greenburgersWe’re always really excited when a new business uses recycled and sustainably-sourced materials to build their space.

Greenburger’s is a new restaurant in the Lower Haight, San Francisco, that has used principles of sustainable design in setting up their business.  Neighborhood blog Haighteration has an extensive article with numerous photographs discussing the space, but one thing we’re particularly interested in are the materials Ecohaus (now part of the Green Depot family) provided to Greenburgers to help them build themselves sustainably.

Greenburgers was opened in March by married couple Matthew and Stephanie Nudelman.  The menu features regional dishes unique to particular locales – including Matthew’s hometown of Buffalo, NY – and nearly all the ingredients are from local and eco-friendly vendors.  As their website states, “environmental sustainability … perfectly complement[s] Greenberger’s mouth-watering menu.”

One of the features of Greenburger’s space is its use of recycled and sustainable materials.  Haighteration goes into detail on this, but the Nudelman’s used a pre-existing structure in the building to construct a bench that spans the length of the restaurant.  The countertops are made from recycled glass and porcelain.

And Ecohaus provided part of the floor – Marmoleum planks in a semi-checkerboard design.  We also provided the countertops, Eco by Cosentino, and American Pride low-VOC paints for the interior.

Definitely an innovative space – and menu – with a number of recycled and new green products, upping Greenburger’s sustainability cred.  If you find yourself on the West coast, they absolutely deserve a visit.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

 

We were fortunate to be able to interview, via email, the CEOs of Urban Space and ORE Design and Technology Group.  These two organizations are designing and building the Dekalb Market Project, which includes a competition we wrote about earlier in the week, and for which our CEO, Sarah Beatty, is a judge.  Below, they discuss the missions of their organizations, some of the plans for the project, and the deep commitment to sustainability they both have when beginning the design on a new project.  (A special thanks, as well, to Kat Popiel for facilitating this great interview!)

Green Depot (GD): Could you elaborate a bit upon your companies, and their missions and visions?
Eldon Scott (ES): Urban Space was founded in London by Eric Reynolds in the 1970’s and quickly became well  known as creators of Camden Lock Market which became the 3rd busiest attraction in London and a center for music during the  Punk Rock days and an incubator for an earlier generation of entrepreneurial, cultural and environmentally savvy start-ups. Now we are seeing a second renaissance in environmental and social entrepreneurship and we see it as our business to provide infrastructure support in the form of marketplace destinations.

The mission we distilled for Dekalb Market has been carefully considered [around four key concepts:] entrepreneurship, sustainability, community, and quality.  Our goal (and ultimate success) is to find entrepreneurs who have a product which both fits the overall mission of sustainability, is of inherent quality, and is accessible (in terms of price and presentation) to our customers.

Thomas Kosbau (TK): I founded ORE Design and Technology Group in 2009.  The name ORE is partly an homage to my roots in Portland Oregon, but also embodies our approach to finding and synthesizing the raw potential of new technologies and systems found in the natural world into design solutions. Our projects range from bio-reactors to tea sets, from a desalinization system integrated into a skyscraper to a passively cooled Lower East-Side community garden.

ORE’s designs are award winning. In 2010, ORE took first place in IIDA Awards competition out of 4,000 entrants with a proposal to replace Incheon, Korea’s infrastructure of conventional asphalt roads with organically grown sandstone streets. ORE also won first place in RIBA’s International Energy Revolution competition, with a design enabling five residential blocks to be powered by bio-engineered algae panels. Also in development is a bio-mimetic cactus that harvests drinking water from the air in arid environments. ORE continues to seek challenging projects and provide innovative design solutions.

