Archive for the ‘Water use’ Category
August 4th, 2009
It’s been a long time in coming, but California is finally taking the steps necessary to make installing a graywater treatment system a reality for homeowners across the state. That’s good news for all of us, for California’s strict building codes often become templates for other locales across the country. The plans have been in the works for awhile and were originally supposed to take effect in January 2011, but due emergency conditions caused by an extended drought they’ll instead take effect today (August 4).
So, what’s so new and different about the standards? (more…)
Popularity: 6% [?]
July 30th, 2009
When it comes to the beach, it’s what you can’t see that can really hurt you. We all have irrational beach fears of sharks, jellyfish, rip currents and the like, but our greatest chance of getting hurt or sick at the seaside or lakeside comes from not from these scary but rare threats but instead from the bacteria and other pollutants in the water.
According to the latest version of the NRDC’s annual beach water quality report, pollution-related beach closure and advisory days in 2008 exceeded 20,000 nationwide for the fourth year running. Seven percent of water samples collected at beaches across the country contained human or animal wastes, and over 13 percent exceeded health standards in the Great Lakes. By state the worst offenders were Louisiana (29%), Ohio (19%) and Indiana (18%), meaning that you have a 1 in 5 chance of running into some smelly stuff in these states - yuck! Delaware, New Hampshire and Virginia were best, all falling at or below 1%.
Where does this crud come from? The primary source is stormwater runoff, especially from urban areas. Clean rain falls on dirty surfaces. It picks up all sorts of pollution on its way to the ocean, river or lake - trash, metals, oil and grease and yes, human and animal waste. On a side note, we can all play a role in helping with this problem. The use of rain barrels, rain gardens and other rainwater capture techniques help keep the clean water in your yard before it gets to the much dirtier streets and storm drains.
Some of the best beaches were:
- California, Stinson Beach, Marin County (0%)
- California, Newport Beach, Orange County (0%)
- Delaware, Rehoboth Beach, Sussex County (0%)
- Florida, John Lloyd State Park, Broward County (0%)
- Hawaii, Sandy Beach County Park, Honolulu (0%)
- Massachusetts, South Beach State Park (Martha’s Vineyard), Dukes County (0%)
- Michigan, Petoskey State Park, Emmet County (0%)
- Minnesota, Park Point (Beach House), St Louis County (0%)
- North Carolina, Ocracoke, Hyde County (0%)
- New Jersey, Atlantic City Beaches @ Lincoln, Atlantic County (0%)
- New York, Coney Island Beach, Kings County (0%)
- Texas, South Padre Island, Cameron County (0%)
- Virginia, Virginia Beach (0%)
And now some of the real stinkers:
- California, Santa Monica State Beach @ The Pier (43%)
- Florida, Alligator Point, Franklin County (56%)
- Louisiana, Holly Beach 5, Cameron County (50%)
- Ohio, Edgewater State Park, Cuyahoga County (34%)
Popularity: 4% [?]
July 3rd, 2009
We know we need to save water, no really we know, but sometimes we just need a little encouragement to get beyond the low hanging fruit. It is fairly easy to install low flow faucets and showerheads in the house, conserve more, and take shorter showers, but when it comes to saving water outdoors, that’s another story. In most backyards, sprinkler systems were installed well before saving water was a huge issue like it is now, so systems are inefficient and wasteful. With enough time, money and work you could fully replant your yard with drought tolerant plants, rip out your lawn and install a highly efficient irrigation system. If you don’t have the time for that, here are a couple backyard projects you can tackle soon, like this weekend or this month. (more…)
Popularity: 9% [?]
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 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% [?]