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Understanding the Portobello's "Nutrition Label"

Ever pick up a package in the grocery store and wonder "What's in this?" Followed by turning it over in an attempt to decipher the nutrition label and decide whether you should eat it?

(I'm nodding. Are you nodding?)

It goes something like this.

While gazing at the nutrition label, trying to act like we know we're reading, we wonder, "Is this product beneficial for improving my health, or a deterrent, ultimately disrupting or damaging my overall health?"

And then, we get stuck in the weeds. Especially if we don't understand how to read the label - whether to understand the purpose of the nutrients, why their measurements are important, or both.

For some, understanding a nutrition label takes the expertise of a code-breaker. Should we focus on calories or fat? On grams of added sugar or fiber count? What's more important, carbohydrates or protein? That tiny little label contains powerful information, but often we struggle with how to comprehend and then apply what we've read.

Understanding a nutrition label (which, in your defense has undergone several changes throughout the years) is the best way to determine how the ingredients from which the item is comprised will affect you, the consumer, physically, emotionally and even mentally, in the short, and even long-term. While not exactly black and white, in terms of a product being "good" or "bad", nutrition labels do feed our perception of the product - either positively or negatively.

What if buildings came with nutrition labels?

What if upon entering a building, you could see a list of the "nutrients" making up that building ranging from materials used to energy systems. Picture a measurement tool, not unlike a nutritional label on a consumable product, reflecting the general health of the building you are visiting. Based on the information, you could have access to information such as :

  • How much energy is being used?

  • How water is being saved?

  • What's the environmental quality inside the building?

  • How innovative is the design in terms of the best sustainability of resources?

What if a building could and willingly would offer you answers to the above questions?

Spoiler alert: The Portobello will!

The Portobello Building's nutrition label

As a pilot project for Green Globes, an online green building rating and certification tool primarily used in Canada and the USA, the Portobello will earn points based on specific categories and criteria. Though highly based on energy performance benchmark criteria, the Green Globes system directly addresses microclimatic design considerations, space optimization, energy-efficient technologies, the operational aspects and the impact of the building occupants.

Say, what?

Never fear. We are excited to break down the specifics of the Portobello's nutrition label reflecting the health of Beaver County's first certified green commercial building, thus helping you to answer the question "What's in this?"

Why does the health of a building even matter?

The truth of the matter is that the issue of climate change is finally becoming mainstream (yeah for science!) There is a newfound understanding that we must reduce greenhouse gases and CO2, with some of the biggest culprits being, wait for it . . . wait for it: BUILDINGS!

Learn to read our label

Over the next few months, we will offer a primer on the Portobello's building targets and how we are meeting the criteria for Green Globes v3 with information about (but not limited to):

  • The site - using urban in-fill, promoting bike lanes, etc.

  • Water - designing the building to capture rainwater and installation and operation of water-efficient systems

  • Energy - how the energy is being captured and used efficiently, thus releasing fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere

  • Materials - selecting sustainably sourced materials from our local region that have a focus on life-cycle (how they are produced and can be recycled or reused), etc.

  • Indoor Environmental Quality - investing in systems that keep the air indoors healthy by not specifying materials with off-gas (for example, carpet, cabinetry, furniture, paint, etc.) and how we design for natural light and views, etc.

  • Regional Priority - exploring what is needed in Beaver Falls (in terms of water and energy conservation) vs. maybe Arizona where they’d give bonus points for solar and zero-scape gardens

A healthy building for our community, our county and ultimately our Earth, is a goal we take seriously! Come explore the nutrition of the Portobello as we continue our countdown to breaking ground!

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