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Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest


Wind and Water, Sink or Save

Is the universe giving us exactly what we need?

Published: Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 12:03

There’s nothing like a splash of cold water to wake you up. Imagine what a 33-trillion-gallon splash would do. Maybe 24 hours of wind at 185 miles per hour would sweep you onto your feet. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma said, “Wakey wakey,” and we can’t afford to nod off.

How do you recover from disaster when you can’t count on insurance companies for relief, and dashed are beliefs that government is acting in your best interest? First, recognize that disaster provides the opportunity to disrupt the status quo, to seek change when problems are apparent and foremost in people’s minds. Before problems can be defined, they must be accurately described. Ask questions. Start conversations within your community.

Help is out there—for short-term measures and long-term efforts—but it begins with citizens taking responsibility for their health, safety, and community development. The following information points to it.

Island Press

Urban Resilience course: In an era rocked by climate change and other large-scale disruptions, our cities must be resilient in order to survive and thrive. But what does that mean, exactly? What characteristics do resilient cities share, and what can be done to cultivate them? How does resilience differ from sustainability, and where do the concepts overlap? This course seeks to answer these questions via video clips and short-form articles from leading thinkers in the field of urban resilience.

• Explore real-world examples of how communities are building with an eye toward a greener, fairer future.
• Understand that resilience is not simply about “bouncing back” to the status quo, but also about transforming the systems that supply cities with energy, housing, and a sense of community.
• Understand the differences between resilience and sustainability as they relate to “green planning.”
• Explore how pathways, networks, and scale can be used in urban design planning to cultivate a strong community.
• Learn why urban resilience should be defined as the capacity of a community to anticipate, plan for, and mitigate the risks—and seize the opportunities—associated with environmental and social change.
• Explore the work of resilience experts and the steps they take toward securing a greener, fairer future for all.
• Learn the definitions of specific, general, engineering, and ecological resilience.

Smart Cities Week

The third annual Smart Cities Week runs Oct. 3–5, 2017, in Washington, D.C. It’s a unique, immersive event that ultimately answers the question “How can smart infrastructure solve a city’s toughest challenges?”

U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is helping change the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated. Council members believe in better buildings—places that complement our environment and enhance our communities, and places that give people better, brighter, healthier spaces to live, work and play. The USGBC includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

The USGBC is best known for its development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems and its annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo runs Nov. 8–10, 2017, in Boston. The ideals and passion of the green building community come alive at Greenbuild. The buzz is contagious. Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work, and a unique energy is sparked. Participants are invigorated. Inspired. They find themselves equipped to return to their jobs with a renewed passion and purpose.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is changing the way we think about how buildings and communities are planned, constructed, maintained and operated.

LEED for Cities: Launched in 2016, LEED for Cities enables cities to measure and communicate performance, focusing on outcomes from ongoing sustainability efforts across an array of metrics, including energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience (which includes education, prosperity, equity, health and safety).

LEED for Neighborhood Development: Applies to new land development projects or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, nonresidential uses, or a mix. Projects can be at any stage of the development process, from conceptual planning to construction; includes Plan and Built Project. For more information email to neighborhoods@usgbc.org.

LEED4: Leaders around the world have made LEED the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings, with around 2.2 million square feet being certified daily.


The Department of Energy’s FLEXLAB at Berkeley Lab is the most flexible, comprehensive and advanced building efficiency simulator in the world, and is unleashing the full potential of improved energy efficiency in buildings. FLEXLAB lets users test energy-efficient building systems individually or as an integrated system, under real-world conditions. FLEXLAB test beds can monitor and assess HVAC, lighting, windows, building envelope, control systems, and plug loads, in any combination. Users can test alternatives, perform cost-benefit analyses, and ensure a building will be as efficient as possible—before construction or retrofitting even begins. FLEXLAB is the latest in Berkeley Lab’s long line of game-changing energy efficiency innovations.

Article: “Inside the new, high-tech labs where future building systems are being tested”

Documentary: “Building Below Zero: The Net Zero Plus Transformation”—Actor and environmentalist Ted Danson narrates this examination of the Net Zero Plus Transformation: buildings that produce and store more energy than they consume, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and potentially impacting global climate change.


About The Author

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest’s picture

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest

Laurel Thoennes is an editor at Quality Digest. She has worked in the media industry for 33 years at newspapers, magazines, and UC Davis—the past 25 years with Quality Digest.