Living Heroes from Doo's crew receive Medals

Living Heroes from Doo’s crew receive Medals!

Living Building Challenge Heroes!

Peter and Lorraine Doo were both honored at the 2016 “unconference” of the Living Future Institute as Living Building Challenge Heroes (http://living-future.org/living-building-challenge/about/people/living-building-challenge-heroes) for their efforts in inspiring change in the way buildings are designed, built and operated. Their work on the Gaddy House in Maryland and the Charlotte Lovejoy Conservation Residence Hall in Florida,  both Living Building Challenge projects, have been opportunities to assist in exploring and finding creative solutions as these projects pursue Living Building Challenge certification. Read more

Harvard-Syracuse Demonstrate IAQ Improves Occupant Performance

Harvard-Syracuse Demonstrate IAQ Improves Occupant Performance

Where do you feel your best at work? Do you ever feel the need go for a walk outside to clear your head? If you answered those questions with, “I feel best in a room with fresh air” or “Yes, I enjoy getting out, the air helps me to think,” you are in lock step with researchers at Harvard University School of Public Health who recently issued a report confirming their findings that indoor air quality (IAQ) improves the performance of individuals in buildings.

In 2015, Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Syracuse University Center of Excellence issued a report on a double blind study providing results that indicate improved human performance measures among individuals placed in environments with better indoor air quality.

What is interesting about this study is the amount of control in the experiment’s protocols. The study included the creation of identical office environments with the ability to control air quality. Participants performed their normal work activities in these spaces. Air quality mimicked that in normal office conditions on both the lower and higher end of the spectrum. At the end of each day participants were subjected to a series of cognitive and performance tests. Neither the subjects nor the test administrators knew what air quality conditions had been provided for the day.

The results were dramatic. Cognitive performance of those who were exposed to better air quality was 60% greater than that of participants in the alternative environment!  When subjects were exposed to additional conditions simulating a higher ventilation rate, the cognitive scores were 101% higher.

Statistics such as 60% improvement and 101% improvement, when replicated over time, would give one cause to rethink the cost benefit of increased ventilation.  This enhancement is often rejected as a possible LEED credit to pursue because of its negative impact on energy performance.  While technology is providing solutions to the ventilation/energy balance initial costs and perceptions remain a factor in decision-making.  Given this study data, the formula for the cost benefit analysis when considering the potential impact on wellbeing, occupant performance and productivity, may bear a recalculation.

What of the building developer to whom direct benefits of occupant performance do not accrue? It would be unwise to advertise performance benefits of locating in such a building. A tenant whose productivity did not improve could justify a legal claim if a building developer advertised such benefits. Experiments and published results such as the Harvard/Syracuse study provide the evidence needed to make a case that is more than anecdotal. While a developer may not advertise that her building yields a more productive staff for its tenants, a tenant may seek a building with documented air quality with an understanding that such an environment could improve staff retention, worker satisfaction and performance. This could in turn improve occupancy rates, reduce vacancy durations, provide opportunities for higher rent or other benefits to building owners.

The implications of this report are significant. Its effect on the market is likely to be small for now. It is the first of many such studies that need to be done and whose results need to be broadcast. We encourage you to share this study and comment on this blog.

Lorraine Doo, LEED AP, is a partner at Doo Consulting and holds a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The firm has used its projects in a study on the relationship between green buildings and wellbeing. Contact us if interested in exploring the relationship between buildings and health.