GD: Tell me a little bit about yourselves, your positions and responsibilities within the company, and how you got involved?
ES: I worked on numerous of our London markets and, in the late 80’s was project manager for the then new Spitalfields Market which included the first organic food market in London, an opera house, football pitches, and dozens of restaurants, studios, and small shops. In many ways that experience has formed my approach in Brooklyn.  Around 1994 I set-up the New York office of Urban Space with the launch of the Grand Central Holiday Market which led to other seasonal markets around the City at Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Madison Square…

TK: I’m still a young designer in the field of architecture and industrial design, but in the past 8 years I’ve been able to do all scales of projects from office towers to a jacket/shelter for homeless people made from discarded umbrellas I collected after a heavy New York rain.  I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and as the son of the founder of the Portland Parks Community Garden Program was exposed to organic urban agriculture from the beginning.   I started my education in chemistry and physics before moving to architecture.  At the University of Stuttgart in Germany I was first exposed to bio-mimicry in architecture at the ILEK institute under Architect/Engineer Werner Sobek.  I’ve taken this model into my private practice, pulling from my roots in science and sustainability as ORE’s Director of Design and Technology.

GD: How did the idea for the container project begin to develop?  Where’d you get the idea?
ES: Urban Space has been building with containers in London since the 90’s with the inception of Container City. Containers were a natural step for us in Brooklyn. We are also working with Lotek and partner Young Woo on a larger container project for Pier 57 in Manhattan [PDF].

TK: Using Containers was all Eldon’s idea – he’s had considerable experience with the medium of modular design with post-industrial processes through UrbanSpace in London.

GD: So would you say that sustainability has been a core focus of the project from the beginning?

ORE's redesign from the 5th street community garden, courtesy of ORE design

TK: Absolutely – The first move, of course, was adapting used and “one-time” shipping containers into our vendor and event spaces.  From the beginning we’ve set out to use as many sustainable/ salvaged building materials as possible, which has been made possible by our collaboration with GD.

ES: Yes, the four criteria [including sustainability] inform all our projects.  Small businesses are the front line of the local movement in production and the cultural reaction against globalization and wasting of resources (much as “Small is Beautiful” was the seminal book during Camden’s heyday in the late 70’s). We utilize the approach of “Smaller, Quicker, Cheaper” to build lightly on the ground with less raw resources. Most of the materials are salvaged including the containers which form the main structure, the tented covering, and wood and steel from Build it Green.  We are trying as far as possible to create a self-sustaining ecosystem with reduce reliance on outside inputs. Electricity is being supplied by Green Mountain Energy from renewable sources and we are working on site-based wind and solar. We are not hooked-up to the City Sewers and all rainwater is sloped to a collection point where is can be used to water plants. The vegetable, chicken and bee farm help us to compost food waste, create soil, and pollinate edible plants which in turn are used by chefs on-site. Most important, the site is economically sustainable. We do not rely on government grants, only on the transactions generated in the marketplace.

GD: There have obviously been great successes with your other projects – do you forsee any new challenges with this one?
ES: No, we don’t envision any major issues.

TK: Honestly, the most challenging part of this project has been determining how to treat temporary buildings that will stay on-site for up to ten years with the building authorities.  We ended up treating our containers as permanent buildings for our permitting, but have designed the project to be movable (complete with a self-contained plumbing system) once our lease has expired.

GD: Could you detail how Urban Spaces and GD are going to be working together?
ES: Yes – we are looking to procure building materials and supplies from Green Depot. [All of our] new materials we are sourcing from Green Depot.

TK: Green Depot is providing us and all of our vendors with a great discount on green building materials.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

courtesy dekalb market

When considering sustainable design, reuse is one of the most significant ways in which a green construction project can reduce its environmental footprint and bolster its sustainability credentials.

Urban Space is an organization devoted to showcasing independent designers, chefs, and boutiques throughout the United Kingdom and the U.S.  If you live in New York City and have visited one of the Christmas markets in Union Square, Columbus Circle, or elsewhere, you are seeing the work of Urban Space NYC.  This is in keeping with the organization’s ethos of community and urban revitalization, and a showcasing of local goods and services – certainly one of the main focuses of the environmental movement in recent years.

