News Items: Green Building Design, National Green Pages

A green building design initiative in Massachusetts and the annual publication of the National Green Pages are the major news items covered in this edition of an ongoing feature.

| October/November 1994

The following news items were drawn from multiple sources. 

Green Building Design

A Massachusetts project promises to be just the thing that environmentally conscious people long to see: a building that creates more energy than it uses.

The project is called the Northeast Sustainability Center (NSC) and is designed to be a "living laboratory" and education center that focuses on demonstrating the state of the art in renewable energy production, efficient energy use, and environmental design. In addition to being a net producer of energy, the Center will also serve as home for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), a regional energy association.

All waste materials — including organic wastes — will be reused, recycled, or, in some cases, composted and put back into the environmental cycle. Some waste material will be converted into fertilizer that can be used to grow plants that help purify the air inside and outside the building. The Center will also accommodate nonpolluting transportation by including a garage designed for electric vehicles. And finally, gray water (e.g., waste water from the kitchen) will be recycled to be used in greenhouse planters, further reducing fresh water waste.

Air and water leaving the building will be even cleaner than the air and water that enters the building. Air samples are likely to be analyzed before and after their contact with the building for ground level ozone, air pollutants, and other measures to determine air quality. In addition, spokesperson Jack Groh said ambient air entering the building will be met by a concentration of green plants as another method of purification. The overall goal for the building is to improve the quality of the surrounding environment.

Several study groups will be used to explore a variety of possible power sources, but a hybrid, solar/propane system seems the most likely contender. If the sources used create a net gain of energy, it is likely that the excess power will be sold back or donated to the local utility.

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