Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

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.


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Daylighting urban streams has long made sense aesthetically, but now the environmental, traffic calming, and air pollution benefits can be quantified based on new studies of the famous Cheonggyecheon running through downtown Seoul.

From the New York Times:

Cities from San Antonio to Singapore have been resuscitating rivers and turning storm drains into streams. In Los Angeles, residents’ groups and some elected officials are looking anew at buried or concrete-lined creeks as assets instead of inconveniences, inspired partly by Seoul’s example.

By building green corridors around the exposed waters, cities hope to attract affluent and educated workers and residents who appreciate the feel of a natural environment in an urban setting.

Environmentalists point out other benefits. Open watercourses handle flooding rains better than buried sewers do, a big consideration as global warming leads to heavier downpours. The streams also tend to cool areas overheated by sun-baked asphalt and to nourish greenery that lures wildlife as well as pedestrians.

But four years after the stream was uncovered, city officials say, the environmental benefits can now be quantified. Data show that the ecosystem along the Cheonggyecheon (pronounced chung-gye-chun) has been greatly enriched, with the number of fish species increasing to 25 from 4. Bird species have multiplied to 36 from 6, and insect species to 192 from 15.

The recovery project, which removed three miles of elevated highway as well, also substantially cut air pollution from cars along the corridor and reduced air temperatures. Small-particle air pollution along the corridor dropped to 48 micrograms per cubic meter from 74, and summer temperatures are now often five degrees cooler than those of nearby areas, according to data cited by city officials.

And even with the loss of some vehicle lanes, traffic speeds have picked up because of related transportation changes like expanded bus service, restrictions on cars and higher parking fees.

“We’ve basically gone from a car-oriented city to a human-oriented city,” said Lee In-keun, Seoul’s assistant mayor for infrastructure, who has been invited to places as distant as Los Angeles to describe the project to other urban planners.

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Greetings –

This is the first in a series of regular updates I will be writing about what we have been working on at Sherwood Design Engineers. I’m excited to share information about these projects with you.

Guangzhou, China

Over the past month, we’ve gotten started with a transformative project in Guangzhou in the heart of China’s manufacturing region. We are working with Hargreaves and SOM to conceptualize the regeneration of a major portion of this city of 6-12 million people, which is 75 miles north of Hong Kong. The project entails transforming polluted land via green technology and enterprise in a 36 square kilometer area of the city in a very important region.

Sherwood Institute

Over the last 3 years Sherwood Design Engineers has invested over a quarter million dollars in research and pro-bono activities to develop a proven, project-driven model for improving and accelerating the availability and energy efficiency of fresh water around the world.  We have taken this effort to the next level with the formal founding of a non-profit. Building on the expertise we’ve accrued tackling challenging sustainability problems around the world, we’ve come up with the following mission for the Sherwood Institute:

Safeguard and extend the availability and energy efficiency of threatened fresh water resources in the 6 developed continents by:
• Improving design and practices that will minimize the water-related carbon footprint and maximize water resource use efficiency.
• Transforming policy roadblocks into opportunities for action.
• “Influencing the influencers” of water practices to change ways that people produce, access and use fresh water resources.
• Improving access for people in poverty to clean drinking water in the developing world.

7×7 Magazine Profile

Closer to home, the latest issue of 7×7 Magazine to hit the newsstand has a full page profile on what we are up to on page 25. It’s a very complimentary and well written article, the details are mostly right (you can see the piece for yourself in the News section of our site).


I just returned from visiting my mom’s permaculture education project in Valladolid, Mexico, in the Yucatan. She’s converted an 300 year old colonial home into a living and breathing building with rainwater harvesting and tropical food production. We’ll post some images here soon.

That’s all for now, in future editions of this letter I will keep you updated on these and other projects. I welcome your feedback and would love to know what you’d like to hear more in the comments section below. Thank you for reading.

Bry Sarte
President, Sherwood Design Engineers

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Chartwell continues to be a leading example of quality green building.

Here’s the write up from AIA, as well as the complete list of all Top Ten Green Projects 2009.

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Green Dry Cleaning from goodwillnne.org

Green Dry Cleaning from goodwillnne.org

The EPA was supposed to appear in the DC appeals court Friday to defend its proposal to require PERC to be phased out of dry cleaners located in residential buildings by 2020.  They were being sued by the Sierra Club for not going further and requiring PERC to be phased out of all dry cleaning operations across the country.  The Sierra Club is arguing that there are already PERC alternatives readily available and economical and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be used everywhere.  Meanwhile, the National Cleaners Association has been saying that PERC is safe because there are controls now to prevent emissions.  The EPA has asked for the case to be removed from the docket on Friday so that they can revise their position, which may be a sign that the Obama administration is going to take a different tack on environmental legislation than the Bush administration did.

Its also a common sense one in my opinion.  I used to work for in environmental remediation and pretty much any site that had a history of dry cleaning had PERC in the soil and groundwater.  That was not coming for the air emissions, which are an issue while the dry cleaners is in operation, its coming from spills.  Unless the National Cleaners Association has a way to prevent spills and leaks in the PERC storage tanks on site, there is little guarantee of saftey using the product.  And PERC is incredibly difficult and expensive to remove once its in the groundwater.  Hopefully the EPA will acknowledge this and amend their position.

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Photo courtesy of Sucraseed

Photo courtesy of Sucraseed

Mowing your lawn may be able to provide you with a homegrown source of power for your home.  The Catskill Watershed Foundation started a study in central New York recently that will examine the feasability of pelletizing grass clippings into a form that can be burned in a pellet stove.  The study will look at cost effictiveness of the pellet process, as well as the heating efficiency of the stove (both indoor and outdoor) and air quality of the exhaust.

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Irrigation water can be wasted in other ways.

Automatic sprinklers can be a useful tool.  But if the systems are not managed correctly, you might find a snow-covered yard being watered while the homeowners are away on vacation.

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