Green Depot is partnering with Urban Space on a new project: the Dekalb Market.  The Dekalb Market project is not only a new market space to be opened in downtown Brooklyn, but will be constructed from a collection of salvaged shipping containers.  In conjunction with this, Urban Space has announced a competition for entrepreneurs to develop new ideas for the use of a shipping containers for art, commerce, or agriculture.  As the project’s website says, “The goal of the competition is to support the growth of Brooklyn’s creative community by helping a local entrepreneur realize his or her dream of opening a bricks and mortar location.”

The winner will be awarded with a container license rent-free for six months, a $3,000 design and construction budget, a one year membership to 3rd Ward, a one year membership to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, press exposure, and an online feature.

In addition to these awards, Green Depot will be furnishing sustainable building materials to help complete the project!

The deadline for entry is April 9.  To learn more about the competition, visit the Dekalb Market’s webpage, located here.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many othergreen products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

photo: World Economic Forum via http://www.grist.org

In current environmental news, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has achieved its 2007 goal of going carbon neutral by 2010.  GreenBiz reports that the company, which owns a huge variety of businesses including Fox News, 20th Century Fox, Harper Collins, Wall Street Journal, and MySpace, not only announced the achievement of this goal, but a new set of sustainability initiatives for the long- and short-term.

News Corp achieved its goals through tangible investments in its environmental impact profile – from retrofitting all of the lighting in News Corp facilities, to constructing massive solar arrays, to reducing the size of DVD packaging to save on raw materials and transportation emissions.  What the company couldn’t tangibly change to reduce its carbon emissions, they accomplished through the purchasing of carbon offsets.  Carbon offsets have raised a degree of controversy since 2007, when News Corp made its neutrality pledge, but News Corp has responded by pledging to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2015, compared to 2006 levels.

The company has set out a number of other 2015 goals, which include reducing GHG intensity by 15 percent, investing in clean energy equal to 20% of electricity used, engaging its 100 largest suppliers on improving their environmental impacts, and measuring and significantly reducing its waste footprint.  News Corp has also set out a set of aspirational, deadline-free goals including 100% clean energy consumption, grow business without growing GHG emissions, minimizing all solid waste sent to landfills, and engaging readers, employees, and customers on sustainability.

Investing on energy reduction strategies has already seen a massive return on investment, Green Biz reports.  Simply by making News Corps’ data centers centralized, the company is saving $20 million dollars a year; each ton of carbon avoided has already yielded about $180 in savings.  Indeed, efficiency measures seem to have achieved a return on investment in less than two years, which is surely encouraging to any company (or person) seeking to reduce their energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

One of the ways News Corp is reducing its environmental footprint is through efficiency measures, including lighting retrofits.  We’ll tell you more about energy-saving measures for the household or business, below:

While most people are aware that using compact florescent light bulbs is energy-saving, even more efficient are LED light fixtures.  In the past, these were far too expensive for the home or business owner to consider, but in recent years prices have come down substantially.   The LED Undercabinet Fixture replaces standard florescent fixtures.  Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, its innovative design is engineered to emit comparable light to a typical fluorescent under-cabinet fixture, but will use approximately 1/2 the energy.  It has won the DoE’s Solid-State Lighting Quality Advocates label, which was created to assure and improve the quality of LED lighting products.

Motion sensors for light fixtures also reduces the amount of energy consumption from lighting.  Green Depot carries several models.  The WattStopper CH-250 Passive Infrared (PIR) Multi-way Vacancy Sensor helps save energy. Users must press the pushbutton to turn on lighting by turning off lights when no one is in a room. The CH-250 employs PIR technology to sense the difference between the infrared energy from a person in motion and the background space. It keeps lighting on as long as motion is detected and provides automatic shutoff, following a user-selected time delay, when motion is no longer detected. Users may turn the connected load off manually.

