Green Architecture

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

shelves" built at the top one-third of the windows bounce light onto slanted ceilings that, in turn, disperse natural light to offices and common areas far into the interior of the building.

Partitions between work stations are low so natural light can come through the entire work area. By using natural lighting-called "daylighting"-up to 60 percent of the light in work areas is provided cost- and waste-free by the sun. In addition, the reduction of artificial lighting, which generates 55 percent more heat for the same amount of light that sunlight generates, substantially reduces cooling costs in summer.

Furnishings manufactured with the least impacts on the environment were chosen for work areas.

  • Linoleum used throughout the buildings is made of ground wood, ground cork and linseed oil.
  • Carpeting is colored with natural dyes.
  • The lobby floor is made from end-grain blocks of fir left over from the manufacture of doors.
  • Wood paneling and finishes come from Wisconsin forests that are owned and managed as a renewable resource by the Menominee tribe.
  • Office furniture was ventilated or "off-gassed" in warehouses before being shipped to the new building to rid the furniture of harmful gaseous chemicals.
  • All cleaning products used in housekeeping practices are natural.
  • Even the elevator received careful attention-the hydraulic fluid is vegetable oil rather than a petroleum product.

The Garden's research center is certainly a model of sustainable design, and it uses some of the best materials on the market. Many of these same products can be used for residences as well, and can save homeowners money.

Among the many individuals in Missouri turning to sustainable design is self-proclaimed "problem solver" Peter LaVaute of Columbia. LaVaute is a former farrier (horse-shoeing blacksmith) and now president of Ecosense Solutions. His business card defines his services-ecologically sensitive and economically sensible construction materials, consultation and "strategic alliance formation."

"There are lots of sustainable products out there," LaVaute explains, "and a lot of people would like to use them, but it isn't always easy to incorporate them into developments. That's why I want to provide ways for builders to ally themselves with new materials and designs."

LaVaute is designing low-cost, ecologically sound house kits. "The kits will cut down on waste because they will use sustainable materials and be energy efficient," he says. "And builders can choose a kit that best fits their needs." He plans to offer a standard frame kit and also a straw bale kit.

For future homeowners and for business people, he offers

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