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Tiffany Green, DesignShare Advisor interviews Adrienne Baker, Producer of the Agenda for a Sustainable America conferences

March 13th, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Green Revolution is on fast forward with the passing of the stimulus package. The goal of this blog is educate myself about all things green and share this information with others especially as a new resident of the Atlanta Metro area. I am researching, networking and writing about Green entrepreneurs, green in the education sector, manufacturers, suppliers and vendors and the overall strategy for sustainability.

This interview with Adrienne Baker, Producer of the Agenda for a Sustainable America events highlights how large corporations have moved from wanting to know about case studies to overall strategies for sustainability.

Tiffany (T): Hello Adrienne, Thank you for allowing me to speak with you today from Vancouver Canada. I wanted to learn more about Green Power Conferences and the Agenda for a Sustainable America and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Green Industry. I am also interested in Green Schools because I am an Educational Designer of innovative learning environments.

Adrienne (A): I am looking at your blog now.

T: I put up articles in late 2008 then I got busy but now I want to make it more about my own personal journey in the Green World.

A: Great. I like your website. Tomorrow we are launching a new series of events that is the best thing we can talk about.

T: Absolutely. Also as I began networking at Green events and I started to see the same people and we were all asking the same question…where do we fit? What is our niche? How do we get in?

A: That’s the time we are in isn’t it?

T: Yes, especially with the economy the way it is in the states. Everything is on the table.

A: Yes

T: Everyone is attempting to find his or her niche. My first question is about you and how you got involved in this industry?

A: I was an editor of a financial publication called Investor Relations magazine and started doing some work chairing conferences for Green Power. I should also tell you that out of this office in Vancouver we only run a series of the events called the Agenda for a Sustainable America. This is the new series we are launching. It was previously called Corporate Climate Response. Green Power does events on renewables, biofuels etc.

So my background was an editor then I became very interested in how large corporations were beginning to look at the threat of global warming impacting their operations. Initially we began looking at how shareholders looked at that. That moved into a series of events called Corporate Climate Response that we have been running for four or five years now. And those events really focused on how companies responding to global warming.

We did those for four years and basically looked in depth at carbon management and climate response and we saw really that companies who wanted to be sustainable could not take a piecemeal approach. They have to look a very strategic view of long-term sustainability. They basically have to make it their DNA, if you will. So we are re-launching this series of events under the name, Agenda for a Sustainable America. It is really looking at how some companies have developed a sustainability strategy through the top down approach and are looking at things like anticipating future regulations, climate response, carbon management, energy efficiency, clean technologies, water management and supply chain issues in a systemic way and really trying to anticipate how they have to be proactive rather than reactive, let’s say.

We have a series of nine events in 2009 that are bringing together the corporate leaders in this area and other green innovators that are working with the companies to talk about how you can become strategic and systemic strategies for green, clean and profitable companies and how you can take things one step further. The reason is because these companies cannot look at these things separately any longer. They have to have a system for it.

T: And this impacts their bottom line directly.

A: It does, It does. A lot of companies recognize this and the anticipated carbon trade system.

T: When is that first event?

A: Our Sustainable Manufacturing Summit is on the 29-30th of April. Then the next event is called the Agenda for Sustainable America in Seattle, June 10-11. That is our first one. We are repeating that in Chicago in September, and Miami in November and New York in July. The website for this series is We are making it live tomorrow.

The exciting thing about the Sustainable Manufacturing Summit is that we have a lot of very big manufacturers coming along like Siemens, Kraft, Toshiba, US Steel, Pfizer, Owen Corning and Holender. They are going to talk very specifically about how they are building sustainability into their business as a strategy. We also have the CEO of McDonough and Braungart Chemistry who have developed the Cradle to Cradle methodology. He is going to give an interactive session introducing cradle to cradle and two of his companies, Herman Miller and Shaw Industries are coming along to talk about how they use this method. That’s quite interesting because their methods ends in zero waste and that is an incredibly challenging thing to do.

