Celebrating Earth Day by Volunteering in our Community

Happy Earth Day!

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by volunteering for an event in the community you live.

Everyone has an expertise and what better way to benefit the Community in which you live than by volunteering that expertise to the benefit of others.  We have always believed that it is important to be engaged and active in your community.  We have had two opportunities recently to volunteer our time and talents.

Just this past Sunday, we organized Earth Day activities at our church.  Our church recently received Energy Star Certification and is one of 50 churches Nationwide who have received such designation.  Our church has also recently created a “Green” Team to focus on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability within our congregation.

All Saints conducted a $9,000 Level 2 energy audit in May, which with rebates from the program was free to the congregation.

Our activities for this past Sunday, included programs for both Children’s Sunday School and Adults.

Our Children’s Sunday School activities included talking about the Energy Star Certification (some of the kids were really well aware of what it means!), talking about where food comes from and planting cucumber seeds in peat pots for the kids to take home.


For the Adults, we had a presentation and display set up between Church services from CSG (Conservation Services Group) who administers both Columbia Gas and AEP (American Electric Power) Energy Audits for residential customers.  These Audits identify areas in a home that could be improved upon from a air leakage standpoint (insulation or air sealing), systems (furnace and a/c), electrical (light bulbs) and plumbing fixtures (low flow faucet aerators).

CSG presentation

For two years now, we have volunteered to participate in Green Apple Day of Service.  Green Apple Day of Service is a National Event sponsored by the Green Schools program through the United States Green Building Council.  The Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects.

We helped to implement a rain garden at a local Elementary School.

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UNLESS Someone Like You Cares A Whole Awful Lot….

Today I took my kids to see the new animated movie “The Lorax” based off of the classic book by Dr. Seuss to kick off earth month.  “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”.   An influential statement that was published in 1971, it still holds true today with the same powerful meaning.  This is something that we teach our kids daily, TO CARE.   I am a true believer that you should practice what you preach.  We as a family do that daily as my wife blogs about a greener lifestyle at Saving Family Green and my commitment to home performance and conservation outside of my job by entering our home into the 1000 Home Challenge.

You may be asking how does The Lorax fit anywhere within what I do or have previously posted, I say how does it not.  The Lorax was originally published in 1971, one year after the EPA opened its doors to respond to environmental issues such as the Cuyahoga River catching on fire in 1969, which is mentioned in the first addition of the children’s book.  The author known as Dr. Seuss never had the intention of having an ethical message in mind.  However he saw the blatant disregard of our natural resources and the over consumerism at the time.

Again, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not”.  However there are a lot of professionals out there that do care, and go beyond what the job requires.  For some of us, it is a way of life and a mindset.  We want to be mindful of the resources we use now and in the future by using energy conservation strategies with any work we do.  We are also mindful of the materials that we select for any project that will be long lasting and not create unhealthy conditions.  So on your next home remodel project, consider what you really need and want, as well as think of how the impact can be reduced and your you can easily have your overall lifestyle improved.

AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition presented at 2011 USGBC Greenbuild

In 2008 & 09, I had the great opportunity to develop and run a design competition for AIA Ohio that benefited habitat for humanity affiliates here in Ohio with more energy efficient and healthy homes.  The competition was a great effort by individuals throughout the state, as we worked with 3 affiliates which all received new designs as a result of the competition and have constructed them since the competition.

As a part of the competition we were able to pull in some great jury members such as Roger Beck who built the first LEED Platinum home in Ohio with high school students, Mandy Metcalf from Environmental Health Watch, Betsy Pettit from Building Science Corporation, Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030 as well as a few other Ohio architects.  What inspired me to organize this competition was some of the experiences that I had working with what was the Cleveland Green Building Coalition and Jim LaRue with my first official introduction into building science.  As well as my experience with volunteering my time to produce the construction documents and help build the LEED Platinum home in Columbus, Ohio.  I wanted to help provide this opportunity I had to others.  Then attending the 2008 AIA National Convention in Boston and listening to Millard Fuller tell us, “To you incredibly intelligent and talented and highly educated men and women, you have a huge responsibility. No city is so well off that it can afford to squander a part of the next generation, and when we don’t provide adequate shelter for families, we are consigning a large number of the next generation to prison, to a life of not living up to their potential.”  I knew I was doing the right thing.

So after two years and 3 successful construction projects, the competition resurfaced.  The overall competition winner, a co-organizer and one of the lucky habitat affiliates presented the competition at the 2011 USGBC GreenBuild Expo in Toronto.  So I would like for you to enjoy the presentation that was given and hear about the competition and the experiences gained by not only the competition winner but the habitat for humanity affiliate.


Greenbuild 2011 Special Set – Re-inventing Habitat for Humanity from U.S. Green Building Council on Vimeo.

2010 AIA Ohio Convention Presentation

About this time last year I had the pleasure to introduce founder of Architecture 2030, Ed Mazria as one of the 2009 AIA Ohio Valley Regional Convention keynote speakers and observe him and our other jurors judge the final round of the 2009 AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition.  I also presented about the competition and handed out the awards at the conventions awards banquet.

Last year the presentation was about the results of almost a year’s worth of planning and preparation with three different Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout Ohio.  Giving our attendants the background of the competition as well as a more in depth look into some of our entrant’s submissions with incites from one of the participating habitat affiliates on how the competition would help them to move forward.

Again this year I was asked to present at the AIA Ohio Convention that was held these past couple of days in Toledo to provide a follow up to the results, as the intent was that each of the three category winning designs was to get built, and it is my pleasure to state that all 3 designs are getting built.  Two are well under construction, and one is awaiting a permit.  This year I was joined by one of our winning teams and habitat for humanity representative to discuss their experiences during and after the competition.  Because the intent of the competition was to give younger un-registered architect a chance to take hold of a project and work directly for a client and learn more about energy efficient design.  As well as provide habitat for humanity a new set of well designed prototypical homes that is more energy efficient and more aesthetically pleasing.  We had a good turn out with some good information being shared by our design team on how it helped them progress and learn as well as how the competition helped one habitat affiliate bring community members together as well as foster discussion with other habitat affiliates throughout the state.

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Something that I believe in

I just happen to come across this post and it just struck a cord with me.  With all my work on an affordable LEED Home and the AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition, what this architect writes about is exactly what I believe in and want to advocate as my professional career progresses.

The Case for Affordable Housing & A National Energy Standard
They must go hand-in-hand. ( October 2009 )

Certain items are needed for all people to live a decent (modern) life: decent housing, decent (safe) food, clear (safe) water & air; fair wage/job; access to health care.  All other things are possible (for a people) from there.

Making a (high end designer) commodity of any of the aforementioned, makes those items inaccessible by lower income people and the poor, and now we see, inaccessible to even the middle class in America.

Behind affordable health care, Affordable Housing is the largest problem facing our nation.  When jobs are harder to get, it makes it that much harder to maintain one’s health, and to maintain a decent place to live.  Basic, decent housing, healthcare and  food are a human right.

Continue reading the article at ShantyWorld