Eco Thinking - Night out in NYC: Biodynamic Wines

Date night or just want to have a drink in the city, why not try out some Biodynamic wines.  Counter is an organic wine & martini bar located at 105 1st Ave between 6th and 7th street.  They have a wide selection of Biodynamic wines. Check them out at
As all kinds of products are going green from organic foods to cleaning products.  The wine industry is seeing changes as well as a lot of Organic and Biodynamic wines are hitting the market place.  If you don’t know what Biodynamic wines are, here is a little info. Biodynamic wines are wines that go a step further then organic wine.  They are not only 100% organic, the grower has gone beyond to try to bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature. For instance, biodynamic wine growers may make their own compost and the fruit is grown without chemical killers of insects and weeds and without chemical fertilizers or fungicides. The wine also is monitored throughout its entire production process.  Cade winery is a vineyard that makes biodynamic wines and is also striving to be the 1st LEED gold certified vineyard.  Check out the website at
If you are not out in Manhattan and want to check out some Biodynamic wines then check out these 6 different vineyards.


Araujo Estate Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon -

Beckmen Vineyards Biodynamic Syrah -

Resonance Vineyards' Biodynamic Pinot Noir -


Quivera Vineyard Biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc -

Grgich Hills Biodynamic Gume Blanc -

CADE Sauvignon Blanc -

If you like to try new things, try tasting some Biodynamic wines and let me know what you think.  If you are interested in learning more about Biodynamics check out the book "What is Biodynamics? A Way to Heal and Revitalize the Earth..."

Earth Day 2010 - Green House Night Club

As New Yorkers we like to go out and celebrate everything, from Saint Patties Day to Secretaries Day, always a reason to go out, have a drink and get together with friends in the city that never sleeps. Well on this day try celebrating in an Eco-friendly nightclub.

The Green House located on 150 Varick St is a LEED certified night club. The bi-level, 6,000 square foot event space is built entirely from recycled or recyclable materials, including bars made from recycled glass. The building also utilizes a carbon-countering program to offset energy used during construction and operation.

Among the clubs most spectacular attributes is the transparent ceiling fixture, comprised of over 5,000 individually hung crystals, which is designed to emulate a rolling landscape and the bars which are comprised of clear recycled glass panorama designs, and display lush natural scenes.

This SoHo club is New York's first eco-friendly nightlife destination, with a two level lounge area, fabulous drinks and bottle service, live bands on Monday; mixed format music every night and no cover charge.

Check out the website for more information and enjoy Earth Day like a true New Yorker.

Eco Products: Toto

Looking for well designed, sleek, water efficient pluming products that are manufactured with the environment in mind, look no further then Toto USA.

The company has a manufacturing plant in Morrow, GA where all grey water generated during operations is stored and reused. They recycle all pallets, aluminum and paper, and they have successfully implemented a closed-loop process with recycled cardboard. Their forklifts use soybean-based hydraulic oil, and the imperfect and damaged china is crushed and recycled back into roadbed construction.

They are the world’s largest plumbing products manufacturer. Toto offers everything for your project needs from a complete line of commercial and decorative plumbing fixtures and fittings, faucets, accessories, shower and flush valves, as well as lavatories, toilets, Air Baths and urinals. They have many styles from traditional to contemporary design and more.

Toto goes beyond its focus on its product and manufacturing but also helps promote educational seminars by donating its show room space to organizations like Urban Green Council. If your organization needs a space and it is a worthy cause contact them for more information.

Check out more information about the company and contact information at

Thinking Green: Rethinking Materials

Rethinking materials is one of the sections in the Book "The Designers Atlas of Sustainability". This is a great book, written like an atlas with different sections and ideas on this subject. It gives information for the user to take and interrupt. One of the subjects and concepts in the ecology section is "Rethinking Materials".

The idea in this section recommends that we "..adopt the idea of metabolisms for human material flows. The scheme involves classifying all materials as either organic nutrients or technical nutrients." This would be classifying materials / products into categories, ones that can go back into the ecosystem (organic nutrients, example: brick, wood and leather) and ones that need to be in a closed-loop system (technical nutrients,examples metals, plastics and glass) and continuously be recycled.

