http://diluvianllc.com/about/ A pamphlet lies open among a sea of papers engulfing Tom Flood’s desk. A futuristic building sits among blue skies and bicycle riders, a more dramatic representation of Capital Hill’s eco-friendly values. The image immediately inspires within me excitement for the prospects of our bright future. However, just as fast as I was excited, I am brought back to reality, frustrated with my ability to become easily persuaded by good advertising.
Noticing my distracted gaze towards the pamphlet and sensing my thought process on the matter, Tom begins to tell me that the building is one of a few being built using criteria from the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, one of three original chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Cascadia’s “The Living Building Challenge” provides a blue print for people who are concerned about the environment and sustainable living. Modeled after a flower, there are seven petals, or requirements, that must be fulfilled for the challenge to be completed. The standards that must be met include providing your own energy, water, food; dealing with your own waste; and preserving sixteen times the amount of land in the country as is used in the city.
Tom speaks of the project with great respect, however, without any visceral connection. I know already that this project is not what Tom is involved in, because if anyone were to become emotionally invested in a project that involves sustainable living and design it would be Tom Flood. “I imagine the Cascadia project and the official brochure [are] similar to other corporate companies like Starbucks. They have [a] $190 million endowment for their project of developing the building on 15th. On the other hand, the for-sale townhouses we are building are going to hopefully demonstrate ways that sustainable urban projects can successfully hit on all three legs of a sustainable system: Environment, Economy, and Equity. We are working with no endowment. As a result, those of us in the trenches, with much, much smaller means must use creativity to accomplish the same things as more ‘corporate’ projects,” he says.
As a sculptor Tom is inherently creative in all that he does. “Everything that I do is a form of art making. Whether it’s making objects or teaching kids, all elements of art are in it. In my work, I reference many artists that have gone before me that share the same sort of world view, for example the German artist Joseph Beuys, American ‘land artist’ Robert Smithson, and Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The best art I think is that which doesn’t fit into a neat box or any succinct category.”
Do you think the project will be successful?
“I’m just a school teacher trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat. But yes I believe in it. I have hired architects and people who know how to run numbers. I think too that it troubles people that I see architects and engineers and public officials the same way that I see metal, paint, and wood; they are all elements used to compose a piece.”
What are the sustainable features of your design?
Water. Living where you work is huge. Meaning, if you live where you work you could potentially eliminate a car; your life is therefore more pedestrian focused. Flexibility is also a key component to the design. There are few interior walls. The design also allows for maximum exposure to the sun for passive heating. We’ve also designed it to have a thermal chimney, which allows for passive cooling as well. The roofs are engineered to handle twelve inches of soil so you can grow your own food on the roof. The gardens will be irrigated with rainwater, and the native landscaping will be watered with “grey water.” Grey water, the water that comes from sinks and showers, will also be pumped up to flush the toilets.
These townhouses you are in the process of building encompass values our generation should implement. Can you comment on the current cultural practices of our generation concerning sustainability?
“My generation never had a concept of a disposable culture. You would have something, own it for forty years, and work it until there is nothing left of it. The French term for that is “briccolage.” This concept of disposability is a very recent phenomenon. That concept your generation has of immediate gratification and disposable culture is messing with our intrinsic value of self worth.”
The live/work townhomes at Pike Station are under construction and due to be completed in February of 2013.
For more information check out the following links related to Tom’s work:
Article written by Nicole Brodeur (Brooks Donohue ’11) in the Seattle Times.
Tom’s sustainable town house project site lidnk