Earth Day '09

Earth Day '09

April 22nd is here again and that means it is Earth Day around the world. As part of Bloggers Unite, our fair blog has decided to take a look at sustainability and provide a voice in the global debate over going green by focusing on something in which we have experience.

Previously, we asked our readers in our sidebar poll whether the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED initiative was a good measure of overall sustainability. Our poll had mixed results with most respondents agreeing with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) assessment program. A full half of respondents however believe that either the initiative is not a comprehensive set of metrics or that it was too early to tell its success. To more fully understand the reasoning behind our poll, one needs to know the what, where and why of LEED and its implications.

Without going into a detailed history of the program, LEED is a set of standards and metrics by which the sustainability of building materials, systems and strategies can be measured. These are then given a point value rating and are given a certification level based on the total number of points obtained. Currently these are certified, silver, gold and platinum. We featured a further breakdown of the concepts and point system in this earlier post.

Beyond this point system underlies a more utopian goal of forming a collective of groups that include manufacturers, designers, scientists, and law-makers that all have sustainability as one of their main focuses of concern. As a side note it is refreshing to see that many developers and contractors have also joined this non-profit organization. It is our humble opinion that these key groups as well as complacent governmental bodies that have helped contribute to the destruction of much of the natural environment, especially in the United States.

Although USGBC certifies many manufacturers and their products, it also dictates a methodology of design to which all members should strive to achieve if they wish their designs to be certified. The interesting thing about this six division point process is that a lot of the concepts prescribed are very common sense approaches to site and building design. In fact, one could argue that many of these were rediscovered early in the twentieth century and then were forgotten for almost four decades. And now they have reemerged at the beginning of the twenty first century similar to the means and methods reintroduced during the Renaissance.

As the USGBC LEED enters its third iteration (v3) the exam and certification process has become more refined and less open to interpretation. If one has aspirations to become a LEED Accredited Professional then they need to approach the exam and its contents with the same respect that is given to the Architects Registration Exam for example. It should also be mentioned that another goal of the latest version is to attempt to unify codes between the USGBC and similar organizations in both Canada and Europe. This is still in its early stages.

Although the verdict is still out on LEED and its overall effectiveness, it certainly is a step in the right direction. In a time when energy use and natural resource usage (notwithstanding the global warming debate) is at a premium and the global economy seems to be entrenched in a recession going green only makes sense. As a prelude to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, we offer this small insight and contribution to the overall global effort for better awareness.

USGBC site
earthdaynetwork link

Our Fave 20 Design Blogs

Earlier this year we set out to promote our favorite Top 10 Urbanism Blogs that we feature in our sidebars. In the spirit of our first review, our second centers on Design blogs. So what where our metrics for selection? The blogs are ranked in the order in which our editor finds them to be most relevant to design, their visual appeal, and by the frequency in which they are updated. In the event of a tie, we selected our favorite reads first. Some of the blogs will be easily recognizable, while others may be a bit more obscure but well worth your exploration. Of course, this is a highly subjective list and we welcome any comments or suggestions for blogs that are not featured here or elsewhere on our site.

01:: Design Observer

This blog is our overall favorite Design blog. The design is clean, the editing is superlative and the content is always enticing.

02:: DesignNotes

This is one of our overall favorite blogs for design, content, navigation and features.

03:: swissmiss

Another one of our top destinations for design folly is this fine blog. Let us face it the Swiss can flat out design.

04:: designspotter

A daily photo blog that offers plenty of eye candy for your design desires.

05:: David Report blog

This is perhaps the best written blog in our survey. The opinions and discourse are always worth the read.

06:: Design Sojourn

Yet another well-written eye-catching design that is well worth visiting.

07:: Le territoire des sens

Always an interesting French blog that always seems to capture our attention.

08:: incli(NATION)

This is a straight-forward and concise blog featuring Architecture and Design among other things.

09:: dezeen

Well-rounded and robust another must have bookmark in your search of design.


10:: Design Milk

If you are into eye catching blogs with a diverse focus on design, then you have arrived.

