Absolute Red Hot Greenbreaking News! - Updated Weekly, Sometimes Daily 'GREENBREAKING' NEWS  - Updated Periodically

"the significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."

- Albert Einstein,   More Quotes Please! 


Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover


Blame Property Brothers For Reno Hell
07.11.16  by Dan Bova - “I blame those damn Property Brothers, who seem to grow exponentially handsomer with each flawless kitchen island installation.”
- Some pretty good humor here. And as usual, good humor almost always contain a lot of truth!


The Beach House Wins An Award!
01.23.16  by Sylvain Côté - Green Builder® Media, the leading media company in North America focusing on green building and sustainable living, recently announced the winners of its 8th Annual Green Home of the Year Awards.
The Beach House won Best Renovation Of The Year.



Why We Should Be Talking About Comfort, Not Energy Efficiency
12.29.15. by Lloyd Alter. Have you ever heard of the 'Well Standard'? It's about comfort, nourishment, lighting and mindfulness. It's about focusing on people, not buildings; that the real role of a building is to keep us healthy, happy, safe and comfortable. Energy is just an input, a variable; the fact that a comfortable building will use a lot less of it is a happy coincidence.
- Yes, finally!  I've been saying it all along...I wouldn't say a 'happy coincidence', but rather a 'fringe benefit'!


9 Tricks For Creating a Super Model


Building Science: Three Ventilation Methods For Best Indoor Air Quality
August 2015. by Sam Rashkin. Ventilation systems do two different tasks: spot ventilation and whole-building ventilation. Spot ventilation is for specific, non-continuous tasks such as removing moisture generated from cooking or bathing. Whole-building ventilation provides a healthy indoor environment.
- Three accepted practices are presented here, but perhaps the most crucial one is usually ignored... Can you guess which one? Every home needs to have these - Your  very own health and wellbeing depends on it.


Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover

Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover

Green & Cozy: Renovated Lakefront Cottage
08.25.15. by Bill Cary. Builder and designer Sylvain Côté has taken a rundown early 1930s beach house on Lake Truesdale and turned it into a stylish showpiece of environmental efficiency and good design. The green bona fides include Energy Star and platinum-level LEED certification and a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating of 30.
- Lots of pictures here! I counted 33 of them.


Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover

Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover

06.24.15. by Michael Virtanen. A report from New York University on Wednesday projected major savings from combining contracts to design and build public works, citing savings from the approach already in use on the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
- 'Love this quote: "So many times you hire someone to design a project that is not buildable. Sometimes a designer is a visionary but not really aware of the constraints of building. This allows us to keep architects from becoming dreamers."


More Beach House Highlights
03.10.15. by Natalie Wightman. The Beach House project we have been working on over the last two years is now complete. Below are highlights of the finished spaces with more details provided on our website. 
Look for our next newsletter in the spring featuring the outdoor transformation.

- The homeowner actually moved in in May 2014, but we're still taking pictures...One more round featuring the backyard.


Are Geothermal Heat Pumps Overhyped and Overrated?
02.11.15. There is so much hype about geothermal heating and cooling systems these days; there is even talk of declaring Oct. 20 to be National Geothermal Day, “to raise awareness about environmental and economic benefits of geothermal energy and its vital role in building a clean and secure energy future.”
- Yes, geothermal heat pumps are both overhyped and overrated. Ground source heat pumps are an expensive overkill.


January Is Radon Awareness Month
01.06.15. by Lloyd Alter. A recent study determined that 16% of all lung cancer deaths could be attributed to radon. 21,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone due to radon.  That is more than deaths due to pesticides, asbestos and carbon monoxide combined. 1 out of 6 homes is affected.
- Absolutely great infographics here. Love the 8 radon myths. The good news is that it is easy to fix. And inexpensive. And yes, we can certainly help you with that.


New York Makes It Illegal To Put Electronics In The Trash
12.12.14. by Margaret Badore.  Starting in 2015, it will be illegal to leave computers and other electronics for curb-side trash pickup in New York State, as part of an effort to fight e-waste. This kind of trash leaches toxins into the environment, harming animals, plants, and people. Plus, many of the metals and other materials used in our electronics are valuable, and recycling them can help reduce the impact of extracting new raw materials from the earth.
- Bravo NY State. Again ahead of the pack. Check out your recycling options here. And watch the very short video!


What is a Smart Home Anyway?
12.11.14.  by Lloyd Alter.  At a recent panel discussion on smart homes held at Toronto's Workshop, the panelists were supposed to be speaking about the modern smart home, but ended up demonstrating that the native people in the cold northern parts of North America were long ago building a whole lot smarter that we do now.
- Couldn't agree more. They were more sophisticated than most of our modern homes!


Why Men Really Do Need a Cave

7 Ways to Design Your Kitchen to Help You Lose Weight
09.25.14. by Mitchell Parker.  In his new book, Slim by Design, eating-behavior expert Brian Wansink shows us how to get our kitchens working better. "Your kitchen might be the workhorse room in your home, but it also might be working against you and your waistline", says a leading expert in eating behavior.
- Not surprisingly, this one is quite controversial (review readers comments). I was somewhat skeptical as well, but most if not all the findings actually make perfect sense. I'm in.


Residential Behavioral Architecture 101
09.02.14. by David Friedlander.  All those red dots show where people hang out in their houses, and it is almost never in the living or dining room. What would our homes look like if designed around how we use them?
- Sounds like one of our quotes: "most people uses 10% of their home 90% of the time".  Nice article.


Why Construction Is Expensive, Especially When It Is Small and Green

Infographic Showing The Benefits of Living in Smaller Spaces
08.15.14. by Lloyd Alter.  A recent Treehugger post about the challenges of raising a family in a 1200 square foot home has attracted over 70 comments so far screaming in upper case 1200 SQUARE FEET ISN'T SMALL! But in fact, that is half the size of the average new home built in the United States. So why living in a smaller house is better?
Very nice poster. And I couldn't agree more with the information.


Why Men Really Do Need a Cave

Contractor Fees, Demystified
06.25.14. by Anne Higuera, CGR, CAPS.  When you ask a contractor for an estimate, it usually includes the direct costs of construction plus a markup charged on some or all of those expenses.
Great quote here: "Be assured that whether you see that markup clearly or it is included in other costs, it is in there somewhere, because if it isn’t, your contractor can’t be solvent."  Thank you Anne.


Reality Shows Distort Client Relations
06.11.14. by Tim Regan.  Remodelers say that shows such as Love It or List It and Property Brothers, which often cram whole-house remodeling projects into too-small budgets, give clients the wrong impression regarding pricing and time constraints. For instance, some shows might suggest that two weeks and $50,000 is enough to renovate an entire house. .
My favorite quote: "When I end up getting called in by a heavy DIY watcher, my prices and time lines blow the homeowners’ minds so much that I never get a call back".


From Plain Jane To Knockout
06.07.14. by Karen Croke.  A modest cottage has been remade into an elegant, environmentally friendly beach house. For more than two years, Sylvain Côté has been painstakingly rethinking, redesigning and rebuilding a beach cottage on the shores of Lake Truesdale.
The online version sports a different headline than the one above...Otherwise same article.


Transformation, Revisited
06.03.14. by Natalie Wightman. This existing octagon house has been transformed into a multiple Award Winning green home. It is a blueprint for healthy, comfortable, and sustainable living.
 - This project was originally completed and photographed in 2008, but we felt the pictures didn't do justice to the space, so we re-photographed the entire home (actually the upper floor has yet to be re-shoot). Enjoy.


