A Walkable City & Healthier Residents

I recently had the opportunity to compare a walkable urban city with my own Silicon Valley suburb. I have read about the environmental benefits of the “New Urbanism”. On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., I observed the health benefits of an urban lifestyle. I was surprised that residents of Washington, D.C. appeared more trim and physically fit than my health-conscious California neighbors.

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Top 10 EcoPrinciples for Communities

With the economy in turmoil, a real estate prices dropping, green communities and green building will become more important. It’s easy to see how broken our current community model is in terms of the urban sprawl; the average American commute continues to grow longer. Between 1969 and 2001, the number of vehicle miles traveled for commuting jumped from 4,180 to 5,720. The Sierra Club notes that today’s average American driver spends what amounts to 55 eight hour workdays behind the…

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CA Study Cites Chemicals in the Home as Possible Autism Trigger

While autism rates have been climbing at a frightening rate, its root causes have remained elusive. Researchers at the University of California, Davis M.I.N.D. institute have concluded that the focus of autism research should shift away from genetics or accounting practices and toward the increase of toxic chemicals and infectious microbes in the environment, especially in the home. Since 1990, autism rates in California have increased 600 to 700 percent. The study, published in Epidemiology, suggests that environmental toxins like…

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2009 Green Home Resolutions

2008 was the year that saw elements of green building become mainstream and increased interest in green technologies. But for those of us who are not building a new house or who don’t keep up with all the new technologies, there are many simple, inexpensive (or free) ways to green your life that you can do right now. The result will be a more energy efficient, healthier, and more sustainable environment for you and your children. Do yourself and you…

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Never Mind the Earth, Green Your Home for Your Health

Emissions and Indoor Air Quality While sustainability and energy efficiency often dominate the green building conversation, the issue that can have the most immediate impact on your family’s health is indoor air quality. Green building programs seek to limit your family’s exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, that exist in some building materials and furniture. Continued exposure to these VOCs has caused health problems ranging from headaches and nausea to cancer. Green building programs like the US Green Building…

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What’s up Doc? A New Green SF Chiropractic Office

As Bugs Bunny used to say “What’s up Doc?” In the newly opened chiropractic office the reply would be “green”, as in green building. Yes, green building continues its march into the homes and offices across America and some doctors realize that sustainable interiors means healthy patients (or at least healthier). Take for instance, the new Executive Express Chiropractic designed by Martinkovic Milford Architects and built by Peacock Construction. A small place to be sure but the designers make good…

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A Rational Discussion on Radon in Granite Countertops

This post is a follow-up to The Fight Over Radon in Granite Countertops Heats Up, which will provide some background information on the granite/radon issue. With the legion of both deniers and alarmists out there attempting to monopolize the discussion over the safety of granite countertops, it is difficult to find unbiased information. Peruse the comments in the above post and you can see the discussion has devolved into name calling. The deniers, many of whom work in the granite…

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Wood Product Manufacturers Bracing for CARB 2009

The air is going to get a little bit cleaner come January, 2009 – and that has nothing to do with a new presidential administration. The California Air Resources Board’s dramatic Air Toxic Control Measure known as “the CARB rule” will go into effect January 1 and will, among other things, mandate a reduction in formaldehyde levels in composite wood products like particle board, hardwood plywood, and medium density fiberboard. Manufacturers of composite wood products have less than four months…

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The Costs of Not Building Green

Despite the narrowing gap in cost between green building and traditional “to-code” building, most builders and home buyers still perceive the green option to be significantly more expensive. The reality is that due to increased builder education and an influx of affordable green building products, a building can be built green within the same budget as a non-green building. According to Clark Wilson, CEO of Austin based Green Builders, Inc., “It’s our job as builders to find those green products…

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Eco-Tourism gets Political Boost

I remember reading the little placard on the bathroom vanity advising me to hang my damp towels with curiosity. We were on vacation and it was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing. We did this at home, but it seemed more practical – a way to avoid doing laundry each night. There was also a note about turning the lights out when we left our room. Little things. We discussed the hanging of the towels…

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Fight over Radon in Granite Countertops Heats Up

Please visit an updated post on radon in granite countertops here: A Rational Discussion on Radon in Granite Countertops The Marble Institute of America better get ready for another round of fighting because the issue of radon in granite countertops is back. For the past decade, the MIA has been trying, with much success, to squash the rumor that granite countertops have the potential to add dangerous amounts of radon in the home. A new study being conducted by Houston…

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Lettuce Eat Green

Restaurants here in San Francisco open, and close, almost as often as the fog rolls in so we don’t usually pay an extreme amount of our precious attention to another restaurant du jour. Mixt Greens recently opened but they don’t qualify for new kid on the block status nonetheless they do deserve green props. Thus I direct my attention to their third installment of the Mixt Greens empire. This third location, located in SoMa, just opened and used zero-VOC paints…

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Formaldehyde and Indoor Air Quality

Today’s news included the story that testing on FEMA-supplied temporary housing trailers in Mississippi and Louisiana has found extremely high levels of formaldehyde in the air, despite earlier reports issued by FEMA indicating that there was no problem. Tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on more than 500 trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi showed formaldehyde levels that were five times higher than levels in a normal house. The levels in some trailers were nearly 40 times what…

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