In Seattle in June we have had an incredible response for speakers such Microsoft, Starbucks, Kettle Foods, Boeing, Shorebank Pacific…a lot of strong names and high profile executives. Many of the speakers of CEOs and Presidents. That is fitting for that event because it is focused on strategy. A lot of our events in the past were focused on case studies about specific companies. This series, Agenda for a Sustainable America will incorporate that practical advise but it begins from the first day with a look at how you can build sustainability as a strategy. That is much different than looking at isolated examples of carbon management or energy efficiency. I have observed after going to these events over the years is that we attract speakers that head sustainability of the company and the delegates are their peers…They are the head of CSR, head of environment, etc. They often say to us that they want to hear about the strategy and we really want to know how they made this their strategy. That’s interesting in the US because up until now that has been entirely voluntary. You have some fascinating companies that have spear headed this change but like you said with this difficult economy the companies that have adopted this strategy realize there is an economic benefit to being sustainable and you have to take the long-term view of that. Even if there is a two-year payback time for an energy efficiency project for example there is still the motivation to pursue these strategies. I think it is a very exciting time.

T: That is exciting to hear that these big companies are now coming to the table because that will trickle down into other industries and small to midsize entrepreneurs who possibly supply those companies. That’s going to have a major impact on green industries and that growth sector.

A: Yes!

T: I was watching CSPAN when President Obama signed the stimulus package and there was a guy speaking who had a solar panel manufacturing company and he shared how his company has tripled over the last three years.

A: Oh wow!

T: He essentially hires a new employee each month and how the stimulus package would help him continue that growth so he would not have to lay anyone off. That is really optimistic. I try now not to watch the news because it is too depressing but if you read about green things and green industries it is so inspirational. Seeing schools doing it, cities doing it…This is a growth industry. And having a last name Green, I feel it is important for me.

A: [laughing] You are already well positioned.

T: I always joke that “I was Green before it was in”. I like to hear that those companies are now moving into strategy. It’s almost like reverse engineering not to have any waste. That is fantastic. I went to Germany and visited V/S International, a corporate and educational furniture manufacturing. They were very much using the same methodology. I was able to tour the factory and talk to the employees and that informed me a lot about the manufacturing process and all the stuff that comes from it. Stuff being a technical term [laugh]. You want to reduce stuff or use it. They are very exceptional at taking waste and recycling it into other furniture. I live in Clayton County close to the airport in Atlanta and it is a major transportation hub. I am always thinking about new business ventures so I thought that at least I could get informed and share that information. There are many people that also want to be informed so why not blog about it. I can create a calling around it or marketing around it. I can help you out and you can help me out. That is how it is done. Most people do not know where to start.

A: I will send you a link to our series homepage. If you want to fill in anything it is best to look there.

T: A last question would be about what has surprised you in the industry or what have you sense as a need that has been unfulfilled that could be an opportunity for small or mid-sized entrepreneurs?

A: That’s a great question. There is a big opportunity in energy efficiency. One of the things that US companies have been good about it the energy efficiency as a result of the crisis in the 70s. Now we are coming back to the realization that energy efficiency is essential and it is the first step in carbon management and decreasing dependency on foreign oil. So I think that discussion is coming back on how to cut energy use on a global scale especially if you have international operations. That discussion has been around a long time but it is interesting to see it come back when we are hearing it from the new administration and what companies are focusing on as a first step to becoming sustainable. I think that is a great evolution.

T: Yes. I was at the Georgia Charter School Conference and spoke with a school green cleaning company and she was sharing how many companies and schools are moving to “day cleaning” so they do not have to turn the lights on. I remember growing up in Chicago and going downtown in the evening and seeing all these skyscrapers lit up because of a few cleaning crews in the building. She told me that “day cleaning” can save upwards of 15% on annual energy costs. Now that’s amazing and simple to do. It is good that energy efficiency is coming full circle. I was worried when gas costs came back down that people would go back to their wasteful ways. But the new administration is keeping energy conservation on the forefront.

Well Adrienne, I appreciate you sharing this time with me and being the inaugural interview for the re-launch of Green Revolution.

A: Excellent. I am pleased to speak to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

T: Thanks and have a good day and stay warm.

A: Bye-Bye.

Ghana Green Schools

November 22nd, 2008

Though individual classroom energy usage is usually limited to a single light bulb and a fan, schools in Accra, Ghana are enthusiastically embracing the Alliance’s Green Schools program. Working with the Green Schools program and the Ministry of Education, the Energy Foundation of Ghana identified 18 teachers from five schools who formed the Pilot for the Green Schools/Energy and Environmental Clubs (EECO) program.
Beginning in September, five private primary schools in Accra started offering an energy/environment after-school club using Green School’s hands-on activities to teach children about the role of energy in their lives and the connection between energy and the environment. Because the schools themselves use so little energy, the focus will be on teaching students ways to reduce energy usage at home. The Alliance-sponsored Energy Foundation will be implementing the program and working to expand it to more schools.
The pilot program will form the basis for a national roll out of the program at a later date. It is envisaged that material on energy conservation techniques will be included in primary and middle school curriculum to ensure that primary and middle school students nationwide gain access to energy efficiency knowledge and information. The Alliance can offer extensive experience in developing these materials.

