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Design Inspirations  Green Talk



The cost of the Cloud

I learned and interesting fact the other day.  10% of all the electricity consumed in the United States is consumed by data centers.* That’s a lot!  If you are like me, you have been using software that you do not purchase and install on your computer, rather you pay a monthly fee and sign onto it through the internet (the cloud), with the software company providing backups of your information at their data center.**  Recently, I have been moving all my working files onto another server ‘on the cloud’.  This way, I can access all of my information from any laptop or telephone in any part of the world, as long as I have internet access.  Besides saving on paper and printing supplies, I no longer have to update/replace my ‘server’ computer or my network software, or the separate back up drive that I have to support my now one person office.  In other words, I am gaining a lot of flexibility and computing power while saving lots of money on hardware and software.  (Dropbox offers 2MG for FREE)*** 

In one of our Green Lunches, I was intrigued by Scott Hammond’s demonstration of a LED dimmer  that did not have to be wired into the wall or use batteries.****  ‘How can that be?’  Kinetic energy.  Simply the energy created by flipping the rocker switch creates enough energy to communicate to the receiver to turn the light on.  ‘Wow,’ how can we harness that kind of energy for other things?

So, what I learned, is that even as we are reducing our energy use via conservation, recycling, and mass transit, we are increasing our energy use through the use of cloud technology.  I also learned that there some ‘old fashioned’ renewable sources of energy that we can explore.  We have delved into wind power, hydro power and solar power, but this is the first I have heard of kinetic energy.  Am I behind the times or are we missing a simple free source of energy?  Now about harnessing gravity......

 Keeping Green,



My latest obsession with water

I just realized something other people may have already known - that I have an obsession with water.  Years ago I pursued a business where I would visit home owners, do an energy assessment of their home focusing primarily on water usage and show how much water they were using and purchasing.  Then I would show them HET (High efficiency toilets) and faucets that use less gpm (gallons per minute) and give a comparison on how much water (and money) they could save by changing out their fixtures as well as educating them on water saving habits.  I really wanted to change our community, one toilet at a time. 

Then I became obsessed with the use of colored light and music in a showering experience.  (Kohler DTV programs colored lights and showering experiences).  I designed a very unique shower complete with a stone garden wall overlooking a waterproof mural of the Spanish countryside on the walls, stone floor mimicking a terrace, preset with colored lights, body sprays, and music (Battlestar Gallactica) to make the ULTIMATE showering experience. 

In 2010 I started my Rain Water Waterfall / rain water harvesting to be used as toilet water project.  I purchased a couple underground water storage tanks and designed (with help) a system to collect rainwater by punching holes in my gutter creating a waterfall in front of my music room windows.  The rainwater would collect in a ‘pool’ that filtered the water and directed it into storage tanks which were to be piped to my home and pumped up to the plumbing wall of my home.  And I would have clean toilet water that had been recycled from my roof.

My concern with the lack of potable water in most of the world directed me into learning about sustainability and becoming a LEED AP.  My family history of manufacturing medical machines that use electricity on our body engrained in me the basic understanding that our body is made of water…. I have been talking and writing about water for a very long time.

So it should not have been a surprise that my newest venture is to design and build and operate a hydro Spa featuring a sauna room, a steam room, a warm ‘floating’ pool with a 12’ waterfall, complete with soft music & lights, in the building that also houses a Wellness Center and a hot Yoga school.  I am REALLY excited about this venture and look forward to the day that I invite all of you to my grand opening!

