Codifying Green Buildings

The International Code Council announced their intention to develop an international green construction code today, or IGCC. The development of this code means that commercial buildings will eventually have actual building codes that can be adopted by any city or municipality in the US. Why does this matter and what is the potential impact? According to the USGBC, commercial buildings in the US are responsible for 40% of total emissions. Can we reduce that? Yes we can.

For more information on today's launch news and updates on when open hearings will be coming to a city near you, visit: http://www.iccsafe.org/IGCC/


Wonk Talk – Climate Change and John Dingell

A friend invited me to Congressional Quarterly’s climate change event this morning, so I hopped in the car at 8am, coffee in hand, and make the brief trek to Union Station in DC just in time for the 8:30 start time. I was thrilled to see that Judy Woodruff, the PBS News Hour anchor and contributor, along with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) were going to be present at the event. As it happened, Dingell opened with twenty minutes of remarks on the current state of the (Waxman-Markey) climate bill that’s making its way through Congress.

As the Chairman Emeritus of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, one of five ‘exclusive’ committees in the U.S. House, Dingell is a force to be reckoned with. At 82 years young, he spoke with the passion and precision of many of his younger colleagues. In 2008, Dingell made news over the much talked about power struggle with colleague Henry Waxman concerning the leadership of the committee. However, he is still in the game and as committed as ever to move this recent piece of climate legislation forward.

According to a 2007 TIME Magazine article, the man (Dingell) tasked with defending Detroit’s automakers from too much change too quickly, seems to also be one of the few who can save it by other means, “… just as it took anticommunist Richard Nixon to open the door to China, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to denounce misogyny in rap, so Dingell, Democrat from Dearborn and friend of factories, may be the insider able to drive change.”

With all of his experience serving the people of Michigan and working the halls of Congress for over four decades, perhaps Dingell is correct when he states that the current legislation is, “the first step in a long journey” and will “provide for both business and environmental concerns”. He’s also realistic in terms of what this will cost the next generation – “we have to make it advantageous to save/conserve and painful to waste...outlooks and attitude of the American people will have to change.”


The Technology Revolution (literally)

As many of us in the PR profession have come to find out over the past few years, social media is now a key element of any communications program. A good example of social media's reach can be witnessed in the current Tehran + Twitter news story. This story has brought to light what many of us already know - social media and the networks they create can be powerful tools for communicating with and influencing a mass audience. Even the Pentagon is considering how to incorporate social media into it's sphere of influence.

While Tweeting is not for everyone, I recommend at least dipping a toe in the increasingly large pool of social networking options. C'mon in, the water is warm...


Living La Vida LOHAS

Warning: Shameless and unpaid plug!

Last night, my husband and I enjoyed a meal at DC’s only LEED-certified restaurant, Founding Farmers. Prior to the meal, we met a friend at the pre-prohibition bar where they swear by sustainable and original bar prep ingredients such as in-season and fresh melon, mint and cherries. Ginger ale and ginger beer are also made fresh by the restaurant - a rare treat indeed.

According to our server, the restaurant is owned by over 40,000 North Dakota farmers and claims to be among a handful of restaurants in the world that have obtained LEED status. The pork ribs hail from Orange County, Virginia where three generations of farmers have perfected the art of raising livestock. The rest of the menu items carry similar stories. So if you are looking for a good meal in DC with a low carbon footprint, I would recommend dropping by this gem of a restaurant.

Good luck to the team at Founding Farmers and we look forward to many more delicious and sustainably sourced meals.

To dine green in your community, look here for more information: http://www.dinegreen.com/customers/


Election Day and Clean Coal Technology

Today is primary day in Virginia and we have two out of three Democratic candidates supporting the development of clean coal technology. I’m not making a judgment on their endorsements, but found it interesting that this topic has reared its head in state-level politics as much as it did in the Presidential campaigns of 2009. With the new influx of $3.4 billion federal taxpayer stimulus dollars, there is no end in sight for this topic. The allocated federal stimulus money will focus on carbon capture and sequestration, otherwise known as carbon storage.

So for now, this voter, homeowner and average citizen has to figure out which candidate is likely to build the best energy mix for Virginia, if the coalition majority has any ground to stand on and if coal technology is really an oxymoron, a myth or eventually a reality.


Engineering a Greener Future

It's been a big week for Detroit and an even bigger week for the average American consumer. Media stories on GM dealerships feeling the pinch, car buyers making purchase decisions and Chevy lovers waxing poetic about times gone by have all been prolific. The one big story that seems to be missing in the mainstream is how this will change the attitude of the manufacturers. Does this mean that going green will become a mainstay in the development of new vehicles for GM?

For those of us who have watched the "An Inconvenient Truth" or even track quarterly auto sales figures, it's very apparent that the Japanese have figured out what America wants - quality at $2.00 per gallon and gas savings at $4.00 per gallon. In his book, "The Long Emergency", James Kuntsler addresses the issue of hiccups (Gore does too). During 2008, we saw record prices per barrel and at the pump which is just a hiccup, but inevitably a permanent reality. So let's hope that GM is willing to build a greener future and welcome them to a newer cleaner world of automotive engineering. It will be painful, but is there another choice?