Category Archives: Green Building

Earth Day with a Environmental View from the Pool

Across the globe, April 22 is celebrated as a day of support for environmental protection, but at Wells Fargo, every day is Earth Day. This commitment is illustrated through partnerships with businesses that are working to create a lower-carbon economy and reduce the impacts of climate change, like Alan Smith Pools in Orange Country, California believes in  water conservation and sustainability.
With almost 4 decades of experience, this company takes a long-term view toward the Earth Day mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle — using efficient and eco-friendly construction practices. With 29,000 projects completed, it is great environmental news that THIS  company has proven to be a pioneer in pools / spas.

  • innovative materials and repairs when possible
  • repairing pools with a view towards reuse, reduction of waste
  • saving millions of gallons of pool water
  • purifying water through osmosis
  • company-owned electric vehicles
  • implementing a waste management system for demolition debris
  • recycles 100% of demolition materials

“We know water is a precious commodity, especially in California, so we are continuously looking at ways to conserve the water that sustains our industry and manage our waste materials while constructing pools to be more sustainable. When the drought hit hard, we knew we had to help make our industry be more efficient and cut down on water waste to survive. This is why we began educating communities and regulators on the benefits of water recycling and purifying technology.”  — Alan Smith

Working with operators of large-scale pools such as YMCAs, & resorts, water waste is 3X – 4X  their annual water volume. Higher traffic means high levels of cleaning chemicals and the need to be completely drained and refilled with clean water every year. EACH 700,000 gallon pool that adds up to 2.8 million gallons of precious water drained into the sewers. The water purification technology that Alan proposed would recycle the existing water through reverse osmosis, removing impurities down to the level of drinking water–all within two to three days.

Smith recently acquired two water purification trailers to work with more customers; which makes $$ sense for CA homeowners as water districts move toward a tiered pricing system.

Kent Westfall
Commercial Division Manager
(760) 399-6428

Greenlining Institute Serves Non-Profits

At a time when nonprofits are being displaced due to high rents, the Greenlining Institute is providing a safe haven space to several nonprofits at affordable, below-market rents at its newly renovated energy-efficient building at 360 14th St. in the heart of downtown Oakland.

In late February 2017, the Greenlining Institute hosted a grand opening event to showcase the space with elected officials, activists, nonprofits and the community. During the event, Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar thanked all the  sponsors for their support. He wished the Center had enough space to house other nonprofits currently being displaced.

With a long relationship of more than 2 decades, along with other sponsors, a grant of $500,000 from Wells Fargo helps makes 360 Center possible. This is an especially important time, because many non-profits are leaving Oakland.  — the editor

Autodesk Shows off GREAT Design

This museum is one of my favorites! It has wonderful exhibits that take you on a local tour of great design, innovation, quirky imaginations and offers a wonderful view into design.

Autodesk Gallery is near the Embarcadero in SF and very interesting, especially for a geeky field trip! location: 1 Market St (One Market Plaza) 2nd floor.

There is truly something for everyone: legos, architecture, 3-D printing, art around the world, and fun. They also have a monthly evening event with food, drinks, interesting guest speakers, crafts, and fun (cost about $30).  There is a theme, you’ll find like-minded curious people in attendance!

Make sure to schedule a visit for the museum, whether you try the daytime free, come as you are choice … OR … the have a fun adult night out in the beautiful city, you’ll be glad you came.

Park Merced adds a Transit Subsidy as an Incentive

Get out of your cars! SF is looking at ways to encourage this transition to Uber, Muni, Walking, and biking around the city; it is focusing on the planning process for large scale developments.

For Park Merced and SF State there is a $100 credit to ride Bay Area Public transit or take Uber! Maximus has entered into a partnership with Uber to accept the monthly payments and will work with Clipper to get them on-board.

green corporateFor the 152 acre complex, Park Merced plans to provide ONLY A SINGLE PARKING SPACE per housing unit. This is HALF of what is generally required for housing developments.  This could become another site of “parking wars” or it could be transformational. There is a great deal of transportation in this area now, the M-Ocean View runs through it, there are buses on 19th…. for the 5,700 housing units….the planning and adoption of a low-impact commuter mindset will save the day.


