Sep 27, 2008

Et Tu, Palo Alto?

I was feeling a little righteous when I castigated Carlsbad for the gross mismanagement of water there, but my own town is no better. Here's the scene at a corporate site at Foothill/Hillview at 2:50pm today.


Sep 26, 2008

Live from West Coast Green

Anyone remotely connected with anything remotely connected to green building is at the West Coast Green conference and showcase this weekend in San Jose. In case you can't be there in person — or, even if you can, in case you can't be everywhere at once there — you have an intrepid proxy in Green To-Do, who is live-blogging from the conference with their usual panache. Check it out, one way or another, and let me know what you think!

Sep 25, 2008

Right on Cue

Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple'In case you missed it, autumn is officially here. Some tree species seem to get the memo sooner than others; Callery pear, Liquidambar, Chinese pistachio and one of my favorites, American ash (the aptly named 'Autumn Purple' cultivar is pictured here) are already showing their true colors.

Among shrubs, you'll start seeing autumn colors soon on heavenly bamboo and viburnums; and some grasses such as 'Haense Herms' switchgrass are equally brilliant.

I'm not saying these are necessarily the best plants for fall color, just some of the earliest. If you like autumn to be a season in your garden, not just a page in your calendar, they're worth a look.

What are some of your fall favorites?

Sep 6, 2008

Drought? What Drought?

From the desert of Carslbad, Calif., which is worse:
A) The pointless fountain that cools and refreshes no one
B) The expanse of lawn upon which only gardeners set foot
C) The incessant runoff of said fountain into city sewers
D) The city government that allows A, B and C
E) All of the above

Sep 4, 2008

Drafting Green

Dramatization by professional actor on closed set.I've been known to use a few pencils in my line of work, and Slate has a nice analysis of whether mechanical or old-fashioned wooden ("manual"?) pencils are more sustainable. (Note that the article is written with a bent toward forgetful 12-year-olds; although I am slightly older, I am no less forgetful.)

Pencils are one thing; but what really disturbs me is the volume of paper my industry consumes. From the drafting vellum (aka "trace," "flimsy," and "bumwad") we begin our concepts on, to the infinite number of preliminary designs and construction plan documents we ultimately print for our clientele and contractors, to the orders we fax back and forth with our plant nurseries, to the proposals and invoices and business cards and other administratia that are an integral part of our work, we murder an obscene number of trees for folks who supposedly value trees.

(Automatic A+ to anyone who calculates, including proofs, how many trees must die for a 24" x 36" sheet of bond paper.)

Sure, I try to do my part: I've migrated, reluctantly, to CAD drafting and 3D modeling; I render my drawings at smaller sizes and enlarge them digitally, thereby using less paper (and less marker); I spec recycled paper for my plan documents; and I email PDFs whenever I can instead of printing hard copies of proofs, prints, proposals and the like. But the fact remains, we're a paper-intensive business. Any suggestions for how I can reduce my use?