Gardening & Nature!Plano Environmental Education Center/Trinity River Audubon Center

    

What a beautiful place to visit! Autum provided our class with atour of the beautiful facility. We viewed photovoltaic panels, cisterns, a living roof, thermal solar water heater, and the wind turbine. The building features dual flush toilets, recycled products, natural lighting, an energy recovery system.

The cisterns hold over 2 gallons of water. The facility cost 1.7 mmillion to build. unfortunately the city is stage four water restriction, which is slowing the process for the texas smartscape landscape. The facility 2600 square feet and has a great space to rent for event or attending educational seminars…which are zero waste events!

Styrofoam is used for insulation in the walls and the roof. The counters are richlite shelf, which is recycled paper and eucalyptus. Beautiful, smooth finishing on the counters. Low E windows for cross ventilation fresh air and a fresh air recovery system. I had no idea there was recycled furniture like the table and chairs made from corn palmer and the love seat made of recycled cardboard. Which…I am looking to invest in the recycled cardboard loveseat for my library at school. This will strike conversation and lead to discussions on sustainability in school!!!

I would like to attend the educational classes the center offers and help spread the word about them.

This summer I will take my niece and her friends and let them help with the gardening and allow them to experience sustainable living!! We will help with the gardening, weeds and then we will go home and plant our own! My mom is already interested in attending the classes with me. Education is the key!

        Our last stop of the day was Trinity River Audubon Center. Beautiful day to visit such a magnificent piece of art!

 Dana Wilson is a volunteer and guided us through the beautiful design. To start, I was extremely surprised to learn about the landfill. First a legal landfill, than illegal. At the point of becoming illegal, there was 1.5 millions tons of garbage! Whoah! Who would have thought the area would be turned into beautiful nature trails and educational facility for all age individuals?! 8 years to clean the landfill. The facility is 6000 area if urban bottomland hardwood forest and the building is LEED Gold! I was impressed with the design of the building, which is designed to resemble the body of a bird. I love to see green roofs and this facility has one!

East Texas bamboo is used for the flooring. I learned that bamboo flooring can take a beating and still shine back to its original beauty! Low maintenance! Dana explained the facility will host events with 100-200 people and to clean, they run a mop over the floor and back to shining it goes! The acoustics on the ceiling are made from recycled cotton. I had no idea you could use recycled cotton or denim as an insulator. Ms Dana educated this grad student!

The land has 9 ponds which are all natural or naturally enhanced. The cisterns hold 33,000 gallons of h2o and irrigate the perimeter of the building. One product I was introduced to is TREX! Recycled milk bottles and wood. Looks great, feels great and low maintenance! My mom lives on a lake and we are redoing the deck this summer…I think I just found the new material!!

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Speed Fab-Crete Garners Design-Build Award for Everman ISD Field House Project

Choosing this company, hits close to home! I am an employee with Everman ISD, so learning that our athletic facility was built with sustainability in mind…makes me one happy employee! I spoke  with Mitch Hanzick with Speed Fab- crete, he explained the design of the building was unusual and the goal was to maximize the use of the space. Once known that the building was designed with a purpose, I started thinking about the building during my visits. The lightening throughout the building is all natural! The offices to the workout floor utilize natural lighting with large windows. The lights, when in use are motion censored.  The facets in restrooms and the locker rooms are motion sensored too. The building is designed with integrated ventilation system, which eliminates odor and moisture and computer control-panel facilitates a personalized touch screen combination, custom screen saver, computerized communication from coaches and staff, upgradeable hardware/software.

“The exterior of the field house was built with Speed Fab-Crete’s precast concrete walls. Their finish combines limestone rock aggregate with a partial veneer of two different-colored bricks. The esthetics ensured campus continuity with existing school buildings.”

http://speedfabcrete.com/beta/archives/63

“Smartest design since the Pyramids”
— Dr. Jeri Pfeifer, Superintendent Everman ISD

The company also developed Evermans 9th grade center. The building  includes 36 classrooms in a three wing configuration, joined by a commons area of wash basins, water fountains and restrooms. The wash areas are all low flow and motioned censored. The lights to enter every room are motioned sensored also. The science labs have recycled wood tables and recycled rubber floors.

