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Are your products within 500 miles of your LEED project?


We have recently found some great ways to measure a LEED Projects distance a manufacture's location.

The first, lets you produce a map based on your project's location, you can customize the distance so you could also use it for the Density & Development 1/4 mile credit.You can also export the radius to Google Earth!

Second, will tell you the distance between 2 cities as a bird flies, ie Sarasota, FL & Birmingham, AL.

Google Earth with radius shown

Green Build 2011: day 3, Thursday

 green build 2011
Started the day today at a session called Beyond LEED. Jason McLennan talked about the living building challenge. The LBC has about 100 registered projects now. The simplicity of the LBC is one of its strengths. Jason made a good point: LBC makes LEED seem reasonable. Tom Paladino pointed out there are about 300,000 words now in all of the LEED reference guides. (there are about 500,000 words in the tax laws). Maybe LEED has become a bit too heavy handed? AND we currently need both system to move forward as fast as we can. We need transparency, rigor, simplicity, clarity and a streamlined certification system. We need to do more, faster. Another good question was raised: should LEED be helping to make better practitioners instead of better buildings, in order to have a bigger impact more quickly? Bob Berkebile reminded us of an ancient indian saying "we will see it when we believe it". (as opposed to what we hear all the time- I'll believe it when I see it.). All of us in the USGBC have been and still are trying to affect change in the built environment. LEED has changed the market for sure. Maybe change is coming no matter what, and we are just going to be the ones most prepared for the changes. The planet is operating at at least 25% over it's capacity. That will not continue. It cannot. I think it was Thomas Freidman who told us on Tuesday- nature is just chemistry and physics. It is always going to do what chemistry and physics do, and it will always have the last word. From Toronto, Michael

Green Build 2011 Day 2

The crowds has arrived at Green build now. Wednesday was a busy day. My first session today was on affordable housing and how to hold a design competition to generated new ideas. The projects were for Habitat for Humanity in Ohio. The program could be replicated in Sarasota. The Sarasota Housing Authority is contemplating buying some new lots. A partnership with the AIA and the USGBC branch, could help the Sarasota Housing Authority come up with new cost effective designs for the new lots with emphasis on energy and water conservation and IEQ. My second session was on Biophilic Design. Too much to go into here, but the idea is to enhance one connection to nature through great building design. At 4 PM, I got an update on the Living Building Challenge. There are now 3 fully certified LBC projects that have completed there performance period and achieved certification. 2 more have several petals. There are about 100 LBC registered projects so far. The evening was a blast! Thomas Freidman gave an awesome and challenging address. More on that later. And Maroon 5 put on a great concert to end the evening. USGBC knows how to throw a party, and make you think at the same time. From Toronto, Michael

Green Build 2011 day 1

The USGBC 10th annual Green Build convention started today in Toronto with the International Summit and chapter leaders from around the county gathering for the the Chapter Forum. This is my 10th straight year to attend Green Build, since it all began in Austin, TX with about 2500. The closing plenary of the international summit wrapped up with representatives from many different countries from all over the planet giving a short update on their recent green building accomplishments. There was even a call for a consistent world wide green building standard. The trade show exhibit hall opened tonight and we just got a little taste of all the new products and ideas that are out there. It was great to visit the Interface booth, and see my good friend George Bandy there. There was definitely something missing there, with the passing of Ray Anderson a few months ago. You could always run into Ray at Green Build's past, and he would always have time to chat for awhile. The main conference and education sessions start on Wednesday. Goodnight from Toronto. Michael
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Design challenge: Creating a facility that symbolizes Hope

cancer support

The Cancer Support Community (formerly known as The Wellness Community) wanted a new facility that would be a place of healing and a beacon of Hope to those affected by cancer.  How does architecture convey a sense of Hope to the buildings user?

The design solution for the 11,000 SF facility was to create two structures connected together by a large arch that creates a covered courtyard.  The prominent arch stretching across the facility serves as an inspiring design element but also offers a compelling story of history and hope.  Known as the “Bridge of Hope”, the arch connects the 2 pavilions and is a tangible testament of hope to all who enter.  The abstract form allows for interpretation about what the symbol represents to each individual.   The arch is a traditional architectural design element signifying strength and permanence.  The shape of this particular arch is much like a rainbow in the landscape.  The rainbow is a timeless symbol of hope (think Noah). Visitors gain an empowering sense of comfort from the structural strength when walking beneath the arch.  The arch is supported by 8 pillars that are old Florida hard wood Pine tree trunks, from trees that were several hundred years old and were originally harvested over 100 years ago when Florida was first harvested for its timber.  During transport down Florida’s rivers, logs would frequently be lost along the way and sink to the bottom of the Suwannee River.  This environment actually preserved the timber until it could be reclaimed recently for this project.  These tree trunks were stripped of their bark, but left a bit rugged and scared, in their natural state.  They stand at the entry and in the courtyard as if they were old friends, there to provide a since of comfort and longevity.

