Several years ago, about 20 miles east of Seattle, Washington, a goal was set to build a model for 21st century homes – and the zHome project was born. September saw the completion of this state-of-the art project, and it is revolutionary on almost every level. Zero-Net Energy The buildings have built-in energy efficiencies to help minimize waste – like heat recovering technology - and that accounts for most of the lowered energy use in these homes. The buildings have solar-panels that generate and offset the remaining energy use to achieve net zero energy use and net zero CO2 emissions over the course of a year. Water Conservation zHomes are slated to use just 40% of the average water use of a typical home. All 10 units have successfully earned WaterSense New Home Certification. These are the first homes in the State, and among the first in the nation, to receive this recognition. The units save water in a number of ways: high-efficiency water fixtures and appliances, rain-garden landcaping, and rain-water capture for use in flushing toilets and laundry. The zHomes are also the first in the Nation to win Salmon Safe certification for their handling of stormwater runoff. Sustainable Materials Use Each unit is finished with low-toxic, eco-friendly and durable materials from floor to ceiling to inside the walls. The bulk of the materials in the project come from within 500 miles of the site. They also used recycled materials in finishes like tiles and countertops; FSC-certified woods for decking, handrails, siding and more; and super-durable materials for siding and roofing to minimize frequency of maintenance and replacement. On top of that, 90% of the construction waste from the building of these homes was recycled or reused. There are many more exceptional qualities to the zHome project that make it one of the most innovative developments in the country today. Visit http://z-home.org to learn more! This project is a model for 21st century homes – they’ve proved that these ideas are scalable – let’s hope they aren’t unique for long! Click here to visit our website.
One of our country’s hubs of industry and innovation Chicago has a great sustainability story to tell. Chicago can boast both a City Climate Action Plan and a City Center for Green Technology, not to mention countless other resources, events, and initiatives to help their residents adopt sustainable practices. One such event is coming up in just a couple of weeks, openhousechicago 2011 (OHC) on October 15 and 16! Presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, OHC is a free public event to get you into and behind-the-scenes of over 125 of the city’s greatest spaces and places.
The central themes for this event are sustainability and community—how buildings demonstrate a commitment to energy efficiency and green technology, and how design connects people and places to create great communities. Speaking to those themes, Green Depot Chicago will be a hub for green-building activity that weekend with great speakers, exhibitors and workshops lined up for both days!
Please see below for a complete schedule of OHC Events at Green Depot Chicago. Be sure to add us to your itinerary!
Whether you are an architecture buff, history enthusiast, or cultural novice, OHC is a unique event that’s fun for all ages, locals and visitors, suburbanites and city dwellers. Participating in OHC is like getting a “backstage pass” to a wide range of Chicago’s most important and interesting locations in many different neighborhoods.
OHC EVENTS AT GREEN DEPOT CHICAGO
Saturday, October 15
9am Choosing Materials, Contractors and Starting with a piece of paper and a plan by Mark Wille
9:30am Hands on: Working with Clay Plasters by Anna Wolfson
10am Insulated Concrete Forms – Benefits and Construction since 1966 by Eric Barton
10:30 USGBC – Educational Opportunites
11am Greening Existing Building with LEED by Jason LaFleur
11:30am Urban Prairie Cabinets: Design A Healthy Kitchen using Frienly Materials by Michelle Silver
12pm Insulation, Weatherization and Energy Audits by Tom Decker
12:30pm Earth Friendly Products: Cleaner Cleaners by Luke Bobek
1pm Impervia Fiberglass Windows by Kim Robinson
1pm Sprayon Sound reducing Coating by John Finn
1:30pm Demystifying Sustainable Coating Technologies and Performance Expectations by John Bennett
2pm Designing with Spray Foam Insulation by Chuck Skopelja
2:30pm Fuhr Industrial Coatings and Coverage by Adam Fuhr
3pm Growth and Desgin Potential of Fiber Cement by Michelle McKenzie
3:30pm The Greenest Home in America, Highest LEED points and Cold Cathode Lighting by Jacek Helenowsi
4pm Energy Star Homes and Businesses/Eco Smart Buildings by George Sullivan
4:30pm Foundations Bamboo Flooring by Stanley Sulkowski
5pm Chrysalis Clear and Creativly Designed Green Wall Panels by Steve Vegler
5:30pm reBuilding EXchange and Deconstruction Reuse by Meegan Czop
6pm Energy Efficiency within the Home:Property Services and Audits by Joe Konopacki
