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Eco-Friendly Green Planet Paints: Natural + Zero VOC

Green_planet_paints Guest post contributed by Nancy Haecker, Co-Founder of Green Planet Paints, an Arizona-based company innovating natural, zero VOC paints for compelling interior applications

Beauty.  Simplicity.  Green Planet Paints (GPP) has developed an interior house paint that sets a new standard for environmentally responsible paint.  Using natural, renewable plant and minerals sources, GPP has created a soy based resin to replace the use of petrochemicals in paint, creating an innovative, zero VOC paint. They have also replaced the harmful dye coloring system with clay color pigments.  The results are a paint built and manufactured by sustainable principles that surpass conventional paints in performance and color.  Green Planet Paints are recommended for interior wall surfaces and come in exotic and earthy colors.  Green Planet Paints can be purchased at select retail stores or on the website.  Nancy Haecker can be reached at nancyhaecker [a] earthlink dot net.

The Sustainable, High-Performance illumaWALL by Duo-Gard

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The "illumaWALL," which is a translucent illuminated wall system designed to project a programmable million+ colors, has been singled out by both Architectural Record and Buildings magazines in their 2006 lists of top products.  If I must say so, that’s quite the achievement.  The illumaWALL incorporates translucent polycarbonate glazings with programmable LED lighting for custom design/build applications.  Depending on the type of energy a project is looking for, the illumaWALL could be used both in the interior and exterior, and in commercial, retail, hotel, education, entertainment, industrial, healthcare, or residential uses. 

From what I understand, the wall will also contribute LEED points towards a building owner’s certification.  The translucent polycarbonate glazings minimize heat gain and glare (which leads to lower heating and cooling costs) and the LED lighting incorporates low-voltage, low-heat design.  Not bad.  I could see how the illumaWALL would be good for a restaurant, spa, or retail store, depending on the overall design and brand concept.  Via PRNewswire + Duo-Gard + Info PDF

Illumawall

BusinessWeek's Residential Green Tech: Wind Turbines, Geothermal, Solar Panels

There’s a slide show on BusinessWeek, which is part of a story written by Aili McConnon.  The story is called, "For Houses, It’s Glamorous to be Green."  For attribution, the link to the slide show is here, but I’ve taken the slide show images and text and created a photo loop through the filmloop software (shown above).  It’s pretty handy software, if I say so myself.  You can do a lot of editing in it and there are several different ways to display a show. 

In the slide show, there’s information on the StealthGen micro wind turbine, geothermal heating and cooling technology, Sharp’s solar panel easy-installation technology, and AeroVironment‘s Architectural Wind turbines (mentioned here before).  Easy learning, have a good weekend…

Modern Rammed Earth: Red Hill Residence (Australia)

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I’m a big-time proponent of green buildings, but if I hear straw bale, adobe, tee pee, or the like, I tend to lose interest.  And the same goes for rammed earth.  That is, until I saw the Red Hill Residence, which happens to be a modern rammed earth home, designed by Christopherchris Architecture.  Not sure what rammed earth is?  Wikipedia + Earth Architecture.  Here’s the home’s description straight from an article translation:

A contemporary new home for a young family relocating from a busy city environment to the Mornington Peninsula. Constructed primarily from locally sourced rammed earth and ship lapped cedar paneling, the house is sited across the ridge of the property.  The elemental form of the building is enhanced by the contrasting and intersecting selection of material, textures and colours, threaded together by the linear rammed earth wall. Key views to the valley are enjoyed from all living areas and bedrooms, whilst the master bedroom is privileged to a unique vista down to the peninsula and onwards to bass straight.

This Australian home is a beauty!  Tell me this:  would you buy it?  I think I would, but I’d like to hear more about the pros and cons of rammed earth building.  So far, we know that rammed earth can be molded and contoured to create modern, expressive buildings.  Feel free to drop a comment so everyone reading will gain from your insight and experience.  Via Moco.

