I was just looking into various flooring options, and Cork Flooring seemed to me to be the best (even over something like Bamboo flooring).Â The following article discusses the pros (of which there are many) and the cons (really just long-distance shipping): Cork Flooring.Â To give a brief summary, cork flooring is much more sustainable than traditional hardwood flooring in that “the material is acquired by stripping most of the outer bark from the cork oak tree. This regular harvesting does the tree no harm, and the bark grows back, to be stripped again every nine years.”Â This is in contrast to the 60+ years required for similar traditional wood floorings.
Some interesting properties of this very practical surface:
- Soft like suede, insulating qualities and resiliency of carpet, the easy-to-clean surface of wood or tile
- Scraps are collected for reuse, so almost nothing is wasted
- The material is waterproof, and the natural waxy substance inherent in cork, called suberin, makes it mold and mildew resistant
- If someone in your family suffers from allergies, a cork floor could provide a soft and warm alternative to allergen collecting carpets
- Cork is naturally flame-resistant
- Acoustically insulating properties keep foot traffic quiet.
- Costs as low as $2/sq. ft. (which is cheap, though like woods they do have expensive options)
- Can be used in just about any room
All of the aforementioned benefits would seem useful for MAGIC, and the fact they come from Europe, which is really the only negative here, won’t matter if their house is being built over there anyways!Â I think we should look into this material.
Yes… It talks about the green dorm.
I knew this had to be out there somewhere, but I just never knew where. Sorry to all of you for whom this is obvious. It’s a page about what Stanford is currently doing to be sustainable, off the SustainableStanfordÂ site, in the realm of buildings. I talks all about the performance goals, and how Y2E2 and the Jasper Ridge Field Station have won all these awards, but then it talks about how sustainable they are because they’re building a new dorm. Maybe we can hold them to it!
“The upcoming Green Dorm will be a living laboratory for sustainability and represent the latest in sustainable building technology and practice. Itâ€™s expected to generate more electricity than it uses, emit no net carbon and use half the water of comparable dorms.”
When we were talking last week about large, pre-planned cities vs. cities that develop over time, it reminded me of one of my favorite designers, Rem Koolhaas. Koolhaas has been very involved in projects in Dubai and is even championing a project in the UAE that will compete with Masdar in being a zero-emissions city (see image below – Ras al-Khaimah). He’s a great urban philosopher and innovator – he once did a project studying the city of Lagos in Nigeria, where he argued that the horrible traffic congestion actually enhanced the city’s economy and culture. He likes to be experimental when designing and thinking about cities, and I believe he will be at the forefront of sustainable, eco-city design in the Middle East.
A deep quote: “I think that the urban effect is really interesting – the language, the rhetoric, the aesthetic, the practice. That is a very important shift. Today, we’re not building cities; we are building resorts. The resort has become the dominant DNA, in a certain way. It’s more an anti-city than a city, defined by its non-linear growth.” -Rem K.
Also, I think anyone interested in the topic of sustainable urban design should look to the Middle East because they are right now on the cutting-edge of that topic. After researching urban design there for PWR, I came to the conclusion that the political and economic condition of parts of the Middle East has and will continue to make it a leader in experimental and sustainable urban design.
Last night after the meeting, a few of us stayed around talking for quite a while about various projects, the letter to Hennessey, Research, and we finally settled on the concept of taking a new look atÂ the concept of the green dorm. Things we were thinking of were:
- Why can’t we have a cafÃ© in the computer cluster, and make it feel more welcoming and attractive to all students, not just those trying to grind out a painful all-nighter
- Is there a way to make the study spaces in the dorm better, such as by having little nooks and crannies, private desks downstairs instead of in your room, tiered workspaces, etc. Do we want to make the dorm’s study space a place that all students are welcome to, a real green idea lab, like the lair is for the computer-savvy or the machine shop for the artsy/ME crowd?Â Could it be a community center as well, or would that be overkill and invasive? How do we balance the green education/community part with the traditional dorm needs such as party spaces, privacy, etc.?
