Green Apple Day Of Service

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Mark Kurowski (K&W Engineers) and I taking part in the Green Apple Day Of Service

What is the Green Apple Day Of Service?

USGBC and The Center For Green Schools created this annual event to engage people around the world and give them an opportunity to give back to their community.  The goal is to educate children/students about sustainability in their very own backyard.  They have a fantastic website (www.mygreenapple.org) which has tracked, organized and reported on the thousands of service projects that have been going on around the world on September 29, 2012.

Who was involved?

Our local Green Apple Service event was coordinated by The Emerging Professionals Committee of USGBC Central Pennsylvania.  In just a couple of weeks, Sarah Knehr and Justin Kovaleski were able to secure over $1500 in donations for trees/mulch/tools and round up 30+ volunteers to help.  People of all backgrounds came out to chip in… Professional engineers, occupational therapists, construction workers, parents, children and college students.  It was great to see such a positive response to the event and really inspired me to do more projects like this on an ongoing basis.  Penn State Harrisburg and their newly founded USGBC Student Group was there with numerous volunteers.  Penn State Harrisburg also visited with Middletown Area Middle School students this week to teach them about green buildings and the environment.

Penn State Harrisburg USGBC Student Group

What did we accomplish?

We accomplished many things today…  We connected people… We improved City Island by planting 15 trees… We supported a struggling city in need (Harrisburg)… We educated students about giving back… and most of all We Had FUN!  People really do enjoy rolling their sleeves up once in a while and getting dirty.  It was great to see so many smiling faces and people really looking to help each other with this project.  I even got to see a mom teach her two middle school age children how to plant a tree… quite remarkable!

How can you get involved and support future projects like this one?

Become a volunteer with your local chapter of the US Green Building Council… Our website in Central Pennsylvania is www.usgbc-centralpa.org.  Our chapter covers 37 counties throughout Central Pa and includes large areas such as State College, Lancaster, Berks, York, Harrisburg, Carlisle and Chambersburg.  We have many great committees doing good work and fun interactive events on a monthly basis.  Check here for upcoming events!

Donate now… Non-profits like USGBC Central Pa need financial resources in order to continue to provide community service projects, educational programs and to advocate for sustainability to local and state government.  Please consider donating today to ensure this organization can continue to support sustainability in your community for years to come.

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Higher Education: Truly Embracing Sustainability

Higher Education is perhaps the field which has embraced the realm of sustainability to the fullest.  Colleges/Universities have implemented curriculum, green building policies/procedures, research projects, marketing efforts, recycling programs, and campus wide sustainability efforts.  This seems to have occurred both from the students (grassroots) and from the leadership supporting the efforts resulting in massive culture change.  Higher Education is very competitive and they have found that ‘being green’ can make their campus & school more attractive to the next generation (which is all about the environment and smarter decisions).

Two years ago, The Princeton Review + USGBC teamed up to provide the guide to green colleges and universities.  You can download the latest publication here for free: http://www.princetonreview.com/green_guide_download.aspx

There is a ton of great information on each of the schools and what they have done on their campuses to become more environmentally responsible.  I personally found it pretty cool to find out that my alma mater, Catholic University (Washington, DC) was on the list.

Also an emerging trend on campuses, USGBC Student Groups are popping up all over the country!

Here is a map of the current sanctioned USGBC Student Groups (78 of them to be exact): http://centerforgreenschools.org/main-nav/higher-edu/community/usgbcstudents/findagroup.aspx

This is pretty remarkable for a program that is fairly new (two years old)… The student groups are focusing on campus sustainability initiatives, LEED AP/GA prep courses, local green building tours, research projects, engaging local leaders in green building and more.

Locally here in Central Pennsylvania, we have two official student groups: Penn State & Penn College of Technology

Three other schools have shown interest in the program and are starting the affliation process:  Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), Messiah College and Dickinson College…

Pennsylvania Higher Ed Student Roundtable:

On March 15, 2012 at GreenCon we will be holding a USGBC Student Group Roundtable discussion to share information and resources… we hope you can join us!

More Information:

If you are interested in starting a group at your college/university, here’s how to get started: http://centerforgreenschools.org/usgbcstudentsstart.aspx

If interested, here is a sustainable design competition for those that are either students or young professionals: http://dvgbc.org/sustainable-design-competition

Feel free to share your campus initiatives and green efforts here!

Join us for GREENCon – March 15, 2012 – Messiah College

Early Bird Rate is $40 Until 2/22

Join us for a great conference & expo!

USGBC Central Pennsylvania will be hosting GreenCon – A Green Building Conference & Expo on March 15, 2012 at Messiah College.

The day will feature national and local experts on green building technologies, systems and philosophies.  There will be plenty of opportunities to learn, network and witness sustainability up close and personal as Messiah College gives tours of their numerous green initiatives.  There will be several guest speakers discussing exciting, relevant and innovative topics.  You can earn credential maintenance hours and promote your business through exhibiting or sponsorship.

If you are interested in learning more about this conference, please comment below and I will be happy to send you information regarding registration/exhibiting/sponsoring.

Happy New Year!

