The materials you choose during your home's construction will have a lasting impact on the environment. Knowing how to incorporate environmentally friendly options into your materials list will help you to reduce your ecological footprint by using less nonrenewable resources, contributing less to landfills, and consuming less energy in the process.
Here are 5 eco-friendly home building materials to use in your environmentally-friendly home:
1. Reclaimed Materials
According to the U.S. EPA, construction activities account for almost 60 percent of the raw materials consumed in this country, other than food and fuel. The construction industry also contributes 170 million tons of waste to landfills each year. The most environmentally friendly materials will always be those that have been spared from a trip to the landfill.
Reclaimed materials do not consume any new products and do not contribute to waste disposal pollution such as groundwater contamination or greenhouse gas emissions. Some materials that are commonly found include structural lumber, flooring, bricks, metal work, and cabinetry. Some materials are highly sought after such as marble, antique doors and trim, some types of lumber, and antique fixtures. More and more demolition companies are using deconstruction techniques to salvage materials rather than going straight for the bulldozer making reclaimed materials easier to find.
2. Sustainably Harvested Materials
If you are unable to source reclaimed materials for your home, the next best thing is to use materials that are grown and harvested sustainably. Wood is still the most common home-building material; therefore it is essential to source new wood from responsible manufacturers.
Most hardwoods take decades to reach maturity and high demand can cause them to be cut faster than they can be replaced. The Forest Stewardship Council is an international organization charged with the sustainable management of forests and woodlands. Their logo on a product means that the product meets international growing and harvesting standards and that the product manufacturer has concern for the environmental impacts of their activities.
Speaking of sustainably harvested materials, have you considered using bamboo for your flooring instead of wood? According to Bamboozle, “bamboo grows incredibly quickly (up to 1 foot per day) and the plant still continues to grow after being harvested.” So, by using bamboo flooring in your home, you are impacting the environment much less than you would with hardwood flooring, even if that hardwood is sustainably harvested. On top of that, bamboo's installation is faster, easier, and cleaner than hardwood or even carpet. They are also easier to clean and even more durable.
4. Cool Roofs
Although having a stylish roof is always a plus, “cool roofing” is an industry term that describes roofing materials that are heat-reflective. Almost all conventional roofing materials can be made “cool”: asphalt, metal, slate and tile. The difference is in the additives or coatings to make them lighter in color and give reflective properties. The EPA reports that cool roofs do deflect some heat gain that might be desired in the winter, but for most climates the energy savings from reduced cooling still results in overall energy savings.
Traditional concrete relies heavily on energy and nonrenewable resources. However, newer compilations significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and make use of industrial waste from coal burning and iron production. Concrete can also be mixed with recycled materials including glass, granulated plastics, old tires, and other discarded materials instead of new sand and gravel. One concrete application that is making a comeback is insulating concrete forms. Concrete is poured between two layers of insulation to form walls and other structural pieces in a building. Because it is unseen it can contain any number of recycled materials.
There are many opportunities to include environmentally friendly materials in the home building process. From the foundation to the roof, and everything in between, reclaimed and recycled materials can be used in all areas of the home and new materials can be sourced from manufacturers that use sustainable methods. Once the home is built, be sure to refocus your environmentally friendly efforts on the interior: paint, appliances, utilities, and more.
Nicole is a writer for the green living industry. She loves helping others understand the current dillemma our environment is facing, as well as ways to lessen our environmental footprint.
Image courtesy of Flickr.
The high cost of running a business is due to many expenses incurred on a regular basis. The one expense that can better controlled, is the everyday overhead costs of keeping a workplace operational. One of those costs that be reduced is water usage and consumption. This is because various means and methods exist to curb the amount of water used within the workplace in a manner that still makes the workplace comfortable and convenient for all employees, staff and visitors. Water is a necessity in a business or any office but managing usage is a smart move to help save some money on operating costs.
The bathroom area is one that is a requirement for a workplace but a few small changes can make a big difference in the amount of water used in those bathrooms. One option is to have water saving, low flow toilets installed as they use less water and thus help to save on water bills each and every month. Yet another way to manage water consumption in bathroom areas is to opt for sinks with automatic faucets that run for a brief period of time when hands are waved under the sensor. This helps prevent over usage and also helps in terms of people forgetting to turn water off once they are done using the facilities.
