Thursday, December 6, 2012

Urban Green

By: Aaron Wagner, Sustainable Building Associate
                                M.S. Landscape Architecture

As humans move to live in more in cities, we have had to rethink how cities are designed and incorporate more natural systems into the basic infrastructure.  Ecosystem services are one way in which many cities around the globe are doing just that.  “Ecosystem Services are the processes by which the environment produces resources that we often take for granted such as clean water, timber, and habitat for fisheries, and pollination of native and agricultural plants.” (ESA, 2000).  This also includes clean air and carbon sequestration too.
Examples of ecosystem services being utilized by cities are the Catskills Mountains in New York, which before agricultural development and large scale sewage run-off provided New York City with some of the best water in the nation.  As water quality fell below quality standards, the city looked into options to treat the incoming flow.  The cost to build and maintain a facility that performs the same function as nature is astronomical.  The city decided to invest $660 million dollars in an Environmental Bond Issue that allows them to currently buy land, halt development, and compensate property owners for development restrictions, as well as subsidize septic system improvements (ESA, 2000).  The result is a restored natural area that provides citizens with clean water to drink as well as an area in which they can play. This all maintained by New York City.  The success of that project has led NYC to further their use of natural capital. Check out their Green Infrastructure Plan here.

Aside from the monetary value ecosystem services inherently carry, they also bring many intrinsic values to the cities that use them.  The green spaces benefit people who live within the city by bringing nature back into the city core.  Numerous studies have shown that people need nature and that being exposed to nature causes humans to have lower levels of stress and improve moods.  Wildlife already living in the city limits are given a safe place to go.  And the land adjacent to these areas usually sees an increase in value because people are attracted to green and are willing to pay more to live in close proximity to green spaces; this is a fact of human nature.  Don’t fight the nature that is found in us all, integrate it, watch it, and become a proponent for it in your neighborhood. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Treehugger: Green Gift Guide 2012

The holidays are here! Please enjoy this article from Treehugger that gives you great GREEN holiday gift ideas!

Oh the perfect gift! It's easy to find right? (Insert record screech here). Well no, not exactly. So let us do that job for you. For several months, we've scoured the interweb for our 2012 holiday gift guide with one major goal: These gifts won't earn that shaky turned up corner of the mouth, polite cough, and long drawn out, "oh, ah, um, thanks..." Translation: This sweater that looks mauled by a dog is heading right to an already overflowing landfill.

So whether your shopping for the hard-to-please boyfriend (enter magnets made from recycled skate boards), the mother-in-law with a passion for cooking (a DIY micro greens kit or an award-winning bottle of organic olive oil), Fluffy the cat (watch him curl up in a recycled iMac), the design junkie (a flat pack poster that's a lamp or a gorgeous wall-mounted terrarium), and just about everyone else on your list, the search stops here.

You can continue reading this article and learning about green gifts here!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Institute for the Built Environment received $50,000 grant

By: Dell Rae Moellenberg

The General Services Administration has selected Colorado State University's Institute for the Built Environment as a partner in a collaborative research effort to further develop its Knowledge Network.

Through the $50,000 grant, IBE will identify and summarize published, peer-reviewed, field-tested original research related to high performance building technologies and practices for operations, building, energy and asset management in the federal government and private sectors. The summary information will create an educational foundation to help building operators and users optimize facility efficiencies.

The General Services Administration’s hopes the project will provide education and increase adoption of proven high performance green building technologies and strategies and best practices. Target audiences include facility, energy and project managers, and procurement and budget personnel.

“We are honored to be selected by GSA to perform this important sustainable operations work. All of us in the green building world are searching for methods to assure that our green buildings continue to operate sustainably long after they are built,” said Brian Dunbar, executive director of the IBE.

Knowledge Network focuses on education

The Knowledge Network establishes a multi-channel education and communication platform about energy research. This platform will disseminate information about best practices, guidelines, standards, decision tools and educational content focused on sustainable and cost-effective facility to targeted audiences within GSA, and federal and private sectors.

The Institute for the Built Environment, a research center based in the College of Applied Human Sciences since 1994, has a mission to foster built and natural environment stewardship and sustainability through an interdisciplinary, research-based educational forums. IBE brings together faculty, students and off-campus professionals to collaborate on applied green building, sustainable development and organizational sustainability projects.

*This article was originally published in Today at Colorado State

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Interrelationship of Bicycles and Green Building

By: Becky Moriarty, Sustainable Building Associate
                                  M.S. Construction Management

Aside from being a construction management graduate student and a green building consultant at IBE, I also work for the City of Fort Collins FC Bikes program.  People are generally intrigued by this combination because they see little relation between bike transportation efforts and green building efforts.  To me, the two are almost inseparable.  Like the green building movement, promoting bicycles as a mode of transportation is a constant uphill battle. While they both have numerous positive impacts on human, environmental and economic health, people are hesitant to change. The triple bottom line goals of green building efforts seem to partner perfectly with those of bike transportation initiatives.

