Category Archives: Press

B & O in the news, etc.

Happy Earth Day!!

Even though the economy is still kind of in the crapper, we have a lot to be thankful for this 40th Earth Day- 2010.  Here’s a list of things we’re excited about this day to be ‘green’. (although everyone should be more ‘green’ 365 days a year….)

Original Earth Week logo from 1970!!

1)  Local celebration @ MacRae Park- bigger & better than ever.  Lots of people, events, information & music.  Thanks to all those who had displays and/or gave time to organize.  It was a great event (weather didn’t hurt either).

2) Energy-star appliances!  Get some of that stimulus $$.  If you have an old refrigerator (biggest electricity hog of them all), or other appliance past it’s prime take advantage of the store savings & rebates in NC through Sunday. 

3) CFEDC & Green Jobs- this new local economic development group is working hard to promote the green/cleantech economy in the Cape Fear area.  Meeting tomorrow night 4/23 @ 5.30 pm- 27 Front St./2nd floor  (new BuenaSpace).  Come see what all the talk is about….

4) Midori-all zoning approvals!  New modern, urban, green townhomes soon to be popping up on 29th St. off Market Street….

5) Native Azaleas are in bloom and no, they are not those fuschia ones!! White & fragrant!

6) Thomas Friedman & Paul Krugman.  No thought-leaders in the mainstream are doing as much for ‘green business’ and the 21st cent. economy.  If you haven’t read either of Friedman’s  ‘Flat’ books, get them, or check out Krugman’s most recent NYTimes Sunday mag piece on Building the Green Economy.

7) Shoulder seasons.  Yes the pollen’s been off the chart for the last 2 weeks, but now’s the time to enjoy the relative lack of humidity & crisp nights of coastal NC.  Enjoy it now- bugs, storms & heat will be here soon enough.


An ‘ideal’ retrofit….

Well, one more week for comments on the DAQ Titan Draft Air Permit (or as we like to call it- Corporate Rubber-stamped Air Permit, or C.R.A.P.).  After 10/20- we’ve had a good month publicizing our ‘counterproposal’  for what a truly positive program and progressive, appropriate re-use of the proposed cement plant property could become.

We’ve been working with Cape Fear River Watch over the summer,  and presented this initial booklet/study to its members annual meeting @ CityStage.  The base assumption is that 160 jobs on an over 1800 acre parcel is a ridiculous economic model- and a different program would work on the economic, cultural & environmental front much better.

First 4 slides of booklet

The study looks at a few key variables including jobs & population with a graphic analysis of areas & land owners/employers in New Hanover County.  We also threw out 4 basic ‘program’ platforms to replace ‘cement manufacturing’ as the sole job generator.  They were conceived of as follows;  ‘Green Inclubator’, ‘Art Park’, ‘Eco-Resort’, and an ‘Energy Farm.  As a totality, this Cape Fear ‘Eco-energy-commerce-art-park’- would be a driver for all of northeastern New Hanover County to embrace.

We look forward to developing the proposal more and taking it to new levels and new groups, as the lack of environmental review on the CCC project now catches up with and slows/stops, what is a hugely flawed project.  This alternative ‘green’ vision for the Ideal site would be a fabulous ‘gateway off I-40 as well as a draw along Holly Shelter road as Castle Hayne links across I-40 to Hampstead/US17 & the Atlantic.   More later!!!


Dark times call for bright ideas…

Letter to Editor or Community Voices @ Star-News

October 22, 2009

Dear Editor and Readers,

The public forums held by NC Division of Air Quality concerning the draft air permit received by Titan Cement are over.  Our community had its last opportunity to communicate our concerns regarding the pending arrival of Wilmington’s new bragging rights, the “4th Largest Cement Plant in the US!”  How can ANYONE who thinks about the future of our region find this to be something worth celebrating?  During the forum, we heard from both sides.  We heard nostalgic, heart-warming stories from former Ideal Cement plant workers, and we also heard scary statistics from scientists and doctors, who clearly understand the consequences of this rush to spend $4 million of our tax dollars for 160 (“mostly, but maybe not all local”) jobs, which will not be in place until 2014 by the way.  Please, those of you who are thinking only of the jobs, please think about the exchange we are making.  Don’t you think that we could find a better use for both $4 million in incentives, AND the giant site that Titan is posed to destroy?  If you are embarrassed to be a ‘NIMBY,’ here are a few things to consider.