Most workplaces have some form of a kitchen area where coffee is made and employees have access to a refrigerator to store their lunches. Water management in this area can be better controlled by having a dishwasher installed for plates and cups owned by the business and then having the dishwasher run only when full as opposed to people washing items one by one which wastes more water. In addition, a water cooler can be installed and thus people can get water for drinking purposes out of the cooler compared to a sink which could be prone to leaks or being left on unintentionally. A business could also opt to not offer water to employees have them bring their own from home to further control water costs.
Other Ideas and Options
Workplaces that have exterior areas that are landscaped tend to use a lot more water simply for the care and upkeep of those areas. One way to manage water usage in those areas is to have rain catchers installed and thus the trapped rainwater can be used for watering of plants, bushes and shrubs instead of costly hose water. Water is also used in the workplace for things such as cleaning, hosing down sidewalks and walkways, power washing buildings, window washing and even simply helping to keep the exterior of the property free from dust, dirt and debris. One way to control those costs and water usage for these purposes is to have a set schedule and time for using water to clean.
Another option is to outsource power or pressure washing and window washing so that professionals who can do the job faster and more efficiently are in charge of those issues and thus less water is used because the job moves along quicker. For additional ideas and suggestions, please visit http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/ and check out their helpful hints and suggestions.
Ron Swingly is a content writer for www.waterselect.com and has been involved in water conservation for a better part of 10 years. He is always up to date on the current green projects going on for water consumption conservation and has become an expert in the green market of ways to save water.
Image courtesy of Flickr.
Deciding what to buy friends and family for Christmas seems to be an increasingly difficult task, especially if you are trying to find something unique that they will actually like! But what if you need to find something for someone who is green living and environmentally friendly? You may think this adds an extra challenge, but in fact there are lots of planet friendly ideas that you can choose from. Here are ten to get you started.
Adopt a pet
For green conscious, animal lovers consider adopting them a pet this Christmas. Ask at your nearest zoo or conservation centre about opportunities. With this gift, you normally get an adoption certificate, a photograph and a visit to see the pet you've adopted.
Plant some hedgerow
For anyone who likes to do their bit for the countryside, the perfect gift this Christmas would be to buy a stretch of hedgerow from a wildlife or conservation group. As hedgerows are in decline, the gift would see hedgerow planted to help increase natural habitats and wildlife.
For someone who really has everything and doesn't need anything more, then a really ethical gift would be to make a charitable donation in lieu, to a good cause. Alternatively, the gift or donation could be given to someone in a poor country to help raise their basic standard of living.
There are lots of types of accommodation and holidays that now boast being eco friendly and organic, so browse through the selection and pick a night in a green bed and breakfast, a stay on an organic farm or an eco-friendly campsite.
For someone who wants to do their bit for the environment, then buying them a bike for Christmas is a really great start. Cycling is good for both your health and the planet, compared to other forms of transport.
There is a plethora of books available now that teach you how to go green, give tips on being eco friendly, how you can save energy and protect the planet, etc. Have a look at the selection at your local bookstore and pick out a book as a gift this Christmas. Just make sure the book is made from recycled materials!
There are tons of eco-friendly gadgets available that would make the ideal Christmas gift for an environmentally conscious friend, including solar powered chargers, wind up torches and radios, and energy monitors.
Fair Trade gifts
By buying Fair Trade gifts, you are contributing to making sure the growers or makers of the gift are not being exploited and have acceptable working conditions, as well as getting paid a fair and reasonable wage. Seek out unusual Fair Trade gifts, including jewellery, knitted or hand crafted items, confectionary, books and other accessories, etc.
Seed growing kit
Growing your own plants, flowers and vegetables is highly rewarding, and reduces reliance on buying shop bought items, which are often imported. A seed growing kit with a selection of seeds, a trowel and a fork would make the ideal Christmas gift for anyone conscious of the environment.
With most of us now owning a tablet or smartphone, you'll likely need a sleeve or cover to protect it. Consider buying a green living friend a sleeve made from soft sustainable cork this Christmas. Not only does it look very stylish, but it will protect the tablet or smartphone from scratches or dirt, and it's made from eco-friendly materials.
