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What’s in Your Toothpaste?

Good genes may be the reason your late Aunt Emma sported a mouthful of strong, healthy teeth when she died at a ripe old age.

Her great teeth might also be due, in part, to the dental products she used.

Old-fashioned baking soda, it turns out, is one of the least abrasive of all teeth cleaners.

As Dental Designs of Salt Lake City reports on its website:  “Toothpaste can be good and bad.  Unfortunately, the better it is at removing stain, the better it is at removing enamel, also.”

The Federal Drug Administration and the American Dental Association have come up with a system to measure the abrasive level of toothpastes, called the RDA value.  The table is reproduced on several websites, including these:





Compared with commercial toothpastes, baking soda is the gentlest on your teeth, it shows.

Below, a partial look at the rankings; the higher the number, the more abrasive the product:

7 plain baking soda
8 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total
79 Sensodyne
95 Crest Regular

113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
145 Ultra brite Advanced Whitening Formula

150 Pepsodent 165 Colgate Tartar Control
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening

At the Green Divas website, http://thegreendivas.com/2012/08/20/sustainablesmilewithnaturaldentalcare/, blogger Lisa says she’s given up toothpaste entirely.

 “Mydentist recommends NOT using toothpaste at all. Water is best or dipping your toothbrush in mouthwash. If you have to use toothpaste, pick one that is valued at 45 or less and only use a tiny bit. 

“I hate to say it but I grew up on Colgate and Crest. Fortunately I have been using lower numbers for some of my adult years, but I am now taking Dr. Scaffs advice and NOT using toothpaste.”

If more of us adopted Dr, Scaff’s advice, the environment would also benefit:  there’d be far fewer used toothpaste tubes and packaging to clog landfills, and we’d cut down on energy needed for manufacturing and transportation.

And wouldn’t Aunt Emma be proud?



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New Standards for Green Apartments

The Environmental Protection Agency recently released new standards for the WaterSense label, including allowing individual apartments and condominiums to qualify for the designation. Read the HousingZone article here.  Wood Partners’own Green Team Director and Co-Chair Adelaide Grady writes about other green building attributes in this article.

With all the “green building” labeling options in the market these days – LEED, NAHB’s NGBS, ENERGY STAR, and various regional or local programs – future residents of Class A, green apartment homes may find various certifications attached to their housing options with little basis for identifying what the certification may mean and what the impact on their lives may be.

LEED and NGBS, for example, cover a spectrum of green building attributes – from operational energy and water consumption to regionally sourced materials and non-toxic pest control measures.  These standards can be achieved with almost infinite combinations of a Cheesecake Factory-length menu of options, and when the plaque is hung in the leasing office there’s no way to tell which options were utilized.  In fact, these certifications may be achieved with little or no reduction in energy and water efficiency versus baseline code.  So a resident may perceive “green” to mean low energy and water bills, but if their builder found it more cost-effective to take the points for construction waste recycling and odor-free caulk, their green-certified apartment may be meaningless to them.

Water Sense | Green Building

Wood Partners has favored the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program over the years, primarily because of the ubiquity and familiarity of the simple blue logo.  Consumers don’t necessarily know what it means, but they generally believe it’s a positive thing.  The US EPA will likely lend similar breadth to the reach of the WaterSense label, and apartments will benefit from the ability to present an additional check in the “yes” column of green building.

Adelaide Grady
Director and Co-Chair of Wood Partners Green Team
Improving People’s Lives by Creating Better Communities

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Energy-saving Ideas of the Future

Here’s a thought to ponder on your next jog around the park:  What if you harness all that energy you’re generating (and basically wasting) as you pound the pavement?

In fact, industrial design engineer Laurence Kemball-Cook has given the matter great thought.  Kemball-Cook wants to put people on the power grid by harnessing their daily expendable energy. “Imagine if your walk home in the morning could power lights for your walk home in the evening,” says Kemball-Cook, who has worked for one of Europe’s largest utility companies. His solution is Pavegen, a flooring tile that absorbs kinetic energy from footsteps and converts it into electricity.

Kemball-Cook hopes to present his ideas at the 2013 TED Conference. The annual gathering of top thinkers in technology, entertainment and design – described by some as a four-day “brain spa” — is scheduled Feb, 25 – March 1 in Long Beach and Palm Springs, Calif., and in the summer in Edinburgh, UK, During the conference, founded in 1984 in Silicon Valley, the planet’s most creative brains each get 18 minutes to pitch their ideas to a worldwide audience, which are live streamed.

Harnessing energy in innovative ways promises to be a big theme in 2013, as evidenced by ideas presented during the current talent search for speakers, TED bloggers report:

Sails: A more efficient wind energy?
Hassine Labaied, CEO of Energy Sahphon in Tunisia, North Africa, says wind will figure prominently as a future energy source.  But harnessing it via the 400-year-old technology of windmill turbines – as it’s done currently — is expensive and only 30-35% efficient, he argues. Additionally, power produced by windmill turbines can’t be stored. Labaied proposes a zero-blade system inspired by sailboat design, which he says is cheap and clean, and produces storable energy.

