Author Archives: sschultz

Responsible Forestry: Why It Matters

September 28th, 2012 | Posted by sschultz in Environment | Nature | Sustainability - (0 Comments)

Wood is one of the “greenest” building  materials available to us today! It is a renewable resource that is strong, long-lasting and has a myriad of applications. Even better, while trees are growing they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it. At the end of the “first life” of a wood product,  it can often be recycled two, three or more times and, sometimes, even composted. Where wood becomes unsustainable is when it is harvested through destructive logging practices that contribute to habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and violence against forest workers and wildlife.

Q: How can we as consumers tell if we are supporting responsible forestry practices or not?
A: Through the FSC!

The international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to combat destructive practices by encouraging responsible forest management. FSC has offices in 145 countries, and 384 million acres of certified forest around the globe. The FSC Logo can be found on all kinds of different products from paper to decking – if you see the logo it means that the wood in that product is from an FSC certified supplier.

When a forest is FSC certified you can be sure that it is a forest that is managed for ecological health, sustainable harvest levels, and social responsibility. Ecological health includes protecting the wildlife, water, air and soil. Sustainable harvest levels are ensured by never cutting more than what will grow back.  Social responsibility is attended to  through rules surrounding indigenous rights, labor rights, and multiple benefits. Indeed, FSC has developed a set of 10 Principles and 57 Criteria that all FSC certified companies must follow. As a third party certifier, the organization carries out regular audits of certified companies’ practices to ensure that they maintain FSC standards.

Here’s a cool infographic that illustrates the important role that FSC plays in the global supply of wood for building materials (and other purposes):

Friday, September 28th, we celebrated International FSC Friday. Learn more about the FSC at www.fscus.org.

 

Share

New Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland

The City of Portland’s Build It Green! Home Tour and Info Fair (BIG!) turns eleven this year. BIG! is a self-guided tour of 16 green remodels and new homes around Portland. The Home Preview web page is a great place to begin planning your tour day, as it’s easy to start and stop where you choose. With so many homes to see, tour-goers usually check out the free Info Fair at Green Depot first, then prioritize the homes based on their features.

As they move through their route, tour-goers can chat with homeowners, designers, do-it-yourselfers and contractors about space-efficient dwellings, solar panels, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, natural landscaping, affordable housing, water and energy conservation, natural building materials and alternative construction techniques.

Tour date: Saturday, September 22, 2012, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m

Eight accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will open their doors on tour day. All of these “backyard cottages” are new construction projects, with the exception of a converted garage.

For the Master-Draper ADU, an existing garage was converted into an energy-efficient art studio and compact dwelling, maintaining the existing footprint. An open outdoor room with sliding doors extends living space to the pocket garden. In 480 sq. ft. of living space, features include a salvaged farm sink, wine barrel stave railings, day lit loft and a mosaic bathroom designed and tiled by the owner.

Walt Quade’s home, 80 sq. ft. pre-fab studio, teardrop trailer and 325 sq. ft. ADU for his sister-in-law is also featured on the tour.

Among other homes you’ll visit are an eclectic accessible remodel featuring Universal Design elements; Planet Repair Institute featuring shared community, natural building techniques and permaculture; the Whitridge Full Plane House expressing the homeowner’s deeply held values of a low-impact home suitable for raising children; and Cully Grove, a new pocket neighborhood of 16 dwellings, common gardens and guest house.

New this year are drop-in workshops at several homes included with the ticket price. Topics included are small home communities, rainwater harvesting, Living Building Challenge, Energy Performance Score, permaculture and more.

The Wicky Pickers

The Info Fair at Green Depot Portland is a prelude to the Tour with green exhibitors, demonstrations, food, drink and live music by the Wicky Pickers! The fun begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Come get your tickets, enjoy coffee from Da Pressed Coffee and join the fun before heading on the tour! Green Depot is located at 819 SE Taylor, Portland. The Info Fair is FREE and open to all. Enter to win a dual flush toilet and other prizes! Here is a list of the nearly 40 exhibitors already signed up:
City of Portland: Your Sustainable City, Bureau of Environmental Services, ReDirect Guide, The Green Living Journal, Oregon Home Magazine, Energy Trust of Oregon, NW EcoBuilding Guild, Mobius Home, Rebuilding Center, Arciform, Modern Mud, Yolo Paint, Portland Metro Restores/Habitat, The Heat Pump Store, Shelterworks, Kitchen Compost Caddy, Sustainable Northwest Woods, Car 2 Go, Structures NW, Birdseye Hardwood, Decoupage Floors, Marmoleum, EcoCrush, Sunlight Solar, Modspdx, GreenHammer, Indow Window, Jacobs Heating and Cooling, Buckman Neighborhood Architectural Heritage Center, GreenSaversUSA, The Golden Rule, Galaxy, and JRA.

Tickets are required for the tour homes. These are available online or in person at Green Depot.

