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Design Inspirations  Green Talk
            
 

 

Entries in Green Talk (7)

Wednesday
Dec122012

To LEED or not to LEED - 2.0

FOR those of you that were around when USGBC had the original LEED* test, you will remember the day that they decided that we had to re-take the test all over (two of them) and sign up for 30 hours of continuing education from the new ‘educational arm’ of USGBC. Oh, and by the way, we were given six months to get on board or get left behind.  We were labeled ‘heritage’ professionals by the internal workings of USGBC, but because of laws that govern accreditations we were still allowed to use our earned LEED AP appellations.

Many LEED AP’s ** chose not to retake all the tests (you would first have to take a test to be called a ‘green associate’, then IF you were part of an existing LEED project you were allowed to take a Specialty test.) Some, like me, were disillusioned by the very apparent economical purpose of this change in the program and chose not to retake the tests.

So, it was with humor that I received an email last week from the Green Building Certification Institute offering ‘FREE’ six hour training webinar that will earn me (apparently no tests involved) a LEED AP Specialty accreditation.  Though later in the document it states ‘complete all six hour-long webinars in the series by Oct 27, 2013…’ and I was unable to determine on the website which 6 hour webinars applied.  Their classes range from $80 to $550 so determining which classes is important. Oh, and by the way you still will need to take 30 hours of continued education every 2 years. It is apparent that USGBC figured out that most of the 155,270 LEED APs were not going to comply with the new system unless they were offered the ‘upgrade’ for free.J

*LEED : Leadership  in Energy and Environmental design, a green building certification system established in 2000 by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)

**LEED AP: LEED Accredited Professional, a person who has demonstrated knowledge on the LEED green building certification program by passing a test.

Keeping Green

Christine

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

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

Wednesday
Jan112012

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 www.biogreenclean.com

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,

Christine

Tuesday
May102011

Green Talk - Grid or No Grid

No matter what we say (in the US), we really appreciate our GRID.  GRID provides us with instant electricity, clean water for our homes and natural gas for heating.  It also provides us with telephone lines and cable tv.  GRID is like a parent that we have a love/hate relationship with.  When we dream about going 'off the grid' we are usually just wanting to conserve our use of energy and reduce our dependency on GRID.    GRID understands our desire for privacy from the 'invasive' reaches into our homes.  GRID likes to live in the big cities.  You don't have to go too far away to experience homes with wells, septic tanks, and generators and no GRID. Actually, if governments make no change to existing policies, 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the world's population, will still lack access to electricity in 2030.  (Did you ever experience Ray Anderson's Global Village presentation? If so, you remember the shock of how few people have clean drinking water in the world.)

GRID understands our struggle for independence.  GRID helps us break away by providing energy to factories that make solar panels, hydro pumps and cell phones.  Ironically, it is the power of new technology (powered by GRID) that allows developing nations leapfrog GRID.  In countries like Niger, where expensive infrastructures like telephone lines are lacking, cell phones are changing and improving lives.  In the past, farmers would travel from market to market to learn prices, wasting time.  Now, they call around on cell phones and obtain prevailing prices for their harvest.  In the case of emergencies, people can call for help from neighboring villages.  There is even a new form of commerce, called mobile money that allows rural people without access to banks to transfer money across long distances by phone.  The local cell phone provider began allowing people to transfer phone time that they had purchased to other customers.  This has become a de facto form of currency; people transfer phone time to pay their debts. 

So, GRID, I thank you for making our lives easier and safer, but I've been thinking that I would try to break a couple ties and try promoting housing with net zero energy use.  It's been nice, and believe me, it is me, not you.

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