Author Archives: Lesia

Portland's Planet Repair Institute

Portland is among the greenest cities in America – from the way they eat, to the way they get around, to the way they build their homes. Every year, City residents and contractors push the envelope for sustainable materials and energy efficiency, and every year Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability curates a tour of some of the year’s most exciting projects. They call it the Build it Green! Home Tour and Information Fair and tickets are now on sale!  2011 is the 10th anniversary of the BIG! Tour and Fair, and will take  place on Saturday, September 24th! 

This is a fantastic way to learn about the latest, greatest, and most inspirational things happening in green building in the Rose City! This year’s tour features 20+ homes – each of which incorporate outstanding sustainable elements, from energy-savings to sustainable material use. These homes will be open for ticket holders to tour, and the homeowners will be on hand to answer your questions!

Among the homes open on the tour will be The Bungaloft, a project that features owner-built cabinets, fixtures and other details, made in part with recycled and reclaimed materials. Also featured is the Water House – the first Watersense-certified home in Oregon; and the Planet Repair Institute using cob, earthen plaster, and reclaimed materials. To see a preview of all the homes on the tour click here.

This year, the BIG! Tour will be kicking off with a fun, resource-rich, Information Fair in the Green Depot parking lot! Enjoy live music by the Wicky Pickers, and refreshments while checking out green building product demos and visit our varied exhibitors like: cabinet and furniture makers, solar firms, designers, realtors and more!
You will also be able to ENTER TO WIN a free Caroma Profile dual-flush-toilet (it has a built-in sink!) 

This year’s events are happening on Saturday, September 24th.
FREE BIG! Fair: 10am – 2pm
BIG! Tour: 11am-5pm
Tickets for the tour are available at Green Depot Portland (cash or check only only) or online.
– $15 Adults
– $10 car free/students/honored citizens
– Free for children 13 and under

For information on having an exhibitor booth at the fair please contact sschultz[at] Availability is limited.

Caroma has long been the world’s leader in dual flush toilets, and now they have taken water-savings to a whole new level. By incorporating a hand-washing basin right into the tank of their toilet, Caroma has made it easy for people to conserve even more. 

 They started with a High-Efficiency Dual Flush Toilet (two flush options: 0.8 gallons for liquids, and 1.28 gallons for solids) and changed the design of the tank so that water refilling the tank is first routed through a faucet at the top, making that clean water available for hand washing. As the water from your hand washing goes down the drain of the basin, it goes directly into tank to be used next time you flush the toilet.

 On top of making use of hand-washing-wastewater for flushing, Caroma dual flush toilets use less water to begin with. With an average flush of just 1 gallon, these Dual Flush toilets reduce water consumption by 40-70 percent. Just imagine the water savings when the water from your hand washing gets recycled on top of it all!

Hard to imagine? Here’s an image (right) of the inside of the tank so you can see how it works.

 The Caroma Profile is a certified High Efficiency, WaterSense toilet – and has received the Popular Mechanics “Product Breakthrough” award for innovative design and engineering.

For more information on the Caroma Profile click here!

It’s September, and colder months loom just on the horizon. The days will soon grow shorter, and most of us in colder climates will be spending much more time inside of our homes.

The home environment isn’t necessarily one we readily consider. When we think about living sustainably, we usually consider how our actions might impact the natural environment outside of our homes – how the products we buy affect the health of watersheds, or forests; how they contribute to climate change or preserve biodiversity. We consider how the products we purchase impact the lives of the people manufacturing them.

But products used in the home – whether it’s cleaners, or interior paints, or furniture, or our vacuum cleaners – affect the air quality inside our living spaces, our home environments. Many conventional products (like those containing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs) can detrimentally affect our own health.

Indeed, this is such a legitimate concern for many that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an entire website devoted to educating folks about the health of their home environments.

As the EPA site summarizes quite well, indoor air pollution is caused by a number of problems. The main cause of concern – which may require a professional evaluation to determine if it is a serious issue in your home – are leakages from any indoor combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, or tobacco.

But the EPA also notes that products used for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, hobbies, and outdoor sources such as radon and pesticides can contribute to an unhealthy indoor environment. Moreover, building materials, furnishings, and air fresheners can release harmful components into the air more or less continuously. GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS There are lots of options available to anyone looking to improve the quality of their home environment.

Here are a few ideas from Green Depot:

1. Testing: Testing is the first step to knowing if you have an issue with your indoor air quality. The National Jewish Health Family Air Care Indoor Allergens and Mold Test Kit is a big step in determining if you have any issues. This kit comes from the nation’s leading respiratory hospital and enables users to screen their homes for the five most common triggers of asthma and allergies, testing for cat, dog, dust mite, and cockroach allergens, as well as 13 species of fungus or mold. Another option for testing indoor air quality is a Radon Gas test kit. Prolab Inc produces both a short term and a long-term radon test kit, providing you a comprehensive analysis of radon in the home.

2. Air Filtration: Breathing air that has been purified of harmful gases is beneficial to the health, as well. The Andrea Air Purifier is the first air purifier capable of absorbing toxins like formaldahyde, using the absorptive properties of living plants. It contains an air fan to draw air into the plant’s chamber and then releases it, purified. Any household plant can be used as the filtration agent.

3. Humidifying: Using a humidifier during the winter months can help alleviate respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nosebleeds. The Germ Guardian H1000 Tabletop Humidifier is an Energy-Star rated cool mist humidifier. It runs silently, using ultrasonic technology, and unlike other humidifiers has an anti-bacterial coating to prevent the introduction of mold and mildew particles into the air it is improving. It utilizes a metal diaphragm vibrating at high frequencies to create water droplets which are then expelled into the room.

4. Vacuuming: The Electrolux Versatility Upright Vacuum is a full-featured vacuum cleaner. This cleaner includes a quick-release wand, allowing you to vacuum hard-to-reach spaces on the ceiling and in difficult corners. High impacts plastics and rugged construction make this a durable product, and the anti-odor HEPA filter captures 99.7% of pet dander, dust mites, pollen and mold for healthier indoor air.

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This may not be a complete list of all the things you can do to improve your indoor air quality (switch over from conventional fiberglass insulation to a healthier option like Ultratouch eco insulation). But, we hope this proves to be a good place to start and give you some ideas!

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit:

For more information about indoor-air-quality, we recommend you visit the EPA website: