Green Building and Sustainability Stories: February Roundup

Flow-Hive, the Bee-Friendly Way to Collect Honey

Father-and-son team Stuart and Cedar Anderson have devised an ingenious way to collecting honey from beehives, with minimal disruption to the bees.  Their invention, the Flow Hive, puts a twist, literally to the bee’s honeycomb structure.  Just by turning a crank, the bee frames can change from its  hexagonal form to a network of zigzagging channels where honey can flow out of a tap.

Bee-friendly Flow Hive: No more smoke needed. (Image from IndieGogo)

Bee-friendly Flow Hive: No more smoke needed. (Image from IndieGogo)


Traditionally, beekeepers had to some the bees to calm them and prevent untoward stings, before the frames could be removed to harvest the honey.  Flow Hive is designed to be non-invasive and less stressful to the bees.  Already, the Flow Hive campaign has reached its $70,000 goal …

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Happy and Green: Green Building and Employee Productivity

The equation is simple: green buildings make for happy, healthy, and consequently, productive workers.  At least that’s the hope.

When LEED v4 came out, it brought a more reinforced MR (Material + Resources) credit to the scene.  Its potent message is that toxic ingredients in building materials have absolutely no place inside our buildings.  After all, we spend 80 to 90% of our lives indoors.  We can’t have rogue chemicals leaching into the mostly trapped and recirculated air we breathe, no matter how efficient our HVAC systems.

Office happiness is no longer an oxymoron.  (Image from Huffingtonpost.)

Office happiness is no longer an oxymoron. (Image from Huffingtonpost.)

This ban on chemicals of concern signaled a great change in green building.  Yes, LEED designers are still concerned about reducing environmental impacts and saving on operational costs. But now there’s also a heightened interest in the health and well-being of building occupants. Those two concepts aren’t just cheerful by-products of our green building efforts anymore—they’re legitimately worth pursuing alongside the more important aspects such as building performance.


Healthy Buildings vs Sick Buildings

But here’s the thing: how strong really is this link between green building and productivity?  Several studies have concluded that …

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Why Sugar Is Bad, Even on Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, if you truly love your sweetheart, do them a favor and don’t give them milk chocolates.  Or a cake.  Or cookies.  Or any other sweet goodies.

As per tradition, Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse for sugar overload. (Photo from

As per tradition, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for sugar overload. (Photo from

We’re serious.  Sugar kills: that’s the short story of it.  The long story is that several studies have already published their findings on sugar.  All of them have unanimously agreed that sugar is the single most damaging substance you can take in your body, far worse than salt or saturated fat.  How so?  Keep reading!

Perhaps the most famous study of all is the one by Dr. Robert Lustig.  His YouTube video Sugar: The Bitter Truth went viral back in 2009, and is a real eye-opener.  Dr. Lustig, an endocrinologist from California, has linked sugar to all major fatal diseases plaguing our generation today: cancer, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and many others.  (And we all thought sugar only caused cavities.)

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Biomass Energy Requirements to Become Part of Green Building Standard

Very soon, biomass energy  will be included in green building standards.

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers), USGBC (US Green Building Council), and IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) are jointly developing new biomass requirements for inclusion in green building standard.


Hurray for biomass! Infographic from

Hurray for biomass! Infographic from

Right now, the ASHRAE/IES/USGBC Standard 189.1, (short for Standard for the Design of High Performance Green Buildings), recognizes renewable energy systems such as solar, wind, and geothermal.  Standard 189.1 is a total building sustainability standard that guides …

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Renewable Energy Takes Over as China’s Coal Industry Slumps Down

The green community is rejoicing this week at the news of China’s slumping coal industry.  As many as 6,000 coal mines are set to be shut down in China.

Overworked and unprotected: a typical coal miner in China (Photo by Mike Goldwater from

Overworked and unprotected: a typical coal miner in China (Photo by Mike Goldwater from

Coal output in the country reportedly fell 2.5% in 2014, its first ever decline since 2000.  Two point five percent may not seem much, but it’s a significant drop.  Analysts point out a host of factors responsible for this: a record decline in economic growth, reduced demand from the construction industry, especially steel and concrete, a shifting focus on renewable energy, a safety push for miners exposed to health hazards, and new policies regarding pollution.

Perhaps most importantly, China is simply making good on its promise during all those climate change conferences and negotiations.

Coal dependence have taken a big toll on China’s environment.  Polluted skies …

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