Project Updates Blog

Welcome to the Green & Main blog! We hope you gain education, understanding, or enlightenment from each of these blog posts written by our own Green & Main subject matter experts.

Blogs are arranged with the most recent blog post appearing at the top, or choose specific blog categories from the list on the right. We welcome your comments at the end of every blog post!

We’ve Come a Long Way: An Update on Green & Main

June 9, 2016

We’ve come a long way since our groundbreaking ceremony back in 2009. From a run-down, vacant grocery store, we are now excited to say the project completion is near, with over 80% of the building renovations done!   Once it is complete, the Green & Main mixed-use building will house a women’s wellness center on the […]

Posted In: Construction Updates

“Why THIS building for Healing Passages?”, you ask.

May 5, 2016

  Because spirit and intention matter.   It matters to Chaden and I. It matters to the Willowsong Midwifery team providing theCare. It matters to the artisans of Silent Rivers. It matters to the community we serve. And this spirit, this intention, has the ability to set the path for a more connected, sustainable, safer future for our planet. Or NOT. […]

Posted In: Construction Updates, Design + Build, Stormwater Management, Sustainability, Thought Leadership

A Marriage of PURPOSE

May 5, 2016

Cosette Boone is the Founder and Executive Director of Healing Passages Birth & Wellness Center, which is the main tenant of the renovated building. “Can you see doing it without him?” This is what Ying, my CPA, asked me from across her desk one day a few years back. Instantly, my gut responded. “No”, I said, after a […]

Posted In: Thought Leadership

theHeart of the Project

April 4, 2016

Cosette Boone is the Founder and Executive Director of Healing Passages Birth & Wellness Center, which is the main tenant of the renovated building. Healing Passages Birth & Wellness Center will soon be located in the amazing sustainable building at 800 19th Street. There has been a whole lot of love and vision going into this birth center… […]

Posted In: Thought Leadership

Thinking Spring 2012 as the Green & Main Landscaping is Installed

February 1, 2012

If you’ve ever planted a garden, or even one pumpkin seed, you know the excitement of seeing those first sprouts emerge. So imagine thousands of plants and flowers surfacing, expertly orchestrated to grow and bloom spring through fall to bring function and beauty to the Green & Main site. The Green & Main Pilot Project landscaping was installed this past October, so you can count on a burst of fresh greenery and flowers to greet spring.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management, Sustainability

Winter at Green & Main

January 20, 2012

Frost has settled into the soil at the Green & Main pilot project and layered clothing has become the norm on site. Cold weather slows everything when it arrives, even our perceptions of time. Transitioning from fall, our project processes shift and schedules expand as the conventions of construction industry adjust to the freezing temperatures that turn work trucks into rolling coolers.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter

Historic Preservation Resources

November 29, 2011

The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior provides guidelines that the Green & Main Pilot Project follows as it merges energy efficient technology with historical preservation. This article provides links to various online resources for these areas.

Posted In: Historic Preservation

Recent Construction: Site Development and Seasonal Preparation

November 21, 2011

October is typically a month of extremes, when temperatures and temperaments often span the whole spectrum. Anticipation of the first freeze, the first measurable snowfall and bitter northern rains can easily dampen schedules and moods. We were blessed, however, with incredible weather, and my gratitude extends to the many people who stretched themselves to meet the pilot project deadlines.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management

Join ‘The Tomorrow Plan’ this Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 18, 2011

Join The Tomorrow Plan this coming Tuesday, November 22nd, for a strategic conversation in planning a sustainable future for Greater Des Moines. The Natural Living Community has been asked to help shape the future of Greater Des Moines. Let your voice be heard at a public conversation for The Tomorrow Plan, a 20-month process to craft a strategy for a vibrant and enduring future in the Greater Des Moines area. Your opinion will be influential in shaping the planning of our community for our generation and those that follow.

Posted In: Community, Events

Soil Management and Erosion Control at Green & Main

November 18, 2011

Teeming with life-giving organisms that transform inorganic minerals in the ground into food for flora, soil is a vibrant and diverse ecosystem. It is a fundamental building block of life. When embarking on any building or renovation project, managing soils and the handling of erosion control may be one of the first thoughts to occur. […]

Posted In: E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management

What is LEED Certification and What Does it Mean to Green & Main?

