Archive for October, 2012

What is organic?

“Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.
Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”

The USDA[1]  ensures the integrity of organic products not only in the U.S. but also throughout the world and standards are kept through regulations on certification, production and the handling and labelling of organic products.

The USDA draws from the organic community to aid on the definition of the national list of materials and its services range from developing and maintaining voluntary quality and product description standards for use in commercial transactions to providing product or processing testing support and intellectual property protection to the members of that community.

AMS[2] has for more than 90 years provided price and sales information for marketing and distribution of farm commodities. These days, data compiled on domestic and international reports is disseminated almost instantly via the Internet.

This article was written by Silvia Pelham

[1] United States Department of Agriculture

[2] Agricultural Marketing Service


This Portuguese manufacturer is helping to reduce its impact on nature and preserve the environment by conscientiously implementing an echo-friendly management.

As an example, let’s look at its factory.

Energy saving was a primary concern.

The company managed to reduce its running costs by using natural daylighting whenever possible and carefully choosing heating systems which do not allow unwanted loss through lack of air-tightness in its structure.

As a measure to rationalise natural resources, rainwater harvesting followed and a treatment plant was built in the premises.

Fostering the efficient management of raw materials was the path to prevent waste, and the separation and re-cycling of surplus matter on the factory assembly line helped reduce waste overall.

We welcome and are proud to have Colunex in the Five-Leaf System!


This article was written by Silvia Pelham

“With support from consumers and businesses alike, farmers and workers have earned more than $77 million in community development premiums to farmers and workers since 1998 – Fair Trade Month is a time to celebrate this accomplishment and inspire a new generation of passionate supporters.”

Mary Jo Cook, Chief Impact Officer of Fair Trade USA.

To buy Fair Trade Certified products means that people get quality products but concurrently are fostering improvement conditions for farmers and helping to protect the environment.

Fair Trade USA works with hundreds of importers, manufacturers and brands to bring certified products to over 100,000 outlets throughout the States.

Just this year, more than 120 new Fair Trade Certified products have joined the aisles of grocery stores, restaurants, cafes and can also be purchased on-line, creating an enormous impact on farming and workers in developing countries.

Throughout this month, let all ethically-minded consumers around the WORLD, think of Fair Trade Products, while choosing their brand of coffee or tea for breakfast!

Article written by Silvia Pelham

Finally architects do not have to contend with unsightly sliding/folding fire doors to protect public spaces in hotels.

No more rails, grooves or hanging rollers! What a relief……

The first world’s fire protection closure has been designed without side guides and won the AIT Innovation Award for Architecture 2011.

Check out this simple, elegant method of creating full fire protection by letting hanging fire curtains wrap around either side of the opening, heavily resting on the floor thus not allowing any smoke or flame through from adjacent spaces.

When not in use, the lower section of the structure serves as a closing seamless plate, tight-fitting and flat against the false ceiling.

We’ve got videos showing the door in action in English, Spanish and French. Click on the respective country’s flags to watch!


Article written by Silvia Pelham – Architect

Teens Turning Green

Teens Turning Green’s mission is to empower teens to transition their lifestyles from conventional to conscious, with regard to both environmental sustainability and personal health.

Check out their Project Green Challenge 2012.


La Joya del Valle de Ricote, in the heart of Murcia in Spain, is an example worthy of mention in our LeafLetter. Shortlisted by the region as a tourist accommodation wishing to provide its guests with a peaceful respite amidst unspoilt nature, it was also invited to speak at FITUR 2012 to explain its environmental policy – it was awarded three-leaves when it entered the Five-Leaf System and will certainly progress to four-leaves in the near future!

The Sanderson Maritime company has just created Seatel Hotel, a floating hotel on three floors, with 70 rooms. It provides facilities for each docking of boats, a speed passenger heliport, and a site for 14 tennis courts. The hotel can be secured to the sea floor within 60 miles from the coast.


“SEATEL offers significant advantages over conventional accommodation ships and other forms of offshore accommodation:

• Accommodation is significantly cheaper than other alternatives.
• Flexible offering with single and twin occupancy available in all 70 rooms.
• Onsite location considerably reduces technician transfer time, boosting productivity and cutting costs.
• Single point mooring system allows safe crew transfer in most weather conditions.
• Easily moved between locations.”

With about 2000 km of coastline, why not consider Portugal as a site for floating hotels?

The advantages are great – a lower carbon footprint on the earth – and the coastal hotels could consider such a project as an expansion of their facilities on land or even in high season as overspill. Perhaps also as a refuge for selected customers who do not have time to go on a cruise…

Unexplored areas like some of those in the Madeira archipelago could become viable touristic destination only visible from the hotel. From its anchor, it could become a perfect observatory for the Biogenetic Reserve as classified by the Council of Europe.