Short & to the Point


A Super Bowl Party for an Eco-Champion

Here are my top tips for a more earth-friendly Super Bowl party:

  • Check your shopping list. Fewer trips to the store means less miles traveled and less greenhouse gasses emitted.
  • Buy beverages in bulk. Kegs and 2-liter bottles leave you with less to clean up and less to haul to the recycling. And ditch the bottled water, tap is terrific!
  • Try not to use disposable utensils, plates and cups. Finger foods are a great way to cut down on utensils and providing cup markers helps keep track of who’s beverage is who’s. If you have a large crowd and you must buy disposal products, give preference to items that are made with recycled content, are biodegradable, or that are compostable.
  • Dim the lights! Once the party’s started and guests have arrived, be sure to shut off the exterior lights.
  • Take inventory of the food situation before people start leaving. If you’ve got more than you can eat, send some of those leftovers home with guests.
Natalie Terrill
Is Cleaning Your House Dirtying Your Air?

You might be familiar with a study that says we spend an average of 90% of our time indoors and that indoor pollutants are 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels. Most people have heard about Sick Building Syndrome, but do you think it could apply to your own house?

I recently learned my mom has had repeated lung infections for at least a year. She told me, “it’s normal, nothing to worry about”, but I immediately started bombarding her with questions about her cleaning products, laundry products, type of vacuum she uses, candles and scented oil plug-ins. She thought I was nuts.

Here’s the thing: we’re used to associating a clean house with the smell of cleaning products. Our olfactory memory is powerful and evokes emotional responses. If we clean all day, or the housekeeper was scheduled, we like to take a deep breath and think, “All clean!”. Except that clean house is a bit of a gas chamber and the air is probably full of carcinogens, irritants and endocrine disruptors. If you light a paraffin candle, you’ve just introduced heavy metals. The health hazards are numerous for healthy adults, and even worse for the developing lungs of infants and children or the compromised health of the elderly.

In my mom’s case, every product she was using for cleaning and laundering were horrible for her health, the indoor air quality of her house and the environment. I taught her about the health of cleaning products and armed her with information. My favorite resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. You can search more than 2,500 products for free and it’s easy to understand with products graded from A-F.  Check it out here

Natalie Terrill
5 Takeaways From AIA Document E204-2017

The AIA recently published the new and revised 2017 design-bid-build documents, which now includes E204-2017 Sustainable Projects Exhibit. As a Sustainability Consultant, here are my top takeaways:

Outline Incentive programs. One of the biggest incentives is usually for energy efficiency. This is a collaborative effort with the architect, MEP, and energy modeler. The incentive programs typically have partners or approved vendors who get regular updates on deadlines, program changes, and the application process. If you’re not on the list, you may not be getting the current information.

Disclose Certification Agreements. This is hugely important and I’m happy to see it included in the document. LEED, for example, has an entire Certification Policy Manual in addition to the Minimum Program Requirements, Terms & Conditions, Certification Agreement, and Confirmation of Agent’s Authority. These documents can be hard to find, especially if you don’t know they exist.

Schematic Design Workshop. In the world of rating systems, “the early bird gets the worm”. Rating systems have prerequisites, or minimum mandatory requirements, and deadlines for getting things done. Knowing this, then setting the course with a clear set of goals and charging forward with a plan to achieve them will save a lot of time and money.

Construction Waste Management Plan. I find it curious that the contractor must provide a Construction Waste Management (CWM) Plan, but not an Indoor Air Quality Management (IAQ) Plan. I think that IAQ is of greater concern to Owners than CWM.  

Commissioning Agent. The document states the Owner must hire a Commissioning Agent (CxA), but doesn’t mention when the CxA should be brought on board. This document is intended to provide a simplified approach to sustainability guidelines and be flexible enough to provide guidance for different rating systems or certifications. If you’re pursuing LEED, the CxA must be brought on by the end of Design Development.

Natalie Terrill
Bugging Out!

I’ve recently read a few disturbing articles. The first was courtesy of The Washington Post in March when I learned spiders are literally everywhere. If that’s not enough, they have such a voracious appetite that they could eat all of humanity in a year and still be hungry. Major hee-bee-jeebies, thanks.

Then I came across something from the Smithsonian telling me that insects are the most diverse group of species on planet, and that they probably have the largest biomass of terrestrial animals. It’s estimated that at any given time there are 10 quintillion individual insects alive. Yes, quintillion, with 18 zeros. There are lots and lots of facts and figures and studies about this, but basically, for each human being alive, there are more than 200 million insects. What is your fear factor registering at right now?

Last week, my husband decided to goad me with an Axios article on how Eating insects could save the planet. According to the article, researchers at the University of Edinburgh looked at traditional cattle and chicken production compared to lab grown meat, tofu, and insects. Turns out insects and tofu are best in terms of land use, greenhouse gas emission reductions from livestock production, the use of harvested crops, and the amount of energy used to process. They say if half the animal products were replaced with insects, it’s estimated we would free up 1,680 million hectacres of land, or landmass 70 times the size of the UK.

Eating insects is common all over the world, but not so much in the US. Anybody planning on ordering cricket protein? I’m starting to think it’s eat or be eaten!

Natalie Terrill
Nothing prepares you for being an entreprenuer.

"It's like riding a roller coaster or sky diving - scary as hell, but fun, and exciting, and unpredictable." My best friend nailed it. Nothing prepares you for being an entrepreneur. I worked my first day from 7:30am to 9:30pm. My second day I called it quits around 7:30pm. Two very frustrating days figuring out all the things I don't know - finalizing documents of incorporation, more legal paperwork, more phone calls to even more people. The list seems endless. I was trying to get it all done on an iPad because my new laptop hadn't yet arrived. That was just bad planning on my part. Said laptop took another couple of hours to install, because, Windows, and no IT department to speak of. I'm not complaining, I had an idea what I was getting into, but the truth is that it will be next week before I start business development and all these things that are normally handled by IT, accounting, marketing, business development, and whoever else are now dealt with by Natalie Terrill, Founder at Perceptive, Inc.

Natalie Terrill