We all know that right now, cement is necessary for concrete, which is a valuable COMMODITY. It is one of the basic components of human shelter and transportation infrastructure.  We also know that as lower Cape Fear residents, we live in a very unique place –  for reasons that are geological, biological, historical, and cultural.  Why do we have such powerful affection for this place?  It’s the amazing live oaks draped with Spanish moss, the vibrant historic downtown, and the sound of water on a boat hull, the remaining stands of longleaf pine, and bragging rights to incredible oysters, and the Venus flytrap.  We love this area for its amazing arts community, and public activism.  People stay for generations for these reasons, and people move here for these reasons. It’s a welcoming place, small enough here that we can all have a voice, we can all participate in our future, if we just pay attention.

Titan will be removing extraordinary quantities of limestone to make cement.  Limestone is a NON-RENEWABLE resource.  That means that once we use it, we do not get it back, unless you consider more paved surfaces and lining the pockets of out-of-the-country investors as a fair return.  What value, what ecosystem service, does limestone provide while it remains in the ground?  It’s our primary source of clean water.  The science is far more complex, but at a very basic level, the limestone that forms the basis for our unique geography is like an aquarium filter, a major component of a very complicated life support system.  For spiritual people, this ecosystem service is something that has intrinsic value because it keeps us all alive, and we cannot ourselves recreate it in its entirety, we can only mimic its function with technology.

Once the limestone is removed, it is ‘processed’ to create cement.  This process involves coal-burning, as well as incineration of other toxic substances (including tires!) that will produce mercury, and a host of other byproducts which offer no benefit to anyone.  The products of this incineration become airborne, entering our lungs, and the lungs and eventually, the gills, and skin of every other living creature within breathing range of the output, which can change with prevailing winds, precipitation, and even our development patterns. (here’s a reminder to think where we choose to put schools.)  Mercury is one of the most potent neurotoxins – that means it KILLS brain cells, and there is simply NO fraction of an amount that could be considered harmless.   Where do these airborne particles go…?

Next, let’s revisit a large part our tax-funded 3rd grade science curriculum, the Hydrologic (Water) Cycle.  In this more or less continuous process, the sun heats up oceans and water bodies, which evaporate to become vapor.  Plants contribute to this airborne vapor via evapotranspiration. Water stored in the atmosphere eventually condenses, and then precipitates as rain, or snow, bringing along lots of other solid airborne particulates.  Some of that falls in the oceans, and some of it falls on land, where it infiltrates, recharging our aquifers, the excess becoming runoff to water bodies.  Air contains water, and water contains air.  If something is being burned, that smoke does not just ‘go away.’  It comes back –  both the poisonous parts, and the less poisonous parts.  If it does not enter our lungs directly via the air we breathe, it finds us in the water we drink, and the fish we consume.

Now, let’s go back to our local economy, which is struggling to survive.  Titan is offering 160 jobs for ~1868 acres.  Anyone just a little concerned about this math? If we were to look at it differently, the area of the Titan site could contain….58 Screen Gems, or 4 Mayfaires, or 2.5 UNCW campuses, or 2 Wilmington downtowns.  How many jobs do these areas provide?

Hopefully, if you have not really thought about this before, you are starting to notice a trend.  It’s hard to talk about these ideas in isolation. (which is what the draft air permit allows, by the way.)  All of these things are connected.  Titan is attempting to build a facility here that offers incredibly large negatives in exchange for 160 ‘full-time’ jobs, and perhaps 2000 temporary construction jobs.

Nature, what little of it we have left here, keeps residents, and draws visitors. Even when left alone, the undisturbed portion of the Titan site has VALUE.  It keeps us alive, it provides habitat, it provides recreational opportunities.  The site is MORE than the horizontal surface land boundaries – the area that Titan will consume is also vertical.  It includes the air that is far above ground, and the water and limestone that are far below ground.

