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I was honored to attend the Sustainable Cities Design Academy this past Monday to Wednesday at the American Architecture Foundation. With sponsorship from UTC, the AAF brought 12 sustainability, design and development practitioners from around the country to apply their knowledge to four city scale projects in various stages of development. Each project had four representative on hand who worked with a resource team on their respective projects. The resource members and project teams each gave a Pecha Kucha style presentation about themselves and their work and then we broke off for a day and a half of brainstorming and on the spot design. Aside from being a great way to advance challenging projects, this was an exciting and educational opportunity for all attendees to meet and learn about others advancing the field of sustainable building.

I was assigned to a fascinating adaptive reuse project from Minneapolis with a great team headed by David Frank of Schafer Richardson Inc. and a fantastic fellow resource member, Phil Esocoff FAIA of Esocoff and Associates. The site we worked on is a former grain mill located 5 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. It has an existing water tunnel in the basement formerly used to provide the mill with mechanical power. A few quick calculations revealed it could produce 20-40% of the sites total power. The team spent a lot of time discussing possible ways to reuse about 25 100′ tall, 25′ dia, circular concrete grain elevators. Possibilities included everything from adaptive reuse apartments to water storage and stack effect conditioners.

What do you think? How can they be reused? Should they be saved or are they an imposing barrier to community integration? More about the mills can be found here, and the white grain elevators can be seen here.

West Coast Green is this week in San Francisco, and I am honored to be among the distinguished list of speakers at the event. I will be co-presenting a panel on Integrated Water Systems with Paul Kephart from Rana Creek and Andy Mannle this Friday, October 2, at 11am. The panel we did last year, “The Sexiest Large Scale Water Design Applications We Have Ever Seen”, was S.R.O. So they’re bringing us back for an update, which we’re calling (somewhat less racily) “The Whole Pitcher.”

Also at West Coast Green, Sherwood will be participating in the “Greening Fort Mason Design Slam.” The event was created to brainstorm design strategies and practical ideas for the continued evolution of Fort Mason Center as a leading environmentally sustainable destination. I will be facilitating this charette this Friday October 2 at 12:30pm along with a number of great minds from WRT, The Grove Consulting, Van Meter Williams Pollack, Solutions and PEC. You can read more about it here and register to attend the conference here.


Green building professionals from across the nation will converge at Fort Mason Center on October 2nd during the West Coast Green Conference to brainstorm design strategies and practical ideas for the continued evolution of Fort Mason Center as a leading environmentally sustainable destination. As part of a planned rehabilitation of Pier 2, Fort Mason Center plans to adopt LEED Silver standards and install a large-scale solar array, which will provide for 80% of energy consumption. The Slam will provide a medium for development of a solar conversion plan by the leading solar engineers in the Bay Area.

This ‘meeting of the minds’ is an opportunity for Fort Mason Center to benefit from the design leaders assembled at West Coast Green and to harvest the intellectual capital of its visionary participants. The Slam is set to involve West Coast Green participants and advisors, including Eric Corey Freed, Gil Friend, David Johnston, Sim Van der Ryn, Bill Reed, The education director from PG&E, and several team members at Sherwood Design Engineers.

The collaboration with West Coast Green will strengthen Fort Mason Center’s role as a model of sustainability and help to generate additional synergy with other partners including Long Now Foundation, the National Park Service, San Francisco Conservation Corps, Zip Car, Eat Well, LMS Architects, and Presidio School of Management.

cistern 860

Sherwood, working with our partners EHDD, Stantec and Oliver and Co. (who took the photo to the left), recently installed a 15,000 gallon cistern at Marin Country Day School. This cistern will be collecting around 16,000 square feet of rainwater from the roofs of a new art classroom and Learning Resource Center.

The project is also targeting LEED Platinum status which will be achieved in part by the stormwater quantity and quality benefits as well as water conservation. These new buildings are targeting zero energy use in which the cistern will play an important role. The water stored in the cistern, along with a cooling tower, will be used for mechanical heating and cooling exchange. The associated water conservation points will be achieved utilizing the captured rainwater through internal toilet use.

As we mentioned previously, Sherwood’s John Leys was invited to speak in Ottawa last week on the topic of alternatives to the Lansdowne Live project. Here’s a nice writeup of the event in the Ottawa Citizen, including this mention of Sherwood:

John Leys, of Sherwood Engineering, an American firm with experience in developing brownfield sites said it wouldn’t take long to clean contaminated soil.

He pointed to the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal where it took 15 months to remove 700,000 tonnes of soil from a 43-acre site — three times as big as Bayview.

Lansdowne Live

Controversy has been brewing in Ottawa over a proposal to turn a brownfield site into a stadium, to be called Lansdowne Live. John E. Martin, an Ottawa businessman, has invited Sherwood Engineers to join a group of politicians, government officials, architects, developers and community leaders to a private breakfast meeting this Thursday, Aug. 27, to discuss the situation. Sherwood will be presenting a case study based on our experience turning a brownfield site into a stadium in San Francisco. We will let keep you updated about the project as the dialogue continues.