Green Recycling Products Blog

AIA: Top 10 Green Buildings of 2016

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 28, 2016

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Committee on the Environment has selected its top 10 2016 green building projects, which the organization said exemplify "sustainable architecture and ecological design." The AIA said its 20th annual lineup of sustainable design projects highlights those that "are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology." The organization said it conducted a study of nearly 200 past winners and found that the honorees have consistently exceeded almost every industry standard.

Green building elements like natural light and ventilation, stormwater management and its re-use, rooftop solar and green roofs, electrical vehicle charging stations and renewable energy systems all made their way into one or more of these projects. The winners also represent a variety of building philosophies, such as net-zero, Living Buildings, WELL and LEED. In addition, with the exception of a project based in Ireland, the AIA’s 2016 list is made up entirely of U.S. projects.

The full list includes:

Biosciences Research Building (BRB), Galway, Ireland
Payette and Reddy Architecture + Urbanism

Outstanding Features: Uses natural ventilation for 90% of its cooling and heating; 45% of the building has no mechanical ventilation.
Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), Pittsburgh

The Design Alliance Architects
Outstanding Features: Produces 100% of its own energy; holds Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, WELL Building Platinum and Four-Stars Sustainable SITES certifications.

Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco

Outstanding Features: Uses San Francisco Bay water for cooling; 800-foot-long roof supports a 1.3-megawatt solar array.

H-E-B at Mueller; Austin, TX
Lake|Flato Architects, H-E-B Design + Construction, Selser Schaefer Architects

Outstanding Features: Uses "the first North American supermarket propane refrigeration system."

Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley, CA
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects

Outstanding Features: Energy consumption is 90% below national baseline.

Rene Cazenave Apartments, San Francisco
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Saida + Sullivan Design Partners, Associated Architect

Outstanding Features: Focus on healthy living for former homeless, some with mental or physical disabilities; green roof with solar canopy.

The Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion, Decatur, TX
Lake|Flato Architects

Outstanding Features: Certified Living Building; stresses the possible positive impacts of grazing livestock.

The J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego
ZGF Architects LLP

Outstanding Features: First net-zero energy laboratory in the U.S.

University of Wyoming - Visual Arts Facility; Laramie, WY
Hacker Architects and Malone Belton Able PC

Outstanding Features: One of the biggest solar evacuated tube installations in the U.S.; building designed in accordance with the sun’s position to maximize reflected light and reduce solar gain.

West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, Berkeley, CA
Harley Ellis Devereaux

Outstanding Features: First certified Living Building public library in California; sunlight provides 97% of light.

**Original By Kim Slowey | April 27, 2016

The History of Earth Day

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

The Idea

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

Earth Day Today

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism. Despite these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a relevant, powerful focal point. Earth Day Network brought 250,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.

Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more chapters—struggles and victories—into the Earth Day book.

Stay tuned! 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is preparing to announce an ambitious set of goals to shape the future we need.

**Original published on

Celebrate National Park Week

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

National Park Week, April 16 to 24, 2016, is America's largest celebration of national heritage. It's about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations, and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks! It's all happening in your national parks.

NPS Photo

National Park Week is the time to discover national parks and the wonders they contain. Find your park!

The National Park Service is once again partnering with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, to present National Park Week, a presidentially proclaimed celebration of our national heritage.

Now's The Time!

Plan your visit by what you want to do or where you want to go. Here are some highlights during National Park Week:

April 16–24: Visit for free! Throughout National Park Week in 2016, every national park will give you free admission!
April 16: National Junior Ranger Day Explore, Learn, Protect! Kids can take part in fun programs and earn a junior ranger badge or become a Centennial Junior Ranger.
April 22: Earth Day On Earth Day, if you want to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a project, look for a park where you can help out.
April 23: National Park Instameet Join an InstaMeet in a park. Gather in a designated place at a specific time to take photos and short videos to post on Instagram (and other social media) with the same hashtag: #FindYourParkInstaMeet, #FindYourPark, #EncuentraTuParque, #NPS100
April 24: Park Rx Day Parks will host fun recreational activities that encourage healthy lifestyles and promote physical and mental well-being. (Looking to host your own event? Download A Guide to Planning Your Own National Park Rx Day Celebration [561KB PDF]).

