Every School Should Have A Garden

Grow Food Not Lawns - Every School Should Have a Garden

Love this graphic from Grow Food Not Lawns and it reminded me of a Miami Herald article I read earlier this year about Leewood K-8 Center public school in Miami.

Seventh-grade science teacher, Angela Holbrook, started the project with her class August 2012. They planted an organic food garden near their classroom, and students from all grade levels help with the tending and harvesting.

Holbrook taught her students how to irrigate plants by collecting rainwater in barrels and keep pests under control by bringing in ladybugs.

Fenced in using colorful wooden frames, twelve rectangular soil beds house the vegetables and fruits of the class’s labor – tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages, broccoli and several other leafy greens.

Produce from the garden is used in the school’s cafeteria or donated to the local food banks.

So if you agree that every school should have a garden similar to Miami’s Leewood K-8 Center, check out Grow Food Not Lawn’s Facebook page, and “like” the idea.

And if you know of another school in Miami-Dade that has its own food garden, send me an email or comment below. I would love to feature them in future blog posts.

Miami in the Top Ten US “Most Walkable” Cities

Walk Score BrickellThe City of Miami may have an overall Walk Score of 73 (which puts us in the “Top Ten Most Walkable” cities in the United States) but my little slice of the Magic City in the Central Business District scores a “Walker’s Paradise” rating of 92 while parts of the Brickell Financial District score a 94. What is your city’s Walk Score?



New Urbanism: America’s 10 Most Walkable Cities (via Green Building Elements)

You may know the best bars and restaurants in town, but what’s the ‘walkable’ rating of your city or closest metropolitan area to your home?  Aside from fresh air, exercise, and the ability to bump into new and old acquaintances, walking is beneficial to the environment.   80 Americans are…

Continue Reading

April is Water Conservation Month in Florida

According to the Miami-Dade County water conservation website,  “we use approximately 134 gallons of water per capita per day” in our county. In observance of Water Conservation Month, they ask for your pledge to reduce your water usage, and they are ready to help:

It’s so simple and beneficial to take easy steps to save water. From $50 rebates to yard evaluations and much more, the Miami-Dade Water Conservation Program offers valuable programs and tips during Water Conservation Month in April – and beyond!

Learn how to get a $50 rebate toward a new toilet
Attend the April 6 rain barrel workshop
Get a free landscape irrigation evaluation
See the winning posters in the 2013 Every Drop Counts Kids Poster Contest

For some rather unusual ways to reduce water use, check out this great infographic from Loch Ness Water Gardens:

Water Usage Infographic

 

2013 State of Our Schools Report from the Center for Green Schools at USGBC

U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2013 STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS

"2013 State of Our Schools" Report from the Center for Green Schools at USGBC Calls for Immediate Examination of America's School Facilities (via PR Newswire)

Download image Report includes foreword from former President Bill Clinton and highlights $271 billion deficit to bring school facilities up to working order WASHINGTON, March 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today released…

Making Solar Work in the Sunshine State! Broward County’s Go SOLARFest This Weekend

Broward Go SolarThis weekend Broward County, Florida, is hosting the “Go SOLARFest” at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center (1950 Eisenhower Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.)

The two-day event starts Friday at 7:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast and registration, then continues through Saturday. The event will be attended by Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; with a keynote address on “Building a National Solar Market” by Tom Tansy, Chairman of SunSpec Alliance and Program Manager, Solar 3.0.

Per the agenda, “Go SOLARFest will provide an open forum discussion of solar challenges, solutions, andrecommendations to advance solar regionally and statewide in the areas of permitting, financing, solar rights, zoning, and net metering and interconnection.”

For more information, download the Broward GoSOLARFestFlyer or visit Broward.org’s Go Solar Fest page.

Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles Now Available in 10 States

photo provided courtesy of Saginaw Future

I have been following the progress of solar shingles, including Dow’s POWERHOUSE line, for several years, so I was encouraged to read that Dow has expanded their availability into seven additional states. Solar shingles seems like a “no-brainer” to me – “Building Integrated Photovoltaics” (BIPV) roof shingles that mimic traditional roofing materials including the S-tile so popular here in Miami. The solar shingles must meet standards for both the photovoltaic industry as well as regional building codes. I suspect our hurricane building codes, “some of the strongest… codes in the world” according to Popular Mechanics, will make the Miami-Dade market a difficult one to enter, but I am looking forward to Dow and the others arriving sooner or later. We are, after all, located in the Sunshine State.