- $15 general admission
- $10 honored citizens/students/alternative transportation.
- Children 13 years-old and under are FREE.

Want a free Tour ticket? Volunteer for the Tour or Info Fair!

Want more info or have a project you’d like to be considered for 2013? Send an e-mail to Valerie Garrett, tour coordinator, greenhotline[at]portlandoregon.gov.

BIG! is sponsored by Metro, Energy Trust of Oregon, Oregon Home, Solar Oregon, Green Depot, KINK-FM, City of Portland Bureaus of Development Services, Environmental Services, and Water.

This post was authored by Valerie Garrett.

Share

Sustainable Dorm Life

August 8th, 2012 | Posted by sschultz in Air Quality | Environment | Living Green | Waste Reduction - (0 Comments)

The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College

Imagine the state of your average college dorm room: lights left on, electronics left charging, garbage and recycling thrown together in the same bin. A dorm can seem like the last place a person would find any sort of concern for the environment. But, as it turns out, sustainability is now spreading to college campuses across the country! Programs such as The Sustainable Campus and others are working with universities to help them reduce their carbon footprint and provide eco-friendly housing to students. All over the country, schools are adjusting how they manage waste, protect indoor air quality, and save energy.

From instituting programs that encourage students to change their behavior (turning off lights, unplugging electronics, and sorting waste) to adopting responsible building practices, colleges and universities are making great strides towards sustainability while improving their bottom line. In 2009 The New York Times  reported that more than 600 U.S colleges and universities had already made a pledge to become carbon neutral; and more than 90 dorms across the country were LEED certified. For example, they cite the EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina that consumes two thirds less electricity than a conventional building of the same size. Another example of a green dorm is a LEED Certified student residence building at Harvard University that features renewable bamboo flooring, low VOC finishes, and regionally sourced siding with recycled content.

If you happen to know a student who is moving into a dormitory this fall, help them (and their roommates) go green in their dorm room with these Green Depot solutions!

Keep Warm With Wool
Help save energy by turning the thermostat down and using a comfy throw blanket while catching up on course work! The Eco-Wise Pendleton Throw is 100% wool and is machine washable. Wool is a naturally renewable fiber and the fabric in these blankets has been Cradle to Cradle certified.




Prevent Phantom Energy Use
For all your electronics, from your phone to your laptop, a TrickleStrip –Saving Surge Protector will greatly reduce the amount of vampire/standby energy consumed by dorm electronics. Be sure to flip it to “off” when going out!

  

  

Wake Up On Time and In Style
After a late night studying, it is important to have a high quality alarm clock. The bamboo-clad Vers Alarm Clock Radio is compact, and is also a dock for an iPod. Gorgeously hand crafted, this unit cuts down on plastic use and the company plants 100 trees for every tree they use in production.

 

  

Deodorize the Dorm with Plant Oils – Not Petro-Chemicals
It’s common for every college dorm room to have that smell every once in a while. Be it from people living in close quarters, or the resonance of that pizza from three days ago, or maybe you can’t put your finger on it. Whatever it may be, Airscense to the rescue! This room freshener doesn’t cover up odors; it neutralizes them using a petro-chemical-free formula.

 

Charge Electronics Anywhere on Campus
The Solar Back Pack, efficiently charges all hand-held electronics through built in solar panels even as it holds textbooks and a laptop in its spacious main compartment. On a cloudy day, the charger can also be powered up using a USB power cable.



Zoe Bloom contributed to this post.

Share

Rugs and Responsibility

July 11th, 2012 | Posted by sschultz in Design | Environment | Green Homes | Green Products | Sustainability - (1 Comments)

Green Depot Mercer Rug: A luxurious, hand-tufted, cut-pile rug in rich colors, and various sizes. GoodWeave Certified.

Do you know who made that area rug you’re about to buy? There can be a lot of questions when it comes to judging if a rug is sustainable or not. From what it’s made of, to where it comes from, to who made it – there is not often a lot of information available! Fortunately, there is an organization that is working to shed some light in the industry: GoodWeave International.

GoodWeave International (GWI, formerly known as RugMark) is an organization working to end child labor and increase sustainable practices in rug manufacturing. Taking a stand against child labor in the rug industry is important because children employed making rugs can develop spinal injuries, respiratory problems, and impaired vision as a result of the work. In addition to physical ailments, the lack of educational opportunities for these children can also have a lifetime’s worth of repercussions. The goal that drives GWI is simple, yet aggressive: to grow demand for GoodWeave certification so that rug manufacturers around the world will embrace socially responsible practices and end the use of child labor in the rug industry.

To be certified, a company must apply and meet GWI’s strict standards like requiring employees to be 15 years of age or older, fair labor practices and healthy, sustainable working environments. To make sure that a company remains true to their high standards after being certified, GWI sends inspectors to licensed manufacturers to visit on a random, yet regular basis. The GWI uses the funds raised through its certification program to provide educational opportunities for former child laborers.