Indoor Air Quality Sensors Could Be Coming To Your Phone
04.16.14. by Megan Treacy. New nanotechnology could enable indoor air quality monitoring wherever we go. Indoor air quality can be as much of a health concern as the air quality outdoors. Things like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, mold and other compounds can cause things like headaches, fatigue, respiratory illnesses and worse. Have real-time air quality information wherever you are -- at home, at work.


It's Official: The Beach House is LEED Platinum Certified.
03.06.14. by Natalie Wightman.. Yes, we received the designation several weeks ago already. But since we're firm believers in this quote "if it's not beautiful, it's not sustainable", the past few months we've been busy making sure we're just that - beautiful. We think you'll agree.


Why Construction Is Expensive, Especially When It Is Small and Green

Are Energy Efficient Homes Making Us ILL?
02.19.14. by Lloyd Alter. No. "Lousy ventilation systems are. You cannot seal up a building without considering ventilation and humidity. And it's not just moisture that can build up, it's VOCs and formaldehyde and other chemicals."
"The real message is that you cannot worry about energy savings without worrying about air quality, they go hand in hand. If you make a building energy efficient then you have to worry about VOCs, formaldehyde, fire retardants and every other chemical that can build up; an efficient house has to be a healthy house."  - As simple as that.


Why Construction Is Expensive, Especially When It Is Small and Green

In Praise of The Dumb Home
01.15.14. by Lloyd Alter. "Because perhaps we don't need high tech smart homes if we build them right in the first place."
Absolutely great article. Couldn't agree more. One of my favorite quote: "Victor Olgyay noted exactly 50 years ago in his book Design with Climate, comfort is not determined by temperature alone, but by a combination of temperature, humidity and air movement."


The Huge Chill: Why Are American Refrigerators So Big?
10.04.13. by Jonathan Rees. From iceboxes to stainless steel behemoths: An Object Lesson. Americans (followed closely by Canadians) have the biggest refrigerators in the world — 17.5 cubic feet of volume on average. Since our refrigerators run day and night, they use more energy than any other household appliance.
Apparently, not everyone is aware that their fridges takes more juice than their AC. Also noteworthy is the following quote by the author: "The size of our refrigerators, like the food we keep inside them, tells us something about our culture, our lifestyle and our values."  - Who knew?!?


Seeing Green: Environmentally Sound Home Design Gains Momentum

Seeing Green: Environmentally Sound Home Design Gains Momentum
08.18.13. by Karen Roberts. Green Houses - Our project is featured in this online article. The printed version (Sunday August 18th) is even nicer, showing the house as the cover photo, as you can see here with our thumbnail.
A couple of my quotes here are not quite exactly what I said, but overall a great article


More Beach House Details
06.13.13. by Natalie Wightman. "Careful design eliminates wasted space and maximizes function."  This quote is taken from a must-read article we recently came across; it discusses the superior advantages of today's thoughtful design in smaller homes.  The piece seemed as if it was written about The Beach House since this is the exact same approach we have taken in our design.


Why Men Really Do Need a Cave

Why Men Really Do Need a Cave
05.22.13. by Mitchell Parker. "Calm down, ladies. When a man wants his own space in the house — be it a cave, garage, bar, media room, billiards hall, woodshop or bowling alley — it’s not a red flag indicating that he's rebelling in your relationship, trying to avoid..."
- Lol. "a man space of some kind is important for emotional well-being at home". The question is - will your wife agree?


Get More Out Of Less Space

Get More Out Of Less Space
05.20.13. by Susan Bady. Buyers who are downsizing will walk away from homes that don’t make good use of space. Building a smaller box is not enough; the box has to be smarter. Careful design eliminates wasted space and maximizes function.
- "Live informally. Forget the foyer, formal living room, and formal dining room and make the kitchen/family room the heart of the house."  This article is absolutely loaded with the best interior design advice out there. And much more actually.


Who Needs 3-D Design? 5 Reasons You Do

Who Needs 3-D Design? 5 Reasons You Do
05.15.13. by Dylan Chappell. As a client, how can you avoid paying for design work you don’t want? Making sure you know what you're getting before you have it built helps. Today there is no better way to understand and have a feel for new design than to see it in 3-D.
- We've been firm believers - and pioneers - of 3D design for over 15 years now. Nice to see it is finally becoming an industry standard.


Forget The Green Gizmos; Green Building Is All About Simplicity

Forget The Green Gizmos; Green Building Is All About Simplicity
04.19.13. by Lloyd Alter. "What makes a house green? A designer who mentions things like “keeping the house small” and “keeping energy bills low” is on the right track. A designer whose first answer is “choosing green materials” may not be the one you want to hire...
- Great news!  As this clever drawing very well illustrate, 'green building' is not complicated; in fact, it's rather simple.


Paraco LP Gas Green Builder Spotlight: Absolute Green Homes

Green Builder Spotlight: Absolute Green Homes
01.21.13. by Lisa Sperow. "He's creating environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient, healthy living spaces for his homeowners. And - consistent with commitment to quality and his ability to see the big picture - he hasn't forgotten one other important thing: beauty. A quote on his website sums up his philosophy on this perfectly: 'If it's not beautiful, it's not sustainable.' "
- Nice quotes here.  Thank you Lisa.


Green, energy-efficient, sustainable or environmentally friendly — whatever term you choose — are not new phenomena

Green, Green, It’s Green They Say….*
12.10.12. by Kenneth W. Betz. Green, energy-efficient, sustainable or environmentally friendly — whatever term you choose — are not new phenomena. The current predilection of manufacturers to insist their products are greener than their competitors’ goods is, at the very least, evidence the concepts are becoming mainstream.
- "Greenwashing" - Enough already!!!  It's time for green for simply being just another color again...


Westchester NY hardscape, landscape design masonry contractor stone wall, columns, pavers Belgium block apron

The Beach House Interior and Exterior Close Up Details
11.20.12. by Natalie Wightman. We have made great strides to both the interior and exterior spaces of The Beach House since our last update. Following are some fantastic up-close pictures of the many intricate details we have incorporated into the design of our Zero Energy home.


Cuomo: “Climate change is a reality … we are vulnerable”

Cuomo: “Climate change is a reality … we are vulnerable”
10.31.12. by Jillian Rayfield. Andrew Cuomo pointed to the scale of Hurricane Sandy as evidence that climate change is a “reality” and debate about whether it exists is “a whole political debate that I don’t want to get into.”
- He's right. Bad storms are happening with increasing frequency and each one is more lethal than the last. Get Ready!


Retrofitting with Health in Mind

Retrofitting with Health in Mind
10.16.12. by Karen Thull, EEBA. Why is indoor air quality so important? EPA’s Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.
- Studies after studies keep showing the same results; So why is it such a hard sell? Is it the 'not in my house' syndrome?


Why Construction Is Expensive, Especially When It Is Small and Green

Why Construction Is Expensive, Especially When It Is Small and Green
09.17.12. by Lloyd Atler. "It has been a constant source of frustration for me over the years that when it comes to building anything in America, the discussion always reverts to the cost per square foot.
For years I have tried to make the case that the easiest way to drop the price per square foot of a house is to simply pump up the volume: kitchens and bathrooms are expensive, but family rooms and bedrooms with nothing but drywall and carpet are really cheap."
- That is exactly why for 20 years now I refuse to answer the ignorant question "How much per square foot?"


