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common sense solutions to practical sustainability

Transcript of LOFT magazine

  • 1 ISSUE 1 MAY 2010



  • 2

  • 3editora word from the

    Once upOn a time, the grass was green. If only life were so simple.

    These days, anyone who surfs the internet, turns on the TV, or goes to the grocery store will find it virtually impossible to avoid hearing some form of the terms cLimate change ecOnOmic sustainaBiLitY or carBOn FOOtprint. These are really scary words that tell us to fear for the quality of our future. People are inhaling anything associated with being green like oxygen, and they seem to be willing to pay a little extra for the piece of mind that the products they are buying will keep them safe from an uncertain future. As a result, what was once simply another color in the rainbow has become the number one selling device of retailers, corporations, and politicians across our country. The word green can conjur up images of everything from hybrid cars to political reform. Soon, no product on the shelves will stand a chance without a little green sticker certifying its eco-friendliness. LOFT is a magazine about the practical side of sustainability. Inside you will find common sense solutions to being green that rise above the agendas of profit and politics. True green goes back to the basics, and should cost you anything at all.


  • 46 -11


    living walls



    12-17green interiors

  • 522-27


    design for disassembly

    green inks

    taBLe OF cOntents

  • 6 A Livin g

    Living waLLs

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    a Living waLL, also referred to as a green wall, vertical garden, or sky farm, is usually part of a building and consists of some sort of vegetation. These types of gardens are sometimes referred to as urban gardening, because they are well-suited for an urban environment where space on the ground is very limited but vertical space is plentiful.... Livin


    Living waLLs

  • 8Living waLLs

    These vertical gardens can be quite spectacular in appearance, and in some cases, they even work to filter clean air into the building in which they are growing upon. Vertical gardens can be grown on just about any type of wall, with or without the use of soil, and they can be placed both on outdoor and indoor walls. As long as there is not shortage of water for the living wall, no soil is required. These truly amazing sky farms are able to literally bring life to an old rundown building in the middle of the city and they are becoming increasingly popular inside office buildings, homes, and retail stores because of their outstanding beauty and their natural air purification properties. Living walls have fast become an art form for many people, and one of the pioneering vertical garden artists is Patrick Blanc. He observed how plants were able to grow vertically without the need for soil in the wild, and soon developed a way to create artistic looking vegetation walls that were both lightweight and needed little maintenance. Since these living walls only weighed approximately 30 kg or less per square-meter, he noticed that just about any type of wall would be able to support the weight of a vertical garden.

  • 9Living waLLs

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    There are many amazing examples of vertical gardens around the world.To meet the challenges of producing food in a more environmentally-friendly way, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has called on cities to develop these living walls of edible plants. Through vertical farming, agriculture could become a feature of urban life, lowering energy consumption, carbon emissions and resource use in food production. By shortening the distance produce has to travel from farm-to-fork, and by negating the need for heavy machinery, vertical farming can reduce CO2 emissions. Managing our urban spaces as extensions of agriculture will reduce the demand to turn forests into farmland. Food crops must be brought closer to the table, says EEA Director Jacqueline McGlade. We need to have showcase buildings in every city to give a completely different vision of agriculture. Vertical farming involves moving agriculture into cities by growing crops in either specially designed structures or in adapted urban spaces. Professor Dickson Despommier from Columbia University in New York, has championed the concept of 30-story skyscraper farms which could meet the needs of 50,000 people. Such buildings would use hydroponic (growing plants in a water and nutrient solution) and aeroponic (growing plants in nutrient-laden mist) methods to produce crops without using soil.

    from farm-to-forkLiving waLLs

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    Despommier believes vertical farms would use 90% less water than traditional farms. Moreover, such farms would offer year-round crop yields without the use of agro-chemicals, and would avoid weather related crop failures caused by droughts, floods and pests. Without the need for

    pesticides, food could be produced organically. Moreover, the problem of agricultural runoff would be avoided.

    Still, the process is not without its critics. Crop physiology professor Bruce Bugbee, from Utah State University, has questioned the viability of vertical farming by arguing that low light levels during the winter months would require the use of energy intensive high pressure sodium lights.Increasing plant life within cities would offer the added benefit of absorbing carbon emissions and producing more oxygen. While this would improve urban air quality, research is needed into the impact of carbon dioxide and other pollutants on city grown crops. Meanwhile, green rooftops would

    have a natural insulating effect on buildings.In its initial phase, Capital Growth provided financial support for 70

    allotments in London. In addition, the project organizer London Food Link hopes to convert hundreds of flat roofs across the city into

    vegetable gardens. The Capital Growth campaign is already promoting urban

    agriculture. The project aims to help Londoners transform their city by creating 2012 new food growing spaces by

    the end of 2012 to coincide with the London Olympic Games.

    Living waLLs

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    green interiOrs

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    interiOr design advice FrOm

    a Leed accredited prOFessiOnaL

    Article by Susan Aiello

    green interiOrs

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    green design incLudes energY conservation, but thats not what its all about. Its about having good air quality both indoors and outdoors, making the environments in which we work, live, study and play healthier and more comfortable and conserving all of our natural resources. The mantra of green design is People, Planet, Profit. Personally, I dont think that there is any contest as to which of these is most important. While we do need to preserve the planet for future generations, we cannot risk their health and well being in the process. Our extreme focus on certain areas of green design and our determination to prove them cost-effective could lead to serious health problems for current and future generations. Because energy efficient buildings are relatively air-tight, any toxins, dust or mold that are brought into such buildings tend to stay there. Sustainable interior design done properly is a holistic practice that protects the health of building occupants. Unfortunately, one of the most

    important aspects of what design professionals do can be value-engineered out of a project. Someone who is focused on short-term financial paybacks and unfamiliar with the potential serious risks will not take the necessary steps to ensure healthy indoor environmental quality. When I tell people that I specialize in sustainable interior design, I often get the impression that they think bamboo, when in reality Im much less focused on saving trees than protecting people. Preserving North American forests may be more closely monitored than preserving healthy indoor air quality, and many sources for bamboo introduce more toxins into the interiors than hardwood products would. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the gold standard for green design and construction. It is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). USGBC certifies buildings as well as individual projects within existing buildings and accredits professionals like me. To achieve

    green interiOrs

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    green interiOrs

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    certification, a project must comply with all prerequisites and accrue a certain number of points. Depending upon the number of points accrued, a project may be rated as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. As one of relatively few interior designers who is also a LEED Accredited Professional, I regularly receive calls and emails from vendors claiming that their furniture is green. Unfortunately, these claims are often only partially true, especially when it comes to home furnishings. For instance, a chest of drawers that is made

    of bamboo can contain added urea formaldehyde and glues and finishes that are relatively high in VOCs. While I am able to evaluate these claims, most people buying furniture (and, for that matter, most interior decorators) are not. One of the best ways to go green with interior design is often overlooked. Design that stands the test of time eliminates the need to replace things, and even if the original owners circumstances or desires change, classic furniture can always find another good home.

    green interiOrs

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    Antiques are particularly green. since everything in them is being reused and they a