The Green Column #46

Buildings and cities as ‘green’ designs

At this happy hour, you can plan the future! 

March 23, 2011—TGIT! (We are not replacing TGIF—just getting an early start on the end of the week!) The new Think Green It’s Thursday events in Lincoln are not an ending event, but a green beginning to the next new week ahead.

The first TGIT was held last week at EcoStores Nebraska in Lincoln. We talked about Lincoln becoming one of the greenest cities in America, how the economics and public policies of the city, region and state are changing, and how—and why—new features of the city, construction, and development projects are being planned with green and sustainable ideas.

We (not accidentally) started this series on St. Patty’s Day, the greenest day of the year.

We also reviewed and discussed some of the mayor’s plans for Cleaner Greener Lincoln, and the new Eco Products and Services Center, just opening at the EcoStores Nebraska location. TGIT is also affiliated with the all-volunteer group, Lincoln Green by Design (LGbD), and we talked about LGbD’s role and activities in the community.

So, by now you are jabbing your spouse, your friend, your neighbor, your colleague in the ribs, winking, and saying, “Yeah, but what is TGIT, really?” Is it social? Is it educational? Is it an exhibition of ‘show and tell?’” The answer is yes, yes, yes, and more. We plan to provide a little taste of Nebraska and regional vineyards, a bite or two of Nebraska-grown or -processed food, new ideas and information on green products, services, and projects that will make our city, your household—and your life—more sustainable and enjoyable, and to establish a habit of TGIT being a weekly place where you can talk with other Lincolnites about changing the future.

In this first year of weekly schedules we intend to, in general, categorize the one-hour programs into four broad headings:

  1. What Consumers Need to Make Personal Places More Green and Sustainable;
  2. What Contractors, Sub-contractors, Developers, and Service Providers Can Do to Make Lincoln a Greener City;
  3. What Vendors, Retailers, and Manufacturers Can Do to Provide More Green Choices for the Consumer; and,
  4. How Do We Prepare a New Workforce for the Emerging Green Economy

Lincoln has two new, and on-going programs related to making our city more energy efficient. One is reEnergize and is operated in partnership with the City of Omaha to give residential and commercial property owners in specified districts new opportunities for retrofitting buildings for increased energy efficiencies. The second is unique to Lincoln, designated as Lincoln Energy Challenge. Cleaner Greener Lincoln runs the Lincoln Energy Challenge with assistance from Lincoln Electric System, Black Hills Energy, AmeriCorps, Community Action Partnership, Stronger Safer Neighborhoods, and Midtown Village. The Lincoln Energy Challenge is a community-wide learning experience that encourages residents to think about how they use energy and discover tips to save money. Both these programs will provide significant context and a focus of information about available resources for the program discussions in TGIT.

Another major source for information and discussions at TGIT will be the myriad of new public and private construction projects that are planned for Lincoln’s near future. In the Lincoln Journal Star, February 20, 2011 edition of New Directions more than twenty new urban development projects were featured.

In collaboration with the Mayor’s Coordinator for Sustainable Development, we plan to collect detailed information on these and other new planning and design projects throughout the city. We will begin a new series in this column, “Making our buildings green and energy efficient”, with reporting on a regular basis on specific projects.

Our inquiries will begin with the recently completed $300 million public bond construction program for the Lincoln Public Schools System (Green Column #48), and progress through other major projects such as the West Haymarket Arena, the reconstruction of Centennial Mall, and others identified in the New Directions feature. Our networking will be with planners, architects, developers, property managers, and city and university department heads.

How many of these projects have significant green features? If none, why not? What are the local barriers to sustainable development, if any? If green and sustainable development features are planned, what are the performance expectations?

The majority of these projects will be located either in downtown Lincoln or on UNL campus sites. However, we intend to cover important retrofits and new constructions city-wide in the complete range of building types, including residential. If you have a project in mind that is worthy of expanding our collective knowledge about Lincoln’s green and sustainable future, please contact us at

If you are considering changes, upgrades, retrofitting, new construction or remodeling to save money on energy expenditures, TGIT will be a place for useful information.

You missed the program on March 17? Not to worry. There will be another TGIT every Thursday.

Our TGIT workshop space at EcoStores Nebraska is limited to 20 persons each Thursday, so, contact Christine Hunt at 402-477-3606, or early each week for a reservation.

Come join us at 5:00 to 6:00 pm, Thursdays at 530 W. P Street. Let the traffic clear out on your way home, meet some new folks, and discuss Lincoln’s future, while becoming a greener citizen.

Remember, the first step to sustainable development is intent, and the future is the most exciting place you can be.