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Blue jeans, brown roofs and other emerging trends in green buildings

Using laptops to be truly green

Fellows took notes on laptops during Bryn Nelson's session, helping this 3-day seminar be truly green.

Story ideas were running wild in the session presented by Bryn Nelson, a freelance writer and editor, and former award-winning reporter for Newsday.

Nelson’s presentation was wonderfully put together and his knowledge of the topic was obvious.  It was broken down in to four different sections, each with plenty of opportunities and ideas to bring to your editors.

The first covered “Green Roofs,” or buildings that have plants and other landscape growing on the rooftops.  It provides a number of benefits, reducing water runoff, energy consumption and household temperatures.

In one study a blacktop roof temperature was reported to be 159 degrees Fahrenheit, and a similar building with a Green roof was reported to be at 109 degrees.  This is a popular trend as it also increases resale values, adding beauty to homes and providing natural habitats to a number of insects and animals.

Green walls or urban gardens are being explored in L.A. where tomatoes, strawberries, hot peppers, watermelon, lettuce, radishes and legumes are virtually growing on the street.  As urbanization continues ideas similar to these may lead the “green” generation.  Looking for these trends may provide multiple story ideas.

Nelson also gave a brief overview or LEED and other certification agencies.  It may be interesting to take a closer look at different agencies requirements.  There is also a bill currently sitting in the Senate after having been approved by the House known as Home State Energy Retrofit Act of 2010.  This would provide up to $6 billion to those looking to retrofit their existing homes to be more energy efficient and environmentally sensitive.

The next category was titled “Forever in Blue Jeans” focusing on alternative products being used in construction.  Two big areas to take a look at insulation and flooring.  Insulation has a number of new options as builders look to move away from fiberglass.  Cellulose, spray foam, soy based, and recycled denim insulation are all being discussed as alternatives.  In flooring, bamboo, eco-eucalyptus, and GeoDeck (composite wood alternative) are vying for position in the green building market.

Green makeovers are becoming more and more popular with a number of options.  The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria was the first of its kind to be LEED certified.  Dorms at Ithaca College in New York and Emerson in Boston have received ratings from LEED and Energy Star.  Net Zero homes and buildings appear to be next in green building trends.  These buildings create as much energy as they use, leaving a zero net carbon emissions.  A high school in Los Angeles is under construction and is being called Net Zero High, and is expected to be completed in 2012.  A new pizza shop in New York called “Revd UP Pi” will be serving organic pizza, using solar and wind energy to provide their electricity, and plans on growing its herbs on the rooftop!

It is all a lot to take in but exciting to see all the trends out there.  Building trends are inherently have local angles as almost everywhere is experiencing growth or change.  Hopefully what was discussed today can provide you with a few ideas, and encourage to look for similar trends in your part of the country.

In Green Economy 2010, Green Economy 2010 blog, Green Economy Fellows, Presenters, Real estate | Econ development.

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