All Green Depot Area Rugs carry GoodWeave Certification. Hand woven in India out of the finest natural fibers like wool, hemp and jute, each beautiful creation is certified by GoodWeave International! All are 100% biodegradable, made from renewable materials, vegetable dyes, and are child labor free.

Whatever the style of your home, an area rug can instantly update the mood and look of any room in the house. We carry a pattern for everyone; from the bold, geometric “Ikat Rug” to the fun, imaginative “Smart Car Rug,” ideal for children. These are great for the person looking for stylish, sustainable, and savvy decor.

   
Green Depot Ikat Rug: These handwoven, wool area rugs feature designs that are as dramatic as these rugs are sustainable. Green Depot Smart Car Rug: Perfect for a child’s room! Made with exclusively natural materials. Green Depot Delancy Rug: This plant fiber area rug is handwoven in a contrasting black and natural diamond pattern.

 

Green Depot Area Rugs are now 45% off and can be found at our Seattle and Portland locations. Shipping is available!

Zoe Bloom contributed to this post.

Share

Summertime Weatherization Around the House

June 21st, 2012 | Posted by sschultz in Green Homes - (0 Comments)

Many people think that weatherization is just for protecting a home and its occupants from the ravages of winter storms and cold temperatures, but in fact, it is just as important in the summer. Improvements to a home’s weatherization can also help your home stay cool when the mercury rises, increasing your comfort and drastically decreasing your energy bills.

Here are some projects and tools to help you keep cool this summer!

CAULKING
When you are running an air conditioner even small cracks can be a big drag on your energy bill! Make sure that your window and door frames are sealed by checking the caulk around your window frames where they meet the siding. If the caulk appears to be dry and cracked, remove the old material with a putty knife or scraper and run a fresh bead of caulk to renew the seal.

Eco-Bond Clear Adhesive Caulk
This adhesive sealant will work in temperatures from -40 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It has excellent bonding power and won’t shrink or pull away from the seal. It is low-odor, low VOC and non-flammable.

 

 

REFLECTIVE INSULATION
With reflective material on either side of a thin but dense insulation blanket, this insulation works by reflecting heat waves away from a building in the summer, or back into a building in the winter. Reflective insulation is less than an inch thick, so you can add an effective layer of R-value to your home or building without sacrificing square footage. We carry two kinds of reflect insulation, Nest (great for retrofit projects) and Skytech (best for new-construction, building wraps.) Both insulations are easy to install, flexible and durable; offer superior acoustical performance; and will not promote the growth of fungus or bacteria. Even better, they are made from 90% recycled materials; are 100% recycleable, and free from formaldehyde, VOCs and carcinogens.

Nest

  • - Perfect for retrofit projects – like lining the interior roof in an attic
  • - Insulation value of R 12.5 with just 1/4 inch of material
  • - Offers a thermal break and a vapor barrier
  • - Fire Rating: Classified UL

 

SkyTech

  • - Great for new construction – especially a whole house wrap
  • - Insulation value of R 13.7 and just 3/8ths of an inch thick
  • - Breathable – allows vapor to pass through
  • - Fire Rating: NFPA Class A/UBC Class 1

 

 

ATTIC VENTILATION
During the hot summer months, attic temperatures can soar and that can have a huge effect on the amount of work your air conditioner has to do – especially on the upper floors of your home. An attic fan, installed with proper vents from which to draw, can have a huge effect on the temperature in your attic, and the load on your electricity.

SolaTube Solar Attic Fan
This attic fan is one of the most technologically-advanced, environmentally-friendly ventilation solutions available. It circulates air and ventilates your attic space, to help keep your home cool and comfortable. Powered by Solar Star’s proprietary 10-watt solar panel, the Solar Star attic fan will not add to your energy bill while it helps lower it!

Click here for more suggestions for ways to weatherize and save money!

Share

The LifeEdited Apartment transforms to allow for all aspects of home life in just 420 sf

Graham Hill’s LifeEdited apartment is finally complete and, in a recent article, the New York Times is calling it the apartment of the future!

Launched in 2010, the project began as an international competition. Graham Hill (the founder of Treehugger) challenged designers around the world to come up with a design that would allow for a large sit-down dinner party, comfortable lounging for 8, space for overnight guests (with privacy), a home office, a hideable kitchen and more! The winning design was submitted by Romanian architecture students Catalin Sandu and Adrian Iancu and construction began!

The build out of the apartment included many green features from the drywall and the insulation to FSC flooring and 0-VOC paints!

Graham Hill’s project is a thought provoking and inspiring demonstration of just how little space, and how little stuff, it actually takes to live a 21st century American lifestyle. Transforming apartments, along with transforming furniture and compact appliances, are becoming more and more popular and that means that soon, more and more of us may have the opportunity to live large by living small – just like Graham Hill.  Visit the LifeEdited website for more inspiring examples of compact living spaces and innovative, space-saving products.

Share