Weber Thompson leading the way in Seattle’s energy use goals

Seattle is at the forefront when it comes to environmental awareness and green design. At Weber Thompson, we take these issues rather seriously. Our offices are LEED Platinum certified, our building, The Terry Thomas is LEED Gold certified, most of our projects are aiming for some level of LEED or other certifications, and we actively educate our clients about the benefits of building green. But despite the efforts on the part of our firm and others, heating, lighting, cooling and ventilation of buildings still accounts for approximately 40% of global carbon emissions, and construction of new buildings accounts for at least 10%. Clearly, something needs to change.

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The Greenbuild 2010 files: continued

More from our Greenbuild guru, Myer Harrell (who you might have seen at Tuesday’s ULI presentation on vertical farms).

Tuesday 11/16/10

Still one day ahead of the official Greenbuild conference, my Tuesday in Chicago was dedicated to the USGBC Chapter Forum. It was a rare opportunity to interact with green leaders from all over the country, and meet face-to-face with national staff. We opened with an introduction by Rick Fedrizzi (CEO and co-founder of USGBC) and Mark MacCracken (incoming chair of the board of directors). What followed was a “speed greening session” – tables of 8-10 people spent a focused 15 minutes with experts from USGBC on issues like technology (extranet, web, and LEED Online), committee development and growth, and regionalization credits. I attended the breakout session on leveraging small firm and large firm successes, and in small groups we brainstormed ideas for improving chapter operations. Continue reading “The Greenbuild 2010 files: continued”

Greenbuild 2010 update

Our intrepid architect Myer Harrell AIA, LEED AP is at GreenBuild this week. He is sending us some bulletins from Chicago, and we will be posting them here.

Keep an eye out!

My pre-Greenbuild introduction was spent in Milwaukee, where I toured two fascinating urban agriculture projects. Both integrate high-yield vegetable growing and aquaponics into the urban environment. Though they are both pushing boundaries in this realm, one is non-profit and the other is for-profit.

Growing Power

Growing Power was founded by Will Allen, a former professional basketball player and recent recipient of the MacArthur genius grant. He’s been running a community farm outside downtown Milwaukee since the late 1980s, repurposing existing greenhouses on his site (that was still zoned agricultural when he purchased it). His farm process generates rich soil through vermiculture and carefully integrates aquaculture and low-tech hydroponic growing, stacked in layers throughout the six greenhouses. The innovation is in the recycling of nutrients and employing diverse living organisms. Growing Power has attracted partnership from over 70 organizations, immense media attention, and course support to and from the residents of the surrounding neighborhood. Volunteers are constantly working on the farm, and the education and outreach component is impressive. Continue reading “Greenbuild 2010 update”

Eco-Laboratory at the Smithsonian








If you haven’t seen it on Facebook, or our e-newsletter, check out the five minute video we created with Hansen Belyea about Eco-Laboratory. The video was developed for the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s fourth National Design Triennial exhibition; it highlights Eco-Laboratory’s vertical farm aspects and makes a greater case for vertical farming.

If you aren’t winging your way to New York before the close of the exhibition (it runs May 13th 2010 to January 9, 2011) you can still watch the video. Stay tuned for more updates on this, and a new vertical farming project currently in development.

How much energy does your building use?

The Terry Thomas took First Place in the New Commercial Buildings Category at the ASHRAE Technology Awards in Orlando, Florida back in January.

We have compiled performance data for 2009 and are encouraged to see that the building has exceeded our projections for energy usage.








Stantec’s initial modeling suggested that our building would consume 30-40% less energy than a typical class A office building.








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Regionalizing LEED-ND

Building on her prodigious project experience with LEED for Neighborhood Development, WT principal and sustainability evangelist Catherine Benotto was asked by the Cascadia Green Building Council to assist the USGBC in the development of the LEED ND Regional Credits by managing this work for Washington State and coordinating it with the Pacific Regional Task Force, which included her counterparts in Alaska, Oregon, California and Hawaii.

Location may be the mantra of real estate, but it is also a fundamental ingredient of sustainable communities – in the LEED ND program where you build a neighborhood is as important as how you build. In an effort to tailor the ND program more to a project’s locale, regional priority credits were developed.  A Regional Priority credit awards an extra point to six credits in a LEED ND rating system that have been identified as having a significant benefit for a particular region. A project team may earn up to four Regional Priority credits. If a project earns one of those credits, often at a particular threshold, a Regional Priority credit, and therefore an additional point, is automatically earned within the system. –US Green Building Council

As the ND program addresses both the pattern of development as well as environmental criteria, Catherine’s handpicked working group began by assessing both Washington’s climatic zones as well as density and relating ND credit priorities to both criteria. In the end, six zones were developed: high/urban, medium/suburban and low/rural density areas were defined for each of the two primary climatic zones: eastern high desert and western temperate zones. The key issues being addressed were different for each zone. For example, in high density, temperate areas like Seattle, credits that supported the following issues were selected as highest priority:  Continue reading “Regionalizing LEED-ND”