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Design Inspirations  Green Talk
            
 

 

Tuesday
Nov132012

Japanese Spa Towns 

Japanese Spa Towns - Out with Nuclear - In with Geothermal

Traditional Japanese Hot Spring resorts have been a vocal opponent of geothermal energy due to the perceived affect on the level and quality of the water.  But the nuclear disaster of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant caused the entire nation to re-evaluate their energy policies.  Heavily dependent on nuclear power, Japan had only around 4% of their energy in renewable sources in 2010.  Their revised policy puts renewable energy up to 30% of future energy sources.

Tsuchiyu Onsen (onsen means hot spring) is a resort town that will be the pioneer in alternative energy.  Located 9 miles southwest of Fukushima city, Tsuchiyu plans to be generating 250 kilowatts of electricity at a new geothermal plant by 2014.  Geothermal energy has been hindered in Japan because of restrictions on the use of public land where 80% of the potential sites are located.  Because of the Fukushima accident, the government has relaxed the ban in five areas of the country.

Theoretically, Japan can move from the current 537,000 kilowatts from geothermal energy to being the third largest producer of geothermal energy in the world at 24 million kilowatts.  (Behind United States and Indonesia) Being somewhat current in alternative energy sources, I was happily surprised that the United States is leading the world in geothermal energy production!

Keeping Green (and wet in Seattle),

Christine

Tuesday
May152012

KBIS goes Green

Straight from Chicago’s KBIS---- This year’s Kitchen and Bath Show featured more Green product than I remember in recent history! MANY manufacturers have realized that not all consumers are made of money and that there is a big market for ‘affordable’ remodeling options.

Kohler came out with a new product called the ‘Hydro Rail shower column’  which looks like a hand shower bar, but is actually a ‘plumbing bar’  that allows you to select any shower head and add it to the top of the bar and any hand shower and add it to the bar, without having to re plumb your shower wall.  In other words, you do not have to remove the old valves and add new valves just because you want to change your shower head and/or want to add a hand shower.

Another super cool solution to the hand shower re plumbing issue is solved by Delta .In2ition features a detachable handshower, which can run separately from or simultaneously with the showerhead.  It comes with its’ own diverter allowing you to select the shower head and hand shower, showerhead only or handshower only. The handshower ‘docks’ inside the shower head and is held in place with magnetic force.  There is a pause function to save water while you are lathering as well as the super impressive stretchable hose!

Finally, another great remodeling product is the new flexible drain pipe from Kohler.  PureFlo features a flexible overflow ell as well as a drain ell for easy installation to fit various bath angles.  In laymens terms, it reduces plumbing costs by not having to move the tub drain.   It offers standard 1 ½” OD flexible tubing and you can choose from a number of tub drains and overflow trims to finish off your remodel!

 Keeping Green,

Christine

Thursday
Apr122012

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,

Christine

Thursday
Mar152012

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

Tuesday
Feb282012

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!