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Why We Must Integrate Buildings into the Natural Environment Through the Envelope

[I wrote this for the “Sustainable Design as a Way of Thinking” class at the Boston Architectural College.]

 

When natural systems are destroyed in the process of creating a building, it is important to replace them by incorporating them, or a reasonable replacement, as much as possible into the building’s design. This is the only way […]

Life- Cycle Studies from Worldwatch Institute

Every Friday for several weeks, the Worldwatch Insitute has been posting a quick life-cycle study on some common item – topics have included antibiotics, beer, dry cleaning, and toothpaste. They’re entertaining to read, and provide some nice historical background as well as a few paragraphs about the environmental impacts of the production/use/disposal/etc. of the product […]

Speaking of plastics

One of my favorite sources for news from the sciences is EurekAlert!, which today posted “Perils of plastics: Risks to human health and the environment,” describing the results of a survey of existing literature done by Rolf Halden (an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University and assistant […]

Calling it 'sustainable' doesn't make it so

I heard about this really neat construction system at a meeting recently:

This company, Strata International Group (website navigation requires Flash, so is unnavigable in my current Firefox), has invented a method of making small structures (I believe the height limit is two stories) out of foam and a thin layer of concrete. They sell a […]

Building material reuse

I’ve built a number of small items (shelves, mostly) out of scrounged wood: Pieces of futon frames found in the dumpster; scrap wood in the woodshop trash bin; a battered desk abandoned in the alley next to the dumpster. Why not? It’s much cheaper than buying new lumber somewhere, which adds another level of satisfaction […]