Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

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I’ve been blogging for several months now and I’m glad to have recieved the feedback I have.  I’ve enjoyed the experince and for that reason I’ve decided to take blogging to another level.  I’ll be self hosting my blog and that means you’ll see a lot more creativity in the design, functionality and layout of the new blog.

Check it out:


January 22, 2010 Posted by | 1, A Thought, Ads, Agriculture, Art, Blogging, Books, Brochure, Business, Business Cards, Business Development, Business Model, Carbon Credits, Clean Energy, Co-op, Community Economic Development (CED), Computer Networking, Construction, Creativity, Data Recovery, Definitions, Earth, Economics, Education, Electric Cars, Email, Entrepreneurship, Family, Finance, Geothermal, Government, Grants, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, Human Resources, Information Technology (I.T.), Inspiration, Investment, LEED, Life, Marketing, Micro Credit, Not for Profit, Open Source, Packaging, PDA's, Philanthropy, Photography, Politics, Power Piont, Products, Project Management, Quotes, Sales, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Services, Social Enterprise, Social Media, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development, Taxes, Venture Capital, Videos, War, Waste, Water, Website | Leave a comment

Portable Work Station

These LEED (Leader in Energy & Environmental Design) and Built Green Building Certifications are the in thing when it comes to new development.   This means that those who ware developing news sustainable and homes and commercial units are bring more work with them to the job site.   That’s why I think this is great product and a great idea.


Is It Transportable? From Louis Vuitton to the Finley Plan Station, we are intrigued by transportable designs. They usually take up a lot less space, and are well suited to a more mobile lifestyle. They often display clever use of materials and hardware, and ingenious design ideas. And, like the Finley Plan Station, they don't always cost the earth. More: Less is More: Fold Away Wall Desks Room in a Box: You Can Take it With You Credit: Finley Products

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Construction, Creativity, Geothermal, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, LEED, Packaging, Products | Leave a comment

Green Roofs are changing Architecture and Planning

Here is a great look at what is possible in the field of green roofs.

Many thanks and CREDIT to: Erik Christensen via Wikipedia, Credit: Alyson Hurt in Wikipedia, Credit: Vancouver Convention Centre, Credit: Green, Credit: Lloyd Alter, Toronto, Credit: Tree Hugger, Credit: Scott Torrance, Credit: Credit CPG Consultants via Greensource, Credit: Fred Ballerini (project biologist, green roof design and installation) Architect: Carver + Schicketanz, via Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Green roofs are not new; they have been used for thousands of years because they helped insulate, thrived in the sun instead of rotting, and other than the increased structure, they were cheap as, well, the dirt that they were planted in. Then flat roofs came in and were covered in tar and asphalt, which needed a lot of maintenance. Engineers and architects didn’t worry much about them; nobody could see them. Roofs became parking lots for equipme

Sometimes they developed naturally and organically, like this rooftop garden in lower Manhattan that like Topsy, just grew. And grew, and eventually evolved from a New York roof garden into what they now call a Green Roof.


They are showing up everywhere, even when they don't quite fit the architectural idiom. The new green roof at the Vancouver Convention Centre is big and on its own a lovely thing. But an earlier phase of the Convention Centre, designed by Canadian great Eberhard Zeidler, was designed to be light, airy, and to create a dramatic profile reminiscent of sails. How does a green roof compare?


Oddball green roofs are also beginning to show up in oddball locations, like this one that looks like a putting green on the top deck of a cruise ship. It got special recognition this year at the Green Roof Awards for Excellence, which started its explantion with: Most people find the idea of a garden or lawn on a 15-storey building quite unusual. Now imagine a grassy playing field, 15-storeys up on the deck of an ocean-going cruise-ship.


Lisa Rapoport had an equally difficult challenge with the roof of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; here were the fanciest tables in the high end restaurant on in the Daniel Liebskind addition, overlooking an ugly black tar roof with barely any structural capacity to hold the roof. She designed a complex and elegant sliver of a green roof that weighs barely three pounds per square foot, but will definitely improve the view.


