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Keeping Cool…and Green

Air conditioning accounts for 14 percent of America’s home electricity use, and most of that electricity comes from coal. So when the weather warms up we should do everything we can to conserve energy as we keep cool. That means treating our air conditioners the same way we treat other energy-demanding appliances: by using them wisely and keeping them running efficiently. Here are some tips to help:

 

 

Invest in an energy-efficient air conditioner 

If you’re buying a new air conditioner, choose one for maximum energy efficiency. New air conditioners come labeled with an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER), a standard that lets you calculate how much electricity the air conditioner will consume. The higher the EER, the less it will cost you to operate the appliance to achieve the same level of cooling. 

New Technology Update!   A team of engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed a potentially revolutionary new air conditioning system. Unlike standard air conditioners, which compress a circulating liquid refrigerant such as Freon, this new system draws warm air through a cooling unit that contains a water-absorbing dessicants compound that cools the air by evaporation. The payoff? It uses up to 90 percent less energy! As of Fall 2010, the new AC technology still had a ways to go before it’s available to consumers, but it could be just two to three years before these new coolers become commercially available.

Avoid overcooling.
Don’t use or buy more cooling equipment capacity than you actually need. If you decide on central air conditioning, select the most energy-efficient unit that will cool the size space you have. Bigger is not better. A larger unit than you need will cost more to run and may not remove enough humidity from the air, the feature that some consumers like most about air conditioners.

Keep your cooling system well tuned.
Have it professionally maintained, and ask how the energy efficiency of the system may be increased.

Install a whole-house ventilating fan.
This can be put in your attic or in an upstairs window to cool the house, even if you have central air conditioning. According to Consumer Reports, a big fan working under the right conditions can cool and ventilate an entire house for about the energy cost of running an air conditioner in one room.

Set your thermostat as high as possible.
78 degrees F. is often recommended as a reasonably comfortable and energy-efficient indoor temperature.

◘ Source: http://www.earthshare.org

Family with Green Power

Meet a family who don’t just talk about the climate and a green lifestyle – they are actually doing something. By putting up a wind turbine in their garden, they produce enough CO2-free electricity for themselves and seven other households.

 

I ♥ this Family {Green♥}

Indoor plants as air filters

Indoor plants not only look great, they can also help clear your house of common environmental pollutants.

Using indoor plants to clear the air

There’s nothing quite like the scent of forest air – the real thing, not an air freshener :).

While some of that lovely earthy scent is due to decomposition, the trees and plants of a forest are constantly circulating oxygen and carbon dioxide, unlike in the midst of a concrete jungle when the air we breathe can get somewhat stale or downright poisonous.

Our homes aren’t an oasis from our toxic modern environment either. The inside of our houses can have very poor air quality due to fumes from cigarette smoke, furnishings, paint and other items. Some items can give off these fumes for many years – that smell of fresh paint and new carpets isn’t just potentially harmful just while you can detect it.

The airborne chemical cocktail inside our home often includes:

benzene – used in oils, paints, plastic, rubber
trichloroethylene (TCE) – paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives
formaldehyde – foam, clothing, particle board, carpets.

All of the above have been shown to be potent environmental pollutants and likely carcinogens in humans.

New homes can be particularly bad for formaldehyde – it might be at many times the generally considered safe level for quite some time. Office air can also be saturated by a fog of toxins due to the type of furnishings and floor coverings often used on commercial premises.

Keeping indoor plants not only adds a nice green touch to our homes; some indoor plant species have proven to be effective filters for pollutants such as the above and carbon monoxide (an element of car exhaust).

A while back, I came across a couple of very interesting studies by NASA carried out in the late 80’s and early 90’s that included information on the plants NASA found useful as indoor air filters to combat these chemicals.

