Where You Build May Matter More Than What You Build

first_imgOne of the things I like most about my seven-mile bicycle commute into work is the chance it affords me to just think about stuff in an unfocused way. When I drive to work (more often than I’d like) I usually have the radio on, letting the “Morning Edition” reporters direct my thoughts.Sometimes, on these half-hour meditations along Route 30, I actually come up with interesting ideas. A few years ago, one of those was a realization that I needed to dig into—and publicize—the significance of “where we build” as a new measure of the energy intensity of buildings. I had been writing about and consulting on energy consumption of buildings for nearly 30 years, but had said very little about the significance of energy use getting to and from those buildings.My interest in this issue had been piqued a few years earlier when a New York City colleague, Dan Nall, who is both a registered architect and engineer, mentioned in a lecture that he had done some back-of-the-envelope calculations showing that a typical office building required as much energy getting workers to and from the building as the building itself used. Could that really be the case? I resolved, on that bike ride, to figure that out.I spent several weeks digging into this question, then published my findings in the September, 2007 issue of Environmental Buildings News (EBN), the national newsletter our company puts out from its Brattleboro, Vermont office. That article, I think, is one of the two or three most significant that we’ve ever published.I started by collecting a bunch of data from government sources: the average commuting distance by U.S. workers; the breakdown of commuting by modes of transportation (76% is in single-occupancy vehicles); the average fuel economy of our vehicles (21 mpg); and building occupancy in square feet per office worker. Given this information, I was able to calculate the average energy use for transportation for an office building per square foot of space.I wanted to come up with a metric for the transportation energy use associated with buildings that was parallel to the metric used to measure the energy intensity of a building—for heating, cooling, lighting, computers and other uses. This is commonly reported in thousands of British Thermal Units, or Btus, of energy per square foot per year (kBtu/sf-yr). The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the average energy intensity of office buildings in the U.S. is 93 kBtu/sf-yr. If I could calculate the average energy consumption for commuting using this same metric, I’d be able to show how the commuting energy use compared with the direct building energy use. I called this value “transportation energy intensity.”The results were really interesting. Using these admittedly crude assumptions, I found that office building energy use for commuting averages 121 kBtu/sf-yr. That’s 30% more energy than an average office building uses itself. So it takes more energy to get to and from our office buildings than those buildings use directly!Even more significantly, if we make the same comparison using a new office building that is built according to modern energy codes (ASHRAE 90.1–2004), we find that the transportation energy use is nearly 2.4 times as great as the direct energy use of the building!This is really significant, because in the past few decades tremendous effort has gone into making buildings more energy efficient, but very little attention has been paid to where we put those buildings. Building location, it turns out, has a huge impact on the total energy use of those buildings.This understanding argues strongly for considering in our planning: access to public transit; the walkability of our communities; access to safe pathways for walking and biking; and zoning regulations that permit mixed-use development (combining residential and commercial development in an area). While I used office buildings to make this argument, it would also hold true, to varying degrees, for other building types, such as schools, retail stores, and houses. The most energy-efficient, “greenest” house won’t be all that green if its owners have to drive twenty miles to work or to pick up a quart of milk.The EBN article came out at an opportune time. The LEED Rating System (a way to measure the “greenness” of buildings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council) was undergoing significant change in late 2007, and based in part on my findings, the relative weighting of points relating to location and alternative means of transportation was significantly boosted. The Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago is currently working to advance this idea of “transportation energy intensity,” and I recently had a conversation with someone from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) about how to address this concept in siting new federal buildings.For me, even though I live in a rural area, seven miles from my office, this understanding of transportation energy intensity inspires me to get on my bike and enjoy that invigorating (and sometimes mentally productive) ride to work.last_img read more

