<img src="/files/images/ICF.png" border="0" alt="Insulock" width="239" height="178" />Photo Credit: InsulockInsulated concrete forms (ICFs) are an alternative method for building concrete walls. They are most typically used for foundation (basement) walls, but can be used in some other applications as well. Of course, they offer green benefits. <br /><br />The most obvious improvement offered by using ICFs is the addition of insulation. Concrete has a very low <a href="http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11340">R-value</a> (an 8" thick concrete basement wall would typically have an R-value of approximately 0.75; even less than a single-glazed window with an average R-value of 1.0). So concrete walls offer very poor thermal performance. Even in the summertime, a concrete basement wall will be cool to the touch, because of this. Adding even a small amount of insulation to the concrete wall makes it better, and ICFs provide a good way of getting an insulated concrete wall.
<p><img src="/files/images/x.gif" width="272" height="189" alt="The BioDaversity Code" />This past Friday, I attended the <a href="http://remodelgreen.org">Remodel Green</a> Expo and Conference in Plymouth, Michigan. This was a one-day conference largely coordinated through the local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). There were two rooms of exhibits by manufacturers and suppliers for products ranging from architectural salvage and materials, to home power generation systems, to lighting and plumbing manufacturers, all emphasizing green solutions for building and remodeling. <br /><br />The keynote address was by David Johnston, a former remodeling contractor, who is now a consultant and author (<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FGreen-Remodeling-Changing-World-Room%2Fdp%2F0865714983%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1174317245%26sr%3D8-2&tag=greeopti-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325">Green Remodeling : Changing the World One Room at a Time</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=greeopti-20&l=ur2&o=1" border="0" width="1" height="1" /> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FBuilding-Green-Black-White-World%2Fdp%2F0867185074%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1174317593%26sr%3D8-1&tag=greeopti-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325">Building Green in a Black and White World</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=greeopti-20&l=ur2&o=1" border="0" width="1" height="1" />)who spoke about climate issues and about why building greener buildings matters. Johnston prefers the term "Global Climate Change" to "Global Warming" because the effects will be more complex and catastrophic than mere warming. "Global Warming" will actually make for a colder Europe, with the Gulf Stream diverted further south by a gradually warming polar cap. In addition to talking about why greener buildings are important, he also spoke extensively about how to make better, greener buildings. </p><p></p>
<p><img src="/files/images/veg.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="160" />Does a building need to be LEED certified in order to be green? Can produce be good even if it isn't labeled organic? I've come across a couple articles recently that ask some questions about the labels people use to try to promote their products, and the value those terms offer. </p><p>There are costs (sometimes very high costs) for participating in these programs. These costs can be prohibitive for small-scale businesses, which, ironically, are often the ones most interested in pursuing a greener way in order to distinguish themselves from their larger competitors.<br /><br />'Organic' has become a regulated term. In 2002, the USDA set guidelines for using the term. A farm earning more than $5,000 per year is required to complete extensive paperwork and pay certification fees if they want to advertise their produce as being 'Certified Organic.' And there are questions about the value of the term 'Organic" anymore.</p>
<p><img src="/files/images/coldframe-b.png" border="0" width="230" height="217" />This weekend we got the first tantalizing taste of spring as the weather was clear and bright and temperatures rose well above freezing for the first time in months. Snow melted (though not entirely yet), and started the <a href="/blog/2007/03/13/lets_talk_about_it_sustainable_gardening_tips">thoughts of summer gardens</a> in mind. But nighttime temperatures are still falling below freezing, and it's far too early to put plants in the ground, unless you provide a little assistance.<br /><br />If your garden has a spot with good access to the sun throughout the day, you can use a cold frame to start your plants earlier in the year than you would otherwise. A cold frame is a very simple item. It is really just a small greenhouse. Daytime sun will warm the air and the ground inside, making it easier for plants to start growing. Nighttime temperatures inside the cold frame may fall back close to outdoor ambient temperature, but the extra heat gained during the day and the wind protection the encosure provides will help keep the plants alive even if there is an overnight frost.<br /></p>
<p><img src="/files/images/KWhouse1.jpg" width="234" height="200" alt=" GRID Alternatives" />The first LEED for houses (LEED-H) project in the Northwest to achieve a Silver rating was the 2,000 square foot Kelly-Woodford Home in Parkdale, Oregon. The house was built by the <a href="http://www.neilkelly.com/">Neil Kelly Company</a>, a Portland area builder. The company has been a leader in environmentally oriented construction for a number of years.</p>
<p><img src="/files/images/Mur_vegetal_quai_branly.img_assist_custom.png" border="0" alt="Wikipedia" width="240" height="180" /><strong>Vegetated Wall at Quai Branly Museum: </strong>Photo Credit: WikipediaGreen roofs are possibly one of the more radical green features being introduced to many people through the green building movement. Although they have been well established in central Europe for decades, it is only relatively recently that the idea of a vegetated roof has been considered in North America.<br /><br />Contemporary vegetated roofs have little in common with old "earth sheltered" buildings of the 70s. A vegetated roof is an integrated system, with everything engineered for its performance in the system from the roof membranes which keep water from entering the building to the "growth media" engineered soil that sustains the plants.</p>
<p><img src="/files/images/koos1.jpg" border="0" alt="cmhc.ca" width="339" height="243" />Photo Credit: cmhc.ca<br />Adaptive reuse is the use of an existing structure for a new purpose; in short, it is recycling for buildings. Rather than demolishing an old structure to clear a site, the existing structure is rehabilitated and used for a new purpose. </p><p><a href="http://www.chestermangroup.com/koos/index.html">Koo's Corner</a> is a project in Vancouver that took an old automotive repair shop and turned it into six urban loft residences. The existing garage building was turned into two of the lofts, and another four units were built to fit the neighborhood context. Building in an existing neighborhood helps to increase urban density (which makes for more efficient use of existing city services) and makes use of available property rather than buldozing undeveloped land for construction.</p>
<p><a href="/"><img src="/files/images/wolbrink-elev.img_assist_custom.jpg" border="0" alt=" Chicagoland Avenues " width="200" height="267" /></a><strong>2020 W Rice-Elevation: </strong>Photo Credit: Chicagoland Avenues Green building isn't a style, it's an approach. While there may be common features that appear in many green homes and buildings, there is not a single style that all green buildings follow.</p>