Archives for category: Drought

Did you know that Chicago, IL has become the epicenter for LEED-certified buildings?

green halo waste tracking system leed building chicago illinois il green

How about the fact that landscaping designed to conserve water is called Xeriscaping and it’s big in Denver, CO?

green halo waste tracking system Xeriscaping denver colorado co

Freshkills landfill in New York, NY is a landfill that’s three-times the size of Central Park and it’s being worked on so that it can be turned into a park!

green halo waste tracking system freshkills park in new york

Portland, OR is home to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance whose mission it is to create healthy, sustainable communities by make bicycling safe, convenient and accessible.

greenhalo_systems_some_of_the_things_that_bicycle_transportation_alliance_offers_and_does

 

Source: http://ecowatch.com/2014/07/14/ranking-sustainability-programs-u-s/

and 

http://btaoregon.org/

 

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build high green halo waste tracking system xeros washer water

It’s not news that certain parts of the world have drought emergencies right now but Xeros has an new invention that is helping reduce the travesty. Xeros came out with a polymer bead laundry system which comes with enormous savings and benefits that currently attracts mainly commercial locations. This new laundry system is currently impacting the hotel, gym, and hospital industries in a great ways.

By reducing consumption in commercial laundry, hotels can conserve valuable resources, gain competitive advantages, market themselves as green to increase their brand value and improve customer loyalty in addition to reducing costs.

The Xeros washer works by utilizing the hydrophilic properties of polymer beads. Scientists at the University of Leeds School of Textiles discovered that these beads, mixed with a small amount of water and a special detergent act as magnets for stains and dirt to clean laundry better and more gently than traditional methods. These reusable polymer beads also last for hundreds of washes before they need to be recycled and the Xeros polymer bead laundry system uses 80% less water, 50% less energy, about 50% less detergent and results in better cleaning results compared to traditional methods.

Source: http://www.waterworld.com/articles/iww/print/volume-14/issue-3/features/wiser-washing.html

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Jeff Jungsten, President of Caletti Jungsten Construction, tells us how to choose a green contractor

By: Jenelle Feole, Green Halo Systems

(MILL VALLEY, CA) – Jeff JungstenJeff Jungsten shared decades of green building industry experience earlier this week from his office in Mill Valley, CA. An avid biker and green builder, it’s obvious that Jeff cares about nature and his clients. Jeff is a game changer, a perfectionist when it comes to building people’s homes and he is deeply in tune to our planet’s needs and sustainability. He was on the Technical Advisory Committee which met weekly for over a year to devise a new green building ordinance for Marin County so that green building could be more simple and accessible to everybody.

Jeff is a Build it Green Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP) and he also holds the Green Home Retrofitting and Remodeling Advanced Certified Green Building Professional certification (GHRR Advanced CGBP) – it’s a rarity. In 1995 Jeff joined John Caletti’s general construction company and complemented the already high–end quality work with a bend towards sustainability. We discussed the bleeding-edge green building technologies that are developed on the West Coast and later used worldwide, what drives green building in other areas of the globe and much more:

1 What is the story behind Caletti Jungsten? Our story really was that, and has been, that we started as a small group doing really high definition work. Started in 1987 by John Caletti here in Marin, taking on some really nice general construction work. John and I met in the mid-90’s on a small project and then took on a really big project together, honed our skills together and figured out what we really wanted to do. We’ve taken that energy and expertise that we both carry and put it into really good people and culture, and we setup a good momentum for our community. So we are really into where we work, why we work, and who we work with.

2 What does it take to be a green contractor? It takes a lot of energy, focus, drive, and understanding that there is a better way to do what we do. It takes a proactive approach, knowledge and energy around why you’re doing certain things.

3 How should one go about choosing a green builder? The best way to choose a green builder is to talk to as many people as you can who have investigated green building. There are township blogs, there are other groups like the Marin builders association. Most municipalities have a builders group of some sort. The people that are doing these things are known by great non-profits like build It Green or the USGBC. [Laughs] Google is a great way to find green builders in your area. They might be listed on the Build It Green or USGBC website of certified professionals. It’s usually just word of mouth but one of the things that we try to do is to get ourselves listed on as many boards as possible to just get the word out.

4 So people will research, or they will find out about you from word of mouth, and am I understanding you correctly that the credentials are really important? Would you say that being a GCBP is a must? It’s a must. The people that take the time to learn and study and take the energy to get themselves certified are the people that are at least trying to understand and stay current of sustainability. And, I would say that if you hire a company that has zero credentials as either a business or individuals and expect them to know more than the people who are studying it, it would be an odd choice. If you are going to hire a company that claims to be a green builder, they will have had to have had projects in that realm that are either published or known or researchable that you can look at and say: were they successful in what they sought out to do? Was is certifiable at a certain level with a certain group? What type of work have they done and where? Who have they worked with?