6:30pm Strange Patina – Unique, Vintage, Rare, Antique by Ron Smith
Design and Construction by McKinley Wells
Solatube International by Tim Cofran
Winsol Power by Ron Cowgill
GreenBoo by Dennis Rossi
WCPT AM/FM with Mark Earnest
Illinois Association of Energy Raters and Home Performance Professionals by Corbett Lunsford
Grow Modular and & Readapted by Bill Mitchell
Builder Brothers Builders by Joe Builder
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and more R’s
10am Impervia Fiberglass Windows by Kim Robinson
10:30am Weatherize for Convective Heat Loss by Bob Chomko
11am Financial Incentives for Green Building and Remodeling by Dan rappel, Bill Seeger, Chris McAuliffe
11:30 Sustainable Back Yards – Compost Bins and Rain Barrels – Chicago Dept of Environment by Mark Wille
12pm PlyBam: A Grade Bamboo Plywood and Countertops by Mark Wille
12:30pm Foundations Bamboo Flooring by Stanley Sulkowski
1pm Experts Expert Consultant: Q & A for an Attainable Green Home by Tim Heppner Chicago Green Homes
1:30pm Eco Friendly Resin Panels for your home, business or design needs by Steve Zegler
2pm Growth and Design Potential of Fiber Cement by Michelle McKenzie
2:30pm Build Your Own Bamboo Tool Box by Cynthia Main & Blake Sloane & Mark Wille, reBuilding EXchange
3pm Demystifying Sustainable Coating Technologies and Performance Expectations by John Bennett
4pm Ivy Coatings by Joe Silver
4:30pm A Discussion on Acronyms from the Three Rs to the Three Cs by Robert Hammond
5pm Custom Designs: Bamboo, Cork, Reclaimed and Urban Forest Wood by Mark Wille
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]greendepot.com. Availability is limited.
September has just arrived and that means Autumn will soon arrive. Even though in some places we might still be in the dog days of summer, thinking ahead to the cooler and cold months can ensure you’re not scrambling to weatherize at the last minute, and can even save you money as demand for weatherization projects are in lesser demand.
Weatherizing is a simple concept. Any home that’s not built to be hyper-efficient (like a passive house) typically has drafts. These often come from under doors, around window frames, and from the attic. Each draft is a space in the barrier between the interior of your house and the great outdoors, where heated air (in the winter) and cooled air (in the summer can escape) – raising the cost of heating and cooling a home. Weatherizing involves sealing up those cracks with caulk, insulation, weather strips, and newer windows, among other things.
The idea that weatherizing is not worth the initial cost, or that those initial costs won’t be offset over time, isn’t exactly accurate, even if it’s a common concern. Indeed, weatherization has proven to increase home energy efficiency so significantly that weatherizing programs are common amongst government and community development initiatives. The Department of Energy, for example, has run the Weatherization Assistance Program since 1972, which helps low-income people insulate their homes. The DoE estimates that each of these homes weatherized saves nearly $350 annually, and since 1972 more than 6.2 million homes have been weatherized under the assistance program, saving the United States more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually.
Weatherizing a home can involve any number of home projects, some of which may be major, and some of which may be minor, according to your budget constraints. Sealing cracks with caulk and installing a more energy-efficient thermostat are some examples of small projects; re-insulating your walls and attic (with eco insulation, we hope!) and installing a new furnace or double-paned windows are examples of significantly larger and more expensive projects – although the savings will be even more substantial over time.
We’ve even written in the past about some of the less-obvious places to use VOC-free caulking to weatherize your home. These include gaps between construction materials (think between brink and wood, or the foundation and walls); wherever utility lines enter a house; any vent, including dryer and air conditioning vents; and around mail chutes. For the very ambitious weatherizer, there are ways to check for gaps beyond feeling with the hand. Depressurizing the home by turning off all heating and cooling, closing all windows and doors, and then moving an incense stick around common leak gaps can help determine where there are drafts getting in.
Here are a few examples of some green products that Green Depot carries to get your home as prepared as possible for the upcoming autumn and winter months:
GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS
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. 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.
One of the most innovative instances of upcycling (that is, converting waste materials into new materials or products that have a greater environmental value) that we’ve come across is Fireclay Tiles.