Governor Signs 3 Bills into Law to Spur More Solar PV Installations in NY

Governor Signs 3 Bills into Law to Spur More Solar PV Installations in NY
08.18.12. by Andrew. The new laws provide statewide tax credits for homeowners who lease or obtain solar power equipment through a PPA with a term of at least ten years. Tax credits top out at $5,000 per annum and can span 14 years. The law takes effect immediately. The governor’s NY-Sun initiative aims to foster installation of twice as much solar power capacity in New York in 2012 as compared to 2011, and quadruple that total in 2013.
- Great news!


"If It's Not Beautiful, It's Not Sustainable."

"If It's Not Beautiful, It's Not Sustainable."
08.07.12. by Lloyd Alter. Many of us involved with teaching or writing about sustainable design dance around the issue of beauty. Architect Lance Hosey says that you cannot have sustainability without beauty because if design doesn't inspire, it is destined to be discarded. We don't love something because it is nontoxic and biodegradable,- we love it because it moves the head and heart..... When we treasure something, we're less prone to kill it, so desire fuels preservation. Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern- It's an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.  - Like it or not, you have to agree with him. "Downsizing homes won't work unless they offer more to homeowners. Smaller has to be better for the planet and for people at the same time.". Several great quotes in this article. Get the book now, or the very least please read this short review!


Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover

Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover

Two Homes Get A Friendly Makeover
06.01.12. by Karen Croke. Green Houses - Two local, but very different, homes get an environmentally friendly makeover. When most homeowners think of green houses, the immediate projects that come to mind are solar panels and environmentally conscious materials.
But what if your entire house could be retrofitted and made to work for you, supplying enough energy to heat your hot water?
- Very nice, very brief story. Interesting choices of pictures.  Thank you Karen Croke and The Journal News!


And The Winner For Greenest Building Is … That Old Thing?

And The Winner For Greenest Building Is … That Old Thing?
05.21.12. by Claire Thompson. In the 12 years since the debut of LEED certification, the green-building stamp of approval has become the holy grail for every earth-loving contractor and home-builder. But while brand-new, Dwell magazine-worthy eco-structures are a flashy way to highlight new construction practices, the greenest buildings, it turns out, are almost always old ones.
- Here's a great quote in this article: “Almost all buildings are going to have opportunities to improve efficiency that will save money and be a far better investment than the stock market.”  Absolutely!


Is HERS Home Building's New Standard?

Is HERS Home Building's New Standard?
05.03.12. by Claire Easley. Little used until just recently, the rating system is gaining traction as the building industry’s equivalent of mpg. Its widespread use offers buyers both brand recognition as well as a better chance at being able to compare "apples to apples" from one home to the next on the same rating scale.
- Don't forget that unlike MPG, the lower the number the better, just like playing golf!


The Beach House Retrofit Project One Year Anniversary

One Year Anniversary
04.27.12. by Natalie Wightman. Last week marked the one year anniversary that construction on The Beach House began. As a freelance writer for this project I have observed first hand the tremendous amount of time and care that has been placed into the top to bottom transformation of this home. Far from an ordinary renovation the amount of thought and detail that have been part of this project is truly remarkable.
- Thank you Natalie!


Coal's Future Is Rocky at Best

Coal's Future Is Rocky at Best
04.26.12. by Matthew Philips. Is coal doomed? The dirty yet abundant energy source has had some rough patches before, but nothing like this. In 1985 coal accounted for 57 percent of all power generated in the U.S. Last year it was 42 percent. Prices for Appalachian coal are down 24 percent over the past 12 months. “With the prices you’re looking at now, no one can make money,” says Lucas Pipes, an analyst at Brean Murray, Carret.
- Yeah!!!


Propane Energy Update — April 2012

Propane Energy Update — April 2012
04.26.12. Propane offers flexibility for green construction;.
Training Profile: How Propane Offers Flexibility for Green Construction
A New York retrofit project relies heavily on propane for energy efficiency and a cleaner environmental profile.
- Read the full story from this newsletter published monthly by the Propane Education & Research Council.


US Natural Gas Boom Brings Decade-Low Price

US Natural Gas Boom Brings Decade-Low Price
04.11.12. by Jonathan Fahey.
The price of natural gas has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade, a remarkable decline for a commodity that not long ago was believed to be in short supply. The country's supply of natural gas is growing so fast that analysts worry the country's underground storage facilities could be full by fall. There is so much natural gas being produced -- and still in the ground -- that drillers, policymakers, economists and natural gas customers are trying to figure out what to do with it.
- Sure, gas is not perfect, but all things considered, it sure beats oil by 10 to 1.


All Leading Indicators Are Flashing Green For Housing

All Leading Indicators Are Flashing Green For Housing
04.05.12. by Gus Lubin, Business Insider.
In his annual letter to investors, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon offered an optimistic outlook on the housing market for 2012.
9 signs the housing market is turning around.
Of course, Mr. Dimon is right on the money, again.


Bedford Oak Still Life Captures Collision of Autumn and Winter

Bedford Oak Still Life Captures Collision of Autumn and Winter
03.16.12. by Lisa Buchman, Bedford-KatonahPatch.com.
The day after the October 2011 snowstorm, Sylvain Coté knew the time had come to finally take pictures of the Bedford Oak.
"I had always wanted to photograph that tree, but was just waiting for the right moment," said South Salem resident. "This was it."


Buy Green, Save Green New York State High-Efficiency Appliance Rebates

Buy Green, Save Green New York State High-Efficiency Appliance Rebates
03.14.12. by NYSERDA.
If you are a resident of New York State, you can receive a cash rebate of $350 by purchasing an eligible CEE High Efficiency Tier 2 or 3 refrigerator, or $250 by purchasing an eligible CEE High Efficiency Tier 2 or 3 clothes washer.
Purchases must be made on or after March 19, 2012.

- Better hurry, most likely the funds will be exhausted before Monday is over.


Warren Buffet Bets On Housing

Warren Buffet Bets On Housing
03.12.12. by Nicholas Pell.
It’s not an objective measure by any means but some might find comfort in the "Oracle of Omaha." Warren Buffet is predicting that 2012 will be the year that the U.S. housing market rebounds. The catch? He said the same thing last year. In fairness, Buffet was the first person to admit that this prediction proved to be, in his words, "dead wrong."
Here’s Buffet’s thinking: As everyone under 30 knows...
I, of course, happen to agree with Mr. Buffet optimism since it has some basis in reality.


Science + Building: Projects Benefit From Scientific Analysis

Science + Building: Projects Benefit From Scientific Analysis
01.30.12. by Carl Seville.
"Homes have a complex set of components that must be designed and constructed so that they work together as a smoothly operating machine — not unlike a car. What if when you bought a car, the company dumped all the parts on your front lawn and sent over people who worked for different companies to assemble it, in the rain, over a period of months? Would you even consider driving it?"
I also like his other car reference: "if we compare the average house to a car, it would have bald tires, leak and burn oil, and get about four miles to the gallon."


Proof That The Greenest Building Is The One Already Standing

Proof That The Greenest Building Is The One Already Standing
A report produced by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the potential environmental benefit of building reuse.
This groundbreaking study concludes that, when comparing buildings of equivalent size and function, building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction.
- Download or view the comprehensive 94 pages report (sad picture at page 10).

