Green Buildings

The frantic building activity going on all over to create affordable housing as well as premium residential & commercial spaces could have serious environmental consequences in the form of deforestation, depleting water table, and strain on natural resources. Also heavy reliance on conventional building materials has aggravated environmental problems as they utilize large amount of non-renewable natural resources like energy, minerals, top-soil, forest cover etc. and are generally polluting in nature.

Typically, conventional building technologies like burnt bricks, steel and cement are high in cost too, making construction unaffordable to the wider section of the society. Many developers are now adopting building practices like rain harvesting, solar energy, daylight utilization and other measures, to help sustain the environment. The construction industry is increasingly seeking innovative green building materials, to build economic, affordable buildings and minimize the impact of the construction activity on the environment.

Green building materials are composed of renewable, rather than nonrenewable resources and its impacts are considered over the entire life cycle of the building.

Here are some of the environment-friendly building materials:

Fly-ash bricks: One of the most commonly used products in construction is fly ash bricks, tiles and hollow blocks. Not only has this product solved the problem of disposal of this by-product of the power industry but is also energy efficient in terms of keeping the interiors cooler.

High-performance glass: High performance glazing controls the solar and thermal heat in the interiors and brings abundant natural light without glare resulting in energy savings. The energy savings mean that the initial high cost can be recovered within three-four years.

Recycled wood: This wood made by compressing the wastes like chips, shavings, generated by logging industry and agricultural wastes like sisal fiber, rice husk, jute stalk etc. are being utilized in wide range of applications as substitutes for wood-based products.

Recycled building materials: Much of the building materials used in construction are fabricated with 20% -40% recycled materials including steel, glass, aluminum etc. The gypsum boards and tiles for false ceiling, partitions contain phosphor gypsum, a pollutant by product of fertilizer industry.

Plastic products: Plastic waste which is non biodegradable is recyclable to be useful as building product for flooring, waste containers, fence posts, park benches and as substitute to other timber and concrete products. Polyester resin from recycled PET can replace the conventional high cost resin for use in construction.

Bamboo products: Bamboo is fast growing available wood which is increasingly being used as ply panels for wall cladding, flooring and other interior purposes.

Low VOC paints and adhesives: Paints and finishes containing Volatile Organic Compounds release low level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. Now are available non toxic products with low or zero VOC levels which are less harmful to human and environmental health.

Green roof: Landscaped roofs partially or completely covered with vegetation, reduces winter heat losses and summer cooling loads on buildings that balancing energy efficiency, rainwater management and climate protection.

Grass pavers: They can be spotted in parking lots, driveways and open areas that areaved but have tufts of grass coming out between the blocks. These are concrete grid systems filled with soil which not only preserve soil erosion but also regenerate the water table by allowing excess water to see in.

The concept of sustainable building incorporates a variety of strategies; the use of green building materials and products presents one of these important strategies, offering benefits like reduced maintenance and replacement costs, energy conservation and greater design flexibility in the design of a building.

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The Super Tower – The Future For Cities

Popular Architecture has developed the Super Tower in response to population growth and the spread of cities.

Based on the estimation that London will need to provide housing for 100,000 new people each year up until 2016, this building houses 100,000 in one hit and with the city being the only framework capable of handling burgeoning populations such claims are vital.

At 1500 meters high (the average level of cloud cover), the tower would create a new and completely different scale to the existing city forming a separate layer superimposed above London's ancient and idiosyncratic street plan without the need for dramatic alteration of London's existing fabric. Thus the gardens, parks and open spaces of London are preserved but its insatiable appetite (and absolute hunger) for development is satisfied

Proposed to be constructed in stages of 20 stores that are owned as they are built. The final height of 1500 stores has circular cuts in its length that allow for outdoor and gathering spaces for inhabits

The tower is broken up into a hierarchy of municipal areas. The smallest; the neighborhood occupations a single floor – approximately 600 people, the next; the village covers 20 floors and approximately 6000 people. The tower is finally divided into three super-districts; upper, mid and lower of 33,000 people each.

The tower seeks to reduce movement across the city by condensing facilities – living, working and entertainment within a single location. Its position near to existing transport infrastructure would allow goods to be delivered more easily and the proximate of public transport links would reduce the need for car travel between work and home

Water and household waste would be recycled within the tower to reduce the energy required to replace it with fresh water from the ground. Fresh water could have been harvested and filtered from the clouds that would envelop the top of the tower on overcast days.

Whether such creations will be built, particularly during times of an economic downturn, is uncertain but the need is certainly very current.

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LEED AP New Construction NC V2-2 – Free Help to Pass Now

The first step towards certification is to register the project either online or by mail. To earn certification, a project must meet all prerequisites and meet the minimum number of points outlined in the rating system. All new projects must apply for certification using the online submittal process. Applications for certification must be accompanied by:

a) The rating system which is being applied for.
b) Project contact, type, size, number of occupants, and scheduled date of construction completion.
c) Project narrative including three highlights. Project checklist including project prerequisites, credits, and projected total score.
d) Copies of submittal templates and supporting documentation.
e) Complete list of all CIR's (Credit Interpretation Requests) used.
f) Drawings and photos of site plan, typical floor plan, typical building section, typical elevation, and photo or rendering of the project.
g) A check for the appropriate amount.

