Apartment Life Blog


Leave a comment

Glass Cleaner that’s Always Greener

Smiling woman cleaning windows    When it comes to cleaning your windows, are you a good guy or a lazy guy?  Good guys whip up their own, wholesome, high-performance glass cleaners from environmentally friendly, non-toxic, inexpensive kitchen ingredients.

Lazy guys go to the store and blow their money on one of a number of widely advertised, heavily marketed commercial cleaners that often contain caustic chemicals.  We won’t name names, but the go-to color for these products is a deep aqua blue, perhaps to suggest the contents come from cool alpine pools or pristine lagoons.

Here’s the other thing that separates the saints from the sinners:  Paper towels.  How many times have you seen someone waste half a roll of paper towels cleaning a few small windows?   Not good for trees, not good for landfills, not good for the bottom line.

Old newspapers, rags, squeegees or chamois are the earth-friendly choice.

Finally, consider how much cheaper it is to make your own.

A 32-ounce bottle of national brand window cleaner cost about $4 in 2011, while the active ingredients in the same amount of homemade glass cleaner cost about 12 cents, according to National Geographic’s Green Living website.

greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/natural-homemade-streakfree-glass-cleaner-3126.html

The only issue with making your own glass cleaner is deciding which formula works best on your type of glass and grime.  So experiment with some of the recipes below.  When you get one that works, write it down and keep it handy in your recipe box, or write it on the spray bottle.

From the Environmental Protection Agency:

GLASS CLEANER: Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1quart warm water, or equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Stubborn glass streaks may call for undiluted white vinegar.  Another version: combines 1/2 cup white vinegar and 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 gallon warm water.

From Yahoo.com blogger Debra Proctor, who writes that she’s run across four different formulas, all of which have their own avid fans:  http://voices.yahoo.com/best-homemade-glass-cleaner-quick-easy-inexpensive-7562328.html

GLASS CLEANER RECIPE 1: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.  Use the same as commercial window cleaner.  Some think this is the best homemade glass cleaner because it’s sudsy; others hate the suds.

GLASS CLEANER RECIPE 2: Mix 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 cup water and 1 cup rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle.

GLASS CLEANER RECIPE 3:  Mix 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 cup water and 1 cup rubbing alcohol. This recipe uses ammonia instead of vinegar. Those who don’t like the smell of vinegar may like this recipe better.

GLASS CLEANER RECIPE 4:  Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup ammonia and 1 tablespoon cornstarch and pour into a 32-ounce spray bottle. Finish filling the bottle with water. Shake before using.


Leave a comment

Meet The Team: Clay Richardson

Clay Richardson

Before Clay Richardson was Asset Manager for Wood Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, his first job was at Taco Bell. Find out his secret talent, his bad habit, and what he’s most proud of:

Name: Clay Richardson
Title/Position: Asset Manager
Office Name/Location: Scottsdale,AZ

Most exotic travel experience: Arctic Circle

Starbucks (or other coffee shop) order: Maybe water? I don’t drink coffee

A perfect day in would be: Something outdoors: Hunting/fishing/snorkeling

Best advice you ever received: Be careful what you post on social media

Your secret talent: I can cook

Your first job: Taco Bell drive thru.

Most productive time of day: All hours (is my boss checking this?)

Person you’d like to have dinner with: Mark Cuban

What you’re most proud of: Keeping my three small children alive and safe simultaneously.

A business tool you can’t live without: Excel

A bad habit: Dallas Cowboys fan

Favorite possession: Swarovski 10x42mm EL (no, its not crystal stemware)

What book is on your nightstand now? Think Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

First thing you do when you get to the office: Punch in the security code, so the cops don’t come.

Your favorite guilty pleasure: sarcastic emails to co-workers


Leave a comment

Energy Use: Does information influence our choices?

Adelaide Grady Director, Wood Partners Green Team Co-Chair

Adelaide Grady
Director, Wood Partners
Green Team Co-Chair

When  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban of large sugary drinks was rejected by a judge as “arbitrary and capricious” this week, I started thinking about analogies between calories and energy efficiency. Remember the uproar when Congress banned incandescent light bulbs?  Most people probably didn’t notice, but I recall having a heated discussion with my big brother about “big brother.”

Codes and energy efficiency certifications are a bit like Bloomberg’s ban.