Human Health

In general, US cities are designed around the car.  Wide streets, vast parking lots, and urban sprawl dominate our landscape.  Urban sprawl not only deteriorates our natural environment, but also our health.  Nationwide studies have found that most sprawling metropolitan counties tend to have the highest rates of obesity and the lowest levels of physical activity.  As our waistlines and cities continue to grow, promoting riding a bicycle seems like a no brainer.  Not only does riding a bike burn calories, it also improves coordination, mental health and immune system.  Like green buildings that address indoor air quality and work to create healthy spaces, riding a bike inherently improves human health.

Environmental Health

While the production and end-of-life disposal of bicycles do have negative environmental impacts, the day-to-day use of a bicycle is a much more sustainable choice than a car.  Run on human energy, bicycles don’t pollute or produce harmful emissions.  According to the League of American Bicyclists, 60% of pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively.  Therefore, short car trips, or engine “warm-up” trips, are the worst polluters.  With that, the US Census estimates that about ½ of all Americans live within 5 miles of their workplace, a distance that is typically manageable for a bike commute.  In terms of space, a bicycle needs less area on the road and less room to park as compared to an automobile.  The City of Muenster Planning Office created an advertising campaign to show the space used by various modes of transportation: a car, a bus and a bicycle.  The photo below gives a great visual representation of the results:

Bicycles require less infrastructure in general to maintain pathways.  They allow for the movement of persons in a much more confinded space than the typical automobile, minimizing the impact on the natural environment.

Economic Health

In terms of healthcare, it is estimated that the annual cost due to people being overweight or obese in the US is $117 billion.  With that, the potential annual healthcare savings if Americans were more active is $76.6 billion!   Bike facilities also have a smaller impact than their automobile counterparts.  Bike parking, for example, is much cheaper and less invasive than automobile parking.  According to, a typical surface area car parking space costs $2,200 and a garage parking space costs about $12,500.  That’s for 1 car!  That same space can fit 10-12 bikes at a fraction of the price.  Additionally, a bicycle is considerably cheaper to own and maintain than an automobile.  No gas, no insurance and low-cost repairs make transportation by bicycle manageable economically.


Just as in promoting green building in the construction world, there are many obstacles to promoting bicycling in a car-centric transportation world.  People are hesitant to change their behaviors, no matter what the potential benefits might be.  It takes a champion or two to take the first leap before the masses follow.  And just as the green building movement has slowly caught on in popularity, bicycle transportation is bound to follow.

[1] Reid Ewing et al., “Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Physical Activity, Obesity, and Mortality,” American Journal of
Health Promotion, Sept./Oct. 2003; vol.18, n.1; pp.47-57; Russ Lopez, “Urban Sprawl and Risk for Being Overweight or Obese,”
American Journal of Public Health, Sept. 2004; v.94, n.9; pp. 1574-1579.

Monday, November 5, 2012

CSU professor named LEED Fellow, highest honor of Green Building Certification Institute

By: Dell Rae Moellenberg
Brian Dunbar, a professor emeritus at Colorado State University and executive director of CSU's Institute for the Built Environment -- also known as IBE, was recently honored with being named a LEED Fellow, the highest award from Green Building Certification Institute.
Brian Dunbar
Brian Dunbar
“Brian is a true green-building pioneer,” said Dana Villeneuve, who worked with Dunbar as an intern at IBE. “He has contributed a great deal to the green building movement, and the honor of being elected a LEED Fellow is well-deserved.”

The LEED Fellow is the third and final tier to the LEED Professional Exams, which serve as a mark of competence and esteemed qualification. Newly added in 2010, this tier was created to recognize those who have served 10 plus years of exemplary work in green-build practices.

“It's an honor to be recognized for the green building teaching and community service-learning projects our institute has assisted with. I'm fortunate to be part of Colorado State and its land grant mission which values applied research allowed me to 'practice what we teach,' right alongside with leading green architects, engineers and builders," Dunbar said.

Roots in building from childhood

Dunbar’s talent and excellence came from his family, and that is essentially what first interested him.

“My father and grandfather were architects in Michigan. I loved to tour their buildings and I loved to learn to draw, especially buildings,” Dunbar said.

Buildings were a love, but also from an early start he was interested in clean buildings, he said. He wrote a term paper about energy crisis and the need for solar energy in high school and while in college at the University of Michigan he focused on alternative energy in buildings.

“I have asthma, so am highly sensitive to healthy buildings and environments,” Dunbar said.

Work has impacted many

After earning two architecture degrees from the University of Michigan, he has since become a mentor to many, co-authored a book, “147 Tips on Teaching Sustainability,” and has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Green Building Council-Colorado Chapter, the Colorado governor and the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado.

As the executive director of the IBE, Dunbar has been an influential resource for many CSU students and Northern Colorado in general, developing programs like Living Environments in Natural, Social & Economic Systems or LENSES, green schools and facilitating several charrettes to fulfill IBE’s goal of partnering for a regenerative future.

