Green Build 2011 Day 2

Posted by Thu, Oct 06, 2011

Tags: architecture, usgbc, Sustainable, Living building challenge, Sarasota housing authority, green building

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

Design challenge: Creating a facility that symbolizes Hope

Posted by Tue, Mar 01, 2011

Tags: green, architecture, carlson, usgbc, lakewood ranch, wellness, cancer, LEED, Michael, Sustainable

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


Alternative water technology at the LEED seeking Cancer Support Community

Posted by Fri, Oct 29, 2010

Tags: green, carlson, usgbc, wellness, cancer, LEED, sarasota, healthy building, healthcare, community center

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

Posted by Fri, Sep 10, 2010

Tags: green, architecture, carlson, usgbc, sarasota, studio, renovation

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