Archive for the ‘Green Architecture’ Category

» How to install a rain barrel

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Great video from the Conservation foundation located in Naperville Illinois. They sell recycled rain barrels for around $100.



» Radiant Heat Barriers

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010


There are several ways that heat is transferred into your home. One of them is by thermal radiation. Infrared energy from the sun travels until it strikes a surface before giving up its energy as heat to that surface. If you have ever been outside on a very cold windless day and felt the warmth of the sun, you have experienced thermal radiation. In the summer thermal radiation strikes the surfaces of your attic increasing temperatures to as much as 150 degrees, this heat energy radiates downward into living areas, creating upper floors that are hot and uncomfortable. This also creates a strain on air conditioning systems as they try to keep up with the heat gain, creating an unnecessary energy expense.  One solution to this problem is to install a foil thermal barrier. The foil can be placed on the underside of your roof structure within the attic space. A foil barrier of this type can reflect up to 90% of the thermal radiation from the sun, and reduce attic temperatures by up to 40 degrees. Cooling energy savings can be quite dramatic, usually around 20% to 30%. The reflective barrier can also be spray applied, or in the case of new construction, plywood sheathing is now available with a foil membrane applied to the interior attic side. If you are looking for a great do it yourself project that can pay for itself in the first year and create a more comfortable environment, we recommend installing a radiant foil barrier.

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» It is all in the Roof

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Every wonder what is keeping the rain out.  Your roof, that’s what.  Ever wonder what type of roof you have?  Probably not, but it is one of the most important parts of your home.  There are many types of roofing systems ranging from typical asphalt shingles to zinc clad metals and everything in between. 

One of the most environmentally friendly roofing material is metal.  Metal roofing first and foremost is 100% recyclable.  That is an extremely significant number.  There are very few materials used for the construction of your home that can boast that type of recyclability.  Another nice aspect of the metal roof is that the coatings out there offer a “cooling effect” in that much of the heat is reflected away from your home resulting in lower energy costs.   By reducing energy consumption from heating and cooling your home you will reduce your over all footprint on the environment. Over the years you will be surprised by the savings both environmentally and financially.

If you install a new metal roof you will be installing most likely the last roof you will ever need.  They help protect from fire, they are very durable and can be very aesthetically beautiful.  The next time you thing about a roof think again and investigate.

» Conditioned Air

Monday, June 14th, 2010

In today’s world of Green Architecture one of the main Categories in this program has to do with heating and cooling buildings.  How can that help you green your home?  Well one of the best things to do is Insulate, insulate, insulate.  By starting with insulation, you can prepare your home’s envelope so you can begin searching for an efficient HVAC system. 

There are basically a few basic things that a homeowner can do to help “Green” their home regarding HVAC system.  The first is what type of HVAC system is best suited for your home. There are many different type of systems out there so talk to your local professional regarding which system works for you.  Next overlooked area is the location of the duct system, which can have great impact on the size and type of system you will use.  Always run the duct system in a conditioned space.  The key to that is that the air that is being delivered doesn’t cool or heat up on its way to your vents.  Also make sure that the ducts are properly insulated and sealed. When picking a system also be cognizant of the type of air filtration system that will be used.

Today’s HVAC systems are extremely energy efficient and the savings can be substantial when all the different aspects are taken into consideration.

» Energy Star

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

In today’s ever increasing concern over energy savings there is one rating that has been used in the United States since the Clinton Administration implemented it in 1992.  Since then the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan have also adopted this standard that is the standard for energy efficient consumer products.  Products and devices that carry this label generally use 20%-30% less energy than required by federal standards.

Results are already adding up. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR®, saved enough energy to power 10 million homes and avoid greenhouse gas emissions from 12 million cars – all while saving $6 billion.

These are great numbers but we still have a long way to go.  So the next time you are looking for a new refrigerator or stove look for that seal.  For more information check out this web site .

» Paving the way

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In today’s world water is a valuable natural resource.  With certain non-permeable surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt or traditional mortared pavers, water cannot soak into the ground.  These hardscapes cause numerous problems ranging from flooding, the transportation of pollutants and chemical, to unnatural erosion.  However there are ways to combat this problem with Permeable Pavers.  The idea of permeable pavers is that they allow for water to infiltrate the ground through the small voids between the pavers.  Even after allowing water to penetrate the pavers, they are still sturdy enough to allow for vehicle traffic.

