" Sustainability should be second nature to our business practices and intent. " M3D strives to help others achieve this goal. That's our vocation and our expertise.
I recently took and completed the OSHA (Occupation, Safety & Health Administration) 10-hour Occupational Safety & Health in Construction Course administrated by ABLE Safety Consulting. This is a great class to take not only if you are a construction worker but also a designer, architect, engineer, developer, manufacturer or anybody that has product or associated with the built environment. The 10 hour OSHA training includes a basic overview of the following topics, Introduction to OSHA, Cranes, Fall Protection, Electrical, Personal Protective Equipment, Scaffolds, Materials Handling, Stairs/Ladders, Power Tools, and Excavations. This gives workers a general training on the most hazardous aspects of the construction industry.
We in the design and building industry have been talking about effects of hazardous materials to end users and the general public, but we also need to consider the choices we make and how they effect the contractors, installers and builders. They are the ones that first come in contact with all our specifications and design requirements. I am not saying that we need to compromise any design but that we need to understand what we are specifying and exposing others to within our requests. These hazardous materials not only effect these workers but in some cases the chemicals and residues are on their clothing that they bring home to their families, so they are also being exposed to these materials.
We need to start seeing the project as a whole and not just parts. As we are looking at LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to bring better standards into the building environment we have to see things holistically not just as points to be achieved. For Example, specifying Bamboo flooring because it is a regenerative material is good for the environment and to achieve points but also knowing what chemicals are on the material when it is made and what happens when it is installed is necessary in the specification process. The product might be made from the right materials but the adhesives or coating of the products are not. So during instillation these chemicals would be at the highest concentration to put the contractors health in danger and would also effect the occupants without them knowing.
As companies are building their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) messages and visions they need to include the health of their employees’ and make sure they work in a safe environment. As part of the CSR vision they need to also be looked into how their actions and decisions effect others in the work place, community and society at large. Understanding that the products they choose effect many people on so many levels. The more companies take the lead and make the right choices for both our health and environmental health, the higher the demand for these services, materials and products will be. As we see in all economic trends, the higher something is in demand, then the increased number of that product / service / material would reach the market and drives costs down.Tweet
Here at M3D we believes in giving back to our community as we help our clients do the same. M3D’s mission is to become actively involved and develop meaningful partnerships with charitable organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of people’s lives. We are committed to achieving this goal one day at a time, for however long it takes. Our CSR policy is imbedded into our business practices and policies.
“The Tree of Life Initiative ” is an integrated program that is part of our company’s culture. It involves:
• M3D dedicated profit % to this program
• All Employee committee to find worthy charities and organizations
• All Employee participation in volunteering some paid work hours to an approved organization
• All Employee developed projects for fundraising efforts for worthy charities and organizations
We are working with a local elementary school (P.S. 165 Edith K. Bergtraum) to create an environmental and social education program. We have connected and partnered with Build it Green NYC’s Big Gives Back program to design and create a Mobile Garden for the school. M3D Connected with the school and started to see how we can help them implement an out door garden to be utilized into their core education program and to start bringing sustainable thinking into their school culture. After some analysis we found a roof top space that could be used but funding is not available at this time. Looking at what we wanted to achieve, we decided to start small and help start the conversation. Creating Mobile Gardens that would be shared between classes and teachers to reach the majority of students and promote collaboration. After searching both BIGNYC locations M3D’s Principal, Maya Camou,found mobile pedestals that could be used and designed the top to work as the garden base, and display area for the teachers. The display area and partitions in the top are from florescent light covers also found at BIGNYC. A parent volunteer (Alan Weinstein) and his son (Jordan) built the tops out of left over wood that they had in their garage. A total of 3 Mobile Gardens were designed, one for each floor of the school. Filing cabinets were used to encourage collaboration. All pedestals will contain projects, assignments and other information and ideas all teachers use for their classes, so all can have the same information and translate them into their classroom education. Here are some pictures:
The Mobile Gardens are ready to be used and to celebrate earth week a few classes will be creating their own projects . Fist project developed by M3D will be to encourage:
After state testing students from all grades will paint the bottoms of these Gardens and make them their own. Pictures of the final product will be posted on our site. This year will be the launch of these gardens but we will continue to work with the school to make them a part of their education process.
Happy Earth Day Everyone!