After the project is registered, the next step is to either complete a Design Review (reviewing all of the design credits) after completion of the design, followed by the Construction Review (reviewing all of the construction credits) after substantive completion of construction. Or project teams may submit a Design and Construction Review (reviewing all credits) after substantive completion of construction. Supplementary submissions or clarifications may be requested. Upon delivery of the final review, project teams have 25 business days to either accept or appeal the rating. If a project team feels that they have grounds to appeal a denied credit they may appeal individual credits via the online process.

If a question arises concern applying credits to a particular project, the project team may submit a Credit Interpretation Request (CIR). Before submitting a CIR, the project team should consult the reference guide to find answers to their questions. After that, the project team should consult the Credit Interpretations Rulings page online to see if there have been any relevant CIR's filed in the past. Finally, if the question remains unanswered, the project team may submit a CIR online. The CIR shall apply to a specific credit, and shall be based on the intent of the prerequisites of the credit. Each CIR costs $ 220.

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Energy Statements – Five Steps to Fulfill the Planning Requirements For Small Development

Increasingly Local Planning Authorities in the UK require an energy statement to be submitted as part of a planning application. This is often combined with a requirement to provide a reduction in carbon emissions from the energy use of the building through onsite generation of energy using low or zero carbon technologies (often referred to as renewable energy technologies). Typical reduction targets are currently between 10% and 20%. For larger development proposals the preparation of an energy statement requires a thorough option study in the form of a renewable energy feasibility study. For small residential developments the options are limited. This article provides information about preparing an energy statement for small development proposals: typically one or two houses. In preparing an energy statement five steps should be followed:

  1. Determine the target energy performance
  2. Identify the energy performance of the building envelope
  3. Consider complementary energy saving measures
  4. Estimate the energy performance
  5. Consider low or zero carbon technologies

Following these logical steps and writing it down in a statement will provide you with an Energy Statement that can be submitted with your planning application.

Determine the target energy performance

The first step is to define the energy efficiency of the building in terms of the carbon emissions that is going to be achieved. Part L of the building regulations introduces two terms that are being used in determining the energy performance of a building. These are Target Emission Rate (TER) and Dwelling Emission Rate (DER). These two values ​​are determined using the set of SAP calculations that is made available by the government. Part L of the building regulations require that DER is not greater than TER.

Improve the energy performance of the building envelope

The first step to consider is to improve the energy performance of the building fabric. This is expressed as the U-value of the various building elements (roof, walls, groundfloor, windows and doors). Significant reductions can be achieved by specifying appropriate roof insulation, wall insulation and energy efficient windows. Other measures that improve the energy performance of the building fabric are the air intensity of the building and the ventilation characteristics. The type of fuel that will be used also has a significant impact on the carbon emissions of the building. The emission factor of the various fuel types is very different. Electricity for instance has much greater carbon emissions per unit of energy than natural gas. Clearly the use of electricity for space heating has a significant adverse effect on the carbon emissions of the house.

Consider complementary energy saving measures

There is a range of supplementary energy saving measures that can be implemented. The effect of the majority of these additional measures influences the behavior of the people living in the dwelling. The actual amount of energy saving can therefore not be quantified, but these measures are thought to be useful soonheless. Measures to consider are:

  • Provision of a drying space
  • Provision of energy labeled white goods
  • Energy efficient lighting internal and external
  • Provision of cycle storage
  • Provision of a home office

Estimate the energy performance

Including an indication of the expected carbon emissions in the energy statement is important for two reasons. First of all it can serve as a concluding element to the energy statement. Secondly, when the planning authority requires a certain percentage of the total emissions to be reduced through the onsite generation of energy through renewable energy technologies the expected carbon emissions will serve as the starting point for the consideration of renewable energy technologies. Occasional reference is made to a toolkit that was published in 2004: “Integrating renewable energy into new developments: Toolkit for planners, developers and consultants” . The benchmark data in the toolkit is dated and based on existing stock and therefore likely overestimates the energy use for any particular new building. We recommend therefore using actual calculations that are appropriate for the building. This should be done through SAP calculations. Even though at planning application stage the detailed design has not yet been completed, a good estimate of the value of the parameters in the SAP calculations can be made. The information that is considered in the section on energy efficiency of the building fabric should be taken into account when preparing the SAP calculations.

Consider low or zero carbon technologies

For large development plans there are many potential viable low or zero carbon technologies or renewable energy technologies available. For small one or two unit developments the available viable technologies is much more limited. The renewable energy technologies that are widely available and are viable options for small developments are:

  • Solar hotwater system
  • Photovoltaic cells
  • Ground source heatpumps
  • Biomass heaters

In addition small wind turbines are often mentioned and progress on micro CHP is progressing rapidly.

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10 Tips For Green Renovating

After price and location, surveys are now finding that energy efficient features are the next most important features to buyers. Even if you are not selling in the near future, improving your home's “green” ranking can save you money on energy costs and help save the planet.

There are many things you can do to increase your home's environmental friendliness. Some have small price tags and some are larger renos. Here are 5 small and 5 large projects to make your home more green.

Small Projects

  1. Replace your thermostat with a programmable one. Preferably get one that has settings for the week and weekend – known as 5-2 or 5-1-1 programs.
  2. Replace old light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs. They come in a variety of sizes and styles for most applications.
  3. Paint with low-VOC or no-VOC paints. Volatable Organic Compounds can be released into your home for years after painting. Eco-friendly products improves the air quality for everyone living in the home.
  4. Get low flow taps or faucet aerators for your fixtures to reduce the water going down the drain.
  5. Caulk and weather seal around doors and windows to reduce drafts. You can get specialty gaskets to install behind electrical outlet covers also.