This article was written by Amy Elliott and the team at Juice Electrical. Juice supplies wholesale electrical and energy saving devices and are committed to promoting green living. Amy and the Juice guys write for the juice blog and various other green blogs across the web.
The UK government's ‘Green Deal', which came into force in October, 2012, tries to persuade homeowners to cut the carbon footprint of their home in return for cash incentives.
This had led to one obvious query: What happens if the property is sold? Normally, the buyer would be expected to settle any loans pertaining to the property before it changes hands. The catch here is that such Green Deal loans do not count as charges, and are therefore not registered at the Land Registry.
It is the obligation of the seller to inform a potential buyer of any outstanding Green Deal loans, but what happens if the purchase goes through without the buyer being informed?
About the Green Deal
In 2011 the government announced it was allotting £200million to its Green Deal scheme. Its aim is to deliver over £1.3billion in energy savings by 2020.
Many homeowners are savvy enough to understand that improving the energy-efficiency of their homes by, say, insulating their loft or installing solar panels, creates long-term benefits and makes their home more attractive to potential purchasers.
However confusion often arises when the property is sold and the title is transferred to a new owner.
Commenting on the solicitor's approach to Green Deal loans, Fridaysmove Panel Director Tony Lilleystone said “It is the task of a conveyancing solicitor to identify Green Deal loans during preparations for a potential house purchase, but the seller is required to inform the buyer anyway.”
“The property's EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), which is made available to anyone expressing an interest in buying the property, will contain a reference to the Green Deal loan on its first page.”
In spite of this, professionals within the property-purchasing industry have expressed concerns over the ambiguous nature of a Green Deal loan. If the loan qualifies as a charge, then the seller is obliged to settle the loan before the property is sold.
If it is not, then does the buyer inherit the need to repay the loan? The buyer will, after all, be benefiting from the home improvements made by the previous owner.
Whose Loan is it Anyway?
The Government's position seems to be that responsibility for paying the loan lies with whoever is paying the bills at the property in question.
This has led to further confusion – just because you own a property does not means you live in it. If you rent it out, does payment of the Green Deal loan now fall to your tenants? This confusion about the ownership of the loan – seller, buyer or occupants – may add weeks onto the time it takes for a sale to be completed.
The fact that an EPC is generally valid for ten years means there is no guarantee an EPC has been updated to reflect that the property has a Green Deal loan attached to it.
If the information about a Green Deal loan only comes to light several weeks down the line, and the seller is not happy about having to take over the loan, then both parties will have wasted a great deal of time and money for nothing.
In summary, it seems that advice on how conveyancing solicitors advise their clients about a property where a Green Deal loan remains outstanding is sorely required.
Tony Lilleystone is Panel Director at Fridaysmove, 1-6 Speedy Place, London, WC1H 8BU, and has over 30 years experience in the Property Sector.
Many people simply know it as the best search engine, but not so many are aware of Google’s latest Green Energy Project or their previous Project Loon. Well, they may not be dealing with rocket science or Particle Physics, but when it’s a matter of green energy from Google, more and more people would definitely be keen on the part of the story that explains how the technology works.
Google X, Google’s innovation unit is currently working on a green energy project that is bound to make a significant change in energy production in the near future. Google has recently partnered with Makani Power, a wind-power company based in California, to develop a slightly new and cheaper way of generating wind power.
Though the project still focuses on wind energy in general, Google X found an innovative way of reducing the costs incurred in setting up wind turbines.
What Is The Main Idea Behind It?
They do this by allowing the wind turbine’s blades to circulate in free space while attached to a long tether which holds the blades in space. This, however, is merely the basic mode of its operation. In reality, the Google’s Green Energy Project uses complicated robotics to generate the desired electricity.
While speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Astro Teller, the captain of Moonshots for Google X, revealed that acquiring a single wind turbine would also burden you with 300 tons of steel. However, you only get power from the tips of the blades that circulate in air, and so the 300-ton steel is indeed dispensable.
Teller went on to say that: “If you acquired a long tether which you would use to attach to the blades, you can still generate power by relying on this tether.” Surprisingly, this technology already exists, but it is new in the wind power generation.