One of the most significant ways in which individuals contribute to greenhouse gas emissions is through their household energy consumption. Heating homes and heating water are two of the most energy-intensive activities that occur in a home.   We’ve written extensively in the past about insulating homes and the added benefits of fitting your home so that it retains more heat, instead of losing it.  This is better for reducing heating costs, and thus for reducing our environmental footprint – approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted each year from residences, most of which is the consequence of home heating.  Conventional fiberglass insulation is a suspected carcinogen, so using a green product like Bonded Logic Ultratouch Recycled Cotton Insulation is a major step towards making a greener home.  For an even more efficient home, National Fiber Cel-Pak Cellulose Insulation is a blow-in material that settles into the tiniest corners and cracks of walls, ceilings, and attics.

Water heaters are one of the largest consumers of energy in the average home, and swapping out an older-model water heater for a new, energy-efficient model can substantially reduce energy costs.  The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater is an especially energy-efficient model, qualified by ENERGY STAR.  It combines heat pump technology with traditional electric elements to save the homeowner up to 62% on annual water heating expenses  — even up to $320.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many othergreen products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

courtesy national renewable energy laboratory

One of the most energy-efficient buildings in the United States, the Research Support Facility, is located in Golden, Colorado.  The building — green by any standard — is one of the first commerical buildings in the U.S. to attempt accomplishing a complete energy neutrality, meaning that the building produces as much energy as it consumes, or zero net energy consumption.

This is no minor accomplishment, and as the New York Times reports, involves a total rethinking of how an office building works.  From the sub-basement to the parking lot, each feature of the building was considered to reduce its energy consumption, maximize efficiency, and inculcate an attitude of energy conservation in the employees working in the building.

Commerical buildings account for nearly 18% of energy consumption in the U.S., so creating a successful energy-neutral office building could have far-reaching reverberations across the country.

The building is 222,00 feet and has a huge number of energy-saving features: a photovoltaic array on the roof of the building, a window shading system to reduce cooling costs, light-bending louvers that bounce light into the office area reducing the need for artificial lighting, a sub-basement that stores radiant heat, central printing stations that reduce the amount of printing employees do, energy monitoring systems that send feedback straight to employees’ computers, windows that open and close automatically to stabilize the building’s temperature…

The number of innovations and inventive ideas in green buildings is truly staggering, and some of these basic principles can be applied even in a regular person’s home.  Below are two options to significantly reduce energy consumption in an average household.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

Heating homes and heating water are two of the most energy-intensive activities that occur in a home.  So, here are some ways to help the homeowner make the most significant reduction of energy consumption:

Bonded Logic Installation

Bonded Logic Ultra Touch Insulation. We’ve written extensively in the past about insulating homes and the added benefits of fitting your home so that it retains more heat, instead of losing it.  This is better for reducing heating costs, and thus for reducing our environmental footprint – approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted each year from residences, most of which is the consequence of home heating.  Conventional fiberglass insulation is a suspected carcinogen, so using a green product like Bonded Logic Ultratouch Recycled Cotton Insulation is a major step towards making a greener home.  For an even more efficient home, National Fiber Cel-Pak Cellulose Insulation is a blow-in material that settles into the tiniest corners and cracks of walls, ceilings, and attics.

Water heaters are one of the largest consumers of energy in the average home, and swapping out an older-model water heater for a new, energy-efficient model can substantially reduce energy costs.  The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater is an especially energy-efficient model, qualified by ENERGY STAR.  It combines heat pump technology with traditional electric elements to save the homeowner up to 62% on annual water heating expenses  — even up to $320.

For many green products, including new green building materials carried by both Ecohaus and Greendepot, visit our websites: http://www.greendepot.com, and http://www.ecohaus.com.

An interesting article coming from the Environmental Leader this week.

The United Kingdom’s fifth largest grocery chain, the Co-operative Group, has announced its extremely forward-thinking “ethical operating plan,” encompassing 47 different goals, divided into eight key areas: democratic control, ethical finance, co-operative movements, global poverty, young people, responsible retailing, and environment.

