Sim Van der Ryn, Architect
Read an excerpt from the book described here below, at: http://hbelc.org/pdf/eco-nov2013.pdf
Architect, author, teacher and self-described visionary Sim Van der Ryn <http://www.vanderryn.com/> ‘s latest book exists to steer architects away from sustainable thinking based on things like LEED (he embraces the Living Building Challenge <http://living-future.org/lbc> over all other rating systems), which paint an incomplete picture of our role in the environment, so they can foster a more holistic view toward what he calls human-centered and nature-centered design. Empathy is the operative idea in his argument (it is a highly critical book), and it is something that needs to be increasingly taught to children and even students in architecture schools to enable a greater shift than what has transpired in the last decade-and-half. It is easy to see that curiosity and understanding toward other people and the environment we are part of is lacking, given the dismal nature of much of our cities and suburbs, and the carbon we expand at an ever-more-increasing rate into the atmosphere, dire predictions or not.
Van der Ryn tries to convince readers that a turn to the inner self is required to foster empathy and to make greater connections with nature. He does this through a memoir tracing some of his experiences since he moved with his family from the Netherlands to the United States before his fifth birthday. These experiences are recounted in the book’s six short chapters, primarily Lifetime Learning Design. But it’s the two chapters – Human-Centered Design and Nature-Centered Design – that offer the most potential. In these chapters Van der Ryn recounts some of the projects he undertook as an architect, educator, and even State Architect (to Governor Jerry Brown) in California, where he lives to this day. Through these projects and the research based around them, the reader gains an understanding of how empathy relates to design, how an architect can embrace how the outcome of a building can positively impact people and nature. Not everybody willing to change their inner self will have the same path as Sim Van der Ryn, but by sharing his story he’s given them something enjoyable to read (and look at, with his watercolors that are sprinkled throughout the book) while they search for their own paths.
Fifteen years after the creation of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green-building rating system, it seems that sustainable principles are fairly well entrenched in architectural practice. What used to be considered a costly alternative to the usual materials and systems have become the norm in approaching the design of buildings. But do things like low-flow toilets, green roofs, and other elements within a point-based trade-off system really add up to truly green architecture? Are buildings meeting LEED Silver, Gold, or even Platinum really sustainable? The answer is increasingly “no,” not only because the system is flawed but because terms like “sustainability” and “green building” have been co-opted by manufacturers, marketers, and others focused on the bottom line, to the detriment of really changing our ways and our built landscape.
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Take Back Your Power - a groundbreaking documentary: Utility companies are replacing electricity, gas and water meters worldwide with new generation “smart” meters at an unprecedented rate. Take Back Your Power is a crowd-funded, public awareness documentary that investigates the benefits and safety of this ubiquitous “smart” meter program. Using insight from insiders, expert researchers, politicians, doctors, and concerned citizens, environmental steward Josh del Sol takes us on a journey of revelation and discovery, as he questions corporations’ right to tap our private information in the name of “green”.
What you discover will surprise you, unsettle you, and inspire you to challenge the status quo. The film premiers on 5 September 2013, and you’ll be able to watch it on our website <http://buildingbiology.net>. Watch a clip from this film right now, by clicking here.
IBE’s all-new interactive home page provides more free environmental information to the public than ever in its 26 year history! Each of thirteen vital Building Biology issues are linked to detailed fact sheet prepared by IBE’s experts on EMR, indoor air & water quality, and natural healthy building design, materials and practices- check it out at http://buildingbiology.net/
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Italy’s Supreme Court upheld a man’s claim that his cell phone use caused his brain tumor. The Result? Columnist Lindsay Abrams, writing for The Atlantic, turned it into a humorous article, scoffing the cell phone/cancer link. Click here to read the article.
Fortunately, you can write to Ms. Abrams and tell her what you think of her tone-deaf science-denying article at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are concerned about the inadequacy of the Federal Communications Commission’s radiofrequency (RF) human exposure guidelines to protect your health, here is your chance to tell the FCC your concerns. Click the link here below to see the instructions given by the EMR Policy Institute below.
NOTE: for your voice to be heard, you must submit your concerns by Wednesday, 6 February.
IBE’s founder and eternal inspiration Helmut Ziehe passed away quietly and without pain on 17 January 2013, surrounded by family and friends. His widow and best friend Susannah Ziehe asks that, in lieu of flowers and other heartfelt expressions, donations be made to the Helmut Ziehe Scholarship Fund, a program Helmut put into place before his death to introduce students into IBE’s Building Biology curriculum whom might otherwise not have the financial resources to attend. Donations in any amont can be made on the IBE website by clicking here.
Watch this ten minute excerpt from our 2012 Conference, featuring the Sunday keynote presentation by Camilla Rees, MBA, founder of ElectromagneticHealth.org, as she delivers in layman’s language the science and solutions for creating safe havens in a toxic, electromagnetic world.
Click here to purchase the 5-disk DVD set, a 14-hour library that includes all of our conference presenters: Dr. Martin Blank, Camila Rees, MBA, Dr. William Rea, Dr. Lisa Nagy, Dr. Devra Davis, Dr. Tim Schoechle, James Turner, Esq., and Duncan Campbell, JD.