Posts Tagged ‘LEED’


There is no doubt that California faces great challenges in the areas of education, environmental quality, and economic prosperity.  While the anxiety over the solutions to these dilemmas may at times seem overwhelming, there are progressive and established organizations that are working hard towards their solution.  It is heartening to know that for over 20 years, the Urban Corps of San Diego County has benefited local families, businesses, and habitats with their amazing program.

The Urban Corps of San Diego County is a non-profit, certified conservation corps and charter school that provides students with a high school education and job training in community service, recycling, and environmental protection and restoration.  Through the Corps, the county of San Diego hopes to assist young adults from the ages of 18-25 with obtaining skills that will help them to join the workforce and contribute to the health of the surrounding landscape.  Many of the participants have had previous difficulty in traditional high school settings and have entered as a means to cultivate focus and actively engage in their own futures.  Since 1989, 10,000 students have graduated with the information and training to succeed in the green economy.  Courses run the gamut from urban forestry to graffiti removal, green building to self-esteem training, application seminars to trail maintenance.  Between programs such as their Recycling Education & Community Outreach Program (ECO) housed in LEED certified buildings and classes on habitat restoration, environmental activists of any age would jump at the chance to become part of their team!

The creation of the Urban Corps began with the formation of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) by Governor Jerry Brown in 1976.  The CCC stood as continuation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legacy of providing vocational training and employment through the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.  Drawing upon his knowledge of the CCC and his experience as a judge in the juvenile justice system, Justice Anthony Kline was inspired to marry the ideas of environmentalism, education and service.  With his leadership and the support of state and local government officials, the Urban Corps were created with donations, political cooperation, and a strong desire to serve the community.

To donate to the organization, visit their page to make a contribution.  Make an investment in the vitality and prosperity of our state through our children and the Urban Corps of San Diego County!



When Francie Rehwald requested architect David Hertz to build her a home with a “feminine” and curved shape, he envisioned a floating roof reminiscent of a jetliner wing.  The design seemed so seductively sensible that Hertz decided to construct the entire house out of a decommissioned, landfill-bound Boeing 747.

The structure incorporates nearly all of the jetliner,  a whopping 4.5 million separate parts forming the property’s main residence and outlying edifices.  The Main Residence and Master Bedrooms take advantage of the plane’s wings and tail stabilizers, the Art Studio, Guest House and Animal Barn integrate the cargo holds, fuselages and first class cabins, and the Meditation Pavilion is formed from the entire front of the 747.   To add to the Wing House’s green credentials, the rest of the home is built out of 100% post-consumer waste, takes advantage of solar panels, natural ventilation, radiant heating, and mirror glazing. The house is registered with the FAA in order to ensure that from above the abode is not mistaken for a downed aircraft.

Hertz himself, a native of Los Angeles, has been fascinated with the intersections between human habitation and the natural landscape since childhood.  His credentials as an architect, fabricator, and environmental designer include degrees from UCLA, The Southern California Institute of Architecture, and an internship with John Lautner and an apprenticeship under Frank Lloyd Wright.  He holds numerous awards and publications, and was the youngest member to be inducted to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

The NY MOMA and Smithsonian boast pieces of Hertz’s environmentally focused furniture collections, and have been acquired as permanent parts of their collections.  Hertz is also LEED certified, and has offered his services pro-bono to many non-profits, among them Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility and Business for Social Responsibility.  As if this were not enough to make his resume shine so as to be seen from space, Hertz has also served as a faculty member for both UCLA and the Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

The environmental architectural movement has a great advocate in David Hertz, who will no doubt help in lifting the trend towards sustainable building off the ground.


Is it possible to live in harmony with our environment while maintaining the comforts of 21st century living?  Proponents of Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings and communities believe we can.  The concept of living in structures where carbon emissions, construction costs and rates of energy consumption are balanced by efficient design and conscious practice is beginning to gain traction in a world concerned with global climate change.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be converted, shifted and measured.  ZNE buildings attempt to achieve through various technologies and architectural techniques to engineer homes and businesses that produce or save as much energy as they use.  Defining guidelines differ across Europe and North America (where most of this innovative development is taking place) but several key principles outlining the functions of are held in common.

Energy use- The amount of energy produced on site should be at least equal to the amount of energy needed by the building.  This includes the energy required to transport electricity through transmission lines from source to final destination. Many ZNE’s strive to function off the main electrical grid, becoming completely self-sufficient and even sending power back into the system.

Emissions- ZNE’s strive to be carbon neutral, meaning any burning of fossil fuels involved in construction must be offset by the creation of renewable energy from the building.  Some even go as far to count the carbon burned through commuting to and from the ZNE location as well as the “embodied energy”, or amount of fuel used to manufacture, distribute and dispose of the materials used.

Zero off-site energy use-  To achieve a 100% ZNE rating, any purchased carbon offsets must come from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, water or biogas.

How do ZNE’s go low?  First, computer programs and traditional architectural principles are applied in the design phase to incorporate passive solar heating and natural conditioning, wind patterns, and the composition of earth beneath the building to reduce heating and cooling costs.  Every detail is considered, from the overhang of a door to the location of a window in relation to the sun’s journey across the sky.  Not only are the energy profiles of the materials and initial models taken into account, but the entire lifetime of the building.  This means that each element must be durable, recyclable, and able to be neutralized by renewable energy.  As with LEED certified buildings,  ZNE locations have a wide array of energy-saving features.  LED lights replace traditional fluorescent bulbs, high efficiency appliances monitor and save electricity, and natural heating  and cooling, insulation, heat recycling aid in controlling indoor climate with the least amount of power possible.

Once a ZNE structure is up and running, it meets its electricity needs in a number of ways.  Some of these strategies are used exclusively, while others are harnessed in combination.  Solar cells, wind turbines, biofuels, and in some special locations, even microhyro or geothermal strategies are all sources of clean energy.  Through a mix of conservation and renewable energy harvest, it is possible to function autonomously, although some ZNE communities still opt to connect themselves to the grid in order to draw power for those times when their demand exceeds production.

Whole Zero Energy neighborhoods are popping up around the United States and offering an exciting opportunity to live in a more sustainable fashion, creating jobs in the private sector, and aiding the fight to combat climate change and environmental degradation.  Firms that specialize in green building such as Zeta and Zero Energy Design tout the long-term monetary savings of energy-conscious development and state of the art renovations.  Their projects are inspired by the landscape, unique to each client, and ready to meet the demands of an energy-hungry and fuel strapped future.  Just as in basketball, when it comes to winning the game in inspirational green design, it ain’t nothin’ but net.