“He has quite literally educated thousands of people about the importance of building sustainably. He has served as a mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students, inspiring them to move on to careers of their own in the green building industry,” Villeneuve said.

Dunbar has done this by adopting the idea of an integrated approach, the focus of the GBCI’s LEED Rating System.

Villeneuve describes this rating system as “a more collaborative, team-effort approach to design in which everyone’s opinion is equally valued, from the principal of the architecture firm to the janitor in charge of cleaning the floors.”

This system was initiated and implemented by IBE at Fort Collin’s Fossil Ridge High School, the new edition to CSU’s Rockwell Hall (west), The Rocky Mountain Innosphere and many more buildings.

“Dunbar is a visionary leader, he always has an optimistic outlook in regards to sustainability, and how we can accomplish it,” said Stephanie Barr, Green School Specialist.

“He is gentle and patient as well as encouraging in driving toward higher levels of achievement,” said Josie Plaut who wrote Dunbar’s nomination letter for the LEED Fellow and is director of projects at IBE.

The Institute for the Built Environment is in the College of Applied Human Sciences at CSU.

*This publication was originally published in Today at Colorado State.

Army National Guard Facility Restores a Community’s Confidence

By: Scott Preston, Sustainable Building Associate
                              M.S. Landscape Architecture

On May 22, 2008 the Town of Windsor, in rural northern Colorado, was struck by an EF3 tornado.  With winds in access of 135mph, the tornado tore a path 35 miles long leaving a trail of destruction that leveled 80 homes and damaged 700 others.  Hundreds of power and telephone lines were downed, freight trains were overturned and cars lie on their roofs in the wake of its path that left more than $193 million in damage.  As the region came together to support a small community in distress, so did the Colorado Army National Guard.  A state of emergency was declared prompting the Guard to send helicopters with medics and provide security patrols to ensure that looting and theft didn’t ensue throughout the neighborhoods.

On October 13, 2012 I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Army National Guard Windsor Readiness Center, a $9.8 million 31,000sf facility.  The show of support and appreciation from the community was apparent with over 200 in attendance.  This was my first ribbon-cutting ceremony so I wasn’t expecting such a turnout.  It was somewhat of an emotional day as Mayor John Vazquez thanked the Guard for their support in the aftermath of Windsor’s greatest disaster.  A soldier of the Colorado National Guard was promoted during the ceremony.  Furthermore, the Adjutant General of Colorado Major General H. Michael Edwards spoke, thanking the residents of Windsor for making the Guard feel so welcome in their new home.  The sense of pride among community members and the Guard alike was overwhelming. For the first time I had a real sense of the Guard’s role and their mission to protect and support Colorado citizens and property.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to work with members of the Colorado Army National Guard, as well as RB+B Architects and Adolfson & Peterson, in the design and construction of the Windsor Readiness Center.  The facility lies on a 17-acre site which houses 130 soldiers of the 1157th Forward Support Company of the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment.  The Windsor Readiness Center is pursuing LEED Platinum certification and is in line to be the first Platinum military building in Colorado.  The Windsor Readiness Center, a testament to green building, will use about 72% less energy and 35% less water than its baseline.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CAPPA Leadership Conference 2012

Presenter: April Wackerman, Project Manger
Title: CAPPA Leadership Conference 2012
Date: Oct. 15-17, 2012
Audience: Physical Plant Administrators in Higher Education in the Central Region of the US

IBE was invited to speak on the feasibility of LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance at College Campuses at the Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators in Higher Education Leadership Conference in October. Central Association of Physical Plant Administrator’s (CAPPA) purpose is to develop and maintain high standards in the administration, maintenance, operation, planning, and development of physical plant facilities of institutions of higher learning, and to promote professional ideals and standards to better serve the objectives of higher education. IBE was invited based a recent study conducted at Colorado State University where IBE and Facilities Management analyzed gaps, barriers and opportunities in pursuing LEED for EB: O&M certification on university campuses. LEED certification provides a framework for developing and implementing best management practices in operations and maintenance. Universities and campuses, however, struggle to allocate the human resources required for program and policy development and implementation, in addition to the financial resources required for building assessments and improvements. IBE outlined the process for pursuing LEED EB: O&M certification, the challenges with this one-building-at-a-time certification program for campuses, and offers a streamlined process. IBE highlighted lessons learned from a building currently pursuing certification at CSU and action steps to consider when implementing at your own physical plant.

For speaking engagements or more information on this topic please contact April Wackerman at

GSA Sole Source Contract with IBE

By: April Wackerman, Project Manager

GSA Award: Developing a Knowledge Network for the Federal Government and the Private Sector within the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings, Office of Governmentwide Policy, US General Services Administration.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has selected IBE as research experts for a collaborative effort to further develop their Knowledge Network. IBE will identify and summarize published, peer-reviewed, field-tested original research related to high performance building technologies and practices for operations, building, energy, portfolio, and asset management in both the Federal and private sectors. The data identified in the reports and articles will be used as raw content to put into practice through the Knowledge Network. GSA has designed several steps in the development of this tool and IBE will support a portion of the overall effort.