My experience has taught me that the design and application of sustainability requires a ‘holistic’ approach. It requires ability for team members to work while recognizing multi-system interdependence’s called a ‘Design Ecology’. The term Ecology deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings, Design Ecology deals with the understanding that all designed systems are connected and will affect each other. Taking this one step forward to Design management that encompasses the ongoing processes, business decisions, and strategies that enable innovation and create effectively-designed products, services, communications, environments, and brands that enhance our quality of life and provide organizational success. The ability to properly design and manage these systems would lead to Innovation which is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways. As organizations start looking at ways to build their sustainability visions they will need leadership that has the knowledge and understanding of the design process and management. With this in mind here are some areas to think about for implementation:
v Sustainable Innovation Through Holistic System Design
Here is where “Design Ecology” would fit in. For example, although energy is a critical touch-point for effective implementation of sustainability, the impact on other aspects of enterprise becomes systemic and dynamic. This means that, when a new energy solution is applied, its impact goes beyond technical and economic. It also creates a slow, dramatic change in culture within the enterprise. This includes infrastructure, employee environments, work processes, alteration of products and services, and so on. Thus, plans to implement a green energy solution are built into a design ecology; one that also considers time lag influences across all realms of the enterprise – the whole system. To ensure operations are as sustainable as possible, the implementation of innovative technologies and green business practices are to be linked to the core values of the company. The sustainability team becomes facilitators of these values as they move through the organization and become guiding principles. These then eventually become the organization’s value proposition, the key statement that interfaces the company with its customers and suppliers.
v Conceiving a Sustainable Learning Organization
To continue on the energy example, the selected energy solution’s impact on the supply chain and stakeholders is not trivial. To ensure long-term efficacy of a chosen sustainable innovation throughout the organization, all product teams and associated vendors need to be educated and interacted with in ways that positively affect, not just company operations, but the vendor’s operations and commerce as well. In other words, long term the project goes beyond company influence to create a ‘regenerative commerce’ self-sustaining system that is based on shifts in awareness, attention, and commitment. It is important to note that, in order to sustain the movement, it is crucial that your enterprise sets the right tone in the early years (i.e. now), because that tone generates an identity pattern, which continues to ring ongoing throughout the expanding movement.
v Formulating Dynamic Feedback – Sustainability Reporting
The sustainability plan’s objectives can be created by back-casting visionary solutions based on desired (rather than anticipated) outcomes. This description becomes the front end to a larger strategic plan, which today is a method known as sustainability reporting, which becomes the guiding vehicle for monitoring and sharing sustainability directives and applications within and outside of the enterprise. Otherwise known as a sustainability report, this document is not static, but rather becomes a dynamic tool that guides all aspects of a comprehensive sustainability solution. Furthermore, the report acts as a relationship-building vehicle that shapes the connections, which make up the design ecology.
v Sustaining Meaning through Collaborative Design
To do this, a sustainability report is not created by any one individual, or even by the sustainability team on its own. Instead it is created using a ‘collaborative design’ process that brings together numerous stakeholders who are directly and indirectly impacted by the company sustainability strategy. The collaboration gets staff and stakeholders involved in the innovation process, thereby creating ownership and thus increasing sustainability over time. This collaborative process helps to devise new ways to determine and incorporate sustainable innovations and may include unexpected outcomes, such as new products and services that help staff, suppliers, and users to be more sustainable, as well as improve the company’s bottom line. Furthermore, the team will need to work closely with (and across) all other enterprise divisions, including marketing, engineering, procurement, and executive management. This is the way to building strong, compelling cases that are values-based and come from the company as a whole community. High impact programs that align stakeholders with your overall business strategies will increase the potential for sustainability solutions to ‘sustain’ themselves.
v Sustained Success through Phased Implementation
A phased plan for implementation for all solutions should be used that includes comparative proto-typing, sequential benchmarking, and business/technology incubation techniques, so that best-of-breed solutions are brought in and effectively and appropriately moved into real applications. This, I have found, is an outcome of the collaborative design process, where technical design is only one part of an overall plan that considers these other factors. Other outcomes of this collaboration process are a blend of visionary principles that guide the actions of the company, as well as a tangible strategy that can be implemented world-wide across company divisions, market sectors, supplier networks, and consumer communities that are affected by the enterprise’s influence. The key here is to design in broad participation so that learning becomes meaning, meaning becomes desire, and desire becomes the juice that sustains the movement, even when challenges arise.