Large Projects

  1. If you are upgrading systems, go with Energy Star rated products. Appliances, heating and cooling systems, hot water tanks, windows, and more can be found that reduce energy loss and save you money.
  2. Upgrade your heating and cooling using geothermal, solar, or wind power to run your system.
  3. Replace toilets with dual flush or low-flow toilets (6L). These can save tens of thousands of liters of water per year per toilet.
  4. Increase your insulation in areas like your attic, crawlspace, and territory.
  5. Increase the insulation in your exterior walls. This is a major source of energy loss in older homes.

In Canada, you can get a pre-retrofit evaluation for your home from certain companies in order to qualify for the federal ecoENERGY grant. You will be provided with a report with recommendations for improving your home's energy rating. After performing the retrofits, you can get a post-retrofit evaluation, which will then determine what sort of rebate you are able to receive, up to $ 5,000. Most provinces are also offering other rebates or grants.

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Future Homes and Neighborhoods Will Likely Be Compact, Greener, and Friendlier

American home and neighborhood designs change constantly. If you put yourself randomly in a 20th century neighborhood, chances are that you could tell the decision it was built, even after the avocado-green siding is replaced. We may be in for an even larger than normal shift in the next decade. How will a 2015 neighborhood be different than a 2007 subdivision? Here are some recent trends:

Movement to smaller, greener and more livable homes

New homes are undetected getting smaller. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a house under construction fell 7.3 percent in the July-September quarter of 2008. A January 2009 survey of buildings reported that 90 percent are building smaller homes.

Until recently, homebuilders focused on grand homes that maximize square footage and feature high-end upgrades. Today, builders are more likely to highlight how their homes save money and energy. “As people value operating costs more, they start thinking more about these things,” said Roger Voisinet, noted EcoBroker and President of “People are choosing solar and more energy-efficient heating and cooling.”

More attention is being paid to the quality of space rather than the quantity of space. “Time after time people leave the basement unfinished and put their money into good trim and quality elsewhere in the house.” said Voisinet. “People are also getting more creative with spaces.” He cited Belmont Lofts, which are popular condos in downtown Charlottesville where moveable, Shoji screen walls allow smaller rooms to be converted into larger living spaces.

Economic fears are impacting design, suggests author and architectural psychologist Sally Fretwell. “People are now more simplistic in design and in building material. People are probably less showy,” said Fretwell, who also owns a paint store in Richmond, Virginia. Cost is more of a factor but by being more thoughtful, home buyers focus on the details. “People are looking at things differently.” Said Fretwell, “They are a lot more creative. That's wonderful.”

Migration to new urban centers with common greens and ready-built community

Beyond moving into smaller homes, Americans are moving to communities with denser housing and “village” aspects that evoke neighborhoods of our great-grandsparents.

Arthur C. Nelson, a leading housing expert who has studied housing trends for 20 years, expects that migration to denser living will bring sweeping changes to American society. According to Nelson, “Surveys indicate a growing preference for urban living.” Roughly half of all households want the opportunity to live in neighborhoods and communities with higher density housing, a mix of housing types and household income levels, sidewalks, proximate to stores and restaurants , accessibility to transit options and other “smart growth” features associated with well-designed urban areas. ”

Nelson predicts that there will be a surplus of between 3 million and 22 million homes on large lots (built on one-sixth of an acre or more) by 2025. He and other experts foresee these big homes in the exurbs eroding in value, with many of them being subdivided into multiple units.

Lifestyle has influenced people as much as economies in the growing taste for clustered, walkable neighborhoods. In an October 10, 2008 New York Times article, Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University describes the sense of well being from being able to walk around and recognize your neighbors or even shopkeepers. Gerson said this sense of well-being is second only to being able to provide food and shelter for the family. “We know from studies that in close-knit urban communities, where private space is not as plentiful, public space becomes more central,” she said. Indeed, many families said they did not spend a lot of time at home. “There are always trade-offs in these choices. Families are resilient and find ways to adapt to whatever their circumstances.”

The community-oriented changes in where people choose to live coincides with new research on psychological studies of happiness. According to the Handbook of Psychology, by Irving Weiner and Donald Freedheim, “The strongest predictor of happiness [is] social connectedness.” People who are reliably alone in the world are much less happy than people who have close connections with others. predictors of happiness, including money, education, health, and place of residence, are only weakly correlated with happiness. ”

What might a neighborhood of 2015 look like?

A recent Chicago Tribune article summarizes the eight great real estate trends of 2009:

  1. Smaller Houses
  2. More apartments
  3. Increase in attached housing
  4. More rental units
  5. New urban centers with homes close to shops and restaurants
  6. Common green spaces for outdoor enjoyment of homeowners.
  7. Creating Community – where the developer provides social features beyond land, bricks and mortar.
  8. Online marketing of homes

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So, what might a Year 2015 neighborhood look like? There will probably be many variations of neighborhoods that adopt the above trends.

Cohousing as a Case Study

One kind of modern neighborhood is cohousing, which is mostly unknown in the US but which constituents 25% of new development in Denmark. Cohousing is a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood where single family and attached homes surround a common green. Homes are smaller and closer together than the typical 2007 house, but space is efficiently used and homeowners enjoy a large clubhouse, shared gardens, a large playground, and other common amenities. Often a cohousing neighborhood is located near an urban center – further promoting walkability and neighborliness. Marketing of the homes is typically online or through word-of-mouth. Private spaces and backyards are a standard feature of cohousing. Solar, geothermal and other green features are also very common. But markedly different than typical housing developments, there are social aspects built-in. Neighbors have the option of taking part in potlucks and common meals and also working together on common tasks (such as landscaping and decision-making). In summary, cohousing is one example of where people buy houses not so much based on raw home size but more based on improving their social and private lifestyle as well as reducing their carbon footprint. Proponents of cohousing refer to it as “yesterday's neighborhood today,” as a shorthand for describing a community where neighbors know one another and have fun together.

