January 31, 2007

Which Firewood Burns Cleanest

umbra.gifAfter our article a couple weeks ago on True Fuel's new renewable, eco-friendly firewood made from sawdust, we were intrigued to read Grist's Ask Umbra column on "Which Wood to Burn."

In response to a reader's question re: how to reduce smoke and pollutants coming from chimney's and woodburning stoves:

The short answer is: buy a dense wood, buy it split or split it yourself, and give it six months to a year to dry. Mayhap what you see in one chimney vs. another is smoldering, or wet wood, or variation caused by weather and stove type. What you want is a hot, efficient fire followed by well banked coals.

Read the whole story at Ask Umbra.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

January 25, 2007

Pebbles Crib Bedding - Organic Cotton

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Are you and/or a loved one getting ready to welcome a new baby to your lives? The "Pebbles" bedding collection from Nest combines stylish design with eco-friendly materials.
Vibrant colors and a playful geometric print are featured on extra soft, 100% certified organic cotton. The quilt and bumper are stuffed with post-consumer recycled soda bottles, that offers cuddly warm comfort to your little one.

Pebbles Crib Bedding Set is available in pink or green.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

January 8, 2007

Lights, Camera...Wait, Check the Lights: NYTimes on Fluorescent Light Bulbs

07hamilton_CA1.190.jpgWilliam L. Hamilton writes in interesting cover page article in "Week in Review" section of this Sunday's New York Times about the rise (and the limitations) of energy saving fluorescent light-bulbs.

WHEN I found out last week that Wal-Mart, America’s biggest company, was putting a push on compact fluorescent light bulbs, hoping to make them a new lighting standard at home because they use 75 percent less energy, last 10 times longer and would save me $30 over the life of each bulb, I thought to myself, what’s not to like?

Well, fluorescent light’s not to like, many people might say.

What’s the problem? For one, it’s not incandescent.

The article goes on to discuss the evolution of fluorescent lighting -- its energy efficiency, its longevity, recent advances in fluorescent coating to make the light almost indistinguishable from incandescent light. At least until you look at yourself under it.

The problem, and Hamilton would argue, the barrier to the widespread adoption of fluorescent light bulbs for home use, is that it makes people look sickly, cool, and, well, industrial, instead of healthy, warm and homey.

Hamilton urges scientists and home designers to look for ways to make the lighting more palatable for home use. In the meantime, he says, don't expect to find it lighting the dressing rooms at The Gap (never mind your neighbor's living room).

Read the full article at NYTimes.com.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

January 1, 2007

Breath a Little Easier: RabbitAir BioGP Air Purifier

RabbitAirBioGP.jpgWe may be in the market for a new HEPA air purifier. I've got my eye on the RabbitAir BioGP Air Purifier.

It operates in three stages: Stage 1 pre-filters large size particles, dust, pet hair, germs, fungus and mold. Stage 2 is the BioGP® HEPA filter which uses "bio fibers" to destroy bacteria and allergens including pollen, dust mites, bacteria, cigarette odor, fungus, greenhouse gasses, and household odors. Stage 3 is the Honeycomb Charcoal deodorization filter which removes exhaust gas, pet odor, trash odor, chemical substances, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), household odor, and cigarette odor. Parts are sink-washable and dishwasher safe; and according the the company, the HEPA filter last 3 years (compared to 3-6 months for a typical HEPA filter.)

The Rabbit Air filter is evidently the quietest air purifier on the market, and gets great reviews on Amazon. Plus, Rabbit Air is selling it for 37% off the retail price of $600. (So you get it for $380 vs. $600.)

Available at Amazon.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 30, 2006

Candle, Candle, Burning Bright: LED Rechargeable Candles

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My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light! - Edna St. Vincent Millay

I'm a huge fan of candlelight around the holidays. Heck, at any time of year. But I hate dealing with melted wax on my dinner table. And don't get me started about the time one of our dinner guests (who shall remain nameless!) set himself, and nearly the whole house on fire.

That's why I was excited to learn about the Aurelle Rechargeable Candles from Philips. They're kind of like our old reliable Candelas, only they come in pretty frosted glass vases and flicker like real candles. Plus, they're wind and water resistant, won't catch fire, and last for 10 hours on a single charge. Great for worry-free instant ambience - for your holiday decorating or as a gift.

Aurelle LED Rechargeable Candles are available from Philips.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 28, 2006

Twinkle Twinkle Little LED Lights: Philips Garland LED String Lights

philips garland LED lights.jpg
Deck the halls with boughs of Philips Garland LED String Lights? Our friend Jay just wrote in to let us know he's picked up a few strings of these beauties for all his holiday lighting needs. What makes them better than regular old twinkly Christmas lights? Well, here are a few things:
- Advanced LED technology
- Bulbs are fade, chip, peel, and break resistant
- Cool to the touch when lit
- Ultra low power usage (4.8 Watts)
- Up to 76% power savings compared to super bright mini sets
- 25,000 hour average bulb life
- Connects end-to-end

led lights 2.jpgThe folks over at LED Museum published a sparkling review of the blue versions (pictured at right). Energy efficiency and twinkly lights in the window? We totally approve.

