Clive Pohl: The Living Building Challenge: Visionary from the Start

Designers and builders have long looked to rating systems for “how-to” guidance on green building. From the early days of the current environmental movement they were intended to serve as recipes for improved performance and environmental stewardship. Looking back at the earliest iterations we see a snapshot in time that describes a tension between our desire to improve and the relentless influence of market forces.

Variation in the early standards were a reflection of their author’s priorities. Some were heavily influenced by corporate interests who professed a commitment to sound environmental practices – until it impacted their bottom line. Some positioned themselves just ahead of the marketplace in a mission to gently lead economic transformation while others, in recognition of a rising carbon count, ignored economic constraints and advocated for a leap toward true sustainability. They embraced the notion that a “sustainable” marriage would never be good enough. Perceived as too expensive these standards were mostly ignored.

Though they all sought popular embrace it was, of course, impossible for one standard to provide universal satisfaction. After all, much of the construction industry held fast to the notion that a market economy is America’s only true core value.

As the aughts became the teens the plight of the polar ice caps entered mainstream consciousness, catastrophic weather patterns became increasingly commonplace, and our complicity in climate change more widely accepted. Jurisdictions around the country began to embrace legislation requiring credible compliance, building codes were rewritten to reflect increased urgency, and an army of skeptics (from architects and engineers to general contractors and their subs) had no choice but to hook up to the bandwagon. Even reluctant manufacturers began to recognize the value in environmental branding and compliant materials became increasingly affordable. The marketplace was transforming.

Rating systems, too, evolved to reflect this new economic paradigm and while consensus remains a distant target it is safe to say that they are becoming increasingly alike. They are, in fact, learning from and moving toward the most ambitious and visionary standard, the one that never allowed economic forces to dictate: the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Launched in 2006 the uncompromising principles described by the LBC attract the curiosity of the others with a gravitational pull commensurate to the ever-widening recognition that we have run out of time to simply reduce our environmental impact. In fact, the extent of our past misdeeds demand that we must, as quickly as possible, learn how to build environments that surpass sustainability by replenishing and recharging our resources. Anything less would be like approving spousal abuse as long as it is “occasional”.

Utilizing the metaphor of a flower the LBC posits that buildings should, like flowers, be rooted in place, harvest all of their energy and water on site, be entirely pollution free, and support the larger community through equity and inspiration. These are principles that were inconceivable to the earliest rating system authors and, yet, they represent a target that has been certifiably attained by 25 industry leaders with many more closing in.

Organized by seven “Petals” and 20 subset “Imperatives” the LBC standard further expands the definition of minimum requirement by going beyond the usual standards. It insists that our built environment should

  1. Give Back. Net POSITIVE water, energy and waste means that these buildings are providing energy and water for others and putting waste back into productive use.
  2. Reconnect. Biophilic design principles seek to right a long standing imbalance  by encouraging daily connection with nature. We spend 90% of our lives indoors. Even our neighbor’s access to nature cannot be impeded.
  3. Inspire. Recognizing the value of both sides of the brain the standard encourages an embrace of design elements solely for human delight – alongside the analytics that ensure efficient performance.
  4. Respect. By creating built environments that uphold the dignity of all members of society regardless of their physical or economic capacity the LBC aims to harness the power of transparency as a force for social change. Some LBC programs worthy of further exploration: the JUST Program for social justice, the DECLARE Label for chemical toxin transparency and the new Equitable Offset Program which accumulates funds to provide renewable energy infrastructure for charitable enterprises.

Beyond continued advocacy one can only give thanks to visionaries like co-creator Jason McLennan who chose to see beyond the allure of the almighty dollar and to believe that humanity can, if so informed, live in a “socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative” manner. While this is clearly easier said than done, the way is being paved and the rest of must simply face the right direction and place one foot in front of the other.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Reflections from a Bathroom

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A picture of a yellow bird hangs on our bathroom wall. I can’t say I love it but it seems to work. It wasn’t originally intended for our bathroom. I bought it on sale and in a hurry to fill up empty wall space in another room but now it hangs prominently on our bathroom wall instead. It’s part of my life’s daily scenery and will probably stay that way. It’s “good enough” and has grown on me over time and now seems to fit there.

Which made me wonder how many other facets of my daily live are what they are simply because they are “good enough.” Each day we have limited time to make unlimited life decisions –-small, medium and large— and these cumulative daily life decisions add up over time to become the sum total of who we are.

I look at another wall in our bathroom and see two pictures of our family hanging there. The top picture is slightly crooked and probably has been since we put it up nearly 5 years ago when we moved in. But you can barely notice the slant and they are good enough just how they are and will stay there.