The General Services Administration’s objective of this effort is to facilitate adoption of proven High Performance Green Building technologies & strategies in the field. The goal is to inform and educate the identified audiences with high performance technologies and best practices that is specific to each of their missions while driving an overall cohesive effort to achieve optimal building, portfolio and asset efficiency. Target audiences include facility, energy & project managers, as well as procurement and budget personnel. The Knowledge Network applies a "energy research into practice" communication strategy to establish a multi-channel education and communication platform. This platform will be used on an ongoing basis to disseminate best practices, guidelines, standards, decision tools and educational content focused around sustainable and cost-effective operation of facilities to targeted audiences within GSA, the Federal sector and private industry.

New IBE Website Launched

By: Stephanie Barr, Research Assistant & Green Schools Specialist

We are excited to announce the launch of our new website! The changes to our site better reflect our research initiatives and focus areas, diversity of projects, education, and service learning activities. Special additions include a news slider on the home page to highlight projects, events, news, and publications, and a projects database with a dynamic sort feature.

We wish to thank the College of Applied Human Sciences Dean’s office staff for their support of this project! Special thanks to Dave Carpenter, Jennifer Garvey, John Coleman, and Brayden Love.

You can visit our new webpage here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

IBE Employee Presents at National Passive House Conference

By: Cody Farmer, MCM, Passive House Designer
                              IBE Green Building Certificate Online Instructor

"The National Passive House Conference recently brought building scientists, architects, engineers, designers and builders, and high-tech vendors to Denver the last week of September. One of our very own Cody Farmer was a featured speaker on construction management and cost control of building one of Colorado’s first Passive House’. Cody finished his Masters in Sustainable Building in 2010 and with his wife Lisa turned their focus on Passive Building taking their company MainStream to the next level and later co-founded Rocky Mountain Passive House, and became founding members of Denver Passive House Alliance.

The conference covered every detail of building Passive House buildings including cost and management, delivery methods, creating business from Passive House, case studies, and monitoring actual performance. Both Cody and Lisa spoke about their project Passivista, a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house that was on-tour Sunday for over 80 conference attendees. More than 200 people have now toured the Passivista including representation from the EPA, DOE, HUD, USGBC, and Dept. of Indian Affairs. (

Besides the 5,000 recycled newspapers in the Passivista thermal envelop, and the continuous filtered fresh air system, the hype over the building is likely its simplicity in makeup and intent study of removing energy losses from the building alone. The jury is still out on how the owners will impact the predicted energy usage of the 3,000 sqft home. The current heating demand without any renewables is 3.7 btu/Sqft/yr. And heat will be supplied by a cute little Vermont Castings direct vent gas stove.

People picture our first imported Heat Recovery Ventilation System, AirPohoda, from Czech: from Left to Right (Michal Placek, Roman Salomoun, Cody Farmer, Lisa Farmer)."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CLEAR Survey: We Need Your Input

We need your input!

Growing out of IBE’s LENSES work, a new non-profit called the Center for Living Environments & Regeneration (CLEAR) was created to cultivate, empower, and equip a generation of leaders to implement regenerative solutions. Participate in our survey to help us help you become a leader in regeneration.

Just five minutes or so of your time can help CLEAR ensure that our programs are as effective as possible. For the chance to win a $100 gift card to Ten Thousand Villagesplease respond by Friday, November 5.

Creating an Upward Spiral of Value: The responsible business and sustainability

By: Josie Plaut, Associate Director

Over the past 10 years businesses has taken a notable interest in the idea of sustainability. From Fortune 500 companies to small firms and boutique operations, everybody wants to be green. Some companies and organizations, of course, are more successful than others. Shining stars like Interface Carpet, Patagonia, and Seven Generations have integrated sustainability into their core business identity – their corporate DNA. Most companies, however, struggle to fully integrate sustainability as an integral part of their business. One of the reasons for this is that green initiatives are often viewed as an add-on, optional (and often costly) measures that feel good, but are not a fundamental component of good business practice. Like lipstick on a pig…

Carol Sanford’s recent book, “The Responsible Business: Reimagining sustainability and success,” shows how sustainability is an integral part of being a good company.  She uses a star diagram to represent the path toward the quintessential top line – the ultimate measure of success.  The five components / stakeholders are Customers, Co-creators, Earth, Community and Investors.  Like tightening down the lug nuts on the wheel of your car, each of these stakeholders is addressed in a star pattern – none too fast and all are equally important.  The key is to add value beyond expectation in each of these areas, simultaneously.

