Category Archives: Environment

Information on sustainable design, green architecture, USGBC, and news from the AIA-NJ Committee on the Environment.

NJ-APAC on Capital Hill

 

New Jersey Political Action Committee (NJ-APAC)
LOBBIES ON CAPITOL HILL at the
AIA GRASSROOTS 2014 – LEADERSHIP AND LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE

by Laurence E. Parisi, AIA Washington, D.C.
March 19, 2014

grassroots2014Another fabulous AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference has graced us, but not without extraordinary excitement, great colleague camaraderie, and well-organized Leadership Plenary Sessions.

NJ-APAC – The political branch of AIA-NJ was represented at “the hill” by Ben Lee, AIA and I, together we attended the Government Advocacy Networking Breakfast and Congressional Staff Panel who discussed the purpose and the criteria for Capitol Hill Visits. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet your Congressional District representative on their “D.C. turf” and present to them the issues set forth by the Institute and request their support. These issues are established by the Institute to help promote and support architects and building growth in our country. This year we had three requests for our congressional and senatorial backing.

  1. ENERGY RETROFITS – The AIA supports efforts to extend and make modest improvements to the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (179D).
  2. STUDENT DEBT RELIEF – The AIA supports legislation to allow architecture students to contribute their design abilities to help communities in exchange for student loan assistance.
  3. DESIGN BUILD PROCUREMENT REFORM – The AIA supports common-sense reforms to procurement that will help more design firms enter the marketplace.

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Senate to Review of 179D Legislation

red_eagleA Message From AIA Government and Community Relations

 

We are hearing that the Senate Finance Committee is planning to debate legislation next week to extend tax incentives that have expired – and that the 179D energy efficient commercial building tax deduction won’t be on the list unless they hear from the public.

The 179D deduction allows building owners to claim a tax deduction of $1.80 per sq. ft. of building area to install systems that reduce the total energy and power costs by 50 percent or more. Architects across the country have used it to make commercial, high-rise multifamily residential, health care, institutional, public, and educational facilities more efficient, and it’s helped finance projects when other funding sources dried up.

Unfortunately, 179D expired at the end of 2013. The Finance Committee has told us that they will reinstate only those incentives that have broad support.  That’s why we need you to get the word out and show the Senate that 179D needs to be extended.

We need you to do the following things:
1.    Send an action alert from the AIA’s advocacy center.
2.    If your Senator is on the Finance Committee, contact their staff person ASAP to let them know that the 179D deduction is an important tool for energy efficiency. (See theSenator and staff list, as well as talking points below)
3.    Spread the word to your networks, and urge AIA members to contact their Senators.  The link above can be shared with other AIA members.

We have a good shot at getting 179D reinstated this year – but if we don’t let the Committee know we support it, it will be left out of the bill.

If you have questions, please contact Christina Finkenhofer at christinafinkenhofer@aia.org.

Thank you again for your help!

Sincerely,

Paul Mendelsohn, Hon. AIA
Vice President, Government and Community Relations

 

Sustainable Developments Seminar

WIA New JerseyWomen In Architecture NJ
Featuring Robin L. Murray FAIA

Our next WIA NJ meeting hosted by Modernfold will be held on April 16th with the opportunity to speak with Robin L. Murray, FAIA.  Robin was elevated to fellow by the AIA for her national impacts in sustainability and smart growth, making her one of 400 women of 3000 fellows out of 80,000 members world-wide.   This is a great opportunity to meet and be inspired by a great leader in our industry. Please see below for Robin’s full bio.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 16th @ 6:00 PM (Light refreshments will be served).

WHERE: Modernfold/Styles, Inc. 802 King Avenue, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Contact # 858.665.1488

RSVP: wia_nj@hotmail.com   by Friday, April 11th

TOPIC: Eco-districts – 1 CEU

Eco-districts are comprehensive sustainable developments. They are the current form of communities that have been in existence for several decades. Initially called eco-villages in European countries the developments have incorporated both expanded sustainable policy and technology. They propose and often achieve full net zero water, energy and waste while providing mixed use, mixed income, multi modal developments. This talk will discuss Dockside Green, Victoria, BC, one of the most successful eco-district developments along with the Eco-district movement in Portland and how these are replicable in NJ.

