Sustainable Saturday in Tarrant County

The Dallas/Fort Worth sustainability tour continued this Saturday in Tarrant County.  We began the day “at home” where we had the opportunity to listen to two guest speakers, and then we hit the road for some wonderful tours.

Our first speaker was Mr. Jim Johnson, Director for Downtown Fort Worth Inc. Mr. Johnson posed a relevant question. How do public policies encourage and support sustainability? We discussed a number of examples such as transportation, zoning, and building codes.  I learned that TIFs are Tax Increment Finance Systems and PIDs are Public Improvement Districts.  Based on the conversation between Mr. Johnson and my fellow cohorts who have experience with city planning and operations, it seems that public policy that promotes sustainability can be a difficult and slow process.  There appears to be so many conflicting interests in public policy and I wonder how anything significant gets accomplished at times.  One thing is for certain, I believe that those involved in public policy must have strong diplomatic and negotiation skills in order to reach consensus on these important topics. As a citizen, I’m also painfully aware of my shortcomings. If I want to see change in my community, I need to be more engaged in the process – even it is messy sometimes. I look forward to reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities that was recommended.  I’m also curious about the website, www.walkscore.com to find learn about the walkability of my community.

The next speaker was Mr. Jackson Murphy, MBA, LEED AP who spoke to us about the economics of green buildings.  We had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Jackson during our introduction class, but I found that his discussion this time made much more sense now that I’m further along in the program.  I enjoyed the entire presentation, but the following points stand out:

  • Green building provides the same service as traditional buildings but uses as few resources as possible – not just in design but also in use, maintenance, and the full life cycle.
  • Green buildings can reduce energy use from 24 – 50%, CO2 emissions by 33 – 39%, water use by 40% and solid waste by 70%.
  • Social Investment Forum estimates indicate that there are approximately 3 trillion dollars worth of investments today that focus on environmental, social and governance and those numbers are growing.
  • As of September 2011, LEED had certified 1.8 billion sq. ft. of properties and is certifying approximately 1 million sq. ft. per day.
  • The advantage of green buildings are: lower operating costs, improved indoor air quality, increased value, reduced liability, improved risk management, enhanced productivity, enhanced recruitment and retention, reduced absenteeism, governmental incentives, and reduced demand on electric grid and water utility.
  • 98% of Generation Y want to work in a green office or company.
  • According to USGBC, the green premium is 3.8%. See www.gbig.org.

Based on the information presented, commercial green building is gaining momentum and this gives me great hope for the future.  I’m proud to know that the Dallas/Fort Worth area is leading the way in green building in Texas. I wonder if there will soon come a time when all public schools will be green schools?  I can only hope so, as it will make such a difference for children – and teachers!

After our speakers, we began the travel portion of our day.  Thanks to our fellow cohort, Jeff, we were able to tour the City of Bedford Public Library.  I’ve driven by the library on several occasions, but had no idea how many sustainable features were incorporated into the construction of the library in the old Food Lion building.

Library Manager, Maria Redburn, led our tour and gave a comprehensive overview of the entire project from start to finish.  As Ms. Redburn began her talk, she confided that when she began the process of constructing a new library, she was skeptical about green building because she felt that it would be cost prohibitive.  She explained how, after attending a design institute for green libraries (see www.greenlibraries.org), she realized that there were resources and incentives that would allow provide the financial assistance needed. She says that she is now a supporter of green building because she can see how it makes sense financially, socially, and environmentally. Initial funds for the project were acquired through a Distributed Renewal Grant program.  More funds were obtained through a formula grant from the Department of Energy.  A 1.98 million dollar grant from the State Energy and Conservation Office paid for solar panels that are located on the roof. Some of the features of the library include:

  • Adaptive use building
  • Reflective white roof
  • Geothermal heat pump system
  • Water-saving fixtures and landscaping
  • Natural light
  • LED high-efficiency light fixtures
  • Motion sensors
  • Added wall and roof insulation
  • Solar panels

I believe that the City of Bedford should be very proud of their new library.  It is encouraging to see an adaptive use project that is serving the public!

Our final leg of the day’s tour was Rahr & Son’s Brewing Company.  The brewery is located in an old Coca Cola warehouse just south of in Fort Worth.  The readaptive use of the property and reuse of water for cooling and brewing are key sustainable features of the brewery.  The true value of this brewery seems to be in the social factor.  This brewery serves as a place where people from various social and economic backgrounds can come together and enjoy community.  I was very impressed with the volunteers who collect tickets, run the gift shop, and are committed to supporting this local business.  I think Rahr’s has a good thing going in Fort Worth!

Thanks, Amari Roskelly, for the photo!

Ode to Rahr & Sons Brewery

(To the tune of the Cheers theme song)

Making good beer sustainably takes more than just some hops.

Having a roof that won’t cave in sure does help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to drink some beer?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody stands in line.

And even some bring their own steins.

You wanna be where you can taste,

Beers with crazy names.

Your wanna be where everybody loves

Rahr’s name.

You wanna go where people know,

People are all the same.

You wanna go where everybody loves

Rahr’s name.

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About Kim Gideon

I'm an Educator, Public Speaker, and Sustainable Living and Wellness enthusiast who is seeking a more balanced way of living.
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One Response to Sustainable Saturday in Tarrant County

  1. Joanne says:

    Great song!

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