Tuesday, March 6, 2007

two speakers, one future

This post is late, but i was busy! Last week i attended two speakers with my new friends, Bess and Josh. Tuesday evening was crazy great. We went to see a speaker/architect Jason McLennan from the U.S. Green Building Council talk about "The Ethical Basis of Sustainable Design and the Future of Building". I've become increasingly interested in architecture and design and especially design using the standards developed within the LEED Green Building Rating System. Just five years ago achieving the standard alone was incredibly difficult, now people are reaching for the silver, gold and platinum ratings and simply being certified isn't nearly as impressive. Jason introduced to us his new "baby" = The Living Building. To quote him, "In the future, the houses we live in and the offices we work in will be designed to function like living organisms, specifically adapted to place and able to draw all of their requirements for energy and water from the surrounding sun, wind and rain. The architecture of the future will draw inspiration, not from the machines of the 20th century, but from the beautiful flowers that grow in the landscape that surrounds them." Pretty fantastic!
The Living Building Will:

•Harvest all its own water and energy needs on site

•Be adapted specifically to site, and climate and built primarily will local materials

•Operate pollution free and generate no wastes that aren’t useful for some other process in the building or immediate environment

• Promote the health and well being of all inhabitants–consistent with being an ecosystem

•Be comprised of integrated systems that maximize efficiency and comfort

•Be beautiful and inspire us to dream.

We drank our organic beer and soaked up all the info we could. Jason was hilarious, smart and I loved what he had to say. I really hope the living building becomes the next LEED movement. Interesting that we industrialized the world and now we just want to go back to nature. Love it.


Wednesday was an addendum to the original stem cell research conversation that took place over President's weekend in Whistler. James McManus & Ron Reagan (yes, son of President Ronald Reagan) sat in "comfy" chairs and bantered about the current administration's position on stem cell research. The most interesting part of the talk wasn't the political ranting but at the end when folks from the audience were able to interrupt and ask questions. We learned how the stem cells are actually aquired. To some of you this may not be a shocking discovery as you may be more informed than I was...but the stem cells aren't actually acquired in a manner that, from my perspective, has any moral limitations. Embryos can either be made via reproduction -- merging sperm and egg -- or by cloning. Researchers aren't likely to create an embryo with sperm and egg, but many use fertilized embryos from fertility clinics. Sometimes, couples who are trying to have a baby create several fertilized embryos and don't implant them all. They may donate the ones that are left over to science.

Another way to create an embryo is via a technique called therapeutic cloning. This technique merges a cell (from the patient who needs the stem cell therapy) with a donor egg. The nucleus, which is what actually contains DNA and what makes the egg unique, is removed from the egg and replaced with the nucleus of the patient's cell. This egg is stimulated to divide either chemically or with electricity, and the resulting embryo carries the patient's genetic material, which significantly reduces the risk that his or her body will reject the stem cells once they are implanted. Hmm..who knew? Plus, people have been using adult stem cells for years for bone marrow transplants!


Sally said...

You are smarty smart-smart! I'm freaking impressed with all the smarty outings. Good for you~

Marni Kahn said...

Hey Sally - I'm so glad you made it to Jason's talk. Living Buildings are beginning to sprout up everywhere! Check out the Living Building Challenge at www.cascadiagbc.org!

Cheers, Marni
Cascadia Region Green Building Council