Archive for the ‘Recycling’ Category
July 7th, 2009
Shipping containers are at the forefront of a new era of usefulness. Traditionally used to carry goods via cargo ship, train or truck, these steel boxes are capable of withstanding huge amounts of pressure and weight. This makes them structurally stable, fireproof, mold-proof and weather-proof. Unfortunately each has a lifespan of only 20 years for its original purpose. That means when their work is done hauling stuff, they get retired and sent to junk yards or landfills even though they are still structurally solid. Now architects and designers recognize their usefulness as building blocks for homes, offices, apartments, schools and more. This home in Quebec was built by a couple intent on reducing the amount of wood that goes into building homes and also saving money. (more…)
Popularity: 100% [?]
June 30th, 2009
This weekend is the Independence Day holiday– and that means we’ll be lighting up the BBQ, consuming beverages, throwing out paper plates and generally wasting resources while we enjoy ourselves. So we’ve come up with a list of easy things you can do to lower the environmental impact of this fun, important holiday. It’s Independence Day, the Eco Way!
1. Light that BBQ with Propane. Wood and charcoal may seem like more natural fuel sources, but propane burns cleaner. You’ll have less smoke and less of a challenge keeping a fire going. Make sure that you refill or recycle your propane tank once it’s empty.
2. Use reusable plates and cups– or use recycled and/or biodegradable ones. Think of all of the millions of plastic and paper plates and cups being tossed out this weekend! It’s scary. You can really help out by either using sturdy, reusable plastic-ware and washing it after use. Or you can get compostable and biodegradable tableware that are great and will make an interesting conversation point for your event!
3. Put out a clearly-labeled recycling bin next to the trash basket. Make it clear to people that “this is the bin for your cans, bottles, plastic cups, etc.” If you make it easy for people, they will do it. And you won’t have to sort stuff at the end of the party!
4. Use tap water rather than bottled water. We know it’s hot, and bottled water is easy, but just fill some big pitchers up with water for people. You’ll cut your plastic use in a big way.
5. Skip the at-home fireworks. Naturally something that explodes, creates lots of light and leaves a cloud of smoke also comes with pollution. Fireworks also release heavy metals like lead into the air. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.
6. If you’re planning to go to the beach, know the condition of the beach before you go. Check out Beaches911.com to learn about the health conditions of the beach, any beach closures, and also eco-smart boating tips.
7. If you are taking a road trip of any kind, make sure to maximize your gas mileage. You could either rent a hybrid if you don’t have one– or make sure your tires are well-inflated, keep the AC as low as possible, and follow these tips for how to green your road trip.
Have a safe, healthy, fun holiday!
Popularity: 7% [?]
June 26th, 2009
Written by Trey Granger, courtesy of Earth911.com
Before you deposit the next beer or wine bottle into your blue bin, here are a few things to know about recycling your favorite sand-based product:
- It has the quickest turnaround of any curbside product, back on store shelves in as little as 30 days
- There’s a strong market for recycled glass, and the demand is not currently met
- A good portion of glass that you place in your recycling bin is not actually recycled.
What is Downcycling?
According to O-I Global, the leading glass manufacturer in North America, about 1.6 million tons of glass are downcycled, translating to almost 40 percent of the 4.2 million tons collected annually for recycling. Furthermore, this 4.2 million tons represents only 25 percent of total glass manufactured, as shown in the chart below.
Let’s start by explaining what happens to all this glass that isn’t reprocessed into new containers. To do this, we need to understand the concept of downcycling.
Downcycling is the process by which materials are recycled into a product of lesser-quality. An example for glass containers would be fiberglass or using it as an additive in concrete or ceramic tiles. The decision to downcycle glass is usually based on the quality of material, but who makes that call?
“This is most often the decision of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF),” says Paul Smith, O-I’s Global Sourcing Manager of Cullet. “Aggregate use of glass is important but limited in application. The recycling rate through MRFs could improve.”
One of the issues is the popularity of single-stream recycling, where all materials are collected in one bin. The materials are then separated at the MRF using a system of magnets, eddy currents and other machines, with glass being separated based on its weight.
During this process, glass tends to be crushed, which lowers the quality and increases the chances it will be downcycled. Smith says crushing can be a negative because large sizes are preferred when it comes to reprocessing glass into new containers.
Popularity: 7% [?]
June 25th, 2009
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere will undergo a $350 million “green” retrofit that its owners said on Wednesday will make the 110-story office tower a beacon for environmentally sound space.
Plans call for the 1,450-foot Sears Tower to reduce its electricity consumption by 80 percent and water usage by 40 percent. It will be renamed the Willis tower later this summer in a deal with new tenant global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings.
To achieve the savings, owner American Landmark Properties and its partners plan to:
- Replace the 1973 tower’s 16,000 tinted single-pane windows and create a “thermal break” between Chicago’s frigid winters and hot summers and the interior.
- Install gas boilers equipped with fuel cells, which generate electricity, heat and cooling.
- Revamp the tower’s 104 elevators and 15 escalators to cut their electricity usage by 40 percent.
- Conserve 24 million gallons of water with new restroom fixtures and “condensation capture.”
- “Harvest daylight” by installing systems that automatically dim lighting based on available natural light.
- Install solar panels to heat water.
- Erect wind turbines on building setbacks, if possible.
Popularity: 13% [?]
June 9th, 2009
Written by Susan Kraemer, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
Steel is just about the most recyclable building material on earth. You could be well reading this in an office building built with steel originally smelted from iron in Julius Caesar’s day.
So it makes good green sense to build eco prefab houses with steel…
Steel does not spread fire. Building with steel allows for a lighter load, so it does not require a huge concrete foundation. Making concrete is one of the most carbon intensive building industries there are, producing the heaviest carbon footprint.
And steel framing makes for construction simplicity: these homes are able to be erected by hand and do not require welding, special torque tools or specialized inspections. This allows an entire house to be framed and enclosed in less than five days.
Click here to read the rest of this article and see more photos.
Click here to learn more about other types of green prefab houses.
Popularity: 12% [?]