 

 

 

I was pleased to find out my place of employment supports environmental design. Like I always say, Education is Key! I hope someday to see sustainability in the curriculum. I do what I can/allowed in my classroom, but I feel if students are introduced to sustainability at a young age, as they grow, they will grow with sustainability!

Texas Instruments “Green Crusader”

           Paul Westbrook, “Green Crusader”
Sustainable Development Manager, Texas Instruments
        

     http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/landing/solardecathlon07/westbrook.htm       

Mission:

”TI helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun.”  Paul Westbrook

I was introduced to new information that was very interesting, during todays visit to TI! Paul Westbrook is the Sustainable Develpment Manager for Texas Instruments and an extremley intelligent man!!! I had no idea the company produces 20 Billion chips a year to customer…yes BILLION!! and 80,000 customers worldwide. The building is 1.1 million square feet and 284,000 square feet  are used for the fab space. The facility sits on 92 acres and can house 1000 employees.  Mr Westbrook expresses a pasion for sustainability,ashe convinced VP’s of the company to began the green movement.

The building uses exterior shades, outside daylight to light the building, reflective roof, water turbine powered facets, efficient cooling system…which all contribute to their LEED Gold certification. LEED certification process cost the company $15M and 30% less in cost to build. They estimate al little over one year for recovery cost! The company recycles 95% of the waste in the building and offers a vanpool for $20 month and encourages mass transit.

“We just received LEED Gold certification for a large semiconductor assembly and test manufacturing facility in the Philippines. TI had the first LEED Gold wafer fabrication facility in the world in Richardson, Texas and now we’ve added the first LEED Gold assembly facility. This is only the 3rd LEED building in the entire country of the Philippines and one of the others is a TI LEED Silver facility” Westbrook

Mr Wesbrook states the importance of efficient resources, saves money, and increases profit and waste= loss of money. The company measures factors by chips produces, like, energy per chip.

Visiting TI was a great experience. I had no idea the technology that was involed to produce chips. I thought to myself…how does a individual create a robot machine like the ones I saw at TI?! Brilliant! I think more companies should offer incentives for mass transit or ride share, as TI does. I think these are great programs and educated the employees on helping produce a healthier environment.

Toyota’s environmental responsibility and corporate citizenship activities

        Toyota.com  

Speaking with Chance Ducote of Toyota, opened my eyes to Toyota’s initiatives on the Environment! I honestly was surprised at all the programs and steps they are moving forward! DThe Fifth Toyota Environmental Action Plan

“Toyota aims at globally “establishing a low-carbon society,” “establishing a recycling-based society,” and “environmental protection and establishing a society in harmony with nature” to contribute to sustainable growth of society and the planet based on the Fifth Toyota Environmental Action Plan. To realize those aims, we reduce the environmental impact at all stages of vehicle life cycle from development and design, procurement, production and logistics, sales to waste and recycling, and promote environmental management.”

He explained that all employees are trained on the sustainable principles that Toyota creates. I thought…..awesome, educate others, but this may help with customer retention, if the customers are aware of the environmental impact Toyota is creating, more than likely be returning customers! I learned Toyotas basic stance on the environment….

Principles and Policies

An explanation of Toyota’s principles and policies with regard to environmental issues. Toyota has created the Toyota Earth Charter and is undertaking initiatives through “Contribution towards Sustainable Development.” Toyota also aims to be a leader in the effort to create a recycling-based society using cutting-edge technologies developed in response to environmental issues

Organization Framework

The Toyota Environment Committee has been established for the purpose of examining and crafting responses to the issues facing product development and design, production and logistics and environmental management. This committee is comprised of top management, chaired by the president, who promote global environmental management not only for Toyota Motor Corporation, but for all Toyota consolidated subsidiaries worldwide.

