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Posts from the ‘Food’ Category

SPRING NEWSLETTER: Energy disclosure review, Bullitt performs, Chophouse impresses

We took an early spring break from our monthly newsletter, so welcome back to this handcrafted, artisan collection of green building, energy efficiency and real estate development stories.

(Understandable) data is king
I love maps and data visualization. Oh, and building energy metrics are neat too. If you have a similar crush, please enjoy Philadelphia’s snappy building energy data hub, which was developed by Azavea.

Exploring this also led me to check in on results from the other cities with established energy disclosure programs.

New York City has issued three annual reports and boasts a robust data tool of its own.

Washington, DC lists three years (2011-2013) of private building data in Excel files, and public buildings are detailed in this report covering 2009-2012.

Seattle aggregated private building data for 2011-2012, and provides more detail on city buildings for 2012-2013.

San Francisco has published three years of public building data—20112012, and 2013.

Minneapolis published 2012 data for its public buildings.

And Chicago posted its 2014 report.

These and other cities with energy disclosure initiatives are helping the real estate market better understand and improve its energy performance. And nationwide, the Institute for Market Transformation maintains some great resources to help compare various city and state efforts. Read more

The Food Oriented Development … it’s an FOD!

I’m pretty fired up about this concept. Perhaps I didn’t officially coin the phrase, but I’m certainly trying to bring it into practice. Much like its more common cousin, the TOD (transit oriented development), it’s fairly self-explanatory. At the moment, however, I’m thinking most specifically about an urban site development rather than a complete neighborhood. An FOD is all about density, with food as the central focus. On some levels it’s simply mixed-use development with a theme. But an FOD adds food industry—production, processing, storage, composting—to the usual combinations of residential, office and retail.

Parts of this concept pop up all the time. Take the images here, for example. My friend Chris was part of a group that launched a short-term demonstration called the Mushroom Farm. They partnered with renowned architecture firm Olson Kundig, which rotates thematic installations through its Pioneer Square storefront.  The Mushroom Farm showcased the industrial ecology nexus of spent coffee grounds and mushroom spores. Create the right conditions and voila, tasty oyster mushrooms grow right out of a bag. But the installation was much more than mushrooms and coffee. The team curated lunches, dinners and events to explore related conversations and celebrate the community that showed up.


Also in Seattle, Melrose Market does a nice job of co-locating food businesses. It’s mostly service and retail, although the butcher certainly provides some processing flair.

Another key to an FOD is that green building strategies are extended to tenants’ operations in a very intentional and food-specific ways. And I think these efficiencies—be it electrons or ingredients, water or waste—can equate to real performance for  food businesses, thus making an FOD attractive on many levels.

Layering these types of activities, efficiencies and community benefits across many businesses on one site is an FOD. I can get all scientific and nerdy about the systems-based design aspects, environmental benefits and educational potential, but it still boils down to dynamic and vibrant placemaking. I think the FOD is yet another evolution in connecting people to their food and community.

10 Conference intrigues

A small gathering of smart people in one of the most gorgeous places I know. Tough to beat. And to think I could only stay for about 24 hours. The 10 Conference is in its first year and brought together a stellar lineup in Leavenworth, WA at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Here’s a quick spin through the talks I most enjoyed. First, I made some bets that I have eaten more Theo Chocolate than everybody in the room except one man. Andy McShea gave us a wonderful tour through the essence of Theo Chocolate and the chocolate industry at large. Like so many things, I really appreciate the quality involved—be it the close-knit farmer relationships, organic ingredients, manufacturing process, or fair trade aspects. I’m more happy than ever to cheer for Theo with my dollars and savor their products. Oh, and a brief chemistry lesson the wonders of theobromine went straight to my undergraduate science heart.

Speaking of products, Leo Bonanni (above) showcased his team’s mapping of where products come from. Sourcemap is an exciting venture that works closely with organizations that make all sorts of products. While consumer transparency is important, Leo also talked a lot about how Sourcemap is helping organizations learn more about their own products! Maybe it helps them choose future suppliers. Perhaps the placement of a distribution center can be smartly place. Whatever the case, we need the genius of Sourcemap to raise our collective awareness.

My final favorite was Pablos Holman, who is part of Intellectual Ventures, which is partly funded by Bill Gates and has notably spun off Terrapower. Holman spent a few minutes detailing the nuclear company’s focus on using up existing nuclear waste with a fraction of the enriched fuel currently used. On a simple level, that means carbon-free energy and less radioactive waste. I’m sure there are still plenty of issues, but I’m cautiously optimistic. After Holman’s entertaining introduction, where he demonstrated several easy hacks on consumer security (mostly digital), he walked through many inventions coming out of his lab. How about a laser that kills malaria-carrying mosquitos? Pretty badass. Or a giant hose that floats into the stratosphere spraying sulfur dioxide to help deflect UV rays and decrease global warming? The modeled effect on Arctic ice melt, for instance, is appealing, but it’s a ways off and Holman didn’t say much about the acid rain trade-off. Anyways, keep tabs on this Bellevue crew.