More to Life Than Square Footage

The weaker economy and worries over energy costs may have spurred homebuilders to make smaller, clustered and more energy-efficient homes; however, a broader national mood towards simplicity, and a richer lifestyle is likely to drive further change. As they further realize there is more to life than square footage, people will change their tastes. Clustered housing around green spaces will not only alter the landscape but will foster neighborliness and improve the way people live and relate to one another.

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Developing Green Housing

It is not the intent of this article to discuss whether or not global warming is a reality. To be completely honest, it really does not matter either way where this article is concerned. The fact of the matter is that we need to figure out a way to live more harmoniously with our planet.

Currently, the way humanity works it to move into an area and exploit all the available resources. We mine minerals, cut down trees, dam the rivers, etc. If there is a specie of flora or fauna we do not like we eradicate it or bring in another specie that will destroy it for us. Until very recently in our history we have not concerned ourselves with the consequences of our actions. In the last 50 years or so we have finally begun to realize that our actions have a lot of unintended consequences. In some cases, the “cure” for a problem has turned out to be worse than the original problem. Invasive species introduced into an ecosystem can overwhelm an area because there are no natural predators.

In recent years, humans have finally begun to consider the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is already too late. Entire ecosystems are under constant attack from foreign invasive species introduced to control an indigenous specie. In the Florida Everglades, for example, people must work every day in an effort to control several foreign invasive species of flora and fauna. Some of these species were introduced intentionally and others accidentally. Either way, humans now have to diligently monitor these species and hunt or destroy them when their population levels threaten to overwhelm the natives.

As the only reasoning specie on the planet, we are, by default, the planet's guardians. It is up to us to ensure the survival of our bright blue sphere and its inhabants. At the same time, we should not be expected to give up our quality of life and technological advancement. The greatest threat to our planet is our insatiable need for energy. Currently, the greatest source of energy used on our planet is oil followed closely by coal. These fossil fuels, when converted into workable energy, cause massive and destructive pollution. If this pollution could be contained in a single area, this would not be a very big deal as the residents of that area would quickly die off and the pollution would end. The problem is, pollution does not stay put. It travels around the world. Recent satellite photos have shown airborne pollutants traveling from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coasts of Africa and Europe. Additionally, airborne pollution from China has been photographed traveling across the Pacific to Hawaii and the West Coasts of North and South America.

While the effects of this traveling pollution on health in those areas is obvious, what is not so obvious is its effect on weather phenomena. This increased pollution has been linked, although not conclusively as yet, to the increased number and intensity of hurricanes. Also, pollution has been blamed for the shift in weather patterns in Europe and Asia. It has been proposed the United States' weather pattern shift could also be linked to pollution, but the corporations most responsible for the greatest quantity of pollution in America have denied this claim.

Scientists and environmentalists across the world all seem to agree that pollution is having a negative effect on the planet and that the effect is compounding annually. The planet can absorb much of the pollutants man creates but we are now creating more than the Earth can reabsorb. This is not necessarily bad news, though. Since mankind has determined that this problem needs to be deal with immediately for the survival of the planet and its inhabants, we have begun to research myriad of means to help the planet absorb our pollution.

Reabsorbing pollution is only half of the solution, though. The other half of the solution is to cease generating pollution, or, at the very least, drastically reduce the amounts of pollutants we create. Again, human ingenuity is developing many methods to generate pollution free energy, so called Green Energy. Advances in wind and solar energy technology are promising and will certainly help reduce air pollution. Geothermal technology is very slow in developing and is quite expensive causing it to be a seldom selected option for creating energy.

Energy companies are working to find cleaner ways to use existing fossil fuels. Clean coal, while not really clean, decreases the amount of carbon based pollutants released into the atmosphere significantly. Oil companies are developing clean burning gasoline. Automobile companies are working to increase gas mileage of their vehicle fleets. Hybrid vehicles are a good interim alternative but are so expensive as to not make them practical for the typical American consumer. Advances in battery technology may change this situation in a few years.

Hydrogen fuel cells and liquid hydrogen powered vehicles are the best alternative to replace our fossil fuel burning SUV's and super-sized pick up trucks. Again, these vehicles are currently too expensive to build and there is not sufficient demand to justify retooling current manufacturing facilities. The lack of proper infrastructure to support these vehicles, like liquid hydrogen fueling stations, for example, also serves to stymie demand.

There is one area, though, where we could do more to reduce our energy dependence. Housing. As America begins the difficult task of pulling itself out of economic disaster, the time is perfect to make a minor adjustment in housing. Rather than building new homes to be merely energy efficient, we should begin building them to be energy self sufficient. There is no reason at all because we can not incorporate solar and / or wind power generation methods in every house or other structure we build.

The largest objection to this is cost. Contractors claim that incorporating these technologies in new homes will increase housing prices by thousands of dollars. They claim that a $ 150,000 home would now cost upwards of $ 200,000. This claim is based on the idea that homes would have to be designed in a manner that would accommodate the technology, the devices themselves and the labor costs involved will drive the prices up.

