“What are you reading these days?” is a tough question.
To be honest, most of what I read now is in the social media stream. Although I still drop everything for a new print copy of The New Yorker (thanks, Katie!) and do plow through an actual book now and then (just finished The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, just started On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno), architecture magazines pile up on my desk and trade papers go right to the recycling bin.
But when people ask me what I’m reading, they usually mean “where do you find all the climate-change related articles, studies, and posts that fuel your Tweets, posts, and links?”
Well, these are a few of my favorite sources:
Let’s start with Grist, environmental news and commentary. “A beacon in the smog.” My all-time favorite source. I go to for clever, hard-hitting, timely, and well-written posts. Today’s home page features a piece on how Washington State knocked $2500 off the cost of solar panels and an interview with controversial new Sierra Club chief Michael Brune. Fair warning! This site – and many others on my list – is pretty left-leaning. My architectural firm, Bergmeyer, does not endorse a political ideology. But this list is my own, and I’m a Progressive and proud. So, to continue . . .
Next on my list is The Natural Resources Defense Council, “The Earth’s Best Defense”. By their own (and many others’) assessments, the NRDC is the most effective environmental action group in the USA. More specifically, I follow the NRDC “Switchboard” blog. The Switchboard throws out regular policy updates and provides easy ways for you to poke your elect officials. Because they need frequent poking.
The Conservation Law Foundation has a full spectrum of really good environmental policy pieces written by environmental lawyers in New England. Today’s “CLF Scoop” does a deep dive (pun absolutely intended) on the inestimable ecological value of Cashes Ledge, a kelp forest in the Gulf of Maine, and an editorial about the fishermen’s view of peer-reviewed cod stock assessments. Smart people not afraid to take on hot topics.
Posts from the Pulitzer-Prize winning Inside Climate News usually get my attention, too. Like: “CLEAN BREAK: The Story of Germany’s Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn From It.” As if watching them in the World Cup wasn’t lesson enough. Inside Climate News is always on point, although not to be confused with RealClimate who are not the same as the Climate Reality Project. Still with me? All good.
I think The Atlantic Cities is pretty interesting right now. “An engaging destination for an increasingly urbanized world,” Atlantic Cities collects essays on the future of urban living. Go to their home page, click on “CityFixer,” and get stories like “Hey Congress, Oregon Has Your Long-Term Highway Funding Solution Right Here” (emphasis mine!) Of course, Oregon has Earl Blumenauer, too, which helps with that issue. Love this site. Love their parent magazine, The Atlantic, too. But please note: their Twitter feed and Goggle+ pages have recently moved to www.citylab.com and @CityLab.
Emails. Sheesh. I asked for them! They come every day from Green Buzz Daily and Environmental Leader Daily although sometimes the spam filter gets them first. I also get posts from The Breakthrough Institute, The Energy Collective and ThinkProgress’s climate blog. I don’t always agree with what I read on these sites and they tend to be deeply wonkish, but they’re always though-provoking and topical.
Energy-conscious architects in greater Boston are pals with NEEP, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership. NEEP “facilitates partnerships to advance energy efficiency.” I subscribe to their blog site “Energy Efficiency Matters.” We also like the Institute for Market Transformation for their work on building energy use reporting and disclosure ordinances and their partners the Global Building Performance Network.
Our A-list also includes the Boston Harbor Association for their advocacy leadership on climate change adaptation, Greenovate Boston as an aggregator for all our municipal government’s GHG reduction efforts, and the Sustainable Performance Institute for building the environmental design capabilities of our firms. And for SPI blog posts like “Putting the Management Back in Change.” And we’d all be lost without BuildingGreen and their gold-standard publication Environmental Building News, an absolute “go-to” for building profesionals since 1992.
Finally, you have no doubt heard of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Lemme tell ya, my brother is a climate scientist and he’s concerned. So I read their stuff religiously. I also appreciate the solid scientific research produced by Yale Environment 360. OK, being an alum I’m a little prejudiced here. Their posts are often not about architecture, but they’re always fascinating and well-researched.
So I hate to use the phrase “tip of the iceberg” given the state of the Greenland ice sheet, but this list is really only that. And of course nothing of this social media download will help you pass a lazy Sunday afternoon on some faraway beach. For that, give me the great Gray Lady any day. I’ll take the Sunday Review section, thanks. And please recycle.
This post originally appeared on the blog of Principal Mike Davis, FAIA.