Consider, for the sake of illustration, a New Yorker who lives in a new, comfortable, high-efficiency apartment building with a convenience store on the ground floor.  Every morning on his way to work, he stops at the store and buys a large soda for his caffeine fix.  With Bloomberg’s ban in place, he would have gotten used to that large soda being a bit smaller than before.

One day, our New Yorker travels to Topeka on business.  His hotel room is drafty and the nearby convenience store sells super-size sodas.  Will he refrain from cranking up the heat despite his discomfort?  Will he order the medium soda or perhaps a sugarless one? The answer to both questions is “probably” if, on the one hand, he had chosen his new apartment for its on-demand feedback of energy use;  and on the other, he realized how many minutes on the treadmill it would take to burn off the calories contained in a super-size drink.  The point is information can, but not always, influence our choices.

While my state of Massachusetts has not mandated calorie labeling by restaurants, one place I frequent does post calories on its menu.  This information absolutely influences my lunch selection.  My two companions on one recent lunch there confessed that this information most certainly did not affect what they order.  Certainly not a statistically significant data set, but interesting nonetheless, especially because these lunch companions would have been on the “big brother” side of the Bloomberg ban discussion.

Calorie labeling at least gives people the opportunity to choose wisely. Measuring energy use is less precise.  We consume energy at home day in and day out all month long and then get a bill.  Sometimes it’s kind of high – five or ten bucks more than expected – and we grumble but pay it.  Sometimes it’s through the roof and we diligently switch off lights and turn the heat down for a few weeks.  But the feedback we initially get is complaints from our kids and spouse about cold fingers, noses, toes.  We don’t see the savings for another month, if we pay close enough attention at all, and usually we’d rather have paid the fifty extra bucks to silence the whining.

But there are ways to inform our energy use.  Enter the energy monitor.  There are many on the market now and some are even able to wirelessly monitor gas and electricity consumption on a real-time basis.  Turn down your heat a few degrees and it’ll tell you how much you’re saving.  Turn on your hair dryer and you’ll see the spike in electricity use.

Maybe you won’t care.  But at least it would give you the opportunity to choose wisely.

Here’s a great website that compares the different brands of energy monitors http://www.energycircle.com/learn/energy-monitoring/comparing-energy-monitors


Leave a comment

Meet The Team: Josh Lloyd

Josh Lloyd

Josh Lloyd is Area Vice President in the Newport Beach Office now, but did you know that his first job was as a cook at a kids summer camp? Learn his secret talent, what he’s most proud of, his dream job and more, below:


Name: Josh Lloyd
Title/Position: Area Vice President
Office Name/Location: Newport Beach Office

Fantasy career: Career retired

Favorite ethnic cuisine: Persian Food

Most exotic travel experience: Went to the slums of Mexico

Starbucks order: Black Regular Coffee – Vente

Most played artist on iPod: Chromeo

A perfect day in would be: Relaxing and watching a good movie

Best advice you ever received: You don’t reach your full potential by not taking risks

Your secret talent: Drummer

What you like most about your work: The culture and collaboration

Favorite weekend activity: Hiking/Mt Climbing

Worst subject in high school: French Class

What inspires you? Success and turning a loss into a win

Most productive time of day: Morning

Reality show you’re embarrassed to admit you watch: I don’t watch reality shows.

Person you’d like to have dinner with: Benjamin Franklin

Your first job: A cook at a summer kids camp.

What you’re most proud of: I am proud of having a great family

A business tool you can’t live without: The standard notebook and pen

Next travel destination: Michigan to see my family.

What’s next for you: Inventing time travel

A bad habit: Emailing and driving

Favorite possession: Sadly-My IPhone

What book is on your nightstand now? Authenticity: What consumers really want.

A job you’d want if you weren’t doing this job: World Traveler

Words you live by: Fail to plan, plan to fail

First thing you do when you get to the office: Make some coffee

Last thing you do before you leave your office: Lock the door

Your favorite guilty pleasure: Excellent Food. I am a foodie


Leave a comment

‘Cage-free’ vs. ‘organic’ eggs

Image      We read a lot about the popularity of organic vegetables, but what about eggs?