Green & Gold Conference

Wanted to let you know about the Green & Gold Conference set
for November 12 in San Francisco.

Organizer Julie Mathern has designed a gathering to attract entrepreneurs — just before Green Festival! — who are working on sustainable office design, green food and beverage solutions, solar energy, water desalination and funding opportunities for these efforts and ideas.

Kickstarter: New Solar Technology to Build an Underground Park

New Solar Technology to Build an Underground Park

New Solar Technology to Build an Underground Park

By The Lowline

What if the sun could shine underground? The people behind the Lowline asked themselves this question when they first imagined a park in an abandoned Lower East Side trolley station. Now they’re taking the next steps to reclaim this unused space by developing their solar technology, with the aim of creating a totally new kind of public space right under the feet of New Yorkers.

Home Advisor Provides a great Service

Yes it’s going head to head with competitors like Angie’s list, Thumbtack, Amazon Local and Porch. It has eclipsed Red Beacon from Home Depot. Why?

FREE to home owners, connects you immediately with many pros and check out the pros credentials.

The database of services is large and  they work with you to make sure you get a good price and a good experience.

Greener Beef Raising

Every industry can improve, every worker can pay attention. It takes some bravery to make innovations in a tradition-bound area, but it can be done. The rewards are given to all of us. Whether you eat beef or not, you should care about HOW and WHERE they are raised. We must all care about how our farm land is cared for and valued, whether we are in the city or out in some of the richest farm country in the world. Please read on………

Posted from “The Elbert Files: Building high-tech cattle barns”.

Nearly four years ago when their industry was still in free-fall, home builders Rubis of Ankeny and Ehresman of Huxley created a niche business called Iowa Beef Systems to design and build high-tech cattle barns using concrete and steel. Their timing could not have been better. 

The Iowa cattle industry, which had been in decline for decades, began a resurgence in 2006, fueled in large part by the growing ethanol industry. 

Iowa Beef Systems got on board in late 2009, and since then it has built more than 100 high-tech cattle confinement systems with more than 2 million square feet of covered space. The company has about 50 employees, which will grow to near 300, including subcontractors, during the summer.

It’s not unusual for one of Iowa Beef Systems’ cattle barns to cost more than $1 million. 

Better yet, payment is typically made within a day or two. “Because of the packer laws,” Rubis explained, “farmers are used to paying within 48 hours and being paid within 48 hours.”

The timely cash flow has allowed Iowa Beef Systems to grow debt free. 

The two men got into barn building in part because they enjoy working with concrete, which is the perfect building material for handling cattle and their waste. 

Iowa Beef Systems’ barns have two levels, an upper level for livestock and a 10-foot high waste collection area below. Small slats in the floor allow waste to fall to the lower level as cattle move around. Manure accumulates at the rate of about one foot per month, which means it has to be pumped out about every six months or so, when it is then recycled as fertilizer for nearby cropland, Rubis said.

Iowa Beef Systems’ high-tech barns feature several innovations, including multi-layered (wood, felt and steel) roofs that are rust resistant, diamond pattern concrete floors that prevent hooves from slipping, and sides that have high southern exposures to let in winter sun and low northern exposures to provide summer shade.

Many Iowa farmers got out of cattle feeding decades ago, when industry economics and practices, fueled by cheap corn and environmental concerns, favored large herds at out-of-state locations. Between 1975 and 2005 Iowa’s cattle population fell from about 4 million head to 1.5 million. 

Today, Iowa’s herd is back up around 4 million. The reason is new economics and environmental practices, both of which are incorporated in Iowa Beef Systems’ buildings, said Bill Couser, who feeds 5,000 cattle in Story County. 

