What constitutes a successful green building over a non-successful green building? We see this all the time, even with conventional buildings — a magnificent space is built, ready to occupy bodies, then months and years after construction the building loses life for being unable to sustain performance expectations. A green building’s life does not depend on the quality of the building, but the life cycle of tenants — Clay Nesler shares more on GreenBiz.com: [READ More…]
In a previous life, and in a younger man’s clothes, I had a chance to observe the world through a slightly different lens, one which frequently illuminated the simple truth that the value people place on something can vary greatly from one person to the next.
For example, my buddies and I would often buy deep fried vegetable slices and other goodies from the carts of Asian street vendors who prepared their offerings in pots of boiling oil over red hot chunks of charcoal. We figured that if nothing else, the process was going to kill anything that might pose an immediate threat to our health, and besides…all the locals ate it and the stuff was darned tasty.
What we also noticed at the time was that the treats were served up in sheets of paper rolled into cone shapes that made them easy to handle and soaked up the excess oil as a bonus. The other really interesting observation was that the paper came from unexpected sources, such as discarded maintenance manuals for U.S. fighter jets, mostly F-4’s. At the time we found it humorous and actually admired the resourcefulness of the street merchants.
If I were back there now, of course, I would not only concern myself with the source and freshness of the food stock but the serving containers as well, which were undoubtedly scrounged from a dumpster. I also wonder what kind of ink the Department of Defense specified for those manuals? Probably not soy based or lead free, that’s for sure. I suppose this is just more evidence that “youth is wasted on the young”, but a good learning experience.
A walk through the local countryside would usually turn up additional learning opportunities with regard to the perception of value. On one such occasion we curiously watched while a couple of farmers carefully washed long strips of once discarded plastic sheeting in a flowing stream. When we inquired about the activity they explained that the recycled plastic would be part of simple cold frames and that they were saving the used material for the next planting season.
When we stop to consider the materials and resources that go into construction, easily the most conspicuously consumptive activity of man, and acknowledge that fact that construction and demolition produce 30 to 40 per cent of the volume of waste going into landfills, it is hard to defend the common practices of our industry and perhaps even more difficult to understand our culture of indifference.
After all, one man’s trash can be many things to the next, maybe even shelter.
Ron Jones, Co-Founder and President of Green Builder® Media, is recognized as one of the fathers of the green building
movement. Instrumental in establishing guidelines and programs through NAHB, USGBC and a variety of regional initiatives,
he has more recently worked with the International Code Council in the development of both the National Green Building
Standard (ICC 700) and the International Green Construction Code.
Are you out of ideas for Christmas gifts and still have last-minute shopping to do? You could give easy-to-find, simple gifts that everyone can use — products that reduce home energy consumption or benefit the environment: energy-saving light bulbs, everyday items made out of recycled materials, and more. Not sure of where to start or how to find such products? Alex Wilson shares a few energy-solving gifts on BuildingGreen.com: [ READ MORE … ]
That’s the idea behind a Massachusetts start-up that hopes to deliver fleets of bikes to university and corporate campuses, apartment communities, hotels and resorts.
The company, Zagster, already operates in about 55 locations, including Yale University and the Hyatt hotel in Cambridge, Mass., the company’s home.
Last month, Zagster received $1 million in investment funding to take its bicycle-on-demand program nationally.
Bicycles have proven popular in many cities, where they can bridge the transportation gap between home and station, and station and workplace – sometimes call the first- and last-mile problem.
City-sponsored bike-share programs help alleviate traffic congestion, parking shortages and crowding on mass transit. Currently, more than 60 university campuses and many corporate campuses also run bike-sharing programs, and demand appears to be growing, say officials with the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Zagster charges clients a monthly fee to supply and maintain the bikes. The company also provides the software to manage the fleet. The client can decide whether to charge residents and guests for access or offer the bikes as a free amenity.
Each bike has a lock box, which users open with a code they receive via cellphone text message. Inside the box is a key to the bike’s lock.
Environmentalists have long argued the virtues of bicycles over gas-engine cars.
Zagster has developed a way to calculate the emissions avoided by bicycling instead of driving. Company executives told the New York Times they are in discussions with the World Bank on the potential use of Zagster’s system during the 2014 Summer Olympics and the 2016 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, which has created a low-carbon city development program in cooperation with the World Bank.
Bicycling has numerous other health, environmental and financial benefits. Here are five of them, according to David Fiedler at About.com:
— Improved health, in the form of increased cardiovascular fitness, strength, balance and flexibility, endurance and calories burned.
— Improved mental state. Riding a bike is a proven stress releaser and energizer.
— No harm to the environment from noise, exhaust or emissions. Bikes don’t consume oil or gas.
— Less time wasted in traffic.
— Financial savings. It costs between 20 and 30 cents per mile just to operate a car. This doesn’t include the hidden costs of vehicle ownership such as depreciation, taxes, and insurance. If your daily round-trip commute is 16 miles, for example, riding a bike twice a week will result in savings of over $400 in operating costs alone in the course of a year.