 

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BILL TO HELP IMPROVE RESPONSE TO THE NEXT SUPERSTORM SANDY RELEASED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL

njleg2_txtGREENWALD, MORIARTY & CHIVUKULA BILL TO HELP IMPROVE RESPONSE TO THE NEXT SUPERSTORM SANDY RELEASED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula to improve the state’s ability to respond to large-scale natural disasters.

“Whether it is tornadoes in Alabama, earthquakes in California or hurricanes in New Jersey, Good Samaritan laws are critical in ensuring a safe, effective and speedy response to major natural disasters,” said Greenwald (D-Camden / Burlington). “By passing a Good Samaritan law in New Jersey, we will better prepare our state to respond rapidly and efficiently to the next Superstorm Sandy.”

The bill (A2025) would bolster safety inspection capacity in the aftermath of disasters like Sandy – the scale of which can easily overwhelm local governments – by shielding licensed architects and professional engineers from liability when they volunteer to help local governments respond to major natural disasters.
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Resilient Designs Down the Shore

njit_coadResilient Design Roundtables

Sponsored by the Center for Resilient Design New Jersey Institute of Technology

 

Design experts and other development professionals will present ideas for (re)building in a resilient manner. Federal, state and local officials have been invited to raise questions and present viewpoints. Students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

Open to all

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

3:00pm – 5:0pm

AIA Room, Weston Hall, 3rd Floor, Newark, NJ

 

Topic:  Resilient Designs Down the Shore

Guest Speakers: Jack Purvis, AIA-NJ President and S-DAT Team for Camp Osborn

Verity Frizzell, Feltz and Frizzell Architects

 

AIA-NJ President Jack Purvis, AIA, and the Sustainable Design Action Team (S-DAT) will present work from their public charrettes at Camp Osborn, Brick Township, New Jersey.  Much of Camp Osborn was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, with fire ravaging the homesites after the storm surge ended.  AIA-NJ provided design assistance to the residents and community to consider ways to rebuild in a more resilient manner.

Verity Frizzell, AIA, will present a number of design options to consider for homes along the Jersey Shore.

This is an interactive discussion and all are welcome.

 

Next Roundtable:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 3-5pm Environmental Considerations of Resiliency

 

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has established a new Center for Resilient Design to ensure a resilient Post-Sandy recovery in New Jersey. Through applied research, experiential learning and civic engagement, NJIT provides federal, State and local leaders, businesses and residents with actionable 21st Century ready-to-build designs and expertise for recovery in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters, saving homeowners, businesses and towns money and time. For more information, contact Tom Dallessio, Resilient Design Project Manager at thomas.g.dallessio@njit.edu or call him at 973.596.5872.

This Resilient Design Roundtable was made possible by a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation. 

Fort Hancock – Vision for 21st Century

Request for Expressions of Interest

Gateway National Recreation Area Sandy Hook Unit
Monmouth County, New Jersey 

FortHancockInterest

The National Park Service, with the advice of the Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, is seeking interested parties to redevelop historic structures in the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Submissions are due by 5 pm December 16, 2013.

The NPS seeks proposals from individuals, governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, and non-profit or for-profit organizations and educational institutions for ideas for the re-use of 35 historic buildings in the Gateway National Recreation Area (www.nps.gov/gate) Sandy Hook Unit.

Individuals, governmental agencies, not-for-profit and for-profit orgnizations are welcome to submit proposals.  All legal uses will be considered. There will be two site visits: November 6 and November 14 at 10 a.m.

Interested respondents can submit questions to:       forthancock21stcentury@yahoo.com

Find More information and Full RFEI at:

http://www.nps.gov/gate/parkmgmt/upload/RFEIsm-rev23Oct2013-2-final.pdf

FortHancockMap

 

WIA-NJ October Meeting

WIA New JerseyJoin Women In Architecture New Jersey for a discussion with Jenny Whitson. Jenny Joined Gensler in 2011 and quickly paved her path to become part of the firms leadership in sustainability.

Jenny brings over 7 years of experience and works on leading the sustainability effort at Gensler. With a Master of Science in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University, Jenny balances her knowledge of both sustainability and design throughout her work.   Outside of the office, Jenny has lectured at Berkley College in Paramus NJ.

