Articles - May, 2008

A Perspective of Green Building [Quotable]

Bruce Irving

"Truth is, I’ve been a skeptic about many aspects of the green building movement.  My eyebrow arches when, for example, someone uses bamboo flooring (which is held together with lots and lots of glue, often containing formaldehyde, and is shipped to the US on bunker-oil-burning ships) to floor a new ‘green’ 11,000 sf house.  Tough too to get on board when magazines feature low-VOC paints on one page and walk-in showers with multiple heads and bodywashers on another.  Greenwashing, marketing whatever’s hot, and just trying to make ourselves feel better as we change almost nothing about our consumption habits — the suspicion of these plus the thought that a year’s worth of green living is negated by 2 minutes operation of a coal-powered electricity plant … you get the picture … but after my time in the desert of cynicism, I’ve been reminded that every little bit helps, and just because larger forces are at work doesn’t mean we do nothing as individuals—as long as we keep lobbying against the big stuff, like coal-powered electricity plants."

     — Bruce Irving, Renovation Consultant, former producer of This Old House

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Selsam Small Turbines – Just Right for Residential?

Selsam

The bloggers at Engadget picked up on the Selsam small wind turbines, which look a lot like one of those amateur ham radio antennas we used to see on houses.  This small-scale wind solution is basically a single elongated shaft made of strong carbon fiber.  The carbon shaft holds rotors that range in size from 14-18 inches in diameter.  Apparently, the more rotors you have on a rod, the better output you get.  Invented by Doug Selsam, this 13-rotor small wind turbine can produce roughly 200 watts in 20 mph winds (or more in higher wind speeds).  It’s currently being tested and developed in California, so who knows, we may just start seeing stuff like this on top of houses and buildings?

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Green Container Condos in Early Planning for Detroit

Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks

A Detroit-based group has a container project in mind for a blighted chunk of land near Wayne State University.  News of the project hit the press this morning and local citizens didn’t quite know what to expect (see comments).  The project is currently being called "Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks" and would feature containers stacked four high with windows and doors cut out into various places.  In total, the 17-unit condo project would have units ranging in size from 960 – 1,920 and price from $100k – $190k.  Pretty good price for a modern, green pad.

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Combating Climate Change by Tackling Sprawl

Sprawl There’s a lot of talk here on Jetson Green about the (adverse) impact that architecture and materials choice can have on the environment.  So it’s nice to know that housing can actually be an essential factor in combating climate change according to a new study from Smart Growth America.

While attending the recent EcoCity World Summit in San Francisco, I heard panelist Reid Ewing, research professor at the National Center for Smart Growth, discuss urban development and its (negative and positive) effect on climate change.  The study, published by the Urban Land Institute, documents how key changes in land development patterns could help reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. 

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Wind Could Power 20% of US Grid by 2030

Palm Springs Wind Farm

Here’s some interesting news: a new Department of Energy report claims wind turbines could generate 300 gigawatts of electricity — roughly 20% of the US electrical grid — by 2030.  There’s already a website in support of the news at 20%Wind.org.  The report doesn’t necessarily predict the future of the wind industry, but it paints a picture of what a particular 20% wind scenario could mean for the nation.  The wind industry currently produces about 17 gigawatts of electricity, so we’re talking about significant growth over the next twenty-something years.  That said, wind industry growth has been fierce in recent years and is on track to meet these numbers if growth holds pace.

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Any Thoughts on Quick Crete's Greener Concrete Mix?

Ecocasttiles After extensive R&D, Quick Crete was able to come up with a house blend of greener concrete called Ecocast.  Ecocast is made of 70% post-consumer and industrial waste.  The blend may help contribute towards LEED credits for your project and contains recycled aggregates and other materials such as pozzolans.  The new formula produces an average compressive strength of 5000 P.S.I. in 28 days and comes in four colors: strata, geo, erosion, and stone.  Ecocast can be used in standard and custom designs, so check it out to see if it’s better than what you’re currently using.  Anyone have any experience using Ecocast?

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