Event

Less Waste & More Meaning with Bea Johnson

At Green Canopy, we believe living in a net zero energy home goes hand in hand with a zero waste lifestyle. Partnering with Seattle Zero WasteZero Waste WashingtonEco Collective Seattle and Seattle EcoWomen in welcoming zero waste activist, Bea Johnson, to Seattle was an honor. 
 
According to research outlined in Drawdown: 100 Solutions to Reverse Global Warming, “Over the course of a century, methane has 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Landfills are a top source of methane emissions, releasing 12 percent of the world’s total.”
 
The Zero Waste Movement has been an important piece in the pursuit of greater sustainability and reducing our landfills. In 2002, The Zero Waste International Alliance was formed to tackle waste management issues globally from the front end and defines zero waste as, “designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.” They believe that by “implementing Zero Waste we will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”
 
Bea Johnson — a French native living in California as a mother of two — took this concept, and applied it to her everyday life and decisions. Johnson’s blog, Zero Waste Home, that she started in 2008, shows how to create less waste in a practical and cost-saving way.
 
Since 2008, her family of four has only been producing enough trash to fill one small jar every year. In the process, she’s found that a zero waste home has simplified her lifestyle and afforded her family more time together, with a priority on creating experiences and memories together.  Bea has inspired a global community of Zero Waste bloggers and lifestyle adopters. Her bestselling book, Zero Waste Home named after the blog, has been translated in 20 languages, she’s given 200+ speeches in 30+ countries and been featured in publications and TV Shows around the world. The New York Times, the Today Show, BBC Breakfast.

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Johnson spoke to a sold-out crowd of about 200, centered around her 5 Rs:
 
Refuse
Refuse what you absolutely do not need — and especially disposables or plastics.
 
Reduce
Reduce what you do have. Look at what you have and ask yourself, “Can I do with less?” Can I donate this or give it to someone else that needs it more?”
 
Reuse
Whatever you cannot refuse or reduce then you reuse. Make the things that you do purchase, long-lasting re-usables and not single-use items. This can also look like reusing the compostables you’ve bought as many times as possible as Johnson will freeze the discarded pieces of vegetables from cooking to make vegetable stock. 
 
Recycle
Whatever you cannot refuse, whatever you cannot reduce, whatever you cannot reuse — then you recycle. Sending back the products and materials that wear out to the initial supplier or a local recycler to be turned into something else. If you absolutely cannot refuse using a laptop and it breaks, recycle it at a local business or mail it in if needed.
 
Rot
Whatever you cannot refuse, reduce, reuse or recycle, then you allow to rot in the compost. This is the last of her R’s because it is the last resort and typically a very small amount leftover after going through the first four Rs.
 
The most impactful part of Bea Johnson’s talk for me, was hearing how implementing a zero waste lifestyle has shifted her family’s focus towards giving gifts of experience instead of things, allowing for more memories and bonds to be made. Instead of new toys for Christmas, her son got to go skydiving for the first time and still talks about it.
 
After the presentation, Green Canopy’s Director of Investor Relations and Impact, Susan Fairchild and Zero Waste Washington’s Heather Trim, kicked off happy hour by asking, “what is the next step you want to take in living zero waste and how can you make it happen?”

The Nation's Oldest and Largest Local Homebuilder's Association Honors Green Canopy

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On December 5, 2017, the Master Builders Association (MBA) awarded Green Canopy and CEO, Aaron Fairchild the 2017 Built Green Moving the Market Award at the Master Builders Association Awards & Gala. Aaron and Green Canopy were chosen “for taking the step to build only net zero energy homes.” Founded in 1909, the MBA is the “nation’s oldest and largest local homebuilder’s association” and continues to move the industry towards greater innovation and sustainability.
 
“I’m extremely honored to represent Green Canopy’s team, owners and stakeholders in receiving this award from such an established and reputable organization as the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.” -Aaron Fairchild, CEO, Green Canopy Homes
 
“Aaron is an inspirational force in the Puget Sound area residential home building industry. He and his team continue to push the limits at the intersection of sustainability and business in new and exciting ways. I commend Aaron and Green Canopy for all they do for our association, our communities, and our region,” states Aaron Adelstein, MBA Director of Programs and Products. 

The MBA featured CEO, Aaron Fairchild, in the Master Builder Winter 2017 issue in the article, “The Man in the Green Hat.” Here is some of what they had to say:
 
“Aaron’s drive to transform the market is indicative of not just his desire to align business, community, and sustainability but of the work and thought that he puts into this effort. He is truly a leader in the regard, constantly innovating and aligning actions with his words. Aaron is a collaborator, mentor and leader all at the same time.” -Leah Missik, Built Green Program Manager
 
“The positive culture Aaron has cultivated resonates throughout his company, the Master Builders Association, and our region.” -Cameron Poague, Master Builders Association
 
“Aaron is the type of person who is actively changing home building for the better” -Cameron Poague
 
Also included in the article is a quote from Green Canopy Co-Founder, Sam Lai, “Aaron can seem enigmatic to some because he’s difficult to pin down. He is a disciplined business mind– as fierce and pragmatic as you would expect from a third-generation banker and Foster School MBA grad. Yet his unwavering passion for social and environmental justice seems counterintuitive… like the trucker cap on his head and Wendell Berry poetry on his lips. One way to understand my friend and CEO is that he is true to his heart and that’s what drives him. He has a vision to make the world a better place and the grit to execute a business plan to make that vision a reality.”
 
