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The 6th competition in a series, Re:Vision DALLAS is an opportunity to transform an existing city block in Dallas into a model of cutting-edge sustainable practices.

We invite you to be part of this ground-breaking effort and help lay the foundation for sustainable urban design. Together we can change the future of urban America, one block at a time.

ENTER NOW And together we can change the future of urban America, one block at a time.

The competition jury will award three cash prizes, and three honorable mentions. The prize for each of the three finalists is $25,000. The prize for each of the honorable mentions will be $1,000.

Sergio Palleroni – Basic Initiative
Pliny Fisk – Center for Maximum Building Potential
Cameron Sinclair – Architecture for Humanity
Peter Head– ARUP
Eric Corey Freed – Organic Architect

Schedule and Timeline:
Registration Deadline: April 15, 2009
Entry Deadline:April 30, 2009 by 11:59pm pdt
Jury Session: May 2009

Winning Designs Announced: May 21, 2009
Questions, please contact:


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Urban Planners on List of Top 10 “Best Green Jobs”

Fast Company just released its list of “10 Best Green Jobs for the Next Decade.” Along with “Urban Planner” our other favorites include:

  • Energy Efficiency Builder
  • Sustainability Systems Developer
  • Farmer
  • Forester

Good Jobs Green Jobs

The Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference happened this week in Washington DC, with the promise of “Making a Down Payment on the Green Economy.” While everybody loves the promise of Green Jobs, will Obama’s administration be able to overcome doubts about making those jobs a reality?

Read all about the conference in this writeup from Grist, including the two major reports released at the event: “Green Collar Jobs in America’s Cities [PDF]: Building Pathways out of Poverty and Careers in the Clean Energy Economy” and “Greener Pathways [PDF]: Jobs and Workforce Development in the Clean Energy Economy.

USGBC to Obama: “Green Building Creates Jobs, Saves Energy and Saves Money”

GreenerBuildings reports that the USGBC is making recommendations to the Obama administration on vital green building policy priorities that will simultaneously create millions of green-collar jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and advance proven opportunities to deliver greener, more energy efficient buildings.

USGBC’s recommendations include:

  • Support for Green Schools
  • Create a Revolving Loan Fund to Spur Investment in Green Building
  • Support for Green Job Training
  • Green Building Projects in Government Facilities
  • Invest Boldly in Green Affordable Housing
  • and finally….Green the White House!

State of Green Business 2009: Building Energy Efficiency Rises Again

Joel Makower writes that green building practices could cut greenhouse gases in North America more effectively than any other action, according to research from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

Also, San Francisco’s Building Inspection Commission passed strict green building codes, to be phased in over a number of years, that would make new large commercial and residential construction comply with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system or with a rival GreenPoint Rated standard. The rules are expected to avoid 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, save 220,000 megawatt-hours of power, and prevent the use of 100 million gallons of water.

Moreover, efficient buildings, coupled with a smarter electricity infrastructure, could also avert the need for building new power plants. When extra power is needed a local utility could selectively and briefly turn off the air conditioning or refrigeration units in large office buildings, warehouses, and other facilities in its service area. It does this for brief, staggered intervals, reducing overall demand while being imperceptible to occupants. The result: Demand drops enough to avoid firing up standby power plants — and maybe even eliminate some of them altogether.

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The Weekly Heads Up

New Yorkers, be sure not to miss this holiday event!

Obama Pledges Massive Public Works Program

“President-elect Barack Obama promised Saturday to create the largest public works construction program since the inception of the interstate highway system a half century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy,” says the New York Times.

Obama seeks to go beyond traditional infrastructure projects to repair roads and bridges, and include green jobs that reduce energy use and global warming emissions, as well as “school construction, laying broadband lines, instituting medical information technologies” which could save costs.

“Making our economy more energy efficient,” says Obama, could drive down costs. “We can emerge leaner, meaner, and ultimately more competitive and more prosperous.”

Some of this work is already underway of course, and several events this week can help you learn more:

The Green California Schools Summit
Monday, Dec 8th – Wed, Dec 10th. Anaheim Convention Center
Call them sustainable, environmentally friendly, healthy or high-performance. The greening of California’s schools is well underway, and a growing number of the state’s 6.3 million students and 307,000 teachers are increasingly feeling the benefits. The Green California Schools Summit will help you learn more.

The Future is Energy Efficient Buildings
Tuesday, December 9th. 5:30 – 8:30 pm CPUC Bldg. SF
Join industry and government experts for Clean Tech Open’s Green Building Symposium: a lively discussion of the future of commercial and residential buildings with thought leaders from the federal and state government, research and academia, leading venture capitalists and green building executives. Come engage with us—we welcome your questions, technology ideas and challenges, and market opportunities—so we can together shape the new buildings economy.

Greening Your Small Business
Wednesday, Dec 9. 3:00 pm. Muse/Dekker Studio, 22 6th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Urban Solutions SF is offering a free seminar on Greening your Small Business. Learn how your small business can take low cost, high impact measures to better the environment and save money.