Why Green Energy Project is Better?
Harnessing the power of wind turbines without the 300-ton structures might seem far-fetched, but Google X maintains that instead of using the massive structures, they can use blades similar to mini airplanes which are launched into the air when the speed of wind is strong enough to support their flight. The blades then remain tethered to the ground, similar to the way a kite operates.
Consequently, there will also be more free space on the wind power farms since the steel structures would be out of the picture.
Astro Teller believes that the project will become a success and it will open a path to cheaper wind-energy production. This is because the new improved wind turbines will be fairly easy to deploy than the traditional wind turbines.
Compared to their recent project, Project Loon, which was aimed at bringing Wi-Fi to the remote regions in Africa, the Green Energy Project is bound to receive much more appraisal since it may slightly reduce the cost of electricity in countries that harvest wind energy.
When To Expect It?
Implementation, however, is not going to turn around in the next month, but judging by the fact that it was Google X that came up with the Google Glass and they currently own Makani Power, it is rather difficult to predict what’s on their calendar. With Astro Teller’s collection of “Peter Pans with PhDs” working on the project, you can bet things will turn out much faster than expected.
Louie Spencer is a blogger who enjoys writing articles about a green environment. He is very conscious about energy saving and explaining to people how to conserve energy with 12 vdc power supply and other energy saving supplies.
The trend for energy saving is two-fold. Times are tough and we are increasingly looking for more ways to be that little bit thriftier, but more importantly we need to be doing our bit for the world we live in. With this in mind here are some quick tips for those who want to do their bit from the comfort of their armchairs.
Energy saving light bulbs are fantastic; aesthetically pleasing, long lasting and you get a nice bright glow as opposed to a blinding fluorescent glare. Furthermore they won’t cost the earth (pun intended) and fitting about 10 of these around the house could save you, dear homeowner, about £30 every year. But if we ALL do it…well, just think of the improvement to our national energy consumption.
Don’t Be Bored, Be…Board?
Crack out the board games. Seriously, you may laugh, especially in this age of computer games and a million or so channels, but board games are fun and interactive. We spend far too much time basking in the glow of the TV. Bring out the board games once or twice a week, reconnect with the family and give the poor beleaguered television a break.
Now We’re Cooking!
Always remember, large pans on large hobs…small pans on small hobs. Also remember to leave that oven door open after cooking…don’t let that valuable heat go to waste!
When it Rains, it Pours!
Have a shower as you normally would, but pop the plug in and be prepared for a surprise. The average shower uses just as much water, if not more, than the average bath – so don’t stay in for too long. Keep the temperature and pressure reasonably low as well.
You would be amazed at how much heating you can retain through insulation. There are many different options – cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation – but even just getting that loft insulated will do wonders. Believe me, you will notice the difference and furthermore it won’t cost much (sometimes it is even free – if you qualify for a government grant) and it could save you around £170 a year!
Hang your clothes out to dry. Even if it is cold outside the wind can dry your clothes. Furthermore using a radiator to dry your clothes will put pressure on your heating system while the tumble dryer can damage your garments – leaving them with the tensile strength of stale tissue paper!
Washing powder and laundry detergent is better than ever at cleaning clothes. So effective in fact, that you only need to wash them at 30°C these days!
Think Cold Tap!
Every time you turn that hot tap on, even if just for a few seconds to wash your hands, it causes your combi boiler to ‘fire up’…more unnecessary energy usage!
You might not believe this, but that little red standby light could be costing you about £20-£30 every year…and why? What exactly is it doing to earn that money? Turn it off. Keep your eye on plugs as well and get into the habit of turning things off at the mains.
Wrap Up, Warm Up
You live in Britain, not the Bahamas. You should not be lounging around the house in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with the heating cranked up. You know what this country is like; even in the summer the evenings can be chilly. Saying that, I think the public’s obsession with the onesie may have cured this particular problem.
The Great Outdoors
Summer approaches (apparently) so have a few BBQ’s and give the oven a rest. Hang your clothes out to dry and get the ‘Lenor’ look! Also consider ditching the electric lights and switching to solar lighting, and finally if you have a hot tub (lucky you) then always make sure it is covered to keep the water warm.