Permeable pavers can help with a couple of different LEED points including recycled content of the pavers, materials, regional materials, storm water design and heat island effect. 

Pavers could, for low intensity storms, help reduce water runoff by 80% or even 100% if the storm isn’t to big.  This helps in reducing the area required for detention areas.

 Photo courtesy green stone pavers.  Visit their web site at :

» Compost it!!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Ever wonder were all of that garbage goes?  Ever wonder if there was a way to help reduce landfill and garbage waste.  How about a compost pile?

Compost is a combination of decomposed plants and animal materials and other organic materials that are being decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition into a rich black soil.

A great way to save money is by composting your yard trimmings and food scraps.  This compost pile can help you create rich soil conditions for your flowers and veritable gardens.  By composting you can help reduces things like fertilizers, pesticides that are unwanted in our soils while also reducing water consumption.

 A great idea for a composting bin is one that is made of recycled plastic milk jugs. 

Check out this web site: it has great ideas about composting.

» Heat from the Earth

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Geothermal power (from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth.  As we all know temperatures on the earth’s surface can vary greatly but did you know that approximately10 feet below the surface the temperature is relatively constant at 50 to 60 degrees.  That is amazing. 

One of the most environmentally friendly, extremely energy efficient and cost-effective systems for temperature control are a geothermal heat pump.   These pumps help extract heat from the below the surface and use to help cool and heat your home.  I ran across this video from the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium that explains how a geothermal system works.  Check it out, very helpful.

As of December 1, 2009 homeowners who install geothermal heat pumps with the ENERGY STAR are eligible for upto a 30 percent federal tax credit.

» Water Efficiency

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Today there is a lot said about energy efficiency.  This can include everything from energy efficient windows to energy efficient appliances.  I would like to mention a little about water energy efficiency.  Did you know that if you insulated your pipes coming out of the hot water heater by just a few feet, you can reduce your energy consumption.  Remember, there is water in the pipes and the pipes have a tendency to extract the heat out of the water.  This in turns cool the water and the hot water heater has to fire up again to replenish the heat.  Also, place that water heater has close as possible to the main user, typically the bathroom.  The longer the distance the water has to travel then the more energy it takes to heat that water back up.

 Another way to go is the Tankless Water Heater.  Currently there are tax credits (up to 30% of the cost), utility rebates that can help offset the costs.  These water heaters can be a bit costly, ranging anywhere from $150 for a single use to $900 for a complete residential unit.  There are many different brands out there so look around before you purchase and find the right one for your application.

» The Windy City

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The windy city.  There are three different theories why Chicago is called the Windy City. The first is: The Cincinnati and Chicago rivalries, the second: 1890’s World Fair and the third is the weather. 

Cincinnati and Chicago were rival cities in the 1860s and 1870s. Cincinnati was well known in the meatpacking trade and it was called “Porkopolis” from at least 1843. Starting from the early 1860s, Chicago surpassed Cincinnati in this trade and proudly claimed the very same “Porkopolis” nickname. The baseball inter-city matches were especially intense. The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings were the pride of all of baseball, so Chicago came up with a rival team called the White Stockings to defeat them. “Windy City” often appeared in the Cincinnati sporting news of the 1870s and 1880s. For the Cincinnati papers, “Windy City” had meant a Chicago that was full of bluster.

In 1890, Chicago won the bid to host the World’s Fair, also known as the World’s Colombian Exposition. Many prominent New Yorkers were extremely irritated that a “frontier town” could beat them.

We are going to focus on the weather theory.  With Chicago being located on Lake Michigan, the city has a tendency to cool breezes blowing off the lake.  And with its unique city layout and the wind tunnels that form from the tall buildings make some areas a gold mine of untapped free wind power.

To harness that power Wind turbines can be employed.  These wind turbines can typically connect to your home via a 220 volt line run under ground from the turbine to a safety disconnect switch the into the main breaker.  There are typically no changes required in the home.  By using some of these wind turbines your power will first be drawn from your turbine and then the power grid.  If you make more than you use the power can be credit back to the utility company.  There are great software packages out there that help monitor your production.

The downfall of these turbine systems is the price.  They can range from $8,000 all the way up to $20,000 installed.  However there are federal tax incentives and sometime local utility companies will give credits for it use. The duration of time that it takes to offset the initial cost depends greatly on your location.

It is not for everybody but it is a good place to start harnessing the power of the wind.