Don't forget to check out There you can share your national park photos, videos, and tips. While you're there, learn all about the ways you can help support your national parks all year round.

Try something new this year. Find your park!

Green Awards Every Business Should Strive For In 2016

Darren Kincaid - Tuesday, April 05, 2016

It is becoming increasingly important to make a case for sustainability in business. This requires thinking about the impact your business has on the environment and ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

In 1991, Frito Lay launched SunChips, a healthier brand of snack that was environmentally conscious and therefore quite ahead of its time. In 2009, SunChips tapped into the combined marketing power of two trends – healthy snacks and environmentally friendly products. This was a huge success at the time, and also made their ethics a public case study. But with over 30 environmental awards under their belt, it seems the company still sets a high standard for green businesses.

While your stakeholders and clients may not know the specifics of your social and environmental practices, it is important in today’s climate to take an interest. More essential still is to be visibly engaged in sustainability. To ignore the power and pressure of being green in 2016 is PR folly.

International awards for sustainability can lead to exciting opportunities International awards add value to your company. Not only do they signify official endorsement that will make you more appealing to potential customers, but they can also lead to new business opportunities.

SolarAid, the winners of a Gold Award brought solar energy to the rural poor in East Africa. According to partnerships manager Charlie Miller, the award ‘took partnerships with funders and other stakeholders to another level’. But there were other rewards too, including £30,000 prize money and international media exposure.

There are also international awards that are less focused on companies working to solve environmental issues. The Best in Biz awards have a category for Most Socially or Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year, to celebrate companies that are setting a great example to other businesses. The winners of the award in 2015 include Monster Energy and Feld Entertainment.

Industry-specific accreditation give you a competitive edge

Demonstrating environmental commitment is becoming an essential part of corporate professionalism. Awards and accreditation are a great way to make you stand out over the competition. But the real value lies in researching schemes and awards that are going to be recognized in your sector and on a local level.

In the UK, for example, companies can apply to the Green Accord for an environmental accreditation. This is a great way to evidence your corporate commitment to fighting climate change. With support from the University of Exeter and Exeter City Council, this is a national scheme that is suitable for all types of organization and supply chain.

The best marketing strategies utilize awards and accolades to their full advantage. It’s not good enough to just have the awards, you need to mention them on relevant web pages too.

Recipient of a Gold Medal from the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents, for example, is a significant accolade for an environmental services company like OCS. This accolade was published in a press release, but is also mentioned on their asbestos removal page. These are both examples of how you can maximize the competitive impact of your achievements.

Eco labels improve your reputation

Eco labels denote how environmentally ethical a product is. While some awards are extremely competitive, accolades like eco labels are easily earned and legitimately certify your commitment to the cause. It’s important to strive for visibility when it comes to labels, so that you can really market your environmental awareness.

A good example of this is the Green Stationery Company, who supply recycled paper and green office products. Not only do they have their eco labels displayed on their website’s homepage, but almost all packaging and products have a clearly visible eco label. Even if your company isn’t offering ‘green’ products, you should consider using eco labels wherever possible.

You can use an ecolabel index to find a suitable way to certify your product, service or brand. The EU ecolabel can be used by manufacturers, importers, service providers, wholesalers, and any traders and retailers marketing products under their own brand name. Walmart have used the recent increase in supply chain transparency to their advantage by introducing a ‘made by sustainability leaders’ label which will be used by an initial batch of 150 companies to denote their commitment to resolving and reducing environmental issues.

**Original posted April 1, 2016 by Ivan Widjaya, Owner/Editor of