5 I see, so if they are not certified, one should look at work examples, but sometimes work examples are not impressive enough so take just the work examples with a grain of salt? It depends: one of our intentions was to set a relatively rigorous standard in Marin for a green building ordinance so that people would have to build better than a C- building as a norm. So even if you weren’t certified, you would have to build in a certain way that achieved a certain level of efficiency. The people who can achieve those levels of efficiency in every single building that they build and can prove it, that’s the type of thing to do your research for. To say: “What type of buildings have you built, and how have you proven them to meet the goals that you set up early on in the project?” Everybody can buy low VOC paint, find or buy recycled or reclaimed materials, and claim that they are green builders. But the people that know how to combine them in multiple ways for low cost, and who are out teaching other people or who are being involved in your community, are the people that are usually taking the biggest stride.

In 2010, the Marin Builder’s Association gave me the Leadership and Sustainability Award for being a pioneer in the community which was really cool. Similarly, a LEED Certified home, can’t be built without LEED a Certified team member, so there are certain projects which you cannot do without being certified.

6 Are you certified for LEED? I am not personally…for me I am kind of outside of that loop, and up higher in the policy programming, and the ordinance portion. The people that are actually manufacturing the product that we build are LEED Certified, Project Managers would be LEED Certified.

7 So it’s possible for people to build a LEED property through your company? Yes, absolutely. We did a LEED Gold residence here in Marin two years ago…it was in Camp Woodlands.

8 When it comes to green building, do you think that there’s an area that people are too focused on and they miss considering something else that is important? Most people say: “I want my home to be more energy efficient”. And I think that the indoor air quality part is the part that they might be missing the most. Probably the most toxic place to be is in a new home. It’s like a new car. You can have a really efficient home, seal it up really tight, and then it just develops a really bad problem where you don’t cycle the air enough. So I think that probably the one thing that people miss the most is how to make it healthy.

9 Is it more expensive to build green?

It can be upfront. It can cost more if you’re not going to be in your home for a long time. Low VOC paints and finishes and those things aren’t more expensive, but the other products, like a radiant heating system are more expensive than a forced air system. However a radiant heating system is more far more efficient and way healthier than blowing a bunch of air and dust around the house. So there’s where you have to start making your choices about what type of healthy environment and efficiency you want. Our goal is to get as many people doing these things as possible which makes them more cost effective for a normal consumer.

10 How do you calculate the payback period for green building? The client will inherently have to make choices about upfront costs vs. lifecycle and costs. Part of what any good general contractor will do is help guide a client through those value oriented decisions. Some things just don’t make sense for some clients, and it’s responsible to say: “it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on this, it will never pay off for you”. If a certain budgetary condition is installed in the relationship and things can’t be achieved, then our job is to maximize their budget in as many value-oriented places as possible. And we do that, so we have a deep preconstruction activity upfront before the job that integrates as many sustainable features as possible, using the budget as widely as possible. And not only do we do that, but we have consultants that we bring in that work with the clients directly and work with us directly…these people are experts in facilitating the conversation before it even makes it to us, so these people are incredibly valuable.

11 The architecture firm plays a big role in this too, so where does the construction company come into play and how do you add value? Some architecture firms are getting it and they are understanding that sustainability is not an overlay, it’s a design principle. We come in hopefully as early as possible and I think any general contractor that studies this deeply wants to incorporate these systems at the earliest stages of design. Even as early as the sighting of the building to help integrate these systems into the plan if possible. That’s what the good architects are doing, they are bringing in people like us…

12 So a lot of the awesome homes on your website, you’re working with architects in the early stages of development? Absolutely. Way upfront. As early as the design phase.

13 How do you collaborate with architects and the client? Once we get through the design phase, we define everybody’s role and once the project is running, everybody plays a role in that. We all just collaborate as deeply as possible, as openly as possible, with as much humility as possible. We have a project right now where we are working incredibly closely with the architect, the client, the designer, and the engineers. It’s one of the most amazing homes that we’ve ever seen and it’s really all about being as collaborative and open as possible. Everything’s open for discussion. In the sustainability world, it’s kind of mandatory. There used to be a very closed loop between 2 parties and then a 3rd party would come in- the builder, and it would be a sort of odd scenario. Our goal is to just open up that whole relationship and be as collaborative and proactive as possible with everybody and have everyone do the same. If we’re talking about money, we have to talk about money openly. If we are talking about schedules, we have to talk about schedules openly. If we are talking about systems, we have to talk about systems openly. So that’s what happening in our world, a deeper level of relationship, more client–centric and certainly more proactive for time and money.