Architects — My Frustration Overfloweth Architects — My Frustration Overfloweth
01.12.12. by Scott Sedam.  "These 3 big name [biggest name, most expensive architectural firms in the country], their plans were full of errors. They had just dumb things in their floorplans. They had even dumber things on their elevations. They were designed with blatant disregard for cost."
"Out of the 28 specific detail boxes provided by the architect for building corners, cornices, soffits, etc., 24 were flat-out wrong and could not be built as drawn."
- Just another reason - a big one - to retain design and build firms. Just like ours!

The Customer is Not Always Right

The Customer is Not Always Right
01.05.12. by Sami Grover . Why the Green Movement Must Manufacture Demand.
In a world where the customer is king, isn't it insanely bad business practice not to give them exactly what they want? We can't sit around lamenting the lack of public interest in climate science. We can't moan about people not buying cleaner vehicles, or falling back in love with the McMansion. We have to inspire interest and we have to create demand for the solutions to our planetary crisis. It's high time that businesses that care about the world stopped waiting for "green consumer demand" to materialize, and instead made it happen.
- Bravo. "Steve Jobs didn't create the iPod because people demanded it."  Well said.


Everything Old Is New Again. the art of deconstruction and ways to use reclaimed materials in unique ways: Furniture, wine cellars, vanities and other handcrafted pieces.

Everything Old Is New Again
December 2011. by Christina Koch . "Sylvain Côté, owner of South Salem, N.Y.-based Absolute Green Homes, has mastered the art of deconstruction and found ways to use reclaimed materials in unique ways. He has created furniture, wine cellars, vanities and other handcrafted pieces from discarded items as mundane as 2 by 4s.
He currently is retrofitting a New York house with a zero-energy goal while using reclaimed materials to make the home distinctive."

  - Article is from page 18 to 23, December 2011 issue. 4 of the 5 pictures on page 22 & 23 are ours from our previous project, Transformations.

Bill Clinton Keeps Tradition Alive With Book Signing at Chappaqua library

Bill Clinton Keeps Tradition Alive With Book Signing at Chappaqua library
12.10.11. by Elizabeth Ganga. Clinton said he gave President Barack Obama a copy of "Back to Work" when he saw him in connection with a multibillion-dollar energy retrofit program for buildings that Obama asked him to work on. Retrofits, he said, are one of the most job-intensive investments around and easily paid for through the energy savings. "It's the closest thing we've got right now in this unemployment environment to a free lunch," he said.
- My favorite part of the article. Probably the most meaningful as well.

Green Building Is The Key To Rebooting The Economy

Green Building Is The Key To Rebooting The Economy
12.05.11. by Lloyd Alter.  Construction had the worst percentage loss of jobs in the country, over one in four jobs lost in total. One would have thought that green building and energy retrofitting might have been a good place to do some effective job creating, and indeed that was the plan with the Home Star Act of 2010, which would have put six billion dollars into energy retrofits. It was, as Brian noted, a "complete no-brainer" of a bill. But it was filibustered and killed by the Senate Republicans.
I said the same thing years ago myself as well...

$4 Billion Initiative to Upgrade Energy Efficiency of Nation's Buildings

$4 Billion Initiative to Upgrade Energy Efficiency of Nation's Buildings
12.02.11. by Brian Merchant.  President Obama announced today that he's launching a $4 billion private-public initiative to upgrade the energy efficiency of the nation's buildings. According to an independent analysis, this effort to retrofit inefficient buildings will create tens of thousands of jobs, and will cost the taxpayer a grand total of nothing. This is one of the rare examples where you actually have a genuine win-win-win situation: It's good for the individuals it puts to work, good for business who cut costs, and good for the environment as a result of less energy consumption.
- As mentioned in this article, Clinton deserves a lot of credit here. Bravo.

Another Reason to Stop Building New Homes: Job Creation

Another Reason to Stop Building New Homes: Job Creation
11.08.11. by Emily Badger.  New, cutting-edge eco buildings don’t necessarily promise the best route to sustainability. Old buildings do. Rehabilitating them is considerably less wasteful – and more realistic – than replacing them all together. Rehabilitating old buildings is more labor-intensive than new construction, since much of the cost of new construction goes literally to bricks and mortar. Repairing existing residential buildings produces about 50 percent more jobs than building new ones. About 41 percent of the cost of residential repair goes to labor. For new construction, that number is just 28 percent, meaning considerably more than half of any investment in a new home goes not to construction jobs, but to materials,
- "This is a no brainer", as someone else famous already said.

Is Your Home Overweight?

Is Your Home Overweight?
11.07.11. by Mary Beth Breckenridge. Chances are you know how it feels to put on excess pounds.
You're uncomfortable. Nothing fits right. Everything seems to take more effort. Sharon Kreighbaum believes that's how it is with houses, too. "A bloated house is an uncomfortable one. Clutter gets in our way, increases our stress and wastes our time, energy and resources.  Clutter comes from indecision. Things accumulate because we haven't decided how to handle them or where to put them. And when we don't make those decisions, we set ourselves up for the frustration and wasted time of continually searching for things or having to deal with the consequences of our laxity."
- Wow. Absolutely great must-apply advice (and truths!) here to benefit each one of us for sure.

Frequent Outages The New Normal

Frequent Outages The New Normal
10.25.11. by Phil Reisman. "I have not kept a log, so I can't prove this. But the electricity in my Yonkers neighborhood has probably gone out 10 times in the last couple of decades as a result of high March winds, tropical storms, hurricanes and nor'easters — the latest being Saturday's absurd Oktoberfest snowstorm that snapped healthy, heavy tree limbs as if they were mere matchsticks.
- Great, funny piece.

iPod Creators Design The Perfect Thermostat That Learns Your Habits

iPod Creators Design The Perfect Thermostat That Learns Your Habits
10.25.11. by Jaymi Heimbuch. Let's face it, programmable thermostats can be complicated. They're like any other device you have to program -- they sound neat but actually using them can be annoying. And yet, the thermostat is one of the most important parts of a home for keeping the carbon footprint low.
- Save hundreds of dollars without even trying.

Hayworth Develops Energy-Efficiency Bill For Homes

Hayworth Develops Energy-Efficiency Bill For Homes
08.08.11. by David Gabrielson. Nan Hayworth of Mount Kisco, recently introduced the "PACE Assessment Protection Act of 2011," important legislation that allows Bedford (and every other community in the U.S.) to establish Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs that promote energy-efficiency upgrades to homes.
- This is an awesome program that finally hit close to home. Basically, if you live in Bedford NY, you can fix your home at absolutely no cost to you. Up to $12,000.

9 Tricks For Creating a Super Model

9 Tricks For Creating a Super Model
08.08.11. by Lita Dirks. Super models and award-winning model homes have more in common than you might think. Here are nine essential elements from the world of high fashion that will take your model homes to the next level. Consider these “shared” attributes when planning your next model homes and you too will create super models.
Great analogy!  As a photographer and a builder, it is easy to appreciate the comparison.

