Archive for the ‘Resource Links’ Category

Academic software

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

My free 30-day trial of Autodesk Revit ran out before I got through the training book, so I put it aside and didn’t think much about it for a couple of weeks. But today I was given a task in Revit in my new job and discovered, after meeting for an hour with the Revit trainer, that I actually know quite a bit about the program from those few weeks of fiddling with the training manual and the trial version. Hooray! That, of course, inspired me to purchase a one-year student license so I can finish up the training book.

For those of you who are students or educators, you can get the academic version of Revit at a number of on-line academic software vendors. This is the full legitimate program – not a “light” program and not bootlegged. With Autodesk, the only difference between the student version and the full version is that the student version prints “produced by an Autodesk educational product” around the perimeter of drawings.

The academic software vendors sell all sorts of programs at great discounts. The Autodesk programs, for example, are about 1/10th the price of the regular versions for a perpetual student license and about half that for a one-year license. I got my student one-year license for about $160; I’ve heard that the non-student program costs around $4,000. I bought a perpetual license for Adobe Creative Suite last year for $300 something (contains full versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Go-Live, and Image Ready).

Here are some vendors of academic software. I have used some, but not all of them. Search for the program you need and you may find more vendors.

Resources: Office furnishings

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Manufacturers of casegoods, computer furniture, conference tables, desks, credenzas, ergonomic seating, furniture systems, guest seating, files & storage, lounge seating, tables, stacking chairs, and training tables:

Resources: Architectural glass

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

Vendors of architectural glass:

Resources: Acoustical ceilings

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Manufacturers of acoustical ceilings:

Resources: Building product directories

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Here are links to websites with a lot of info on different construction materials and their manufacturers:

Resources: Architectural hardware

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

Architectural hardware:

LEED and GreenGlobes

Monday, August 21st, 2006

The tide seems to be turning for sustainable building. Government projects require it, private clients are increasingly demanding it, and the popular press is spreading the word (see USAToday, CNN, SF Chronicle). Discussion continues, however, as to how best to encourage green building and assess the sustainability of projects.

The most-used system is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System®, a “voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings,” developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Here is how the USGBC describes the program:

LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building through a comprehensive system offering project certification, professional accreditation, training and practical resources.

The USGBC has developed rating systems for new construction, existing building operations, commercial interiors, core and shell projects, homes, and neighborhood development. Standards for retail are in development. Projects that accumulate a certain number of points under the LEED standards can apply for LEED certification.

Some believe that LEED is too expensive, too cumbersome, and unfairly favors certain industries over others. Take a look at Auden Schendler and Randy Udall’s November 2005 article in Grist Magazine entitled LEED is Broken: Let’s Fix It.

In response, alternative rating systems for green building are springing up. The Green Building Initiative‘s Green Globes program is an example. Originating in Canada, the system is billed as “an interactive, flexible and affordable approach to environmental design” and includes an “assessment protocol, rating system and guide for integrating environmentally friendly design into commercial buildings.” Here’s how GBI describes its rating system:

The Green Globes™ system is questionnaire-driven. At each stage of the design process, users are walked through a logical sequence of questions that guide their next steps and provide guidance for integrating important elements of sustainability.

Builders complete the questionnaires to collect points for their projects. Points are verified by a third party before a final Green Globes rating is granted. Ratings are based on the percentage of points achieved, not on a point count as with LEED. Proponents of Green Globes say the system is cheaper, more flexible, and easier to manage.

Green Globes is not without its critics, however – some aver that it is less credible than LEED (for one perspective, see Forest Ethic‘s article Green Buildings Standards Factsheet: Green Globes’ Lack of Environmental Credibility), so the controversy continues. Here is a factsheet from the Wood Promotion Network comparing some aspects of the two standards.

Whether LEED or Green Globes is the better standard is beyond the scope of this post, but having standards and rating systems in place plays a big part in bringing sustainability into the public eye. Competing standards may be confusing, but in the long run the competition will force all standards to be improved – and that is a good thing for the environment.

A few of the many other websites that help builders and designers understand and meet green standards:

Paper countertops

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

I recently visited an exhibit called The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The exhibit’s goal is to demonstrate “the emerging collaboration between stylish architecture, interior design, and environmental responsibility” through hands-on exploration of a full-size house containing sustainable products and materials, case histories and models of sustainably-built structures, and material samples. The exhibit helped me understand that good looking products are now readily available that give homeowners “the power to set a new course for a more sustainable future.” You don’t have to be a designer to incorporate sustainable products into your house – it’s a matter of knowledge and choice.

One product that caught my eye was the kitchen and bathroom countertops, which were made of paper, but looked and felt like stone. This composite material is currently produced primarily by two manufacturers, Richlite and Kliptech Composites, using slightly different processes and ingredients. Both manufacturers claim the material is stain resistant, scratch resistant, heat resistant, sanitary, strong, and durable. Prices seem to be roughly equivalent to solid-surface engineered products – in the mid-range, cheaper than stone, but pricier than laminates.

Richlite samples Paperstone installation

The material is not new, however. According to Richlite, paper composites have been “used for decades by the aerospace industry for tooling, the marine industry for fiberglass reinforcement and the action sports industry for outdoor skate ramp surfaces.”

Here is how the Environmental Home Center, an on-line source for sustainable home building products, describes the manufacturing process for Kliptech’s product, Paperstone:

Paperstone has pushed the envelope to develop a lower toxic countertop using recycled materials. Instead of using a phenolic resin, they use a 100% water-based resin that acts as a binding agent for the paper in the product. Paperstone impregnates paper water based based resin, heats and dries it, and then presses and again heats it to yield uniform sheets. Original PaperStone is made from a minimum 50% post-consumer recycled paper, while PaperStone Certified is made from a 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

Richlite, another manufacturer of the product, states:

Richlite® is made primarily of paper purchased from managed forests throughout North America. The paper is treated with resin then pressed and baked to create solid sheets.