14 What inspires you? Everything!!!! Everything! I think if I really break it down into the smallest common denominator, it’s creating beautifully healthy homes for families, structures that- people get to grow up in, get married in, and have kids in. When somebody trusts us to build their home, that’s what we focus on. You know, perfect is close enough for us. We don’t want to just take the lowest common denominator and do that, it’s easy. What inspires us is to learn our craft a little bit deeper than most and then provide that value to people and see it happen. We just love the idea of building an inspired home with more energy and care. I honestly feel that it’s noticeable…and if we do our jobs right, and we care enough, then it’s obviated.

15 I looked at your Green Halo Systems account, I see that you’ve diverted over 255 tons from the landfill, which is a carbon footprint equivalent of 26,000 gallons of gasoline. What types of insights come to your mind when you see these statistics and numbers? One of the things about Green Halo that I really enjoy is that it’s similar to this program called “Cool the Earth”, which we work with here locally. It’s a great grass roots program that’s spreading nationally. Their idea is to train kids to focus on things that they can change…show them that when they turn the lights off and then they see the energy bill at the end of the month, then they will start to see that the small things they do actually have a result. And that’s what I like about Green Halo is that we have the ability to account for the material, see the results of what we are doing, and then change our behavior and modify how we work to then enhance that savings even higher. When I saw what we have diverted since using Green Halo, I turned it into a personal conversation about how: in my smart car, that’s 3,750 fill ups or the equivalent of about a million miles driven. I’ve taken an entire life time of driving off of the planet’s carbon footprint just in this short amount of time that we’ve been using Green Halo! And if we can measure it, we can change it, and that’s what Green Halo allows us to do. They’ve done a really good job making it useful, efficient, scalable, and the best tool for the job. Individual companies like myself can use it, municipalities can use it to collect information from people like me and then they put their stats out as a county. So we use the system as much as possible, and we review it monthly, and everybody always enjoys seeing what’s happened to the material or how much we are diverting or how we can do it differently.

 

Check out http://www.calettijungsten.com/

 

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I consider this to be good art. Sad, but good.

yan lu's poor little fishbowl sink desin

Yan Lu’s piece “Poor Little Fishbowl Sink” is a visual reminder that if people use too much water, it kills living things around them. The sink has a fishbowl at eye level and the direct relationship between our water usage and the impact on the environment is clear.

The fish bowl and the faucet are actually separated so that the fish wouldn’t die from soapy water, and one can wash with clean water. Also, the fish bowl won’t actually ever drain completely but the idea is there and people will remember to turn off the tap!

(Source: http://magazine.good.is/articles/conserve-water-or-the-fish-will-die)

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If you’re ever been on a living roof, chances are that you haven’t forgotten the feeling. Clean air, nice humidity and coolness not to mention the beauty of being surrounded by plants instead of standing on hot black tar or shingles. The benefits of living roofs are illustrated in this example. Living roofs or green roofs

  • Provide storm water management that retains 65-100% of rainwater
  • Improve air quality by absorbing pollutants
  • Reduce the urban heat island effects by cooling roofs
  • Add an aesthetic quality and increase the quality of life for people who live and work around them
  • They reduce energy costs by keeping the heat down during hot climates
  • They increase the life of roof membranes since many UV rays are blocked and in freezing temperatures the longevity of the roof is also increased since they are less exposed
  • They increase the green space in urban environments which is increasingly important during this time of concern about the urban heat island effect

LEED is one of the most common ways for people to keep track of how efficient their buildings are in terms of energy, water and carbon. Additionally Green Halo Systems is used to track waste, salvaging and recycling for construction projects and for properties. Green Halo Systems can keep track of LEED points and additional benefits of using this free software is that people who want to know the inner workings of their home to make it more green will benefit from an array of features by using Green Halo Systems.

Bousselot-green-roof green roof halo waste tracking system green wall tracking system awesome ecofriendly building green wall tracking system green-roof

 

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Green building is expected to grow 10% in upcoming years and many in the industry consider sustainable building to be the “right way to build” now a days. At a time when people are still building, consuming, and spending the majority of their time indoors it is critical that we build more sustainable buildings. Calrecycle.ca.gov explains that green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as “protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment”. If you’ve ever been in a green building before, high achieving green buildings are stunning. The air quality inside certainly feels better than most buildings, the overall impact to the environment is also great because of the landscaping that is chosen and you would notice different materials that are likely made from recycling.