Green Homes Sell for More, Studies Show Green Homes Sell for More, Studies Show
08.01.11. by Diane Kittower.  In many markets, third party-certified homes command higher prices and sell more quickly than conventional ones. As green building pros know all too well, today’s recession-weary home buyers are often more concerned with price than with a home’s energy rating, durability, or indoor air quality. New research, however, reflects a steady increase in the public’s understanding of the value of green building features - As I mentioned back in 2008, it's only a matter of time before homes follow the car trend (with the MPG).
Built to Last

Built to Last
07.18.11. by Leah Thayer. You can pretty much bet that the people who designed and built the Empire State Building never uttered the phrase "green building."  80 years after the iconic landmark was completed, however, its durability and efficiency are testaments those and other principles of green building.
- Did you know the whole thing was built in 11 months!?!  See the exhibit on the 80th floor.

U.S. Now Receives More Power From Renewable Sources Than Nuclear

U.S. Now Receives More Power From Renewable Sources Than Nuclear
07.06.11. by Tafline Laylin. A recent report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration reveals that America now receives more of its energy from renewable sources than it does from nuclear generation plants. In the first three months of 2011, the country’s biomass/biofuel, hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar energy generation plants produced a combined 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy or 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production. During the same period, nuclear energy plants produced 2.125 quadrillion Btus.
- Isn't this great news?!?

Why Housing Is Guaranteed to Recover

Why Housing Is Guaranteed to Recover
06.30.11. by Morgan Housel. No modern U.S. recession has ever fully recovered without the help of housing. Even in non-bubble times, housing is one of biggest economy drivers for the simple reason that it's the largest investment most people ever make. Its downfall is a major reason our economy is still in a funk. The inevitable rebound in construction is one of the most positive future indicators we have today -- even if that future is a full two years away.
- Very nicely put.

Cancer Experts Say Chemicals Pose Little Risk

Cancer Experts Say Chemicals Pose Little Risk
06.16.11. by Marilynn Marchione. You're sitting in a freshly drywalled house, drinking coffee from a plastic foam cup and talking on a cellphone. Which of these is most likely to be a cancer risk?
  - After reading it twice, I'm not sure what to think of this article; It was obviously intended to make us feel safer, but it really does not. Nevertheless, there's good information here and a few good quotes. And at the end, which this article does not mention, I recommend an air exchanger (also known as HRVs and ERVs) in every home. Search this site for more info on them.

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
06.11.11. by Ed Voytovich. “Art is wonderful, and our distant ancestors created art on the walls of their caves. Modern buildings need to be beautiful too because people won’t take care of them if they’re not. But we need buildings to protect us (and themselves) from the elements. If they don’t do that they don’t work. First things first, please.” Wright’s buildings are incontestably works of art. Unfortunately, they need to have geodesic domes built over them (and sometimes all the way around them so they can stand up to the elements).
  - And I thought I was the only one with this opinion.  Thank you Ed!

(formerly) Ugly Ceilings ... in White Plains, N.Y.

(formerly) Ugly Ceilings ... in White Plains, N.Y.
05.10.11. by Leah Thayer. Day six of our May contest: (formerly) Ugly Ceilings.
  - One of our basement is featured in this leading remodeling industry daily newsletter.

The McMansion Penalty in ENERGY STAR Version 3

The McMansion Penalty in ENERGY STAR Version 3
04.04.11. by Allison Bailes. How can a 15 thousand square foot house even be considered for the ENERGY STAR program?  - Find out the answer here.