I’m encouraged to know that choices like this are becoming more available and better known. Though it will take some time for kitchen and bath designers and retailers, contractors, and homeowners to become familiar with their green choices, I think the trend is toward sustainability. The National Building Museum exhibit is a great way for people to see this product, and the others featured in the exhibit, in a full-size installation. Perhaps if more people learn that green products are now every bit as beautiful and functional as less environmentally-friendly alternatives, there will be greater demand and more innovation.

If I ever have a chance to remodel my kitchen, I’ll know what to do.

Links and resources:

Resources: Sustainable hardwoods

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Links to websites that pertain to sustainable forestry and hardwoods in North America:


  • Canadian Sustainable Forestry Certification Coalition. The goal of this organization is “to promote the use and acceptance of internationally recognized sustainable forest management certification standards in Canada in order for Canadian producers to continually move towards sustainable forest management, secure a sustainable supply of raw material, and to ensure marketplace acceptance of Canadian forest products.”
  • Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC “sets forth principles, criteria, and standards that span economic, social, and environmental concerns. The FSC standards represent the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes.” The FSC certifies forests and forest products and has a logo program for identification. For a list of companies in the US with chain-of-custody certificates, click here.
  • Rainforest Alliance‘s SmartWood certification program.
  • Roundtable on Sustainable Forests. “The Roundtable is an open and inclusive process committed to the goal of sustainable forest management (SFM) on public and private lands in the United States.” The Roundtable has implemented criteria and indicators reflecting current forest conditions which are meant to serve as a baseline for assessing future progress toward sustainability.
  • Sustainable Forest Initiative. The SFI “is a comprehensive system of principles, objectives and performance measures developed by professional foresters, conservationists and scientists . . . that combines the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the long-term protection of wildlife, plants, soil and water quality.” The SFI creates standards for participation and principals of sustainability, and has a labeling program for participants, retailers, manufacturers, and publishers.
  • US Department of Agriculture Forest Service Sustainable Development whitepaper.

General information

  • Ancient Forest Initiative. The AFI “facilitates landscape-level forest conservation projects in northern California and internationally.”
  • Forest Certification Watch. FCW is an “independent news provider” that is engaged in “providing decision makers with the latest relevant news and helping them navigating through the complexities of all recent developments,” including “sustainable forestry, public and corporate forest policy, forest certification, illegal logging, responsible procurement, corporate social responsibility, carbon forestry, bio-energy and related matters.”
  • Forest Directory contains links to all aspects of the forestry industry, including forest product certification and sustainability links.
  • Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Research, education, publications.
  • GreenBiz. An “information resource on how to align environmental responsibility with business success.” Sustainable forestry section identifies players and provides links.
  • Hardwood Forestry Fund. The Fund is “dedicated to establishing sustainable hardwood forests” through a tree planting program that promotes “hardwood timber growth, management, environmental education, and wise use of our nation’s renewable forest resources.”
  • Institute for Sustainable Forestry. The Institute “promotes forest management that contributes to the long-term ecological and economic well being of forest-based communities” with particular emphasis on “forest and watershed stewardship, community economic development, and sustainable forestry certification support.”
  • Southern Center for Sustainable Forests. SCSF “provides innovative research and practical applications for enhancing sustainable forest management on industrial and nonindustrial private forest land in the South. . . . ranging from sustainable production of wood fiber to extensive management of nonindustrial private forest land to the broad management of forested landscapes for non-market values.”
  • Sustainable Forests Partnership. “The Sustainable Forests Partnership’s mission is to document and promote innovation in sustaining forests and communities and assists others to integrate this innovation into policy and practice.” Consortium of universities provides research, education, and extension services.
  • Sustainable Hardwoods Network. The Sustainable Hardwoods Network “consists of locally-owned wood products manufacturers, contractors, retailers, and non-profit organizations sharing a commitment to ecologically sustainable forest practices that support the long-term social and economic well-being of our north coast communities.” Site contains a business directory.
  • Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UN General Assembly, Rio de Janeiro, 1992. Sets forth “principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.”
  • Virginia Tech, Moving Toward Sustainable Forestry: Strategies for Forest Landowners. Handbook for foresters.
  • World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development. Recent report with recommendations and some maps.


  • Forest Stewardship Council’s list of companies in the US with chain-of-custody certificates.
  • EcoTimber. “A complete line of ecologically sound flooring.” FSC certified, reclaimed, bamboo.
  • Green Mountain Woodworks (Oregon). “Sustainably produced solid wood flooring.”
  • Natural Home Products. Sustainable flooring imported from Denmark.
  • American Inlays. Eucalyptus flooring.

Other countries have similar organizations. See the comment to my post on sustainable retailers for one.

Resources: Outdoor lighting

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Light what you need, not your neighbors or the sky. Lighting your neighbor’s house is a nuisance; lighting the sky wastes energy and creates light pollution. Read my post on light pollution, then choose your outdoor lighting carefully.

The resources cited in this post have not been vetted – they contain fixtures or advice that create light pollution, but you should be able to find non-polluting fixtures here too.

Your local cities, counties, or states may have regulations that govern outdoor lighting. Be aware of them.

Sources for outdoor lighting fixtures

Articles & information on outdoor lighting

International Dark Sky Association

Design Review Guide: Outdoor Lighting

Designing and Installing an Outdoor Lighting System

How to Buy an Outdoor Lighting System

Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting, Sam Satterwhite and Spike Carlson

Learn about Outdoor Lighting