The format of this meeting will be an open discussion on carving your own path in the industry. Please come with your questions.  We will follow with a brief discussion regarding next steps for WIA-NJ.

Hosted by Gensler

When:       Tuesday, October 22st @ 6:00 PM

Where:      10 North Park Place, 4th Floor Morristown, NJ 07960

RSVP:              gina_cangialosi@gensler.com by end of Monday, October 21st

2013 Design Conference Keynotes Announced

dc2013AIA NJ is reinventing the 2013 Design Conference. Participants will be able to walk away with a total of 9 LU credits or pick and choose seminars on an a la carte menu suited for their needs and schedule.

October 2nd and 3rd at The Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ, the Conference will offer 15 educational sessions including design, code regulations, green living and business practices; a one-day Expo and entertaining networking opportunities.

In addition, three keynotes are scheduled to headline the event :

  • John Ronan, Lead Designer and Founding Principal, John Ronan Architects
  • Coren Sharples, Founding Principal of SHoP Architects, PC
  • Kirsten R. Murray, partner and principal of Olson Kundig Architects

Find out more information at www.aia-nj.org

Registration is open now, go online today:  http://conexsys.myprereg.com/Events/AIADES13/

 

 

The American Dream: The Pursuit of the American Landscape

Below is an analytical paper about the American landscape and the environment written by Jason Peist, Assoc. AIA

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America! So spacious are your skies, amber are your grains, and so green are your lawns.[1] These romantic and picturesque landscapes are instilled into every child through your patriotic songs, that it is no wonder the lawn has become an icon of patriotism. In pursuit of happiness, and of the white picket fence, the canvas of American expression has long been the front yard. These quests for the perfect demonstration of wealth and patriotism come at any cost, regardless of the impact on the environment and the social fabric of the community.

Grass is the American carpet which provides the framework for flower beds, shrubs, majestic trees and our homes.  Grass is derived from the Aryan word ghra – the root word for grain, green and grow. The front yard is a family’s face towards society by which we can judge them and base our opinions. It is our modern caste system; the better manicured your lawn, the better off your family appears regardless of what lies behind your closed door. [2] The lawn is the barrier between two realms, the public street and the private home. It is the epitome of the American dream because it gives all people regardless of race or religion the opportunity to create the image of perfection. However, those who are truly capable of affording the perfect lawn rarely labor on it themselves; instead hire the less fortunate to do the work.

We value our grass almost us much as we value our homes. In fact the grass on our lawn accounts for 15% of the total net worth for a typical home. [2]  We must declare the lawn as ours and solely ours. It is boldly stated with mailboxes that read our names, the fences built to separate us from our neighbors, the tulip borders along our sidewalks, and the chemicals applied to prevent unwanted pests from entering our lives. Man sets himself apart from nature as opposed to being a part of it by denying life and prosperity to the organisms that use his land. Ironically, proper maintenance is crucial for the value of your home, but not only the maintenance of your lawn, but also your neighbors. Unmaintained adjacent properties can depreciate the value of your own home. To help people cope with poor neighbors, many cities implement beautification programs which mandate proper lawn care.

gfgffgdThe back yard strongly contradicts the front yard. The front yard is our formal face towards the community. It is stern straight forward and properly groomed. It is serious with defined purpose. We know the driveway as the place for the car, the porch as the transition between grass and flooring, the daisy lined walkway as the only path to the front door. The backyard is the opposite, it is silly and chaotic. We place our leisures in the back and barricade them with fences so that neighbors dare not see our imperfect side or bodies.We leave the backyard for fun for our children and our pets and as an oasis for retreat for adults. The backyard is the place for the Fischer-Price plastic cottage, the sandbox, and the Jacuzzi. Bare spots in the lawn are ideally good because they demonstrate use of the land. The bare areas show the places of dense traffic.

The suburb is a characterization of the urban and natural worlds. It takes on the idealized characteristics of each situation while ignoring the less desirable parts. The suburb keeps the close knit neighborhood like atmosphere seen in successful urban areas. They are also located conveniently close to resources. The suburb holds the being in contact with nature part of the rural landscape, but this nature is artificial, planted, manicured and heavily fertilized.