Naidu leads protest rally against Anna Hazare’s arrest

first_imgThe so-called crusade against corruption launched by noted social activist Anna Hazare is up for hijack by Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu to run down the ruling Congress party and gain political mileage in Andhra Pradesh.Apparently aiming at projecting himself as “Andhra Anna Hazare,” Naidu on Tuesday led a massive rally with hundreds of party workers in Hyderabad in protest against the arrest of the veteran Gandhian in New Delhi.Later, he staged a dharna along with party leaders at the Tank Bund on the banks of Hussainsagar lake, demanding immediate release of Anna. He strongly condemned the arrest of Anna and announced that he would go on day-long fast in support of the fight against corruption. The TDP president is also contemplating taking up indefinite fast in New Delhi in the first week of September on corruption and also agricultural crisis in the state.The exact date would be decided after discussion at the politburo meeting, party sources said. Ironically, Naidu himself had faced several charges of corruption during his nine-year rule between 1995 and 2004. Some of the allegations that he had faced during his regime were: promotion of his own company Heritage Foods at the cost of government dairy in Chittoor district, kickbacks during the land acquisition for Yeleru reservoir and social welfare hostels in Visakhapatnam, granting of excise contractors on extraneous considerations that caused a loss of Rs 500 crore to the state exchequer, allotment of 1000 acres of land for IMG-Bharata in the name of development of international sports complex etc.advertisementAt one stage, the CPI-M brought out a booklet against Naidu in the name of: “Chandrababu Zamana, Avineeti Khazana” (Chandrababu’s rule was the most corrupt), which formed the basis for former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy to attack him in and out of the assembly. However, there has been no case of corruption pending against Naidu at present.The TDP president was holding a meeting of the party’s extended executive committee meeting at NTR Trust Bhavan, the party’s headquarters at Banjara Hills, when the reports of Anna’s arrest reached him. He immediately cancelled the meeting and announced that he would take out a rally in support of the arrested Gandhian.Setting aside his party flag, Naidu held the national flag and went on a 10-km long march from the party office to Ambedkar Statue at Tank Bund. Hundreds of party workers including MLAs participated in the rally and many others passers-by joined it midway. After reaching the Tank Bund, he garlanded the statue of Ambedkar and sat on a dharna till evening.The protesters demanded immediate release of Anna Hazare and his supporters. They raised slogans of “Down with corrupt government” and “Bring Jan Lokpal bill”. The protest threw traffic out of gear in busy areas like Punjagutta, Khairatabad, Secretariat and Tank Bund. “The response to the rally was overwhelming and spontaneous. It shows how the people are fed up with the corrupt Congress government. We will continue this fight till we achieve the goal,” senior TDP leader Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said.Meanwhile, the arrest of Anna evoked strong reaction from opposition parties, civil society groups and youth and student organizations in various universities across the state. Though the normal life was not disrupted much, there were protest rallies and relay hunger strikes in various parts of the state. At Indira Park in Hyderabad, hundreds of youth and students under the banner of India Against Corruption, Hyderabad chapter, took out a rally protest against Anna’s arrest. They demanded immediate release of the veteran social worker. Some activists also launched a three-day fast at Indira Park to express solidarity with Anna.Rallies and fasts are also being held in Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Nizamabad and other towns. Students of Sri Venkateshwara University in Tirupati, Sri Krishna Devaraya University in Anantapur and JNTU in Kadapa also launched relay hunger strikes in support of Hazare. On Monday night, various organisations like Young India took out candlelight rallies at Tank Bund in support of Hazare.Lok Satta party president Dr Jayaprakash Narayan said with the arrest of Anna, the UPA government had lost the people’s support and moral right to rule the country. He demanded autonomous status to investigating agencies like CBI and ACB, besides extending the Jan Lok Pal institutions across the country.Noted social activist and former union energy secretary Dr E A S Sarma also expressed shock and distress at the arrest of Anna and his team. “It is nothing but a blatant attempt to shield the corrupt and gag the voice of the people of this country against the scourge of corruption and black money in India. The government’s motives are clear. We appeal to the civil society organizations all over the country to support Anna Hazare, despite differences in perception, if any, as his struggle against corruption is the people’s struggle against the well entrenched corrupt,” Dr Sarma said.advertisementlast_img read more