AIA Schools in a Flat World Conference

June 19th, 2008

AIA Schools in a Flat World Conference
September 10-13, 2008

Helsinki, Finland

Globalization now affects every industry, as journalist Thomas L. Friedman illustrated in the bestseller, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

We invite you to attend “Schools in a Flat World,” a conference that will explore educational design solutions ranging from a small Arctic high school to a 100,000-student university in India. This gathering will attract architects, administrators, and school building professionals from six continents, who will share their unique challenges and design solutions.

Helsinki and its architectural treasures will form a memorable backdrop for meeting, learning from, and networking with education-facility architects from Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Best of all, “Schools in a Flat World” will deliver a program packed with sights, sessions, and stories that you will find nowhere else. Guided tours will visit Helsinki schools that show how design and construction can improve and enhance the learning environment.

Visit for more information or to register.

DesignShare in the News

April 29th, 2008

2007 DesignShare Winners featured in Edutopia Magazine
Forward Thinking: 2007 DesignShare Awards Honor the Best in School Design
Three exemplary schools reveal the shape of things to come

2002 Awards Winner recognized by Education Innovator; a US Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement monthly newsletter

From Chris Hazleton @ Harbor City to Randy Fielding:
Our theater project was featured in Today’s issue of the Education Innovator; a US Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement monthly newsletter that communicates innovative practices in education. They showcased 2 projects from the Minnesota Grant which is flattering to both the people behind the projects and the uniqueness of the Minnesota grant and it’s administrators. So today schools and districts across the country are reading about our little school and this great theater project – pretty cool if you stop to think about it.

Thanks for all of your hard work and support.


The link:

Mango Lassi and Okonomiyaki for lunch!

February 5th, 2008

Serving up the new menu at Collingwood College
Shanaka Fernando (centre) helps staff at his new venture at Collingwood College. It’s an education process on both sides of the counter, he says. (Photo and caption source:

I found this article, from today’s Age, very exciting, since it combines two of the things I’m passionate about: great meals and humane schools.

The restaurant, Lentil as Anything (a play on the name of Australian band Mental as Anything), has three unique branches around Melbourne. One is in an old convent on the banks of the Yarra river, and that’s where I gathered my friends in 2006 for my birthday party. I also took Randy and Prakash to the branch in St Kilda when they were working here in Melbourne. I love this place!

So it’s great to see that they are setting up shop at Collingwood College, a K-12 school that was also the pioneering location for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Project.

Both of these initiatives provide authentic support to the universally lauded principles of student wellbeing, environmental sustainability, authentic learning and community connections. Impressive!

(Annalise Gehling)

Fabbing Pre-Fab for Schools

September 4th, 2007

The other day I was exploring the world of pre-fab homes…getting lost and distracted I started to search for what new innovative pre-fab designs are out there for schools because we are all too familiar with the regular-old-boring modular building. According to he Modular Building Institute, a trade association in Charlottesville, Virginia “there are about 350,000 portable classrooms, and that number grows by 20 percent annually.” ( I thought for sure that there must be more new and exciting pre-fab designs for schools out there.

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Awhile back, we posted a blog about Project Frog - “high performance environments engineered for learning” - designed by MKThink. The units are customizable while at the same time offering an “energy efficient” environmentally friendly structure that is quick to deploy onto any K-12 or higher-ed campus. The design offers plenty of natural light to penetrate the interior, high ceilings with acoustical tile, and “configurable window walls.” Project Frog is now being set up in some schools across the country — curious how the students and teachers will receive their new learning environments.

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Jennifer Siegal of Office of Mobile Design also has an unique approach to pre-fabbing our schools with her ECO LAB. This mobile unit, which was fabricated out of donated tracker trailer and from “cast-offs” from Hollywood film sets, travels to schools in the LA area with the intention of teaching kids about the importance of protecting our planet and saving our environment.