The competition for the perfect lawn leads to heavily chemical produced lawns which run off and pollute the environment. Globally in 1997 over $37 billion dollars were spent on pesticides. Rachel Carson first spoke about the dangers of pesticides, especially DDT in her essay entitled, “Silent Spring.” She goes on to talk about how DDT has put in danger the epitome of the United States, the bald eagle. The use of DDT made it impossible for the eagle to breed. “Conventionally maintained lawns are sterile, unhealthy habitat’s that consume time and precious resources and poison watersheds.” [2] The use of pesticides has rendered the United States sterile, right down to the symbol of our nation.

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Greener grass does not equal a greener environment. We impact our environment in a multitude of ways. Several issues that will affect our future are the reduction of habitat and the increasing of global warming. Lawn care is a major factor affecting our environment. Chemical runoff from pesticides and fertilizers pollute our streams and underground springs. These pollutants travel throughout the food chain and cycle back to affect us in the plants and food we eat. We change our environment by planting non-native plants that do not provide food for native species and are invasive to existing plants. By removing trees, plant, insects, and animals from our yards, we create a sterile environment that does not support a diversity of living organisms. Even by mowing our lawns, we are endangering the environment as lawnmowers require fossil fuels to run, which pollute our air. “Man is everywhere a disturbing agent. Wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned into discords.” [2]

Small steps towards a greener American society may aid in improving the impression for the rest of the world on America. The fact that America is a nation of consumption and abuse of natural resources, creates the opportunity for the United States to set an example of how to act environmentally friendly. America is the land of opportunity, of change and it has harvested such great ideologies of what it is to dream, that it is in fact the perfect nation to harbor a land that is pure and eco friendly. Simple steps from everyone and a desire not for materials but rather freedom may forever change the impact America has on its own land.

The new American lawn can still meet the aesthetic need of the lawn while also improving shading. Shading your property is a great way to reduce your energy bills and to promote activity. Move away from an open vast green carpet towards one that is covered and full of vegetation and life. Reduce the use of chemicals and irrigated water while increasing biodiversity. We need to move away from the industrial lawn with our preconceived notions of the American lawn and move towards the new values of the freedom lawn. We need to challenge the idea of the typical American dream and make it into a dream that is your own!

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Jason Peist, Assoc. AIA
Regional Associate Director | New Jersey Region
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jpeist@trmassociates.com
| @AIANJRAD

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[1] Bates, Catherine. “America the Beautiful.”

[2] Bormann, F. H., Diana Balmori, and Gordon T. Geballe. Redesigning the American Lawn. 2nd ed. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2001.

[3] Joni Mitchell. Big Yellow Taxi. Rec. 1970. MP3. Warner Brothers, 1970.

Rebuttal to the ‘3 Little Pigs’ as a Discriminatory Story against Contextual Architecture

Once upon a time there were three little architects. One architect built his home with straw, the other of sticks and the last of brick.

The first architect handpicked straw from the field outside his property, while the second gathered sticks from the forest floor. The final architect, well that architect ordered his custom-made bricks from thousands of miles away for just 10 cents a brick! What a steal oinked this little architect. Little did he know he would soon be facing $4 dollars per brick shipping and holding fees. Weeks passed, but still no bricks.

The first two architects received their Certificates of Occupancies within days of starting, while the only paperwork the third poor, little architect received were change orders and more bills.

Homeless and distraught, the third architect had to stay with the other architects while his site sat full of dirt. Months past, and finally boxes of bricks arrived!

“How do I build with these?!” he squealed. He picked up his phone and called Wolfe Contractors. They were at the site in minutes, and the architect hired them. Wolfe employed Union Contractors and it took weeks before a brick was even laid. The contractor huffed, and he puffed, for more and more money. Soon the architect was completely broke.

The bricks sat there dormant until the third little poor architect was able to borrow money from the other two architects who already paid off their mortgages. Finally, after more and more months of waiting, the project was complete!