The Co-operative Group’s environmental initiatives are amongst the most aggressive in the industry, and perhaps in the corporate world, generally.  According to the ethical operating plan’s website, nature conservation, pesticide reduction, waste and packaging, and water health are all concerns of the company, but it’s climate change that takes center stage for the entire ethical operating plan.  The carbon reduction efforts are even referred to by the Co-operative Group as “the toughest operational carbon reduction targets of any major business.”

The targets that the Co-operative Group has set out aim to reduce their carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2017 from their 2006 baseline.  According to Environmental Leader, the Co-operative Groups has already made a substantial amount of progress towards this goal by reducing their carbon by 20 percent since 2006.  Ultimately, the company seeks to become carbon neutral by 2012 — next year.  The number one UK retailer Tesco seeks to achieve this goal by 2050.

The retailer has also set out a number of environmental initiatives that aim to set new industry standards and benchmarks.

Here are a few of the Co-operative Group’s environmental initiatives, and some of the green product solutions that Green Depot can provide to the homeowner or consumer looking to reduce their environmental footprint, as well.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE WORLD

– Water health: the Co-op aims to reduce its water consumption by 10 percent by 2013.

Oxygenics TriSpa Low-flow Showerhead offers three pressurized settings, and reduces the amount of water used from an average of 2.5 gallons of water per minute, to 1.75 gallons per minute all while maintaining an average pressure of 60 pounds per square inch.  Compared to mainstream showerheads, this saves up to 30% of the water used during a shower, and the pressure is adjustable.

– Waste: the Co-op promises to ensure that the majority of its operational waste is reused or recylced, rather than deposited in a landfill.

One of the biggest contributors to waste in NYC’s landfills is compostable vegetable matter.  Indoor composting need not be the smelly nightmare many apartment owners fear it will be, with the NatureMill Home Composter.  It fits under a kitchen counter, and using gentle electric warmth  to speed up the decomposition process, ensures a steady supply of compost all winter long for the spring garden.  Additionally – it’s odor-free.

– Deforestation: the Co-op will use sustainable sourcing for palm oil by 2011, and soybeans by 2015.

Lumber that is not sustainably harvested is another major contributor to deforestation.  Green Depot carries FSC-certified wood products.  The FSC vets forest managers and lumber production companies to ensure that their methods are sustainable before going to market.  Certification criteria require that logging methods preserve biodiversity, reduce environmental impacts, maintain the rights of indigenous communities and forestry workers, include a long-term forest management plan, comply with laws and international treaties, and that logging practices do not destroy forests, protect the habitats of endangered wildlife, and that profits from commercial forest endeavors are shared equitably with forest communities.

– Pesticides: endosulfan and paraquat will be entirely banned from the Co-op’s products.

Chemicals and pesticides have become nearly omnipresent in our water supply, and this is a problem.  In certain concentrations, they can pose serious risks to human health.  Prolab Inc’s Pesticides in Water Test Kit monitors water for hazardous levels of pesticides. Pesticide ingestion and inhalation can cause internal organ damage, cancer, and prove fatal in extreme circumstances. The World Health Organization estimates that half of the ground and well water in the U.S. is contaminated with pesticides, resulting in 20,000 deaths each year.

– Packaging: a reduction of packaging weight by ten percent by 2012, and reducing the usage of plastic bags a further 15 percent of their 2006 baseline, on top of the sixty percent that they have already achieved.

Plastic bags are actually a major environmental nuisance, and contribute greatly to the size of the Pacific Trash Vortex.  The Baggu brand bag is a reliable solution.  It’s the same shape as a standard plastic grocery bag, but is reusable – its lifespan is designed to replace 300 to 700 disposable bags, and fits the contents of two to three of those bags.  They are lightweight, and often come with a zippered container pouch.

For a plethora of green products, including green building materials, visit http://www.greendepot.com and http://www.ecohaus.com.