Available at Target.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 10, 2006

Weekend Reading: Green House and Beyond

Hello Folks,

It's taking a while to get writing this morning - that's what a holiday (even Veteran's Day, evidently) will do to you. But hopefully it's worth the wait. I've got three - count 'em, three - books to recommend this morning, all from The Green House exhibit at The National Building Museum.

greenHouse.jpgFirst, The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design by Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne. This is the companion volume for The Green House exhibit. It shows how buildings fit with their surroundings and how we can make efficient use of our personal space. It presents sustainable design principles through the refreshing examples that appear in the exhibit itself. If you can't make it to D.C. for the exhibit, or if you went and want to take some of its ideas home with you (in a more comprehensive and durable package than the exhibit handouts), this is the book for you.

green building products.jpgLooking to put the lessons from The Green House to use? These next two books may be up your alley:

Green Building Products contains descriptions and manufacturer contact information for more than 1,400 environmentally friendly products and materials from ag-fiber panels to zero-VOC paints. All phases of residential construction are covered, from site work to flooring to renewable energy.

green remodeling.jpgDon't have the budget to rebuild from scratch? Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time by David R. Johnston and Kim Master describes simple green renovation solutions for homeowners, focusing on key aspects of the building, including foundations, framing, plumbing, windows, heating and finishes. Addressing all climates, this is a great resource for conventional homeowners, as well as for architects and remodeling contractors.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 9, 2006

Bambu Veneerware and Utensils

bamboodinnerware.gifWe've blogged before about Bamboo Veneerware disposable dinner plates from Greenfeet, available at Amazon. The Green House exhibit featured these and more, including Bamboo utensils from bambuhome.

The plates and utensils are made from organically harvested bamboo, and according to the bambuhome site,

- Are stronger than wood, and will not scratch even your finest cookware - Heat and stain resistant - Safe to use on non-stick surfaces, does not impart or absorb flavors - Lightweight, strong and long lasting - Hand finished with top grade natural, food-safe wood oil

Thanksgiving dinner plates, anyone?

Available at bambuhome.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 8, 2006

Kitchen Scraps: Scrapile Dining Table

At least as interesting as the materials used to make the Glidehouse for The Green House exhibit were the furnishings found inside it. One of my favorites was the SCRAPILE dining table.

Brooklyn designers Carlos Salgado and Bart Bettencourt have developed a unique method of collecting and repurposing discarded scraps of wood from New York's woodworking industry, and created a furniture line as funky looking as it is ecologically sound.

Available at Vivavi.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 7, 2006

Green House continued - The Glidehouse

One of the best things about the National Building Museum's Green House exhibit was walking through Glidehouse, a pre-fabricated, modular house designed by Northern California architect Michelle Kaufmann. Kaufmann designed the house in 2004 and has been working with builders in the U.S. and Canada to sell variations on it ranging in size from 672 to 2,016 square feet.

According to her website, the house is designed "to collaborate with nature":

The design is based on basic sustainable—green—design principles. The house is designed as a series of shallow buildings to allow maximum natural ventilation. Through the use of the gliding glass wall and the opposite operable clerestory windows above the storage bar, breezes are maximized. Indirect lighting minimizes the need for electric lighting.

Depending on the location, the house can either have solar panels, a geothermal, or a wind generator system, or a hybrid system. The exterior walls are made of maintenance-free Cor-Ten steel, Galvalume, Hardi panels or cedar planks to blend in with the context.

Through the implementation of sustainable design and solar, geothermal, or wind generator equipment, the Glidehouse™ modular home provides owners with reduced, if not eliminated, utility bills. The Glidehouse™ could be situated in a rural area, and through the use of solar, geothermal or wind generating equipment, the Glidehouse™ would not need to be connected to electricity lines, therefore reducing the long term cost of ownership and widening the range of potential building sites.

A modular home also affords construction efficiencies, virtually eliminating waste materials that are normally associated with new home building. Construction impact on the new home site is also minimized through factory-based modular home construction

The slats on Glidehouse (pictured at right) remind us of Taylor Smyth's pre-fab Sunset Cabin, which we blogged back in August.

Pricing, which includes the cost of design, transporting materials to the site, and construction, starts at $132 per square foot, or around $200,000 for most variations. According to the Building Museum, that's $83,000 less than the average cost of a new American home in 2005.

Learn more at Glidehouse.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

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