Keeping Green,   Christine


The Urban Spa

The private Urban Spa is the most recent of trends in our community.  Whether it is a reaction to the stress that we experience exponentially, or our desire to pamper ourselves, we are seeking relaxation opportunities for our lives.  Many of us are creating private 'spas' in our homes to fulfill those needs.  Remodeling a bathroom into your private urban spa is not necessarily more expensive than a normal bathroom remodel.  You just need a few key items to ensure your relaxation.   Here are some basics:

To create a peaceful, relaxing area you should a) select natural materials for the flooring, walls and counters b)  allow the textures from the natural materials create pattern and interest c)  select colors that are soothing (no fire engine reds) d) select fixtures that have simple lines (no ornateness)

Options for your home spa:  a)  heated towel warmer (this can double as the towel rack) b) steam shower (steam shower fixtures are available through Kohler) c) heated flooring d) music (sound system) e) tubs with heat, jets or bubbles f)  large open showers with body sprays, rain shower heads and hand showers g) bench to lay down on both in the steam shower and outside the shower  h) sauna  i) foot massager  j) foot baths (yes they exist! see MTI's foot bath) k) specialty shower enclosures l) aroma therapy & light therapy (available through most tub & shower manufacturers - see Kohler DTV electronic interface

As with any remodel, the key to success is planning. Call me and we can create your eternal relaxation spa!  Chiao!


Is Sustinable Green Energy the key to our nation's defense?

“The next time we want to go to war, maybe we wouldn’t even need to bomb a country.  We could just, you know, turn off its power.’  Liam O’Murchu, Symantec Security Response

War, civil disobedience, and politics have all been significantly affected by technology.  It seems that the more dependent we are on technology, and/or our grid of energy, the more vulnerable we are.  It also follows that as we get ‘more efficient’ we tend to centralize the power source, build large power plants, etc.  If ‘one’ could stop all communications by taking out cell towers, if ‘one’ could starve a country by stopping transportation, if one could win a war by cutting off all energy….

Our latest snow/ice storm reminded us how dependent we are on electricity for light, heating, and cooking.  Electricity is a big part of our daily existence.  When the grid goes down, we all go down.  (Gas stations closed due to the power outage)

‘Alternative’ energy sources in individual homes or buildings such as solar, rain water harvesting , geo thermal, etc are one way to de-centralize our energy use.  When the grid goes down, we are still functioning, we still have water, electricity, heat and cooling.  After reading the quotation by O’Murchu, I began to wonder if our government had thought about our centralized energy vulnerability.  Probably.  Then I wondered if that vulnerability had been behind our country’s recent Green Energy push.  Probably.   And here I thought that program was to help ‘save the world.’  Oh well!

Keeping Green!



Economic downturn & Sustainable products

In this very tough business climate there are still innovations being made, produced and marketed for ‘green’/’sustainable’ products.  Remember, just because a product is healthy does not mean that it is made of sustainable materials, and conversely, some products made of sustainable materials still off gas toxic voc’s. 

GLASS 2, is making a VERY COOL glass product made of 99% recycled glass.  What makes it different from other glass products is that the ‘layering’ of the glass is visible from the edge, creating a wonderful natural pattern.  Overall the product looks like pieces of glass floating in water with the layers visible from the side.  It is stunning when back lit, leading to natural applications of floating counters, front desk materials, etc.  It comes in slabs of 2cm and 3cm in 11 colors and is fabricated by the same fabricators that you use for stone counters.  Glass2 is currently available through Pental


Bio Green Clean was introduced to me by my husband and I have to say that this is the ultimate in a cleaning product.  It works on everything from counters, floors, stone, leather, metal, teeth, blood, automobiles, mirrors, appliances, coffee machines, etc.  AND it really works!.  AND, by the way, it is 100% plant derived and is so healthy you can eat it.  (It is not really recommended that you eat it, but the MSDS sheet states that you may experience some diarrhea due to the ‘emulsification of grease and oil in the digestive tract’) You can obtain the product directly through

It is truly inspiring to see people establishing new businesses and producing products in a poor economic market that are both sustainable and safe! A colleague recently said to me, ‘some people are still wringing their hands and crying about this economy, and others are out there making lemonade from the lemons they have been given.’  What kind of person are you?  I challenge you and myself to rise to the occasion and make 2012 the best come back year ever!

Keeping Green and Positive,