Monday, December 02, 2013

Pick a Green, any Green!

There are just so many different things that can be sustainable! No, really, soooo many things!

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, our class did various presentations today (by various, I mean that each group had their own subject to deal with) but all of them had to do with sustainability (surprise!). Some of the subjects addressed were water recycling, living walls, sustainable finishes and... a LOT more.

Of course, during almost three hours of presentations, it gets hard to absorb all the information being presented, however, when something does stick into my head after all that, I have to mention it on here!

So are the top three things that really stood out to me today and my thoughts, ideas and blahs around them...

1) Living Walls:

Isn't that gorgeous?

Wow, these are so beautiful! Basically these are free-standing (or mounted onto existing walls) and they hold living, growing plants! For real! 

I definitely want to use these in my own designs, one day, because...well, why not! Sure they can be costly (about $120 per square foot!), but there are so many cool benefits and here are just a few:

-Air quality is improved (natural filters!)
-Energy is saved (natural insulation and temperature control!)
-You can grow food plants! (in Canada, fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter? Miraculous!)
-The sheer beauty of a living wall! Just looking at the wall in the picture above is like a quick shot of an energizing force (it is!), just imagine coming home or waking up to one each day...

So, yup, of course Living Walls would be the first thing I remember. I definitely recommend checking out Green Apple Pie's page here for a quick FAQ guide about living walls! (Bonus, at least for me, it's a Toronto based company!)

2) Green Roofs:

Basically, these are like living walls except horizontal, and they are located on the top of a building (and you can stand on them). I don't really have to much to point out about these except that:

-The image of the green roof shown above is getting on my nerves...for some inexplicable reason...perhaps I'm bothered by the idea of a cold, ugly steel-and-glass "drone" building in a grid-locked city pretending to be more natural than it is? I know, I know. That's a GOOD thing, but I guess I can't help what I feel.

-These are even more expensive than a living wall and are actually way more complicated than I previously thought (ok, all I thought was that you could just plop some grass and stuff on any decent roof and that was real green roof). But there are layers upon layers of materials that are needed (especially to avoid leakage into the building) and the building has to be able to withstand the weight of this feature.

-Apparently a lot of people have built these, even here in Toronto:

Ugh, why are these green roofs (in the middle of cities) still getting on my nerves?! Ok, well, I prefer this aesthetic way (way) more:

A church in Norway

Now that is a green roof I not only love, but would actually live under very happily! I just adore all that greenery in the background! The church looks like it belongs there. Like it is supposed to have a green roof, it's just so lovely and unassuming in it's environment! 

...And that reminds me of what my professor mentioned today, in between presentations; that some people just don't appreciate the sight of nature (or obvious sustainable elements) locked into a cityscape. I never realized that I was one of those people! (Disclaimer: I don't usually react this strongly to new environmental designs and I have seen many natural applications in the middle of cities that I have loved! It's important to keep an open mind, people!)

3) Windmills:

Hardly the most modern of windmills but too beautiful to resist!

We have a great big wind turbine/mill/whatever in Toronto. Perhaps you have heard of it? Or seen it firsthand? (Kinda hard to miss once you're near the lake)

I can totally see where Nicholas Montgomery is coming from when he points out exactly what I have been thinking since I was seven: 

"In Toronto we have one very prominently placed windmill near the CNE and Lake Ontario. Placed as no more than a political statement on how Toronto is tackling climate change, I do not see a use for this turbine. I have a huge problem with this wind turbine and think it should be abandoned" (Source).

You and me both, buddy!!

I can't believe this was even put up there. Ok, maybe I can, but to keep it up there? To expect Torontonians to be proud of it? It's just so GLARINGLY obvious. Obvious in the skyline. And obvious in it's political statement. Windmills are not supposed to be trophy wives.

But apparently, according to one of my peers, windmills can be for private use as well. Some farmers in Ontario actually have small wind mills/turbines (often in the form of short towers) right on their land and they harvest that wind energy to use around the farm (ex. heating of barns!). That sounds fun! And useful, unlike certain windmills around here...

Anyways, those were the top three things I learnt today...actually I learned one other tidbit:

Apparently if you collect "grey water" (reusable water) from your home, you should use it within a couple of days because it morphs into "black water" (evil, bacteria laden, disease causing water). I think that's really important! And now I'm scared of recycling water.

All in all, the big lesson learned today in class (and somewhat illustrated in this post) is that there are just so many different kinds of Green (a.k.a. sustainable practices) out there to choose from. They range from tiny day-to-day choices such as reusable water bottles to giant honking windmills in the middle of a city.

Just pick one and start! You really have no excuse...



  1. Lovely post! I love your blog design.

    1. Aw, thanks! It's funny because this was a school assignment!