Just looking at all the sustainability websites listed on the MHS Green Team’s Delicious website, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Historic preservation was one of the things that got me interested in studying this subject, because it provides an outlook for the memories and stories stored within the historic places for centuries to come. Plus the National Trust for Historic Preservation is an organization that provides emphasis on saving historic places around the United States and basically restoring America’s history of communities. As I was navigating the web page, I found it fascinating that in their statement on historic preservation and sustainability, they discuss how we should preserve and reinvest in historic buildings, because it saves time, money, and helps fight climate change.
I recently went to DC for a seminar on User-Centered Analysis and Application Design, and the biggest question I kept getting from people in explaining this seminar was - "what is that?" and "why is that sustainable?" Also, people wanted to know if I saw the cherry-blossoms while I was in DC...
First of all, usability is "the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified amount of use…" (ISO 9241-11). So, essentially, the product works well for your intended users. And, finally, the cherry-blossoms were nice.
The relationship to sustainability is a little bit more of a stretch. While it doesn't have direct correlation, good design is sustainable in many ways. For our blog, the environmental resource preservation messages can be made much more accessible if made very usable. Only the dedicated would keep coming back to a blog that was difficult to use and hard to navigate. For our main project purpose, the audit, the concept of usability can be integrated into our calculation tools, making tracking our level of sustainability easier for everyone. But, in general, the concepts of usability can even be used to help implement any of our sustainability strategies.
Name: Net-Zero Energy home/ Historic House
Location: Ann-Arbor, MI
Project Type: Renovation of a historic house
Project Scope: Multi-Year remodel– new HVAC, appliances, plumbing, and added insulation
Name: Cincinnati Zoo, Solar Array Project (Part of a larger Go Green Initiative)
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Project Type: New Construction
Project Scope: Solar Array for surface parking lot (under construction)
Last week, while I pondered the need to print a single sheet of paper for a conference schedule, I found myself at the printer, looking at stacks and stacks of wasted prints. This was not the ordinary pile of misprinted copies. It was a stack of more than 3 reams of paper, over 1000 sheets, of code , or to most people, gibberish. It was clearly an accidental print. The original file may have not even been anywhere near the number of pages of the printed code. What was funny was that the prints went on continuously from 2pm to 4pm, and only stopped because the printer ran out of paper. Suspiciously, I also thought about how many sheets can actually be loaded into the printer, and if anyone else had come in to courteously refill the paper, only to have it wasted it on these prints. Instantly, I felt awful that so much paper was wasted. And, I wondered if there is a way to channel that instinctive feeling of guilt, but at much smaller, day-to-day actions of waste? This question is a good segue into Christie Manning's work on the psychology of sustainable behavior.
Next week, we will have our first online Green Team meeting. In the past, our small Green Team meetings consisted of fewer than 15 particpants, meeting at the James J. Hill House, about once a month. Of the participants, only (4) members came from other sites, including Split Rock Lighthouse, North West Company Fur Post, Oliver Kelley Farm, and Mill City Museum. At first, it seems that it probably isn't a big deal... four longer trips, once a month, and they were often combined with other meetings or events. However, given our online meeting experiment, I ran a few numbers to see what the impact of our institution-wide travel has on our budgets and our carbon footprint.
What used to be a data-dense website with an overwhelming amount of text has recently been overhauled. The U.S. Energy Information Administration's new website is much easier to navigate. In addition, graphics are well, with key graphs and maps that help users quickly understand what they are looking at.
Quantification can be a misleading task. When it comes to sustainability, quantifying the complex issues surrounding the environment can be even more difficult. For example, figures on excess nutrients in water bodies are very straightforward, but it is only one indicator of the health of a complex ecosystem. Any indicator taken alone, without context, can be misleading.
In an effort to organize and share some of the online resources this project has come across, we have started a Delicious account.
Go to: http://www.delicious.com/mnhsgreenteam and use the tags to find case studies, tools, and news on sustainability.
Location: London, Liverpool, & St. Ives, UK.
Project Type: Operational / behavioral changes within existing buildings, (1) new building addition
Project Scope: 2007 - current; (4) museums and (1) retail store