risks to future generations or just trying to better ones self.

My vision has taken a shift for my 23rd year to one that sees the necessity of driving change and breaking the public’s embedded nature to see that dim or bright green light. The new version of LEED is helping me do exactly that as it is a bright green light which is driving change in numerous industries. In the past I have used this annual post to point out the flaws in LEED such as its large “non-profit” budget and dare I say Greenwashing. As I continue to study LEED V4 and learn about America’s backlash against it, I can see how it is driving markets, industries, companies and even individuals to change their embedded nature reluctantly for the better.  Too many of our minds are engrained in the idea that if we kick the can down enough generations, someone will figure out how to reverse climate change. This end of pipe approach is a highly risky one as we simply do not know when that road will wash out and the Earth’s systems simply cannot recover from our damage. Even I do not think that this will be in my lifetime, but right there is an example of a mindset in need of discarding.

By this time next year I hope to be reflecting on my teachings not only on this continent but also in other parts of the world including Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Mexico and Dubai lined up for the coming months. I hope my knowledge does not only translate into LEED professional designations which allow people to tout their sustainable knowledge but also alter their outlook and day-to-day life. As the public gradually realizes Earth’s mortality we will begin to drive change across all nations, governments, communities and individuals. 

Advantages of green slate roofing

One of the best way in which you can make your green building in an environmentally sustainable way is by opting for green slate roofing services. Since the roof of your house gets exposed to cold,sunlight and heat, you can improve the energy efficiency level of your home.This is preciously why homeowners in different parts of the globe are relying on high-quality green slating roofing services and using them to remodel their homes.

Why slate roofing?

If you wish to go for green building, then slate roofing is the most suitable solution for your home. Roofing companies used hundred percent natural materials for building slate roofs and given the fact that these material require very little amount of processing to convert it into a proper and effective roofing system. Green slate roofing has become an ideal choice for many homeowners. Green slate roofing is highly durable and requires little maintenance, which is yet another reason why homeowners are flocking for this particular roofing system.

How to increase energy efficiency using green slate roofing solutions?

If you choose green slate roofing system you will make more energy savings as compared to normal roofing system.As far as energy saving is concerned, you can extract the maximum from your green slate roofs by following some of the points listed here:

Rainwater storage system installation:

If you install drums and cisterns while getting your green slate roofing system constructed, you will cut down your bills pertaining to water consumption to a significant extent. You can in turn use this water for the purpose of landscaping.

Radiant heat barrier system installation:

In order to minimize the transfer of radiant heat to the attic of your green building, it is advisable that you get radiant heat barrier system installed. This is basically made of a tin foil and is backed by a mylar sheet of a paper. This will reduce the transfer of radiant heat by around ninety five percent only if you install it towards the underside of the roof.

green slate roofing

Environmental advantages of green slate roofing:

You can consider using reclaimed slates, which is basically a natural stone in order to build your green slate roofing system. Consult your roofing contractor and find out if he/she can work with reclaimed slate as it is extremely eco-friendly. Also, at the time of replacing your existing slate roof ,you can send it for recycling instead of dumping it in the landfill or elsewhere.Yet another environmental benefit of green slate roofing is that they last really long. If installed appropriately it can last for around hundred years with only a little amount of maintenance and repair.

In a nutshell, green roofing is all about green building which is energy efficient, high quality, safe and healthy. In order to install them effectively, your contractor won't require anything beyond high quality natural slate and few nails. Green slate roofing will lead to LEED credits by increasing a building's energy efficiency and reducing the heat island effect. It is better that you hire an expert roofing contractor who has the requisite skill and expertise to repair and install slate roofs as even a slight mistake can result in leakage, damage from moisture and give rise to mold inside your house, thereby affecting the air quality and posing health related problems.

Vertical Farming

Building for the future is all about sustainability. Living habitats that blend nature with technology to make the best use of space in a way that is beneficial to all life on Earth. The way we go about doing that is by following the three E's. Environment, Economy, and Energy. There are many solutions, but none handle all three quite like vertical farming.
About Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is not a new idea, just a technique that was long forgotten. The phrase was first coined in Gilbert Bailey's 1915 book titled "Vertical Farming." In the book he describes how farmers could go down into the Earth to maximize their farming area, opposed to expanding outwards. This was to address the issue of running out of space due to increasing populations. Today's version is the same concept, only instead of going down you go up.
Answering the Three E's (or the triple bottom line)
Vertical farm buildings answers a wide variety of problems that farmers deal with on a daily basis including pests, disease, irrigation, cost, and weather. Not only does it lower cost and make food more available to everyone, but it helps us save space for wildlife.

Energy: Plants such as corn, which are used to make bio-fuels could be grown in every town, diminishing our dependency on oil. The fruit of these plants gives us food, while the waste is turned into usable energy.

Economy: Bringing the food source closer to where people live lowers costs, and lets people have more spending money, thus more businesses have customers.

Environment: The home of millions of animals and other creatures benefit from this space saver. Also a little green in the city would also help filter toxins out of the air. And of course with all those trucks hauling our grocery goods off the road, we can all breathe much easier.

