" 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.
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!
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.
Understanding the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge is the first step in understanding the Challenge itself. From the logo to the metaphor of a flower the Challenge wants us to use nature as the ultimate measuring stick. The International Living Future Institute philosophy states "Like our buildings, neighborhoods and cities, a flower is rooted in place. Yet it is informed by its bioregion’s characteristics, generates energy from renewable resources, captures and treats water, and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty. These qualities epitomize ecological system flows and internalizing these processes is the key to sustainability."
The Living Building Challenge places this philosophy in our hands and says let me see how you can achieve this goal in your designs and collaboration. So there are no restrictions, such as placement of minimums that need to be achieved or points that have to be calculated. The Challenge says here is where you need to be, know find the best way to get there. For example, in the Water Petal both Net Zero Water and Ecological Water Flow have to be satisfied for this to be accepted. The documentation for the challenge is simplified because it is more on actual performance of a building / site; So documentation would be a description of the design and implementation of the project, photos as well as 12 month water bill.
The Living Building Challenge leaves the design to the experts but emphasizes that if these imperatives are to be achieved true collaboration needs to start from the beginning of the project, having all parties understand what they are all working towards. But I want to stress that the team has design freedom but also when a project is registered the ILBI has a great support staff that will aid the project every step of the way.
The philosophy of this certification goes beyond just building a building the right way. It pushes the standards on all levels. From advocating land protection for other living things to advocating changes in the current laws and policies. For example, if a project can not meet some requirements posted in the Challenge because of current Laws or building standards, they would be required to prove that a letter to advocate this change be written to the proper authorities. The Living Building Challenge understands current restrictions projects face and will not reprimand them for it; But believes our voices will help implement change.
The Living Building Challenge pushes project teams to find the best way to achieve specific goals. They give a freedom to each member to show expertise in their sectors and bring forth the best practices on the market place. It gives a voice to other living things by way of the Land Trust and a voice for change where it is needed trough team advocacy. These are but some points of the vision the ILBI through The Living Building Challenge. To find out more visit their website www.ILBI.org and join the community.Tweet
I am a volunteer with the International Living Future Institute (which was called International Living Building Institute, ILBI) and I am offering an introductory presentation to the Living Building Challenge for all that are interested. Here is a short summary of what the Challenge consists of. For a copy of the standard document, that can be downloaded for free and more detailed information visit their website www.ILBI.org
The Living Building Challenge was launched in 2006. There are two rules to the Standard:
- All Imperatives assigned to a Typology are mandatory
- Living Building Challenge certification is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated performance.
It is broken down into the following:
Four Typologies – projects must fall under one of the following:
- Renovation – projects that are not a substantial portion of a building construction
- Landscape or Infrastructure - projects that the building is not the primary focus
- Building – projects that are building a roof and walls
- Neighborhood – project containing multiple buildings
- L1 - Natural Habitat Preserve (Green field sites)
- L2 - Rural Agriculture Zone
- L3 - Village or Campus Zone
- L4 - General Urban Zone
- L5 - Urban Center Zone
- L6 - Urban Core Zone
The project will then have to meet all the Imperatives to be classified as "Living" or satisfy at least three Sections to receive "Petal Recognition". For "Petal Recognition" one of the Sections needs to be Water (Net Zero), Energy (Net Zero) or Materials. And all of the imperatives of these sections have to be met for Petal Recognition. There are Seven total sections and Twenty total imperatives. Depending on the Typology not all imperatives need to be made. The seven sections and total imperative for each are:
- Site - has 4 imperatives
- Water - has 2 imperatives
- Energy - has 1 imperative, Net Zero energy
- Health - has 3 imperatives
- Materials - has 5 imperatives
- Equity - has 3 imperatives
- Beauty - has 2 imperatives
I will be posting more info on the sections and imperatives in the future but for those who want info right away go to the ILBI website. I also want to note the concept of Scale Jumping as part of the Challenge. This concept is that a project does not have to be limited to its project area for it to be able to achieve its goals. This image shows the requirements for each Typology, including section and imperatives.
This was a little glance at what the Living Building Challenge is about.Tweet