This is not the case, though. At our current level of technology, it is unrealistic to expect to build a home to be 100% energy sufficient. Wind generators and solar arrays just do not create enough energy, even in combination, to run an entire house 24 hours a day without a fundamental financial commitment. Even adding deep cycle batteries for energy storage for night time usage will not resolve the problem.

The idea is to reduce the home's dependence on the power grid. With today's technology, it is possible to reduce a home's grid dependency by 50% or more depending on environmental factors like location, average wind speeds, solar intensity, etc. Therefore, we do not need to add $ 50,000 worth of equipment to the structure, rather, a mere $ 2,000 to $ 5,000 will suffice. Now your cost increase is less than $ 10,000. Since the homebuyer is financing that over 20 to 30 years, the impact on the homeowner's pocketbook is negligible.

Looking at it from a big picture point of view, the only people who lose in this endeavor is the local power company. Here is why. Obviously, the manufacturers of the wind and solar generators win due to increased demand. This increased demand also drives the cost down. The resellers of the products also win due to increased sales. The contractor wins because the value of the house increases making him more money. The subcontractors who install the devices win because of increased work. The homeowner wins due to overall lower energy costs. The general economy improves. Unemployment rates fall.

The power company loses because because they are not selling as much energy AND they are required by law to buy back any extra power the devices generate not used by the homeowner.

Let's take a closer look at that last issue. That extra energy is put into the grid and consumed by other customers. The power company is required to purchase that power from the homeowner. They then turn around and sell that same energy to your neighbor at three or four times their purchase price. So they are not really losing any money on that deal.

If America takes the lead in this area it will reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. By how much is anyone's guess. At first, the reduction would not be significant, but as time goes on, that reduction increases exponentially. Every time we will be at the point where we will have eliminated our dependency on foreign energy.

Why is that important? Currently, oil is one of the ways we generate electricity. We consume millions of barrels of oil every year to accomplish this. By building alternative energy generation sources into homes, this reduces the amount of oil we need to purchase abroad. That much less money is being used to support regimes that are enemies of the United States.

Beyond that issue, look at how much pollution will be decreed. We currently import 21 million barrels of oil every day. In other words, we import almost 25% of the world's total oil production every single day. While only a percentage of that oil is used to generate electricity, look at these statistics.

  • Oil power plants produce nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, and mercury compounds. Sulfur dioxide and mercury compound amounts can vary greatly depending on the sulfur and mercury content of the oil burned.
  • On average the emission rates in the United States from electricity generation from oil are: 1672 lbs / MWh of carbon dioxide, 12 lbs / MWh of sulfur dioxide, and 4 lbs / MWh of nitrogen oxides.
  • Additionally, oil wells and oil collection equipment emit methane, a greenhouse gas.
  • The vehicles and equipment used in drilling, production, and transportation of oil burn natural gas or diesel which also produce pollution.

Decreasing the amount of electricity produced by oil alone will dramatically reduce noxious pollutants put into the atmosphere. When you add the reduction of coal and natural gas produced pollution one can see how much cleaner our air will become. Remember, this article is only dealing with the reduction of air pollution. Oil, coal and natural gas electric plants generate other contaminants which find their way into our water supply and the ground.

If we all sponsored legislation in our respective states requiring alternative energy generators to be built into all new buildings, we can go a very long way towards cleaning up our planet and reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources. This solution will not solve all our energy problems, but it will solve a very large portion of them.

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Find Peace and Quiet in London

London is a city of hustle and bustle and often you'll find all your senses buzzing and burning after a day of walking through the city. You'll then think to yourself 'is there any way to find some peace and quiet in London'? The question is not as difficult as you might think. There are plenty of spots, tucked away, that offer temporary and more permanent relief for the country bumpkin. In fact, it's not uncommon in London to be able to escape an insanely busy street, such as Oxford Street, by walking just two blocks away and finding a tree-lined Buddhist paradise.


Museums and Art galleries are plentiful in London. And while you'll want to avoid the main spots during tourist season (the British museum may be big but it's packed to break point in July), there are many places in London that will still provide you with a quiet place for reflection without necessitating that you buy an expensive meal at a restaurant. The Victoria and Albert museum in South Kensington is one of these. The beautiful John Madejski Garden provides a sanctuary behind the museum and the magnificent Victorian building is home to one of the world's best collections of art and design. If you would like to feel specifically Zen, you may want to lose yourself in the Asian section.

Libraries and Bookstores

Are you looking for a quiet room in London in which to spend your afternoons? Many libraries these days have given in to modern pressures and abandoned their 'quiet please' policies. Daunt Books in the city center is one exception. Here you can really enjoy a good read without the incessant beat of someone's iPod at full volume.

Charing Cross road is your perfect destination if you enjoy browsing quiet second-hand book stores. The street offers a treasure trove of antique, first edition and second-hand books.

Quiet Streets

Paddington Street provides a tree-lined refuge outside of your hotel for those looking for 'a quiet London'. The Paddington Street garden is a large tranquil green that children enjoy playing in for hours on end and adults love walking hand-hand through or picnicking on.


The country's architecturally magnificent churches and cathedrals are the modern Briton's legacy from England's long Christian history, which was at times tainted with blood. The quiet churches now provide sanctuaries which believe the country's turbulent history.

If you want to escape from the noise of Fleet Street, look no further than St Bride's church which offers peaceful gardens and a cool and silent crypt. Nearer to the City, St Dunstan-in-the-East is the bombed out remains of a medieval church. The remaining walls are covered in encroaching creepers and a bubbling fountain provides a therapeutic sound.