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Top 20 No- or Low-Cost Green Building Strategies

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One aspect of green building that gets overlooked is financial independence.  For instance, a commercial business may make an investment in solar power (provided incentives and rebates make it economically feasible) to stabilize electricity bills and hedge against future electricity cost increases.  Another example is the principle of waste reduction in green building.  Did you know that building green often costs the same or just a little bit more than standard code-built homes?  And did you know that even then, green homes will require less money going forward than standard code-built homes?  To that end, here are some affordable green building strategies (click this link to read more about each strategy):  Global Green’s 20 Affordable Green Building Strategies:

  1. Orient the Building to Maximize Natural Daylighting
  2. Place Windows to Provide Good Natural Ventilation
  3. Select a Light-colored Cool Roof
  4. Provide overhangs on South-facing Windows (be careful of your hemisphere!)
  5. Install Whole-House Fans or Ceiling Fans
  6. Eliminate Air Conditioning
  7. Provide Combined-Hydronic Heating
  8. Install Fluorescent Lights with Electronic Ballasts
  9. Install High R-value Insulation
  10. Select Energy Star Appliances
  11. Design Water-efficient Landscapes
  12. Install Water-efficient Toilets + Fixtures
  13. Use Permeable Paving Materials
  14. Use 30-50% Flyash in Concrete
  15. Use Engineered Wood for Headers, Joists, and Sheathing
  16. Use Recycled-content Insulation, Drywall, and Carpet
  17. Use Low- or No-VOC Paint
  18. Use Formaldehyde-free or Fully Sealed Materials for Cabinets + Counters
  19. Vent Rangehood to the Outside
  20. Install Carbon Monoxide Detector

[Key: Energy, Water, Materials, Indoor Air Quality]  Now, some of these may only work for new construction or for renovation, etc., but this is a good starting point for going green, in an affordable way.  Keep in mind the geographic constraints–this isn’t an exhaustive list for every location in the world.  Different locations present unique circumstances and opportunities can vary greatly.  Via Global Green.

Shizen Urban Design Condominium: A Net Zero Energy Project

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Every now and then, I find an innovative real estate development group that just knocks my socks off.  After living in Japan for 2 years, I love to hear anything about the place, so you can imagine how cool I think Sakura Urban Concepts is.  Sakura is Japanese for the "cherry blossom tree," which buds in early April and you can see blossoming trees all over Japan for about two weeks.  It’s incredible to see.  This forward-thinking group is behind a new urban design building in Portland called Shizen, which happens to be Japanese for "nature."  Not only is Shizen going to be a net zero energy building, but it’s going to have sophisticated design, sense of community, and sustainable lifestyle written all over it.  Be sure to check out Shizen’s website!

Green Features:
Shizen_kanji This project is funded, in part, by a grant from Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (via funds from a Green Investment Fund partnership).  First, the site was home to a famous Portland Bakery, the Helen Bernhard Bakery, so Sakura purchased the property and had the house moved down the street.  The house was renovated and looks pretty good.  By moving the house, 200 tons of material was diverted from the landfill.  The condo will have a 23 kW photovoltaic array that generates roughly 1/3 of Shizen’s annual electricity; a biodiesel fueled microturbine will generate the other 2/3 (and enough to heat domestic hot water and space heating); there will be radiant floors in entries and bathrooms; rain that falls on the roof will flow to a 25,000 gallon cistern under the parking level, and that water will be used for toilet and irrigation water; 60% of Shizen’s energy savings will be through its high mass, well insulated envelope and high efficiency lights and appliances; double-glazed, argon-filled, triple coated low-e windows will allow light and block solar gain in the summer; and the roof will be a r-38 insulation. 

Site Specifics:
Shizen will be located on 1706 NE Schuyler (one block north of Broadway/NE 17th).  There will be 7 units, and construction starts in March 2007.  The total building will have about 15,500 square feet (so average of 2,200 square feet per residence?) and the land site is 7,500 square feet.  Not bad at all…Once you go green, you don’t go back.

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