  • Customers: Start by truly understanding your customers’ life – understand, maybe better than they do, their needs, wants, hopes and dreams.  Ensure the customer feels you are taking better care of them than competitors would.
  • Co-Creators:  Actively develop and engage the creativity and thinking capacity of your employees and key business partners (collectively called co-creators) to serve the customer.  Establishing and maintaining a direct connection between co-creators to the lives of your customers is essential.
  • Earth: Understand how your business is directly dependent on the earth and the services it provides.  Then cultivate a partnership with the earth that enriches and nourishes the systems that your business depends on to ensure that those resources will be available into the future.
  • Community: Become a member of your community through understanding, respecting and building on the special characteristics, strengths and needs of each place.  
  • Investors: By time you have done the other four, there is an upward spiral of value creation that directly benefits the investors.  Increased customer loyalty, remarkable organizational alignment driven by shared purpose, ecological responsibility and strong community connections result in exceptional returns.
Increasingly, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) practices are becoming metrics for investors and community members to judge the quality and character of companies.  Goldman Sach’s recently looked at 25 environmental, social and corporate governance indicators across companies in a variety of sectors and found that the ones who performed the best on the ESG indicators also provided 25% higher returns on their stocks than their competitors.  The time to make deep and meaningful shifts toward being a responsible business is now.

This isn’t just for big business, though. Small and medium size companies stand to benefit from taking a responsible business approach.  A great local example right here in Ft. Collins is New Belgium Brewery.  Heck, I don’t even like beer and I’m loyal to them as a company! Why is that? Because they have done a remarkable job of addressing the quintessential top line.  Scotch anyone?

Sustainable Demonstration Home Coming to CSU

By: Sam Hartley, Sustainable Living Associate
                                  M.S. Interior Design

IBE (Institute for the Built Environment) has been given the opportunity to represent SoGES (School of Global Environmental Sustainability) in the Blue Dot Demonstration/Research House, which will be built on the CSU campus in 2013.

IBE was introduced to Jim Gregory, an innovative thinking developer, who believes the construction industry should “move the needle” closer to sustainable practices. His purview is that current construction practices typically create large homes with leaky construction techniques, requiring much energy to maintain a comfortable living environment. An Interdisciplinary group of students at CSU, led by Brian Dunbar and Samala Hartley, will design and build the demonstration home to represent affordable and sustainable building practices. The home will have a small footprint, a tight and efficient building envelope, efficient heating and cooling systems (including passive solar techniques), and will consider water reuse and renewable energy strategies. The goal of this project is to share applied successes with other builders around the country.

The blue dot demonstration house is an exciting opportunity for students from many disciplines to experience the real world design process. The integration of their various disciplines will ensure a well-designed project from the shrubs to the solar panels and everything in between. Students are involved from the departments of Landscape, Construction Management, Interior Design, and Civil Engineering.

Once built on campus, three lucky students will live in the home each semester, where they can learn to live sustainably and share their experiences with others. The home will have real time monitoring of energy use for all to see on scheduled tours of the site.

The home will also be designed to be a canvas for research at CSU, both now and in the future. Current research will include rain water capture and graywater reuse. Behavioral research regarding sustainable living may also be implemented.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Duke Farms - Living Habitats: Center for Land Stewardship and Sustainability

By: Erin Nuckols, Sustainable Building Associate
M.A. History

At the Association for Preservation Trades / Preservation Trades Network joint conference in Charleston, South Carolina, I attended a session under the auspice of “Sustainable Preservation.” Little did I know, I had stumbled upon one of the most interesting case studies to date for environmental and cultural stewardship – Duke Farms.

Orchid Range at Duke Farms
This lesser known historic site rests quietly in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Through their commitment as a center for land stewardship and sustainability, Duke Farms invites visitors to enjoy and learn about the natural environment while also appreciating the cultural value of the estate. Established in 1893, the farmstead quickly grew to over 2,000 acres and became one of the most magnificent estates the world had seen. Several of the original structures exist on the site today, two of which are in full-working condition and utilized by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to educate visitors.

Renovations began on the two structures in 2008. Housed in the Farm Barn (c.1906), the Orientation Center invites visitors to explore the history and ecology of the estate through interactive displays and exhibits. The Orientation Center features a small café with healthy food options and Eco-kits for visitors that contain binoculars, a compass, a note pad and pencil, and a field guide for identifying plants and animals. While the Orchid Range (c.1903), provides a tour of a Coastal Plain garden and an orchid display. Adjacent to the Farm Barn is a constructed wetlands waste water system. The Farm Barn and other structures on the site are powered by a 640-kilowatt ground mounted solar array.  Restoration of the structures was environmentally conscious. The Farm Barn achieved LEED Platinum and the Orchid Range is under review for LEED Platinum, both in New Construction.

Duke Farms is free to the public along with provide a wide variety of educational opportunities for families, adults, and professionals.  Ecological stewardship is an important concept on the farm. They believe in an active process that connects with the land through recognition of plant and animal communities, attention to soil and water use, and innovative planning and implementation of best management practices. The Green Initiatives that the farm focuses on are: Adaptive Reuse of Buildings, Renewable Energy, and Care of the Environment. The farm promotes research projects in environmental stewardship and has a community garden on site that allows members of the community to grow during the April to November growing season, encouraging organic and responsible agricultural methods.