Sales of organic and cage-free eggs are on the rise in some parts of the country, but as of March 2012, only 5.7 percent of U.S. flocks were cage-free, and of that, only 2.9 percent of those flocks were raised organically, according to the American Egg Board.

http://www.aeb.org/egg-industry/industry-facts/egg-industry-facts-sheet

That means that more than 90 percent of the roughly 6.5 billion table eggs we buy every month are laid by hens raised in cages in windowless factories, living shoulder to shoulder in a space the size of an 8-by-10 piece of paper, never going outside, often being fed animal by-products and growth-stimulating drugs.

Factory farming is broadly defined as raising livestock and poultry in confined conditions, with heavy use of hormones and antibiotics to increase profits. As awareness of these methods grows, voters and consumers are slowly insisting that farm animals be treated more humanely and that their feed have fewer chemicals.

But organic can be expensive. As anyone who’s shopped the supermarket egg aisle lately, the price of a dozen organic and cage-free eggs can be twice that of their factory-raised counterparts.

So what are you getting for that extra $2 or $3 you pay for organic eggs?

First, it’s important to know what is meant by cage-free (also known as “free-range”) and organic.

To qualify as organic, eggs must come from chickens that are fed only organic feed, i.e., feed that is free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives, writes Marc Lallanilla of About.com’s Green Living website. The chickens are given antibiotics only in the event of an infection, as opposed to commercial chickens, which are fed antibiotics on a routine basis. No hormones or other drugs can be used in organic egg production.  http://greenliving.about.com/od/healthyliving/a/organic_egg_certification.htm

Cage-free or free-range eggs are not necessarily organic.  The United States Department of Agriculture stipulates that they must come from chickens that have some access to a small, fenced yard or patch of cement.  Also, growers of cage-free chickens can feed them animal by-products and antibiotics.

Just because chickens have access to a small outdoor area doesn’t mean they get sunshine or fresh air every day.  For a variety of reasons, many chickens never leave their cages.

It’s unclear how rigorously the USDA inspects free-range chickens, writes Lallanilla. “The USDA website states that in order for poultry to be labeled free-range or free-roaming, ‘Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.’ That’s it. How often, and how strictly, the USDA inspects chickens’ outdoor access is anyone’s guess.”

Lallanilla’s advice to consumers”  “If you’re looking for a greener product, skip the free-range turkey, free-range chicken and other poultry — and their marked-up price tags — and head directly for the organic eggs, as these are the only ones that have strict, well-defined criteria for feed, antibiotics and processing.”

http://greenliving.about.com/od/greenshopping/a/Free-Range-Chicken-Freerange-Eggs.htm

OPTIONAL stats from the American Egg Board:

http://www.aeb.org/egg-industry/industry-facts/egg-industry-facts-sheet

  • The five largest egg producing states represent approximately 50 percent of all U.S. layers.
  • U.S. egg production during April 2012 was 6.54 billion table eggs.
  • To date, there are approximately 179 egg producing companies with flocks of 75,000 hens or more. These companies represent about 98 percent of all the layers in the United States. In 1987, there were around 2,500 operations.
  • As of march 2012, cage-free production is 5.7 percent of the total U.S. flock size. Of this, 2.9 percent is organic and 2.8 percent is other.
  • Of the 219.54 million cases (estimated) of shell eggs produced in 2011:  69.7 million cases (31.7%) were further processed (for foodservice, manufacturing, retail and export); 125 million cases (56.9%) went to retail; 17.56 million cases (8.0%) went for foodservice use; and 7.3 million cases (3.3%) were exported.
  • Exports of processed egg products for the first quarter of 2012 set a year-on-year record at $31.97 million, up 22.1 percent from the same period a year earlier, thanks largely to increased exports to EU-27, Mexico, Taiwan, and Canada. Table eggs export during the period were 20.89 million dozen valued at $19.35 million, up 31.2 and 42.1 percent year-on-year, respectively.
  • Exports of processed egg products to Japan, the single most important export market for U.S. egg products, decreased 7.7 percent year on year to $11.84 million, accounting for 37.0 percent of U.S. total export value worldwide. Exports to the EU-27 were $10.26 million, up 121.4 percent from the same period in 2011.
  • Table egg exports to Hong Kong, the top market for U.S. table eggs, reached 9.51 million dozen for an increase of 24.9 percent from the same period a year earlier. Exports to Canada, United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, were 0.54 million dozen, Netherlands Antilles and Hong Kong totaled 17.20 million dozen, accounting for 82.3 percent of U.S. total exports worldwide.    

 

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, American Egg Board and USAPEEC.