Jan 23, 2010

Brown Bag Event Wrap Up

The Brown Bag event on January 20, 2010 was a resounding success. The event was held at Elliott Bay Books in historic Pioneer Square on a blustery Wednesday night. Over twenty five people were in attendance in the underground reading room of the expansive book store and the staff had to bring in extra chairs to accommodate all the participants.

The event was put on by a partnership of Sustainable Seattle's STARS program and Elliott Bay Books. The topic of discussion with author Jacqueline Powers was Transitioning to Green.

The book is all about making changes as home owners and to some extent renters to make the places we live more sustainable and green. Ms. Powers kept repeating the need to be "Green and Sustainable," numerous times as she sees the green movement as only the beginning. We cannot simply lower our amount of waste, but we must also gain some material benefit as well. People will do the right thing more often if they get something tangible in return.

Ms. Powers is an Interior Designer and General Contractor who was a member of the United States Green Building Council creators of the LEED certification awards. She talked about how as an interior designer she did not have the control necessary to insure that the materials being used in the homes were sustainable or from verifiable lands of origin. She realized that in order to be sure that the materials actually had the properties they claimed, she would have to be able to check the authenticity of said materials.

She launched into a review of her book Transitioning to Green with a caveat towards knowing where your building materials originate. One of the main problems that people have when they are remodelling is not knowing the origin of the materials. She suggested calling the manufacturers and requesting the certificates of authenticity especially for wood. Wood as a resource is going to be the most used material and the origin of the wood used in construction is one of the many reasons for deforestation of the tropical rain forest. It is important to make sure the wood is from the United States as it is from plantations that did not erase the carbon dumping rain forest to put in that extra porch.

The audience had a chance to ask questions and most were about different materials she would recommend for various projects. One man asked about insulation and the response was unexpected, "Fiberglass, spray soy, caster bean foam and shredded blue jeans." The follow up questions about the use of former linens as insulation was expected and Ms. Powers went on to elaborate that shredded blue jeans are recycled material and useful for closing up the inevitable gaps when using traditional fiber glass insulation.

After the event was over Ms. Powers stayed on to chat and answer more informal questions and sign copies of her book, which she had for sale in a neat stack to her right. Many people stayed after small talking and networking and the evaluations of the event were positive.

Our next event is the first annual Environmental Film Festival on February 11, 2010. Be sure to mark your calendars for this mind expanding event.

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