Being Green – Questions?

Hi Folks:  Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.  I was originally going to call this post ‘Being Green – Tradeoffs’, but decided to change it.  Let me explain.

A couple of decades ago I was hired to do environmental work for a gas pipeline construction contract taking place across several Canadian provinces.  The pipeline company was ‘looping’ – adding extra lengths of pipe that would eventually be joined to make another line.  Basically this involved widening the existing right of way and digging a trench some 15′ deep and wide enough for a 4′ diameter pipe.  As the environmental inspector on the job my function varied depending on where I was working.  On the prairies the largest consideration was topsoil preservation, whereas in northern Ontario it was timber removal and water crossings.  There was a manual that outlined the job in some detail, and there were of course existing provincial and federal laws; part of my work was acting as liaison with local agencies with regard to environmental concerns.  The bottom line was that the pipe was going in the ground, and my challenge was to work with the gas company and the contractor to do it in a way that caused the least environmental impact without overly inflating the construction costs.  In practical terms, every day was about trade-offs.  I’m sure just about everyone reading this has experienced this in their own way.

Earlier this week I listened to a webinar with  “Interior Designer and Green Building Insider” Patricia Gaylor, called “Living Eco-logically: Sustainability with Style”.  In her talk Ms. Gaylor mentioned doing a kitchen remodel where the clients insisted on having granite countertops.  As granite is a mined resource and not renewable, it’s not exactly a ‘green’ option.  Ms. Gaylor’s suggestion to her clients was that to offset using granite for the countertops they might agree to using “Energy Star“-rated appliances… a trade-off. Continue Reading →

He Says, She Says…

Greetings, dear reader!

We watched ‘Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone‘ again on TV last night, and although we’ve seen it (several times) before, what always intrigues us is Harry’s transformation from the world of the mundane to the world of the magical, and even more that these two worlds co-exist.  Both Marcia and Mike have had many ‘magical’ experiences in their lives, and so this week we thought we’d talk about living a ‘magical life’.

Follow these links to read what He Says/She Says: Marcia’s View / Mike’s View.

Being Green – Update

Hi Folks:

Well, my plan for this week’s post was to talk about ‘green roofs’, but this week decided to unfold as it wanted… “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew…” Of course, Burns’ poem was about disturbing a mouse house, so it  sort of fits into a post about ‘green building’.

Having said all that, here are the links for green building I came across this week, and we’ll get to green roofs next week.  I’ll start with a green roof story, though. Continue Reading →

Being Green… Update

Hi Folks!  Friday has come around once again., so that makes it ‘Green Day’ here on our blog.  I took in two webinars this week, both kindly provided by the Building Technologies Program at the US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division.

The first was the second part of a series on the ongoing efforts in Greensburg, KS.  In the spring of 2007 the town of Greensburg was nearly obliterated by a class 5 tornado, and when they decided to rebuild the town, the decision was made to rebuild it as a model of green building and green technologies.  Many different people, departments, governments and private industries have been and continue to be involved in this process.  I think it’s inspirational, and a good model to use for future rebuilding efforts when and if they should arrive.  The presentation slides from the second webinar as well as the slides from the first in the series and a video recording of the first presentation are available at the DOE, EERE website.  The next webinar in this series is expected in January, but I don’t have a firm date for that yet.

The second webinar I had a chance to see was titled ‘Activities and Programs Relating to Energy Efficiency Retrofits in Residential Buildings’.  While it may be true that the average homeowner is more aware of ‘green’ products today (i.e. solar panels, solar hot water, wind turbines, ground source heat pumps, etc.) it has been said over and over again that for most buildings in existence today the first steps should be to make those buildings more efficient.  This can be achieved in many ways – better windows, increased insulation, better weathersealing, etc.  This webinar addressed these issues and also the challenges faced by homeowners who have expressed an interest in pursuing these options, in three areas.  From the slides of this presentation:

  1. Access to Information: Consumers do not have access to straightforward and reliable information.
  2. Access to Financing: Homeowners face high upfront costs and are often unable to recoup the value of their investment.
  3. Access to Skilled Workforce: There is an insufficient amount of skilled workers to expand energy retrofit programs on a national level.

The slides from this webinar are also available at the EERE website; more information will be provided when it is available.

From the e-mails I received this week:

  1. The December 2009  issue of Environmental Building News is available here.
  2. The folks at ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) have made available a series of six ‘Advanced Energy Design Guides’.  There’s one for Small Healthcare Facilities, one for Highway Lodging, one for Small Warehouses and Self-Storage Buildings, one for Small Office Buildings, one for Small Retail Buildings and one for K-12 School Buildings.  The guides are in .pdf format and can be downloaded for free, but registration is required.  The guides can be found here.
  3. The latest e-newsletter from Green Building Advisor is available here.
  4. The latest Targeted e-News from Environmental Design + Construction (re: Energy Star) is available here.
  5. And finally (for now), the latest Eco-mmunity Greenzine bulletin from Sundance Channel is available here.
  6. The latest Healthy Building Network News is available here.

That’s about it for now, but before I sign out I want to add one more link to promote some folks I know at the Okanagan Science and Technology Council (OSTEC), specifically the ‘Clean Tech‘ group.

Have a great week, and if you have any links to share, leave a comment here!

Mike.

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