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Design Inspirations  Green Talk


Entries in potable water (5)


Environmental Guardianship Failure 

Our earth has provided safe food and water for us for millions of years.  Unfortunately, we have contaminated our earth in some areas to the point that the food and water is harmful to our health.  The water in nine counties in West Virginia is undrinkable, closing restaurants, hotels, schools and other businesses.

The January 9th chemical spill contaminated the Elk River with crude MCHM, a chemical mixture used in the coal production process. MCHM is toxic if ingested.   A ‘Do Not Use the water’ order left 300,000 West Virginians without potable water.  The water coming out of their taps was poisonous brown and liquorice-scented.

After 10 days, the water was declared safe to drink.  However West Virginians remain skeptical.  "If one smells the odor, people know the chemical is in the water," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.  Governor Tomblin has told residents that the decision of whether or not to use the water is a personal, individual matter.  After he made that announcement, news broke that crude MCHM can break down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Sadly, on February 7th, weeks after the water was declared safe, two of the chemicals were detected in the water supply of George Washington High School. The tell-tale licorice odor was back, and students and staff reported symptoms that included burning eyes, light-headedness and headaches. 

Why are we allowing this to happen to our world?  When will it stop?   Can we end this contamination? Or will it end us? 

Always green, Christine


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


Global Village

Global Village was the name of a presentation that Ray Andersen presented to thousands of people in both large and small groups.  It visually demonstrated realities of our world community, the amount of people who do not have potable water, the amount of people who have cell phones, who own cars, who die from starvation.  It was after experiencing this presentation, myself and hundreds of others were inspired to ‘do something’ to ‘make a change’ to help humanity.  We felt as ‘one’ with the others in the world.  If nothing else, it made us realize that we are the lucky ones, not because we are special or smart or hard working.  We were just born in the right place and time.  Our brothers and sisters across the world are no better or worse than us.  They were just born into less than preferable environments/communities. 

The 10th anniversary of 911 revived a sense of unity, a remembrance that there is more to life than the price of gas or political fighting.  We remembered to appreciate life.  To appreciate PEOPLE - people who help other people.  On September 11, 2001 the world community mourned with us and we felt as ‘one.’

August 8, 2011 Ray Andersen, founder of Interface Inc., passed away.  He was one of our beacons to follow, to aspire to.  At the age of sixty, he went back to Interface to steer it   “on a new course – one designed to reduce our environmental footprint while increasing our profits”…(he) “wanted Interface, a company so oil-intensive you could think of it as an extension of the petrochemical industry, to be the first enterprise in history to become truly sustainable.”

Ray made a difference in the world.  He made a difference in our environment.  He reminded us that we are all on this earth together.  He reminded us to appreciate life, to appreciate people, and to respect our environment.  May we continue this quest.


Water Conservation in the Wet Northwest

As my relatives in Minot North Dakota are being flooded out of their homes, I feel sadly blessed that we have been spared the wrath of natural disasters that have hit the world this year.   Who was it that said, 'take care of nature or nature will take care of you?' Actually, I think it was me.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a fanatic about water conservation.  I hit several brick walls in my efforts to implement conservation programs over a large population base, mainly because the cost of water to us is so low.  We do not have an economic incentive to conserve water.  We conserve water only when/because we want to do the 'right thing.'

Recently I received a couple publications from Seattle Public Utilities that gave me a glimmer of hope.  The first was the Drinking Water Quality Report which reported that our drinking water was very clean, that it costs us LESS than a Penny a Gallon to have water delivered to our taps, and that we have one of the best drinking water systems in the nation.  Quite impressive.  In the very last paragraph, however,  SPU noted that elevated levels of lead and copper are often found in our drinking water due to corroded plumbing systems.  ALERT!  SPU is working hard to get clean water to you, but if you actually want to drink or cook with clean water you need to confirm that you do not have corroded plumbing.  In a city that is mainly compromised of older homes, I would guess that there lots of households that have not replaced the plumbing in their homes.  Health Tip of the Day: When you remodel a kitchen or bath, due yourself a healthy favor and replace as much of the old plumbing that you can afford to.

The second flyer had a section on a new program that was MY IDEA (thank god someone is implementing it!)  Qualified customers in Seattle can get a FREE water-efficient toilet and have it installed by a licensed plumber for FREE if they meet income guidelines.  (My program did not offer the toilet nor the installation for free, so this is actually a better program) Household income for 2 people can be up to $3,273 a month to qualify. PLUS, the picture that is in the flyer is the stylish Kohler Persuade toilet.  I am hoping this is the toilet being given away, but even if not, it indicates that it is probably a Kohler toilet and that is a good thing.  American made, family owned company in Kohler, Wisconsin, Kohler has made an effort to meet and beat the WaterSense guidelines for water conservation and have a large array of HET's available.  HET is tech talk for High Efficiency Toilets.  Who said I wasn't a techy?  Ciao!


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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