He sees you filling landfills,
He sees you cutting trees,
He sees you buying too much junk
So won’t you save the planet, please?
Americans’ waste increases about 25 percent during the holiday season.
According to researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, that’s an extra five billion pounds added to landfills.
All the extra holiday travel, too, creates tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
But little improvements can have a big impact, says Green America, which harnesses consumers’ buying power to make a more sustainable world. The nonprofit offers ten ways to green your holidays.
1.Don’t Buy Wrapping Paper
Reuse old wrapping paper or put your gifts in reusable bags or boxes. Be creative about giving old materials new life – fabric scraps, magazines, old calendars, etc.
2. Send Tree-free Holiday Cards
Search the National Green Pages™ for cards made from hemp, and other tree-free resources. Or, send e-cards.
3. Hold a Zero Waste Holiday Party
Ask people to bring their own cups, plates and utensils if you don’t have enough of your own. Use fabric tablecloths and napkins. Recycle any post-party cans and bottles and compost food scraps.
4. Consider the Lifecycle of Electronic Gifts
The manufacture and disposal of computers, tablets, e-readers, video games, and music devices pose environmental and health hazards. Check out the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. The Recycled Video Games Network is a great resource to dispose of old equipment or buy recycled games and systems for less, reducing the amount of new materials made.
5. Give Gifts from the Heart
Instead of spending money on commercial goods, offer to make dinner, walk the dog, help with gardening or home repairs, or invite friends over for Fair Trade coffee and tea.
6. Give the Gift of a Better World
Make a donation to a cause in honor of a loved one. Choose a group that addresses an issue that you and your friends and family members care about and support.
7. Green Your Holiday Travel. Better World Travel Club can help you offset the carbon emissions from your travel through their Travel Cool program.
8. Buy Green Gifts
If you choose to give presents over the holidays, shop with green businesses listed in the National Green Pages.
9. Avoid Toys Made with PVC plastic
Toxic PVC is found in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. PVC is also the least recycled plastic.
10. Recycle Packaging From Gifts
To reduce environmental impacts, it is important to recycle all cardboard packaging and peanuts or other Styrofoam packing that comes with gifts or purchases as these items will not break down in a landfill but can be used over and over again for packaging and shipping. The National Green Pages contains several listings for easy drop-off centers for both types of waste.
Cease and desist.
Yes, we know. The men in your family always idled for at least three minutes, mumbling something vague about the salutatory effects of getting the oil circulating in the engine. But thanks to modern fuel injection, that advice no longer holds true.
The problem is pollution. Car idling has been called the “second-hand smoking of the outdoors” because it releases so much unhealthy exhaust.
1. Driving warms the car faster than idling.
If your concern is not the health of the car, but simply your own comfort, Bob Aldrich of the California Energy Commission points out that “idling is not actually an effective way to warm up a car — it warms up faster if you just drive it.”
2. Idle no longer than ten seconds.
The Environmental Defense Fund, which produced the Idling Gets You Nowhere campaign, advises motorists to turn off their ignition if they’re sitting stopped for more than 10 seconds. “After about ten seconds, you waste more money running the engine than restarting it,” said Andy Darrell, deputy director of the EDF Energy Program. “Switch the car off at the curb and you’ll be leaving money in your wallet and protecting the air in your community.”
3. Idling hurts the car.
According to the Hinkle Charitable Foundation’s Anti-Idling Primer, idling forces an engine “to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.”
4. Idling costs money.
Over a year of five minutes of daily idling (which causes incomplete combustion of fuel), the “Anti-Idling Primer” estimates that the operator of a V-8-engined car will waste 20 gallons of gasoline, which not only produces 440 pounds of carbon dioxide but also costs at least $60.
5. Idling in the garage can kill you.
Idling a car in a garage, even with the door open, is dangerous and exposes the driver to carbon monoxide and other noxious gases. If the garage is attached, those fumes can also enter the house.
6. Block heaters beat remote starters.
Lori Strothard of the Waterloo Citizens Vehicle Idling Reduction Task Force in Canada says, “Remote starters can too easily cause people to warm up their cars for five to 15 minutes, which is generally unnecessary. A block heater, which is designed to heat the engine and can cost under $30, on a timer set to start one to two hours before driving does the trick in very cold climates.
7. Quick errands aren’t quick enough.
Natural Resources Canada points out that “quick errand” idling is another way to waste gas and pollute both your town and the planet. “Leaving your engine running is hard on your pocketbook, produces greenhouse gas emissions and is an invitation to car thieves,” the agency says.
8. Idling is bad for everyone’s health.
According to Minneapolis’ anti-idling ordinance, “Exhaust is hazardous to human health, especially children’s; studies have linked air pollution to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies.” Studies show that children’s IQ levels are lower when they live near major roads with lots of traffic.”