Sustainable Musings Launch

about me

So, my son said, “This is the way business is done today”, and since I have much to say about sustainability, and I enjoy writing, a blog makes sense for me.  With greenwashing running wild and free, someone has to set the record straight.  Many thanks to my extremely talented and creative son, Jared, web designer, blog creator (and extraordinary musician and advocate for Wichita arts) who is leading me into “the cloud”.

By trade, I am an interior designer, and most of my experience has been in designing facilities for higher education, k-12 school districts, and municipalities, including courthouses, libraries and fire stations.

Sustainable Building Products

In the course of my work, I have specified millions of dollars worth of products.   And, in early 2000, I became aware of the sustainable design movement.  That’s when I began asking, “What makes a product sustainable?”   As it turns out, the answer is extremely complicated.  In the intervening years, I have continued to plumb the depths of that question, and share what I have found with audiences across Upstate New York, preaching to the choir of like-minded design professionals.   Because a building consists of nothing more than lots of assembled products, this topic will provide unending fodder for blogging.

The first food-for-thought I’d like to throw out is:  Is it green if the manufacturer’s green claim to fame is that their product contains recycled content – but the recycled content contains toxic components?

One of my favorite web sites for sustainable product research is BuildingGreen.  Great in-depth coverage of the most current issues in green building products.

Sustainable Schools

Since my decades of design experience has been primarily in designing educational facilities, I found myself volunteering to serve as the Green Schools Committee Chair for the U.S. Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter.  And, while I care deeply about all aspects of sustainability, I have found a real passion for providing interior environments that support the health of the people who occupy the spaces I design.  That commitment becomes ever-more sober when the occupants are small children, who are much more vulnerable to toxins in their environment than adults.

That passion is overflowing into advocacy so others will care as well.  I stand in unending awe of our Chapter’s Executive Director, Tracie Hall, from whom I continue to learn much about passion and commitment.  Not only does she provide outstanding leadership for the chapter, but she has boundless energy for traveling the wilds of this geographically challenging territory, with her traveling office stuck in her ear and her GPS stuck on the rear-view mirror.  Tracie – take a break!  Green schools – much more fodder for blogging.

First food for thought: If the City of New Orleans can commit to green schools, why can’t the City of Syracuse, New York?

There’s lots of green schools information to be found on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green School Buildings web site.

Sustainable Communities

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of working with David Ashley, AIA, LEED AP, during my nine years with my former employer.  He is the founding partner of the firm and one of the most sincerely dedicated to sustainability that I have ever met.  Back in 2003, he came to my desk and asked if I’d like to join a new group he was organizing that would be dedicated to advocating for sustainability.  I really didn’t need to think about it, and he knew that.

The group became GreeningUSA, based in Central New York, advocating for sustainable communities  to the benefit of local economies and environments.   The two flagship programs which have emerged are complimentary, one working from the grass-roots up and the other working from the top-down through government leadership.

The Twelve Traits of Sustainable Communities is a comprehensive, wholistic, voluntary community rating system which will inform community leadership about those areas where they excel, and those areas where they need to do some homework.  Our local city and county government officials are currently considering the benefits of using the Twelve Traits and earning the designation of a GreeningUSA Sustainable Community.

The Sustainability Academy has been successfully launched in the Syracuse City School District, bringing sustainability education topics to students and parents in the school setting.  Two of the events were festivals, with an overwhelming 400+ in attendance.  This is clearly something that people want to know more about.

And, now you can see that I have even more fodder for blogging on all things sustainable.

A Lively Conversation

My great hope is that this becomes a lively conversation, where sincere and thoughtful musings will be shared.  Please comment with your passions and convictions because a one-sided conversation is no conversation at all.