I hope you get a chance to visit Duke Farms someday. Please continue to keep in mind the value of Integrated Design and Adaptive Reuse when considering your next project. A regenerative community is one that goes above and beyond the structure you are in - it is educational foundation that you depart with and the “pay it forward” mentality that matter greatly to shifting our paradigm. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chrisna du Plessis: Your Role in a Regenerative World (Video)

Colorado State University hosted the presentation, Your Role in a Regenerative World,  by renowned built environment expert, Chrisna du Plessis on Wednesday, September 12th in the LEED certified Lory Student Center Theater.

Chrisna du Plessis is Associate Professor in Sustainable Construction at the Department of Construction Economics of the University of Pretoria, and was formerly Principal Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa. She is known internationally for her work on the policy and research strategy for sustainable building within developing countries and is currently concentrating on urban sustainability science at both theoretical and technical levels.

“Chrisna is an inspirational leader in the sustainability movement – her compelling messages help all of us to envision healthy, thriving environments and cities and to understand our potential roles in places and economies that regenerate just as nature does,” said Brian Dunbar, Director at the Institute for the Built Environment.

Dr. du Plessis’ presentation, co-hosted by Colorado State University’s Institute for the Built Environment and School of Global Environmental Sustainability was made possible through regional event sponsors including: City of Fort Collins Office of Sustainability, U.S. Green Building Council- Colorado Chapter, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Lory Student Center, CSU Public Lands History Center, CSU Department of Design & Merchandising, CSU Department of History,  Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Enterprise, and the Sustainable Living Association.

Collegian: CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment helps Fort Collins businesses stay sustainable

When businesses in Fort Collins want to learn about sustainable building practices, they can turn to CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment (IBE).

The IBE is an on-campus non-profit focused on fostering stewardship and the sustainability of natural and built environments through research-based, interdisciplinary educational forums.

Graduate students from multiple colleges across the university — including construction management, landscape architecture, business, natural resources and interior design — have interned with IBE over the last 17 years.

“Students are given the opportunity to interact with professionals and to start to build their professional network which ultimately helps them be more employable,” Associate Director Josie Plaut said.

Students help lead trainings for companies interested in making their buildings LEED accredited and teach green sustainability programs. They are also involved in outreach education and assist in building renovation plans.

“The benefits (to students) are to interface on real world projects with real world professionals,” Project Manager April Wackerman said. “To learn how to manage time and responsibilities, to gain skills in the professional world related to consulting and green building services in the construction industry.”

IBE was created in 1994 through a grant from the College of Applied Human Sciences. According to Plaut, the dean at the time wanted to encourage more interdisciplinary work so faculty members from different colleges came together to create a project that would focus on sustainable and healthy building practices.

The governing board still has members from multiple colleges on campus, including the Department of Design and Merchandising, College of Business and the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences.

By having contributions from multiple educational disciplines, IBE is better equipped to execute project plans because each discipline offers a unique perspective, according to Elliot Dale, a green building associate.

“It’s important to get a variety of perspectives and opinions. It gives us a better understanding of the issues to be dealt with; it’s obviously challenging but it’s worth the challenges,” Dale said. “Someone might not know the construction lingo if they’re from the history department but it doesn’t mean that their viewpoints aren’t important and they can add in another, unexpected perspective.”

While IBE started at CSU and still exists within the university and is run by CSU students and staff, IBE is a completely self-funded, independent non-profit. They charge a service fee for their certification programs, trainings and outreach education. They receive no university funding and even though they are an institute within the university, IBE is an independent non-profit.

“We feel like the greatest thing we provide to the students is practical application of the theories and concepts that they learn in the classroom,” Plaut said.

Senior Reporter Kate Simmons can be reached at
Original publication from the Collegian can be found here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

People Respond to Incentives

Written by: Brody Hatch, Sustainable Building Associate
                                              Ph.D Economics
Economics is a science that relies heavily on assumptions in order to model and analyze the real world.  These assumptions can range from the idea that people are rational and will act in their own self-interest, to the idea that resources are scarce and therefore subject to the law of supply and demand.  One of the most basic and fundamental assumptions is that of incentives.  A well-known Harvard economist, Gregory Mankiw, ranked the idea that people respond to incentives at number four on his “Ten Principles of Economics” list.  In his book, The Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg states that “most of economics can be summarized in four words: ’people respond to incentives.’  The rest is commentary.” 

People respond to many different types of incentives, some altruistic, most, not so much.  Some are motivated by a sense of duty or community in how they live their lives or the choices that they make.  The reality, however, is that the vast majority of people and corporations (especially corporations) are driven primarily by financial incentive.  This fact becomes apparent when we examine the popularity and success of super low-cost retailers, like Wal-Mart or Ikea.  Not to say that they are bad organizations, just they neither is a great example of social responsibility, at least currently.