I look at our shower curtain and it is pleasant looking and adequate, as shower curtains go. I can’t remember who decided on the shower curtain. But it, too, is good enough and seems here to stay.

On our bathtub rim is the same brand of soap we have used for over 20 years. Buying soap hasn’t been a conscious decision in our lives for two decades. I figure either my mother or my wife’s mother recommended this brand of soap many years ago and it has been a fixture in our home ever since. That brand of soap didn’t have to become a fixture, of course. But it did because, like so many other things in our lives, it is good enough.

jyb_musingsAs I continue my observational journey I catch my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I stop and see myself and ask if I am who I am because the habits, personal qualities and attitudes I have chosen for myself were chosen because they were “good enough.” And have these habits, personal qualities and attitudes that make me who I am today somehow managed to grow on me over time and now just seem to fit, like the picture of the yellow bird seems to fit on our bathroom wall?

I stare deeper into the mirror looking at myself looking at myself and don’t want to answer that question. The question of whether or not I am an accumulation of life decisions that just seemed “good enough” at the time but were never given adequate thought  — decisions made too quickly, too often and in too many areas of my life.

Instead of answering that question I choose to look back at the picture of the yellow bird to distract myself. And decide, for the moment, that I regret not trying harder to pick out a better wall hanging to fill up the empty space on our bathroom wall.

And hope my deflective response to the more poignant question I asked my reflection in the mirror is good enough.

Julie Rath: 3 Steps to Attracting Women Naturally

Guest post by Sarah Jones of Introverted Alpha

Men's Style and Dating Advice

Learn exactly how to approach social and dating skills in a way that gets results.

Even though natural attraction may sound like an inherent gift — that you’re either born with or not — it is no such thing.

The truth is that like anything worth building, natural attraction is simply a skill.

I have found that when men develop a strong and benevolent sense of self, they can’t help but attract women who are a great match for them.

I’ve seen it over and over again, with men who didn’t think they could even get themselves out of the work-home-work cycle, much less attract a beautiful girlfriend.

By following the steps I’ve outlined for you below, men consistently defy the supposed odds and attract amazing women.

So how do we get YOU attracting women naturally and successfully?

Whether you want to have more light and fun dates, or whether you’re on the search for a beautiful, inspiring woman to partner with, there are three steps you need to take in order to become a naturally attractive man:

Step One: Discover Your Vibe

Since you’re in Julie’s community, you already understand the importance of how you come across in terms of your dress and presentation. That gives you a huge amount of leverage in social and dating interactions.

That said, are you aware of what makes YOU uniquely attractive as a man?

That’s something that not a lot of guys know about themselves, and yet it is the fundamental starting point for attracting women naturally.

This is because once you know what makes you a wonderfully attractive man, a few things happen:

First, you instantly have more natural confidence around women.

Second, you know what your strengths are, so you can style yourself and your conversations accordingly, all while being 100% authentic.

Third, you’re able to recognize and receive women’s respect, attraction, and eventually devotion.

Once you have a core understanding of who you are and why a woman would love you for you, you can finally discern and receive a genuine sexy romance when it comes your way.

Step Two: Develop Core Skills

Once you’ve determined what’s sexy about you, it’s time to build your core skills.

This starts with the basic skill of confidence: an assurance within yourself that gives you the strength to become more of the man you want to be every day.

With confidence comes the ability to build key social skills, dating skills, sexual skills, and partnership skills.

That’s all it is – skill-building. Your current level of skill is in no way a personal reflection on your inherent worth. It is a linear, logical skill to be developed.

This is often the biggest mindset shifts my clients experience.

Step Three: Find Your Flow

You’ll know you’re pretty well in your groove when you’re enjoying genuine comfort with yourself, others, and beautiful women.

You’ll know you’re REALLY in your groove when you’re comfortable being intimate with beautiful women and being in close relationship with gorgeous women who deeply inspire you and are deeply inspired by you in turn.

That sounds amazing, right? If you’re wondering whether you can actually do that, it would be understandable. Many men have asked the same.

I can tell you right now that after working with dozens and dozens of men 1:1 – you CAN.

You absolutely can.

Once you discover your vibe, develop core skills, and find your flow, you can’t help but attract women naturally.

How to Attract Women Naturally: Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones is the founder of Introverted Alpha, where she helps smart introverted men attract women naturally by building core skills and confidence. Learn more and download her Free Welcome Gift at Introverted Alpha.

 

Julie Rath: 10 Quick and Painless New Year’s Style Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are so cliché, I almost can’t stand writing about them. But the truth is, when a new year rolls around, it’s nice to take stock and see what you could start doing differently. The usual suspects here are diet and exercise, and often such resolutions are overzealous and set us up or failure. So this year I’m here to help boost you up with some totally doable style-related resolutions that will require very little of your time.