Boroughs -London's quietest borough

Sutton was voted the quietest borough in London by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in a recent survey on environmental noise pollution. Londoners do not often experience a night of noise-free, uninterrupted sleep and so sometimes prefer to commute from surrounding counties such as Surrey and Kent, but Sutton provides a closer alternative: it's a mere thirty minutes by train from central London and is still a very peaceful place to live in.

If you do live and work in London's most stressful areas, there are certain ways you can live a peaceful life. By opting to spend your Sundays in parks instead of shopping in the high street, joining a yoga class instead of hiring the pub after work or taking your lunch break in a quiet street or public gardens away from the office, you can find your own inner peace and quiet in London.

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Insulating Concrete Forms – An Innovative, Energy Efficient Construction Solution

Insulating concrete forms (ICF) is a reliably new method of construction that is finding a strong following with home owners and businesses alike that are interested in energy efficient structures. ICF construction can be utilized through a structure, from foundation walls through to concrete ceilings.

The basic premise with ICF construction is the use of heavy-duty foam blocks that interlock to form a wall. These blocks are then secured with continuous rows of rebar. The forms are then located in place and filled with a continuous pour of concrete. The resulting wall is typically 12 inches thick maintaining of a core of 6 inches of reinforced concrete and 2-3 inches of the insulating rigid foam on both the interior and exterior of the finished wall. As you may guess, this wall is incredibly strong, and resilient to high winds and extreme temperatures.

The finished structure is able to be finished using traditional finishing materials. On the exterior walls stucco, siding, or bricks can be installed, and on the interior drywall or plaster can be utilized. The interior plumbing and wiring are put in place by the plumber and electrician cutting channels in the interior foam and running their wires and pipes.

Here are some of the advantages of ICF homes:

Energy efficiency: Several studies have proven that ICF homes can reduce energy costs by as much as 50%. The poured walls provide a very good thermal mass which moderates the inside temperature, and less demand on HVAC units. It also can reduce the size of the HVAC unit required to heat and cool the space.

Weather resistance: ICF structures are extremely strong. When these structures are engineered to meet specific needs, such as tornado or hurricane resistance, they have proven to be significantly stronger than wood framing. They are also insect resistant (there is no wood to attract termites), and there is no harmful chemicals to kill termites. Additionally, ICF homes also provide superior resistance to fire; some studies indicate up to four times as much as wood framing.

Lower homeowner insurance: Due to documented studies of weather resistance, insurance companies can offer lower premiums.

Environmentally friendly: A typical 2,000 square foot house requires about 50 trees' worth of lumber. An ICF house can be made entirely of cement and steel. The blocks are also formaldehyde free, which provides very good interior air quality.

The cost of ICF structures can vary depending upon design requirements, material and labor cost, and interior and exterior finishes. Typically, an ICF structure will run between 1-8% more than traditional wood framing. These costs are usually recouped rather quickly with energy and insurance savings.

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Greener Homes Built and Under Construction

After the recent meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Harper it became apparent that the environment is now a high priority for the Governments of both Canada and the United States. This probably means that suddenly everyone has to start thinking 'green' both at the office and in their homes. Energy conservation, renewable energy, recycling and many other environmental issues will be front and center in the very near future.

However, for the past one company in Calgary — Kanas Corporation — has been developing energy efficient and smart technology for Green Buildings and at the same time providing affordable housing. Their experiences to date, plus their research into new technology, ensures that we have a leader for the greening of our lifestyles right here in our own backyard.

Kanas Corporation began in 1997 with the concept of developing buildings with Insulated Concrete Form Construction (ICFC) and locally produced recycled steel joists and interior wall studs to create a superior building envelope to which smart technology could easily be incorporated. “We had a passion to develop a better building with a green emphasis but to really focus on efficiency with affordability,” says Robert Sipka, President of Kanas Corporation. “Our pilot project, now completed, was Parkhill Manor with nine rental apartments and currently under construction is our prototype Lomond apartment building with fifteen rental units. in the Manchester community. ”

Defining a green project encompasses the building construction, the energy efficiency of the structure, the use of smart technology for energy conservation plus the surrounding neighborhood in terms of close proxies to public transit and amenities to include a reduction in the resident's carbon footprint. A typical Kanas building meets R-2000 criteria and a Platinum Rating by Enervision's Built Green program that evaluates “green” construction techniques which reduce the environmental impact of buildings. These prestigious ratings are achieved by Kanas through the ICFC construction method, the use of recycled steel, the acrylic stucco exterior, hot water solar panel heating systems, triple-glazed Low-E windows, low-VOC paints, concrete counter tops, low- flow fixtures and toilets, plus smart technology applications.

“Our buildings are greater than 50% more efficient relative to traditional construction methods. Plus the triple-glazed windows ensure no cold drafts or heat loss in winter and year-round noise reduction for a noticeably improved comfort level for the residents,” says Sipka .

The new Lomond development is located at Center Street and 32nd Avenue NW with two bedroom apartments anticipated to be ready for occupancy late this year or early in 2010. Lomond is located close to public transit routes, giving residents a practical alternative to driving which results in financial savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. These homes will encompass some of the latest smart technologies recently discovered and tested by Kanas. Wherever possible Kanas chooses Canadian made products and materials to reduce shipping costs, lower transportation greenhouse gas emissions and support the Canadian economy.

Kanas has worked in conjunction with Alberta Government grants for affordable housing and the Lumino development is in partnership with the City of Calgary affordable housing program. This is an important part of the company's philosophy to provide an environmentally friendly hand-up but not a hand-out.