The majority of these energy saving tips may seem small and innocuous, but if combined they could really make a difference. Give them a try; this planet, and your wallet, need a break.
Vicky works alongside http://thehottubcompany.co.uk/ who supply enviromentally friendly spas. One of her favourite simple ‘green' activities is to make sure her old clothes and other items and recycled and upcycled through local charity shops and donation banks!
Image courtesy of Flickr.
When you think of green marketing, the sport of stock car racing probably isn't the first thing that pops into your head. Heck, it probably isn't even the millionth thing you would think of pondering the state of modern corporate green initiatives. NASCAR, the largest automotive racing venture in North America, is working hard to change that image.
The Issues with NASCAR
Started in 2008, NASCAR Green is an effort by the sport’s largest sanctioning body to address the environmental issues that arise from putting on each race. The biggest NASCAR races attract more than 100,000 spectators. The biggest races produce as much as 100 tons of recyclable waste. NASCAR vehicles churn out a lot of carbon dioxide, the gas most commonly identified with global warming.
The cars themselves are notoriously inefficient. The average NASCAR vehicles get between 4 and 5 miles per gallon of gasoline consumed. That means a 43-car field can burn through as much as 4,300 gallons of fuel during a 500-mile race. NASCAR has turned to use E15 fuel from Sonoco to reduce some of the impact. NASCAR Green is also working with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant thousands of trees to offset the CO2 emissions from stock car races.
What They Are Doing to Change This
NASCAR Green has also been looking to more exotic solutions on a longer timeline. The stock car association has worked with Sunoco to increase the amount of ethanol used in racing fuel. And there has even been talk of integrating solar-power solutions. Racing venues are also increasingly turning to solar power to provide clean electricity. Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania is host to over 40,000 solar panels.
NASCAR Green, however, tries to focus on more immediately applicable solutions. NASCAR recycles all the tires used during each race. Batteries and fluids are also aggressively recycled. NASCAR says that some racing teams are achieving as high as 96% recyclability of the entire vehicle.
NASCAR also works hard with venues and suppliers to ensure as much of the waste produced by crowds at the races is recycled as possible. Race fans produce between 70 and 100 tons of recyclable waste over a single NASCAR weekend at the track, mostly from plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard containers. At Fontana Speedway in California the solution is simple: there is a recycling plant right next to the track that handles everything. NASCAR also works with companies like Coca-Cola Recycling to co-ordinate efforts to handle the garbage from crowds.
NASCAR tries to encourage recycling among the infield camper crowd that is distinct to its audience. Each NASCAR weekend, the infield of the current cup series race becomes one of the largest campgrounds in the United States. NASCAR Green provides curb-side recycling pick-up in the infield to ensure recycling among campers is easy. The service is provided by a mobile processing unit pulled by a clean diesel rig.
NASCAR is continuing to work toward a green future. While the racing venture may not be the first corporation that comes to mind when you think green, NASCAR is fighting to change that perception. It continues to push venues and racing teams to improve their green efforts. NASCAR’s goal is to be the largest green initiative in all of sports.
Jade Steven has been a green blogger for 2 years now. She enjoys talking about green living, the benefits of a 24 volt dc power supply, and different ways you can save money while saving the world.
We can’t turn on the television, browse the internet or read a newspaper without seeing a reference to ‘Go Green,’ but sometimes it’s difficult to understand what we are being asked to do. Going green can refer to many different things, but it generally refers to the little things we each choose to do to become more environmentally friendly.
Why Go Green?
With everything else we are being asked to do, many wonder why we should make the extra effort to go green. People choose to go green for different reasons. For some, their decision is based on strong personal values while others are motivated because of the money they can save. Even though the most obvious reason for going green is to conserve resources for future generations, starting to implement green habits provides benefits we can immediately enjoy, like lowering this month’s energy bill.
Going Green at Home
Going green in our home is a great place to start, and it has the added benefit of lowering our energy costs. Everyone has had months when they dread opening their utility bill. How great would it be to know you are helping the environment while also paying considerably less in energy costs?
Using Home Automation to Go Green
Since a large part of going green focuses on energy conservation, home automation systems can help with the efforts of going green within our homes. There are many resources available to help organize your efforts of saving money and making you home a little greener.
