Five Notable Green Buildings in America

The U.S. Green Building Council

Naturally, the USGBC is a pioneer in the green building industry, practicing what they preach with a LEED Platinum-certified headquarters in DC. The building features a, “eco-corridor,” a two-story waterfall (which serves a purpose–it regulates the building’s indoor climate) and an energy meter that gives updated feedback. Walls are gilded with repurposed good and they take advantage of as much natural light as possible in the workplace, making the headquarters a leader in sustainability and functionality.

California Academy of Sciences

Within the walls of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco (which are comprised of floor-to-ceiling German glass which minimizes cooling energy while maximizing natural light) are all kinds of innovative ways to keep the building sustainably sound and preserve our natural resources. 90 percent of all regularly occupied spaces in the building are lit by daylight and have stunning outside views, and the green roof serves as a home for wildlife.

The Empire State Building

When President of Malkin Holdings (owner of the Empire State Building) Tony Malkin decided that “bike racks and showers are not going to change the world,” he took matters into his own hands in 2009 with a retrofit for the Empire State Building. Within three years, the program cut $7.5 million in energy costs. Recognizing that commercial buildings account for around 80 percent of the energy used in New York, Malkin partnered with organizations to transform the iconic landmark, complete with LED lights, window refurbishment, efficient lighting and tenant energy management.

Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies

On the campus of Oberlin College in Ohio, the Lewis Center is equipped with solar panels, geothermal air systems and biodegradable upholstery, making the zero-energy building a mecca for environmental studies. It would have qualified for a LEED Platinum building, had the LEED system been established prior to the building.

Lance Armstrong Foundation

A 1950s warehouse was renovated several years ago to become the headquarters of Lance Armstrong’s Foundation in Austin, Tex. They recycled 88% of the building’s original material to create a multifunctional office space, complete with north-facing windows, dining facilities, and a gym. The building boasts a LEED Gold Certification.

Even Cruise Ship Passengers Recycle

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The wave of recycling the trash mankind makes on any average day has spread from large cities to the farms and rural residential areas. Today large bins labeled for recycling trash separation can be seen along sprawling country roads, not just in busy shopping centers. Moreover, a decade of public education has resulted in even cruise lines on international waters doing their part to keep the earth green. Cruising in Green The cruise industry has joined the fight for green in our environment and on board luxury vessels you will find separate bins for recycling or non-recycling trash on every deck and at every eatery. These vessels are not American cruise ships but do port along the seaboard, so this is an indication that the cruising world is as adamant about recycling to keep our earth green as any good Boy Scout or Girl Scout in the States. Environmental organizations charged cruise lines loudly for polluting waste. Bluewater Network, which merged with San-Francisco-based Friends of the Earth (FOE) in 2005, charges that even a week-long trip generates serious threats to our environment: “A typical cruise ship on a one-week voyage generates more than 50 tons of garbage, two million gallons of waste water, 210,000 gallons of sewage, and 35,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water.” Recycling on Cruise Ships Today Nonetheless, the cruise representatives insist crew aboard vessels are making cutting-edge efforts to be sustainable both with the ships waste and that of passengers. Everything passengers throw away on most cruise ships is sorted by crew members and stored on the ship until the vessel can offload it at a port. The sorting room is usually two floors below the first passenger deck with full-time staff of 6-8 crew separating glass, paper and cardboard, aluminum cans and trash. The recyclables are compressed, as boxes are broken down and machines compress glass and cans. The materials are then packed into bins and turned in to the next land port recycling facility. Some ships are also recycling their cooking oil to run their engines and reduce diesel consumption, and by connecting to land lines for electricity when in port, they can turn the huge engines off entirely and be sustained by land energy. Bluewater Network Report Cards The Bluewater Network evaluates the cruising industry, ship by ship. They recently issued their first Grade A report card.

Rosetta, the Solar-Powered Spacecraft

Rosetta, of course, is the spacecraft that had successfully made a rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and landed a probe, Philae, on it. This marks the first time that a space craft has orbited and landed on a comet. The purpose of the mission was to get a close look at the comet’s nucleus and environment and to see what happens as a frozen comet approaches the sun. Rosetta has another claim to fame: It’s the first wholly solar-powered spacecraft ever built. Earlier deep-space missions had used nuclear power to power their craft. Built by the EADS Astrium, Rosetta is basically an aluminum box with wings, and the wings are solar panels 105 feet long. The European Space Agency (ESA), which launched Rosetta in 2004, had designed a new kind of solar cell for Rosetta called “low-intensity low-temperature (LILT) cells.” The solar cells allow the craft to operate 800 million km (497 million miles) from the sun, where sunlight levels are only four percent of those on Earth. LILT cells were first developed in Europe in the 1990’s. Scientists had found that ordinary solar panels would degrade unpredictably in low solar intensities at temperatures below -100° Celsius (-148° Fahrenheit). Hypothetically, the LILT cells would allow researchers to use solar-powered space craft to travel as far as Jupiter. Paradoxically, using solar technology is actually harder closer to the sun as the solar cell’s efficiency decreases as the temperature rises. Solar-powered spacecraft designed to visit places like Venus or Mercury will need mirror reflectors and other temperature-reducing devices to keep their solar arrays working efficiently. The ESA chose to use the technology to help ensure that Rosetta could survive the 10+ year journey through deep space. Rosetta was also designed to be able to go into a hibernation mode, in which most of the electrical systems were switched off, to save energy. During hibernation, Rosetta would spin once per minute and face the sun, thus collecting the maximum amount of sunlight possible. The lander Philae is also solar-powered. Its body is covered with LILT cells that absorb sunlight and thereby recharge its batteries.

Recycled Tires Give Your Home an Eco-friendly Boost

tyres_1When you think of going green in the home, many people know that turning off lights, using solar panels, and reducing waste in the house is a great start to being more earth-friendly. Most people don’t know, however, that using recycled tires in their home can give their home a real makeover that makes a positive difference in the ozone. Tires used in recycled form make great shingles for the roof, and actually use many tires to complete the project. When recycled, tires help reduce the amount of waste in landfills, help avoid toxins being thrown in the air, and actually help keep families safer in many ways. For the roof, many tires are cut into squares to use as shingles and are then nailed down onto the roof. The result is a green and earth-friendly roof that is durable and built to last. Recycled tire roofs are surprisingly attractive as well. Shredded tires in the backyard help keep mini playgrounds safer for younger children. These recycled tire pieces help absorb nasty falls and help keep children from getting drastically hurt. Not only are shredded tires attractive under swing sets and slides, but they are a great way to help save the planet, one unwanted tire at a time. Lastly, recycled tires actually have great value in the home in their original state as well. Whole tires can be used as flower planters in the yard, or as a classic tire swing for both play and decoration. When a tire is used in its original form, a person can take any old tire they find out in a landfill, on the road, or abandoned as garbage out in a field somewhere and turn it into something of good use around their home. Keeping a home earth-friendly isn’t all about recycling cans and reusing grass clippings. It’s about taking things that would otherwise destroy the ozone and turning them into something of great use around the home. Tires are just the thing to help take any home and turn it into a more earth-friendly work of art, one tire at a time.