“Our buildings are affordable by design and efficiency but the core is a really good building envelope to start with,” says Sipka. “Although the cost savings may not be realized until several years after the tenants first move in, as the landlord we can afford to wait for these cost efficiencies to be realized.”

With Kanas Corporation as both the building developer and temporary landlord it would seem to indicate that they are fully prepared to stand behind both their construction materials and methods for a truly superior building with a focus on environmental efficiency.

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5 Inexpensive Ways to Green Your Home – 5 Expensive Ones As Well!

5 Cheap and 5 Not so Cheap Ways to Green a Client's Home for Sale:

The Not So Cheap:

5) Install new energy efficient appliances. A typical home's electricity bill is $ 100 per month. The EPA estimates that approximately 18% of a home's energy usage comes from appliances. Installing new energy efficient appliances use 25% less energy then a 10 year old appliance. In more real terms that means a home can save at least $ 5 a month from installing new energy efficient appliances. For Realtors, you will not be able to sell your clients on replacing appliances based solely on monthly energy savings, but it can certainly be part of your sales strategy ….. in addition to adding to the aesthetic value of the home.

4) If installing new hardwood floors, opt for Bamboo. Why do you ask ….. simply put Bamboo grows to its full size in about 4 years while other woods used for flooring take approximately 75 years.

3) Insulate your home again (especially good for homes built before 1960) …. although an initial cost outlay it can save you 20% on your monthly gas / electric bills. Check to see if your home has attic insulation as most do not-this is a great place to start!

2) Save water by installing tank-less hot water heaters, aerators on sinks and low flow toilets.

1) Install solar panels on the roof. Yes it is by far the most expensive option-but how would $ 5 electric bills for life sound? Additionally if federal law begins to require power companies to pay for excess electricity your clients could be receiving a monthly check from the power company. I would also advise you to look into both state and local resources for financing. For example San Diego now offers 0% loans for solar installations in addition to the generous tax breaks from both the state of California and the federal government.

The Cheap Ways:

5) Replace all regular light bulbs with incandescent bulbs. The average incandescent bulb saves about $ 30 in energy over it's lifetime.

4) Plant a tree, or two and a herb garden if the backyard allows.

3) Lower your hot water temp to 120 degrees from the standard 140.

2) Install efficient shower heads. The average efficient shower heads saves a family $ 21 a year on average in water bills.

1) Use surge protectors (attached to outlets that turn on / off as you enter rooms) to turn off all appliances when they are not being used. Approximately 15% of all power consumed in the United States is used by appliances when they are not being used. Does that big screen TV really need to be generating a larger electricity bill all day while you're at work?

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Greenest London Boroughs Go All Out

As cities go, London is one of the world's greenest. All you have to do to escape the hustle and bustle of the city is catch a tube to Hyde Park corner and you'll find yourself in a tranquil expanse of greenery where swans float by idly on a large lake. In the greenest London boroughs you will not be surprised by the presence of a fox sauntering past late at night and in Richmond Park you can enjoy watching the population of buck slow munching on their breakfast as you go on your morning jog.

Historically, the parks were used as royal hunting grounds by the likes of Henry the eighth, and they were landscaped in the 18th century. In the 21st century, the term 'green' has taken on an entirely new meaning and returns to housing projects and cities that aim to be environmentally friendly and reduce their carbon footprints. In this respect, London is also a leader with many government initiatives pushing for the more ecological use of energy and promoting a 'greener' city. Boroughs in London are competitive for the title of the greenest in London, which takes into account both green space and ecological living.

Sutton, in South West London, is already one of the leafier boroughs, benefiting from being on the edge of London and in a green belt near the county of Surrey; however, the borough council wants to improve its reputation further by also living within its share of Earth's resources. In 2008, BioRegional announced that Sutton is considered to be the UK's most ambitious green borough. Researchers found that Sutton had been using three times the natural resources to which it is entitled – taking into account space and population; although the Sutton council is now working with residents and other organizations to implement a realistic sustainable action plan that will be reviewed annually.

Haringey, in North London, also has ambitious plans to be the greenest London borough. A quarter of Haringey (which includes Camden and Islington) consists of green space, which the local government is proposing to reserve with a ten year ecological plan that was implemented in 2007. The ecological plan focuses on building on their reputation as the London borough with the most Green Flag parks. Competing with Sutton for the title of 'London's greenest borough', Haringey council has invested more than £ 20million to improve their ecology since 2005. The plan includes installing energy efficient street lighting and purchasing electric cars for council businesses, as well as providing green bins to borough residents.

Greater London has a population of well over eight million people, which makes it all the more impressive that the city council is able to maintain so much green space and organization ambitious programs for ecological improvement. All of which encourages boroughs to compete to become the greenest in London.

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Green Building – LEEDing the Way

Going Green today encompasses much more than just recycling and changing to CFL bulbs. With a global energy crisis, combined with climate change, companies are just beginning to look into a reliably new concept: Green Buildings. The online Wikipedia defines a Green Building as “the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources – energy, water, and materials – while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction , operation, maintenance, and removal. ”

Green Building is based upon the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standard developed by the US Green Building Council. In the commercial arena, LEED buildings are typically healthier work environments and have lower operational costs than conventionally designed buildings. LEED incorporates a scoring system to achieve various levels of certification which are: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These are based upon the following criteria:

o Sustainable sites
o Water Efficiency
o Energy and atmosphere
o Materials and resources
o Indoor environmental quality
o Innovation and design process

Since LEED's inception in 1996, there are now more than 14,000 projects in 30 countries. CitiBank began its LEED building program back in 2006 and has so far opened several new LEED Gold facilities in Irving, Texas, Queens, NY and in Germany. The company has committed $ 10 billion in green real estate initiatives over the next 20 years. On a smaller scale, Navy Federal Credit Union completed their new LEED Gold Call Center in Pensacola, FL which currently houses 300 employees. This is the first stage of a four building corporate campus which will eventually house over 3,000 employees. Their studies show a 25-40% reduction in energy usage and their employee turnover rate was reduced from 60% to only 17%.