- How can we make the house not just a popular house, but a true social center for campus sustainability and life, without imposing on the privacy of the inhabitants? A separate dining space that functions more like a cafÃ©? Recreation areas? (hee hee… my idea is a climbing wall hidden in the hanging plant wall, you have to admit that would be awesome, and it could be on the north side so we don’t lose any PV/insolation space).
- How can we make the lab really cool and productive? A biodigester may really facilitate great research, but will it add to the dorm’s community to have that here and not in Y2E2 or elsewhere in the Engineering Quad?Â What about other things such as laser cutters and 3D printers that facilitate product design, architecture, and mechanical engineering students thinking sustainably? How about a mini Pacific Energy Center (Check it out if you haven’t heard about it) that lets us test things like window or insulation performance, or perhaps have a demo center that informs people about sustainable building technology. Should we have a sustainability tool library that rents out sustainability tools to students on campus such as watt-meters, water quality equipment, etc.?
- On a similar note, let’s start looking at all popular places, not just the dorms, and seeing what makes them so. We all know the axe and palm food is horrid, so why is it and the old union always packed? Is there something we can take from that?Â
Please add to this with other ideas about re-conceiving the dorm… we need to start expanding our horizons if it’s going to remain cutting edge, and it would be so great if this dorm could transform the campus feel.
Victoria, British Columbia (Dockside Green)
“Victoria, British Columbia, plans to be carbon-neutral by 2012. Its Dockside Green pro ject brings that goal closer to realization. The environmentally sustainable plans for Dockside Green combine residential, commercial, light industrial and green space on 15 acres (roughly 0.06 square kilometers) of harbor-front land.
How will Dockside Green achieve its goal to be the first carbon-neutral community inÂ North America? Through a combination of green solutions for buildings, transportation, energy and waste treatment.
Let’s begin with buildings: Those of Dockside Green are being constructed with reclaimed wood from forests that were submerged by reservoirs. Energy-efficient appliances and fixtures (such as motion-sensing light switches),Â green roofsÂ (rooftop gardens), andÂ carbon footprintÂ monitors (that allow residents to track their heat, energy and water use over time) are outfitted inside homes.
It’s unlikely you’ll find a car or two parked in driveways, either. Residents of Victoria, and now Dockside Green, take part in a clean-fuel and hybrid car-sharing program (even the cars areÂ Smart). In addition, Dockside Green plans include bike and pedestrian paths, subsidized public transit and a harbor ferry.
Energy and waste treatment will be self-contained within Dockside Green. One hundred percent of waste will be treated on-site, and the treated water will be reused to flush toilets and irrigate gardens. AÂ biomass-gasification plantÂ will turn wood waste into energy for heat and hot water.
This innovative green community is under way currently, with the first of three neighborhoods opening in 2009. Upon completion, the entire community will be home to about 2,500 people.”
“Sherford, in south Devon, is the eco-project of Prince Charles. It will be home to 12,000 people and is planned for completion by 2020. Royal advisors consider it Britain’s greenest future community.
The proposed community will take advantage of cutting-edge green building designs and materials but will look like a traditional English town. Buildings will be constructed with sustainable materials gathered mostly from within a 50-mile (80-kilometer) radius of the site; water and sewer waste will be recycled.
Homes and workplaces alike will put their rooftops to work. The majority of buildings will haveÂ solar powersystems, and vegetation will cover theÂ roofsÂ of commercial buildings. About half of Sherford’s power will be supplied from renewable sources in the community: In addition to solarÂ power, plans call forÂ windÂ turbines.
Lastly, a walkable urban layout will put residences, retail stores and industry in close proximity, reducing the need for cars. In fact, cars will be banned from some areas of the town. Did we mention new homeowners receive a free bicycle?”
Dongtan City, China Â Â Â
“Dongtan will be a city of three villages that meet to form a city centre. The first demonstrator phase of Dongtan aims to be completed by 2010, in time for the World Expo in Shanghai, and will accommodate a population of up to 5,000. Later phases of development will see the city grow to hold a population of around 80,000 by 2020 and up to 500,000 by 2050.