Campus Square Building Wins National Award

It was truly a pleasure to be involved in the design and construction process of one of the most sustainable buildings in the region. Campus Square is located in Midtown Harrisburg which has undergone a complete revitalization in the last 5 years.  The revitalization has been the vision of GreenWorks Development and their commitment to responsible development has definitely paid off. Campus Square has gone on to win a USGBC Central Pennsylvania Project Of The Year Award, ABC Keystone Chapter Project of The Year Award and most recently an ABC National Pyramid Award. These are all landmark achievements for this project.

Campus Square is a great example of blending high performance technologies, urban revitalization, flexibility and sustainable building products.

Some of the green building aspects of Campus Square include:

  • Geothermal (Ground Source) Heating & Cooling – 46 Geothermal Wells Under The Building – Designed & Installed by McClure Company
  • 42kw PV Solar Array with battery backup for emergency power – Designed by groSolar and installed by GR Sponaugle
  • White TPO Roofing by Carlisle Syntec Roofing installed by Houck Group
  • Energy Star Windows provided by Pella installed by Wohlsen Construction
  • Over 30% of all the materials used in the building is recycled content
  • Over 40% of materials were made within 500 miles
  • Over 98% of the construction debris was recycled

The Green Center of Central Pennsylvania is located in Campus Square as well. The Green Center is open to the public and teaches people about the various aspects of sustainability.

Here is a great video which tells the story about the building and the transformation of Midtown Harrisburg:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hK0Zga3kUwI]

If you have questions or comments, feel free to post them.

Harrisburg Green Living Fair – April 21, 2011

On April 21, 2011, the Green Center of Central PA will be hosting a Green Living Fair for the public. The fair will include exhibitors from many different companies throughout the region that offer green/sustainable services. General Services Administration (GSA) is helping to put this event together in conjunction with GreenWorks Development, PPL and HACC to promote the new courthouse which is planned for construction in 2012.

GSA has been a true leader in the area of sustainability and has even mandated that all of their new construction projects must be LEED Gold or higher. For more information on their sustainable programs (including a revolutionary sustainable facilities tool) visit: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104462

The federal courthouse to be located at 6th & Riely Streets in Harrisburg will have many sustainable features and will be a great addition to the several green projects which have recently been completed in the area.   It should also give a much needed boost to the economic development in the city of Harrisburg.

The architect for the project is Ennead Architects LLP (formerly Polshek Partnership).

They have a long list of impressive projects including the Frank Sinatra School of The Arts in Queens, NY:

More details for the federal courthouse project can be found here: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/102089

If you are interested in exhibiting at this venue, please contact Julia Knight, Executive Director for The Green Center of Central Pa, at jpknight@hacc.edu.

Where to begin?

This is often the first question I receive when I speak to people about sustainability.  Whether they are planning a new building, greening their business or changing some habits at home… They are never quite sure of the proper steps or the first step.  My reply to them most generally is start small.  Sustainability can be an overwhelming concept at first glance.  Even the word itself is a bit of a mouthful.  There are literally millions of companies are now bombarding us with their green marketing. It is easy for people to become confused and unsure.  Hopefully these few suggestions can help you on your way to ‘green’ baby steps.

Start with Energy – Any measure you take with regards to conserving energy will pay off dividends in both the short and long term.  This will also free up some extra dollars in your budget to implement some more drastic measures later on.  Here are some very easy, low cost (under $100), every day items which you can implement to reduce energy usage.

  • Change One Lightbulb – Chances are that you have already started to do this in your home or business.  Changing out the old incandescent bulbs for new compact fluorescent or if you are really an early adopter, LED Lightbulbs.  LED bulbs have come down in price drastically in the last year because more manufactuers and big box stores are beginning to carry them.  This is very encouraging!  There are several advantages to switching out incandescent bulbs including: longer life and lower energy usage… This means changing them less often!   Home Depot has LED Bulbs for $17.97 which will last for 46 years and save you over $200 over the life of each bulb http://bit.ly/giCTcz

  • Buy & Install a programmable thermostat – They boast up to a 33% energy savings if installed and implemented properly which would result in an average savings of at least 20-30 dollars per month.  Here is a link to a honeywell 7-day programmable thermostat which costs $81.69 on amazon.  http://amzn.to/hz4EEX Estimated payback on your investment in 3-4 months (payback).

  • Unplug – With our homes becoming more and more technologically advanced electronics seem to be piling up in every room.  TV’s, Computers, iPads, Portable Phones, Video Game Systems, Baby Monitors, DVD/CD Players, Radios, Appliances, and more.  Most electronics today constantly draw electricity when plugged in.  This is often referred to as phantom loads or plug loads.  The more we can unplug these items, the more we will see a savings in energy each month.  Here is a fantastic product from Belkin to help you do just this – The Belkin Smart Plug turns off the power strip when the TV is turned off.  http://bit.ly/fuNSpyPayback is 6 months (money in your pocket every month after that)

  • Turn off AC/Heat in Fall and Spring – No one likes to be uncomfortable so I don’t suggest doing this in the summer or winter.  If the weather is pleasant enough for you to be walking around the neighborhood in a t-shirt and shorts, try opening the windows and turning off your air conditioning and/or heat in the house.  This will save a lot of energy and allow you to get tons of fresh air which is always a great thing.

These are a few quick and easy steps to conserving energy.  Look for more tips on integrating sustainability into your life. If you have others , feel free to share