Typical costs for new LEED building average only 2% above conventional building. However, other factors such as availability of sustainable materials and unfamiliarity of LEED processes may cause delays which could affect the costs. However, when averaged over a building's 40 year life span, the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

While the new construction makes the news, LEED construction is also making headway in the refurbishing and renovation of existing buildings. Due to original construction limitations, LEED renovated buildings rarely receive a rating of higher than “Certified”, although based upon how thorough and intensive the renovation, a rating of Silver is possible. However, there is a new LEED Existing Buildings program in the process of implementation. Along with the release of the new LEED 3.0 standards in the summer of 2009, this existing construction strategy will allow renovation projects achieve a true LEED rating as well.

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Green-Staging Your Home

It's a buyer's market and selling homes for their maximum sale price is hard in these days of foreclosures and short sales. You've heard that home staging is the way to go, but you do not want to rip out perfectly good fixtures in order to make your home shine. Is there a way you can improve your home's appearance without putting a huge strain on the environment? The answer is yes!

Cleaning is the number 1 home stager's weapon. Nothing can take the place of soap and water when it comes to marketing your home. Clean homes smell better – even if you or the buyer does not notice it – and look better. Invest in some orange oil cleansers for a fresh citrus scrub and scrub, scrub, scrub! Instead of replacing bathroom fixtures, clean and polish them. Have your home powerwashed if it is covered with vinyl siding.

You may want to repaint your home's exterior and interior to give it a fresh, new look. There are low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds – bad environmental juju) paints available and recycled paint made from bucket leftovers. By carefully cleaning your brushes and rollers, you can make them last longer and be usable for more paint jobs in the future. Trays can also be cleaned and reused. Reusable dropcloths can be used for years instead of temporary plastic ones.

Instead of buying new furniture, reupholster, recover or repair the old. Many chairs and tables only want a couple of turns of their screws to steady out wobbles and a new coat of that recycled paint can make them shine again. You can also buy or make inexpensive slidecovers to quickly and easily cover your couches and chairs to harmonize with your living and bed room walls. Secondhand, good quality bedspreads can completely transform the look of your bed, as can a coat of paint applied to most frames.

In the kitchen, cleaning and staining old kitchen cabinets can give them an entirely new look, which is cheaper and less wasteful than buying new ones. When it comes to the kitchen, replacing old appliances with new can be better for the environment – replace your old stove and refrigerator with ENERGY STAR certified ones, which use less energy than appliances from former years. (And do not forget to buy certified appliances for your new home!) Your old appliances can be disposed of at your local recycling or reclaim center.

Bathrooms are another place where ENERGY STAR rated appliances can be better than the old and more appealing to environmentally-minded buyers. Low-water flush toilets can save a lot on water and water-efficient shower heads are a great selling point. This is one room that can not be too clean, given its purpose. Everything should be sparkling, especially the toilet! You can not be too scrupulous in this regard.

Flooring can be updated with merely a good cleaning. Further work on hardwood floors can be affected by repairing isolated wastes, sanding and restaining. Carpets can sometimes look completely new with a thorough vacuuming and steam cleaning. Carpets can also be dyed to remove the traces of stains and provide a more uniform appearance to the room. Keep in mind, however, that some carpets can not be dyed and a carpet can only be dyed darker, not lighter.

Preparing your home for sale, while still trying to keep waste to a minimum can be easy! Just adhere to the principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle” for an environmentally responsible home staging.

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Going Green Tips For Building a New Home

Are you making plans to build a new home? This is certainly an exciting time and having the option of designing and building your own home is a dream come true. You get to choose how many bedrooms you have and where the kitchen and living room will be located. You also have the option of building green.

There are several things that you can do to make your home more energy efficient when you're building it yourself. Some of the options are simple and easy to incorporate into the design plans. Building green starts in the beginning stages of your plans with the location of the home. Spend a little time in the area where the home will be built. This will help you to see where the sun is the hottest or where it's blocked by trees. You can see what kind of breeze you get when the wind picks up and so forth.

This information will help determine where some of the windows should be placed. When the right location is chosen the sun can help provide heat and the wind can help to keep it cool by blowing through the home. As a general rule, south-facing windows will collect the most heat and help to warm your home while cutting down on your heating bill in the winter. This means that the length of the home should be facing to the south and north while the width should be facing towards the east and west. Using overhangs or awnings above the windows will help to reduce the amount of heat that enters the home in the summer and help reduce your cooling bill.

Use the energy saving building materials that are available today in the construction of your new home. These may cost a little more up-front but they will save you money in the long run and they will help to conserve natural resources. Install energy efficient windows, doors and appliances. The lighting you use in your home can also make a huge difference so buy fixtures and use light bulbs that are designed to be energy efficient as well.

Make the most from the opportunity to build your new home by going green in every area that you can. You will be helping the planet while saving money and still have a beautiful home that is comfortable and relaxing.

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