Beneficial plants include (scientific name followed by common) :

Aloe vera
Aglaonema Modestum – Chinese Evergreen
Chamaedorea Seifritzii – Bamboo Palm
Chlorophytum elatum – Green Spider Plant
Chrysanthemum morifolium – Pot Mum/Florists’ Chrysanthemum
Dracaena Janet Craig – Janet Craig
Dracaena Marginata – Marginata
Dracaena Massangeana – Mass cane/Corn Plant
Dracaena Warneckii – Warneckii
Gerbera Jamesonii – Gerbera Daisy/African daisy
Hedera Helix – English Ivy/Common Ivy
Philodendron Domesticum – Elephant Ear Philodendron
Philodendron Oxycardium – Heart Leaf Philodendron
Philodendron Selloum – Lacy Tree Philodendron
Sansevieria Laurentii – Mother in law’s tongue
Scindapsus aureus – Golden Pothos
Spathiphyllum Mauna Loa – Peace Lily/Mauna Loa

Some of the above are more effective than others at filtering particular chemicals, so if you’d like to learn more about the NASA research, here’s the study:

Interior Landscape Plants For Indoor Air Pollution Abatement (PDF 1.7 megabytes)

Indoor plants don’t just look great – they can help make your house or office a more healthy place to live and work in!

 

• Source: http://www.greenlivingtips.com

Smart Toilet – Eco Bath

Use Your Water Twice

 

It goes in the sink, then it goes in the toilet. What’s that? It’s your water bill! You’ve got to conserve in any way you can. Here’s a lovely simple system that makes use of the fact that toilet water never needs to be as clean as it usually is. The “Eco Bath” concept uses 50% reused water and 50% new water for a toilet system half-ways to nature friendly.

You simply must read this little poem written about this toilet system by it’s designer, Jang Woo-seok:

Express the flow of water.
General water, the blue pipes.
Green pipes, water reuse

Fresh, yes?

Jang gets the idea for the Eco Bath from the naturally flowing waterways all around us. Naturally moving, naturally cleaning. Tagged “Green”, naturally.

© Designer: Jang Woo-seok

3rdculturechildren

Wordle: herbsI’ve been asked to provide updates on our Hanging Garden Project. We’ve got new planters, ‘freshly donated seeds’… and a cost-free watering system. For the ones not (yet!) familiar with the ‘mathematics behind getting cost-free water‘, here’s how it works: Our middle/high school students have been deeply involved in building a system with planters made from recycled PET bottles, as seen on the right.

Besides that, we’ve discovered a great source of clean/distilled water for all the watering needs: the several air conditioning devices, spread throughout the school campus. So, the students began collecting the not-before-managed water… But, how could they find out how much water would be “released” by the AC devices?


The answer to that question morphed into a mini-mathematical project: Math students were asked to develop a strategy to evaluate the volume of water released by the AC equipments, write their assumptions down…

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Green Ideas Worth Stealing

France après demain

France’s politicians should pirate more. Artists, architects and engineers are seasoned copycats, spinning one another’s creative straw into frontier-challenging gold, so why is it that world leaders spend more time gazing at their nations’ navels than at their neighbours’ clever innovations? I don’t mean to congratulate the current crop of presidential candidates for their game of taking buzzwords out of each other’s mouths as bandwagons whiz by (made in France much?) – I mean that those who aspire to lead countries, territories, cities and neighbourhoods should make it their business to study and copy the work of their cleverest counterparts. The candidates’ limp green proposals suggest a lack of intellectual stimulation. I offer them this inspiration board of environmental ideas.

Underground Parks


Paris is famous for its underground labyrinths. From the old sewer system (les égouts) to the catacombs, we know that there is no shortage…

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Minus One Project: Save paper. Help the forests

Minus One is a simple, one-step initiative to save fast-disappearing forests. It is so easy and practical that each one of us can practice it in our daily lives. And by adopting Minus One we would be helping our forests, our planet and most importantly ourselves.
A green initiative by Samsung Printers.
For more info, visit: minusoneproject