On August 22, I caught wind about a free training events to learn about a sustainability plugin for Sketchup. I was sitting at one of my favorite spot – SLO Donut Co – in San Luis Obispo when I got an email from from one of my green build email subscription (I believe it was green-building.com).
I wasn’t back in San Francisco, but I know I will be, and I know I wanted to really explore all the different events in the city. September was a busy month for architecture thought, with the annual Architecture & City Festival hosted by AIA.
IES (Integrated Environmental Solutions) though, caught my eyes. It was a new program to me. Naturally, when I realize it was a new sustainiability plugin for SketchUp, my curiousity spike. I signed up for the free seminar.
Now, back then I thought the month of September would a slow month where I would have nothing to do because I wouldn’t have a job yet. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you would be laughing now.
Naturally, fate decided that it would an unusual day on September 13. It was, however, a day of pleasant surprises. The day before, I learned that my cousin from Oakland is now interning in San Francisco just a few blocks from the seminar’s place. And so, we decided to have lunch together on the 13th. After we both returned home, we decided over email to meet at Sawaii Sushi. Excited about the seminar and lunch, I joined the events page for the IESVE seminar on Facebook and posted to my friends that I will be there. The next morning before I left home, to my pleasant surprise, I noticed that my best friend posted on Facebook that we should meet up. Even more happy, I decided that I will send a reply as soon as I get back home. And so, the day begins.
‘Sushi with… cream cheese?’
Ah, got to love San Francisco. It was the first thing – other than the cute store icon – that caught my attention when I first found Sawaii Sushi. Philadelphia Sushi sounds absolutely strange and unhealthy (salmon, avocado, and cream cheese), but there have to a reason that they put it as a store special on the board display on the street.
Before you ask, no, I did not ate cream cheese sushi that day. I was hungry, and according my cousin, a 6 piece roll isn’t very much. I ended up ordering a bento set with salmon and California roll. We went over to Crocker Galleria to eat because it has a beautiful atmosphere and a farmer’s market going on. Though the store interior wasn’t too bad.
Sawaii Sushi was a small store with cleanly white design and good lighting. Light enters through the full-glass front entrance and the side-window at the chief’s workplace/bar area, then bounced back by the smooth white interior. White table and wood (or was it bamboo?) chair lined up at the right side neatly. The wall are mostly white, and a few small Asian arts are hung on the wall. Despite the size of the room and its placement at a financial district, the place felt open and airy. I suppose the white color and the spare amount of furnitures help. I can get drink or ready-made food from a fridge box and display case. Visitors can grab small cups of water, too, which is a nice touch. The lady there was very patient and nice – I wanted to wait for my cousin before I order, and so I had step in and outside the store for a few moment.
The food was good. It came with miso, rice, and salad. I am not a big fan of salad, but I am satisfied with what they gave. The sauce wasn’t overly strong, oily, or salty – a frequent complaint I have with salad (“I am trying to eat the vegetables, not a bottle of sauce!”). It was just a light touch of sweet saucing with bite-size leaves. Miso was just soup with little squares of tofu and seaweed. Salmon was more toward the dry size – but it’s not exactly dry. I like the sweet sauce that go with it. For about $7, it was very well-done.
After my cousin and I finished our lunch, we walked together to her office since my seminar doesn’t start for another hour. She ended up introducing me to a small local bakery store, Batter Bakery. The store is rather… unique in its presentation. Should definitely go back and sketch out the store. It is this little circular glass booth. Though small, it have place for 3 people. Little baskets and bags of pastries sits on displays of different height. The glass “walls” enclose the booth but also becomes attractive display for the store. Sitting at the corner of California Street, it was very noticeable.
Listening to the recommendation of the store-owner, I tried out their store-special, Sand Angel. Sand Angel is a sand-brown cookie with white powder. It have a light touch of ginger-cookie flavor and cinnamon to it. It was a delicious, well-flavored, mildly-sweet cookie with a light crusty surface and moist inside. It was soft, but also firm and not crumbly. Very nice.
I walked around for a while before I started walking back to the Crocker Galleria. To my surprise, I realized I had 2 missed calls – from my friend who posted on my Facebook!
I called back, and learn that she’s in the Galleria now! Turned out that she decided the seminar would offer a new perspective (she is in graphic design and digital marketing), and she meant for us to meet up at the seminar when she posted to me on Facebook! I hurried over to Galleria to found her.
The seminar was hosted in CompoClay. The products there was pretty cool. Here’s their description on Facebook:
CompoClay refers to the revolutionary, patent-pending, award-winning material which holds the unique properties of being green, safe, durable, and versatile for design.
CompoClay is MAS-Certified Green being Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions free; classified as a Class 0 non-combustible material per British Standards; and possesses outstanding weathering resistance per ASTM tests standards performed by SGS.
CompoClay serves as an environmentally sound alternative to existing counterparts made of gypsum, softwoods, rigid polyurethane foam, and resins which are proven to have negative consequences in regards to greenness, safety, and durability, within their product life cycle.
There were varies potteries, sculptures, and moldings in the store. While the material contains clay, it is no simple clay. They are all made of material composed of sustainable and nonhazardous contents. Yet, the product there looked as well-made and detail as regular clay. If I had not stepped into the store, I may not have realized their products were any different from other sculptures or moldings.
When I entered into the seminar area, I was immediately greeted by Erin, who was the coordinator of the events. After my registration, she had send in another welcome note, confirmation letter, and a reminder. Like I imagined, she was very friendly. The room was much more cozier than I thought. There were couches and snacks. There were 8 attendants from what I observed, and everyone can see everyone. Those were all important elements – those who read Twitter may recall that I mentioned how the seminar turned into a most fascinating discussion later, but I will go into that.
Integrated Environmental Solutions creates a VE (Virtual Environment) software for performance analysis in digital modelings. It works with not SketchUp, but also Revit and ArchiCad. The tools takes varies factors, ratings, and codes into account, including geographic, climate data, EPC, LEED, and ASHRAE. It will even do credit assessment for LEED. Even though LEED 2012 haven’t came up yet, the company is already looking into it. From what I observed, the graphics and data was easy-to-read and navigate. I immediately thought about how useful it would had been if I know about it when my class group was working on the program for the USGBC Natural Talents Competition.
There are total of 4 levels of VE program – VE-Ware, VE-Toolkits, Ve-Gaia, and VE-Pro. Each level gets more and more detail and in-depth with their analysis. For those whom are interested, I highly recommend going to their website
and watching their YouTube video
. Their software have too much features to explain it in one blog post. Of course, I am sure actually using the software would also offer a different perspective.
It would appears that at least half of the attendants have already been using the software. At the end, an interesting discussion started about the development in BIM and Sustainability Analysis software, as well as the importance of client-education. Since I am a recent graduate, it was fascinating to hear the experiences and thoughts of people whom are working in the industry, whom saw the wave of sustainable design and digital drafting & modeling program affect both professionals and clients. To those of us new in this generation, we grow up in the age of computer revolution and green culture. We have education in sustainability at young age, and we are used to Adobe and Apple coming up with new products on a yearly base. Everything, every digital advancement seems to be just around the corner. For those who’s been there though, they can see that it took years for those advancements to happen. Things have history – the history of building professionals went from drafting to computer graphics, from graphics to 2d drafting, from 2d drafting to modeling, from modeling to BIM, and now from BIM to performance analysis tools. Along with those revolution, the role of architects and clients both changed. With the advancement of digital performance analysis, I wonder how the jobs and roles of architects will change in line of history.