The arch structure above the tree trunk columns is constructed of laminate wood beams and tongue-and-groove decking, both of which are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood.

The Bridge of Hope clearly defines the main entry of the facility so users are comfortably orientated when they arrive at the facility.  While the arch for does dominate the image of the facility, the rest of the building is scaled down to be welcoming and easily approachable.  It is more of a residential scale with simple one-story forms and familiar, simple pitched-roof shapes.  The project is designed to avoid any sort of medical or institutional feel and is instead full of friendly warm materials and spaces to provide the user a peaceful and comfortable environment that reminds them of home.

The facility sits in the natural landscape adjacent to a wetland preserve.  The “Bridge of Hope” stands as a symbol for all who work in and visit the Cancer Support Community.


This article appears in SRQ magazine’s March 2011 issue titled “Design Dossier”

Function of the building: Healing Center to deliver optimum care in the areas of psychological and social support to people affected by cancer – those with the disease as well as their loved ones and caregivers.  

Written by: Michael Carlson, LEED AP, Carlson Studio Architecture


State of Florida cheats residents out of Energy Star Rebates


I am writing today regarding the State of Florida’s recent action concerning the Florida Energy Star HVAC rebate.  The rebate was to be in effect from 8/30/10-12/31/10, and provide a rebate of $1500, and be funded with 14.9 million dollars.

We now know that on Tuesday, November 16, 2010, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 15A approving funding for all qualified applications for the Florida Energy Star Residential HVAC Rebate program with constraints.  Governor Charlie Crist signed the legislation.  To qualify for the rebate the HVAC or geothermal system must have been purchased or contracted for purchase with a Florida-licensed contractor between August 30, 2010, and September 14, 2010.

The Florida Energy Star HVAC rebate was to be in effect from 8/30/10-12/31/10. Knowing this, my wife and I replaced our old 1999 Heat Pump with a new energy efficient heat pump on 11/4/2010, well before the posted deadline of the program, and well before the state of Florida retroactively changed the rules on us.  This is not fair.  Everyone who took advantage of the program between 9/15/2010 and the state of Florida action on 11/16/2010 unknowingly got cut out of the program retroactively.  We are one of those Florida households trying to do the right thing who just got cheated out of $1500 by the state of Florida.  We cannot now undo the improvements we made and our representatives and senators should not be able to undo the rebate without prior notification to the residents of Florida.

We ask that the representatives and senators of Florida correct this injustice and modify the most recent legislation to cover at least the time frame up until you decided to change the rules.  Especially, we call on Representative Ray Pilon, Representative Doug Holder, Representative Greg Steube, Senator Michael Bennett, Senator Nancy Detert, and Governor Charlie Crist to make this right.

City of Sarasota gets bullied by Florida Power & Light


I began to study sustainable design, renewable energy and energy conservation in 1983 while studying architecture and environmental design at Ball State University.   Energy did not command the same sense of urgency that it does today.  The demand for increased renewable energy development and the rapid changes in technology, knowledge and economic forces are drastically different than they were 27 years ago.  The pace of change is continuing to accelerate as the City of Sarasota locks itself into a 30 year deal with Florida Power & Light.  2040 is an eternity when you imagine how much the energy landscape is expected to change even 10 years from now.

The City of Sarasota seems to have forgotten that the City signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution Adopting the “2030 CHALLENGE”.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution document in part states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will work to increase the fossil-fuel reduction standard for all new buildings to carbon neutral by 2030, in the following increments:

60% in 2010

70% in 2015

80% in 2020

90% in 2025

Carbon-neutral by 2030 (meaning new buildings will use no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will urge mayors from around the nation to join this effort by developing plans to fully implement the above mentioned targets as part of their procurement process and by establishing policies to insure compliance and measure results; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will urge mayors from around the nation to develop plans to fully implement the above mentioned targets for all new and renovated buildings within the City; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will work in conjunction with ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and other appropriate organizations to join this effort to develop plans to fully implement similar targets as mentioned above.

I do not see how a 30-year agreement with Florida Power and Light, even with a few commitments to renewable components, can even begin to address – let alone accomplish - these goals both now and by 2030. It will not.

I have a vested interest in how I receive my electrical power.  Carlson Studio's office is in the City. 

Michael Carlson


Alternative water technology at the LEED seeking Cancer Support Community


What do you do when your client doesn’t want to install water fountains in their project due to hygienic reasons? Well we dealt with this very issue on the LEED gold seeking Cancer Support Community’s (formerly The Wellness Community) Building Hope Project.

Early in the design phase the client made it very clear that people with compromised immune systems were uncomfortable with drinking out of typical water fountains. Of course the building code requires so many water fountains per person in any new construction project. The usual solution of avoiding water fountains is to provide a typical water cooler bottle service. But, being a green project and conscience about the environmental impact of shipping water bottles, we had find another solution.

