Deconstruction is the environmentally sound side of building demolition. It is a process by which a building is taken apart in order to salvage all or part of the building materials. Deconstruction is the reality is some parts of the world—the most impoverished and the most progressive.

Please view the webpages and documents below for some innovative and effective deconstruction programs, including the stellar Dutch example of one of the most advanced deconstruction and waste minimization programs in the world.


A Sustainability Plan for San Antonio

Five grad students in UTSA's Urban and Regional Sustainability class presented research at the April 15, 2014 Sierra Club meeting showing where we are now and where we need to be in 2040. Areas were water, energy, transportation and land use, waste, and climate. This was fascinating because all the information is there, and the recommendations for each area. What we use, distance we drive, carbon dioxide we need to reduce--it is all there in numbers.

Creative new solutions are also presented in area of solid waste. Congratulations to the class for producing such a valuable resource for the public use. The class was fully engaged in learning the process of city planning and also researched various cities to learn about their sustainability plans. We wish the students well in their future pursuits. Also thanks to their professor, Bill Barker.

For more info: the Rivard Report covered this event and the program with an article, UTSA’s Next Generation Imagines San Antonio 2040. The Rivard Report is an online magazine serving San Antonio’s urban core.

Barbara McMillin, Alamo Group Transportation Leader


Alamo Region Livability Summit

Here is a link to the power point presentationsfrom the Alamo Region Livability Summit. It is on the MPO website Look at the rotating carousel and click on presentations.

I recommend checking out the presentations Downtown Transportation Study by Kerri Collins, Pape-Dawson Engineers,and Innovation and Livability, by Mukul Malhotra, MIG, Inc..  These can give you an idea of changes that we can hopefully look forward to here in SA.  But it will take major efforts to get across the idea of multicenter cities, that are walkable, bikable to a town center, with energy efficient housing, and jobs nearby, and the role that transportation options play in making all these changes possible. 

I recommend reading Peter Calthorpe's Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change.  The reasoning, the solutions, and scenarios are all laid out in the book.  Calthorpe says that developers are seeing the need to move from sprawl to smaller footprint over a region, more compact, and Smart Growth lifestyles.  And that developers see the advantage of permanent tracks on the ground for rail and want to build around rail.  Transportation options save cities and families a huge amount of money over operation and maintenance costs in the future.

Barbara McMillin


Climate crisis is not just an inconvenience

Loretta Van Coppenolle, Conservation Committee Vice Chair, wrote this op-ed piece which was published in the August 31, 2011 Express-News.

Those who deny human-caused climate change, particularly if they hold positions of power, imperil us all. The time for skepticism about climate chaos has long since passed. Climate scientists acknowledge the climate crisis and they have the evidence to implicate fossil-fuel use.

Climate events in recent decades and just in the last year make it clear that we have a very serious problem on our hands. In 2011, the northeastern U.S. saw a far greater number of blizzards occurring than ever before. Tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri wreaked untold havoc. Flooding in the Midwest and elsewhere caused irreparable loss. Hurricanes in recent years have increased both in number and intensity, with this year shaping up to be a significant one.

In Texas, summer temperature increases are unlike anything in the past, with this year rivaling 2009 for the record number of 100-degree-plus days. The period from February through July 2011 was the hottest ever recorded in Texas. San Antonio summer nights go down only into the 70s, and that low only toward dawn. High nighttime temperatures reveal radiation from some source other than the sun (streets, rooftops, parking lots, etc.) since the sun doesn't shine at night.

The current drought could outpace the legendary Texas drought of the 1950s. So far this year it is the worst single-year drought ever in the state. Exceptional drought is now affecting more than 70 percent of the state, and it is predicted to continue. Some municipalities are running out of water. Others are drastically restricting irrigation. San Antonio may soon be in Stage III water restrictions for the first time ever.

The loss from heat and drought to Texas agriculture is staggering. There has been a $5.2 billion loss since last fall, higher than the record $4.1 billion loss suffered in 2006.

In other countries, climate devastation is taking its toll. We may choose to ignore what happens elsewhere, but it nonetheless affects us politically, economically and physically.

Carbon dioxide levels of 350 parts per million are considered normal. The CO {-2} level measured just last May was at 395 parts per million. While this may not seem like a huge increase, it is astronomical in terms of what it can do to us.

Some might say that addressing climate change would be economically too costly. The opposite is true: Not addressing climate change will cost us far more.

The time to act is now, and we must all act — even those whose political or religious beliefs cause them to shun acceptance of climate chaos. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our Creator to conserve energy and to call on our political leaders to come up with sweeping responses to the crisis.

Mayor Julián Castro has proclaimed September to be Climate Change Awareness Month in San Antonio. The culminating event will be Moving Planet, a climate solutions rally at the Pearl Brewery on Sept. 24. To learn of other events planned for the month, please go to

Loretta Van Coppenolle is conservation vice-chair for the Alamo Group Sierra Club and a life-long environmentalist.