It’s important to note that these same principles apply to the sustainability and corporate social responsibility movements.  While there are some who will willingly invest in sustainable buildings and social responsibility, most will cite the “high cost” associated with doing so as being prohibitive.  This prohibitively high cost could be the reality or it could just be perceived.  In 2007, the organization Building Design +Construction conducted a survey among a sample of its mailing list.  Among the results published in “Green Buildings Research White Paper: Where Building Owners, End Users, and AEC Professionals Stand on Sustainability and Green Building”, the group found that 86% of respondents believed that a green building cost more to construct.  Most said they believed it to be at least 6% more, with another large group saying over 15% more.  The perception alone of higher costs often deters builders and corporations from providing sustainable and responsible products. 

There are two ways to catalyze change in the business practices corporations and the behaviors of consumers for the better.  One is to make social responsibility and sustainable building cost effective for the producers (financial incentive).  If green building becomes cheaper than traditional building, green building will become the norm; the same is true with socially responsible consumer products.  This is slowly becoming a reality in green building.  A 2007 Davis Langdon Study found no significant cost difference green and non-green buildings of the same type.  A 2006 Cost and Benefits study by Greg Kats found that green building was associated with a 1-2% cost premium.  While a 2% premium may in fact represent a large amount of money when you consider multi-million dollar buildings, these increased costs are quickly recouped.  A 2008 study by the New Building Institute found that LEED buildings perform 25-30% better than average in their energy efficiency, translating into an annual cost savings of more than $8k for an average sized elementary school.

Another catalyst for change is consumer demand for change.  Individual consumers have little influence over the manner in which products are designed and produced, but collectively, consumers wield almost infinite power over producers.  In order to remain successful and profitable, corporations must adapt to the changing tastes and preferences of their consumer base.  An emerging “taste” among consumers is social responsibility and sustainability.  A 2010 Edelman Goodpurpose study found that 87% of global consumers believe that business should place and equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests.  The Guardian conducted a survey and found that 60% of UK consumers consider ethics when purchasing clothing, over 80% consider the environment when purchasing groceries and transport, and 79% said that companies offering products and services with low environmental impacts would be more likely to win their loyalty.  This increased demand for socially responsible products has created a situation where corporate social responsibility has become a profit maximization strategy.  Either the corporation strives to become socially responsible, or it loses a large segment of its market (financial incentive). 

If we want things to change for the better, we can’t just expect people and corporations to change their behavior “because it’s the right thing to do.” Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, cash is still king.  There must be a financial incentive associated with doing the right thing in order for the movement to truly gain traction and trend mainstream.  As technology advances and consumer preferences shift, this is slowly becoming reality.  As consumers, we can speed up the process by staying informed and demanding accountability and responsibility.  Collectively, we catalyze change.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Ski Bum’s Guide to Sustainable Living

Written by: Elliot Dale, Sustainable Building Associate
                                          M.S. Construction Management
As the climate continues to warm and dry, today’s ski bum is on the front line to keep snow in the mountains!  Their very existence depends on it!  Take heart that the ski bum will do whatever’s necessary to see another blue-bird powder day.  Most ski bums already have green tenancies:  they spend most of their free time in the forest, they drink PBR out of cans (recyclable), and many can knit their own beanies.  With a few subtle tweaks, a fairly climate-sensible ski bum can be turned into a lean, mean, sustainable living champion!  Below are a few recommendations to get the ski bum back on the sustainable straight and narrow:

Ditch the car and walk or take the town shuttle: even though your steez factor may take a ding, you know that driving your 1984 Vanagon up to the mountain isn’t doing the environment any good.  Mountain towns are small and don’t require a vehicle.  Choose housing within walking or biking distance to work, the mountain shuttle, the bar… and that’s about everywhere you’ll need to go!  Let’s face it, the town shuttle’s free, and you could really use that saved gas money on an extra breakfast burrito at the lodge.

Support local business through local purchasing: plenty of dining and retail options exist in most mountain towns.  Make an effort to seek out those establishments that are owned and operated by your neighbors.  You’ll help keep money in the local economy, your purchases will travel a shorter distance (thus greatly reducing their carbon footprint), and in the event that you find yourself owning one of those businesses in the future, the favor might get returned to you by the next generation of ski bums!

Buy used ski gear: while many of you are (or wish you were) sponsored and/or get a great pro-deal, consider buying used ski gear.   By doing so, you will drastically reduce the economic and environmental costs of new material extraction, manufacturing, and transportation, all while keeping the goods out of the landfill.  And depending on how retro the used gear is, you may be able to bump that steez level back up a few notches (see the first recommendation)!

For the ultimate sustainability ski bum, go back to the basics and get in the backcountry.  Backcountry skiing creates way fewer greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a nice little workout, you get away from the crowds at the resort, and there are unlimited powder turns for all!  Remember to be safe, educated, and always travel with a partner!

