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Gaining awareness for the world

A West Linn student attending Art Tech Charter High School shows his concern for the planet
by: Cindy Garrison, After attending a class last year offered by Jim Hartmann, above right, at West Linn High School, Sam Henning, left, had a desire to learn more about building green. Henning wants to become an environmentally conscious electrician and sees protecting the environment as a top concern for his generation.

Last year after watching a movie on the Great Lakes in a science class at West Linn High School, Sam Henning, started thinking about the impact people have on the earth.

'It clicked that we have only one earth and there is no second chance to take care of the planet,' he said. 'We have to do it right now.'

After switching to the Art and Technology Charter High School in Wilsonville, Henning delved into research and studied green buildings for a project titled 'Building for a Sustainable Future.'

His research took him on an in-depth look at building green and ways many people are preserving the earth. Sam wants to become an electrician after graduating from the high school this June.

'I think the environment is 'the' issue of my generation and for generations to come,' Sam said.

His project gave him many opportunities to study green buildings, and Henning spent a few weeks researching green buildings. He was fortunate enough to work with some leaders in the area on the subject.

As his environmental research increased, so did his awareness of simple things he does.

'I started buying triple certified coffee,' he said, adding that he and his family started being more conscious of what they bought.

He and his mentor, Mike Tannenbaum, principal at his school, spent time with the West Linn-Wilsonville School District's architect, Norm Dull, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified architect.

'I looked at products used for green buildings,' Henning said. 'Flooring, roofing, cement - everything and how we can get more lives out of materials by using them, reusing them and reusing them again.'

He studied green buildings around the world and was impressed with ones that not only were environmentally friendly but also gave back to the environment.

Those buildings are given platinum status by L.E.E.D., and the library at the Mount Angel Abbey in Mount Angel is one such building.

Henning went there to study its beauty and the ways the building preserves the environment.

'(The monks') philosophy is being pure and having the cleanest place to live in, work in and surround themselves in,' he said.

He thought they had succeeded.

The library has huge windows that bring in a lot of natural light. The windows on the sides of the building have a reflector that brings in the light but deflects it, so it doesn't cast shadows in the room. The floors heat and cool the building because of the special way they are built, and the air quality in the library is phenomenal.

Another part of his learning was spending time again with Norm Dull, the architect; Jeff Johansen, another architect with Dull, Olson and Weekes, in Portland, and a group of people from Sherwood High School who want to build an addition and make it as green as they can.

'They looked at everything,' he said. 'There's so much thought that goes into it. It was really interesting to see that side of it.'

He noted that most of the time it's easier to start anew with a building than to try to remodel one according to green building standards.

He plans to become an electrician and perhaps study electrical engineering.

'I think it would be interesting and really nice to become an electrical engineer and work in manufacturing,' he said. 'I want to use and perhaps develop green products that are environmentally safe for the mechanical side of buildings - gears, gadgets and electrical devices.

In the meantime, he'll continue to recycle - something he remembers always doing. He'll try to conserve energy by using low wattage bulbs and less gasoline.

'The environment is important to us,' he said. 'How you're impacting the environment and what you can do to stop it, is a big issue -probably the biggest issue for my generation.'

Cindy Garrison is employed by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, and occasionally writes an article for the Tidings.