Weather power:  Harvesting energy from rain, hail, snow and wind
Fourteen-year-old Raymond Wang says the idea hit him while he was lying in bed one rainy evening.  What if you could capture the energy produced by precipitation and other natural forces? In his presentation to TED curators in Vancouver, Canada, Wang argued that by using pizoelectric materials, the mechanical stress of precipitation can be easily converted into electricity.

Solar energy:  A tent over the desert
MIT researcher Otto Ng advocates suspending a canopy of of mirrors and sensors over sand, moving to reflect and capture the energy from the sun.  Ng, a technologist and architect, says his proposed “Powerscape” structure is 100 times smaller in scale than a solar energy infrastructure and can generate and store electricity for future use.

Biogas:  Human waste, put to good use
According to Josiah Omotto, 60 percent of Nairobi, Kenya’s 4 million people live in informal settlements, without conventional toilets. Omotto and his team at the Umande Trust human-rights agency have been working with communities to build biocenters that are capable of converting human waste into usable electricity.

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Wood Partners: Green Building Program 101

Bill Green, co-chair of our Green Team, has been looking into what green-building standards Wood Partners should adhere to when building our communities. It’s not an easy question, but Bill has provided a brief comparison of the three major national programs that we have explored.


Wood Partners: Green Building Program 101

As some of you may recall back in the summer of 2009, Wood Partners adopted ENERGY STAR for New Homes program (Version 2) as its Energy Policy / Green Building program. Since then, we have seen many changes to ENERGY STAR for New Homes with the most current Version 3 and other options available to help us achieve our sustainable design obligations to our communities as well as to our investors.

The green building industry is expanding and changing rapidly and many green building programs are now available on national and local levels. The three major national programs Wood Partners has used in the Central Region: LEED for Homes (and NC), NAHB National Green Building Standard and ENERGY STAR for New Homes. All of them use related guidelines to evaluate green building practices but there are some differences in prerequisite design parameters.

Third-party Verification

LEED for Homes, NAHB Green Building Standard, and ENERGY STAR for New Homes all require a separate verification for worksheet compliance and building performance.

Platform Consistency

It is challenging to equate the programs and evaluate which one is more “green” because all programs provide varying levels of certification and for the most part surpass adopted energy codes but some we have found are more costly than others. We can also say some have more national recognition than others and provide opportunities for enhanced product branding. LEED and ENERGY STAR for New Homes are the two front runners when it comes to national exposure. The NAHB National Green Building Standard might not have all the national attention but also does not have specific design prerequisites such as meeting ASHRAE 62.2 Fresh Air Requirements which has been our largest budget hurdle. LEED for Homes requires all projects to meet ENERGY STAR standards (currently v2.5), including performance testing and will soon adopt ENERGY STAR v3 in the near future for its baseline energy standards which is even more stringent.

Standards Used for Verification

The LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR for New Home programs have established their guidelines from a design standpoint and therefore tend to use existing criteria that deliver measurable requirements for builders to obtain. The NAHB Green Building Standards provide parallel goals but often use more prescriptive language to define compliance procedures.

Required Methods

The NAHB Green Building Standards currently have very few prerequisites in comparison to LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR for New Homes. By dropping the number of obligatory features necessary for compliance, the NAHB system permits designers and builders to select and where to focus their design needs. LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR for New Homes uses a more stringent platform than the other programs, which summarizes a list of mandated building practices and then offers some recommendations that do not impact compliance but could increase overall building performance which would reduce operating cost.

Standard vs. Rating Systems

NAHB created the National Green Building Standard to act as an overall guideline of best practices for green buildings. It does not encompass precise requirements for compliance with a particular platform and municipalities have the choice of implementing the National Green Building Standard to develop their own local green building programs. Compliance provisions for the NAHB Green Building Standards are limited in the NAHB online scoring tool and verification guidelines. LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR for New Homes all developed their procedures to be executed exclusively as part of their certification process.

How they fit together

All three programs utilize regional providers who may have certifications of their own that can be done in parallel and often provide added appeal for local customers.


It is challenging to deliver a cost comparison of the different programs because they all have different compliance methods and verification participation. Also, for any program that necessitates third party verification, cost is based on fees for consulting and inspection services provided by the local rater. LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR for New Homes is often considered the more expensive of the three due to a greater level of mandatory participation by project teams in the design and planning process.


Whether you want to maximize your energy savings or control construction cost look into the different programs on a national or local level that will give you and your region the best results.

William J. Greene III, LEED® AP BD+C
Architect/Design Manager
Wood Partners
Improving People’s Lives by Creating Better Communities