11:: Core 77 Design Blog

Core 77 is a visually stunning blog whose main focus is on industrial design.

12:: CoolBoom

This is an interesting Architecture + Design blog featuring a well-crafted dark theme and ease of navigation.

13:: we make money not art

This selection is a quirky, uniquely designed blog featuring all facets of design.

14:: things magazine

This intriguing blog is crafty in its writing and always makes us wonder why did not come up with the idea first. Tangential thinking never looked so good.

15:: Cool Hunting

Number fifteen features a well-designed blog that features all aspects of design.

16:: Curbly

Curbly is an easy to navigate, well-edited blog featuring commentary and insight into design.

17:: designeast.eu

If it is happening in Central or Eastern Europe and it is design related it is featured here.

18:: edgargonzalez.com

An interesting Spanish blog that features a wide-range of design posts.

19:: designboom

A daily zine featuring photos, links and a plethora of other design related items for one to peruse.

20:: dezain.net

Do not let the economy of the design fool you. The content is top-notch and the links are always worth a look.

Top 10 Urbanism Blogs

It is the beginning of 2008 and thus, time to review a few of our favorite sites as featured in our sidebars. Our first review centers around Urbanism blogs. The blogs are ranked in the order in which our editor finds them to be most relevant to the topic, by their visual appeal, and finally by the frequency in which they are updated. Of course this is a highly subjective selection and we welcome any comments or suggestions for blogs that we may not have featured here or elsewhere on our site.

01:: Where

“A blog about urban places, placemaking, and the concept of “place”.” Clearly one of the most comprehensive blogs regarding urbanism, the site features images, articles, reviews and a myriad of other writings pertaining to the subject. As the author indicates on the site’s homepage, “The professional planning and architecture communities are responsible for stewarding the most complicated — and, in terms of day-to-day impact — the most socially relevant area of the arts. But the importance of the work done in these fields is often overlooked by the public.”

Chilean blog regarding urbanism with a South American focus. The blog is a highly organized, visually stunning with an emphasis on quality writing as well as imagery and supporting diagrams.

Spanish blog featuring excellent photography, articles and presentations of both the built and un-built urban environment.

Recently revamped, this blog authored by Kazys Varnelis (Director of Network Architecture Lab, Columbia University) provides critical, in-depth analysis of issues both relating to and shaping today’s urbanism. The quality of the writing is among the best featured here.

Produced by Washington, DC native Richard Layman the blog in the author’s words, “…focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work–historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy–along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.” The site features articles on numerous happenings from both the DC metro area as well other urban regions in the United States.

A blog devoted to exposing, exploring and providing solutions to many of the housing crises found around our planet. The breathtaking photographs found here are sure to provoke reactions that hopefully will lead to better living conditions for those affected. Alternatively, many interesting and thoughtful designs are showcased as solutions to the overall problem.

Official blog for Architecture for Humanity: Minnesota featuring excellent articles, photographs and news articles pertaining to their organization. A must read for those familar with this AFH and their works.

A frequently visited site that features daily top photos, artworks, inventions, etc. that are both directly and indirectly related to urbanism. The tagline really says it all: urban design, culture, travel, architecture and alternative art.

Another mash-up style blog similar to Web Urbanist featuring photos, articles and “top” categories for your perusal and commentary.

Urban-ism is a blog that not only features photographs, videos and articles on urbanism, but also gives architectural criticism on projects predominately found in Canada.

Architect…what's in a word?

This week we had a contributor send this interesting article to us from archrecord2. There has been much discussion in recent years over the use of the word, “Architect”. Many states currently reserve the right to use this title only when one becomes accredited. However, there seems to be no way of distinguishing a person who has recently graduated from design school from, say, someone with 5+ years of experience in the field who is sitting for board examination. Instead everyone is allowed to use the broad term, “Intern” to describe their current professional status. Perhaps a case recently decided in Colorado will assist as a catalyst for more discourse on this subject. Follow the link below for more information.