Have fun, and see ya on the slopes!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Green Bash 2012!

Attend the event as 'Friends of IBE' and receive 50% off your non-member discount.
Email: for more information.
Register here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

NCRES Special Event: Hands-On Advance Air sealing Workshop with SIGA

Location: 320 E. Vine Drive, Fort Collins, CO  (Rocky Mountain Innosphere)
Date/Time: Wednesday, October, 3rd  5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Cost:  $25 for NCRES members ($45 non-members)
Registration:  Contact John Fassler 970.556.6195 or

The Three Elements for Successful Air-tight Construction: Planning, Application and Quality
This three-hour workshop will help improve the value you provide to your customers and will help you differentiate yourself from others in the building industry. The work shop will include examples of building assemblies, how to tackle problems of moisture management, how to design and construct an air tight envelope, and how blower doors quantify performance.  
This workshop is both discussion and "hands on". We will use SIGA membranes and adhesive tapes on model houses to understand the planning and application of a system that creates an air-tight envelope, manages both interior and exterior moisture and seals the construction from pest infiltration. 

Benjamin Lüssi, from Switzerland, will be teaching the workshop.  Benjamin has been in the building industry since 1995 working as a Carpenter, Project Manager and now as Product Manager for SIGA - U.S.  His goal for the workshop is to teach European air sealing methods while learning more about U.S. construction methods.  SIGA is a leading provider of Air Sealing products in Europe where air sealing standards and codes are extremely stringent.  This is an exceptional opportunity for building practitioners in the Front Range to get hands on experience with European Advanced Air Sealing methods – without the expense of going to Europe. 

The workshop is limited to 20 participants. If you plan to attend, please register as early as possible.  The class fills quickly. Please register here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Loveland City Council receives LEED Gold Certification for the Loveland Library project

Loveland Library
The Loveland City Council was presented with  LEED Gold Certification for the Loveland Library project on August 21 by the U.S. Green Building Council. The project was first started in August of 2010 and received its LEED Certification in July of 2012. The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) Green Schools Specialist Stephanie Barr is featured in the video clip below.

To view the video clip of the presentation, please click here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Colorado State University to host presentation by renowned built environment expert, Chrisna du Plessis


Colorado State University is proud to bring world renowned built environment expert, Chrisna de Plessis to campus on Wednesday, September 12th for a presentation on Your Role in the Regenerative World – 4:30-6:00pm in the newly renovated, LEED-seeking Lory Student Center Theater.


Chrisna du Plessis is Associate Professor in Sustainable Construction at the Department of Construction Economics of the University ofPretoria, and was formerly Principal Researcher at the Council for Scientificand Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa. She is known internationally for her work on the policy and research strategy for sustainable building within developing countries and is currently concentrating on urban sustainability science at both theoretical and technical levels.


“Chrisna is an inspirational leader in the sustainability movement – her compelling messages help all of us to envision healthy, thriving environments and cities and to understand our potential roles in places and economies that regenerate just as nature does,” said Brian Dunbar, Director, Institute for the Built Environment.



 The event is free.  There will be snacks and a cash bar.  We look forward to seeing you and your networks at this unique event!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Treehugger writes an article about IBE's "[Ours]: Hyper-Localization of Sustainable Architecture book partnership with eVolo Magazine

One of the tragedies of design in the last 50 years has the homogenization, the sameness, wherever you go around the world. Houses look the same, office buildings look the same; when in fact climate and social conditions differ radically. What let them be all the same was cheap energy: add more air conditioning here, more heat there. You couldn't have an "International Style" without it.
Green builder and Inhabitat contributor Andrew Michler believes that to build sustainably, you have to go hyperlocal. He's writing a book about it: [ours]: Hyperlocalization of Sustainable Architecture, and is down to the wire on a Kickstarter campaign (only four days left) to raise money for travel and research. He gives examples of the kind of hyperlocal responses to sustainability that the book will cover:

© Casey Young
[Australia Unfolds] to boldly explore how design practices inform a contemporary sense of place and provide solutions to complex issues in an environment of extremes. 
Andrew uses Casey Brown's Permanent Camping as an example of how one responds in a hot climate: Big shutters that act as shading devices when pulled up, made of metal for a little wildfire protection.

© Evolo
[Japan Condenses] some of the most innovative interior design in the world with space constrained design vernaculars leading to extraordinary solutions for urban living. 
Here, the approach to sustainability is to go small, in a society where space is at a premium (and the lots are tiny to start with).
The difference between the two projects shown here goes beyond local climactic conditions; it is hyperlocal, affected by social conditions and expectations. Andrew writes:
Rather than put great cutting edge building projects in isolation we want to look both inward at how they work and came to be, and outward at how environmentally astute architecture is informed by and can redefine the society they are placed in.
Also on the team producing the book are Katharine Leigh and Tara Steckly of the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University, and it's published by Evolo. I'm going to kick a few bucks into Kickstarter and hope you will too.