Types of Vertical Farming:

There are many ways vertical farms can be made, from small home gardens to industrial sized farming. Just search the web for "Vertical Farming Systems," and you will find many companies selling vertical garden kits for your yard and your house. Ed Harwood's "AeroFarm" aeroponic system is a great example. Additionally there are kits to grow plants along the exterior walls of your home or any other building. These mini vertical farms are great for growing herbs and vegetables used in cooking. aerofarm:

Another form of vertical farming, which has just begun to be implemented is skyscraper farms. Potentially an 18 story tower could feed about 50,000 people, and take up much less land. Think of it as a giant green house. Add in an automated irrigation, fertilizing, and lighting system powered by wind and sunlight, and you have got a reliably self sustaining source of food and energy.

Could you imagine getting your fruits and veggies from down the street, instead of trucked for days across country. Now that is fresh. Good bye high gas prices, and hello vacation with family. More jobs are created, and gas guzzling heavy farm equipment sits in museums as reminders of our filthy past. The air you breathe is cleaner, the food you eat is safer, and your overall way of life is improved thanks to green building like the vertical farms right in your neighborhood.

LEED V4 ballot passes by a significant tally

The final overall vote concluded that 86 percent of USGBC member companies and involved persons are in favour of adopted LEED v4. This vote represented 46 countries across the globe and all 50 states. The passing of LEED v4 comes after a year of controversy and deliberation between those who argued the next iteration of LEED was too large of a leap or even a leap in the wrong direction.




LEED V4 comes with a slew of significant changes within credit categories, credits, documentation and the rating system itself. New credit categories include location and transportation which separate the mitigation of transportation emissions from Sustainable Sites into a category of their own. The actual amount of points required for different tiers of certification remains the same as LEED 2009. The new credit category more adequately divides the credits and point allocation. The Materials and Resources credit category received the largest revamp and was the subject of great debate. Some credits which were a straight prescriptive compliance path now must undergo more work and money - such as the Indoor Air Quality credit.

LEED v4 is currently undergoing a beta run throughout 100 projects. USGBC has also made an offer of free certification for the first LEED v4 Platinum project.

LEED v4 is set to officially roll out in Philadelphia at Green Build 2013 but will need a decent amount of fine-tuning before it can really be used in the market. LEED 2009 registered projects will be able to be completed until sometime around 2020.

Many people are already looking ahead to LEED v5, while others believe that LEED v4 is a step backwards which may even prove detrimental to some credit categories as it was rushed out. Rob Watson, father of LEED said is the best by arguing that the illogical mentality of 'speed is quality' was used to roll this standard out.

What do you think?

22 Years and a Change

Another day another dollar. Another year, another perspective. I come back to this blog to write my annual birthday post. However, this time I come back to you after the most influential year of my life which revamped my outlook on life and sustainability. Oh, and a degree too (in fact my graduation ceremony is going on as I write to you).


Last year I focused on my dismay in how far we have come, or rather haven’t come, since the inception of sustainable design and construction principles. This year, turning 22 years old in 2013, I have a very different and more enlightened view on the green industry and the green professionals behind it. Until this year I had never left the Americas nor have I been truly exposed to foreigners’ perspectives on sustainability. After developing life-long relationships with people of all ages throughout Europe and the Middle East, I came to a single conclusion: boy did the West get it wrong. Regardless of the energy cost differential or even the left-leaning societal views of Europe, we as a people have approached sustainability in a backwards fashion. The end of pipe solutions we are formulating are simply not the answer to resolve our unbalanced consumption and production. The question is not “how can we produce more?” but rather “How can we consume less?” The experts designing green building in North America are too focused on green printed paper than they are on feasible green solutions. A pretty telling fact about Green Washing in America is the fact that the leader of the largest non profit green building certification system in the globe is not even an accredited professional but earns over $500 000. I am not suggesting I could run a better game, in fact I could not, but the industry ‘leaders’ should not be at the top and their influence can be felt trickling down to individual projects. There are too many CFOs leading the green building industry. These current leaders would be much more affective as Directors of Sustainability in firms making the transition to a green profitable business. This will leave the leadership roles to those who can understand what it means to be sustainable, and for western culture it means producing a lot more than we have consumed since the industrial revolution (A lot of catching up to do).

Prior to this day of reflection I have been one of those CFO minded people who believed the green paper was the only route to a green world. When in fact it is much simpler than that; it is just society’s outlook and what they truly value. In the historically most capitalistic part of the world we place that value on money and growth as opposed to a high quality of life for us and our children. Society drives all corporations, for without us they could not exist. If society puts enough emphasis on their demand, the world will be forced to conform to it or else society will fail. The triple bottom line, as hunky-dory as some make it out to be is true. It aptly shows the interconnected and dependent nature of the world’s major spheres, the environment, economy and society. Sustainability is not a lifestyle choice; one cannot choose how to be sustainable while ignoring the rest of the global civilizations. A sustainable life is the only choice as you either are sustainable or you are not. That is the one problem I have with point systems; how can a building be only 50% sustainable? It is a black and white affair which luckily was recognized by the Living Building Institute in their certification system, the Living Building Challenge.

On my 22nd birthday I would like to be clear with my perspective and message. A sustainable present and future is very possible. I have even seen it myself in the eyes of those who I have been thankful to encounter and befriend. However, the people at the helm of the movement are in many ways incredibly capable people, but not for their current position. I have all the confidence in the world that humans are making a generational push towards a shift in our societal mindset which will ultimately conclude in a balanced Earth.