Action Plan

The Toyota Environmental Action Plan was established with the intent of helping lead efforts towards global regeneration through environmentally-considerate technology. It establishes initiatives, specific implementation items and targets for the areas of development and design, procurement, production and logistics, sales and marketing and recycling, as well as promotes and strengthens environmental management

Toyota Green Purchasing Guidelines

Solving the environmental issues facing the world requires the combined efforts of people everywhere. That is why Toyota has created guidelines for the business partners from which it purchases automobile parts and materials, both within Japan and overseas, requiring that they also make an active effort to implement environmentally-considerate practices

Biodiversity Guidelines

Degradation of the natural environment is resulting in the loss of biodiversity. Thus, as part of its “Contribution towards Sustainable Development,” Toyota has created guidelines aimed at helping to maintain biodiversity. Toyota’s aim is to achieve growth that maintains a balance between corporate activities and environmental preservation.

They are taking great links to create sustainable awareness! I love it! Of coarse there is the Toyota Prius, 51 MPG!!!! 

There is a wait list for this baby!

 

I now see that a successful, worldwide company can contribute to a sustainable environment, Now…everybody else lets go!

Toyota established the Recycling Committee in October 1990 and its reorganization as the Resource Recycling Committee in 2008.                       RecyclingInitiatives                                                                                                                                        ” It is important to carry out recycling activities that take into consideration the entire lifecycle of a vehicle. Toyota is rolling out activities to reduce waste to a minimum and recycle and reuse materials wherever possible at every stage of a vehicle’s lifecycle — development, production, use and disposal. The results of these activities are provided as feedback to vehicle development divisions to enable more efficient utilization of limited resources and to make cars that are easy to recycle.”    http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environmental_responsibility/automobile_recycling/recycling_initiatives.html

Recycling Activities that Take into Consideration the Entire Lifecycle of a VehicleRecycling Activities to Ensure Proper Utilization of Valuable Resources

I was surprised to see the…

 

 

 

 

Toyota demonstrate environmental responsibility in a large scale…from accross the country, to the local stores restroom!

Relationship between CSR Policy and the Guiding Principles at Toyota, and Various Regulations

 

Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System

                                         Earth-Kind logo             Texas Superstar Logo              Small Acreage Logo      

Steve Chaney was our guest speaker Thursday evening. Mr. Chaney works for AgriLIFE Extension, a Texas A&M system. He is a county extension agent horticulture. I was in a group that completed a water conservation project last class, so  I was familiar with some of the information Steve shared, but I still learned many new pieces of information!

He spoke about landscaping, water conservation, best practices. He introduces the 7 basic principles with landscaping….plan and design, soil analysis and preparation (25% of budget towards soil, average homeowner is 0%), clear vegetation and compost. Also, plant selection, practical turf area (1/3 turf, 1/3 plant beds, 1/3 permeable landscape), efficient irrigation (how often, how long, when), mulch and landscape best management practices. He emphasised PLAN!!! If homeowners plan, they will have better results and create a larger impact. Extended drought may continue, because not enough water is going back into the system and the population will only increase. Mr Chaney spoke about water conservation and methods to use. Rain barrels,simple, efficient and…I can decorate my own 🙂                             Koolscapes 50 Gallon Decorative Rain Barrel with 5 planter pots

I honestly fear not having water. Yes, we will run out someday! WE NEED to take measures to prevent this from happening. I work with young children everyday and thinking that their generations may struggle to have clean water to drink, is a scary thought.  I understand to Plan now! I have already shared the information with family and friends! I feel soo smart 🙂 If I can help by spreading what I have learned, I am helping in a small way!!

Take a listen…      http://mastergardener.tamu.edu/

Take the Earth-Kind Challenge– Is your landscape contributing to a healthy and sustainable environment?       
STEP 1 STEP 2
EK Challenge
windows media player logoLandscape Water Conservation water conservation quiz
windows media player logoLow Volume Irrigation low volume irrigation quiz
windows media player logoIrrigation System Auditing irrigation auditing quiz
windows media player logoSafe Use and Handling of Pesticides in the Landscape pesticides quiz
windows media player logoSafe Use and Handling of Fertilizers in the Landscape fertilizers quiz
windows media player logoReducing Landscape Wastes – Composting composting quiz
windows media player logoDesigning an Earth-Kind® Landscape landscape design quiz
windows media player logoLandscaping for Energy Conservation energy conservation quiz
windows media player logoCreating Native Habitat native habitat quiz
windows media player logoEarth-Kind® Roses earth-kind roses quiz
windows media player logoIntegrated Pest Management integrated pest management quiz
windows media player logoPest Management for Crape Myrtles crapemyrtle pest management quiz
windows media player logoRainwater Harvesting – Under Construction

Air North Texas is powered by the North Central Texas Council of Governments

I really enjoyed the speakers from Air North Texas. Very informative. Air North Texas was formed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments with support of an Air Quality Public Relations Task Force, with Transportaion being the largest department. Established in 1966, the program includes 16 county region and 249 members.