Pervious Concrete: A Stormwater Solution
Wednesday, Dec 10 7:30am – 3:30pm. PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center 851 Howard St. SF
This all-day seminar provides detailed instruction on how to implement pervious concrete pavements as a solution to reducing stormwater runoff from building sites and other paved areas.

Building a Clean Energy Future
Wednesday, December 10, 2008. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Info here. Pre-Registration Required.
Michael Brune, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, and author of the acclaimed book Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal will present his perspective on how we, as business people, can accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. In this interactive session, we will discuss:
–How the twin crises in the economy and our climate present real opportunities for substantive progress in early 2009.
–Where we must still “play defense” to prevent deeper investments in the Canadian tar sands, “clean coal,” and burning rainforests for biofuels.
–How the business and advocacy communities can join forces to advance pragmatic but aggressive solutions to fight climate change.

Introduction to Urban Permaculture
Thursday, Dec 11. 7-9pm. Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley.
Hear and see local permaculture designers from the Ecological Division of Merritt College. Teachers will be on hand to present a quick overview of their classes and what motivates them to live their passions for urban sustainability. Come see what’s been incubating at this little 7-acre gem in the Oakland Hills. Christopher Shein will talk about the large food forest and garden built by students and the Permaculture Design Certificate program. Hear about the Regenerative Design Class, Natural Building, and Growing Mushrooms. Find out where and how to plug-in to the local permaculture scene.

Have a Great Week!

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The Weekly Heads Up

Image of Chartwell School courtesy of Michael David Rose Photography.

Douglas Atkins, Executive Director of Chartwell School is winning a Green Building Super Hero award this week! Come to the party this Thursday.

Sherwood provided engineering and design services for this LEED Platinum project, including an educational interpretive stormwater feature that links the rainwater cistern to the science garden. Check out this video on Chartwell’s Green Features. Or read this article, “Chartwell School Receives A+ from USGBC.

Want to find out what Obama is doing for Clean Energy?
Monday, Oct 20.
Attend this gala event in SF with Tracy Chapman for $250. Or join a Clean Tech for Obama house party for free!

Emerging Green Builders Happy Hour!
Monday, October 20. 6:00pm – Murphys Pub, 217 Kearny, SF,CA
Join us again at Murphy’s Pub for our monthly EGB meet n greet!

Sherwooders: Sara Mae says, “Sorry no featured speakers this month, but if you want to present next month or have a quiet space we can meet in, please let me know at saramaemartens@dbarchitect.com.”

Anybody have any hot ideas they want to share?

Shout Outs:
Sherwood offers Congratulations to Earth Island Institute’s  9th Annual Brower Youth Environmental Award Winners. These are the top environmental prize for young people in North America. Congratulations to all the winners!

Attend the VIP Reception and Awards Show to honor these young leaders. Featuring Bill McKibben, Q’orianka Kilcher, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Hawken, and other honorary guests.
Tuesday, Oct 21
Herbst Theater, SF. 5:30 – 9 pm

New York: Composting in the City
Tuesday, Oct 21 6 – 8pm. Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Leaves, kitchen scraps, garden trimmings, and weeds can all become garden gold through composting. Making dark, rich, crumbly compost doesn’t take much time, work, or space. This class covers the basics: what the composting process is, how to compost, how to use the finished compost, how to avoid and solve some issues, and which equipment and tools are helpful. Participants will receive a copy of the BBG handbook Easy Compost: The Secret to Great Soil and Spectacular Plants.

Green Building Super Heroes Gala
October 23rd, 5:30 – 9 pm
Mezzanine. 444 Jessie Street. SF, CA 94103
The Building Super Heroes Gala is THE green building event in Northern California. Last year’s event inspired hundreds and attracted broadcast media attention. The gala will feature a program celebrating the unique green building culture of Northern California, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and live jazz. Come as you are or dressed as your favorite super hero!

One of this year’s Super Heroes is Douglas Atkins, Executive Director, Chartwell School.

Congratulations to Douglas Atkins, and all the students at Chartwell!

1st Annual Alternative Construction & Energy Expo
Saturday & Sunday, Oct 25-26. Santa Cruz Fair Grounds
Attend construction, landscaping & water workshops for professionals and homeowners, the “Green Zone Family Area,” and a “Green” Market Place featuring over 50 vendors. Admission is free. More information here.

Have a great week!

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Wired has an interesting article up, “Note to Next President: Modern-Day WPA Will Save the Economy”

“The state of America’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, drinking water, even schools and transit systems — couldn’t be much worse. A report card issued three years ago by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives it all a D. The society says we’ve got to spend about $1.6 trillion just to bring things up to a B-“

Is the economic meltdown an ideal opportunity to invest in long-term infrastructure projects, create jobs, and modernize our rails and roads? Or is it a government boondoggle that will undercut private industry and prolong our economic recession? Is the labor-intensive model of the WPA an accurate comparison for today’s hi-tech projects that require highly-skilled workers?

The writer says:

“The candidates can talk all they want about shoveling money into alternative fuels, electric cars and high-speed rail, but none of that will mean much if our roads, bridges and rails can’t support them. The next president must commit to fixing our infrastructure. Such an investment will create jobs, strengthen our economy and make America more competitive.”