Green Canopy continues to be a leader in the housing industry, and in our city.

Why We're Thankful

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“Our changing climate means we must reshape the way we grow and build to enable all people, both now and in the future, to thrive. For the building sector, this means dramatic and ambitious solutions including rapid market transformation for a net-zero carbon built environment…We need courage from all sectors of the industry to be radical, strategic and collaborative to reach our shared goals of carbon neutral(ity)… You are part of the solution.” -Rose Lathrop | Green Building and Smart Growth Program Manager, Sustainable Connections 

AUTHOR | SAL LAI, COFOUNDER
What makes me thankful? Despite my concerns with our society’s trajectory, I am encouraged to see entire communities centering their lives around purpose and community­— doing the courageous work to reverse global warming and fight social injustice at the same time.  When I witness this, it reminds me that I do believe we are moving toward a more generous, integrated and regenerative way of living on this planet. This makes me thankful. 
 
I had the pleasure of seeing evidence of this movement at the 2017 Sustainable Design and Development Conference in Bellingham, Washington. The theme for this year’s conference was “Transforming the Market to Carbon Neutral” and the strategies presented during the day were both challenging and exciting:
 
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable | Patti Southard, Program Manager, King County Green Tools
In the opening keynote Patti Southard, Program Manager at King County Green Tools, addressed a room mainly full of white designers, architects, builders, consultants and researchers. Patti challenged us to question whether our projects (in an industry responsible for 45% of the Green House Gas emissions in the built environment) contribute to social justice in our communities for all people. She reminded us that we should exercise land use planning “as if people mattered” and informed us that in the ten years between 2007 and 2017, our African American population within the city of Seattle declined from 13% to 7%. Our society is only getting more economically stratified with minorities moving out of the city and Caucasians rapidly moving in. However; In King County, there are more languages spoken than any other city in the entire US except Los Angeles. By 2022, the population of American children will become “minority majority” for the first time. So, what does it mean for us to plan as if people mattered? Homeowners must focus on the value of diversity in our neighborhoods— to advocate and draw on the deep well of love and connection, rather than fear or anger. As homebuilders, we need to increase the affordability and accessibility of resource-efficient homes.
 
Building the Decarbonized Future | Vincent Martinez, COO, Architecture 2030
“In the wake of the US’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it is clearer than ever that change in the building sector will come from the bottom up.” Vincent Martinez, COO of Architecture 2030, spoke about the importance of private-public partnerships (rather than public-private) to decarbonize the built environment in cities. Business and grass roots community groups will play an integral role in transforming our housing sector from the ground up. Many think tanks and research studies indicate that urban density is a primary, necessary strategy to decrease our carbon output while maintaining the infrastructure needed for another 1.1 Billion people in 15 years (the equivalent of a brand new, New York City built every single month). Are we willing to acknowledge and embrace the fact that our cities are growing and guide the momentum to a better outcome?
 
A special thanks to these other industry leaders for bringing these discussions:

Passive House | Alex Boetzel, COO of Green Hammer
“Reducing energy use – and consequently, CO2 emissions – of buildings, is an instant and continued action on climate change.” Alex Boetzel, COO of Green Hammer provided practical, actionable insight on energy use reductions of 65-75% using passive strategies so that buildings can become net-zero-energy and subsequently carbon neutral. Green Hammer has built homes in the Portland area receiving certifications including: Passive HouseLEED PlatinumFSCEarth Advantage and Living Building Challenge.
 
More Affordable Sustainability | Bec Chapin, Cofounder of NODE
“As gatekeepers to the change we want to see in the world, we have an opportunity to change the way we think about (home)ownership.” This transformation should allow more people to prosper in our quest for more affordable housing and sustainability in the built environment. Bec Chapin had the crowd pair up to actively share stories with one another, getting strangers to engage at a heart level and making her session the loudest and liveliest.
 
Shannon Todd and Don MacOdrum | TRC Solutions
On behalf of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Project Managers, Shannon and Don shared their vision and strategy for partnerships between local governments, certification programs and utilities to make green building an obvious and cost-effective choice for all builders. Their conversational style allowed us to understand the important “boots on the ground” work and how TRC is leading to break down the cost and system barriers to green building. Thank you for your hard work.
 
A few quotes from this presentation:

  • “What if our homes could represent the values that we are evolving into?

  • “What if we could build homes that were purpose-driven, balanced, community-focused, warm, generous, integrated, regenerative.

  • “We came together to start Green Canopy under this vision that the homefront was a leverage for transforming the way in which we live in our environment and we still believe that today. The tactics and our strategy has changed but the mission has stayed the same... we want to transform the real estate market."