Whitney explained the  goals including improving air quality in North Texas, introduce air quality programs and brand them, reduce congestion and help improve ozone polution. I like the secion “what can I do” For me, personally, this will help and educate me on how to help and be a part of the solution! I was familiar with the air quality index, but I have not payed much atteniton to it.

The ozone monitor data below is updated hourly

As of 11:15 AM, regional air quality conditions are good.Ozone Monitor Levels for Friday, January 13, 2012 11:15:00AM http://www.nctcog.org/trans/air/ozone/current.asp

This is very important for all ages to understand for their health and safety. One can help reduce emissions by following the speed limit…no lead feet, people!! Use mass transit! Simple steps as to taking your lunch to work! This not only reduces trips in the car, but saves gas ($$) and Im sure it is cheaper and Healthier than eating out everyday ($$) 🙂 And also, vehicle maintenace, which increases fuel efficiency…and Im sure save you $$$ in the long run!

I think vanpool and rideshare are great programs!

http://www.tryparkingit.com/                              http://www.tryparkingit.com/documents/CreateProfile.pdf           

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj8y43Wc8vg ….will walk you through the steps!!

“Try Parking It is a two-part solution for reducing the number of vehicles on the road and for tracking the savings that result from those vehicle reductions. By using Try Parking It, you can locate carpool or vanpool matches within the North Central Texas region. You can also track your contributions to clean air and congestion reduction and receive an estimate of miles saved, trips reduced and harmful emissions reduced, each time you submit your alternative commute.”

With a career in education, it is important to understand air quality conditions. I do not want to expose my students to environmental conditions that can be dangerous to their health, as well as mine. The public must be educated on air quality, so they see the importance and impact they make every day!

Recycle Revolution- Greening Up North Texas, One Business at a Time

Recycle Revolution

First I would like to start by saying, Eddie who is the founder of Recycle Revolution, has an IMPRESSIVE vision!! He is very motivated and I completely see his vision taken off and successful! Eco-op is a program RR (recycle revolution) is in the process of creating. He has launched the community model in Lake Highlands. He hopes to include schools—>RR—>TX worm ranch—>non-profit—>eco-op. He envisions fresh local food, beautified neighborhoods and positive impact in waste management. He also mentioned synergy. Synergy is a great idea. Synergy – from an environmental perspective – means to take one person’s waste and give it to someone else who needs that material as a main ingredient in their product. So synergy explains the model Eddie would like to incoporate in Lake Hightlands. Utilizing TX worm ranch is their newest idea. They have the potential of having a new neighbor, who is a gardener. Gardeners need compost and food waste for rich soil…then a synergy has now been created.

The companies that are involved with RR are provided reports on their business and education. All materials are weighed and graded. There are 8 different grades sorted for the paper received by RR. I was not aware the of the materials that could be collected and the prices for the materials. RR is the bridge from the “cut throat industry” to recycling. Glass for instance, is shipped to Midlothian after processed with RR.  Materials RR collects traditional materials such as plastics, aluminum and tin, cardboard and glass…which RR is the only DWB (drinking with benefits) certified recycler for glass in North Texas. Packing materials , e-waste and other materials…cell phones, batteries. They talked about benefits from recycled glass.

These were beautiful tiles from Enviroglas, that can be used for floor tile, stairs, wall art! I personally want a mosaic table with them!! 🙂

I think Recycle Revolution has a strong mission. I would like to see more business participate with recycling. I think the education aspect is a necessity. Like what Eddie said, “you are paying for trash, so lets recycle” When businesses, schools, residents are educated, I see the business having even more success than what it already has produced!