Auto Sales Up With Economy, But Buyers Downsize Auto Sales Up With Economy, But Buyers Downsize
04.01.11. by Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin. Americans bought smaller cars and SUVs in March, as higher gas prices made fuel efficiency a top priority and rising employment meant more first-time buyers bought a vehicle.
  - Expect to read the same headline very soon - This time in regards to home sales.
Architect Frank Harmon Debunks Modern Myths about Sustainable Design Architect Frank Harmon Debunks Modern Myths about Sustainable Design
03.28.11.  Five myths about sustainable design still pervade public discourse, giving individuals, homebuilders and corporations “excuses” for ignoring the drum beat for sustainable design.  These excuses just won’t work any longer.  - Nicely put.
Reviving an Old Debate on Vapor Barriers Reviving an Old Debate on Vapor Barriers
03.21.11. by Scott Gibson. Evidence suggests that interior polyethylene vapor barriers can cause problems, but architects still specify them.   - A must read if you are considering building a new home, an addition or a major renovation.
Responsibility Lies With Humans, Not Nature Responsibility Lies With Humans, Not Nature
03.19.11. by Fenton Johnson. The New York Times characterizes the tsunami that struck coastal Japan as "murderous," while a friend writes that "Planet Earth is an unfriendly place." We decided to build towns on the beach and cities on the faults; we created the complex web of power-hungry machines that require ever more energy. Energy is the foundation of modern civilized life. Can we generate power cleanly and safely? Can we teach ourselves to live more frugally and use energy more wisely?  - Several great quotes here. Are we listening? Are we learning?
Energy Disasters Keep Coming, And We Keep Waiting Energy Disasters Keep Coming, And We Keep Waiting
03.17.11. by Greg Clary. Radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster in Japan is expected to hit California today — but the fallout that may have the biggest impact here happened when the reactors started melting down last week.  It made everyone question nuclear power and couldn't have come at a worse time for Indian Point, which already is in the most contentious relicensing effort that federal regulators have seen.  Before last Friday, our local nuke plant was an odds-on favorite to join 63 others that have gotten their licenses extended for another 20 years.
Make Your Homes Airtight Make Your Homes Airtight
03.16.11. by Andy Soltis & Tim Perone. Japan braced for a full-scale nuclear catastrophe today after a new fire at one reactor and damage to another sharply raised the chances of a meltdown and government officials admitted radiation was spewing into the environment. Officials ordered people around the plant to seal themselves inside their homes. "Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight."
 -Wow. We all knew of the many benefits of making your home airtight, but I would have never thought of that one.
Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives
03.11.11. by James Glanz & Norimitsu Onishi. Hidden inside the skeletons of high-rise towers, extra steel bracing, giant rubber pads and embedded hydraulic shock absorbers make modern Japanese buildings among the sturdiest in the world during a major earthquake. These precautions, along with earthquake and tsunami drills that are routine for every Japanese citizen, show why Japan is the best-prepared country in the world for the twin disasters of earthquake and tsunami. -Just when we thought building codes were nothing but unnecessary red tape. Further proofs are the recent earthquakes of Chili and Haiti, where the 1st one also had better building codes and where the latter codes were practically non existent and/or not enforced.
Heating Oil Use Falls As Prices, Irritation Rise Heating Oil Use Falls As Prices, Irritation Rise
03.11.11. Associated Press. Heating oil prices have shot up 32 percent over the past four months. But consumption has fallen by more than a third in the past five years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Nationally, sales of residential heating oil have fallen 26 percent. Inventories are at a five-year high even though demand is down. Oil traders of artificially driving up prices because of the political turmoil in the Middle East. - Go figure. It's time to make the switch. We can help you doing so. More Info Here
Americans’ Love Affair With The McMansion Is Over Americans’ Love Affair With The McMansion Is Over
03.09.11. by Jennifer Goodman.  Architect Sarah Susanka continues to advocate for well-proportioned houses. What’s in now is smaller, highly detailed, long-lasting dwellings, all tenets of architect Susanka’s vision of “right-sized” homes. "Build better, not bigger; build to last; and build to inspire", she says, catching on with recession-weary Americans looking to build or remodel their homes with resource conservation and financial considerations in mind.  - It's about time!
5 Tips for a Green Home Remodel 5 Tips for a Green Home Remodel
02.24.11. by Kestrel Jenkins. While conjuring up comfort in the home seems like a basic principle, it’s a far more complex process for architect & remodeling guru Sarah Susanka, who believes that comfort can significantly influence the sustainability of your personal abode. Through transforming your living space into a more beautiful and comfortable environment, Susanka says that any home’s occupants will automatically take better care of their space in a more sustainable way.
Real Estate: Finally a Good Investment? Real Estate: Finally a Good Investment?
01.18.11. by Dave Kansas.  Hear are 4 reasons to think residential real estate might represent a bargain - with one big caveat. Here's the #1 reason: Hatred of an asset is often the precursor to contrarian interest, and being contrarian is at the heart of many investment strategies. To paraphrase Warren Buffett, be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.  - Read on, this is good. And brief as well.
More on Why I Hate Martha Stewart's Builder Concept Home
01.13.11. by Lloyd Alter.  After writing The Builder Concept Home 2011: Time To Redefine What We Mean By Green I received a lot of thoughtful but very critical comments where the consensus seemed to be that a) I was mad that they didn't consult me; b) Like it or not, this is what Americans want, c) what do I have against concrete in Florida? d) this is a horrendously poor piece, or my favorite, e) "I personally think the author wouldn't be happy unless we all either lived in a cave, igloo or reused some unused section of the NYC sewer system."
 - This is really good, and unfortunately for Martha, the author here is absolutely correct.
Why Is the Energy Improvement Mortgage So Lonely? Why Is the Energy Improvement Mortgage So Lonely?
01.12.11. by Allison Bailes. Have you ever heard of EEMs and EIMs?  No?  Well, you are not alone.  They are  Energy Efficient Mortgages and Energy Improvement Mortgages.  Ditch the conventional mortgage for these and basically get that new ultra efficient boiler or furnace that you've been dreaming about for FREE, and actually even save money each and every single month on your utility bills thereafter.  What's to loose?  A federal tax credit of $1500, that is also what's to loose!
Air Leaks or Thermal Loss: What's Worse? Air Leaks or Thermal Loss: What's Worse?
12.20.10. by Scott Gibson. Have we been brainwashed to consider only R-values?  Beefing up R-values and reducing air leaks are the twin rallying cries of builders focusing on energy efficiency. Regardless of the particulars of the house design, more insulation and fewer air leaks make houses more comfortable, more durable, and less expensive to heat and cool.  No one seems to argue that point. But Al Cobb wonders which is more significant.  - Yes, most people have been brainwashed, incl. many in the industry!
2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards 2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards
12.19.10. by JULIE REED BELL, SETH BORENSTEIN. Natural disasters killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 — the deadliest year in more than a generation.  And we have ourselves to blame most of the time, scientists and disaster experts say.  Even though many catastrophes have the ring of random chance, the hand of man made this a particularly deadly, costly, extreme and weird year for everything from wild weather to earthquakes.  - Nice to recognize and admit that "Mother Nature" or "Act of God"  are rarely the ones to blame.
Connecticut Energy Challenge Announces Winners for 2010 Connecticut Energy Challenge Announces Winners for 2010
12.14.10. by Richard Defendorf. The inaugural contest, which included 15 contestants, highlights the three local projects with the lowest HERS index. The winning entries in the Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge makes for an interesting trio: two homes larger than 4,500 sq. ft. and one at 2,690. The first-place winner landed a HERS index score of minus 7.
Nice to see some very nice local projects!
In Green Building, You Can't Separate Energy and Health In Green Building, You Can't Separate Energy and Health
11.30.10. by Lloyd Alter.  From LEED towers to single family houses, the problem is the same; Some complain that the buildings don't save enough energy. Building envelope expert Joe Lstiburek complains that LEED wants buildings to be too ventilated. Others complain that sealing up buildings and houses are a health disaster waiting to happen. - Ask me what I think!
There Are At Least 10 R's, And Recycling Is The Least Of Them There Are At Least 10 R's, And Recycling Is The Least Of Them
11.10.10. by Lloyd Alter.   We reprise and reiterate: We need to go zero waste instead of recycling.  "It's Recycling Week, and time to reiterate, reprise and repost our message that recycling is not the answer, zero waste is. Last year we listed 7Rs that did not include recycling." 
Stop Selling Green Stop Selling Green
November 2010. by Jonathan Sweet.  "If you’re like me, you’re probably sick of hearing about green, sustainability, eco-consciousness or whatever term people want to use to describe environmentally friendly practices. With all the media saturation and "greenwashing", it’s easy to get a little tired of it all."
I certainly know quite a few local colleagues that could use Jonathan's advise here...
"MPG" for Your House: The New Home Energy Score "MPG" for Your House: The New Home Energy Score
