Minutes from the Joint meeting of the
Maryland Green Building Network (MDGBN)
and the AIA Baltimore COTE
October 3, 2000
Location: Chesapeake Bay Program's Information and Conference Center (aka "Fish Shack")
Chuck Kines, MD DNR; Mark M. Bundy, MD DNR; *Bill Reed, Natural Logic, Inc.; Julie Gabrielli, AIA Baltimore COTE; Melanie Hartwig-Davis, AIA Baltimore COTE; Stuart Stainman, Maryland Health Dept./MD Chapter APA; Donavan Corum, Frederick County Planning and Zoning; Rick Brace, Frederick County P&Z/MD Chapter APA; Bill DeLoache, Whitman, Requardt; Janet Harrison, JHarrison Architects; Sherif Wahdan, AIA Baltimore COTE; Danielle Lucid, Maryland Tributary Strategies Program; Sean McGuire, Maryland Tributary Strategies Program; David Brosch, City of Baltimore Department of Housing; Barry Mahaffey; Mike Stover; Jessica Burgard; Paul Zeigler, PA Green Builder Program; Wendy Bratzel, Ecological Design Associates; Stan Sersen, ASG, Inc.; Jonathan Meyer; Meyer Sons Builders; Bion Howard, B.E.S.T.; Katrin Scholz-Barth, HOK Planning Group.
=== FUTURE OF THE MDGBN ===
Over the past 15 months, the MDGBN has become a very valuable forum for exchanging and sharing information on green building and sustainable planning/design in the Baltimore-Annapolis-Washington D.C. area. It also has become a great opportunity for monthly networking and collaborating. The future of the MDGBN is in doubt, however, because Chuck Kines, who serves as the MDGBN coordinator, is leaving the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to accept a position with Howard County Planning and Zoning. As a result he no longer will be able to organize monthly meetings. Mark Bundy, leader/director of the Maryland Green Building Program (MGBP), asked interested participants to meet prior to the main presentation to discuss how to keep the MDGBN moving forward.
There was a general consensus that the MDGBN is indeed valuable to the State's efforts to encourage green building, and to somehow keep it going under the umbrella of DNR, if possible. Participants enjoy the close association between the MDGBN and the State's Green Building Program. Participants also seem to enjoy the informal, "come when you can" nature of the group, as well as the existing format of guest speakers talking about local projects followed by time for networking. It also was agreed that DNR should continue to manage, build and update the MGBP website.
It was agreed that there wasn't enough time to decide the group's fate in one evening, and that five options should be explored and discussed further:
1) keeping the MDGBN within DNR and finding a DNR staff member to take it over;
2) rotating the responsibility of organizing and hosting monthly meetings among the active regional green building organizations (USGBC-DC Chapter/AIA DC COTE, AIA Baltimore COTE, PA Green Builder Program);
3) having three or so regular MDGBN participants share the responsibility of organizing monthly meetings and managing the e-mail list;
4) designating someone to serve as "chair" to lead the group, which would mean formalizing it somehow; and
5) spinning off the MDGBN DNR as a non-profit (501 c3 or 4) organization.
Comments and thoughts about these option should be directed to Mark Bundy, email@example.com or 410-260-8710. A meeting to further discuss these options has been set for November 7th at 6:30 at the offices of AIA Baltimore.
Sean McGuire with the Maryland Tributary Strategies Program has agreed to serve as interim coordinator of the MDGBN, firstname.lastname@example.org; 410-260-8727. He will keep the MDGBN moving forward by managing the e-mail distribution list and helping to organize monthly meetings. Thanks, Sean!
Chuck Kines will continue to participate in the MDGBN. As of Oct. 16th, he can be reached by calling Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning's main #, 410-313-2350.
=== MAIN PRESENTATION ==
Bill Reed, Natural Logic, Inc. "Innovative Sustainable Community Planning: A closer look at St. Mary's County Sustainable Community Development Project"
Bill began by defining permaculture and stressed his belief that it is the foundation of green building and sustainable design. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonius integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms. He urged green building/sustainable design proponents to read Bill Mollison's 1970s book, "PERMACULTURE: A Designers' Manual."
Sustainable human settlements cannot be achieved without understanding the underlying patterns in nature and the cultural history of the landscape. Conservation is the wrong approach. It's simply a slower way to die. What we should be trying to do is restore landscapes as best we can to historic environmental conditions. Restoring landscapes will require a change in mind-set, from linear thinking - where each problem or issue is examined separately in isolation - to systems thinking - where issues are examined in relationship to other issues. Like nature, planning problems are interconnected and inseparable.
The traditional linear planning approaches that still predominate in many local planning agencies were designed to deal with singular elements or issues, not with complex systems. Most planning and policy making bodies lack the understanding of the intricately interwoven relationships between the natural and man-made systems that make up the place in which they and their constituents live. Most also lack access to the systemic analytic tools that are required to track and anticipate the potential ecological and social consequences of constantly changing human activities. Lack of such understanding and ability to foresee consequences has generated many well-intentioned policies that produced the opposite of their desired effect. It has also hampered policymakers' ability to present demonstrable and convincing rationales for their decisions with the result that controversy over policies is too often decided by influence rather than understanding.
St. Mary's County in southern Maryland offers a clear example of the impact of sprawl and of what's wrong with traditional planning approaches. 400 miles of shoreline, 231,000 acres in size and containing a population of 90,000, the county is rich in biological, historic and cultural resources that are threatened by heavy development pressures and incipient sprawl. The 1990s expansion of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and the steady southward creep of the Baltimore-Washington commuter region have triggered rapid population growth for which the county's physical and regulatory infrastructure is inadequate. No rules now in place inhibit commercial developers' ability to build out land at the present pace for another 40 years, with disastrous consequences for fast-shrinking supplies of open space. Despite a clear need for higher densities in areas designated for residential development, the standard one house per three acres remains the norm. Buildout permissible under current codes far exceeds groundwater available.
Concerned citizens elected new County Commissioners with a mandate to better manage growth but the county lacked the necessary knowledge and planning tools. Instead of outsourcing the solution, St. Mary's County officials formed a partnership with a group of leading systems consultants which organized the Sustainable Community Development Planning Project to develop, implement and document a coherent, whole systems planning approach to sustainable regional development. The project will serve as the umbrella under which all county planning projects, including their required comprehensive plan review, will be conducted. This partnership, which is already well underway, enables access to the best systems thinking available while at the same time ensuring that the planning processes and tools generated are appropriate to local conditions and culture and have the full investment of local decision makers.
The project involves the development of a systemic understanding of the county's natural environment which includes how it has responded to human interventions over hundreds of years, the critical leverage points where future human interventions can have far-reaching implications, and the potential for future healthy relationships. It's essentially an analysis of the county's carrying capacity. The St. Mary's County Sustainable Community Development Project is designed to produce specific benefits to the County in the form of new capabilities for managing growth for a sustainable and generative future and, in the process of delivering that, a nationally relevant, documented model for ecological regional planning.
For more information about the St. Mary's County project or the USGBC's LEED Residential Green Building Rating System, contact Bill Reed (email@example.com; 301-654-3323)
=== NEXT MEETING ===
November 7th, 6:30 - 8:00 pm @ offices of AIA Baltimore. TOPIC: Continued discussion on the future of the MDGBN. For more information, contact Mark Bundy (410-260-8720 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sean McGuire, interim MDGBN coordinator (410-260-8727; email@example.com)