Earth Day is celebrated every April 22, and it does a wonderful thing- it reminds us to stay (or get) focused on the environmental challenges we face.  First held in 1970, Earth Day was the brainchild of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who saw the opportunity to take the growing public concern about pollution of all kinds (some of us remember the intense air pollution over Los Angeles, the industrial pollution of waterways and skies around cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and the growing impact of pollution on our wildlife back then) and focus that energy in a positive manner- not just be more aware, but to make sure to do something about it.

We’ve seen great things take place in the past 34 years- not to say there isn’t much more to do, but to recognize that we’ve gone from being relatively unaware and naïve to now knowing there are positive actions we can and need to take at all levels. Each individual step we take is a viable and important part of bringing us to the goal.

Green Depot uses our Green Filter to identify products that enable everyone to make the best choices for our planet.  We have a continually growing lineup of products to meet your needs- here’s just a few;

We have an exceptional selection of Flooring products, such as Marmoleum resilient tiles and sheets, Vida Cork and Capri Cork Tiles and Planks, Serafina, Nature’s Lodge and many other Hardwood Floors, and Wool Carpets from Bloomsburg, Woolshire along with a host of other fine manufacturers.

Whether it’s for rooftops, backyards, courtyards or balcony spaces, we now have remarkable choices that contribute to a better world. From rapidly renewable bamboo decking and tile products to durable and economical FSC Western Red Cedar to exotic FSC Tigerwood or composite  Trex decking,  our selection of products will satisfy the discriminating customer all while delivering on the commitment to being environmentally responsible.

And there’s no need to sacrifice style, color and innovation while being environmentally responsible by using Zero VOC paints. All of our paints from Yolo, Ivy Coatings, and AFM Safecoat provide excellent performance for both residential and commercial uses while positively contributing to our environment by eliminating Volitile Organic Compounds.

This year’s Earth Day global theme is Green Cities. We need to look both inward and outward to see the undeniable need for the world’s communities to become sustainable.  Without each of us, nothing big can, or will happen. This is a magnificent world we have the privilege to share and the responsibility to protect. Happy Earth Day to all of us.

 

Share

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
Share

sunThe sunniest – and hottest – days of summer are upon us.  While these days might be some of the most uncomfortable ones to bear, they also are the longest, and have the most potential for harvesting the power of the sun, using solar technology.

The mobile devices we use every day are remarkable tools, and using them can significantly reduce our paper consumption.  But these devices have a dark side: they recharge by drawing on the power grid – and, most likely, fossil fuels – to charge.

Luckily, there are affordable and effective options available on the market for the individual looking to reduce their reliance on the fossil-fuel powered grid.  Below are two options by Solio which may be of interest to our readers.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

The Solio Mono T solar charger is the perfect companion for living the urban lifestyle wherever you are. Its compact nature allows you to slip it in your pocket or throw in a bag-its durable Lexan shell resists breakage. Designed for the urban enthusiast with a green streak, the Mono battery pack will keep you switched on at a cool price! It works with almost any electronic gadget you own–camera, PDA/phone, GPS, etc.–and stores power very reliably so it’s ready anytime, day or night.

The Solio Rocsta Hybrid Solar Charger is heavier duty than the Best Energy System Classic.  Its built-in carabiner makes it ideal for hikers, bikers, climbers, and backpackers and can also charge ahead of time from a wall socket or USB port.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

Share

courtesy national renewable energy laboratory

One of the most energy-efficient buildings in the United States, the Research Support Facility, is located in Golden, Colorado.  The building — green by any standard — is one of the first commerical buildings in the U.S. to attempt accomplishing a complete energy neutrality, meaning that the building produces as much energy as it consumes, or zero net energy consumption.

This is no minor accomplishment, and as the New York Times reports, involves a total rethinking of how an office building works.  From the sub-basement to the parking lot, each feature of the building was considered to reduce its energy consumption, maximize efficiency, and inculcate an attitude of energy conservation in the employees working in the building.

Commerical buildings account for nearly 18% of energy consumption in the U.S., so creating a successful energy-neutral office building could have far-reaching reverberations across the country.

The building is 222,00 feet and has a huge number of energy-saving features: a photovoltaic array on the roof of the building, a window shading system to reduce cooling costs, light-bending louvers that bounce light into the office area reducing the need for artificial lighting, a sub-basement that stores radiant heat, central printing stations that reduce the amount of printing employees do, energy monitoring systems that send feedback straight to employees’ computers, windows that open and close automatically to stabilize the building’s temperature…

The number of innovations and inventive ideas in green buildings is truly staggering, and some of these basic principles can be applied even in a regular person’s home.  Below are two options to significantly reduce energy consumption in an average household.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

Heating homes and heating water are two of the most energy-intensive activities that occur in a home.  So, here are some ways to help the homeowner make the most significant reduction of energy consumption:

Bonded Logic Installation

Bonded Logic Ultra Touch Insulation. We’ve written extensively in the past about insulating homes and the added benefits of fitting your home so that it retains more heat, instead of losing it.  This is better for reducing heating costs, and thus for reducing our environmental footprint – approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted each year from residences, most of which is the consequence of home heating.  Conventional fiberglass insulation is a suspected carcinogen, so using a green product like Bonded Logic Ultratouch Recycled Cotton Insulation is a major step towards making a greener home.  For an even more efficient home, National Fiber Cel-Pak Cellulose Insulation is a blow-in material that settles into the tiniest corners and cracks of walls, ceilings, and attics.

