What’s the Buzz about Buildings being WELL

What’s the Buzz about Buildings being WELL™?

WELL Buildings are suddenly the rage among designers! Once upon a time, you could barely get LEED from their lips.  So this is good news in some ways; and a little odd in other ways.  Are you part of the movement to incorporate health and well being in your design and development decisions? Are you getting questions from your clients and tenants and potential partners about wellness initiatives? Engagement in personal health issues is popular with the millennial and the “Z” generations, and the boomers are interested in fitness, nutrition, food quality, and transparency (show me).
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This is a nation of amazing contradictions, paradoxes and ironies. In the United States, there is an extreme hyper consciousness about allergies to foods and food groups that did not exist 40 years ago – for example, Read more

What do Buildings have to do with Corporate Social Responsibility

What do Buildings have to do with Corporate Social Responsibility?

By: Lorraine Doo

Not too long ago, folks were asking what buildings had to do with health. Following that question, and over the past five years, more architects, building owners, developers and manufacturers have come to understand that some of the materials or the process of manufacturing the materials that make up the building, its pipes, paints, flooring, adhesives, and furnishings are comprised of chemicals and compounds that are harmful to humans, the environment or both. Turned out that the stuff IN the building could make people sick. There WAS a connection. A small group of people continued to demand data, and to demand transparency from manufacturers. As data became available from the pioneer manufacturers willing to share the connection became clearer.   The demand for materials that do not contain such common but harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, asbestos, hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), lead, mercury, bisphenol, halogenated flame retardants (HFRs), Phthalates, Polyvinyl chloride, and arsenic (in wood) is increasing and the tipping point for change is close.

So what does social responsibility have to do with buildings?

The answer is the same. Everything is connected.

Organizations that have increased their sustainability IQ’s have gained a positive return on their investments from more energy and water efficient systems. Building occupants, whether employers, employees, residents or patients have benefited from sustainable building strategies such as more effective air ventilation controls, and low VOC materials. As sustainable practices were occurring, whether based on good business sense or a concern for employees or for the environment, some organizations were also embedding social responsibility into their organizational operations – doing good things for the local community, for charitable causes, or social issues. Those companies with the greatest success where embedding that social responsibility directly into their mission statements and charters as permanent, on going programs for a charity or environmental cause.

So what does that have to do with a building?

Companies function and operate in buildings, which are embedded in communities, from which the employees are hired, and where myriad issues exist or are of a shared concern. Buildings manufacture, produce, consume and extrude things. They use energy, are responsible for carbon output, greenhouse gas, waste, and possibly toxic substances. Socially responsible companies, within those buildings, actively contribute to, and participate in the communities in which they operate. One feature that distinguishes socially responsible corporations, similar to reporting material content, is transparency in reporting sustainability performance and impact on the environment from the work their company performs – both successes and challenges. Authenticity and honesty are critical; and improvements can be reported next year, proving that the company is being managed well and has a good core of committed employees.

What are some good examples of socially responsible companies? There are thousands across the globe – but here are just a few you may know. If you know one we haven’t listed, leave a comment about that company and tell us what you admire about them. We’ll begin a list here and watch the diversity of activities.

  1. Patagonia – Supports sustainable agriculture and other food related programs. Allows purchasers to track their jacket on line to the sheep who “donated” the wool; participates in the 1% for the planet…. And much much more!
  2. Southwest Airlines – Up-cycles used leather seat coverings from the Evolve retrofit into new products to support local communities in several African nations. This pilot will create products that provide access to employment, skills, training and livelihood.  
  3. Tom’s Shoesbegan with the “one for one” campaign. Now a multi-varied program of global programs of services from water to eye glasses to assisted savings. For example, more than 780 million people don’t have access to safe water. TOMS Roasting Co. purchases support water systems in seven countries – in the same regions where they source their coffee beans.
  4. SurveyMonkey Instead of offering cash and prizes to survey takers, Survey Monkey donates 50 cents per survey completion to the taker’s charity of choice. In 2013, the company donated more than $1 million to organizations such as the Humane Society, Boys & Girls Club of America, and Teach for America.
  5. H&M – Takes any used clothing and repurposes it to make new clothes in their factories.