During the architect’s house warming party, a major earthquake struck. The area was prone to such occurrences; fortunately for this architect, he had already included seismic calculations into his design. However, this earthquake was unlike any earthquake ever felt before and it shook and it shook the three little homes. The straw and stick house stood intact with a few stray straw and stick pieces gone astray. The poor brick structure stood, but a large crack ran straight down the center of the building. That night was an extremely cold, wet night. The expanding and contracting ice split the brick house in half and it was condemned.

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peist noahFairy tales utilize anthropomorphism and whimsy in order to tell their tales which engrave moral undertones in the minds of young children. In such cases, vestigial feelings remain such as in the story of three little pigs, where the material that could withstand the huffs of a wolf is brick. This leads to the assumption that brick is always the right material to select because no “wolf” can penetrate it.

Brick has always been revered for its strength and symbolic meaning of fortitude. Even today, brick homes sell for more than wood stud homes. Is this because subconsciously we worry that someone will knock on our doors and start blowing it down?!

Brick is not without its disadvantages:

  • Brick does not do well with extreme shifts such as mentioned in the story above. Being porous, water can easily penetrate the bricks and begin cracking when it turns to ice.
  • Bricks need repointing in order to replace loose mortar.
  • Brick cannot be laid during inclement weather such as rain.
  • Efflorescence can form making the bricks look like they are covered in chalk.
  • Brick buildings can easily shift from their foundations and are not great for seismic areas or areas that do not offer a solid rock foundation.
  • It is a lot harder to move or repair a brick building versus wood construction.

For centuries homes have been built of sticks and even hay and they are still standing today. Log homes are very popular in wooded areas with inclement weather. Early colonial towns would come together to build a new log house by harvesting nearby trees and using mud to fill the gaps of the wood.  Despite the misconception that building your home out of a flammable material such as wood is a bad decision, it may come as a surprise that some heavy timber homes will remain standing longer than unprotected steel buildings! This is because heavy timber takes a longer time to burn, where unprotected steel, due to its high thermal conductivity, quickly heats up and loses strength during fires making it prone to failure. Heavy timber construction even has a special class of construction called Type IV.

Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw as structural elements and/or insulation. Straw is a naturally fire retardant with a very high insulation value. When combined with clay, its biggest disadvantage- rot- is greatly reduced making it an ideal choice in farmlands over the centuries. The dry straw that makes up the bale is very combustible when loose, but compressed in the form of a bale, the straw does not trap enough air to allow easy or rapid combustion.

In the story of the 3 Little Pigs, the two other pigs are referred to as being lazy because they built their homes from easily accessible materials and even had time to sing and dance. In today’s sustainable based society, these two pigs would earn LEED credits and be celebrated for their architectural choices, while the carbon footprint of the brick home would be criticized.

There is a reason for regional contextual architecture. For centuries people have already experimented with building for climate. They did it without central air, automatic window blinds, sprinkler systems and heating. Years of perfecting natural smart design choices are thrown to the waste side with new technology. One can build an ice igloo in the Mojave Desert and use cooling systems that prevents it from melting, but is this the most intelligent, sustainable method to architecture?

Now, let’s take a step back and imagine that for arguments sake the Wolf’s name in the ‘3 Little Pigs’ is Sandy! Sandy hit unexpectedly and caused massive destruction leaving many homeless. We should look at why certain homes were destroyed and why others survived in order to build a more “wolf” resistant area. This should be the focus and moral on rebuilding after Sandy struck. For example, small wood-framed homes that survived have a major advantage in rebuilding. They are easier to repair, elevate and place on piers versus a large double-story brick McMansion. Eliminating basements and switching to pier buildings can ease the damage caused by these unexpected forces and prevent homes from being dislodged from their land. Replacing all windows with hurricane windows will reduce potential dangers caused by the wind and debris breaking glass and harming the occupants inside. Lastly, rebuilding natural barriers such as sand dunes that have protected these areas for centuries will bring contextual architecture back to its rightful place.

With technology, overpopulation, and ease of building, we have stripped away all context from where we live and how we live it. The boom of construction through cookie cutter homes have littered the landscape with inefficient outdated inappropriate “brick” homes. We should not look at architecture as just build it right, but rather build it suitable!

Jason Peist, Assoc. AIA
Regional Associate Director | New Jersey Region

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jpeist@trmassociates.com | @AIANJRAD

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