Category Archives: Sustainable Design

How to Build a Living Wall

how to build a living wall

If you’ve visited Laughing Planet’s Woodstock location recently, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve built a cool new living wall. If you haven’t stopped by in a while, let us fill you in.

A living wall is a vertical arrangement of plants which, as the name suggests, can be mounted on a wall. While the concept was originally invented in 1938 by a professor of landscape architecture named Stanley Hart White, it wasn’t until recent years that living walls became a common sight in urban environments. Mr. White was ahead of his time, and never really got to see his invention (which he called “Botanical Bricks”) catch on. But these days, living walls are cropping up everywhere.

So, why not just grow those plants the old-fashioned way? Isn’t it disorienting for those poor plants?

Actually, the plants don’t seem to mind one bit. After all, some of them like to climb walls anyway. And, living walls have some really neat benefits. As you know, vegetation purifies the air. Through the process of photosynthesis, it filters nitrogen dioxide. Greenery also traps fine particulates, which are a major contributing factor to asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.

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The Living Building Challenge

Out of the Way, LEEDS—There’s a New (Green Building) Sheriff in Town

LEEDS was only the beginning. Now, the gauntlet has truly been thrown down. The International Living Building Institute has issued a challenge:

to all design professionals, contractors and building owners to create the foundation for a sustainable future in the fabric of our communities.

to politicians and government officials to remove barriers to systemic change, and to realign incentives and market signals that truly protect the health, safety and welfare of people and all beings.

to all of humanity to reconcile the built environment with the natural environment, into a civilization that creates greater biodiversity, resilience and opportunities for life with each adaptation and development.”

Living Building Challenge Certified: Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Living Building Challenge Certified: Omega Center for Sustainable Living

The Living Building Challenge is currently the most stringent and advanced measure of sustainability, providing a comprehensive set of green practices for building designers, developers and owners.

From avoiding ecologically harmful materials to demonstrating a full year of net-zero energy use, the Living Building Challenge is a tough but inspiring call to action. “A tall order to be sure,” states the organization, but one that has already been met by several projects—and continues to be pursued by many more. Continue reading

Oregon Sustainability Center Sparks Controversy

Oregon Sustainability Center

The Proposed Oregon Sustainability Center

A proposal to build a massive net-zero energy facility has sparked controversy over its worth as a public investment. The Oregon Sustainability Center would not only be a net-zero energy building–meaning that it produces as much energy as it uses–it would also be water independent.

The goal would be to achieve Living Building Challenge Certification, which requires that a building demonstrate 12 consecutive months of net-zero energy and water use, while using locally sourced, non-toxic materials in its operations.

These cutting edge performance goals highlight some of the most impressive advancements in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Unfortunately, they come at a price: the building would cost roughly 3 times the cost of a “traditional commercial building,” turning some public officials and taxpayers into critics.

The Oregon Sustainability Center would be a kind of hub for sustainability related businesses, non-profits, educational programs and government agencies. So is it worth the investment? Sustainable Business Oregon seems to think so.

Read the full story on the Oregon Sustainability Center here.