Design Firms Try Greening Up

How many gallons of gas does it take for environmentally conscious architects and interior designers to drive to a green building project?

How many gallons of gas does it take for environmentally conscious architects and interior designers to drive to a green building project?

Too many, says Barry Ryskamp, a Salt Lake City sales representative for Atlanta-based Interface Flooring Systems, a carpet manufacturer and leader in the sustainability movement. Ryskamp, tired of seeing three or four SUVs from the same design firm parked at a job site, partnered with TreeUtah to challenge design professionals to think outside the green box.

"Designers worry a lot about recycled content in buildings. Sometimes they lose sight of the big picture," Ryskamp says. Besides hunting down green products for clients, designers can help the environment by carpooling, taking mass transit or biking to work and between job sites, Ryskamp says.

Ryskamp and TreeUtah MetroGreening Coordinator Jennifer Atwood spoke at a workshop Thursday to kick off the campaign, co-sponsored by Salt Lake design firm Henriksen/Butler and Michigan-based furniture supplier Herman Miller Inc.

About 40 attendees were asked to participate in an "anti-gas guzzler" challenge, tracking their gasoline use for the next five business days and earning the chance to win a deluxe, earth-friendly office chair from Herman Miller.

In observance of Arbor Day, at Day-Riverside Library, volunteer architects and interior designers will plant the number of trees needed to offset emissions logged during the challenge.

Ryskamp described the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment and ways to address the problem, including energy-efficient technology, renewable energy and offsetting emissions with tree plantings. Using one gallon of gas produces 214.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, which can be absorbed by planting 0.3 trees. Interface has planted 50,000 trees since 1997 to offset its emissions.

Atwood touted two, non-environmental benefits of planting trees: They raise property values 3 to 10 percent, and can cool buildings in summer and buffer cold winds in the winter, reducing heating and cooling costs and energy consumption. Atwood explained how to protect trees during construction and select and plant site-appropriate trees.

TreeUtah has planted more than 260,000 trees since its inception in 1989, with the help of 100,000 volunteers. "You can make a difference," she said, offering tips on selecting and planting site-appropriate trees and protecting trees from damage during construction.

Workshop co-organizer Donna Kessler, director of business development at Henriksen/Butler, rattled off some changes she plans to make.

"I have a gas-guzzling truck I'm going to get rid of," she said, adding "I'm planting a blue spruce at home."

Evan Cindrich, an interior designer with Edwards & Daniels Architects in Salt Lake City, was inspired to sign up for the "anti-gas guzzler" challenge and plans to ride his bike and take the bus to work more often from his West Bountiful home.

"I'm hoping to rethink things and be better," he said.

--Learn how to select and plant trees or contact a consultant at TreeUtah:
--Calculate how many trees you need to plant to offset your energy use:
--Calculate your "ecological footprint:"

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