Monthly Archives: March 2010

“Green architect” and author Freed to speak in Savannah March 31

greenbuildingEric Corey Freed, author of “Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies,” will present a lecture on Wednesday, March 31 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Savannah Morning News Auditorium, 1375 Chatham Parkway. According to Freed, the lecture will explore, “the various problems with energy, water, siting, materials, and air quality.  It points out the often absurd means by which we build our buildings and then explores dozens of practical, tangible solutions for how to correct them.”

Freed’s practice, organicARCHITECT was founded in 1997 and is a USGBC LEED™ Accredited green architecture and consulting firm.

The event is free for American Institute of Architects and USGBC members and $5 for the generla public.

The return of Ellis Square, Savannah’s next great public space

A grand opening for Ellis Square was held on March 19.

Standing in Ellis Square yesterday evening, it was a little difficult to remember the ugly parking garage that occupied the square for decades. It was even harder to imagine more than 1,000 parking spaces below all the grass, trees and people having fun. And there were plenty of people having fun.

ellissquareribbonA ribbon cutting, staple of dedication ceremonies, followed remarks by Mayor Otis Johnson and other government officials. However, instead of sticking to the usual script in which the audience observes dignitaries cutting the ribbon, scissors were distributed to the crowd allowing the public to take part and producing hundreds of instant souvenirs of the event.

There’s a lot to like about the new Ellis Square, including the elements that make it “the most environmentally friendly of Savannah’s squares,” according to city officials. These include “water-efficient plants, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC system in the glass-walled visitors center, and a green roof on the public bathrooms.”

Truly, one of the best things going for Ellis Square is its location and the types of land uses nearby. In “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs describes the neighborhoods surrounding Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square and how they influence the way the park is used:

“Does anything about the physical arrangement of the neighborhood affect the park physically? Yes. This mixture of uses of buildings directly produces for the park a mixture of users who enter and leave the park at different times…In short, Rittenhouse Square is fairly busy continuously for the same reason that a lively sidewalk is used continuously: because of the functional physical diversity among adjacent uses, and hence diversity among users and their schedules.”

The functional diversity of adjacent uses around Ellis Square is represented by shops, restaurants, office buildings, galleries, nightclubs and hotels. These attractors will bring Jacobs’ “mixture of users” into the square at different times of day. Contrast this with Savannah’s beautiful Forsyth Park, which most folks avoid after sundown, unless a concert or other event is scheduled.

Longtime Sustainable Savannah may remember my grumbling about the fact that most of the money spent on the project went toward the parking garage, with only a fraction remaining for the square itself. I’m still not happy with how much public money we spend to provide storage for private automobiles, but I am pleased with the wonderful new public space that citizens can now enjoy.

Bamboo Farm Spring Festival presents opportunity to show support for threatened program

SGF20POSTER202010The 16th Annual Spring Festival at the University of Georgia’s Bamboo Farm and Coastal Garden on March 20 provides a great excuse to visit the largest collection of bamboo specimens available for public viewing in North America and maybe even buy some to take home at the plant sale. Also worth checking out is the Xeriscape demonstration garden. The festival takes place from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

It’s a critical time for this important resource. The Bamboo Farm, which attracts 120,00 visitors a year and employees nine people, has been identified as a potential victim of the latest round of state budget cuts. Here’s a good description of what could be lost and what can be done to protect this important resource.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival

Thursday, April 8 at 6 p.m. at  The Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro, Georgia

The Environmental Film Festival brings together the best of the home festival’s films. With a growing public awareness for the environment, the festival aims to increase this groundswell through inspiring and educational films which hopefully will motivate people to go out and make a difference in their community and around the world.

Whether it is the struggle for environmental justice, information on renewable energy or an educational tale about an endangered species, the films expose people to forward-thinking ideas and global awareness. We choose films that not only highlight the concerns but provide solutions, reaching people through beautiful imagery like the sweeping landscapes of the Tallgrass Prairie or the grandeur of the the rivers around the world.

For more information visit: