Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The EcoCenter Living Roof, Research, and the Cities Alive Conference

Lisa Lee Benjamin of EvoCatalyst and the designer of the living roof and constructed wetland came to the EcoCenter this week to discuss with Peggy and CCSF students work on the living roof.  This work will include using the rooftop as one of several research sites across the cities to examine the best plants to use under shallow substrate and drought conditions. Insect traps will also be used to study the pollinators and other six-legged visitors to the living rooftops.  More information on the use of the rooftop for research will be forthcoming in the Spring.The EcoCenter will also be a site for the Cities Alive 2013 conference that will be held in San Francisco next fall!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The EcoCenter is Part of GreenBuild

This year, the U.S. Green Building Council hosted Greenbuild 2012 in San Francisco.  Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Building professionals came together from all over the world for educational workshops and seminars, to hear renowned speakers, network, and attend green building tours. 

Green building tours allow visitors the opportunity to see first hand the best of the city’s sustainable buildings and neighborhoods.  The EcoCenter was selected as a tour site together with the Hunter’s View Development Project.  On Saturday, November 17th from 9:30 am to 1 pm, LEJ Board Chair Milton Reynolds, CCSF students and instructor/LEJ staff Peggy Lopipero-Langmo hosted building professionals from as close by as Bernal Heights and as far away as Brazil, Japan, Iceland, Italy, and Trinidad.  Tour attendees first visited the Hunter’s View Development Project and then made their way to the EcoCenter.  Milton introduced the visitors to the history and mission of LEJ and the EcoCenter followed by a detailed explanation of each sustainable design feature of the facility by CCSF students and faculty.  Attendees were also given time to roam the facility and ask questions regarding research, operations and maintenance, and environmental education efforts.  Feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  Click on this link to see a slideshow for photos of the event.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Rooftop Parapet Gets a Makeover

This week painters and licensed contractors Teresa Romaine and Joan Weir returned to the EcoCenter to help with some needed repairs and paint for the rooftop parapet and ceiling entryway.  In the original design by Toby Long, the rooftop parapet had reclaimed wood in a mosaic on its surface similar to the exterior walls of the entryway to the facility.  Because the parapet is coated with an impermeable sealant that should not be punctured or penetrated, the wood had to be glued onto its surface rather than nailed.  The sun, wind, weather, and salty air conditions were not kind to the reclaimed wood.  Over time the wood weathered grey whereas the reclaimed wood on the wall surfaces remained an orangey brown.  The wood also started to fall off, sometimes leaving holes in the water-proofed coating.  The remaining pieces of wood were finally taken down by CCSF students last spring.  Likewise, the conditions at Heron's Head Park were hard on the ceiling above the entryway.  It also needed to be resealed and painted.  With the generous support and donation of the Hanley Foundation, a small family foundation dedicated to supporting sustainable building and development, we were able to give the rooftop parapet and entryway ceiling a makeover.  Note that this same foundation provided funds so that CCSF faculty and students could set up an field laboratory at the EcoCenter to monitor its sustainable systems.  Following LEJ's Executive Director Patrick Rump's advice, the parapet and ceiling were painted the same russet orange as the other exterior walls.  The choice was an excellent one and now the aluminum heron and moon really "pop" against the vibrant color and the building stands out beautifully from a distance.  The following photo is a "before" image of the building followed by "after" photos of the roof and ceiling.  A sincere thank you to all that made this work  possible!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jeffrey Ludlow and Shant’e Austin From Treadwell and Rollo Give a Presentation to CCSF Students

Today, Jeffrey Ludlow, Vice President and Intern Shant’e Austin of Treadwell & Rollo, a Langan Company, visited to give a presentation to CCSF students about the work they performed to ensure that the EcoCenter would be safe and strong.  Treadwell and Rollo’s research of the site led the company to recommend that a shallow mat foundation would be the most cost-effective and efficient solution.  The alternative was the more expensive pile foundation that is most often used for buildings on closed landfill sites.  The pile foundation was also not a good alternative as its construction would puncture the geosynthetic clay liner several feet under the building.  The liner serves as a cap to prevent stormwater infiltration into the fill that created Heron's Head Park.  Water seepage could cause unsafe leachate that could make its way into the surrounding soil and water.

Mr. Ludlow also discussed the company’s design of a methane mitigation system that was installed by KLM Builders to minimize the possibility of this common landfill gas from migrating into the building.  The system is located beneath the concrete slab foundation and is composed of a methane-impermeable membrane.  Beneath the membrane is a layer of crushed rock that contains a network of horizontal perforated pipes that lead to vertical risers that vent to the roof.  The system allows any methane gas to be trapped and move through the rocks and pipe to the building’s rooftop exterior.  For over a year, former LEJ youth intern Shant’e Austin under the supervision of Jeffrey Ludlow has come to the EcoCenter to measure methane levels in the building and on the rooftop.  Ms. Austin showed students the meter used to measure both methane and oxygen levels and how it is calibrated before each use.  The methane levels have been non-detectable and the public health requirement for monitoring will sunset April 2013.  All in attendance were very grateful for this very informative and interesting talk that helped deepen understanding of the building of the EcoCenter and important maintenance and monitoring requirements.