Is poisoning our air and water, and removing our life support system good for this region?  Have 5 county commissioners been fair and wise in their closed-door choice of the future of Wilmington, and the lower Cape Fear region?  Come on everyone, we have SO many creative people here.   Can’t we think of something better for $4 million in tax incentives, and for those +1800 WATERFRONT acres? Something that provides far more than 160 jobs?

Please don’t allow Titan to determine our future. Everyone should agree that a smokestack does not make a good welcome sign.

Let’s be VISIONARY. Let’s think of something better!

Lara Berkley

Denim collection drive for HFH…

B & O design studio is working as a downtown drop location for a May denim collection drive for Habitat for Humanity green homes.  Sapona Green Building Center & Elaine Jack are heading efforts in the area- and will be having a collection party on June 3 @ their store.   If you’ve got some old jeans that could go to a good cause,  drop them here- or at other locations around town including Sapona Green on 17th or Tidal Creek Co-op on Oleander.

Flyer for event.

Flyer for event.

Our window display downtown

Our window display downtown-205 Princess St.

masonboro lodge design competition

B+O congratulates Big Sky Design for its winning submission of the Masonboro Lodge’s  spec office space design.  We feel Big Sky had the most comprehensive and thorough approach, and seemed to understand exactly what the judges were looking for.

The challenge: design a sustainable spec office, given an existing shell-of-a-space.

Being a fairly sustainably-minded group of people, the challenge struck us as somewhat of a contradiction in terms.   We feel the greenest method of design involves the client – knowing exactly who you are designing for reduces waste – less wasted time, money, and resources.   How could we design a speculative office space?  Wouldn’t an office for a lawyer be quite different than an office for an architect?  What if the person who leased the existing space was a fashion designer?  An acupuncturist?

If we couldn’t comfortably design a speculative office space, we could certainly contemplate the nature of office design and offer a preferred method and materials for achieving the highest sustainability.  We took the boring precedent – with its many dividing walls, traditional hierarchy of spaces, and poor air quality – and deconstructed it.  Having determined what we didn’t want (i.e. what was not sustainable), we proceeded with ideas for a smarter and more responsible alternative.

b+o submission

b+o submission

We proposed two designs, responding to the different privacy needs an office may have.

the egalitarian – was our favorite – engaging, open, airy, it encourages communication,  collaboration and equality between everyone, with minimal separations, maximum air flow,  only one door (to the bathroom), recycled rubber floors and recycled paper desktops, and moveable file/storage cabinets.

the spiral – is closer to the traditional idea of office, with a fully enclosed/separated conference room, and at least one private office.  We kept the walls to a minimum – as you proceed into the space the walls increase from desk-height to full-height, creating a gradiation of public/private spaces.

Both designs feature ductless mini-split hvac systems, occupancy sensors, passive air cooling, solar shades, recycled materials and furniture, ceiling fans, indoor plants for air quality, and space planning to keep noisy functions in  already noisy areas of the space.

We also encouraged sustainable office principles such as incentives for workers to commute by alternate modes of transportation, recycling centers within the office, water cooler not water bottles, and a sustainability manual and standards for office education of ‘green’ principles.

B+O is always looking for clients who desire spaces that are both environmentally responsible and personally responsive – clients who prefer a custom-tailored fit over the one-size-fits-all alternative.  Please contact us if you are interested in hearing more about how we might be able to help you!

In the news

We were recently in the Greater Wilmington Business journal as part of the Barrier Island Study Center team, which received a Stewardship Development award for 2008 in November.  It’s great to think that in our relatively short time here, we’ve had the great experience of working with/on 4 different projects for clients who’ve gotten recognition in this 3-county program over our firm’s existence.

It’s really rewarding for us & in retrospect- nice to see the small way we can make a difference in the Cape Fear area.   So thanks to all those clients & colleagues who make doing good design so much fun for us;

stewdev BHIC study center- 2008 winner- significant   achievement

Tonbo Meadow- 2007 winner- significant achievement

Preservation Park- 2006 winner- outstanding achievement

Village of Woodsong- 2005 winner-outstanding achievement

For more information on a great program- check out their website @

Tonbo Meadow mentioned in Green Building blog!


see the entire article here: