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first get ideas for your project or paper...

Generate My Project

Generate My Topic

...then bring it to life!
organizations that can help
building with awareness
some architects you might want to emulate

sunlight transport lighting
earth construction
straw construction
residential wind
save water in your home
heating water
(tiny) solar
(micro) pre-fab
green roof
bathroom fixtures
adventures in landscaping
building materials and supplies
siding alternatives
sugar power
led power
heating and cooling
wall coverings/paints/plasters/finishes

Organizations that can help

American Institute of Architects, Committee on the Environment

Aprovecho Research Center
sustainable forests, organic gardening, ecological living

Architects, Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility

Building Green

California Straw Building Association

Canelo Project
strawbale workshops

Center for a New American Dream

Congress for the New Urbanism
Though New Urbanism is pretty well established now, the Congress for the New Urbanism is still one of the best urban-planning resources around. If you're a planning professional or an architect,you'll want to become a memeber and attend the CNU fairly legendary conferences, but the rest of us can goto the web site to find a wealth of materials on sustainable design, green-building, and traditional neighborhood planning.

Conservation International

Green America

EcoDesign Resource Society
nonprofit center for green design

Ecological Design Institute
green architecture/building systems

Environmental Defense Fund

Fox Maple School of Traditional Building

Global Exchange
Global Exchange is one of the most innovative and passionate fiar trade groups around. If you're looking for information on the dark costs of globalization and how we might pursue fairer, more sustainable rconomies, look no further.

Global Green USA

G Rated
Portland's G Rated is a service of Portland's Office of Sustainable Development and offers an excellent set of online guides to building with the planet in mind. Though much of the information applies only to the local area, much is solid and useful no matter where you live. Every city ought to have a service like this.

Green Built Home

Green Car Congress
Mike Millikin's Car Congress is the best single source for news on hybrids, hydrogen cars, alternative fuels, and related topics.

Green Home Building

Green Home Guide
advice for homeowners; reviews and directories of products, services, retailers

Grist Magazine
news on all things green

Healthy Building Network

High Plains Environmental Center
exploring connection between people and environment

Institute for Bau-Biologie and Ecology
home study courses and workshops on health hazards in homes and workplaces

Institute for the Built Environment
research institute for sustainablility of built environment

The Land Institute
Wes Jackson's Land Institute does much-needed work on changing farming practices to work with nature. Those with a serious interest in the subject will find the institute's reports and studies invaluable.

Log Home Council
log homes info

Make Magazine
Make is what you'd get if your school's science fair was run by hackers, home energy nuts, and mad inventersin Day-Glo lab coats. Every issue bends your mind. Even for those of us who couldn't solder a circuit if the fate of the world hung in the balance, it's great fun.

National Association of the Remodeling Industry
teaches green remodeling

The Next American City
This print/online journal glides smoothly along the line between visionary ideas and practical answers, providing a thought-provoking exploration of the ways in which American cities are changing.

Path to Freedom
how to live a green self-sufficient life style

The Re-Use People
(818) 897-2798 -- 11017 Sutter Avenue; Pacoima CA 91331
They sell quality used interior and exterior building smaterials at a fraction of retail prices. Their retail warehouse is open to the public.

Simple Living Forum

U.S. Green Building Council
"Build Green. Everyone Profits." That's the motto of the USGBC, which works as the central hub to the entire American green building industry, offering professional training and accredidation, sharing information about new green-building innovations, and overseeing the LEED rating system.

Alternative Energy

ABS Alaskan
alternative energy shipping and distribution center

Acme Environmental, Inc
radiant - solar - geothermal - advanced HVAC - design - engineering - installation

Akeena Solar
solar design expertise

All American Energy Products
Save up to 25% on your next power bill with their new advanced technology -- guaranteed

Alternative Energy Store

Aurora Energy
solar energy systems

Backwoods Solar Electric

Big Ass Fans
Big Ass Fans provide a cooling effect, via elevated air speed, that allows thermostat setpoints to be raised in air conditioned spaces. The thermostat setpoint can be raised by approximately ~5-7˚F without sacrificing occupant comfort. The increased setpoint can result in a 10-20% reduction in cooling equipment energy consumption.

Blazing Solar
easy to install, affordable solar water heating system

Butler Sun Solutions
solar water heaters

California Solar
solar elecricity -- solar hot water -- radiant heating -- solar pools

Clear Dome Solar
solar thermal products for everyday living, emergencies & survival

Climate Master
residential/commercial geothermal systems

Solar Electric
We buy, sell and trade solar products for a greener planet while helping people from all over the world discover the benefits of free power from the sun.

E V Solar Products
solar electric and solar hot-water systems

Eco Energies
full-service renewable energy company

Environmental Solar Design
solar pool heating -- solar hot water heating systems -- solar electric -- solar/gas service

Evergreen Solar
string ribbon wafer technology

Hardy Diesel
flexible solar panels, generators, wind turbines

flat-plate solar water collectors

Hot Box Solar
solar air heating, solar air conditioning

Solar Lighting Planet
tubular skylights, solar powered attic fans, solar lighting, solar panels

Kyocera Solar

MSK's semitransparent building-integrated photovoltaic glazing element allows visible light transmission while generating electricity. An edge-mounted electrical connection system conceals all wiring within the laminated-glass edge framing.

Nautilus Water Turbine

NJ Solar Power

Designers and Builders of Renewable Energy

REC Solar

Real Goods

Rethink Solar
rent solar systems

Premier Power

Sierra Solar Systems
solar products

Silicone Solar
solar products

Solar Components
passive solar heating equipment, greenhouse kits, solar water heaters, solar electric products, insulating quilts

Southwest Wind Power
small wind generators

Sun Edison
solar in a box

renewable energy products

the first 10 year solar lease ever - no money down solar power systems and installation

Symmetry Co. - Solar Power Systems
transparent photovoltaic glass. Made in Japan. This glass acts as both an electric power generator and a heat shield. TSS(Taiyo See-through Solar) is a high performance glass which can ganerate infinite and clean electric power through photovoltaics. Moreover, the glass functions as a heat shield preventing excessive solar heat gain. TSS is a new building material that strikes a balance between environmental friendliness and a high level of comfort to building occupants. TSS is a prime example of a futuristic technology available today.

solar modules, shingle, thin film

United Solar Ovonic

Verengo leads the way in providing solar solutions to homeowners throughout Southern California

Wind Turbine Industries

Your Solar Home
Solar Heating Systems


Beam Industries

Blazing Solar
The Ultimate Solar Appliance: Bake, Boil, or Steam

washers, stoves, dryers


tankless electric water heaters

oxygen vacuum cleaner

Elmira Stove Works
antique appliances

Equator Advanced Appliance

Eureka Company
HEPA vacuum cleaners


front-load washer

Freeplay Energy
Solar- and human-powered electronics

GE Appliances

Instant hot water system

Heartland Appliances


dishwashers, refrigerators, laundry


Solar Cookers International
solar-powered ovens

Staber Industries
washers and dryers

Sun Frost

Sun Oven
solar-powered cookers

stainless steel sinks

Washers, dishwashers

Bathroom Fixtures
Acorn Vac
vacuum toilet system

biological toilet system

Bio-Sun Systems
compost and waterless toilets

Caroma USA
Low-flow and dual-flush toilets

Clivus Multrum
The Clivus Multrum is a self-contained, waterless, odourless toilet treatment system. It uses no chemicals, heat or water and has no polluting discharge. It can save over 60, 000 litres of water per year in the average home and costs far less than regular treatment systems. It is based on one of the oldest principles in nature - simple organic decomposition.

Composting Toilet Systems

Delta Faucet
water-saving shower head

permanent replacement for rubber washers

Water-saving bathroom fixtures

Enviro Loo
The Enviro Loo is a waterless, on-site, dry sanitation/human waste system. It requires no water, no chemicals, and produces no odor. They have residential, commercial, and institutional models.

low-flow toilet

stainless steel sinks

electric incinerating toilet

toilets, showerheads, faucets

low-flow bamboo faucets

MGS Designs
stainless steel sinks

Native Trails
recycled copper sinks, tubs, tiles

furniture, bathroom fixtures, accessories

Stone Forest
kitchen/bath products made from stone and sustainable wood

Stone Impressions
kitchen/bath surfacing, tile

Sun-Mar Corporation
compost toilets

Toto USA
centrifugal toilets

Building Materials and Supplies
AFM Safecoat
organic, biodegradable plant-based coatings

Alicia Tapp Designs
decorative ceramic tiles, kitchen tile backsplash, tumbled tile murals, laser etched marble tile murals, custom tile wall murals, kiln fired tiles for outdoor, walls, countertop, pools, and floors

Architectural Systems Inc
wood panels, flooring, decorative surfaces

Arxx Walls and Foundations
insulated concrete walls

healthy living paints made from natural and biodegradable materials

Black’s Farm Wood
heclaimed wood beams, flooring and siding

Building for Health Materials Center
environmentally safe material

restored hardwood flooring

green building products

Classic Metal Roofing
metal roofing

earth clay plasters and clay wall systems

green roofs

Custom-Bilt Metals
metal roofs

Prefabricated, energy efficient round homes

Recyclable straw building materials

Earth Source Forest Products
FSC lumber, formaldehyde-free plywood

EcoStar Roofing
slate tiles made from waste rubber and plastic

flooring, decking

Ecohaus - Environmental Building Supplies

Green Building Supply
Hundreds of the best environmentally friendly, sustainable and energy efficient products, and the knowledge of how to use them.

Green Depot
green building materials

GreenGrid® offers distinct advantages over other green roofs. With GreenGrid® you get all the benefits of a green roof system, plus the added advantages of flexible design and modular features easily tailored to your needs.

roofs made from post-consumer tires

Greenwood Technologies
wood-burning furnace

cork flooring, wall tiles

Henry Company
reflective roofing coating

Highland Craftsmen
poplar bark siding

James Hardie
fiber-cement siding

Kirei board sorghum panels

cast iron sinks

Land Ark Natural Wood Finish
A full line of hand-crafted, citrus-based, penetrating oil finishes for easy use on all woodwork for your home. Non-heavy metal dryers, biodegradable, non-toxic.

Mason Greenstar
papercrete, recycled material

metal tile steel roofing system

Mortar Net

Nana Wall Systems

Omni Block Group
reinforced concrete blocks

OSI Sealants
caulks, sealants, adhesives

Perform Wall
insulated concrete forms

insulating concrete forms

The Real Milk Paint Co.
All-natural water-based paint in 27 colors.

Rammed Earth Homes
passive- design/build, rammed earth wall construction, passive-solar-design and rammed-earth-technical consultation with architects, engineers and owner-builders, Rammit Yourself workshops.

Redland Clay Tile
clay roofing tiles

Rubber Sidewalks
modular sidewalk paving

Structural Insulated Panel Association
insulation performance

Schott Architectural Glass
anti-reflective glass, colored glass, decorative glass, LED glass, insulated glass

recycled plastic deck planks

recycled plastic decking material

Ultra Glas
recycled glass panels, tiles, etc.

Weyerhauser – Choice Deck
recycled-material decking

Heating and Cooling
ABS Alaska
hydroelectric turbines

Alternative Heating Info
information about geothermal heating and cooling, outdoor furnaces, corn boilers, radiant heat, solar heating systems, fireplace inserts and pellet-burning stoves.

Bradford White
energy-efficient water heaters

Camfil Farr
air filters

Climate Master
high-efficiency heat pumps

Easy Floor Heat
electric floor-warming system

geothermal heat pumps

instant hot water dispenser

Fujitsu General America
efficient air conditioners

Geo-Exchange: Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium

instant hot-water series

Hunter Fan Company
HEPA air purifyers

International Ground Source Heat Pump Assoc
manufacturers listed by state

Masonry Heater Association of North America

tankless water heaters

tankless water heater

radiant floor heating

Radiant Floor Company
under-floor heating systems

Radiant Max
radiant heating

Radiant Panel Assoc
heat contractors

Rinnai Corporation
tankless water heaters

Runtal radiators
radiators, towel bars

Sun Star
vent-free radiant gas room heaters

Tamarack Technologies
house ventilation

Warmly Yours
radiant floor heating

Water Furnace
geothermal water heating, cooling

Wood Heat Organization
using wood for heat

Zurn Engineered Water Solutions
plumbing, fixtures


Air Krete
cementitious foam

Atlas Roofing
foam insulation

BioBased Insulation
soy-based polyurethane foam spray

Bonded Logic
natural fiber insulation

cellulose insulation

Green Fiber Insulation
recycled-paper insulation

Green Zone
resources for CFC-free polyiso

formaldehyde-free foam insulation

cotton insulation

Johns Manville
formaldehyde-free fiberglass

Wall Coverings/Paints/Plasters/Finishes

coatings and recycling

AFM Safecoat
zero- and low-VOC finishes

American Clay
earth plaster

Anna Sova Luxury Organics
wall finish, stucco, texture

natural paint

Benjamin Moore Paints
low-VOC paints

Best Paint Co.
low-VOC, low-odor paints

BioShield Paint
natural and casein paints

Design Materials
sisal wallcovering

Devoe Paint
Wonder-Pure no-odor, zero-VOC interior latex

Dutch Boy
low-VOC lines

mineral paints

Ecos Paints
VOC-free paints

Environmental Building Supplies
low-toxic paints

Glidden Professional
low-VOC oil paints

earth-friendly wall coverings

Kelly Moore, Envirocote
recycled, low- and zero-VOC paints

Solvent-Free Paint
organic linseed paint

Maya Romanoff
environmentally safe wallpaper

Natural Cork
cork wall tiles

Natural Environments by Muraspec
natural textile wallcoverings

Old Fashioned Milk Paint

Olympic Paint

Pallas Textiles
natural and recycled-content wallcoverings

Patty Madden Signature
hand-painted plaster, water-based pigments and recycled paper

Phillip Jeffries
natural wall coverings

Pittsburgh Paints
low-VOC paint

Real Milk Paint


zero VOC, low-odor, silica-free

Tobias Stucco
interior, wall, finish stuccos

wall finishing, plastering

Yolo Colorhouse
environmentally responsible paint


Advanced Glazings, Ltd
high-performance insulated translucent glazing

Anderson Windows
energy-efficient windows

CHB Industries
window film systems

Crestline Windows and Doors
thermal windows

Daylite Natural Lighting Technologies

Eagle Window & Door

Hurd Windows
energy-efficient windows

Kolbe & Kolbe
high-performance wood windows

Loewen Window & Door

energy-efficient windows

Milgard Windows
efficient wood, aluminum windows

ODL Windows
tubular skylights

interior, exterior doors

composite windows

self-cleaning glass

Real Carriage Door Company
recycled/reclaimed wood carriage doors

Second Glass
Almost any building glass can be substituted with Second Glass - shower enclosures, cabinet doors, fireplace fronts, office walls, lighting... and hundreds more uses for home or business.

Solar Components
window shading

Solar Tubular Skylights


The Sun-Pipe Company
tubular skylights

Sunscope Natural Light Systems
tubular skylights

Sun-Tek Industries

Tru-Lite Tubular Skylights

Tubular Skylight

Velux Skylights


Vista Window Film
energy-saving window film

aluminum, wood windows

Building with Awareness
Green Building, Good Design—Simply Explained
A web site, DVD video, and book about the design and construction of straw bale solar hybrid homes. Topics include passive solar house design, straw bale home design, thermal mass walls, earth plaster for adobe and straw bale, the use of natural materials, rainwater cisterns, LEED and large buildings, and much more.

Find out more

some architects you might want to emulate
KENDRICK BANGS KELLOGG, Valley Center, California.
  Incredible organic Architect in the vein of Frank Llyod Wright.

ARKIN-TILT ARCHITECTS, Berkeley, California. (510) 528-9830
  Straw bale and rammed earth construction; passive and active solar; nontoxic and recycled materials.

BAKER-LAPORTE & ASSOCIATES, Tesuque, New Mexico. (505) 989-1813
Baubiologie; nontoxic building materials; energy-efficient systems; ecologically sensitive land use.

LIVING ARCHITECTURE, Ketchum, Idaho. (208) 726-3691
Passive solar; radiant heating and cooling; nontoxic materials; European breathing walls.

DEBOER ARCHITECTS, 854 Allview Avenue; El Sobrante, California 94803. (510) 290-3669
Simplifying structure; reducing cost of building naturally; bamboo and straw bale structures.

 SAN LUIS SUSTAINABILITY GROUP, Santa Margarita, California. (805) 438-4452
 Natural forms; passive solar; fractal geometry; off-grid, straw bale, cohousing. 

KRAUS-FITCH ARCHITECTS, Amherst, Massachusetts. (413) 549-5799
Cohousing and sustainable communities; ecologically and socially relevant design; LEED accredited.

ONE WORLD DESIGN, Spokane, Washington. (509) 838-8812
Energy efficiency; nontoxic materials; straw bale; earthen plasters; solar; straw bale projects in rural Asia.

Oliver, British Columbia. (250) 498-4766
 Honors practical and spiritual needs of owners and building sites.

Spaces that enrich the spirit; healthy, durable, low-maintenance materials.

ROCKHILL AND ASSOCIATES, Lawrence, Kansas. (785) 864-4024
Designs that rise from the land; salvaged materials and reuse; historic preservation.

The Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, Austin, Texas. (512) 928-4786
Co-directors of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems; sustainable community; local economic development.

BNIM Architects, Kansas City, Missouri. (816) 783-1500
Founding chair of the AIA’s Committee on the Environment.

William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Virginia. (434) 979-1111
Communities with economic, ecological, and social responsibility; “cradle to cradle” design.

Sarah Susanka, Raleigh, North Carolina. (919) 841-0124
Pioneer of “not so big” approach to architecture.

Santa Rosa, California. (707) 538-1249
EcoDwelling faculty member of New College of California; author of Healing Environments.

Los Angeles, California. (310) 306-7837
Not architects, but a Master Builder who provides innovative design, full phase construction management and affordable solutions based on the principles of green building.

Sunlight Transport Lighting
Sunlight transportation systems are the pinnacle of innovation in energy-efficient design. Using photovoltaic panels and fiber optic threads or cables, these systems literally transport daylight into windowless spaces, far outshining the full-spectrum lightbulbs that have long been used to get natural-feeling light into dark places.

Swedish lighting company Parans has one of the most advanced and diverse product lines for natural indoor lighting. The three-part system pulls in sunlight through externally-mounted solar panels, transmits it through fiber optic cables, and prjects it into interior rooms through a ceiling fixture designed to suit a variety of tastes and functional needs.

Zeno sunlight lamps
Zeno was designed for Luceplan as an integrated ceiling lighting system that can use solar collection in cinjunction with several different kinds of bulbs. With multiple options, the light can change its quality, direction, and diffusion for a customized and adjustable ambiance.

Sunlight Direct
The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed hybrid solar lighting as part of an investigation into improved home energy efficiency. The system uses rooftop mirrors mounted alongside solar collectors to concentrate and direct sunlight into diffusion rods that illuminate an array of ceiling fixtures to light even large rooms consistently. In large spaces, this can save thousands of dollars in electricity and climate-control costs over several years.

Re:Form Energy Curtain
Researchers at Sweden's Interactive Institute found a way to weave solar-collecting technology into textiles, forming a window shade that can store solar light during the day and emit it at night. The interactive energy curtain allows the user to determine how much energy to store and use according to how far the shade is pulled down during the day, helping illuminate the relationship between power saved and power spent.

Sun-tunnel skylights are an inexpensive way to bring in natual light. Their design is simple: A reflective dome on the roof bounces sunlight through a flexible tube down to a small skylight.

Solatube Daylighting System

Velux Sun Tunnel

Eco-Resin Panels

earth construction
Earth, one of the oldest and most widely used building materials, can be highly durable, and it’s available almost everywhere. Earthen walls are usually thick, dense, high in thermal mass and low in insulation value. Because of its clay content, earth absorbs and releases moisture, helping to balance humidity in the home. The cost of building with earth can be dirt cheap if you do it yourself but very expensive if you pay others.

ADOBE is made of sand, clay and fibrous material (straw, etc.) that is dried or baked to form bricks, then stacked and mortared to make walls. “You can make an adobe block almost anywhere. It’s so cheap, anybody can do it,” says engineer Bruce King, who is writing an earthen construction building code through his Ecological Building Network.

RAMMED EARTH  is made by compressing a damp mixture of earth, sand, gravel, clay and sometimes a stabilizer (cement, for example) into structural forms that are stripped away after the walls have solidified. It creates a durable, stonelike, monolithic wall. “Rammed earth is a beautiful finished product when installed by experts,” says architect David Easton, who has been championing the material for decades.

CAST EARTH A structural material made with earth and calcined gypsum can replace wood or steel framing in residential and light commercial buildings, yielding energy and environmental benefits. Cast Earth has been demonstrated successfully in residences and commercial scale structures. It is a true "breakthrough technology", producing a product with all the properties of traditional earth construction, augmented by superior esthetics, rapid construction, and affordable cost.

Cast Earth does not involve laying bricks or blocks or slowly compacting earth by mechanical or pneumatic action. Instead, it consists of rapidly pouring an entire building in place, removing forms shortly after the pour. What makes this possible is calcined gypsum's fast set rate to a wet strength sufficient to support a wall, at an unexpectedly low concentration. Fifteen percent calcined gypsum provides surprising strength immediately after setting. Steel reinforcing is not used.

In a new development, not yet completely reduced to practice but put into limited field use in late 2003, the mix is treated after placing in forms to cause its normal one to two hour set time to take place in a few minutes. This set acceleration can speed up the rate of building significantly and opens new opportunities to create enhanced esthetics. During 2004, this exciting feature will be fine tuned and become a common part of the process.

COB is a mixture of clay, sand, water and straw hand-sculpted into walls without formwork or machinery. It allows for highly organic forms and lends itself to construction parties. There is no building code for cob in the United States, but many cob homes have been built in areas with owner-builder codes. Cob can be relatively inexpensive for DIYers. 

straw construction
Straw is the stalk that’s left after the seed heads are removed from hay. As an agricultural waste product that also makes good insulation, it’s a natural for an eco-home. But, as with any fibrous material, moisture can be problematic in straw building.

STRAW BALE construction has captured hearts worldwide. Relative amateurs can stack the highly insulating walls in one community work day, and the addition of thick earthen plaster adds thermal mass. The system can be inexpensive if you provide your own labor, but poorly shaped bales may require subcontractor work-arounds, increasing costs.

“I love straw,” says architect Kelly Lerner of One World Design, “but if you’re in a very wet climate, you will need to design carefully. Provide a deep roof overhang and keep the walls well above the ground. If you have an exposed site with wind-driven rain, straw bale walls may not be the best option.” Bale walls might not be best for hot, humid environments, where insulation is less valuable than open structures that admit breezes.

CLAY-STRAW involves packing loose, clay-coated straw into structural forms that are later stripped. As with bale walls, clay-straw needs protection and isn’t appropriate in tropical or driving-rain environments. Long used in Europe, clay-straw techniques have been developed extensively in this country by Robert Laporte and Paula Baker-Laporte.

“Clay-straw balances insulation and thermal mass,” Baker-Laporte notes. “We often put more clay for thermal mass in the south walls of a house and more straw for insulation in the north walls.”

Residential Wind
When we think of alternative energy at home, our minds leap straight to solar panels, the most obvious sysmbolof a site-generated and grid-free power source. It's less common to think of wind turbines for small scale residential use, because most of us have only seen them by the hundreds along highways or on agricultural land. The power generated on those sprawling farms can be purchased for residential use through many energy providers, but it's also possible to put a small turbine right on your property and get the same results with the added bonus of self-sufficiency. Residential wind turbines have been slower to hit the market than solar, largely because refining the design for home use has required a great deal of engineering (especially maximizing efficiency where wind currents don't reach high enough intensities). However, a host of start-ups are rising to the challenge and the first residential turbines to hit the market are said to provide for up to 70 percent of a home's energy needs.

Southwest Wind Power's Skystream
Bergey Windpower
Kestrel Wind Turbines

Save water in your home
H2Ouse: Water Saving Home
This tight little resource offers terrific insight into saving wate at home. You can take a virtual tour of a model home, explore the water savings to be found throughout your house, use the water budget calculator to figure out how much water you're wasting (and on what), and even find tips on planting a water-conserving garden.

Water Use It Wisely
Want tips on reducing your water usage? This site overflows with them, offering lists tailored to people living in various regions of the United States (though many would apply anywhere).

Install a Rain Barrel
Several companies, including Green Culture and Oak Barrel Winecraft, offer attractive ones. Place a barrel under each downspout in your backyard and use the reservoir to water the garden.

Equip your kitchen with foot pedal controls
A tap of your foot releases the water, leaving your hands free to wash the dishes without leaving the water running. Try Pedal Valves and Fisher Manufacturing.

Remodel with water-saving appliances
such as dual-flush toilet and an Energy Star dishwasher and laundry washing machine, which conserve both energy and water.

Heating water
We don't keep a kettle boiling on the stove all day for the one moment when we want tea, so why do we keep water heated around the cloack when all we need it for is a shower or a load of laundry? On-demand heating technology, also known as tankless heating, makes hot water available only when it's needed, saving the energy required to heat it when it's not being used. A tankless heater is much smaller than a typical hot water tank, containing just a set of coils through which water passed for quick warming. Though the on-demand system costs more than a standard hot water system, it saves money over its lifetime as it eliminates most of the energy (and costs) that heating your water normally demands.

Bosch AquaStar
Chronomite Instant Flow SR

Source: Dwell, Alternative Energy 101. November 2007

A Rinnai tankless water heater is about 50 percent more efficient than a gas-heated tank and 70 percent more efficient than electric because it heats water only upon demand. The Rinnai’s small size may also allow for installation closer to the kitchen or master bath, saving water by decreasing the wait for the tap to get hot.

Rinnai spokesperson Megan Harvey says tankless heaters also reduce landfill bulk. "The Rinnais have two to three times the lifespan of a tank but are about one-third the size," she says. "Plus they’re about 70 percent recyclable steel and copper."

Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Model R75LS: $1,073 to $1,142, plus installation, (800) 621-9419.


(tiny) Solar
Some say it’s solar’s time in the sun. Sunlight is being harnessed around the globe to drive generators, provide electricity and heat water. Even so, solar power provides a mere sliver of the total energy the world uses; conventional photovoltaic panels are still pretty awkward and expensive and are not all that efficient at harnessing the full potential of the sun’s rays.

Somenath Mitra, a New Jersey Institute of Technology professor, has developed a method to create solar cells that can be applied to flexible plastic sheets. Through nanotechnology, millions of nanotubes—cylindrical carbon molecules that are 50,000 times smaller than a human hair—combine with tiny carbon structures called buckminsterfullerenes (affectionately called "buckyballs"), which conduct solar electrons inexpensively and efficiently.

All very scientific. The miracle, Mitra predicts, is that consumers may someday be able to print solar cells from their home computers or paint roofs and walls with an energy-generating finish. She hopes that the technology will be commercially viable in the next five years.


(micro) Pre Fab
Cabin Fever makes a range of smart, stylish, and affordable prefabs. Their newest product is called the ZipCabin and it is a very exciting SIP and wood-frame hybrid that is designed as a small-scale, easy-to-build structure for use as a backyard accessory building or small getaway camp. They make perfect pool cabanas, yoga rooms, home offices, and art studios.

The standard ZipCabin is 10′x12′, permit-exempt in many areas, and has an optional 6′x12′ covered deck. The whole structure sits on a robust platform raised on steel feet for easy installation on any surface.

Contact Cabin Fever at www.cabinfever.us.com

Green Roof
There’s always the possibility of making all or part of your roof a “green” or “living” roof, planted with vegetation. Popular in Europe but not yet in the United States, a number of different green roof systems are available to suit varying needs.

On the most basic level, all green roofs require several things, according to industry association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities: a high-quality waterproofing system that also repels invasive roots; an adequate drainage system; a filter cloth; a lightweight soil; and, of course, plants. Among many benefits, green roofs can extend the lifespan of the roofing material, reduce heating and cooling costs and stormwater runoff, and provide noise absorption and a place to garden. If whole cities had green roofs, the heat island effect—warmer urban temperatures—could be mitigated.

Plants for green roofs in high-altitude, dry climates

Basket of Gold Alyssum montanum Mountain Gold

Cacti Escobaia leei Lee's dwarf snowball

Hens and Chicks Sempervivum spp.

Ice Plant Delosperma

Native Grasses Buffalo Grass, bluestem, blue grama, perennial ryegrass, blue fescue

Creeping Phlox Phlox stolonifera

Sedum Dragon's Blood, Tri-Colored, Golden Carpet, Angelina, Stonecrop

Thyme Thymus vulgaris Wooly, Pink Chintz, Creeping Pink, Elfin

Snow-in-Summer Cerastium tomentosum

Adventures in Landscaping
■ Create tunnels, caves and towering greenscapes by letting vining plants such as gourds, clematis, squashes and ivies crawl up twine, bamboo poles, trees and rooftops. (Bonus: Growing fruits off of the ground can reduce insect infestation and fungi.)

■ Let large plants such as shrubs and sunflowers provide privacy and pathways, creating a “secret garden” effect.

How about a Vertical Garden?
Read the Dwell article

Every year, EcoDomo recycles 5,000 tons of automobile upholstery leather scraps into luxurious floors and wall coverings. The butter-soft tiles have water-based finishes and can be installed with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) adhesives, then maintained with regular buffing using natural carnauba wax.

Spokesperson Christian Nadeau says the company is concerned with protecting the environment: "We use recycled packaging, carbon credits to offset our travels, wood-chip scrap palettes for shipping, and wind-generated energy for our offices. And our water system is closed-loop.

"Not only green, EcoDomo tiles are tough as—you guessed it—leather. Installed in a 2007 Solar Decathlon show home, they survived the trampling of 80,000 visitors, just a few more than the average dinner party.

EcoDomo: $24 to $40 per square foot, plus installation, (301) 424-7717.


Ever wonder where old toilets go to die? Tim Whaley knows. His company makes terrazzo for flooring and countertops from recycled glass—and now, from recycled porcelain potties. The new product is fittingly called EnviroMODE.Customers can design their own EnviroMODE mix from a kaleidoscope of custom colors. The product has a coconut-extract base, and once dry, emits no VOCs.

"If you were to visit the facility you would see there’s no offgassing—you don’t need a respirator or mask to work with the resins," Whaley says. "Eighty percent of our product is made from recycled materials. Zero waste is what we aim for."

EnviroMODE: $20 per square foot, (972) 473-3725, www.EnviroGLASProducts.com.


Earth Weave Carpet Mills, Inc.
Non-toxic, biodegradle natural fiber flooring products.

Eco-Friendly Flooring
Woman-owned, factory-direct cork, bamboo, recycled glass and metal tiles, linoleum floating floors.