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Another pre-fab design by Siegal’s office was for The Country School in Valley Village, California. Sustainable components and healthy environments seem to be at the top of the list for this project, as well as the expansion of the learning environment to the outdoors. The plan for the school campus is to construct three steel-frame prefab buildings which will be surrounded by a vegetable garden, a frog pond, butterfly garden, plus an outdoor science lab and an outside theater space. The smaller building houses offices and the library. A 2400 sf building contains three classrooms, the language lab, lockers and toilet rooms. The 1930 sf building houses the science lab and art studio, which is open to the community after hours to serve as a multi-purpose room. The pre-fab structures will be composed of eco-friendly materials such as, “Expanko and bamboo flooring, biocomposite panel cabinetry and homasote wall cladding.”

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Jennifer Lamar, Contributing Designer

Pushing Beyond the Design of a Building

November 3rd, 2006

An Oregon (US) community seeks something bold as they move forward with the creation of true 21st century schools. Powerful vision, it seems:

“People tend to think about designing buildings based on what they already know,” said Ken Noah, the district’s superintendent. “I wanted us to think about serving students in 2025 and 2050 — the concept, goals and vision of a 21st-century high school.”

And for this community, it appears to be moving beyond the buiding itself:

While neighboring school districts are making the final push for support of Nov. 7 bond measures, the Gresham-Barlow School District is unveiling the first step in its 2008 bond campaign.

On Tuesday night, a committee of community members and district staff presented its vision of a new high school in Damascus. But, the recommendations had little to do with architecture, paint color and carpet choices.

So. What does a school that truly serves and engages students in 2025 and 2050 look like? And how do we answer that question in a way that combines the design with the mission?

Can Zero-Carbon Emission School Buildings Be A Reality?

November 3rd, 2006

Considering the rising attention given to “high-performance” school buildings and the use of LEED certification to validate innovative facility design in the education market, one can easily begin to conside what trends may lay on the next horizon line.

With that said, we wonder if the “2030 °Challenge” will catch fire in the educational facility design field:

That all new buildings and developments be designed to use 1/2 the fossil fuel energy they would typically consume (1/2 the country average for that building type).

That at a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area* be renovated annually to use 1/2 the amount of fossil fuel energy they are currently consuming (through design, purchase of renewable energy and/or the application of renewable technologies).

That the fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings be increased to:

  • 60% in 2010
  • 70% in 2015
  • 80% in 2020
  • 90% in 2025
  • Carbon-neutral by 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).
  • In the meantime, consider using this EnergyStar tool to look specifically at K-12 educational facilities.

    Want to learn more about the “2030 °Challenge”, contact Edward Mazria AIA, Architecture 2030 Founder

    Edward Mazria AIA, is a senior principal at Mazria Inc. Odems Dzurec an architecture and planning firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is author of The Passive Solar Energy Book, senior analyst for the Southwest Climate Council and adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. He speaks nationally and internationally on the subject of climate change and architecture.

    Thanks to Jessica Barth, current University of Texas @ Arlington School of Architecture graduate student, for mentioning to DesignShare how impressed she was by a recent presentation given by Ed on the subject.

    AIA Releases “Greening American Schools” Report

    November 1st, 2006

    Just learned today that the Capital E (along with the co-sponsorship of the AIA) has released a new report demonstrating the positive impact of “green” schools. Certainly worth the attention of all those invested in the further creation of sustainable, green, high-performance school facilities.


  • Building energy-efficient schools results in lower operating costs, improved test scores and enhanced student health.
  • Schools that are designed to be environmentally friendly would save an average of $100,000 each year – enough to hire two additional full-time teachers.
  • Case Studies:

    The report includes a detailed analysis of 30 green schools built in 10 states between 2001 and 2006, and demonstrates that the total financial benefits of green schools are 20 times greater than the initial cost, and include energy and water savings, and improved student health and test scores.

    As stated in the AIA press release, “With over $35 billion dollars projected to be spent in 2007 on K-12 construction, the conclusions of this report have far-reaching implications for future school design”:

    “This study underscores the enormous cost of poor design and the critical impact that good design and operation has on the quality of our children’s education,” said AIA President Kate Schwennsen, FAIA. “The findings indicate that there are tremendous benefits from energy-efficient school design, not only from an economic standpoint, but from increased student test scores and far healthier environments through improved indoor air quality.”

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