This article is preparation for a very special “How to Choose a Green Contractor” interview/article that is coming soon. What’s important to know ahead of time, is what a green building looks like because it is a fairly new idea. Some of the benefits are lower operating costs over the life of the building, improved productivity, reduced environmental impact, and increase in health and in comfort.

Some green buildings look like the modern marvels they are but they can also be designed to be more lavish like other fabulous homes of the past. Now, let’s look at some inspiring homes, and please read next week for the special piece that’s coming up!

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Ever thought about collecting rain water in your green waste bin to water your garden?

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This morning, Green Halo came across an innovative idea worth spreading. The Water Question of the Day from The Sacramento Bee was about whether or not rain water should be collected in a green-waste container when the weather’s rainy to water plants with. The answer to this question is yes, but the main precautions follow.

The Sacramento Bee writer explains that the biggest issue with this method is keeping mosquitos out of saved water. The writer advises people who want to collect rain water to close the lid, cover the water with a screen to keep mosquito larva out and lastly an aquatic oil can be added to the container. What is aquatic oil you might ask? Aquatic oil contains mineral oil which spreads across the top of the water to form a surface that suffocates mosquitos. There are also larvicides that can be added to the water which are safe for plants. To equip a green-waste bin with a small screen and/or larvicide can cost less than $4 and a multi-functional green-waste bin can be a fun addition to any garden.

The last precaution is that collecting rain water is actually illegal in many states across the US partially due to the previous precaution so you’ll want to check that this is legal in your state.

If you want to purchase a bin or see what your green-waste bucket can look like, this is also a good explanation: http://www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces/collect_rainwater/

Peruvian researchers have collaborated with an ad agency to create an unusual billboard that generates drinking water from thin air. While the billboard fulfills its traditional role as an advertising tool—in this case for courses at Lima’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC)—it harvests moisture directly from the air, which is then processed through a filtration system. Capable of producing 25 gallons (96 liters) of water a day during summer, the billboard has produced 9450 liters of clean drinking water for a nearby community in the three months since it was first installed.

Lima, Peru’s capital city, receives less than one inch of rain each year, forcing some residents to get their water from dirty wells. Despite the lack of rain, the high humidity makes it possible to harvest water directly from the city’s air, providing a sustainable, alternative source of drinkable water.

The researchers at Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology teamed up with Mayo DraftFCB advertising agency to create the billboard. The panel consists of five machines which convert humidity into water through use of air and carbon filters and a condenser. The water is stored in five tanks located at the top of the structure. The filtered water flows into a pipe at the bottom of the billboard, supplying the neighboring community with clean water. In the three months since it was first installed, the billboard has produced 9450 liters of water.

Video:

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in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, March 20, 2014.(Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay)A three-alarm fire blazed dangerously close to a power plant in Pittsburg, CA before being contained Thursday.

The fire burned 35 to 40 acres near the intersection of Willow Pass Road and West 10th Street. Reported around 3:15 p.m., fire crews remained on scene mopping up for several hours.

in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, March 20, 2014.(Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay)The fire charred roughly 40 acres of grass, brush and trees according to fire Capt. Robert Marshall. A few power lines connected to the nearby NRG Energy natural gas power plant were threatened, but no structures were threatened and injuries were reported.

A CalFire helicopter dropped mud on the fire.  “It’s burning on top of the water. Fire on water,” said Contra Costa Fire Inspector George Laing. This is because of its marshland location.

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It may seem like just yesterday that the wildfires in California finally died down, but experts in the state are already worried about the upcoming fire season after a long, hot winter comes to a close. If recent weather is any indicator, the state – and the entire Western U.S. – could be in for an even hotter summer. Almost 95 percent of the state is currently in a drought even after recent rain, and after last year’s fires the budget for fighting fires has been spread thin.

Green Halo - How Will the Western U.S. Prepare for Upcoming Fire Season After Hot Winter & DroughtLast year some of the most destructive fires in California started as early as May and ended later than normal as well. Some experts expect this year to be similar in terms of length. Recent fire maps show only a small portion of the state at risk right now, but over the next few months that risk will spread to cover two-thirds of the state. What’s particularly concerning is that trends are moving in the wrong direction for fires in the west. With the wood getting drier and the weather getting hotter, fires are more likely to start and spread quickly, but there is an added danger as people continue to build more homes in forested areas.

Although fire fighters have learned to expect these sort of extreme fire seasons, their budgets haven’t kept up. Last year’s suppression budget was exceeded by about a half a billion dollars for the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. That means little money is left over for prevention efforts, which adds another risk factor to the mix. This year lawmakers in the west are hoping to pay for fires out of the federal emergency fund, which is used for other natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. Regardless of how it is paid for, the area is likely in for a difficult fire season.

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