As part of our work supporting the award-winning GreenTools program at King County, O’Brien & Company crafted a “Solutions-Oriented Workshop” to both inspire and engage the local green building community in rolling up their shirtsleeves to tackle specific challenges presented by a real sustainable building project. The event was attended by industry, government and community leaders representing more than 15 different organizations, as well as one of the industry’s most visionary leaders in ecological design, architect and Island Press author Sim Van der Ryn.
The session started off with an inspiring Roundtable presentation from Sim and Biomimicry Puget Sound, and then moved from theory to practice. A smaller group of participants tackled the challenge brought to them by SAGE Architectural Alliance for the Redmond Senior Housing Project. The team’s desired outcome were:
- Creatively infiltrate a significant amount of storm water on the site
- Provide a healthy living environment for residents
- Reduce life-cycle costs with minimal increased construction costs
This group brainstormed a number of recommendations that the design team reported were very valuable in informing their approach to moving the project forward. Recommendations included: using nature as a model to manage stormwater; providing opportunities for residents to interact with nature so that they can experience the health benefits that provides; and building in life-cycle accounting to more accurately capture the financial impacts of decisions.
Our role on the project was to coordinate the workshop preparation, materials, and logistics. We drafted the call for workshop projects, including the criteria for submissions and tips for tying it to the Sustainable Cities annual theme. We provided workshop setup and facilitation support, helping to capture a wealth of ideas, suggestions, resources and considerations for the project team. As a follow-up to the workshop, we authored a workshop report capturing the big picture themes and detailed suggestions.