First Nations man in Ottawa wants his own Gladue writer to tell

first_imgKenneth JacksonAPTN National NewsThe scars on Randy Kakegamick’s face tell the story of his life.Like the one over his left eye when a stranger attacked him unprovoked he said near Bank Street in Ottawa.He was just a little boy then and woke up in a pool of his own blood.Drinking had torn his family apart and at night, when lonely, he’d walk the streets pretending to be a superhero.“There were times when I would be alone and I would just wander the streets – get out and try not to be so lonely,” said Kakegamick, 39.Those are the scars he’ll talk about.It’s the ones that cut deepest he won’t just tell anyone.But that is what the Ontario government is asking him to do.Kakegamick recently pleaded guilty to assaulting an ex-girlfriend last year.The Crown wants to put him in the local jail for six months.Randy Kakegamick says one of the main things keeping him on track is his son. (Jason Leroux/APTN photo)The judge has ordered a Gladue report that will detail Kakegamick’s life growing up as a First Nation man and what led him to court.The report will also outline services in the community that are available to help Kakegamick stay away from trouble and get his life together.Typically, the government requires a court-appointed writer in Ottawa do the report.But Kakagamick, who is from North Spirit Lake, is requesting a different writer – someone he knows and trusts.“If they say you got one day to meet this person to get into your deepest darkest secrets of your life, I don’t think that will happen,” he said. “I wouldn’t be honest. It takes time to build that trust with somebody.”He’s built that trust with Mark Marsolais, a First Nation man who also writes Gladue reports in the nation’s capital.“This is a sacred story of an individual,” said Marsolais. “There are two sides to a Gladue. It’s not just about a westernized lens and showing the courts what this person is about from an individual standpoint. It’s also a report that helps an individual on their healing journey sometimes for the first time. They get to self-reflect and see about themselves.”He’s waiting on Legal Aid in Ontario to decide if his wish to talk to Marsolais will be granted.It’s not clear how the judge will react if Kakegamick refuses to speak to a court-appointed writer.Meanwhile, Kakegamick continues on his journey.He said most of his legal troubles over the years were the result of his drinking. He got into a treatment program at the Ottawa Mission after his latest arrest and has been sober now for several months.“This is the longest I have ever been sober since I was 16. It’s just over five months and I’m 39 years old now so that is quite a feat for me,” he said.He said drinking destroyed his parent’s marriage when he was about six-years-old.“Drinking involves hurt, sorrow and the failure of my family,” he said.It’s also hurt his son, even if the young boy is too young to know it.All those times Kakegamick was away behind bars he could hear how his son missed him and needed his dad around but thought he was away working.He’s trying to make amends for that now.In doing so, he’s finding his son is helping him.“I’ve been spending a lot of time with him. He’s a big help. He doesn’t know it but he’s a big help,” he said.While he waits to learn who will write his Gladue next month, and if a judge will put him back behind bars, he focuses on the small things that keep him sober.Like running on a treadmill every day to keep ahead.Yet, rooted in his culture to be an example for his son.Randy Kakegamick by the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa earlier this week. (Jason Leroux/APTN photo)It’s Kakegamick’s journey to be a better man.The rocky past was the river and the future is the sea.The waters may be calmer now.But he knows he needs to stay in the boat.kjackson@aptn.calast_img read more

After 50 years Pictou Landing First Nation is getting its harbour back

first_imgAngel MooreAPTN NewsPictou Landing First Nation is counting down the days until Northern Pulp Mill can no longer dump toxins into Boat Harbour.That’s when the harbour will be re-named its original name – A’se’k – which means ‘the other room’,” said Chief Andrea Paul.The toxins released in the water by the Northern Pulp Mill killed fish and affected the culture and economy of the Nova Scotia community.“You know to live in an area where we are surrounded by water and to not have the same freedoms that our people did 52 years ago,” said Paul.Tracey Denny said people had to move away.“Once Boat Harbour came into effect and the effluent started coming over they just lost everything, and community members left the reserve because they felt there was even nothing more to stay,” said Denny.“And the only time they came back was in coffins.”A memorial wall with the names and photos of people who did not live to see this day are posted on the wall at the back of the school’s gym.“We have been going to the cemetery and we wrote down all community members who were living before 1967 which is when the treatment facility opened and who passed afterwards,” said Denny.“And the whole point is that they are going to be here with us in spirit.”Elders say they remember life before and after the harbour was polluted.Mary Nichols says her family lost their culture, their home, and they were displaced.“When our land got polluted, they just didn’t pollute the land; we we lost our way of life. I grew up in a time, I learned from my mom and after Boat Harbour happened, I couldn’t do the stuff she taught me,” she said.The community fought for years to stop Northern Pulp from dumping.Paul said she is confident the facility will finally be closed.“People are looking after the next seven generations,” said Paul. “They are making sure that all of this is protected and we are the rights holder – we are not a stakeholder – we are a rights holder.”Northern Pulp has said it needs more time to prepare for the closure.But Premier Stephen McNeil said there will be no extension.“The deadline is the deadline, it’s January 31st of 2020,” he said.“We gave them five years.”McNeil said if the mill refuses to stop dumping, the province will shut them down.“We will be shutting off the pipe, so we have the ability to close off that. They just won’t be putting it into Boat Harbour,” McNeil said.Northern Pulp proposed to dump its waste into the Northumberland Strait.That immediately drew protests on land and sea.The company said it has not yet found an alternative treatment facility.amoore@aptn.ca@angelharksenlast_img read more