Searching the internet we had little luck finding a suitable substitution, until we discovered UC Berkeley had recently installed “bottle fillers” called Hydration Stations on their campus. These bottle fillers are made by Haws Corp. a long time water fountain company, and were perfect for the Cancer Support Community. In order to meet Florida ADA code we add matching stainless cup holders besides the units to provide safe, clean water for the buildings occupants.

In addition to being hygienic we were also able to avoid exposing the cancer patients to harmful chemicals often leached out of plastic bottles. The units mount in or on the wall with full ADA clearance and access, saving valuable floor area and even have an LED light for illumination when in use.

From Haws Corp Website: “Daily, Americans use 60-million bottles of water, with only 2 out of every 10 bottles actually recycled.  By using the HydrationStationTM users will be able to utilize re-usable bottles and consequently reduce waste and its harmful effects on the environment. Several college campuses, including UC Berkeley, Georgian College in Ontario and Penn State, have already taken the initiative and supported a ban the bottle approach to water supply and have installed HydrationStations throughout their campuses.”

Visit for more information on the HydrationStation™ water delivery system.

hydration station
The Hydration Station installed

cancer support community
Cancer Support Community Gulfcoast, Building Hope


Three Tiers for Renovating Sustainably


TIER ONE - Business Operations – Conserving and Reducing


Purchasing supplies – evaluate which supplies can be purchased with recycled content

Printing - Provide policies to try and reduce in-office printing

Promoting alternative means of transportation - Car Pools; Mass Transportation; Fuel efficient vehicles; Bicycling

Institute a recycling program

Provide a designated smoking area away from building openings and/or institute a smoking policy that provides assistance in reducing smoking.

Institute a cleaning program with low or no VOC cleaning agents


Lamps – change incandescent to fluorescent

Implement a policy to turn lights off when not in use


Low-flow aerators


Any new finishes to have recycled content and/or low or no VOC’s (ex. Paint)


Provide access to temperature controls with a policy for how to regulate control, especially while there are no occupants in the space

TIER TWO - Facility Upgrades – (all the pertinent above mentioned strategies plus those outlined below)


Upgrade lighting fi xtures

Purchase green power credits

Provide occupancy sensors to regulate lights


Implement upgraded fi xtures for those that do not meet current code

Alternatively, upgrade all plumbing fixtures to low-fl ow


Any new finishes instituted to have recycled content and/or low or no VOC’s (ex. Paint).


Provide programmable temperature controls based on occupancy of space

TIER THREE - Major Renovation – (all the above mentioned strategies plus those outlined below)


Re-landscape with drought tolerant and native species for minimal irrigation use

Increase landscaped areas

Introduce building commissioning

Provide a designated recycling center

Provide detailed construction waste management and waste diversion plans


Upgrade roofi ng to highly refl ective material

Upgrade exterior lighting – timers/ light sensors

Upgrade HVAC equipment

Implement renewable energy technologies

Upgrade building envelope – Windows, doors and insulation

Reuse as much as building as possible


Replace all fixtures to ultra low-fl ow

Evaluate use of reclaimed or cistern water


Any new finishes to have recycled content and/or low or no VOC’s (ex. Paint)

Use rapidly renewable materials in renovation where possible

Use regional materials in renovation where possible

Use certified products where possible


Increased ventilation – fresh air

Use only low emitting or no emitting VOC materials, adhesives, paints, carpets, composite woods

Provide lighting control

Provide temperature control

Provide programmable temperature control based on occupancy of space

Provide natural day-lighting and views for regularly occupied spaces

green renovation

The state of School design today: A case for Green design


The Sarasota Herald Tribune's Business Weekly section today (July 26, 2010) had an announcement that a local Sarasota Architect was recently awarded a new school project by the School Board of Polk County.  Congratulations to the architecture firm, BMK Architects Inc. 

That's not the purpose of this post.  What I found curious was how the press release was worded.  It said the school was "a 115,000 square foot elementary school in Mulberry.  The campus will be a secure environment for students and staff, with gated entrances providing controlled access and buildings sited to allow visual observation of the entire campus from the adminstration building." 

That was it.  Who decided that was the only thing to convey about the new school in this press release?  Is that the most important feature we are looking for in our school designs these days?  It sounds more like a prison than a school.  What if it said the new school would be full of natural daylighting and void of toxic chemicals?  It woule be a healthy place to learn and the new design would increase test scores in the students by 10%, and it would have lower electric and water bills saving taxpayers money.  What if it said all these claims will be verified by an indepentent third party.

What if the press release said the new school would seek LEED for Schools Certification from the US Green Building Council?

The trend in new public school design is safety at the sacrifice of everything else.  Safety of the students is important, but it is not the only important thing.  Students need the best possible enironment to learn in.  Teachers need the best possible environment to teach in.  We need to demand more from the buildings our kids spend so much time in.


new horizons 1 resized 600

Carlson Studio's design for a new green school in Las Vegas

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