Expanded Availability Announced for DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles (via Green Building Elements)

Expansion includes East Coast markets, Louisiana, Michigan The Dow Chemical Company has released good news for solar shingle enthusiasts today. The company will expand availability of its solar shingle line, a residential roofing system that protects homes like standard shingles that contain embedded…

Continue Reading

Post-Katrina New Orleans Experiments With Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southeast

Back in early 2008, I wrote about Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” foundation.  “When Brad Pitt visited New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward two years after Hurricane Katrina, he was shocked by the lack of rebuilding progress in this historic, working class community. Many worried the plight of the neighborhood would be forgotten. In a bold move, Pitt committed to help rebuild in the hardest hit area of the city.” To date in New Orleans, “Make It Right” has built 87 of the planned 150 homes with green features such as no-VOC paints and flooring and ENERGY STAR® appliances. Many of the homes also have solar panels. Now, New Orleans is the location of another solar powered housing development experiement:


Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southwest Built In New Orleans(via Clean Technica)

  The St. Thomas Housing Project had been a somewhat rundown low-income housing project before Hurricane Katrina hit, known primarily for its high crime rate. But now, the area has become the focus of several government agencies working to revitalize it through sustainable and renewable technologies…

Continue Reading

An Evening at the Palms Hotel & Spa – USGBC Miami

This past Wednesday, I joined my fellow members of the US Green Building Council – Miami chapter – for “An Evening at the Palms Hotel & Spa”. Beginning the evening at the on-site Organic Chef’s Garden for a tour and tasting, we then convened in Queen Palm (one of nine meeting rooms available at the hotel) for the “Inspired by Nature” program. We ended with a tour of the hotel and spa.

The Palms, located at 3025 Collins Avenue on Miami Beach, was originally built in the 1960’s and purchased by Hans-Joachim and Ursula Krause in the early 1990’s, going through several name changes over the years. Still owned and operated by the Krause’s and their daughters, Nicola Meyer and Katja Janzon, the Palms underwent a 20 million dollar renovation in 2008 – 2009 that incorporated green features and a shift to green operational practices.

Their philosophy statement says, “Nature is what inspires everything we do at The Palms Hotel & Spa, from the décor to products & services offered to our core company values. Our commitment to preserving the environment and to care for the world we live is expressed in all elements of our guest experience, and beyond into the local community.” Tanja Morariu’s presentation illustrated how the philosophy is applied throughout the hotel.

Currently, 85% of the lighting has been retro-fitted to LED and they expect to have 95% completed by the end of 2013. They have also installed motion sensors for the lighting in administrative offices and other non-guest areas plus centralized lighting/heating efficiency controls. Next year, the east windows will be replaced with energy-saving engineered glass.

So far, one-third of their toilets are dual-flush and using grey water. The eco-friendly commodes have sinks on top of the tanks for hand washing. The used water then drains into the toilet tank for the next flush. The luxurious “rain” shower heads and faucets are low flow at 1.5 GPM. Guests also have the option to re-use their towels and linens during their stay, thereby conserving approximately 7 gallons of water plus electricity from extra laundering.

The hotel has recycling bins available throughout the hotel, including in all guests rooms, allowing for cardboard, plastic, paper and metal to be recycled. Batteries and light bulbs are kept out of the landfills; and the hotel allows employees to bring these types of items from home for proper disposal through the hotel.

The staff cafeteria uses no disposable items. When an employee is hired, they are given their own beverage bottle (which are also for sale in the gift shop). This initiative alone saves the hotel about $10,000 per year in addition to being great for the environment.

Hotel staff uses Green Seal cleaning supplies, no aerosol at all, and 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy ink when available. Even the pens provided in the meeting room were partly made of recycled cardboard. Dry cleaning and laundry services are all green certified as well.

Attesting to their commitment to community as well as the environment, the Palms donates “mildly used” soaps, shampoos, towels, linens and paper items to Camillus House and http://www.cleantheworld.org/
The Palms also maintains the stretch of beach in front of the hotel through the Adopt-A-Beach program sponsored by the City of Miami Beach and ECOMB (Environmental Coalition of Miami & the Beaches), and participates in coastal clean-up projects throughout the year. http://ecomb.org/programs/litter-prevention/adopt-a-beach-program/

In 2011, the Palms Hotel & Spa won the Miami Chamber of Commerce Sustainable South Florida Award in the Green Practices Category. They have also been recognized as one of only 17 Miami Beach hotels to receive Florida’s Green Lodging Program designation and have achieved a 3-key rating through the Canadian-based International Green Key Eco-Rating Program. http://www.greenkeyglobal.com/default.asp

Tomorrow: The Palms Essensia Restaurant, Chef Julie Frans and her wonderful organic garden