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Design Inspirations







Entries in Green Talk (8)


My Green Toilet Water 2.0

OK, we’ve been here before, February of 2010 to be exact.  That is when I announced my big plan for harvesting the rainwater from my roof, putting it through a filtering system and using it for flushing my toilets.  All disguised as a waterfall.  A good idea, I thought.  Well, back in 2010 I ran out of money to finish the project and the tanks have been sitting my back yard since.

Much has changed in the last four years and Seattle is on board with rainwater harvesting.  (If you remember, rain barrels used to be the only option.)  In 2013 the city of Seattle created a program called RainWise where large rain barrels (called cisterns) are encouraged to be used for watering your gardens, and/or directing rainwater to the sewer or conveyance channel.  There are REBATES available for homeowners who participate in this program and live within a specific area.  There are some requirements:  a minimum of 400 sf of roof area must be directed to one cistern, you must used a licensed bonded contractor from the list of authorized contractors, etc.  These are easy requirements to fill and I encourage everyone that qualifies for the rebate to participate.   In fact, even if you do not qualify for the rebate you should participate.

My project was always a bit more comprehensive, the big tanks have to be placed under ground and I will have meters to monitor the water useage, etc.  It helps to remind everyone why I am doing this in the first place – because it makes me crazy that we use treated, drinkable water to flush our toilets.  Many of my home projects wind up being more than the initial design….the gutter waterfall has turned into a rockery waterfall/small pond, and I’m thinking about building an ADU (attached dwelling unit) that incorporates the harvesting system.  Hopefully, with the help of the city of Seattle I may be able to start this project up again!

Going Green, Christine       


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



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),



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,



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,