November 7, 2011

What is LEED? LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a multi-tiered voluntary rating system for the construction, renovation and/or rehabilitation of buildings. Administered by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), LEED classification reflects the spectrum of the environmental performance of a building. The Council is comprised of engineers, architects, designers and building officials, who, through committee and in adherence to USGBC policy and procedure, develop and guide the rating systems.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter

Windows: Opening a New Perspective on Historic Renovation

October 25, 2011

Renovating a historic 1930’s brick building presents many challenges. Renovating that same building to exceptionally high energy standards adds further layers of complexity to the project. Fortunately, for a vacant 5,000-square foot brick storefront in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill neighborhood, developer Chaden Halfhill has not shied away from these challenges.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Sustainability

Winterizing Green & Main: A Survey of What’s Been Happening on Site

October 24, 2011

The construction crew at the Green & Main site enjoyed an extended summer, with temperatures in early October ranging into the 80’s with clear skies. This was an unexpected and much appreciated delay to our typical Iowa autumn. Soon it will be time to batten down the hatches and get ready for sub-zero temperatures when the crew will focus on the interior of the building.

Here’s what they’ve been up to…

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management

Geothermal: Harnessing the Earth’s Energy

October 21, 2011

Geothermal Energy is heat (thermal) that comes from the earth (geo). The layers of the earth are heated in different gradients, originating from the 4,000-mile deep core, which has a temperature similar to that of the sun of around 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The heat gradually lessens as it reaches the surface of the earth, where the temperature of the top soil more accurately represents the temperature of the atmosphere. Just ten feet below the surface of the ground, the temperature of the earth maintains a constant temperature of 50-60 degrees F in all seasons. Geothermal heat pumps make use of the earth’s constant temperature as a natural source for heating and cooling.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Sustainability

The Week in Green: October 1-7, 2011

October 7, 2011

The Week in Green is a series that highlights green technology, building science and sustainability.

Posted In: News

The Week in Green: September 24-30, 2011

September 30, 2011

The Week in Green is a series that highlights green technology, building science and sustainability.

Posted In: News

Renovation Weekend: Surprises at the Job Site!

September 23, 2011

Are you interested in developing, designing or rehabilitating older buildings? Have you ever wanted to be an observer inside a construction project? Do you just enjoy a good story and making new friends? Well, clear your calendars because there are exciting renovation events happening this weekend in Sherman Hill.

Posted In: E-Newsletter, Events

Residential Stormwater Management Tips

September 23, 2011

Capture water from a downspout in a rain barrel or cistern. Rain barrels are a cost-effective way to reduce stormwater runoff near its source and to catch the “first flush” of stormwater from your roof. Rain barrels also provide a source of irrigation water for use in gardening or lawn maintenance.

Posted In: E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management

Stormwater Management: Green & Main Designs to Lead the Way

September 23, 2011

One of the most prevalent topics during the construction of the Green & Main Pilot Project has been our plans for stormwater management. What will be most effective in dealing with rain water and snowmelt (sometimes simultaneously) at the site? How will we design the vegetative roof, the landscaping and paving materials in order to manage the amount of stormwater run-off?

Posted In: E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management

Recent Construction: Site Development and Stormwater Management

September 23, 2011

In the heat of August on the construction site, our attention turned to cold temperatures.

With temperatures pushing three digits, keeping the soils dry and dusty, we felt mounting pressure from pending grant deadlines and the looming shifts in weather patterns – yes, I am talking about evening temperatures that drop below 45 degrees at night and constant concern about the early freeze that limits fall planting.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter

The Week in Green: September 17-23, 2011

September 23, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an annual event held in Washington, D.C. It is a challenge that pits collegiate teams against one another to design, build and operate solar-powered houses. The winner of the challenge is the team that “best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”

Posted In: News

Green Building Forum this Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 20, 2011

Where do heritage and sustainability meet? Restoring historic buildings!

Are you interested in developing, designing or rehabilitating older buildings? Join us to hear a panel of experts discussing green historic renovation as they come together to share the inter-connectivity between historic preservation and green building.

Posted In: Events

Green Teas at Green & Main this Friday, September 23, 2011

September 19, 2011

On-Site Networking Event with Leaders in Green Renovation and Design

Join us for an early evening gathering to meet and engage in meaningful conversations about sustainable historic renovation, using the Green & Main Pilot Project as the backdrop for discussion.

Posted In: Events

The Week in Green: September 3-9, 2011

September 9, 2011

The Week in Green is a series that highlights green technology, building science and sustainability in the news. reports that the private sector has invested over $2.4 trillion in green businesses since 2007, according to Ethical Markets Media. The Media group also anticipates a continued investment and commitment of nearly $1 trillion annually through 2020.

Posted In: News

Profiles in Green: Sharing Good Energy with John Konior

September 7, 2011

It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting in a local coffee shop with John Konior, Assistant to the City Manager of Urbandale and one of the leaders in Central Iowa’s movement towards energy efficiency. Less than two months ago, Konior and his team launched, a website dedicated to sharing stories on energy efficiency in our communities.