Ethanol pushed up the price of corn, making it too expensive to ship to distant cattle feeders, Couser said. Plus, ethanol creates byproducts in the form of high-value nutrients that make good cattle feed.

High corn prices have also increased land values, which in an odd way is good for the cattle industry, Rubis said. When farmland sells for $17,000 an acre, he explained, it is less expensive to bring a new generation into the cattle business than it is to buy additional farmland. 

Couser, for example, feeds 5,000 cattle on just 11 acres of environmentally protected land. The real advantage for high-tech cattle feeding is that animals gain weight much quicker in protective buildings than in traditional feedlots.

Cattle in open feedlots are more stressed and only gain two pounds or less per day, while cattle in protected barns gain four to five pounds a day, Rubis said. 

That’s a big advantage for the producer, because the animal gains twice as much weight on far less feed. 

Rubis figures there is a seven-year payback on Iowa Beef Systems barns, which are designed to last 50 years.

Read more:–Building-high-tech-cattle-barns/168/963/58225#ixzz3NJXTeugh

Louis Sullivan, American Architect

Sullivan and his team of craftsmen built the National Farmers’ Bank of Owatonna building in 1908 for $125,000 — more than $3 million in today’s dollars. The Owatonna jewel box is the largest of the Eight Jewel Box buildings —  at 4,600 square feet. Sullivan built it long after his 1891 Wainright building in St. Louis commission, which earned him the title “father of the American skyscraper.”  Check out this film: Wells Fargo Stories.  Enjoy the Wiki.

Stewards of an architectural icon

So who has the job of preserving an architectural gem listed on the National Register of Historic Places, memorialized in 1981 on a U.S. postage stamp, and showcased in a number of feature films?   

Keeping an icon in tip-top shape is a labor of love. Each detail is researched, there are surpises along the way, and materials from that original time period may no longer be available. It’s a task that included using brick from the original foundry for a 1997 renovation and finding one of the original brass teller wickets removed during a 1940s renovation for the restorations that now cover the teller windows. Installed in 2004, that work won the National Historical Landmark Steward Award from the National Park Service.

When the carpet needed replacing Molzahn turned again to the Steele County Historical Society for the final call on the color for the replacement. 

“Under the carpet were tens of thousands of green tiles,” Molzahn said. “I have file cabinets thick of information about Sullivan and the building and its history. As much as possible, we try to make sure whatever is done matches up historically with his original vision. The historical society said, ‘We love this [carpet sample] because it looks so much like the tiles’ — so that’s the one we went with. We want to be good stewards.”

David Bowers, the architect who has guided several renovations, said Sullivan’s Jewel Box stands as a monument to architecture that reflects community.

“Bennett and Sullivan wanted to celebrate what a small Minnesota town was at the turn of the century — a prosperous place rooted in a flat land rich with seasonal color,” Bowers said. “One of the leading dairy centers in the state, Owatonna’s cows and horses and farmers are what made it prosperous so that’s why scenes from a local farm adorn the walls.

“Even if you were a shopkeeper, you understood what it meant to live close to the land so his jewel-box creation really represented the wholesome aspirations of the banking community and the entire community then just as it still does today. The people saw themselves in the building, and knew it was for them.”

Mark Smith, filmaker, featured the Owatonna bank in his 2010 documentary, Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture.

Sullivan would die broke in Chicago; and Bennett would lose his bank during the Great Depression, but their art and influence live on.

“A lot of historians believe that without Sullivan, there would have been no Frank Lloyd Wright as we know him,” Smith said. “And while it may not have been recognized in the early 1900s, Sullivan’s genius certainly is known today, as are his jewel-box banks on the prairie.”

Earth Ships Documentary

This article has a link to the full length documentary about EarthShips.

Earthships are 100% sustainable homes that are both cheap to build and awesome to live in. They offer amenities like no other sustainable building style you have come across. For the reasons that follow, I believe Earthships can actually change the world. See for yourself!
Read more here.


Thanks Gail for sharing!