Automatically Preheat Water to Save Energy

Usually when we are talking about plumbing fixtures for green building we are dealing with something that conserves water. But some plumbing devices can contribute to energy savings, as well. When you are in the shower, the hot water from the shower strikes your body and transfers some heat before it falls away. But most of the heat in that water simply goes down the drain. Reportedly, 80 to 90 percent of the energy used to heat water for the…

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Low Impact Living: Green Your Kitchen

Editor’s note: Thinking about a kitchen remodel? This week, Low Impact Living takes a look at every element of kitchen use, and how you can both make the space more efficient, more livable, and more earth-friendly. This post was originally published on September 7, 2007. You may not know it, but your kitchen is one of the biggest resource hogs in your house. You use electricity and natural gas for your appliances. You use water in your sink and dish…

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First LEED Certified MedSpa

Relaxation! Fashion! Celebrity! Botox! Booze! Interiors! Green! Yes, most of this list refers to the Brit series Ab Fab but if Eddy and Patsy turned in their smokes and cocktails for organic and sustainable munchies then they too would be excited for the opening of the Epi Center MedSpa, the first LEED certified MedSpa in the country. (Another LEED spa exists in D.C. but it isn’t a MedSpa). So, because fictional characters from a long ago Brit TV series couldn’t…

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Elements of Building: Materials

At the heart of all building projects are the materials, the stuff, the bricks and sticks, the elements that are assembled to build a building. Different materials have different impacts on the Earth. Some require extensive resources for their manufacture. Steel and other metals need to be refined from ore and processed into their final forms, often several operations, all taking great amounts of energy. The choices that go into selecting building materials have long range ramifications in a number…

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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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KBIS Report: It’s Getting Green in Here

As I walked around last year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, I asked where I could find the green products. I was encouraged to put on my walking shoes and make the trek to a minor hall where I found about twenty square feet devoted to five or six products that left little impression on me. Much has changed, it seems, in only one year. Green is the buzzword at this year’s show, helped in no small…

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Aerogel Insulation Advances

Aerogel is almost a product out of science fiction. Nicknamed “frozen smoke,” aerogel is extremely lightweight material, with a density only 3 times that of air. Only a small fraction of a volume of aerogel is the material itself. Most of the volume is filled with air. This makes aerogel an excellent insulator. (Aerogel provides nearly 40 times the insulation of fiberglass insulation.) Aerogel can withstand great pressures and is also an excellent sound insulator. Aerogels can also be used…

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Living Green Exhibit – 15 City Tour

San Francisco’s Union Square may be noted for its abundance of shopping, hotels, tourist joints, and even outside movies; but, a Green Home? Don’t call your Green Real Estate agent quite yet. The temporary green home occupied the prime real estate last week as part of the Better Homes and Gardens & Green Works Living Green exhibit. The green traveling exhibit offered surprisingly educational and eye-catching examples of various water savings devices, energy star appliances, sustainable countertops, flooring, and furniture.…

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Efficiency in a Clothes Dryer

The Dryer Miser is a huge step forward for one kind of energy sucking home appliance, the clothes dryer. While clotheslines are even more efficient and lower energy consuming, not everyone can use them all the time. Climate and weather can limit when a clothesline can be used, and many people live in buildings or sites where line drying is impractical. Instead of directly heating the air, the Dryer Miser uses a heat exchanger filled with a fluid that is…

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Ab Fab and Green

Daahling you look fab and Green. That’s what people may be saying after experiencing treatments in San Francisco’s eco-chic Epi Center MedSpa. Yes, the whole concept sounds soooo Los Angeles to me, too. Some of us don’t even get the whole mani-pedi thing so it might take a little coaxing to have some lipo or botox thing, even at this truly green spa. A facial might not be for all of us but we’re positively glowing when it comes to…

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Make Your Windows Safe for the Birds

Recently I found in my mail a press release about the bird-safe glass specified in Santiago Calatrava’s new Chicago Spire, and it reminded me that skyscrapers are not the only architectural threats to our avian cohabitants. While major cities located along migratory flyways get a lot of attention, they account for a comparatively small percentage of kills. The crucial next step, says New York City Audubon Society executive director Glenn Phillips, is “getting to the big designers of suburban and…

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Design Competition for Greener Concrete

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the Portland Cement Association (PCA) have announced their “Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World” student design competition. This is the third year for the competition. The concrete industry is looking for opportunities to boost the perception of concrete as a green material, since the mining, processing and transportation of concrete is responsible for 8% of all carbon dioxide produced by human activity.

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Greener Roof Replacement Options

At some point in the useful life of most houses, the roof needs to be replaced. An EPA report prepared in the late 1990s calculated that almost 4 million homes per year have their asphalt roofs replaced, leading to the generation of 6.4 million tons of asphalt roofing waste. (Table A-8) Because of this, roofing materials are one of the larger contributors to landfill construction debris. And most of the materials used in making shingles (the prevalent form of roofing…

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Least Sexy Top Ten Green Building Product

Of this year’s Building Green Top 10 Green Building Products, the least sexy is, without a doubt, the LifeGuard electrical cable manufactured by Houston Wire & Cable Company. Wire isn’t a sexy new building material. But sometimes the most prosaic of materials can be interesting, and something as exciting as a top 10 placement can come from a new development that improves on an old and very familiar material.

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Home Ventilation Control

Big buildings save energy by controlling which areas need to have heating or cooling, and not wasting energy on those spaces when they are not occupied. Similar features are sometimes found on high end homes (and are probably almost a necessity on the oversized starter castles spread across the outskirts of every city). But systems like that are hard to retrofit into smaller, older homes.

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