11.09.10. by Ben Jervey.  You may know the miles per gallon your car gets, but have you ever wanted to know the miles per gallon your home gets?
Today, Vice President Biden and Secretary Chu launched the Home Energy Score program to help consumers save money by saving energy. The program is kicking off in ten pilot locations across the nation.
- Watch the short video. Great new program. As mentioned, buying a new home will be like buying a new car. Or like buying a new appliance for that matter.  I certainly welcome the idea!
Homeowners like an open plan, and the walls come tumbling down Homeowners like an open plan, and the walls come tumbling down
10.27.10. by Melissa Rayworth.  If your home was built within the last decade, odds are it was designed with an open plan. The kitchen flows seamlessly into the family room, and few walls separate the living and dining areas.  But what if your home is a bit older? In the 1970s and '80s, houses were built with a separate great room, separate small living room, separate small dining area" and a kitchen walled off from the rest. Phrases like "formal dining room" and "breakfast nook" were selling points. Today, many owners of those houses want the flexibility of an open plan, and are knocking down walls to get it. Kitchens are frequently merged with other rooms to create a larger, more inviting family area.
- Very nice article. I couldn't agree more. See many more similar kitchens right here
In Houses, Small Is The New Big In Houses, Small Is The New Big
10.20.10. by Lloyd Alter. In 1950, the average house in the U.S. was about 1,100 square feet, while there were about 3.4 people per household.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2009 the average new house in the U.S. was 2,438 square feet (down slightly from 2,518 square feet in 2008), while the average household size was 2.6 people. In the past sixty years, house size has increased 120%, while family size has dropped 24%, so square footage per family member has nearly tripled...  - The square footage per family member has nearly tripled -  What?!?
World's Largest And Most Expensive Family Home Completed World's Largest And Most Expensive Family Home Completed
10.14.10. by Diane Pham. $1,000,000,000. One Billion U.S. Dollars. That is the estimated value of this "home" in Mumbai, India. The 27-story residence is owned by the world's fourth-richest person, Mukesh Ambani. 600 people work there full-time, there's several swimming pool, and there's a six-story160-car garage. Oh, there's also three helipads, just in case you want to drop by for a visit. - What can I say? You think this guy seen the movie "Slumdog Millionaire?!?
Natural Gas Prices Down, But Heating Oil Is Up Natural Gas Prices Down, But Heating Oil Is Up
10.12.10. by Jonathan Fahey. The price of natural gas, the fuel that supplies 70 percent of the nation's heat, is relatively low for the second year in a row, and falling.  But those who rely on heating oil, and residents of the Pacific Northwest, may need to bundle up. Unlike natural gas, crude oil prices have risen sharply from their recession lows, pushing up the price of heating oil 16 percent over last year.  Even as the economy has started to recover, natural gas prices have stayed low because supplies are ample and growing. - Contact us the make the switch asap!!!
A High Performance Home is Defined by the Process, Not The Products A High Performance Home is Defined by the Process, Not The Products
09.28.10. by Allison Bailes. Geothermal heat pumps. Tankless water heaters. Spray foam insulation. Because of all the hype around 'green' products, it's easy to focus on the details and miss the big picture. One problem with getting sucked into the green product hype is that some of those products are outright scams and some are overblown. You're mostly just enriching the companies that sell that stuff to you if you fall for it.
“If We Just Fixed All The Buildings In America…” “If We Just Fixed All The Buildings In America…”
09.23.10. Former President Bill Clinton appeared recently on the David Letterman show.
Besides touching on his daughter’s wedding, he also managed to steer the conversation to a topic near and dear to his (and our) heart: the absolute importance of “fixing” buildings so that they’re more energy efficient.  Among other things, you get 7,000 jobs for every billion you spend in this area, Clinton said.
Does Energy Efficiency Jeopardize IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)? Does Energy Efficiency Jeopardize IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)?
09.17.10. by David Johnston.  "In the race to reduce energy use and carbon in the residential housing arena, I’m concerned that we’re playing down the importance of indoor air quality in homes. One of the reasons green building took off in the marketplace the way it did is that green treated the house as a system. According to market research, the second most important driver for homeowners to buy a green home is improved indoor air quality, especially when children are in the house."   -  Nicely done, short and to the point.
Home Energy Performance Audits and Advice at Your Fingertips Home Energy Performance Audits and Advice at Your Fingertips
09.01.10. by Stephani L. Miller.  A new application for iPad and iPhone can be used by homeowners, home buyers, builders, remodelers, architects, and other pros to evaluate the energy efficiency of a particular house by inputting its construction and system details—such as building and structure type, orientation, ventilation, thickness and type of insulation, and climate control systems—interpret the results, and access recommendations for performance improvements.
CertainTeed Introduces Sustainable Insulation - NOT CertainTeed Introduces Sustainable Insulation - NOT
08.27.10. by Lloyd Alter.  "I was surprised to see a full page ad on the back of 'Wood Design and Building for Sustainable Insulation' that looked suspiciously like fiber glass batts. I wondered, a) how do you trademark the words "sustainable insulation" and b) under any definition, how do you call glass fiber insulation sustainable. CertainTeed, part of the big French glassmaker Saint-Gobain, makes a profoundly twisted case for their product"   - "Twisted case" ? You are being a little kind here Lloyd...
Body of Las Vegas Woman Found in Clutter at Home Body of Las Vegas Woman Found in Clutter at Home
08.27.10. by Oskar Garcia.  A four-month search for a missing Las Vegas woman came to a ghastly end this week when her husband found her corpse in their home amid a labyrinth of squalor that had been impassable even to search dogs. Bill James apparently had no idea that the body of his pack-rat wife, Billie Jean, was under the same roof as he helped police scour the home and the Nevada desert for any sign of her. Then he spotted the feet of the body poking out of a floor-to-ceiling pile of junk...   - Wow... I don't know what to say!
Is Energy Consumption The Only Thing That Matters In Green Building? Is Energy Consumption The Only Thing That Matters In Green Building?
08.26.10. by Lloyd Alter.  Taunton Press blog Green Building Advisor, Martin Holladay wrote a post earlier this year that takes a position that is by most standards in green building, pretty radical.
He starts out by declaring indoor air quality, material choices and the VOC content of paint to be unimportant and irrelevant.   - Say what?!?
Thinking Green? It's Not Just Black And White Thinking Green? It's Not Just Black And White
08.21.10. by Katherine Salant.  Can a big house be green?  Yes, but a smaller house will always be greener because fewer resources were used in its construction and less energy is needed to heat and cool it. This critical distinction is little understood by the general public, but in the world of green building, prudent use of resources, also called "sustainability," is a cornerstone. It means using resources to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
1100+ Quick Rebuttals to Common Anti-Climate Change Arguments 1100+ Quick Rebuttals to Common Anti-Climate Change Arguments
08.09.10. by Brian Merchant. Climate change is a subject that's greeted with heaps of controversy just about whenever the topic is broached. Unlike most phenomena that a vast majority of scientists have agreed is occurring after years and years of meticulous study, climate change is apt to cause a ruckus (or at least some grumblings) when brought up in any kind of social forum. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if there was a comprehensive index of one-line responses to common arguments that global warming isn't real? Glad you asked -- here are over 100 sentence-long rebuttals that do exactly that.
Don't Forget Home Star: The Green Bill Everyone Can Agree On Don't Forget Home Star: The Green Bill Everyone Can Agree On
07.21.10. by Brian Merchant.  In the arena of green politics, the spotlight has been hogged by the troubled energy reform efforts in the Senate. Many are watching as the best chance to reign in carbon emissions and stimulate clean energy development on a large scale is slipping away, with Barack Obama perhaps helpless to do much about it. But another tragedy would occur if the bill that just about everybody can agree is a good idea disappears with it: the fantastic Home Star bill, which would make homes across the nation more energy efficient, and create jobs in the process.
Design Tricks For Small Spaces Design Tricks For Small Spaces
07.14.10. by Jenny Sullivan.  House sizes are shrinking in these frugal times, and builders are working with tighter constraints when it comes to building envelopes, lot sizes, and budgets. But with a little ingenuity and discipline, a small home can feel plenty roomy and every bit as lovely as a larger one. Here are some tips for making the best of a small situation.
Greenwashing - Say it Ain’t So! Greenwashing - Say it Ain’t So!
July 2010. By Michael A. Menn. "When you stay at a hotel, the hotel likely will ask you if you want to use a towel more than once to “save the environment.” Have you ever wondered: “Is it to save the environment or just to cut costs?”  Way back in 1986, environmentalist Jay Westerveld cited this hotel policy and coined activities like it “greenwashing.” Wikipedia defines greenwashing as “the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources.”
Home & Lot Sizes Shrinking, Property Enhancements Popular Home & Lot Sizes Shrinking, Property Enhancements Popular
