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Suburban Retrofit: Consumption vs. Production

 

We all accept that any home built before 1980 probably consumes energy rather than produces. And we know that most buildings today aren’t much better. Some dabble in industry-tested, user-approved microcosms of water conservation and energy production, and even fewer have thrown away the sound bites of “first cost” and “investment return” and have dove head first into responsible yet expensive net zero homes. Interestingly, The Center for Green Buildings and Cities at Harvard is exploring a strategy that may end up making a huge difference in the average home owner’s ability to achieve energy and water independence. They are currently experimenting with retrofitting a pre-1940’s home to attain net zero. The measures for success will be varied and at this point will still act as a testing grounds for possibilities.

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100% Renewable Energy With The Click Of A Button

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What if everyone could make 1 simple change in their personal habits that would, as a whole, benefit a larger population? First, we instinctively ask ourselves the question (no matter how large our green flag may be): what do I have to give up to make this happen? And if ultimately we can manage the risk, we may accept the proposition. This is the challenge for today’s green energy suppliers. In order to make it convenient for a large group of people, they need to make it competitive with larger corporations. What if you were told it would only end up costing you between $3-5 a month extra to have your electricity provided by 100% renewable energy? Cory, a representative of Green Mountain Energy, offered this option to us this weekend.

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Mobile Device Solar Charging Station

It’s seems that at the moment we are coming closer to achieving 100% 24/7. It’s nothing new and it’s not shocking. However it is certainly convenient. One can argue whether convenience has ever truly been as present as it is today (every generation has always been the most advanced in history). But right now certainly seems pretty slick. And yet there will always be a small part in most of us that wouldn’t mind a quiet, unplugged moment. However, even those who enjoy a fairly analogue lifestyle have been gutted of battery life one or twice. And there is something that just feels wrong about plugging up to a wall socket in an Applebee’s to get a few minutes of precious connection.

Steph and I were taking a stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park last weekend and stumbled upon one of these.

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nstagram: maegenmichael

An AT&T mobile device solar charging station that boasts the equivalent charging rate of a wall outlet. There where 6 types of adapters that fit most devices. Though I did not need a charge, I couldn’t help but get a little giddy about the thought of soaking up my first ever solar phone juice. The iPhone 5 adapter looked like it had taken a beating in all it’s public glory, alas, it did not work. I have no doubt that in the coming months and years, these devices will be everywhere. So whether you like it or not, get ready for waves of friendly, yet probably very expensive energy to be available right when you need it.

Do You H2O? Affordable Water Collection Strategies

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Do you harvest your own rain water? If not, you might want to consider building this into the life-cycle assessment of your home. Consider the growing demand for water and the escalating costs associated with it. This will soon make clean water one of the most valuable commodities on the planet, probably in our lifetime, but definitely in our children’s. In this post I’ll outline a few strategies to collect rain water with the home you already have that won’t break the bank, as well as some best practices for new home construction. But first, let me suggest why you might want to consider adopting a rainwater harvesting strategy.

People have always gathered near water. Small groups then towns then cities accumulated along trade routes and contested territories located at strategic access points and ports. Water is who we are, who we have always been, not only biologically, but geographically as well. It’s only a natural step to realize that access to water is access to civilization is access to power. Luckily for us, not all actual or potentially clean water is sitting under lock and key by government agencies or private business. This ultimately raises the question of property. Who owns water and where?

Well you’re in luck. You do, or you can (depending on your state). And it doesn’t cost a fortune. With personal water collection trending in homes and businesses around the world, water collection technologies are improving and becoming more accessible and affordable due to market demand.

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