Healthy Ground for a Healthy Environment

Healthy Ground for a Healthy Environment

Two articles on the benefits of cover crops to soil health crossed my desk this month. The simultaneity of these articles piqued my curiosity. One article, “A Revolution With Deep Roots in the Past,” was in the New York Times and the other, “Healthy Ground, Healthy Atmosphere,” was in Environmental Health Perspectives’, a National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences online publication.  The crux of these cover crop articles is that by Cover Cropmaintaining plant cover in fields intended for cash crops, farmers are able to rejuvenate the soil, prevent erosion, reduce fertilizer use, decrease the fuel consumption (by not having to till or fertilize), retain moisture, increase yields while also sequestering carbon, recharge the aquifer, and protect the watershed. Whew! The economic benefit is substantial. Mr. Rulon, a farmer in Indiana estimates net annual economic benefit from using cover crops is more than $69 per acre. Read more

Imagine Bowie,” an “Appreciative Inquiry

“Imagine Bowie,” an “Appreciative Inquiry”

Doo Consulting participated in an Appreciative Inquiry workshop, led by Kauser Rasvi, of UPD Consulting, one of our partners on the creation of a sustainability plan for the City of Bowie, Maryland. Appreciative Inquiry is a technique of questioning and exploration (inquiry) to uncover the best ideas and talents within an organization or entity to realize a common goal. The approach focuses on “what do we want?” and “What are our strengths?” (appreciative) rather than “What’s the problem that needs solving?” or “What are our weaknesses?” With nearly one hundred participants, Ms. Ravsi, assisted by Doo Consulting partners and staff, led the group in a full day workshop to “Imagine Bowie” as a more sustainable city in the future. Specific goals and tactics were developed during a “design” phase of the workshop. The products of the day are being used to develop the City’s sustainability plan

Doos New Year Innovation Blog

Doos New Year Innovation Blog

THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE RED FIRE MONKEY!  We all know that the monkey is a clever and playful animal who can be an effective problem solver but also a trickster.  Year of the monkeyAs we celebrate 2016’s Year of the Red Fire Monkey, there should be exuberance, entertainment and time for devoted entrepreneurs to carry on their innovative ways.  However, those looking for quick and easy solutions could get duped as some monkey spirits will be on the ball, and quick to have their fun and games.

Doo Consulting wishes all of its colleagues, clients and friends the very best in 2016. Though it is the year of the Fire Monkey, according to Chinese Five Elements Horoscopes, Monkey also contains Metal and Water. Metal is connected to gold. Water is connected to wisdom and danger. Therefore, we will deal with more financial events in the year of the Monkey. Metal is also connected to the Wind. That implies the status of events could change very quickly. Think twice before you leap when making changes for your finance, career, business or personal relationships in 2016. Your individual prospects for the year can be found here.

DOO’S NEWS

We want to thank everyone who is a part of our ever expanding network. Our portfolio grew in geographic and economic breadth. We returned to our consulting roots with the opportunity to work on the development of sustainability plans for the City of Bowie, Maryland, and the Broadmead Retirement Community. A new accreditation in the WELL Building Standard

Read more

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).
outdoors
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

Is our consumerism “Green-Washing” Out Earth Day? Not anymore…

Is our consumerism “Green-Washing” Out Earth Day? Not anymore…

By: Leyla Balimtas

When it comes to saving the environment, a single person can feel pretty powerless in making a change, but partnering with a group of people can make anyone feel like a lot is actually possible, even when everyone has not adopted the same opinion about conservation or environmental issues.

Earth day will be celebrating its 45th year in 2015. And over the years, it has come to represent a day to foster awareness and appreciation for environmental issues.

Earth day was inspired by a horrific oil spill in 1969, when US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin witnessed the accident when he visited site. Soon after, a bill was passed, designating April 22nd as a national day to “celebrate the earth.” At the time, Americans were driving huge cars that used leaded gas and allowing industries to belch out smoke and sludge with impunity. With the foundation of this national holiday, Earth Day quickly became an “environmental teach in” day that inspired a much needed response to environmental problems at a grassroots level. In fact, more than 20 million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated in that first Earth Day 45 years ago. While the US honors Earth Day in April, the United Nations picked up the cause in 1971, and started the first UN Earth Day on the equinox, which occurs in March.