NPR’s Morning Edition was quick to pick up on this story as well for its sheer ingenuity: Fireclay Tile uses discarded porcelain toilets to make tiling.
It’s an excellent use for the old toilets. According to the manager of the landfill where Fireclay first began sourcing their old toilets, those useless products were being sent to Asia to be recycled. Fireclay began buying up these toilets by the tonnage, and grinding them down into a sandy material to be mixed in with clay.
The results of this project have been substantial. Today, Fireclay’s Debris Series Recycled tile uses over 60% locally-sourced post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled materials to create all sorts of green products: field, trim, and decorative tile. The tiles are fired in kilns using natural gas, using energy-efficient processes. Additionally, Fireclay Debris Series tiles are 100% VOC-free.
What’s more, is that using Debris Series tiles can qualifying a building for LEED points.
Deforestation is a major environmental issue – but not only in the tropical rainforests of the world. Throughout North America, many forests have been degraded and permanently damaged from clear-cut harvesting techniques. Clear-cutting has a variety of significant negative impacts on local ecosystems wherever it occurs: it leads to the loss of habitat for wildlife species; a loss of jobs and other economic activity once the forest is cleared; a greater possibility of invasive species and other unwanted flora establishing itself on the clearcut site; a decrease in property values; and a decrease in available outdoor recreation opportunities.
Clearcutting can also result in massive soil erosion. A study conducted at the University of Oregon found that clear cut areas often suffer three times as much erosion due to slides than areas that were never clear cut; and when logging roads are included in these calculations, slide activity is five times greater relative to nearby forested areas. [Click here for the report]. Moreover, a study from Southern University Carbondale in Illinois found that even after 30 years of recovery of a clear cut oak forest, natural occurrence of native oak trees was dramatically reduced and the presence of other species was greatly increased. Clear cutting didn’t only result in the loss of forest habitat and ecosystem in 1973, when that forest was first harvested – the clear cutting resulted in a permanent (and, arguably, unnatural) alteration to the area’s forest ecosystem. [Click here for the report].
Enter the Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities (HFHC) partnership located in Portland, Oregon. HFHC is an innovative and collaborative project founded by Sustainable Northwest, an NGO dedicated to building partnerships that promote environmentally-sound economic development in Northwest American communities.
The HFHC Partnership is a network of people, organizations, and small businesses working together to accomplish a common vision: to build awareness of, and demand for, regionally and responsibly-produced wood products that are created in rural communities. According to their website, the network not only raises that awareness, but “enhances rural capacity to produce and market goods that benefit both entrepreneurs and forest ecosystems.” The idea is that through creating a sustainable wood economy, we can build a rural Northwestern economy that doesn’t rely on the destruction of forest ecosystems to give people a stable livelihood.
Sustainable Northwest not only supports the enlargement of this network, but also runs a for-profit subsidiary which promotes and distributes HFHC member products into the marketplace. Sustainable Northwest Wood connects small wood mills to green building markets to help promote not only sustainable forestry, but to promote green building and construction as well. In this manner, HFHC also functions as a marketing service which helps promote healthy forests, and sustainable local economies.
And to back up their claims of sustainability, HFHC relies on the international standard of sustainable forest management: Forest Stewardship Council certification. HFHC maintains a group certificate for FSC Chain of Custody, tracking wood products from the forest to the consumer. According to the HFHC, 25 businesses participate in the group chain of custody.
GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS
Members of the Health Forests, Healthy Communities partnership have all of their wood products certified under FSC guidelines, and all of the lumber products that we carry at Green Depot are likewise FSC-approved. Lumber products with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal are sourced from forests that are managed responsibly and sustainably. The FSC vets forest managers and lumber production companies to ensure that their methods are sustainable before going to market. Certification criteria require that logging methods preserve biodiversity, reduce environmental impacts, maintain the rights of indigenous communities and forestry workers, include a long-term forest management plan, comply with laws and international treaties, and that logging practices do not destroy forests, protect the habitats of endangered wildlife, and that profits from commercial forest endeavors are shared equitably with forest communities. The FSC is non-governmental, non-for-profit, and all lumber producers participate in the program voluntarily.
Green Depot carries FSC-Certified wood, and can provide Chain of Custody (CoC) documentation, ensuring total tracking of the supply chain from forest to mill to processor, distributor, or treater; and finally, to delivery at our warehouses or jobsite.