Scott Torrance has even designed what might be called a temporary green roof; the tenant wanted one, but the landlord wanted to be sure it would or could go away. So it is all in planters and trays, sitting on top of the existing roof.


It didn't take long before green roofs started seriously influencing the architecture itself. Renzo Piano's museum, located in the middle of a park, is covered with glorious hills of green roof that are among its most dramatic features. The green roof defines the building; No architect would have designed it that way if it was asphalt or EPDM. More at Jaymi's tour: A Trip to the California Academy of Sciences (Slideshow)


When one of the Giants of Architecture, Kenzo Tange, designs your university and puts in a 200 acre park as the "green lungs" of the campus, what do you do? The designer,Hoong Be Lok of CPG decided to make a "non-building building" that would allow it build on the central green space "without taking away from it." It is a lovely green roof, but nobody can call it a "non-building building", it is as real as any other building on campus unless you work for Google Maps. Would Kenzo Tange have approved? Or are green roofs being used to put a new green sheen on projects that might otherwise have been more problematic to get approved? More: With Green Roof, Nanyang University School of Art Tries to Disappear


Green roofs were originally thought of as a technology that reduces heat island effect, helped manage stormwater and improved air quality. Perhaps to everyone's surprise, they have turned into planning tools to help put buildings where no building has gone before, are radically changing the architectural form of buildings, the way architects present buildings (see the rash of aerial perspectives-who ever showed rooftops before?) and the respective roles of architects and landscape architects. Like this 2009 award winner, a guest house and garage 200 yards away from the Pacific ocean, they can help produce great architecture and they can help hide bad or inappropriately sited architecture. Let's just be vigilant to ensure that they are not misused and brought into disrepute by using them as excuses to put buildings in places they shouldn't be, just because they are green. More: Are Green Roofs the New Mirrored Glass?

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Business, Business Model, Clean Energy, Community Economic Development (CED), Construction, Creativity, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, LEED, Products, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lights without Light Pollution

I consider my self an amateur astronomer,  so I was pleseantly surprised when I read this in a newsletter from my local electricty supplier, BC Hydro.  (and Yes I’m susbscribed to the online newsletters of my Gas & Electricty suppliers, doesn’t it just make sense?)  Enjoy the article & some pictures I found:

Light Polution

Light Polution STreet Lights

Astronomers big on Power Smart’s battle against light pollution

Rob Klovance

Detail of a photo of the Pelican Nebula taken by John McDonald through a telescope at Astronomy Hill near Victoria in 2007. (W.J. McDonald photo)

It took a trip to Saltspring Island for amateur astronomer John McDonald’s grandkids from Vancouver to see the milky way for the first time. But for McDonald, it’s the story of a group of visiting Tokyo schoolkids that hammers home the allure of the elusive dark sky.

“These kids were staying at a fairly dark place up island,” says McDonald, a retiree who lives in Victoria. “Someone took them out at night to show them the milky way… and they couldn’t’ get them to go back in.

“These kids had never seen a star except the sun.”

McDonald and other B.C. star-gazers couldn’t be happier to hear that BC Hydro Power Smart has launched a campaign to fight light pollution that includes rebates on flat lens streetlight products. To them, the need is significant and the timing is perfect – the United Nations has declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy, an initiative that coincides with the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of the telescope.

It’s not just about dark skies

And if you’re thinking that an astronomer’s battle against light pollution is just a tad self-serving, think again. Before we start talking about the stars, McDonald has already dealt with a laundry list of light pollution costs – wasted energy, wasted money, dangerous glare for drivers and detrimental effects on wildlife, including birds and fish.

“I think most of us are very keenly aware of the fact we’re using up energy, and that there’s a cost to it,” says McDonald, fresh off a trip to Costa Rica in which he shot a mind-blowing time-lapse video of the sky throughout the night. “And the amount of energy that is wasted in lighting up the bottoms of clouds and sending light off into space to do nothing is a considerable expense. It’s billions of dollars in North America.”

