I always keep my eye open for items of sustainability interest when I travel. I must be naturally attuned to such things. I have recently become aware of a very large amount of “sustainable interest” destinations in my home metro area of Philadelphia. In support of the upcoming Greenbuild conference in November, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC) has organized about 40-50 tours conferees can take to see sustainability and green building in action in the Delaware Valley. No matter what your interest, there is something on the tour sheet that you can relate to.
I’ve lived in the Philadelphia area (post college) for many years. I thought I knew the area fairly well. And in one sense, I do. But in another sense, especially when it comes to more recent developments in the green and sustainable building space, I have a lot to learn. I am certainly not alone–many of the well-known places I love to go to also have a parallel sustainable component that is not as well known.
For example, I happen to like zoos. Philadelphia has a good one–but little did I know that the new Children’s Zoo is LEED certified (and that doesn’t include the “tree trails” for the animals). Philadelphia also has many wonderful gardens, such as the world-renowned Longwood Gardens. When I have been there, I have noticed that the corridor to the renovated restrooms in the Conservatory is basically a wall full of plants. This wall is actually one of the largest “living walls” in the North America. A smaller “living wall” is in one of the new science buildings at Drexel University.
In case I want to fly somewhere from Philadelphia, I can take the largest airline by market share–US Airways. Or, I can imagine the experience by taking the tour of the LEED Silver US Airways Ground Service Facility at the Philadelphia International Airport. In addition to being a hub for US Airways, Philadelphia is also a hub for medical services. Green building is represented in this sector, also. Across the river in Camden, the Cooper University Hospital Cancer Center has ample sustainable design techniques as well as a healing garden, demonstrating how green building can help improve health outcomes.
When I did some renovations in my house a few years ago, my outcomes were trying to make the house more comfortable and save money by using less energy. However, there was only so much I could do with a house several decades old. Houses and apartments built more recently have benefitted from numerous advancements in green design. Some of the Greenbuild tours demonstrate some of these current techniques in “green housing”. Even better, these are being applied in housing developments of different demographics in diverse parts of Philadelphia.
Diversity is really the best part of the Greenbuild tours. The complete list of tours documents the wide array of applications where sustainable building practices can be applied. That is the whole point–no matter the application, or building type, there is probably a way to design and build it in a relatively environmentally friendly manner.
I have been a volunteer with the DVGBC and tangentially with the Greenbuild effort as well. However, I am writing this post not in my capacity as a volunteer, but because I have a deep interest in how sustainability is being applied in many sectors (not just building). I was just really impressed with the types of tours being offered as part of the upcoming Greenbuild conference in November. I wish I could go on all of them.
Greenbuild 2013 Tours