Plugging in data

The past few weeks have been a little slower with meetings from various companies that will help with the development and most importantly my constant ‘Performance Metrics’ document that is expending. As mentioned in a previous post I believe, I am trying to quantify as much data as possible in order to then tell an accurate story about the district. From the current air quality in the district boundaries, number of jobs,  access to green space, traffic crashes in the last five years, to the current active transportation support there are many metrics to quantify. I am now to the point that I have almost all the information needed and will be able to present accurately the current data in my final presentation. With this precious data, a master plan specifically for the WELL Community certification will be easier.

I have also been able to compare the LEED ND and WELL Community Standards a bit better and now have a better idea of where we stand to potentially certify the district LEED ND as well. So as you might see, all of this requires a lot of data research and plug in excel spreadsheets.

As my internship is coming to an end within the next few weeks, I am spending a lot of time working on my paper and trying to make all this research meaningful for my team.

Below is a drawing of the transit and bicycle facilities in the district which I am sure most will enjoy considering the fact that transit in Tampa Bay is a novelty. There are no current plans for a light rail tram system in Tampa, even though it would be a dream come true for me, but as you may know the transportation issue in our region is extremely political and sensitive.

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Let’s talk green buildings

Last week I went to the USGBC mid-year retreat in Jacksonville to discuss green buildings. It was 3 days packed with conferences, meetings and socializing with people from around the country that all work in sustainability and green buildings… so of course super exciting! Talking with different people about our WELL Community development in Tampa was interesting and I received great reviews and comments.

I got to meet Rick Fedrizzi, the founder and CEO of the USGBC. He wrote a book called Greenthink: How Profit Can Save the Planet; I read about a third of the book so far and it is very interesting and I recommend it to everyone. Plus the proceeds of the book go to USGBC’s Project Haiti and the Center for Green Schools initiatives.

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I was hoping to talk to some people that have worked on some LEED Neighborhood Development projects somewhere in the country because I have a long list of questions but unfortunately I did not get to meet someone that had experience in this field – still pretty rare. So I am going to have to do more research online and hopefully find the answers I am looking for for my paper.

I had never been to Jacksonville so it was the perfect occasion for me to discover another city in Florida… well I was a little disappointed. We didn’t have much time to walk around the city because it was mostly conferences all day. From what I saw, the city was pretty and a lot of historic buildings on the river, similar to us in Tampa. But overall, the downtown did not look very connected or engaged… some of you will say that it’s the same in Tampa; but I have seen great progress here within the past 3 years and very soon we will have a great downtown where people come to hangout at night and on the weekends.

Below are a few pictures of my stay in Jacksonville.

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Create a healthy workplace

First things first, I am now official and have a plaque with my name by my cubicle… I know I get excited for little things!

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I was very productive last week and tackled two big things: LEED ND and an internal report. I started looking into LEED for neighborhood Development (LEED ND) because it is part of my research to compare the certification with WELL Community. But what is very cool is that I will be facilitating my first charrette for LEED ND within the next few weeks with the whole team in order to see how feasible it would be to do it here in Tampa. And if they like my findings they might actually consider it, which is major!!

Otherwise I have been busy creating a ‘WELLNESS and Sustainability Report at SPP’ which highlights the 7 concepts used in WELL and I added more sustainable items because I can’t help but tell people about how easy it is to be more sustainable. My idea was that SPP should walk the walk and create an internal list of things that we could do to be healthier and more sustainable within our office since we are planning to make a whole district healthy and sustainable. Here are some simple things I looked into:

AIR – Use MERV 13 media filters in HVAC system for particle filtration. If you plan to remodel your office; use low or no VOC paint and choose carpet tile with low VOC. Check with the cleaning crew that green cleaning products are being used.

WATER – Promote drinking water with a filtered water station on each floor… and of course encourage people to use reusable cups or bottles.

NOURISHMENT – If your office is selling or distributing food, reduce processed and sugary food and drinks. Offer healthier chips and snacks instead of candy bars in the vending machine. Offer fruits and vegetables.

LIGHT –  If possible use as much natural light as possible. Change lights to LED.

FITNESS – Offer incentive program for people that go to the gym or use a bike share program to get to work.

COMFORT – Adjust the thermostat so people are not freezing all day at work. If repainting the office, use blue and yellow that are good for concentration and reducing stress.

MIND – Offer plants for people’s desks to increase nature interaction. Put up a hammock or fully reclining chair for people to take a quick nap during their break.

As you might have noticed by now I am passionate about making workplaces healthier and sustainable and I can’t wait to see what this internal report becomes.

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On a more fun note, I got to discover the joys of Tampa again. I finally became a member of the Coast Bike Share program (only $59 a year for students) where I get an hour of riding every day! I have been riding around the city to go to meetings or go to the gym after work and its so fun and practical. Just note to self, don’t ride in heels!

And I finally made it to Zumba in the Park which was awesome!

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The Plan… patience is a virtue

On my second week we had a conference call with the Delos team regarding the WELL Community standards. I was expecting them to send us a scorecard with all the different requirements that we would have to meet  in order to certify the project, but they are far away from it. The certification is still being written and it will be weeks or months before we get an actual list of requirements that will be part of the WELL Community certification.

Just like I was originally planning to meet with architects, engineers and contractors on my second week, well it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon because we are still in the design process and a lot more needs to be done before plans are ready to be unveiled. Patience is not my strong suit so I will have to keep my head down and work on the project the best I can.

Although I am not in a different city or country like most students, I am still discovering a lot of new things that I had been wanting to do for a while but never got a chance to. Last Thursday I went to a Rock the Park event downtown Tampa. It’s a free event every first Thursday of the month in Curtis Hixon Park, different local bands play music and people hangout in the park with a picnic. Until now I always had class on Thursdays or had to work at night so I was never able to make it. I am sure that most of you can relate when I say that it feels SO good to not have classes or homework after a long work day.

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The start of the WELL Community

Hello everyone,

My internship is in Tampa working for Strategic Property Partners (SPP), the company that is in the process of developing a 40-acre WELL Community district. To start from the beginning, Jeff Vinik, the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired 40 acres of land around the arena in the Channel District and is now in the process of developing a district around the arena that will have office buildings, hotels, USF Health, restaurants and much much more! Additionally, SPP announced at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative that it will  create the world’s first WELL Community Certified. For those of you that have never heard of WELL, to make it simple this new certification looks at the health and wellness of people that are interacting in and around buildings since we spend more than 90% of our time in them.

So my role is to assist with the first stages of the certification since as of right now the WELL Community does not exist and is being created by Delos (company that founded the International WELL Building Standard) as I am writing to you. As part of my internship and research I am going to compare the current LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) certification that certifies communities across the country with the new WELL Community certification. The WELL certification was designed to complement the LEED ND certification and I will therefore look into how well they complement and work together.

I officially started my internship last week and took a few days to meet the team, familiarize myself with the project and dove right into steps of certification. On my second day, the whole team was offered tickets to go to game 6 of the Lightning game (perks of working for the owner of the team!) For those of you following, we lost game 6 and ended up losing game 7 and ended our journey there, but it was great to be part of a playoff game.

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On my third day, I was invited to a discussion panel after work hours organized by Tampa AIA about WELL and one of my coworker discussed the future WELL Community and the impacts on the environment, economy and health of people in Tampa. Few people were familiar with WELL but the room was packed and people were eager to lean about the new certification that will very certainly influence and impact the architecture world.

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That’s about it for my first week. I am so grateful to be part of the SPP team for my internship and to help shape the future of Tampa. More coming next week.