October 14, 2013

Green Giving Back: Participating in Green Apple Service Day

Green Giving Back: Participating in Green Apple Service Day

Since our founding, GWWO has always focused on providing more for less in our designs – less consumption and environmental impact and more efficiency, savings and sensitivity.

This concept often transcends our work and impacts our everyday lives. As part of the firm’s Sustainability Committee, GWWO participated in the second annual Green Apple Day of Service on Saturday, September 28th. Presented by the Center for Green Schools and the US Green Building Council (USGBC), this yearly event gives GWWO (and thousands of communities around the world) the opportunity to make an impact by aiming to transform schools into healthy, safe, cost-efficient, and productive learning places.

This year, eight members of the GWWO team and their guests gave their time to transform the exterior classroom space at Independence School Local 1, located only a mile from our office. Over the course of the day, the team worked with students to fashion an outdoor table and benches out of recycled wood pallets to provide seating areas for students and tidied up the surrounding gardens. Special thanks to our neighbors, Mahan Rykiel, for donating the extra reclaimed pallets from their own green initiative, PARKing Day.

In preparation for the event, the team invited all employees to contribute to the design efforts, adding to the fun by inviting them to use popsicle sticks and hot glue to make mini models of their potential designs. While some of our designers made beautiful benches that looked more like art, ultimately function was chosen over form. Once the preliminary design was set, the team met to further refine it for construction and ultimate versatility. GWWO architect Kami Altman used SketchUp to help model the final plans.

However, even with extensive planning, the team encountered a few hiccups on site. Mandy Palasik, leader of GWWO’s efforts, noted that “It was truly a lesson learned, as we ended up with some field adjustments to our initial design. As architects, I think we tend to take for granted the rigor of the construction craft, however critical we may be in our punch outs. In theory, everything seems fairly straightforward as we draw it on paper. We had our designs modeled in SketchUp and even prepared the parts to assemble on the day of the event. However, it’s a totally different story when you actually pick up a hammer and begin to put the pieces together. All in all, we managed to pull everything together on time. I was honestly a bit nervous, but it turns out GWWO has very talented improv designers!”

Carin Kirikos, Special Educator at Independence School, was pleased with the results stating “We had a fantastic time! I already held small classes outdoors around the table you built. The kids are taking pride in what they did and want to continue their work in our after school club.” Palasik, in turn, was impressed with the students affirming, “They took pride and ownership in their work and even started to tailor the design to meet their preferences.”

After five hours and despite a few gaffes, the pieces were finished and ready to be used. As Palasik said “It’s amazing all the things you can make with a few reclaimed pallets!”