September 30, 2011

Origins of Green Design

Green design or otherwise known as sustainable design originated from ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese in 500 BCE. The evolution of sustainable design focuses on the position of the sun. Houses where designed in ways that the sunlight during summer was diffused light and during the winter direct light. This caused the practice of solar architecture to be popular among the citizens of each region. Current sustainable design is a form of building or design using your resources of the location as well as the materials to the environments advantage. The practice of solar architecture continued with the Romans, who similarly had deforested much of their native Italian Peninsula by the first century BCE. The Roman heliocaminus, literally solar furnace, functioned with the same aspects of the earlier Greek houses. The numerous public baths were oriented to the south. Roman architects added glass to windows to allow for the passage of light and to conserve interior heat as it could not escape. The Romans also used greenhouses to grow crops all year long and to cultivate the exotic plants coming from the far corners of the Empire. The green houses supplied the kitchen of the emperor and everyone in the town during the year.

The ancient architects have left more than just buildings. After the epic industrial revolution era buildings were design to ornate the streets of the world. Ever since than much of the green house affects has cause the 21th century population to rethink the idea of building and retrieve to the roots and ideology of architecture from ancient Roman, Greek, and Chinese. For example the state of California has implemented to their most current building codes to in force sustainable design. The influence that ancient architects left are use to benefit the environment and the population. Today, energy efficiency, appropriate technology, land restoration, and ecologically sustainable energy and waste systems are recognized considerations or options to construction, architecture and design. Currently in the United States the LEED building rating system rates the structures on their environmental sustainability.

A Bright Idea!

Light bulbs can come in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes depending on the usage or preference. Four of the most common types are: incandescent, fluorescent or compact fluorescent, metal halides, and light emitting diodes (LED’s). Incandescent light bulbs tend to have low initial cost, can come in small sizes and in a variety of shapes, can be connected to simple circuits, but they tend to have low service life and low energy efficiency, which results in excessive heat outputs. Fluorescent bulbs have high energy efficiency, low heat output, low operating cost, long service life, but they do require ballast in order to provide a constant current and they tend to be temperature sensitive. Metal halides are also highly efficient, have long service life, low operating cost, but they also require ballast. LED’s have a long lamp life, when operating they are basically maintenance free, but they do have a high initial cost. So what does this have to do with sustainability?

According to the U.S green building council, 39% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S come from buildings. The goal here is to educate people about sustainable lighting systems. Sustainable lighting systems are lighting systems which meet the need of the visual environment, minimize light pollution (sky glow or wasted light), maximize daylight, reduce energy consumption and at the same time reduce the environmental impact in the environment in which it will be used. This can be achieved by considering several factors such as collaborating with other disciplines to further green building practices, purchasing environmentally sound products and products manufactured with environmentally sound manufacturing processes, and by ensuring the systems durability and maintainability. In order to reduce energy consumption in a building, designers can maximize the use of daylight by incorporating passive light systems in which the main source of lighting inside a house is daylight. New technologies, such as switch systems, motion detectors, and energy efficient light bulbs and fixtures, and new energy code requirements are also helping to reduce energy consumption. LED’s are probably the most economical lighting systems in the long run because they often use 20% to 25% percent less energy to create the same amount of light than older lighting systems. Some LED models are even warrant for 50,000 hours and owners tend to save expenses associated with energy cost, replacement of old bulbs, maintenance fees and they help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills. So next time you are thinking about renovating your lighting system or are simply replacing an old light bulb, keep in mind that making the right decision can save you money and help reduce environmental pollution.

September 14, 2011

Pests In or Outside Your Home? Read on!

If you’re a homeowner dealing with pest control problems and you just can’t seem to find an inexpensive but at the same time effective way to get rid of your problem, you might consider using Borate/Borax/ or Boric Acid Powders as they are often referred. A Borate is simply a material made from or that contains a form of Boron, a natural element mined from the earth. Borate insecticide formulas can come in bait formulas containing feed attractants, dry powders, liquid forms, or as injection gels for treating wood. As an insecticide, Borates act as stomach poisons for ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites, and as abrasive to the insect’s exoskeleton. Depending on the application and the formula used, something that depends on the manufacturer of choice, Borates can terminate pest in several ways. For example, powders stick to insect’s bodies and when they groom themselves they then ingest the poison, which causes death 3 to 10 days later due to starvation and dehydration. Keep in mind that it is important to select the correct borate pesticide for the intended pests or area to be treated.

What makes Borates a better choice for pest control than other conventional methods such as aerosols? The EPA considers Borates as a moderate toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. It has classified Borates as a “group E” carcinogen, indicating that it shows “evidence of noncarcinogenicity” for humans. On the other hand some aerosols are highly toxic and can contain several carcinogens, substance that tends to produce cancer. The EPA also conducted an assessment of a boric acid pilot pest control program conducted at the U.S Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and found that boric acid was both more economical and more effective than monthly spray treatments. Another option for homeowners might be to call a professional that specializes in pest control. A drawback of hiring a pest control expert is that service fees tend to be expensive, something not many owners can afford. One of the disadvantages of Borates is its non crop herbicidal use which may harm endangered or threatened plants, reason why it needs to be applied strategically. Unlike aerosols which have to be sprayed constantly, some Borates can be effective even 8 to 10 months after if they are used properly. Over all experts agree that careful application offers a safe and effective alternative without the indoor air problems associated with sprays.