Our ‘addiction’  to light

Most of us think that the brighter the outdoor lighting, the better. McDonald thinks that attitude is a byproduct of growing up in an age here in B.C. where “hydro power has been basically a free service”. He speaks of us being addicted to light while largely ignoring the costs of that addiction.

In 1996, at the request of the US Congress, the National Institute of Justice conducted a landmark assessment of crime and violence in the United States. The study found little research to support the idea of “brighter-is-safer”, and even suggested that in some circumstances poorly designed illumination might actually increase personal vulnerability.

“There’s nothing worse than having somebody with motion security lighting,” says another astronomer, Paul Greenhalgh of Abbotsford. “To me it’s not security at all, it’s illumination. The day that a streetlight walks into court and testifies that this guy did what he did – that he stole that car – is the day I’ll eat my telescope.”

A billion bucks in wasted energy

Inefficient and excessive night lighting causes significant loss of energy globally. In North America, the energy wasted in illuminating the sky is estimated at a billion dollars. Good, clean outdoor lighting improves visibility, safety, and a sense of security, while minimizing energy use, operating costs, and ugly, dazzling glare.

There are three types of light pollution:

  • Light trespass, which occurs when light crosses property lines. Poor outdoor lighting shines onto neighbours’ properties and into bedroom windows, reducing privacy, hindering sleep, and giving the area an unattractive look.
  • Glare, which comes from an overly bright source of light compared to background lighting levels. Glare  is light that beams directly from a lamp into your eye. It serves no purpose and hampers the vision of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. If you can see the bright lamp from a distance, it’s a bad light. With a good light, you see lit ground instead of the dazzling lamp.
  • Sky glow, which spills upward from urbanized areas and blocks the view of the stars

If we were to think of lamps as taps and leaking light rays as drops of water, we would never tolerate it. But, we seldom think about the impact of light pollution.

Reducing light pollution has a variety of benefits, including energy savings and helping eliminate light exposure that disrupts sleep cycles, causes fatigue and strains the immune system.

What we can do to helpIllustration shows full cutoff streetlamp

Greenhalgh’s Fraser Valley Astronomers Society has successfully lobbied the City of Abbotsford to apply a new policy to streetlighting. All new streetlamps in the city will be fitted with full cutoff lighting, which all but eliminates light not central to the task of lighting the street. And all existing lamps will be retrofitted with full cutoffs as part of their ongoing maintainence cycle.

Power Smart is out to remind people that we all have the power to help reduce light pollution and save energy and money, both with the lighting choices we make at home and the choices we make at our businesses.

Here’s a short list of things we can do:

  • Assess your requirements. Ask yourself if the lighting is really needed. If so, determine what area has to be lit, how much illumination is needed, and when is the lighting required.
  • Adopt “part-night lighting” by turning off non-essential lights after midnight. You save energy and money.
  • Install timers or motion sensors to turn your security lighting on only when needed. You save energy and money.
  • Adjust your security and outdoor lights so that they do not trespass into your neighbours’ house. Casting light onto adjacent areas is a waste of energy
  • Direct light where it is needed. Use lights that shield the lamp and direct the light down rather than out and away.
  • Avoid glare. A luminaire that emits a concentrated beam of light offers better visibility than one that shines light in all directions. In certain cases, glare can compromise safety.
  • Choose the most efficient lamps. Certain types of lamps consume less energy than others with the same light output. Choose lamps with a high lamp efficacy such as CFLs.
  • Choose the right luminaire. Light directed towards the sky does not improve night vision.
  • Choose luminaires that have a flat lens and a shield that completely shades the upper surface of the lamp or are classified as cut off and full cutoff by IESNA (Illumination Engineering Society of North America). The lamps sit back further in these luminaires causing the light to be cast down rather than out to the side. Therefore light cannot escape above 90 degrees horizontal plane. You can even install the lights under balconies and eaves.