The delicate nature of the Dongtan wetlands adjacent to the site has been one of the driving factors of the city’s design. We plan to protect and enhance the existing wetlands by returning agricultural land to a wetland state creating a ‘buffer-zone’ between the city and the mudflats – at its narrowest point, this ‘buffer-zone’ will be 3.5 kilometres wide.
The project will increase bio-diversity on Chongming Island, and will create a city that runs entirely on renewable energy for its buildings, its infrastructure and its transport needs. Dongtan will recover, recycle and reuse 90% of all waste in the city, with the eventual aim of becoming a zero waste city.
Dongtan eco-city incorporates many traditional Chinese design features and combines them with a sustainable approach to modern living, but not at the expense of creating a city that isÂ recognizableÂ as a â€˜Chineseâ€™ city.
With the project now entering the implementation phase, SIIC and Arup have been joined by HSBC and Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) in a long-term strategic partnership to develop the commercial and financing strategy for Dongtan and other eco-cities in China. A key element of this is the Dongtan Institute for Sustainability which will initially be based in Tongji University. We hope the Institute will become one of the worldâ€™s centres of excellence for examining the connection between the environment and economic performance.”
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
“No cars, no waste, no pollution. Doable? Such a city is slated to rise from the oil-rich grounds in Abu
Masdar’s sustainable urban development will take advantage of wind, hydrogen and solar-photovoltaic energy sources. Wastewater will be treated andÂ recycledÂ into irrigation systems.
In addition, Masdar’s transportation goals are ambitious. Fossil-fuel burning cars are banned from the city in lieu of an electric personal light-rail system — small, programmable cars that run only when you need to go somewhere, and a pedestrian-friendly city layout.
Masdar is already under construction and will develop over several phases, with completion expected in 2016 [sourceÂ Inhabitat]. Up to 50,000 people are expected to live in Masdar, and the first residents will likely move in sometime during 2009 [CNET].”
Photo Source: MasdarUAE.com
David Schrom from Magic joined us today to talk aboutÂ Magic, an intentional community in Palo Alto. They are building a second residence on their campus, and would love to collaborate with us, sharing ideas and experiences.
Magic is overwhelmed with the hundreds of questions that come with designing a green building, and as luck would have it, our time has just opened up.Â This could be a great opportunity to apply our research conclusions, and find new research questions to explore. They could use our time and knowledge, and we could use their knowledge and connections.Â They’re dealing with exactly the same issues and questions that we are, and they’re doing it right now, making the decisions in the near future, and they’re open to all of our ideas. Essentially, the Magic residence could serve as a small scale test run for green dorm ideas, giving us the experience we need to make the Green Dorm that much better.
David has invited us to join them for supper at Magic, and we’re definitely going to take him up on it – I’m coordinating with him about specifics and will let you know.
The Magic talk was very cool. Â There are many opportunities to develop least cost life services solutions in a real building. Â The house is designed within a tight budget framework which means that there is a rich opportunity for innovation. Â Public transit is near the site. Â The house currently has almost no insulation. Â We could figure out an inexpensive way to install high R-value “Passivhaus” quality insulation. Â
Solar energy for the site is difficult because solar panels are expensive. Â We could get a hodge-podge of discount solar panels panels for the site and use micro-inverters to integrate all of the panels for optimum power production.
This is a really interesting concept from MIT that correlates with one of our goals ofÂ utilizingÂ the infrastructure of Green Dorm to have a net positive ecological impact. More to come, but here is the link with a little more detail andÂ documentationÂ on the project. If you go to slide 02, you can see a vertical lattice structure that I am interested in testing (if available) to use for exterior walls.Â
Here’s a document David sent me about passivhauses and more specifics.
David also mentionedÂ Sketchup, an amazing tool for designing buildings and building components. Those with us in past quarters have experimented with it, but for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I suggest playing with it. You can put your buildings in Google Earth, and check their relationship to the sun for lighting and thermal conditioning.