06.18.10. By Kermit Baker. Residential architects finally reporting modest gains in business levels after a 30-month downturn. A severe housing recession, concern over rising home energy costs, and changing lifestyles have all increased interest in smaller homes that are designed to reflect the changing lifestyles of households. Accessibility around the home and layouts with more flexible designs and informal spaces are emerging as top priorities. As with houses, lot sizes continue to shrink, although this trend began well before the current housing recession.
Future Trading Future Trading
06.14.10. by Nigel F. Maynard.  It’s hard to predict what products, technology, and systems will be important in the next 10 years, but green experts say the looming energy crisis can give us a pretty good idea.  Yogi Berra, the Hall of Famer known for his paradoxical observations, once said famously, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Indeed it is. But with all due respect to Mr. Berra, sometimes all you have to do to see the future is look around and see where there is a need, where opportunities lie, and where there will be challenges. As management guru Peter F. Drucker put it, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
A Slow Economy Doesn’t Change the Rules of Bidding A Slow Economy Doesn’t Change the Rules of Bidding
May 2010. by John McLean, Architect, San Francisco.  "Too many homeowners and architects are naive in their reliance on the bid process as the major tool to lower project cost, and that they ignore the negative impact this process can have on the quality of construction, the level of service provided, and the development of the trust needed among all the parties for a successful outcome."   - Wow. Beautifully said.  This is a fine, must-read article for any homeowner who wishes a successful outcome of their own construction project.  And who doesn't?!?
New Lead Paint Laws Effective April 22, 2010 New Lead Paint Laws Effective April 22, 2010
04.28.10. by Sylvain Côté.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a new Lead Paint Law effective April 22, 2010. Under the new rule, contractors - Or anyone - performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.  This means that if your house was built before 1978, it must be tested first before any kind of work can be done.  More details are provided in this EPA Brochure.
Sylvain Côté of Absolute Green Homes is now an EPA Certified Renovator since April 28, 2010.
Green Is So Yesterday Green Is So Yesterday
04.21.10. by Annabelle Gurwitch.  Actress and writer Annabelle Gurwitch (Dinner and a Movie) is such a vibrant advocate for going green that she calls herself a "lime" activist. When she's not boldly shrinking the ecological footprints of American families as the host of Wa$ted!...
EEM's  Energy Efficient Mortgages EEM's  Energy Efficient Mortgages
Spring 2010.  These mortgages allows you to roll in the costs of making specific energy saving improvements to the home you are building or purchasing. This will, of course, increase your monthly mortgage payment but since because these improvements will drastically lower your energy, gas and water consumption, your monthly utilities will decrease even more so than your mortgage. Saving you money every month.   More Sources on Energy Mortgages
Are Ground Source Heat Pumps (Geothermal Systems) a Good Choice? Are Ground Source Heat Pumps (Geothermal Systems) a Good Choice?
02.24.10. by Lloyd Alter.  They are rarely as efficient as promised. The rated efficiency may not include the energy required for the pump, suggesting that the electrical energy can be significant... The pump run on electricity, which for much of America comes from coal... If you care about your carbon footprint, it is actually worse than running on natural gas.  They are really expensive and there are better places to spend your money, costing as much as $35,000.  We need to invest in reducing our consumption, not in buying green gizmos. That is the path to energy independence and a lower carbon footprint.  - Ouch!  There. We absolutely agree.
10 Million Solar Roofs Bill In The U.S. In The Next 10 Years 10 Million Solar Roofs Bill In The U.S. In The Next 10 Years
02.04.10. by David Roberts.  Cleverly titled the "10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act" (PDF), it would provide rebates that cover up to half the cost of new systems, along the lines of incentive programs in California and New Jersey (not coincidentally, Nos. 1 and 2 in installed solar in the U.S.). It also includes measures to insure that those who receive assistance get information on how to make their buildings more energy efficient.  More
"Nation That Leads The Clean Energy Economy Will..." "Nation That Leads The Clean Energy Economy Will..."
01.27.10. by Brian Merchant.  "I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future - because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy."
- Read the "Recovery Through Retrofit" Proposal
Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency
Jan. 2010.  DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.  Updated every two months.  More
'Insulation Is Sexy'.  by 01.01.10. by Jonathan Sweet. 'Insulation Is Sexy'
01.01.10. by Jonathan Sweet. " 'Insulation is sexy' isn't what we expected President Obama to say last month in promoting new tax credits for energy efficiency, but it was nice to hear a little love for the remodeling industry.  The program would provide billions in incentives for home weatherization projects; it would generate business for remodelers, creates jobs and makes homes more efficient. It would be funded out of uncommitted TARP funds, and I'd much rather see the money go to homeowners and remodelers than bankers." More
I agree, let's stop using the annoyingly and exceedingly inaccurate "Cash for Caulkers" name!
Making Green Mainstream
12.30.09. by Carl Seville.  "Sustainable building has suffered too long from slow acceptance. This is due, I believe, in large part to the drunken orgy of real estate speculation we were living through for much of the last 20 years. Why should anyone care about the efficiency, durability or health of their home if they were going to flip it for a big profit in a few years, or even months?"..."People spend more time investigating their cars, stereos and computers than they do their homes, mostly because they can objectively compare these products, but not the homes they are considering buying or renovating"  More  - An Absolute must read, really. Bravo Carl.
Is Green a National Security Issue? by Patrick O'Toole Is Green a National Security Issue?
Dec. 2009. by Patrick O'Toole.  "Being a part of remodeling is important for no other reason than national security", "We have a huge legacy of homes that we are going to have to do something with because our energy consumption patterns are not sustainable. This goes beyond politics." and finally ".  Relying less on foreign oil would potentially reduce our security commitments in other countries."  More
- Wow. Certainly a very interesting article with perhaps an unprecedented approach to remodeling to say the least.
1,000,000 Energy Star Homeowners Can't Be Wrong 1,000,000 Energy Star Homeowners Can't Be Wrong
11.10.09. by Brian Merchant. The Energy Star program hit a milestone today--the one millionth efficient home that earned the blue label wrapped building.  Since the program began labeling new homes in 1995, Americans have saved $1.2 billion on their energy bills, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22 billion pounds.  More
Big Green, by Van Jones, in an interview for Ebony mag. Big Green
11.03.09. by Kevin Chappell. What do you say to people who say that it’s too expensive to be green?  -Jones answers: "We’ll walk past the healthy choice to get something that is not healthy, and a lot of times that healthy choice is cheaper."  More
- Great interview; The very last paragraph is an absolute must read. Thank you Van Jones!
Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About Green Building Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About Green Building
11.02.09. by Lloyd Alter. "No, green building is not about hippies building hobbit houses out of straw. There is a lot more to it, it is a lot more widespread and it will soon be affecting everyone. But there are a lot of misconceptions out there."  More
- Lloyd Alter top 10 list here hits the nail home.  Very brief and well done.
How Brad Pitt Could Spark a Green Building Revolution
How Brad Pitt Could Spark a Green Building Revolution
09.25.09. by Brian Merchant.  Brad Pitt started the Make It Right foundation in 2007 to rebuild homes for residents in New Orleans who lost theirs to Hurricane Katrina.  Which would have been plenty admirable if that was the extent of the mission.  But the foundation figured, since all eyes are on the rebuilding of Katrina, wouldn't this be a fine chance to make an ironclad case for green building?   More


If We All Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, the Mercury Will Drop
If We All Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, the Mercury Will Drop
09.22.09. by Graham Hill.  At coal-fired plants (the biggest source currently of mercury emissions), 13.6 milligrams of mercury is emitted just to light up an incandescent bulb, while a CFL only would lead to (if incinerated, tossed out, or broken instead of recycled) 3.3 milligrams of mercury being emitted into the environment.  The mercury in a CFL is approximately one-quarter the amount emitted if an incandescent was used in its place, and that's assuming the CFL isn't recycled.  More
- By far the best argument to still switch to CFL's, despite their tiny mercury content.


Billions In Energy Savings Predicted Billions In Energy Savings Predicted
09.01.09.  National appliance standards for 26 common household and business products planned during the President current term could slash total U.S. electricity use by over 1,900 terawatt-hours (1.9 trillion kilowatt-hours) cumulatively by 2030 while saving consumers and businesses over $123 billion and eliminating 158 million tons per year by 2030.  More
Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream
June 2009. by John F. Wasik.  Why should you care about this book? It’s about our homes and communities and how we need to re-invent, re-envision and re-build the American Dream if we want to survive in this contentious century. Economics meets ecology in this radical new look at what we’ve taken for granted as a birthright.  M

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