How BC Hydro is fighting light pollution

BC Hydro is doing its part to reduce light pollution and help its customers save energy and money. Some of BC Hydro’s initiatives that help customers reduce light pollution and save energy include:

  • In-store instant discounts on ENERGY STAR light fixtures and ENERGY STAR Specialty CFL lamps. These lamps use up to 75% less energy than regular incandescent lamps.
    Mail in rebates for the purchase of ENERGY STAR CFL lamps.
  • Funding for studies to determine how municipalities can use adaptive street lighting to reduce street lighting levels without impacting safety. This will help municipalities dim their street lights by up to 50% during low traffic periods.
  • Incentives for business customers to install lighting controls such as timers and occupancy sensors to turn of lights when lighting is not required.
  • Incentives for municipalities and businesses to install ornamental streetlights with high efficiency lamps with flat lenses. The fully-shielded flat-lens lamps do an equally good job of illuminating the road by directing the light to where it is needed without sending light up into the sky or out into your eyes. The ground and roadway will be well illuminated. And, because no light is wasted, a lower wattage lamp can be used to illuminate the desired area.
  • Technical and financial assistance to customers who plan to reduce their lighting energy consumption by re-designing their lighting and de-lamping to reduce over illumination.
  • Lighting design tools and financial incentives for developers and builders of new buildings.
  • Funding for energy managers who target energy efficiency measures at customers’ facilities.
  • Training and development opportunities on energy conservation for businesses and their employees.

Source: BC Hydro

Other Cool Links:

Our Vanishing Night (National Geographic article)

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Vancouver)

International Astronomy Day, HR MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver

The Sky Tonight (Diagram of constellations in current evening sky, Vancouver)

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Art, Business, Business Development, Clean Energy, Community Economic Development (CED), Construction, Creativity, Earth, Education, Family, Geothermal, Government, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, Human Resources, Inspiration, LEED, Life, Philanthropy, Products, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turning my Shed into a Green Roof?

Green Roof Garden Shed, Raleigh, NCI’m fortuanate enough right now to basiclly have forest in my backyard.  I have four beautiful huge trees that are about 125 Feet Tall.   I get my fix of fresh air everyday… But what about going one step further and chaning my shed into a green roof?  It’s just a crazy thought, and might have to be done if I ever move to a place where all the homes in the neighbourhood are the exact same… (That day may come, who knows?)

But here is a link that can perhaps inspire someone to do it now?

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Green Roofs | , | Leave a comment

Green Roof on Chicago City Hall

It was 2000/ 2001 and the this project caught my eye.  The city of Chicago wanted to put a garden on top of there city hall building.

So the next couple of posts regarding green roofs are dedicated the citizen and public servants that started thinking outside of the box.   It was Mayor Richard M. Daley and the City of Chicago who began construction of a 38,800 square foot (total roof area) semi-extensive greenroof in April 2000. It was completed at the end of 2001 at a cost $2.5 million, funded by a settlement with ComEd.

Here are some Before and After Photos.

Project Name: Chicago City Hall
Year: 2001
Owner: City of Chicago, Dept of Environment
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Building Type: Municipal/Government
Greenroof Type: Semi-Extensive, Test/Research
Greenroof System: Single Source Provider
Roof Size: 20300 sq.ft.
Roof Slope: 1.5%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment
Submitted by: Linda S. Velazquez

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Greenroof System: Roofscapes, Inc.
Roofscapes Contractor: Church Landscape
Landscape Architect: Conservation Design Forum
Architect: McDonough + Partners
Project Engineer: Roy F. Weston, Inc.
General Contractor: Bennett and Brosseau Roofing
Waterproofing: Sarnafil


July 30, 2009 Posted by | Government, Green Roofs, Inspiration, Sustainability | , | Leave a comment