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Green Practice


This chapter discusses how to make your living, workspace and art practice greener, healthier, and safer for you and the environment. Seattle is a national leader and innovator of "green" practice. Many local initiatives and programs are geared towards creating a greener and healthier Seattle. Some are community-driven or government-sponsored, while others are regional arms of national environmental initiatives. This handbook only discusses programs that have a land and/or space-related focus.

This chapter highlights programs and projects that may be useful in securing funding or other assistance in the development of artists' spaces, incorporating green technology into spaces or in generating possible artistic collaborations.

In addition to reading the information presented in this chapter, review this chapter's Resource section, which provides extensive links to materials, resources and professionals to assist you in greening up your space and art practice


Center for Neighborhood Technology
The Center for Neighborhood Technology's (CNT) Website offers a variety of resources and information on green living, sustainable environments, traffic, building codes and more. CNT's primary goal is to build more livable, sustainable, and prosperous urban communities. 

Earthwatch - Seattle
Earthwatch offers volunteer participation in scientific field research projects throughout the world. In addition to travel, some projects have photography and illustration opportunities for which you may be paid.

Earthwatch is a local volunteer group that supports the Earthwatch Institute and sponsors several Seattle-area events each year. Earthwatch Institute offers a series of expeditions. To learn more visit the Website.

You can obtain a copy of your neighborhood's environmental justice analysis through the EJD website. EJD is a component of Scorecard: The Information Pollution Site.

Environmental Law and Policy Center
The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) Website provides information on a variety of environmental issues such as energy and transportation alternatives. A Chicago-based advocacy organization, the ELPC's primary goals are:

  1. To achieve cleaner energy resources and implement sustainable energy strategies

  2. Promote innovative and efficient transportation and land use approaches that produce cleaner air and more jobs; and

  3. Develop sound environmental management practices that conserve natural resources and improve the quality of life in our communities.

To learn more about ELPC, contact 312-673-6500, or visit their Website.

Additional Resources
There are many national and international efforts to address sustainability, environmental and green living issues. For more information about nonprofit organizations, visit Guide Star's Website, which provides information on various categories of nonprofits (i.e. artistic, environmental, political, etc.), contact information and web links

De-toxing Your Art

Green living is more than just a space issue: It is a lifestyle choice. Artists are often exposed to many hazardous and toxic materials. Minimizing your exposure and/or production of these substances is important, as it impacts both you and the environment.

Two ways to green up your artistic process:

  1. Choose equipment, materials, production methods and products wisely, and

  2. Participate in material reuse and recycling programs.

Many products and practices that are toxic to both you and the environment can be either substituted for less harmful materials and methods, or eliminated altogether. Even after you change materials, you must give yourself time to learn how to use the products.

Look into substitutions for:

  • Ceramic Substitutions

  • Drawing and Painting Substitutions

  • Fiber and Textile Substitutions

  • Graphic Art Substitutions

  • Metalworking Substitutions

  • Photography Substitutions

  • Printmaking Substitutions

  • Sculpture Substitutions

  • Woodworking Substitutions

Besides incorporating eco-friendly equipment, materials and production processes into your practice, you can also participate in material exchange programs, which allow you to exchange and/or purchase materials that are considered by-products or waste from particular industries. For example, a textile production company might have excess fabric cuts it needs to sell, or a paper manufacturer may have misprinted stationery.

Look into Material Exchange Programs:

  • FreecycleSeattle - Connects individuals who are throwing away goods with others who seek them. Provides opportunities to trade in a variety of goods such as furniture, clothing, appliances, computers and everything in between. To participate in the exchange, all items must remain free.

TIP: Review Chapter 22: Safe and Healthy Practices and Chapter 19: Utilities for information on how to properly dispose of hazardous art waste.

Best Practices

Consider how you can incorporate green technology and materials into your live and work areas. Green technology allows you to have an eco-friendly, low-toxin or non-toxic space, which means a healthier environment.

Many of the design techniques, material choices and green technologies discussed in this section can be adapted for a variety of spaces. As you begin using green design and materials in your space, review Chapter 21: Rehabbing Your Space for additional information on permit issues, space layout and design, hiring design professionals, and more. Also consider:

  • Products : When choosing products, utilize those obtained by sustainable methods (such as tree farm products) and/or contain recyclable elements. Using products that are locally produced also reduces the pollution created during transportation. Avoid products that use CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) or VOCs (volatile organic compounds) during their manufacture, installation, maintenance and demolition, and/or emit CFC and VOC gases. While CFC production has been banned in the U.S., some older buildings still have old refrigerators and freezers or other equipment that contains CFCs. VOC gases can cause headaches, nausea and irritation to your eyes and nasal passages. Paints, sealants, carpet, furniture and other products are now available that contain no- or low-VOCs. Most of these products will contain labels indicating if they are as no- or low-VOC. Use appliances, equipment and tools that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

  • Building Operation and Management: Look for ways to minimize energy use, such as combining heating and power systems. This process is known as cogeneration, and can lead to energy efficiency and lower heating and power costs. Also incorporate renewable energy systems and minimize unproductive and wasteful energy habits such as leaving on the lights and other equipment when not using them.