A home automation system can improve all areas of your home energy usage:
- Air Conditioning and Heating System: With a smart thermostat, you can save money and energy by programming your thermostat to go easy on your home’s heating and air system when you’re not home and remotely change the temperature from any smart phone or other web-enabled device. Adjusting your thermostat just one degree you can save 5% on your energy bill.
- Lighting: Replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs is an easy way to go green. These bulbs use 75% less energy and last ten times longer than a standard bulb. A home automation system can be used to implement timers and regulate light usage within your home, and you can also turn off lights remotely.
- Appliances: There are many green decisions we can make concerning the appliances around our home. Choosing to wash clothes and dishes with cold water significantly reduces the amount of energy used as does making sure your refrigerator has ample room behind it so that air can circulate properly. Flood and freeze sensors can be utilized with a home automation system. These sensors can notify you on your smartphone when the temperature of your appliances drop or moisture levels rise to high levels around you home.
- Electronics: A home automation system can allow you to program your electronics to turn off when not in use. Also, being able to remotely control your home electronics and appliances such as televisions, desktop computers and curling irons allows you to ensure you are not wasting energy.
Do the Right Thing by Going Green
Whether you choose to go green for environmental beliefs, economic reasons or just to be able to look your tree hugger neighbor in the eye, going green benefits everyone. People are choosing to make changes which may appear to be insignificant, but as a whole, they have a large impact on the environment.
The more we learn about the importance of making green decisions, the easier it becomes to make the small lifestyle changes that help sustain our environment. Whether is choosing to recycle our soda cans, choosing to walk to the store or to plant a garden, we can come together to help save the earth.
Starting with a home automation system can significantly assist in making green decisions easier. By utilizing light timers and sensors and a smart thermostat and regulating small appliances remotely, energy usage will decrease. Not only does a home automation system lower monthly energy bills, it is also a small step toward the worldwide ‘go green’ initiative.
Everyone aspires for a greener world and even the IT industry is pitching in. Green IT is a new branch of this field which is tasked with minimizing the negative effects of the IT industry on the environment and the thrust towards sustainability. This may be a very tricky thing for the entire industry to accomplish given the fact that computers are rapidly invading the world and these computers contain harmful elements as part of its hardware and that these gadgets consume energy. However, IT experts are eager to heed the call of Mother Nature and are already well into making the world a safer place for the next generations.
One question which the entire IT industry has long had to answer is the issue regarding how computers and other parts should be disposed of once they are no longer useable or if they have become obsolete. The wastes are rapidly increasing and not doing anything about it will mean accumulated wastes harming our planet. These gadgets contain not just plastic but also metal components which may include toxic substances such as arsenic. When a computer is dumbed, what usually happens is that the substances and elements in the hardware could leach and seep to the soil and go all the way to the water table. When this happens, water sources are contaminated with potentially toxic substances.
You can reduce the amount of computers and computer parts which landfills receive by choosing to purchase computers only when there is a pressing need and to use up these gadgets until they are full depreciated and can no longer be made use of. When there are lesser computers out there, the need to dispose of them also dwindles, and you get landfills without any toxic substances.
Computers are hooked up the power line. Without electricity, the computer which you are lugging with you is basically worthless. However, with every kilowatt of electricity you use, fossil fuels and coals are burned in order to produce energy, and alongside, greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide are produced. Hence, increased power consumptions leads to more emissions, and the world much closer to its demise. Virtualization has done a lot in order to solve the problem on energy efficiency. This is because instead of using multiple physical servers, all of which are plugged in, hosts can then consolidate all of the virtual servers into just one physical server. So while you are supporting multiple servers, you are actually just spending emissions on just one actual server.
There is a need for everyone to promote green IT and save the Earth. There are a lot of ways to examine the benefits of the green IT. These are the impacts on environment, economy and society.
Green IT is getting popular because the three advantages above prove great results. It is environment-friendly. It adds up to the collective effort of eliminating pollution brought about by oil, coal, fuels, gas and other non-renewable energy source. It is about time we strongly adapt it.
The writer, Phil Smith, loves to blog about websites, servers, and data storage. He shares his best insights about www.macquarietelecom.com
Image courtesy of Flickr.