At PCBC in June, I got my first look at Halo SLD Surface LED Downlights. The technology has been around a couple of years, but the products keep improving.
Jul 12, 2016 9:07:18 AM
May 9, 2016 9:12:10 AM
ENVIRONMENTALIST BILL MCKIBBEN, a vocal opponent of the proposed XL Pipeline—originating in the Tar Sands of Canada—has likened the extraction of those dirty fuels to a death blow for the planet, and he's not alone. The major concern is the release of buried methane in the extraction process, but that's just one straw on the climate change camel's back. There's also the burning of the extracted oil, the clearing and burning of forests and so on.
Apr 14, 2016 1:39:27 PM
I remember, a few years back, having a conversation with a friend about whether any industries are really "clean." Sometimes the villains can be recognized quickly. The cigarette industry. The fossil fuel industry. But what about computers? They seem to have had a relatively benign effect on the planet, despite the obvious drawbacks of increased surveillance and loss of privacy.;
With the release of the Panama Papers, however, my original line of questioning, whether the negatives associated with multinational corporations inevitably outweigh their contribution to global well being, seems to have been on track. The bad behavior at the top of the corporate pyramid schemes is more or less universal. Some just hide the skeletons better.
Mar 30, 2016 8:10:35 AM
Remember back in 2011, when an earthquake centered in Virginia damaged the Washington monument? At the time, there were some anecdotal articles suggesting that fracking activities in the region may have triggered the quake. The reports, however, were mostly ignored, and the frackers went back to business as usual. This was also the period when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was leveraging U.S. fracking operations into other countries around the world. It's little wonder the fracking-earthquake connection was not pursued.
Jan 20, 2016 9:30:00 AM
The building industry is notoriously slow to change, but when the global recession hit a few years ago, smart builders carved a green niche to save their companies. Eco-friendly construction tends to continue, even when times are relatively bad, motivated by the idea of saving money on energy, water, and so on.
What's really changed in the past couple of decades? Here's my short list of some of the best and brightest ideas, and why they matter:
LED Lighting. Finally, we can stop cursing our compact fluorescent lamps. Unlike fluorescent lamps, which rarely live up to their promised of 10,000 hour lifespans, contain enough mercury to classify as hazardous waste and make your complexion look like undead zombie flesh, LED bulbs do it all. They' use a fraction of the energy of a CFL, come in dimmable versions that change color warmly, last up to 50,000 hours, and don't contain mercury. Win, win, win. Another new entry into this category are LED replacement lamps for fluorescent fixtures. This is a major upgrade in terms of both performance and sustainability. The common 4-ft. lamps in fluorescent lamps contain hazardous mercury, and we all know they don't last as long as they should. A comparable LED replacement lamp uses half the power, comes on instantly, and could last 50,000 hours, compared to about 8,000 hours for CFLs.
Jan 13, 2016 11:03:49 AM
No shortage of eye candy at this year's CES show in Las Vegas. To find the real innovation jewels, I mined through hundreds of time wasters, vanity feeders and resource wasters. Here's my very short list of memorable rollouts:
Nov 15, 2015 2:16:17 PM
Aug 14, 2015 6:10:08 PM
Rigid insulation board is one of those building products that's heavily front-end loaded with regard to its environmental impacts. It comes at a high initial environmental cost, but then reduces CO2 pollution for the life of the home. And Styrofoam extruded polystyrene foam is one of the best known, best selling brands.
Jun 4, 2015 7:24:24 AM
I received a couple of these unusual products in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and plugged one in to test it. As advertised, The SnapPower Guidelight outlet cover has a tiny light sensor that shuts the plate off during the day (unless it's very overcast, and it requires no wiring.
Mar 30, 2015 3:24:00 PM
The Solar Living Sourcebook has been around for many years, but its authors have not let the book fall behind the times. The latest edition is on top of all of the latest trends in alternative energy systems: thin-film solar panels, building integrated photovoltaics, low-speed wind turbines, heat-recovery ventilators. You name the technology, it's discussed in detail in this book.
Mar 12, 2015 2:32:00 PM
THE RESULTS, collected last year in a national survey, shed a little light on why urban and rural homes tend to be so different. And they also take some heat off builders and developers, who are often accused of upselling clients to unnecesarily large homes. In the light of this data, they'e simply giving the market what it wants.
Feb 26, 2015 2:18:00 PM
Feb 22, 2015 8:09:00 PM
GREEN IS A VAGUE WORD, one that’s often overused and misused. But it’s still arguably the term that consumers relate most to conserving water, energy, biodiversity and raw resources. And when you dig deep enough, these are the “deep green” concerns—the issues likely to impact human survival. On the next tier are “medium green” issues that affect human health: air quality, water purity and so on. In the “light green” arena, I would relegate issues such as plant efficiency and packaging reduction. That’s because, as important as these efforts are, simply making a production facility more efficient does not necessarily mean it will use fewer resources or more recycled material. Often, any decrease in impact is lost as the facility ramps up volume.