green|spaces Crime Scene raises awareness, calls for local action
One of our favorite clients, green|spaces, was founded 18 months ago to build LEED certified buildings in the city's downtown footprint. With 27 live projects in build-out or documentation phases - including its own offices - green|spaces is changing how local architects, designers, developers and contractors think about green building.
But the week of Greenbuild 2009, we made green|spaces into a crime scene. The building on Main Street in Chattanooga's Southside was wrapped in caution tape and lit by siren lights sometime during the night, marking the illness and death of thousands of Americans, caused by polluted air.
"For years, we have made choices that are now coming back to kill us," said green|spaces co-director Anj McClain. "Americans spend more than 90% of our time indoors, and the way we have built our homes and offices, and occupy them, are making us sick and adding up to thousands of dollars in health costs."
The building, which was awarded LEED Platinum certification, was transformed into a crime scene to raise awareness about the serious impacts of air quality in buildings, both for the environment and for human health. Indoor air pollution can contribute to serious respiratory disorders, heart attacks, strokes, and even premature births. The American College of Allergies states that half of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by polluted indoor air. And the US Environmental Protection Agency has said that indoor air pollution levels can be up to 100 times higher than outdoor pollution.
Art director Joseph Shipp, writer Caleb Ludwick, and designers Grant Dotson, DJ Trischler and Beth Joseph created a design environment with high impact for Chattanoogans driving past, with even greater information for those who stopped to read and learn what we can all do better. Health statistics and images point fingers at paints and furniture containing volatile organic compounds, coal-fired plants, diesel buses and cancer-causing ingredients in household and office cleaners.
"The crazy thing about air pollution, whether indoor or outdoor, is that it is all preventable," says McClain. "But most of us take clean air for granted, assuming the best, and aren't aware of the truth. The cleaners they buy to kill E-Coli are poisoning their lungs. The claims that coal is clean are ridiculous. The comfortable, affordable, fire-retardant mattresses we sleep on are contributing to health problems down the road. We want to remind people that choices that seem convenient in the moment can create big impacts, and that there are options for better choices."
To see more images and learn what kind of change is needed, visit
- longtime collaborator Caleb Ludwick
Art Director: Joseph Shipp; Designers: DJ Trischler, Grant Dotson, Beth Joseph; Photography: Grant Dotson.
Strategy and Writing: Caleb Ludwick.