With these designation we would know what items can go back into the ecosystem without contamination. There are some organic materials that should not be thrown out as they have been corrupted during the manufacturing process and then would have to remain in the closed-loop system. By having both Cradle to Cradle materials and these designations on products we would insure a healthier Eco-system.

Eco Design: Industrial Ecology

What is Industrial Ecology, Wikipedia defines it as "the shifting of industrial process from linear (open loop) systems, in which resource and capital investments move through the system to become waste, to a closed loop system where wastes become inputs for new processes...The name comes from the idea that we should use the analogy of natural systems as an aid in understanding how to design sustainable industrial system."

Basically, it is trying to design our industry to act like ecological systems.  Kalundborg,Denmark is a great example of this.  Here industries of varied products relay on each others product and waste to run their facility's.  Some of them are power plants, pharmaceuticals plant, oil refinery, and plasterboard manufacturer. They have made  use of the waste streams and energy resources, and turned the by-products into products.  For example,the reuse of fly ash for asphalt and gypsum, also the surplus heat from the power plant is used for the local fish farm.  These are but few examples to what can be done by starting to think and design this way.

Now taking this concept and adding it to the other ones I discussed already; Cradle to Cradle philosophy  - product design, Living buildings and Eco cities - redesigning our built environment and industrial ecology - how the manufacturing and other plants need to function more like nature.  As designers, architects and others we need to take these concepts, understand them and start using them as tools and guidelines in our creations.  When we start thinking this way, we will be able to create environments that can coexist with nature.

Source:,, The Designers Atlas

Thinking Green: Creating Educational Programs

Educational programs are critical in all environments of any organization.  Educating others on the topic you are passionate about is the first step to change their perception, previous actions and behavior on that subject.
How do you create one?

The first step is to analyze the need for an environmental educational program or any other kind of educational program you want to create.  My blog is geared to environmental issues but these simple steps can be used for all educational programs.  It is good to have a champion at the top of the organization and somebody in the trenches to help pass the message to the masses.  So you will need to get the head of the organization on board with the concept of creating this program.  When that is done, start researching organizations that offer these services.  A lot of them also offer free educational programs in your area or offer workshops to help educate your people. There are also organizations that offer free educational lunch presentations on environmental issues and also will educate your staff on their products. In NYC some of these organizations are:

1. NYERDA - New York State Energy Research and Power Authority -
2. Solar One - Green Energy, Arts and Education Center -
3. Lower East Side Ecology Center -
4. GrowNYC -
5. New York City Soil and Water Conservation District
6. NYC Department of Environmental Protection -
7. Green Schools Alliance -
8. Urban Green Council -(USGBC chapter NYC)
9. Mohawk Group -

These are but a few that are available and can help start to establish the program you desire. Research your neighborhoods to see local organizations. From here start organizing in-house workshops or lunch presentations.

Educating people is the first step to any change...

Thinking Green: EcoCities and Nature

Ecodesign is the next step of our design thinking. LEED helps us establish and understand the preliminary processes of green design. Creating living buildings is pushing past LEED and developing our thinking to the next level. Ultimately ecodesign should be second nature to our design process. Wikipedia defines Ecodesign as "an approach to design of a product with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole life cycle. In a life cycle assessment the life cycle of a product is usually divided into procurement, manufacture, use and disposal." What this means to the built environment is that we need to not only use products that have cradle to cradle philosophy but also consider the Eco system as we build. For example, start incorporating natural or man made rivers into the urban environment. This will develop eco systems from plants, insects and wildlife.

The book by Richard Register "Eco Cities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature" talks about this subject and how we as designers can help bring about this change. I met the author last week and talked about his contributions to this effort; His work is concentrated in San Francisco, California. He has dedicated his life to educating and fighting for more eco elements to the urban environment. It has not been an easy road but it never is to bring on change to our way of thinking.

Now is the time for all of us to strive for these changes, for our future and the future of our children. Mr. Register believes it will take a hundred years for these changes to happen. I want to prove him wrong!! In my 35 years, I have seen the evolution of computers, the internet, cellphones to 3D television and more. The technology is here, the ability to live side by side with our natural environment is at our fingertips, all we need is the will to find a way.

As designers, architects, engineers, contractors, real estate brokers, property owners and more, we have the power to create these environments. Make the choice to educate others and yourselves on how to achieve these goals, so we can make these changes in our life time.