Posted In: Community, Sustainability

Natural Beauty and Green Technology at Green & Main

August 30, 2011

What is beauty? Who “gets” it? Why have we, as a society, put so much stock in that which is “beautiful” that we easily ignore our health, finances, family and other valued portions of our life to achieve that which is considered beautiful.

Let’s take the Green & Main Initiative for example.

Posted In: Community, Sustainability

The Week in Green: August 20-26, 2011

August 26, 2011

This week in Green: SmartPlanet features an article on Hobbit-inspired structures by Sun Joo Kim. The Hobbit House of Montana is a rentable guest house at $245 a night, located in Trout Creek, Montana. The owner of the property, Steve Michaels, was asked the question, “So, what inspired you to do this?”

Posted In: News

Confessions of a Fairgoer: Opinions on Sustainability

August 26, 2011

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to camp at the Iowa State Fair.

It was a perfect weekend to walk around the 435-acre fairgrounds (admittedly, that includes parking lots and all). The sun was out and there was a breeze to cool us off when the shade wasn’t available.

Posted In: Community

Profiles in Green: Jason Anderson and the Building of Green & Main

August 24, 2011

If you want to meet the man behind all that’s happening at the Green & Main project site, you’ll have to first wait for him to find a good pausing point from whatever project is currently tying up his hands. You must be patient as you get interrupted for a multitude of construction questions, and then make sure that you’re able to squeeze in a time between the meetings he holds with everyone involved in the project.

Posted In: Community, E-Newsletter

The Week in Green: August 13-19, 2011

August 19, 2011

As Kermit the Frog has said, it’s not easy being green. We at Green & Main are here to make that statement not true. Part of knowing how to make being green easier is to see the vastly different areas that are impacted by sustainable technologies and innovations. This article is a roundup of green technology, building science and sustainability news locally grown and wherever green news happens.

Posted In: News

Sustainable Wright

August 17, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright was not a green designer in the contemporary sense, but he was doing some things that today one might call sustainable. He was concerned with natural climate control, particularly trying to keep buildings cool and ventilated naturally. He believed in the value of natural light and maximized its creative use in his designs.

Posted In: Design + Build, Historic Preservation

Profiles in Green: Cohousing from an Author’s Newbie Perspective

August 15, 2011

For those of us who remember growing up in the Midwest decades ago, the concept of cohousing isn’t far off from what we experienced in our typical neighborhoods. As for me, I grew up in the 60’s and the 70’s with hundreds (it seemed) of other kids running amok around a two-block square, and we needed “special permission” to cross streets into “other” neighborhoods. All the parents knew us and knew our parents and it wasn’t uncommon to be corrected by just about any adult who happened to be around to witness what we were up to.

Posted In: Community

Iowa’s First Cohousing Development: Putting the Wheels into Motion

August 15, 2011

This article is a follow-up to “Iowans and Cohousing: A Look into the Growing U.S. Interest in Cohousing and How Iowans are Responding” published in the July 2011 e-newsletter and on the Green & Main website. In Part II, read about a presentation given in Des Moines by architect, author and cohousing leader Charles Durrett and learn more about Turtle Farm Cohousing Community and those who support this initiative.

Posted In: Community, E-Newsletter

July Construction: Birthing a Vision of the Future, Building a Birth Center

August 12, 2011

A single wall can make a statement – a strong statement!

Yes, a single wall can outline the intent of a whole building. The plane of this wall can define an entire room – its surface and the raw material capturing the emotion of atmosphere and anticipation. This statement is especially true during construction, when architectural form comes to life in anticipation of the future, foreshadowing the beauty of the space and the celebration of its use.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter

Profiles in Green: Whoa… I gained a LIFE!

August 10, 2011

Profiles in Green is an on-going series on how people incorporate or express sustainability in their lives. Today’s profile is by Johanna Hoffman.

Posted In: Community

Green Technology and the Economy

August 8, 2011

Our Monday postings include information on the integration of green technology and building science. The flavor of today’s posting is marinated with green jobs, the economy and how these jobs are developed for the short and long-term.

Posted In: Community, News

Cohousing on the Prairie: Frank Lloyd Wright and Community Planning

August 1, 2011

Like a number of other architects of his era, such as Daniel Burnham and the French early modernist Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright became interested in urban and community planning and gave it considerable attention throughout his career.

Posted In: Community, Historic Preservation

Construction Discoveries and Challenges during June

July 12, 2011

It just could not stop raining in June. We’re not talking the standard ½-inch flush that cleans city streets while households sleep, leaving the air smelling fresh in the morning. No, we’re boasting serious downpours that dump upwards of five inches of rain in twenty-four hour cycles and repeatedly interrupt our planned work days, while also putting officials and drivers on the alert for early morning street closings.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Stormwater Management

Iowans and Cohousing: A Look into the Growing U.S. Interest in Cohousing and How Iowans are Responding

July 8, 2011

“Traditional forms of housing no longer address the needs of many people. Dramatic demographic and economic changes are taking place in our society and most of us feel the effects of these trends in our own lives. Things that people once took for granted – family, community, a sense of belonging – must now be actively sought out. Many people are mis-housed, ill-housed or unhoused because of the lack of appropriate options.”