Highest quality bamboo, certified sustainably harvested and rustic and antique wood flooring.

Radiant Floor Company
Radiant floors compatiple with any fuel source: gas, propane, solar, oil, wood, electric, geothermal

siding alternatives
Before you replace your siding, check into an eco-friendly coating. Look for new exterior paints and stains that contain few or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Mineral silicate paints are a more durable, though more expensive, option that can last for 30 years or more. Popular for years in Europe, where they’ve held up for as long as a century, the paints are made from minerals similar to those found in sand or glass, and they chemically bond to stucco, plaster or cement to create a breathable finish that doesn’t outgas. It’s not for use on wood, metal or other more flexible surfaces, where it can crack.

Liquid siding, also called liquid ceramic or liquid stucco, is a ceramic-based coating that comes with warranties for 25 to 50 years. It’s applied in multiple layers, similar to paint, and water vapor can pass through it, allowing moisture to escape. But it’s important to do your research if you’re considering liquid siding: Poor installation or shoddy products may cause the coating to bubble and peel off. 

sugar power
Americans purchase 3 billion batteries per year, according to the EPA. Batteries are a necessity, but they’re relatively short-lived and contain hazardous heavy metals. Using rechargeables helps—but eventually most of them also end up in the landfill.

Electrochemist Shelley Minteer, Ph.D., and a group of researchers from Saint Louis University have created a biodegradable fuel cell battery that can run on almost any sugar, from soft drinks to tree sap. “When you feed kids carbohydrates, their bodies use it very efficiently,” Minteer says. “They convert that sugar into the energy that they need to run around and do what kids do. We take that process and use it to power the sugar battery.”

Minteer has created a prototype battery that’s more powerful and runs longer than anything previously developed. Currently, the sugar bio-battery can power a handheld calculator and has the potential to function several times longer on a charge than conventional lithium ion batteries, according to university staffers. Plus it’s made with a biodegradable casing.

The university has licensed the technology to an engineering group that will bring the sugar bio-battery to consumers. “We estimate it will be available to the public in the three-to-five-year time frame,” Minteer says. “Those things are always hard to put a number on, though.”


LED power
In another step in the television’s evolution from its grainy, black-and-white beginnings, a new generation is on the horizon: the organic light emitting diode (OLED) TV.

Ron Mertens, spokesperson for industry resource OLED-Info.com, explains that OLED pixels create colored light, meaning OLEDs don’t need a filter. Because liquid crystal display (LCD) technology does require filtration, OLEDs draw only a fraction of the power needed to run LCDs. Plus, it’s easier to make OLED displays flexible, transparent and superthin—highly desirable characteristics to today’s consumer. The technology is already popular for small-screen cell phones and MP3 players, and the potential for use in home lighting is huge.

“The more OLED that gets out there, the better, because it has very low electromagnetic emissions,” says Mary Cordaro, president of H3Environmental, a healthy home consulting group. “We first save energy by switching to OLED. Then we get the extra benefit of that electricity being cleaner, as it tends to produce lower radiation from electromagnetic fields than other technologies.”

Scientists must address one of OLED’s biggest drawbacks before they can market large screens: The blue color display doesn’t last as long as red or yellow, effectively shortening the product lifespan. TV manufacturers are in the research and development stage with OLEDs, though Sony recently introduced an 11-inch model in Japan with a price tag of $2,500—and the 1,300 units sold out in one day.


Green Home Remodel
These online PDF guides are the best, currently available, free resource on sustainably remodeling your home -- period. Covering painting, roofing, landscaping, plus salvage and reuse and working with a contractor, these guides are simply indispensable -- if you're thinking about making changes to your crib, start here.

G/Rated Home Remodeling Guide: Designing and Building a More Sustainable Home
If you're more a paper person, you can get much of the best information from the G/Rated program distilled into a handy little book, available ofr purchase online. The guidebook promises, "Whatever your budget or personal preferences, you can meet your goals while minimizing your impact on the environment."

The blog Inhabit offers "future-forward design for the world you inhabit," covering sustainable furniture, interior design, and architecture that's both really stylish and truly green.

Flex Your Power
The Flex Your Power web site is one-stop-shopping for energy efficiency. Although it's designed with Californaia in mind, it's a powerful resource that anyone can learn from. You can access information on how to buy the most efficient washer, dryer, dishwasher, refridgerator, furnace, air conditioner, or hot water heater; how to light your home with natural light and compact flourescents; how to insulate and weatherize your home and cool your roof; and how to save water using ultra-low flow shower heads and toilets. And that's not all.


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