The technology and materials that are readily available in the metropolitan area, require a small to medium financial commitment and are considered beneficial to the environmental needs specific to the Seattle area.

You may face barriers in trying to go green, particularly in building code restrictions. For example, the Seattle Building Code does not allow for composting toilets or waterless urinals, and requires at least 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Another example involves requirements for ventilation systems. The Code stipulates that ventilation systems must be designed to accommodate the estimated maximum occupancy load of a space.

So, what does this mean? Essentially, don't give up on trying to incorporate environmentally safe practices into your space because of a few hurdles. Be flexible with your design needs, and make sure that the practice you want still meets the City zoning and building code requirements. This might require working with an architect or other design professional to adequately incorporate green and sustainable technologies and practices into your space.


American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
Offers a product and resource directory.

American Solar Energy Society
Advances the use of solar energy to benefit people and the environment.

Building Green
Offers a detailed listing of more than 1,800 environmentally building products, with descriptions, manufacturer information, and links to additional resources.

Community Energy Cooperative
Nonprofit membership organization helping consumers and communities obtain information and services they need to control energy costs.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Independent federal regulatory agency that conducts research, develops product standards, orders recalls, and provides information to the public about a variety of consumer products.

DOE: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN)
Provides access to hundreds of web sites and thousands of online documents on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Earth 911
Offers extensive resources about recycling. (Also, see SPU website.)

Energy and Environmental Building Association
Promotes energy-efficient, environmentally responsible buildings.

Environmental Assessment Association (EAA)
An international organization dedicated to providing members with information and education in the environmental industry relating to environmental inspections, testing, and other areas.

Environmental Design and Construction Magazine
Articles, news stories, reviews and technical documents on green building and remodeling.

Environmental Health Information Services (EHIS)
Posts the website of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of the effects of the environment on human health.

Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)
A Midwest public interest environmental advocacy organization working to achieve cleaner energy resources and implement sustainable energy strategies.

Florida Solar Energy Center
A research institute for the University of Florida.

Forest Certification Resource Center
Comprehensive resource on forest management and product certification.

Global Green
Offers extensive articles and information about green building.

Green Blue
A catalyst to transform the production of goods.

Green Roofs
Website on vegetative roofs. Topics include an introduction to eco-roofs, their history, technical information, plant lists, and case studies.

Green Seal
Strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by promoting eco-friendly products and services, resource and habitat conservation, and minimization of global warming and ozone depletion.

GreenGuard Environmental Institute
Certifies low-emitting interior products.

Hardwood Information Center
Offers information and resources about U.S. hardwoods and hardwood products, including information on green and sustainable building products.

Indoor Environmental Quality (CDC/NIOSH)
Resources, documents and topics on workplace IAQ.

International Solar Energy Society (ISES)
UN-accredited NGO present in more than 50 countries.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Also, review LEED for Commercial Interiors.

Lighting Design Lab
This is a Seattle City Light education and demonstration facility with resources on energy efficient electric lighting.

Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines
Multipurpose design tool focused on sustainable building design issues.

Scientific Certification Systems
Established in 1984 as the nation's first third-party certifier for testing pesticide residues in fresh produce. The company has evolved to become a certifier of multiple facets of the food industry and of environmentally sound management.

Through independent auditing, certification and the promotion of certified forest products, SmartWood improves forest management by providing economic incentives to businesses that practice responsible forestry.

Solar Energy Industries Association
Information on contractors, incentives for buying solar, and policy initiatives.

Solar Energy International
Provides education and technical assistance through on-site workshops and online courses.

Solar Energy Topics
Solar Energy 101 from the U.S. Department of Energy.

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
Coalition promoting environmentally responsible buildings.

Urban Land Institute (ULI)
Provides reasonable leadership in the use of land to enhance the total environment.

Water and Energy
A northwest-based resource on implementing energy technologies and practices.

Water Wiser
Offers extensive information, articles and links on water efficiency, irrigation, grey water harvesting, etc.

Waterless Urinals
The title says it all!

De-toxing Your Art
Best Practices
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