Posted In: Community, E-Newsletter, Thought Leadership

Cohousing Pioneer to Speak in Des Moines: “Cohousing, Community and the Value of Custom Neighborhoods”

June 20, 2011

Charles Durrett, an award-winning architect and leader in the North American cohousing movement, will present an overview of the cohousing concept of building community on Thursday, July 14 in Des Moines, IA at the Windsor Heights Community Center. The presentation is open to the public and is located at 6900 School Street, next to Colby Park (69th Street south of University Avenue).

Posted In: Community, News, Thought Leadership

Construction Update: Pouring the New Basement Floor

June 8, 2011

Monday, while the heat index was slated to reach 114 degrees, the concrete basement in the Green & Main building at 800 19th Street was poured by Rick Hogan Construction. The construction team brought in the concrete boom truck and positioned it to allow best access to the basement.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter

Green & Main Shows Off ‘New’ Maple Flooring… and Gives Salvaged Gym Floor a New Home

May 31, 2011

The old school in Cambria, Iowa was in need of a new gym floor at the same time Green & Main was looking for salvaged maple flooring. It was a match. Repurposing the old flooring for the Green & Main first floor was a perfect fit for not only aesthetic needs but for our sustainability goals as well.

Posted In: Construction Updates, E-Newsletter, Historic Preservation, Sourcing & Materials Management, Sustainability

The Built Environment and Memorial Day

May 30, 2011

The other day I was helping the teenage son of a friend pick weeds out of the backyard brick patio. I took that moment to tell Owen about stormwater management and how, even though we live in a built environment, we are not separate from the world around us. We are responsible for managing and engineering ways that are compatible at the very least – and assistive at the very best – in creating a sustainable way to exist and thrive in tandem with one another.

Posted In: Community, Historic Preservation, Sustainability

Des Moines, We Sustainably Knew Ye: Main Streets Conference Comes to Iowa

May 25, 2011

Des Moines was privileged to host The National Main Streets Conference last week where 1,300 people convened over a four-day period. Events around Des Moines ranged from tours to evening outings. Green & Main was part of the on-site tours for historical and re-purposed buildings. Read how the Main Street Four Point Approach has benefited 45 Iowa communities.

Posted In: E-Newsletter, Events, Historic Preservation, Sustainability, Thought Leadership

Unexpected Historic Discovery: Trolley Line is Unearthed during Sewer Project

May 19, 2011

Not long ago the construction crew of Green & Main started their day with the objective of laying pipe from the Pilot Project building to the existing sewer line on 19th Street. However, renovation of the building’s basement made this project more than a simple connection into an existing sewer main.

Posted In: Construction Updates, Historic Preservation, Structural Engineering

Sustainability Surgery Needed to Overcome Hurdles

April 1, 2011

Even when your construction crew involves earth surgeons who can shave dirt from an existing foundation better than most guys clean their face with a sharp razor, you have to remain ready to deviate from plans to overcome unexpected hurdles. Here is how we overcame one recent hurdle that required an orchestration between our crews and Des Moines City Works Department.

Posted In: Construction Updates, Structural Engineering

Historic Preservation and Green & Main

March 7, 2011

Sustainability has become a core component of modern-day historic preservation activism. Indeed, we now recognize that the two are integrally related: there is no building greener than the one not built. By finding ways to creatively reuse and adapt existing structures to modern-day activities, we not only “save” our history, but also reduce the need for new construction.

Posted In: Community, E-Newsletter, Historic Preservation

Steel Installation: Anticipating Progress

March 4, 2011

Nothing is more exhilarating than stepping into the unknown, marching forward with something you have never done before. On January 4th, 2011, we did just that!

Posted In: Construction Updates, Design + Build, E-Newsletter

Permitting, LEED and Specs

March 1, 2011

Green & Main has “broken ground” in both the physical sense and the conceptual. The Green & Main team is working diligently to integrate sustainable building practices, environmental air quality considerations and recycling strategies into the everyday work pattern. These ideas and practices are most often seen on larger commercial construction projects, but rarely on […]

Posted In: Construction Updates, Design + Build, E-Newsletter

Site Source Separation

February 28, 2011

Indigo Dawn is partnering with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) through their Solid Waste Alternatives Program (SWAP) and also Metro Waste Authority’s (MWA) Growing Green Communities, a 501(c)3 organization, to properly sort and manage construction waste.

Posted In: E-Newsletter, Landfill Diversion