Should wind-power, large-scale solar, and a new smart energy grid be part of the next president’s agenda? What about high-speed rail in California?

What do you think?

We’d love to hear!

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The Weekly Heads Up

3rd PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE this Wednesday evening!
Wednesday, Oct 15. 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Enjoy it live on the big screens at Bobby G’s Pizzeria, with the East Bay Green Drinkers: a lively monthly gathering for anyone interested in sustainability, including green business, environmental and social causes, architecture and design, organics, renewable energy and more.

Build It Green Presents:
Incentives and Rebates for Building Green
Wednesday, Oct 15. 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Costs $15
SF Dept of the Environment. 11 Grove St. near Civic Center Bart Station.
San Francisco recently enacted a set of green building requirements for private sector development – both residential and commercial, which are arguably the most comprehensive of any large city in the nation. Learn how the requirements will affect your projects, why San Francisco took this action, and what incentives will be available to help projects succeed–and exceed–the requirements. Special attention will be paid to historic buildings, energy and water efficiency, waste minimization, and new storm water management guidelines.

LEED for Schools Technical Review
Friday, Oct 17, 2008. 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.
Pacific Energy Center, 851 Howard Street
This all day seminar Presented by the USGBC is designed to provide a complete review of the LEED® for Schools Rating System™ and how to apply it on school projects including the tools and insights needed to incorporate green building practices into projects. Case studies of certified school projects illustrate successful strategies and practices for improving school design and performance.
USGBC Members $345. Non-members $445. Students $150
RSVP: http://www.greenbuild365.org/course

New York Cares: Volunteer Day in NYC
Saturday, Oct 18. 9:30am – 3:30pm.
On New York Cares Day, more than 8,000 volunteers will help paint a brighter future for thousands of New York City school children. Join us for a day of good, clean fun — painting murals and classrooms, adding bright new line games to playgrounds, organizing libraries, and planting flowers — to help create great learning environments at over 100 public schools throughout the five boroughs.

Here’s how to get involved!

Have a great week!

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Sherwood has gotten a lot of press lately. After the Wall Street Journal covered our Carbon Offset program, FOX Business News wanted to know if it was fair to charge someone ‘else’ for ‘our’ emissions.

I think this illustrates one of the most basic principles of ecology: Connectedness.

It was John Muir who famously said that when we try to pick out any one thing by itself, “we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords” to everything else in the universe.

And so it is with carbon emissions.

In essence, the complex game of measuring and tracing the impact of the invisible gases we breathe out into the atmosphere, is about our shared connections and responsibilities to each other.

The environmental effects of turning on a computer, buying a latte, or boarding an airplane are invisible at the time, and minimal on their own. But taken together, and considered as a whole, they are having an enormous impact on all of us. They are a demonstration that each of us contributes to the lives of others. That each of our acts, however small, has an impact on the planet.

To the victor belong the spoils, they say.

But if a client asks me to fly to NY for a meeting, who is the victor? Who ‘owns’ the emissions? Measuring the ‘thousand invisible cords’ that bind us all together can be a complicated business.

At Sherwood, we strive to live up to the quality of the work we do. If we’re designing carbon-neutral buildings, and LEED Platinum schools, then our carbon footprint is a part of the projects we work on.

So we’ve developed a three-tiered policy to address Climate Change:

1. Eliminate Energy Wasteful Business Practices.

In June, the Wall Street Journal ran an article called Tackling the Energy Monster, mentioning our efforts to reduce waste, increase recycling, and manage our electricity usage. The Wall Street Journal did another piece titled Strategies for Reigning in Energy Costs, which mentions our video conferencing program to allow fuller participation at staff and design meetings without having to travel. We encourage employees to use alternative transportation, and only 5% of Sherwood employees drive to work.

We’ve also gotten certified as a San Francisco Green Business, and joined the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3) to educate ourselves and put our principles in practice.

2. Improve the Way we Design our Projects.

Eco-Engineering is the science of integrating the built world with the natural environment. When we calculate solar gain, water balance, wind corridors, or geothermal resources on a site, we are studying these connections. It’s our art and expertise in doing so that enables us to build carbon neutral structures; regenerative buildings that cleanse the air and water around them; and neighborhoods and cities that encourage the ‘invisible threads’ of true community, without disrupting our connections to the ecosystems and atmosphere surrounding us.

3. Add a Carbon Offset Fee to Cover Unavoidable Emissions

While we strive to do less harm, and promote more good, there are certain emissions we can’t avoid. Because we have to take planes, print plans, and spend many many hours on the computer for each of our projects, we add an itemized expense to our invoices to cover the carbon costs of doing business. While the charge is minimal – the 0.05% surcharge means an extra $5 for every $10,000 billed – it accomplishes three important things.

  • Educates our clients about the full impact of their operations.
  • Supports renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that wouldn’t exist without those dollars.
  • Helps promote energy independence and assists the market in making a transition to a new energy economy.

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