How does your building stack up?  Want help? Contact us today.

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Happy Chinese New Year - Doo Consulting Blog

Happy Chinese New Year 2014 – Year of the Wooden Horse

January 31, 2014 welcomes the Chinese New Year of the Wooden Horse.

2014 is the Year of the Wooden Horse. Horse is a symbol of traveling, as well a sign of speedy success because it can give individuals a ride to their destination.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.33.33 PMThe Chinese have five alchemical elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Horse is associated with fire; in fact horse is the strongest fire animal among the twelve zodiac signs. Wood helps fire burn and last longer. Therefore, businesses involving wood, fire and earth will generally do well this year.

Keeping up in 2014

Each year, Doo Consulting identifies a few ideas or products that we feel have the potential to make a big difference in human collaboration or resource conservation. This year, we not only introduce some new “hot picks,” we provide updates on the progress of our selections from previous years.  We are very pleased to write that several of our selections are making the difference we had hoped they would!

Virtual ChoirScreen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.27.38 PM

At Doo Consulting, we continue to be interested in virtual collaborations. The world is better when we work together. Technology is allowing us to collaborate virtually to create in ways that were not possible previously. What I have found most successfully demonstrated on the internet is music (see playingforchange). However, I believe that even greater collaborations are possible for the creation of higher performing and more restorative communities. The creation of communities has always been collaborative and many of you are already engaged in this process. But virtual work allows us to collaborate with subject matter experts globally.  Let us know how the virtual workplace is expanding and enhancing your design collaborations. In the meantime, enjoy the virtual choir of Eric Whitacre and  Lux Aurumque.

New Products

The  “JUST” Label:  Showing your Equity Leg

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.43.26 PMThe three legs of the sustainability stool  are Ecology/Economy/Equity but “Equity” seldom gets the attention of the other two legs. “JUST” labels attempt to  change this and use the power of transparency and market forces for greater social change.  The “JUST” program elevates the discussion about social justice issues and has the potential to change policies and practices in thousands of organizations around the world.

Earth Tub

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.48.23 PMIn nature, there is no such thing as waste.  Everything has a use, is used up or consumed.  Earth Tub is a tool to help owners reduce their waste streams and create valuable mulch or soil in the process.  Want to go zero-waste? We can provide assistance in evaluating the economic benefit of large scale composting.

3D Printing

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.56.41 PMWhile not a product per se, these 3D printers are revolutionizing design, manufacturing and even medical procedures! Head to our Pinterest page to see what is going on in this new world and let us know what you’re doing with a 3D printer!

 

Updates on Past Recommendations

 Here are a few updates on products we have presented in the past.

Nest Thermostat

This company has sold over one million of these intelligent thermostats in the last two years. The company recently unveiled its new Smoke/CO2 Monitor.  In 2013, the company was purchased by Google for $3.2 billion!

Savenia Labs

Creator of the Savenia Energy Label for small appliances, this company has gone on to expand its energy reporting to include most energy consuming products in the home including appliances and light bulbs. They can now provide a Savenia Home Energy Rating based on comparative residential energy use data. This is useful for real estate brokers trying to value the energy efficiency features of residential properties.

Declare Label (for materials and products)

Based on the requirements in the latest updates to the LEED® (V4) and Green Globes Rating systems, Environmental Product Declarations are one compliance path to achieving Material and Indoor Environmental Quality points.  Pay attention as this label gains traction and encourage  manufacturers of your favorite products to get their products listed.

FoodPool

Doo Consulting participated in FoodPool West Towson for the 2013 growing season.  The concept of a FoodPool is to gather the excess harvest of home gardens (too many squash?) and deliver these fresh vegetables to food pantries for distribution to other families. In 2013, FoodPool West Towson contributed over 100 pounds of fresh produce to the Assistance Center of Towson Churches (ACTC) and looks forward to expanding its contribution in 2014! Want to know more? Visit FoodPool’s Facebook Page.

Please contact us at info@dooconsulting.net for additional information on any of these topics!