March: Pi Day π

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan

Pi Day was first explained to me in my high school calculus class. My teacher Ms. Hall was the sweetest little old lady who was we saw as a surrogate grandmother; she ran the student knitting club and the junior prom committee, and always found a way to make math fun. Pi Day comes from the first several digits of the never-ending Greek letter used to measure a circle, and so 3.14159 transformed into 3/14 and Pi Day was born. Every year, Ms. Hall would order for several dozen apple pies, load up her little Volvo wagon, and drive very slowly and carefully to school on March 14 to inspire a bunch of girls with math.

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Healthy Planet: Materials & the Environment

Materials Matter is a five-session series from the AIA Seattle chapter that delivers comprehensive, high-level knowledge and strategies for assessing and selecting healthy, sustainable materials. I had the opportunity to attend the first run of the newly-developed series with many of the local industry leaders who helped create the innovative course materials. AIA Seattle is currently hosting the series for a second time.

The series encompasses everything tied to building materials and how they impact our lives: human health, the tools and data available for assessing and prioritizing materials, and strategies for integrating informed decision-making into projects and practice. Join me as I discover exactly why Materials Matter.

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Getting to Net Zero with AIA: Change Your Mind

Our world is changing, and with 82% of the population living in cities, how we design and build our cities should be changing too. At this point, we need drastic measures that reverse the effects of years of planetary neglect. The Living Building Challenge, developed by the International Living Future Institute, is a rigorous set of building, material and operations criteria that result in beautiful, contemporary net zero energy projects. Only five buildings worldwide have achieved certification so far, but over 190 additional projects are in some sort of design, building or operation phase. And Seattle is pioneering net zero energy in a new way.

Typical commercial buildings of the same size have an Energy Use Intensity of 92, while the Bullitt Center is designed to have only 16 EUI. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord
Most large commercial buildings have an Energy Use Intensity of 92, while the Bullitt Center is designed to have only 16 EUI. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord

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Hurtling into the Future, Faster Than a Speeding Bullitt

If anyone is qualified to be the president of the super-sustainable Bullitt Foundation, it’s Denis Hayes. On April 22, 1970, he organized the first Earth Day, an environmental protection event that is now celebrated in over 190 countries. Hayes was also the head of the Solar Energy Research Institution during the Carter administration, was named Time Magazine’s Hero of the Planet in 1999, and has received a national Jefferson Awards Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Hayes has been with the Bullitt Foundation since 1992.

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Biomimicry: what we can learn from the designs of evolution

Biomimicry provides an environmentally-friendly solution to the energy crisis. Derived from the Latin bios meaning organic life, and mimesis meaning to imitate, biomimicry is the study of gaining design inspiration from natural processes to solve human problems. The act of evolution over time ensures that everything that is alive and thriving today, from plant functions to the hydrodynamic shape of fish, is successful and imaginative enough to adapt through millions of years of testing. The goal of the Biomimicry Institute in Montana is to “nurture and grow a global community of people who are learning from, emulating, and conserving life’s genius to create a healthier, more sustainable planet.”

The "lotus effect" allows water to roll easily off the leaves to feed the plant's roots.
The “lotus effect” allows water to roll easily off the leaves to feed the plant’s roots.

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