Read on for this year’s top 10 style resolutions.

Men's Style Advice: New Year's Resolutions1) Try one new thing with your wardrobe. It can be easy to find one thing that you’re comfortable in and that feels easy to you. But it can also be really boring! Give 2015 a fighting chance and add some sort of new element to your look — maybe it’s starting to wear more color, or swapping out your logo’d/free event t-shirts for something nicer (here’s my guide for how your t-shirt should fit).

2) Don’t shop without a plan (or on an empty stomach). The last thing you want to do when shopping is make mistake purchases. And shopping without knowing what you’re looking for — or when you’re hungry — will put you on the fast track to a shopping fail.

3) Donate anything with holes or stains that won’t come out.  This one really doesn’t need explaining. I’ll just say that when you wear torn-up, crappy clothes, the message you send is that you feel torn-up and crappy about yourself. This then becomes an unfortunate vicious cycle which causes you actually to start feeling that way. (Confirm with whatever charity you’re donating to what condition they will take clothing in.)

4) Take your oversized clothes to the tailor. This is an instant, low-cost (at least compared to buying new things) option for upgrading your wardrobe. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to know what’s worth tailoring.

5) Think before you stink (a.k.a. avoid strong aftershaves). This one was on last year’s list, but I had to include it again. I did a lot of traveling in 2014, and one of the biggest conclusions I drew is that there’s an Old Spice epidemic in the US. Nearly every morning flight I took, I felt as if I might become asphyxiated by the scent of the man sitting next to me. Trust me, just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean others can’t either. Ask one or two lady friends with good taste to tell you honestly if any of the product smells you’re wearing are offensive. And if the initials for any of said products are O.S., drop it like it’s hot.

Men's Style Tips: New Year's Style Resolutions

6) Wear a watch. I get it, watches are no longer necessary since we all use our phones these days. But if you’re not wearing a watch, you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity to distinguish your look. Above is a serious arm party courtesy of one of my clients. You don’t need to break the bank when adding a watch to your look, however. There are plenty of good choices under $200 (including this one for $185 from Miansai). Choose something that resonates with you personally and that you’d feel good wearing — not what others would expect you to wear.

7) Make sure you have one suit that fits you like armor. Chances are, sometime in 2015 you’ll have a wedding, funeral, or job interview you’ll need to attend. And you’ll need a great-fitting suit for those situations — one you don’t have to think twice about. Often such events spring up out of nowhere, so it’s to your benefit to have a suit ready and waiting in your closet. And if you think you can get by with that old boxy one from ten years ago, think again. There are few things less flattering on a man than an ill-fitting suit, and there’s definitely no way to disguise a poor fit.

8) Buy flattering jeans. Most new clients I meet are in need of a jeans refresh. Even if you have a pair that was flattering when you bought them two years ago, chances are at this point they’ve stretched and faded, and it’s time to replace them. If you’ve never had a pair of jeans you feel great in, it’s time to add that to your wardrobe. Here’s my guide for how to find flattering jeans.

Men's Style Advice: Square-Toed Shoes

9) Lose the square-toed shoes. These were cool in the 90’s. But the 90’s is not now. Do yourself a favor and get them out of your closet so you aren’t tempted to wear them.

10) Take your dress shoes to the shoe guy for a cleanup and to be resoled. This is another low-cost way to refresh things, and in fact a good cobbler can make your shoes look almost new. If you don’t already have someone you use, look on Yelp or other user-review sites in your area for one with high ratings, or ask any well-dressed guys you encounter where they take theirs.

How many of the tips on this list are you able to implement? I guarantee that even if you do just 3 of them, you’ll be in great shape, and you’ll feel that much better about yourself.

Wishing you a very stylish 2015!

Julie Rath: Glasses — Not Just for Nerds Anymore

It used to be that sporting glasses was reserved for nerds like Lewis and Gilbert above. There was a stigma attached to it, so the people who did wear them only did so because they absolutely had to, and/or because they didn’t really care that much about their appearance.

But over the course of the past decade, all that has changed. There are tons of options for stylish frames, and glasses are now used as a tool for expressing one’s personal style. Check out heartthrob Jon Hamm in a classic black frame below. The look is clean, confident and smart.

If you’re thinking about updating your look, glasses are a fantastically handy way to do so. Read on for my tips on choosing a pair of frames. And by the way, if you don’t need glasses, don’t feel left out. Plenty of people sport specs sans prescriptions.

SHAPE

1) Angular-shaped glasses read as authoritative, while glasses with rounded shapes make you look approachable.

2) There’s a lot of information out there about what shape faces should wear what shape glasses. To me, it’s less about rules and more about choice. If you wear the same shape glasses as that of your face, you’ll reinforce that face shape; if you wear the opposite shape, it will balance your face shape. So there’s no “bad” or “good” here. Rather, it’s what you choose to play up. As a specific example, if you have a round face and want to look tougher and more commanding, I recommend wearing glasses that are squared off. Luxottica CEO Andrea (above) is doing just that.

3) The sides of your glasses should end between the corners of your eyes and the sides of your face. (However, if you have a long and narrow face and want to balance that, look for shapes that extend slightly beyond your temples so as to create width in your face. Also, people with long and narrow faces should avoid very small frames.)

COLOR AND MATERIAL

4) A very dark frame can make a strong, dramatic statement (it’s also trendy). If this is what you’re going for, be careful that the dark frame doesn’t overwhelm your own coloring. Check out the guy on the left above — his own coloring and features stand up to the heavy frames. In comparison, the dark frames on the right dominate Brad Pitt’s facial features. On him, you see the frames first before you see his face.

5) Choose a color or type of metal that works with your own coloring. If your skin tone is warm, go with warm-colored frames; if it’s cool, go with cool-colored frames. Hint: if you have grey hair, a silver frame can play off of that nicely.

6) Metal frames have a more modern and dressy feel, and plastic reads more casual. Tortoise frames have a preppy and collegiate vibe.

7) Avoid transition lenses, as they often end up in an unflattering middle-ground of lens color — not quite dark enough to be sunglasses and distractingly shaded for when out of UV-light. They also don’t darken inside vehicles, so they don’t work as driving glasses.

Read the rest of…
Julie Rath: Glasses — Not Just for Nerds Anymore

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Obvious Shortcuts

jyb_musingsAm I the only one who thinks of these obvious shortcuts?

In line boarding a flight and listening to a plastic surgeon boast about all his recent cosmetic surgery successes.

Um, OK. That’s great and all.

But wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just make glasses for everyone with lenses that makes everybody else look thin and hot?

Pretty obvious.

There is always an easier fix for those, like me, who are willing to think outside the box. Or see things through a slightly different lens. Sigh.

Erica and Matt Chua: 36 Hours in Bangkok

 

My disclaimer on 36 hours in Bangkok is that no sane person should ever attempt to see Bangkok in 36 hours.  You certainly won’t be able to get through the aggressive timeline that I lay out below even if there was no traffic, heat or throngs of tourists to deal with.  That being said book a few extra days to see this remarkable city and learn the in’s and out’s of the city’s mass transit system because bypassing it will immediately change the way you feel about this Asian metropolis.  In fact if you really take the time to enjoy Bangkok you will find quiet wat’s off the beaten path and tree lined neighborhoods that provide a much needed respite from the chaotic city that surrounds you.

Friday

5 p.m.
1) RELEASE THE BIRDS

Visit Wat Indrawiharn and the 32 meter (over 100 feet) standing Buddha, which is the largest Buddha in the world.  To get your weekend off to a good start you can release birds, which is supposed to increase ones positive karma in this life thus leading to a better life in the next incarnation.

6:30 p.m.
2) GOLDEN MOUNT AT THE GOLDEN HOUR

Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: 36 Hours in Bangkok

Julie Rath: That’s What She Said, Vol. 2: Ms. Williams and the ONE Accessory to Avoid at All Costs

In today’s edition of That’s What She Said, I interview recording artist Ms. Williams on men’s style.

Click here or on the image below to watch our interview. You’ll hear her take on the matter, including the ONE accessory that makes her run the other way when a guy wears it.

Men's Style: What to Wear on a Date

 

After you’re done watching the interview, make sure you take my style quiz to see how you rate on a scale of 1 to 10.

Julie Rath: That’s What She Said, Vol. 1: Sara Davidson on Dressing for Attraction

I interviewed some of my most successful, smart, and gorgeous girlfriends to find out how important it really is to them for a guy to pay attention to his image and style, and I thought you might be interested in watching what they had to say. The first of these three interviews is with Sara Davidson, business strategist and marketing maven.

Click here or on the image below to watch our interview. You’ll hear what turns her on and off, and the one thing a guy did that completely changed the way she looked at him (and as a result she couldn’t keep her hands off of him).

Men's Style for Dating

After you’re done watching the interview, make sure you take my style quiz to see how you rate on a scale of 1 to 10.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Hot Blonde!

jyb_musingsI was at the Starbucks near our house this morning and saw a really hot blonde several places ahead of me in line.

She seemed like my type, too, and I even got this funny feeling in my stomach just watching her.

I am really lucky she is my wife.

Rebecca was in a hurry and couldn’t talk long but I slyly checked her out again as she left.

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