Green Education: 9/11 Memorial Garden - Recycled materials - IceStone

I have high ambitions for the project at PS Q151, my overall hope is to create both an environmental education program for the students and the staff and to have the school itself be transformed into a more sustainable site. This will start next fall with the school being part of the Recycling Champions Program through Grow NYC.  This program looks over all the schools recycling activities and sees how it could be optimized as well as educating the students and staff about the subject.  I hope to incorporate a composting program with the recycling program as well.  I have a contact in the Queens botanical garden composting department that will be advising the school, supplying compost bin equipment and workshops for faculty and students.  

Attention to detail in everything also needs to be considered.  This brings us back to the 9/11 memorial butterfly garden.  Here we planted both nectar and host plants and we will be planting milkweed plants for the monarch butterfly to feed on, these have been ordered.  As it is a memorial garden, I created sculptures from recycled car parts and disposed of cinder blocks to be part of the garden.  Again for it is a memorial garden, I wanted to have it be a symbol as well as serve its designated function, so finding the right material to cover the landscaping was important.   

I am happy to say that I will be working with the folks at IceStone to receive recycled glass and / IceStone discarded samples for the ground cover for the butterfly garden. IceStone will be donating all the materials that are needed to the school.  IceStone not only produces all its product from recycled materials, it also has a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification.  Cradle to Cradle means that everything from the way they manufacture their product to the disposal of their product is done to high environmental standards, they also think of what will happen to the product from creation to the grave.

This product is great if you are going for LEED certification of any type as it can be installed vertically and horizontally.  It has many applications and can achieve many LEED points ( MR 4.1, MR 4.2, MR 5.1, MR 5.2, ID, EQ 4.1).  And I think you could get an innovation credit if the product is used as we will be using it as Landscape mulch cover.  What I also love about this product is that it is produced and manufactured here locally in the Brooklyn navy yard.  For more information and to see their product check out their website

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Thinking Green: The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™)

 As the industry moves in the direction of sustainable design and sustainable thinking, we need to see how all aspects of our build environment is being developed.  As concentration on construction and interior environment have been touched upon, now the exterior spaces are being to be looked at closely. 

LEED for Landscaping is being tested to help put rules and guide lines on designing outdoor spaces. With the help of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden, about 150 test sites are designed and will be monitored for the next two years starting June 2010.

As there are no true guide lines on creating outdoor spaces so the Sustainable Sites Initiative has been developed to help follow these sites progress, as well as create a data base of how to. The site has examples of Sustainable Practices such as how to:

* Preserve and protect healthy soils
* Manage and clean water on-site
* Protect and use existing vegetation
* Reduce urban heat island effect
* Provide spaces for mental restoration, social interaction, and physical activity

This site is a great tool for any designer looking to create a sustainable out door space or for any LEED project that will be using outdoor spaces of all types, including rooftops. There are also documented case studies with pictures, descriptions, budget, project phase and overview. Check them out  at

Green Education: Q151 Project

Happy to say the first phase of the project is on its way. With the support of the principle and the help of some great school staff we have established the first two gardens at Q151. Here is how we have gotten to this point so far. As I said before you have to get the head of the organization on board. I have spoken to the principle about the plans, as well as the head of building maintenance. With first creating the gardens, it is very important to get the head of building maintenance on board as he will be the main person that will help keep the gardens alive. At the school, I spoke to the principle to go over the plans and got his feedback. After that meeting, I spoke to the head of the maintenance, to go over the plans and see his feedback and concerns. From there I developed the plans for both gardens.

After having the plan of what to do and what I need, now how do you implement it. First step is to see how the community can help with the donations for the project. A donation letter had to be drafted and remember to get the tax id of the organization in the letter with a copy of it should be given with the letter. I went to local companies and others for help with donations some were Home Depot, Hicks Nursery, Queens Botanical Garden, Build it green NYC, LI Auto parts junk yard, Mounira Jaber and David G Roys Jr. After getting donations and some help from the school, I coordinated the install of the gardens.

I designed some sculptures from recycled materials for the 9/11 memorial butterfly garden. This will make it a focal point in the community as wel1 as teach kids that there are other uses for materials then their original intent. I also am hoping to get recycled materials as mulch, I am contacting a company to see if they would donate some.

The vegetable garden is also planted. I still want to design a back drop to the garden so it also becomes a focal point in the school, again recycled materials will be used for that. The children of the school are so excited for both gardens.

It is like a domino effect. The principle, staff, students and parents are starting to get excited about the program. This has made the principle more open to expanding the program and other ideas. One example is after the first recycling workshop this week by Grow NYC, the school was offered to be a part of the Public Schools Recycling Champions Program. The principle is excited and will see how the school can participate in this program starting next school year. I will be contacting some local organizations to get free composting workshops and start the school in a composting program as well.

The school is also having their playground expanded and will have some green space there as well that I will work with them to see what can be done with it as well.

Small steps can go a long way. The saying "plant a seed and watch it grow" is true, this is for everything we do. You just need to know where to plant the right seeds, so observe, analyze and plant, more to come.

Green Education: Q151 Project

Educating our selves and our children is a great way to start changing the bad habits we have developed in our society. As I have written before about how to start an environmental education program, I will now be implementing one as well at Q151 in Queens.

I am starting to implement the program in phases. The first phase will start this year and then begin to take form in the Sept when school starts again. The first phase is to create two gardens for the school. A 9/11 memorial butterfly garden and a vegetable garden.

- The first will be a butterfly garden, where the children can:

* Raise seeds of milkweed plants and study the process
* Plant the milkweed plants and create a new eco system for the butterflies and other living organisms - study the process and understand the importance of the eco system and how we are connected to it.
* Raise the Monarch butterfly from a caterpillar and release them in the garden. Teaching the kids about their migration and again the importance of protecting their homes and how we are all connected.

- The second will be a vegetable garden, where the children can:

*grow vegetables from seeds in the classroom
*Plant and grow a vegetable garden outside the classroom, study the process
*Learn about healthy foods and local fresh foods
*Have a green market with the harvested vegetables to introduce that to the community
*Try to bring in issues like water conservation, composting, etc.

I have also started in this phase to bring in educational workshops, one example is Recycling - this workshop will be the first on May 14th.

I will post more on the progress of this endeavor in future posts.

Thinking Green: LEED workshops

Educating ones self is very important. There are many venues that offer educational workshops. Urban Green council is the USGBC NYC chapter and they have a lot of great educational workshops. Check out their calendar of events at

I recently attended the one of the LEED Workshop: Core Concepts and Strategies. The course subject went over LEED basics and mentioned a few other details:

1. LEED for Health Care and Retail will be launched in Nov. 2010
2. LEED for BO&M you will need to re-certify the building every year. Making sure the operation standards are kept up.
3. New Legislation is in the works that states all public buildings will have to publish their energy and water use.
4. For a project to be certified LEED for Homes states the building can only be 2 stories high but there is an existing pilot in NYC that allows a mid-rise 6 story building to be certified as such.
5. All LEED Certified buildings and projects will need to commit to sharing their water and energy usage data for 5 years with USGBC.
6. Before 2009 when on a project you were able to view other people's CIR request but as of the new LEED this will not be available and any question will need to be submitted.
7. Tip - If taking the Green Associates Exam make sure you know information about LEED for Homes 3rd party practices.

There are so many different workshops, lectures and tours that Urban Green provides, its worth checking them out. Also they offer LEED credits for keeping up with the educational credits you need if you are a LEED AP.