Water heaters are one of the largest consumers of energy in the average home, and swapping out an older-model water heater for a new, energy-efficient model can substantially reduce energy costs.  The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater is an especially energy-efficient model, qualified by ENERGY STAR.  It combines heat pump technology with traditional electric elements to save the homeowner up to 62% on annual water heating expenses  — even up to $320.

For many green products, including new green building materials carried by both Ecohaus and Greendepot, visit our websites: http://www.greendepot.com, and http://www.ecohaus.com.

Share

In New York City, it’s late autumn and winter is just around the corner.  The leaves have fallen from the trees, cold rains and wintry mixes have arrived, and previously-dormant radiators across the city are clanging away.  This is the time of year to begin weatherizing and winterizing your home – of making it energy-efficient, to lower your electric bill and make your home kinder on the environment and your bank account.

Another important reason to weatherize your home this winter: some of the rebates and incentives that the federal government is providing for energy-efficient upgrades to your home will expire on December 31, 2010.  With these rebates, making your home energy-efficient not only lowers your bills in the long run, but can make the initial upgrades extremely affordable, or in some cases, entirely free.

Lowering your winter electric bill can involve minor upgrades to large, comprehensive projects, according to your budget or time constraints.  They can range from sealing cracks and installing efficient insulation, to buying a new thermostat and installing sunlight’s; using indoor fans (which blow warm air, accumulated at the ceiling, back towards the floor), unblocking air vents, closing (or blocking up) a fireplace, using power strips, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, buying a new furnace or water heater are other ways for everyone to lower their bills and make their homes more energy efficient.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTONS

1. Insulation

We’ve written extensively in the past about insulating homes and the added benefits of fitting your home so that it retains more heat, instead of losing it.  This is better for reducing heating costs, and thus for reducing our environmental footprint – approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted each year from residences, most of which is the consequence of home heating.  Conventional fiberglass insulation is a suspected carcinogen, so using a green product like Bonded Logic Ultratouch Recycled Cotton Insulation is a major step towards making a greener home.  For an even more efficient home, National Fiber Cel-Pak Cellulose Insulation is a blow-in material that settles into the tiniest corners and cracks of walls, ceilings, and attics.

2. Skylighting

Letting daylight into a room is an effective way to warm a room – especially rooms that normally don’t receive sunlight, and require significantly more energy to bring to a comfortable temperature.  The Solatube Brighten Up! Tubular Daylighting Kit captures light from every angle – even low-angle winter sunlight – and reflects it down a tube into interior rooms, bathrooms, hallways, corridors, utility rooms, and any other spot that might not receive as much sunlight as you’d like.  Indeed, the Solatube can brighten spaces up to 300 square feet large.

3. Caulks and Sealants

Closing up cracks and drafts in homes is an effective – and inexpensive – way to conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs.   Using VOC-free caulks is an important way to protect the health of everyone in your home.  VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that are “off-gassed” from conventional caulks and can cause serious neurological problems, kidney failure, and is a suspected carcinogen.  Safecoat is a toxin-free caulk that can be used to plug drafts and lower your winter energy bills.

4. Water Heaters

Water heaters are one of the largest consumers of energy in the average home, and swapping out an older-model water heater for a new, energy-efficient model can substantially reduce energy costs.  The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater is an especially energy-efficient model, qualified by ENERGY STAR.  It combines heat pump technology with traditional electric elements to save the homeowner up to 62% on annual water heating expenses  — even up to $320.  In addition to the long term cost-saving effects of this heater, it also qualifies for a federal energy tax credit, and additional state rebates.

5. Other, every day items that you can change around the house can help reduce your electricity bill.  Using an energy monitor or power strip – and ensuring you turn it off when you’re not using appliances – can stop “phantom charges” that slowly drive up your electricity costs.  Using compact fluorescent bulbs – and even more efficient LED bulbs – can bring electricity costs even further.

For these energy-efficient green products and many, many more, make sure to visit http://greendepot.com.

Share

by flickr user tambako the jaguar

As tightly as we might insulate our homes – filling every nook with environmentally-friendly fill insulation, and caulking every crack and draft – windows are still a major drain on heating and energy bills.

The R-value is the standard unit of how insulating a construction material is.  Conventional fiberglass battens typically have an R-Value of 10.9; some more-efficient green insulations can have R-Values up to 13.  An average glass window has an R-value of one, meaning that a significant amount of energy can pass through a standard window.  Researchers have determined that windows in the U.S. consume about a third of a building’s heating and cooling energy – roughly 4.1 quadrillion BTU of energy.

So, upgrading windows to super-insulated ones presents an opportunity to substantially reduce energy-consumption and lower the cost of heating and cooling a home.

Most LEED-certified buildings use insulated glass.  These are windows with two or three panes stacked in the frame.  The space between panes traps air and significantly increases their efficiency, sometimes providing an R-value rating of two or three.  The most efficient standard insulated glass windows have argon or krypton gas between the panes.

The most efficient type of insulated windows are vacuum glass panels under development by Guardian Industries, and expected to arrive on the market by the end of 2010.  These work on the same physical principle as a thermos bottle – by creating a vacuum between panes of glass, energy cannot transfer through by convection or conduction.  The panes are then coated with a material that reduces radiative heat transfer, providing an R-value of up to R-13. That means a vacuum-glazed window is as insulating as a brick wall, and can help add thermal energy to a house, instead of leaking it – sort of like a garden greenhouse.

Share