v Adding Value to the Sustainability Team
Finding the leadership who can design and facilitate stakeholder-based collaborative design processes like these is a key value add that would be brought to the team. As a member of your Sustainability Team, they should be relied on to be responsible for collaboratively defining, evaluating, advocating, and implementing triple-bottom-line solutions that integrate environmental, social, and economic impacts across the enterprise, it’s supply chain, users, and the world at large. These Leaders ability to work cross-functionally will allow them to inter-connect their efforts on sustainability projects, while also developing sustainable business solutions that can be scaled from internal applications to outside the company beyond its reach. They should comprehend and design solutions that require an understanding of design process that incorporates analytical and problem solving skills.Tweet
Thinking of how our Urban Spaces can be designed brings me back to my youth and the memory of my Aunt’s home in Beirut, Lebanon. Back then I had grown up in a small mountain town but would visit my Aunt often. She lived in Beirut, a city full of high buildings and small streets. Her home was a hidden treasure to me because she had a secret garden. This was a 4 story building and you walked in from the busy, dusty streets to a normal apartment home but then you walked to the other side and you were on a balcony surrounded by plants of all kinds, grape vines and tree tops – looking over the edge of the large balcony to a courtyard that was all green. Even then it amazed me, the beauty of such a place in the mites of such a city, it was beautiful and magical at the same time. I have such fond memories of those days and I remember back then saying how I would love to have such a space one day. And now our industry and government is pushing to have such spaces accessible to others and see the benefits of these spaces. As the green building movement has been gaining ground so has out door green spaces. With LEED pushing for the reduction of heat island effect, storm water management, rebuilding our eco systems and more; Green spaces and open spaces have been developing.
In NYC, green roofs and rooftop gardens are being pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC which lays out a strategy to meet several environmental challenges by 2030. One initiative gives subsidies of up to $100,000 for green roofs. There are plans to also invest in enhanced sidewalks, tree beds, and porous sidewalks and parking lots as part of a strategy to reduce sewer overflow and clean up polluted waterways like the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. Green roofs will add nature to city spaces, help create outdoor spaces for communities, help redevelop eco systems and much more.
There are also incentives for privately owned public spaces in NYC on top of the PlaNYC initiatives. Some of these spaces can be indoor, street level and roof tops. NYC has many of these privately owned public spaces that are used by many every day; here is a link to more info about these incentives and a map of all location of privately owned public spaces in NYC .
Green roofs have a lot of benefits to the building owners and residents, as well as the community at large. Some of these benefits are:
Storm-Water Management – Ordinary roof tops shed rain water through storm drains into the sewer systems. Green roofs decrease runoff and reduce the amount of debris and pollutants that wash into lakes, streams and rivers.
Energy Savers – Green roofs help improve energy efficiency by helping to insulate the building. They reduce the work for HVAC equipment. Green roofs reduce heat gain so that the HVAC system does not have to work as hard, which conserves energy thus increasing the lifespan of the system.
Reduction of Heat Island Effect – Conventional building materials absorb and retain heat from solar radiation and release it at night. On a green roof, plants absorb solar energy and convert it to food. They also absorb and emit moister, clean the air and reduce the heat on roof tops. An urban environment with many green roofs will be cooler overall then an urban area with only conventional roofs.
Resources for Urban Wildlife – As development has increasingly depleted wildlife habitats, green roofs can provide food and protection for birds and insects and act as a safety zones for species that migrate through urban areas.
Amenity Space – Green roofs can add new outdoor spaces for recreation in cities. Even inaccessible green roofs can provide a visual break from the grays and blacks of city streets and rooftops.
Longer Roof Life – Conventional roofs are exposed to sunlight ad temperature extremes that degrade the roofing materials. A green roof shields the underlying layers, expanding the lifespan of the roof. Because a green roof is replaces less frequently, fewer roofing materials enter the waste stream.
People are happier when they are connected to the natural world, the theory of biophilia emphasizes this concept. Green design pushes the concept of “Biophilic Design”, by creating interiors that help the inhabitants have this experience with the proper use of materials selected, use of organic forms to the allowance of day-lighting and outdoor views for all. Green Roofs help others living in urban environments by creating these natural visuals for others, so not only helping the initial project but the community at large. To learn more about this subject, check out the white paper “The Economics of Biophilia” by Terrapin Bright Green LLC.
There are non-profit organizations that are pushing these initiatives such are Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, they increase the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs and green walls, and other forms of living architecture through education, advocacy, professional development and celebrations of excellence. As well as informative websites that such as Greenroofs.com promotes and inspires the earth friendly technology of organic greenroof architecture through the interchange of ideas, projects, news, video, travel, research, organization and government updates, marketing opportunities and exclusive features. For more information of other organizations and news sites pushing sustainability initiatives check out my green” Green Info “ page under the Resource Tab at M3D-Consulting.com.
Transforming our urban spaces has many dynamic and levels we need to think about and look at the connection from one area to another. Green roofs and privately owned public spaces, if designed right, can have a multitude of benefits for our environment, community and overall bottom line of our built environment.