Week builds on green approach

Events highlight city's use of environmental design

March 23, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Two days after the start of spring, a series of events on environmental design and livable communities to promote ideas on how to make the city's air, water and earth cleaner were launched yesterday.

Dubbed Baltimore Green Week 2004, the series opened last night in Canton with a town meeting on "green" building design, highlighting clean environmental building practices.

In addition to the town meeting, other Green Week events include a movie at 7 tonight, The Next Industrial Revolution, narrated by Susan Sarandon, at the Rotunda Cinematheque, 711 W. 40th St.

It takes a look at an architect and a chemist, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, leaders in a movement to change the relationship between commerce and nature. Tickets are $7.50 for the film and a discussion afterward with the producer, Shelley Morhaim.

Also slated is a 6 p.m. lecture tomorrow by Santa Monica award-winning architect Lawrence Scarpa at the Brown Center, Maryland Institute College of Art. Tickets are $13, $8 for seniors and students.

On Thursday, a free trade exhibition of environmental products will be on display from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pier 5 Hotel in the Inner Harbor. Last night, 250 people gathered for the opening event at a former brewery, where there were dozens of booths promoting products and ideas ranging from recycled glass to energy-efficient light bulbs.

Architect Klaus Philipsen said that reusing existing infrastructure is the key to green architecture. "The U.S. is very far behind on this issue," he said. "The biggest thing we can do is recycle our cities and stop sprawling."

Before the opening event, conference organizer Julia Craighill said, "Experts know about environmental design and renewable energy, but we're trying to bring the public into the conversation."

The group of city architects who organized the inaugural Green Week said they chose a former brewery under reconstruction for yesterday's event because it is the community site that best puts green building principles into practice. Craighill, a project manager for Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, said her real estate development firm is a partner in transforming the Natty Boh brewery into a complex for retail, storage, office and residential use. The plan for redeveloping the industrial site is abiding by the latest state environmental standards in order to qualify for "green" tax credits, she said.

Craighill said she would like to see the meaning of the word "sustainable," which architects and environmentalists often use, to become better understood as taking a light toll on the environment. For a building to be sustainable, for example, its systems must be designed to conserve energy, recycle waste and water, and minimize landfill space and fossil fuels required to build it.

The Natty Boh building, once the project is completed, will have a green roof with plants. The plan also calls for re-using old beer barrels to store rain water.

Another Green Week organizer, Baltimore architect Mark C. Keen, agreed it was time to take action to teach the public about certain concepts. "We sensed the green discussion has to go beyond architects and contractors," he said.

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