The tenets of Earth Day are certainly not new when looking at simple examples, such as recycling and up cycling during the Great Depression. Before the 1960’s, re-use and re-purposing were practiced by necessity, and very effectively. As the economy improved, and manufacturing expanded, those “shiny new things” replaced the useful and functional jewels of the family hearth because of the status they provided, and Americans adopted a disposable economy.

 

Earth Day Blog Image 1

Ultimately, we are all enrolled in the same, “school of Life” and have discovered that there is no “away” where we can throw our “shiny things” when they are no longer shiny. There has in fact been no answer to the question of, “where exactly is away?” So Earth Day began to have an impact, along with other programs and emerging information.

Recycling is one small example of how Earth Day has changed behavior. For example, after Earth Day’s first year, 3,000 voluntary recycling centers were established in the US; after 10 years, more than 200 cities began operating municipal recycling programs. Besides this, there are hundreds of other examples and opportunities for individuals and groups. And all of these will make a difference. Want some ideas?  Start here:

Earth day is promoting its Billion Acts of Green® (BAG), the largest civic action movement in the world. Since they’ve already EXCEEDED the billion mark with over 1.12 billion actions to date, the new goal is 2 billion Acts of Green by April 22nd.

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Here are some things YOU can do:

  1. Just learn more about the environment. Earth Day is a good time to make a commitment to learning more about some aspect of the environment and what you can do to protect it. Borrow some library books (or an ebook or audio book) and read about something that you are curious about. Become a kid again and start asking questions:
    • Who are all the endangered species? Why are we running out of water if the ocean is so vast? What makes pollution anyway?!!
    • Discover a region of the earth you don’t know much about, such as the Arctic, the Galapagos Islands, the deserts, or the rainforests.
  2. Join a local group that is involved in activities working on issues related to the environment– like foraging, planting a community garden, cleaning a steam… find a Meet Up that is interesting in your area.
  3. Challenge yourself to “shop around the edges of the grocery store” – Buy as little as possible from the middle aisles, and avoid items that are sold in packages. Consider writing a letter to manufacturers and ask them to try to find more sustainable ways of packaging their items. Start a challenge or contest in your own company and see what happens. Blog about it. Try it at your local school.
  4. Take your drink container with you during the day; avoid disposable plates and cutlery. Challenge your co-workers to do the same.
  5. Recycle all the things you do use for the day or find other uses for things that you no longer use. Use a cloth bag for carrying things and recycle your plastic bags.
  6. Go through your home and find things that you have not used or worn for more than a year. Either make something with those items, or give them away.
  7. If you have children, and they have things they have not played with for more than a year, do the same thing with them. By giving their old toys and games to someone else – either a sibling who is younger, or to someone another person, children learn about giving to others and about reusing and recycling instead of throwing things away.
  8. Research product exchange communities in your area like Freecycle or other similar options.

If you want help getting a re-use/re-purpose or other social good program started in your company, contact our office at info@dooconsulting.net

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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.

csr

Businesses Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility

Businesses Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility

By: Leyla Balimtas

What is it and how does it play a role in business?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulatory principle where a business monitors itself and takes the moral, ethical, and philanthropic responsibilities for its effect on the environment and impact on social welfare. As a whole, an organization’s primary responsibility is to its stockholders. And to meet this responsibility, a company’s CSR goals and its business ethics must work together to ensure that the legal and discretionary responsibilities match the values and actions of the organization.

The overall nature and concept of CSR is relatively new, having only been in use since the 1960s. At this time, with the advent of the civil rights movement, consumerism, and environmentalism, society’s expectations of business has evolved. Many people, both inside and outside of the corporations look to those companies to internalize the full cycle of their operations, spearheading solutions to issues such as waste and pollution created by their operations. Society wants businesses to use their influence in the world and their human and financial capital to “make the world a better place.

Businesses, whether local or global, affect many lives from their supply chains to their customers and downstream through the disposal of their products. It is for this reason that so many companies and industries take their corporate social responsibilities seriously. For more information on this topic, go to HERE.