Photograph by Adam Golfer for Bloomberg Businessweek

With Earth Day right around the corner, Bloomberg Businessweek highlights Green Depot as an industry leader in the flourishing world of green building. The article covers the inspiring story of our founder Sarah Beatty, the burgeoning growth of the green building industry, and Sarah’s work with the American Sustainable Business Council fighting for safer chemical legislation.

Don’t miss it: With Eco-Friendly Building Supplies, Green Depot Thrives in the Construction Rebound

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Sometimes the changes in our global climate seem like so large of a problem that it can be hard to imagine how one individual, family, or community can make a difference. Do not be discouraged! There are actions that you can take this month in your home, apartment and office that can make an impact.
“How?” you ask…
Through improvements in energy efficiency!

Before we dig into some action ideas, take a look at some of the points from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 report Buildings and their Impact on the Environment: A Statistical Summary:

  • + Buildings in the United States contribute 38.9 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, including 20.8 percent from the residential sector and 18.0 percent from the commercial sector (2008).
  • + Buildings accounted for 72 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006…
  • + The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C)… One study estimates that the heat island effect is responsible for 5–10% of peak electricity demand for cooling buildings in cities.
    (Italics are ours, not the EPA’s)

As illustrated above, buildings (both residential and commercial) contribute greatly to energy use and carbon dioxide emissions which contribute, in turn, to climate change. Therefore, increasing the efficiency of our buildings should help slow the changes we’re seeing. Anyone who lives and or works in a building (i.e.: most Americans) has a place where they can (through direct action or influence) make a difference. Actions taken to conserve energy in our built environment have the dual benefits of fighting climate change and saving you (or your landlord, or your company) money on the electric bill.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas both big and small:

Caulk The Cracks: Sometimes even the smallest gaps can make a big difference. Running a bead of caulk around window and door frames helps stop drafts and save energy. Cover the Fan: If small cracks make a difference, imagine what a 10″ hole can do! Stop unwanted energy loss through your exhaust fans. These magnetic covers are easy to put on and take off as needed.
Seal the Pulleys: Permanently stop cold drafts infiltrating your house through the pulley assemblies inside your casement window frames with easy to install Pulley Seals.

 

 

Paint the Roof White: The heat island effect of cities can be greatly reduced by painting roofs white – this reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them so buildings stay cooler.  Get Double Pane Performance:
Indow Windows interior inserts give you energy saving performance equivalent to replacement windows without the cost, hassle and waste of replacement and allow you to keep the charm of your originals.
Blow in Some Insulation: With cellulose insulation, you can add significant R-value to your walls without taking the house apart!

 

Still more ideas…

 

1. Pipe insulation, shown above, keeps pipes from freezing, sweating, and losing heat.

2. Switch and outlet gaskets prevent drafts through places we might not consider particularly drafty, but are a source of energy loss.

3. Xtra-Foam seal drafty windows, doors, and leaks with this low expanding, multipurpose foam.

4. Air conditioner weatherseals seal the gaps around air conditioners and in windows

5.  Indoor window insulating kits seal windows airtight.

6. Water heater insulation jackets make home water heaters more efficient.  Handheld adhesive foam prevents leaks around doors and windows.

7. Bonded Logic Ultratouch Mini Rolls help to seal known gaps in insulation, reducing noise and energy loss.

8:  Air conditioner covers prevent winter air from entering through a window unit air conditioner.

http://www.greendepot.com/greendepot/product.asp?s_id=0&prod_name=Magnetized+Exhaust+Fan+Cover&pf_id=AMEFC10&dept_id=700&mscssid=DU3V6BPPQJAF8N0X4VCJK3VFNC500439
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Whether you love throwing large backyard barbecue parties, or prefer lounging quietly in the sun with a  good book, a beautiful deck is the foundation for enjoying your outdoor spaces at home. Winter is almost over and soon it will be prime deck-sitting time. In part-one of this two-part series we’ll give you some ideas for finishing your deck (whether it be a traditional wood, or an exotic species).  In part two, we’ll talk about the different benefits of our decking options!

 

 

 

New Deck Finish: Osmo Deck Oils

Osmo Deck Oil is easy to apply (almost impossible to screw up, actually) and it will not flake, peel, blister or crack over time. This finish penetrates into the wood grain, strengthening it from within and allowing the wood to “breathe”  as temperature and humidity fluctuate.  It smooths the surface of the wood and protects it against damage from weather, water, beverage spills (wine, beer, soda pop, etc), and the colored versions even protect against damage from UV rays (the Clear “Teak” does not offer UV protection.)  One of the other exceptional benefits of Osmo Deck Oil is that it is very easy to maintain. Should you decide that your deck could use another coat of finish, you don’t have to sand or apply a chemical stripper! Just clean the deck well, and then apply another coat of deck oil right on top of the old.

+ Will not crack, flake, peel or blister
+ Penetrates the wood grain and strengthens from within
+ Easy, “no-mistakes” application
+ Effective on exotic and domestic species
+ Great colors!

 

Refresh Your Existing Deck: Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel

If you have a deck that is looking old and weathered but still has lots of structural life left in it, Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel will bring back its good looks! With just one application, this innovative new product rejuvenates, revitalizes, refreshes, and returns resilience to exterior wood that has been dulled, grayed, and weathered. Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel restores the natural character of exterior woodwork to near its original color, gently without damaging the wood grain. After treating your deck with the power gel, finish it with one of Osmo’s Deck Oils for long-lasting beauty.

+ Refreshes and cleans weathered wood decking and exterior furniture
+ Revives resilience and color without damaging wood
+ Ready to use, no need to mix or measure
+ Brush it on, wash it off

 

More Deck Products:

 

Vermont Natural Coatings: Using the strength of natural whey proteins and water-based resins, this finish is waterproof and provides protection against mildew, mold and harmful UV rays. Acri-Soy Penetrating Clear Sealer: This finish, based on  natural plant oils protects deck surfaces by creating a molecular bond and seal. For a stained surface, apply a coat of TimberSoy Natural Wood Stain first – then finish with a top coat of Acri-Soy. Ready-Strip Deck Brite:
This non-acid brightener and cleaner is safe for decks and other exterior surfaces. Back to Nature Ready-Strip Deck-Brite contains no acid, is biodegradable and non-flammable


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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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