common ecology blog

educate . inspire . act

Archive for environmental education

compost even when you’re not allowed

Many jurisdictions do not allow food waste compost in your backyard. Or maybe the tiny little counter compost fills up every day and you’re not in the mood to trudge through the snow to put it in your bin. Yes, that’s me.
Though an investment at $299 this indoor composter by NatureMill is a great solution!



slow design

As I rush here and there this holiday season, traveling to see family, rushing home from work to wrap gifts, I find myself needing to just stop. To slow down. To actually enjoy the beauty that surrounds me and take the time to be mindful.

There is the slow food movement which is a grassroots organization “linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.”

There is the slow money movement which suggests “we must bring money back down to earth. Slow Money believes “there is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex. Therefore, we must slow our money down.” Slow Money proposes that “the 21st Century will be the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place and non-violence. We must connect investors to the places where they live, creating vital relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises.”

I would like to introduce the concept of SLOW DESIGN which aims to encourage clients, contractors and architects to participate in making smart choices for a true investment in buildings, the community, and our future. Slow Design is a mindful approach to architecture:

  • Creating spaces that are collaborative efforts between architect, engineers, owner and builder.
  • Making decisions and choices that reflect our impact on the environment.
  • Building homes and schools that are so well-designed they have a minimal carbon footprint.
  • Taking the time to select high quality, durable, and local materials.
  • Investing more money up front to see immediate payback in energy use, our health, and our environment.

photo by tim laman for national geographic

michael hindle will be a speaker at the 2010 passive house conference in portland, oregon

Congratulations to Michael Hindle, cphc who has been asked to speak at the 2010 Passive House Conference held in Portland, Oregon, November 4-7. Michael will be discussing his efforts on creating Baltimore County’s High Performance Homes bill and incorporating the Passive House standard in the process.

Baltimore County’s High Performance Homes Bill offers a property tax credit to homeowners who invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes. The Bill went into effect June 25, 2010. The amount of the tax credit is a percentage of the total County property tax assessed on the home that is equal to the percentage of increased energy efficiency achieved in the process of renovation or new construction. The tax credit starts at 30% efficiency for three years and increases to a carbon neutral home with a 100% tax credit for five years. Michael and Carri Beer, AIA, LEED ap worked assiduously with Councilman Vince Gardina to make this bill a reality for Baltimore County residents.

baltimore green week! ECOFEST this saturday, the 17th, at druid hill park

Noon-6 p.m. at Druid Hill Park

Baltimore Green Week’s kick off event, EcoFest, invites local food vendors, growers, businesses and organizations that maintain a sustainable focus.  There will be plenty of activities happening so use this opportunity to try something new like yoga, take a bike ride around the reservoir, dance or sing along to June Star and the Frontier Dentists or take a moment to enjoy a back massage.

baltimore county rain barrel + compost bin sale

On Saturday, April 24, Baltimore County will host a joint compost bin and rain barrel sale. The sale will be held on the parking lot of IKEA Baltimore in White Marsh, 8352 Honeygo Boulevard, across from White Marsh Town Center. This sale will be a one-day event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine.

Compost bins, valued at $80, will be available for the low price of $35, including tax. Rain barrels, valued at $90, will be available for the low price of $45, including tax. There is no limit on the amount of compost bins/rain barrels you may purchase at this event and both items will be sold on a first come, first served basis while supplies last.

common ecology

who we are? common ecology is an environmental educational resource founded and supported by Carri Beer, Rob Brennan + Michael Hindle of Brennan + Company Architects and alterego. We are a group of architects, artists and designers dedicated to creating healthy, cooperative lifestyles.

mission? empower each other through education and inspiration to create healthier communities and sustainable lifestyles.

how are we doing this? We have started the process by creating a Framework for Healthy Communities + Sustainable Lifestyles TM. This is an on-line document that has been developed as an educational tool to be accessed by everyone.  Our hope is that while reading through this information you and your neighbors will be inspired to create a grassroots change to better our environment and way of life.  We are available to present this guide to your community, county, business or organization. Please contact us to arrange a workshop or presentation.

copyright 2007 common ecology. all rights reserved. limited reproduction for individual use is permitted without permission. commercial or multiple reproduction is not allowed. other requests should be directed to