Saturday, December 31, 2011

EVD NEW YEAR Announcement

Finally, I’m very happy to announce that I have been awarded a Partners of The Americas Fellowship to work and collaborate with Subsecretaria de Economia Verde do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I will be in Rio for several weeks collaborating with this government organization on projects such as the Rio Climate Action Plan, The transformation of Parque Gramacho (land field featured in the recent documentary “Wasteland”) and their ideas to create a Rio Center for Green Technology. EVD is very grateful to be given this one in a life time opportunity. To me this is finally an opportunity to give back to my native country as a professional. Hopefully this fellowship will lead to opportunities to create jobs and productive sustainable development opportunities in Rio and Chicago!

EVD Hight Lights (4)

During the month of November EVD was invited By Urban Works Architecture to participate in a request for proposal for a UNO elementary School in the Chicago Near North/West side at 2100 North Natchez. It was a very competitive process with 7 design/built competition selected teams on the run including Design Bridge colleagues who also developed a very interesting design. Our team was awarded the project in the middle of November and since the beginning of December, EVD is intensively participating in the Site/Urban/Landscape Design as well as the land use and zoning analysis. The project needed rezoning which was approved recently and we are moving forward into the Design Development phase with an aggressive schedule with final completion and opening of the school expected by September 2012! The Urban Works building design is absolutely stunning! Landscape architect Terry Guen and EVD are designing and planning a beautiful site/landscape plan with organic gracious curvilinear pathways, play areas and gardens that will connect the children and the community with nature in an educational, sustainable and social way. There is no doubt in my mind that this project will be the pride of many UNO families and the community in the surrounding neighborhood.

EVD Hight Lights (3)

In August of 2011, I was also selected by St. Augustine College recommended by my colleage Alicia Ponce to start teaching Green Construction Practices and to prepare students for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate USGBC exam. This was a very gratifying experience. The well-known Hispanic American Construction Industry Association HACIA developed this training program for minorities and small business in the construction industry in collaboration with St. Augustine College Workforce Development providing quality programs in sustainable green construction.

My students are all entrepreneurial owners of smart small construction companies, many struggling in these hard economic times but all willing to learn and implement green construction alternatives as a way to be more competitive and to include responsible alternatives to improve our environment. As I review with students the existing alternatives and concepts in green construction practices I also learned from them the difficulties and choices they deal with everyday in the construction field. I also had architects in my class and other colleagues with whom I have worked for many years in the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development and with the Mayor’s Green Team. As a result, architect Franceline Villasenor now collaborates with EVD on a regular basis. We celebrated the students’ success in the class with a Brasilian Feijoada at EVD Home/studio on December 17, 2011. I wish all my past students good luck after the LEED Green Associate exam! I’m also very grateful to John Albrecht, the first LEED AP in the City of Chicago, who come to my classes to answer questions the students have about the LEED certification process.
From left to right in the picture are SAC LEED GA students Luis Arias, Gamil Myers, Derrica Merriweather, me and Oscar Meade. Good luck in the LEED GA exam!


In August of 2011, I started a close contact with Guacolda Reyes from The Resurrection Project who invited EVD to participate and bid on a request for proposal for the rehabilitation of 2- to 4-unit buildings lost to foreclosure that are ready to the rehabilitated in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. EVD decided to present a proposal in combination with Landon Bone Baker Architects , a well known architectural company with extensive experience with affordable housing. Our team was awarded the rehabilitation of 5 buildings. Rebeca Fernandez Lee was a hard-working collaborating architect dedicating endless hours to complete the projects on schedule in a very professional matter. LBBA Principal Catherine Baker and Tyler Brown, Project Manager, were and still are instrumental to the completion of these projects.

EVD Hight Lights (2)

During the summer, EcoVidalDesign redesigned and enhanced the rain garden originally installed in 2008 with the support of the Chicago Center for Green Technology. The redesign included new “urbanite” concrete paths with an organic naturalized shape creating “rooms” in the garden and a meandering 100% permeable walkway. Contractor Andy’s Patios built the paths in two weeks reusing 100% of the existing concrete walks. Landscape designer Kim Kaulas provided advice to make the final layout. The garden now has the front entry room, the “rain garden”, the living room and outdoor eating area, the vegetable raised bed areas, the pond/hammock room and the back entry area with a composting bin. This garden has been featured in the Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project and received the 2011 Mayor’s Landscape Award 2rd place for specialized gardens. Other award winners in this category include Helen Cameron with the first certified organic restaurant in the country,">Uncommon Ground, and the Tiger & Michelle Alia Whispers Coffee & Tea. Click here to see list of winners.

EVD 2011 High Lights (1)

During the first quarter of 2011 EVD dedicated its time to redesign a Hood Canal cottage that was completely destroyed by water damage during the 2010/2011 winter. The plans included an interior and exterior gut rehab with 100% environmental design for this 1,000 square foot cottage in Seattle, WA. EVD worked with the owner, contractor and civil engineer as well as the Hood Canal municipality to coordinate and include everyone's demands and requests. Highlight design features include: an interior open layout with alternating steps to the attic to gain space, on-demand hot water heater and the salvaging and recycling of 50% of the existing wood. The home design and construction received a 2011 Built Green Designation by the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Chicago Mayor's Landscaping Award

On December 3, 2011, Carmen Vidal Hallett received the 3rd place 2011 Chicago Mayor's Landscaping Award for Specialized Gardens. EcoVidalDesign rain garden was originally constructed in 2007 with the support of the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT). The planting materials (10 species and100 perennial plants) costed only $1 each with the support of CCGT and have multiplied over the last 3 years allowing for the sharing of plants with neighboring gardens. The rain garden collects 90% of the roof rain water.

In 2011, with an already mature fully grown garden, Carmen Vidal-Hallett, EcoVidalDesign President decided to go one step ahead and create an 100% permeable path recycling the existing concrete floor and installing it again in an organic wavy pattern. Andy's Patio contractor carefully broke the existing concrete sidewalk and reused 100% of it avoiding any possible landfill debris. The result was beautiful and very successful. The garden became an example for the Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project and absorbs 90% of the roof rain water and 100% the site stormwater. In addition the garden includes a vegetable raised bed, also created with recycled concrete, a composting station and a pond that attracts many birds, dragon flies and butter flies. The entire garden is a nature habitat heaven!