Top 5 Green Flooring Options for Your Home

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If you’re an environment-conscious homeowner, consider using one of the following green flooring options for your next remodeling project. Eco-friendly floors are aesthetically appealing as well as environmentally responsible. Green flooring adds character to your home and, in many cases, can even help save you money over the alternatives.

The top 5 options for green flooring include:
• Cork
• Laminate
• Reclaimed Wood
• Bamboo
• Wool Carpet …

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Save Energy – and Money – with a Cool Roof

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Whether you’re replacing an old roof or choosing roofing for a new house, make energy efficiency a priority.

Discussions about improving home energy efficiency usually revolve around topics like insulation, air sealing, replacement windows and high-efficiency HVAC equipment. But roof shingles and other roofing materials also deserve attention in the energy-saving plan for a house or other building.

On a bright summer day, the temperature of a dark asphalt shingle roof can easily reach 150 degrees. This heat moves into the attic and into a home’s living space, making rooms uncomfortably hot while also placing extreme demands on the air conditioning system….

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Home Builders and Remodelers Are Greener Than Ever

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According to a recent report released by McGraw-Hill, 33% of home builders are committed to going green by 2016. Similarly, 34% of home remodelers have claimed that they plan to implement eco-friendly practices by 2016. Just last year, only 17% of home builders and 15% of home remodelers expressed interest in developing strategies to increase the energy efficiency and decrease the carbon footprint of homes….

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Build or Remodel with Energy Savings in Mind

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Spring is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, and the home-building season is fast approaching. If you’re considering a major remodel or are building your dream home, there are some significant sustainable-building techniques that you can integrate into the structure to conserve energy and save long-term costs. The upfront cost of these improvements may be quite a sticker shock, as many are quite expensive to initiate; yet, the long-term savings can be substantial.

Each of these construction techniques requires substantial planning before incorporating into your overall plans. Be sure to check your library or work with a builder you trust to determine which works best for your existing home or building site, as well as your local climate.

Cool roofs use materials that reflect sunlight and absorb less heat as compared to standard roofing materials. While standard roofs can reach temperatures upwards of 150 degrees, a cool roof generally runs about 50 degrees less. This not only extends the life of the roof, but lessens the need for air conditioning, ultimately lowering energy costs. It is important to note, however, that cool roofs are not appropriate for all climates….

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Build or Remodel Your Home with Eco-Friendly Products

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If you’re lucky enough to have the time and money to build your own home (or more likely, have it built by others), then there’s absolutely no reason you can’t get the greenest house in existence, thanks to building companies that specialize in just this sort of construction.

But just because the rest of us are relegated to purchasing previously lived-in structures (or even new but already fully constructed homes) that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part for the environment when we do upgrades.

So whether you’re interested in building a green home from scratch, or you’re looking to renovate the home you already own in a way that is in keeping with your environmental sensibilities, there are a ton of ecofriendly products to help you meet your goals on the home front….

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Self Sufficiency — The Best “Return on Donation”

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“We are one global community,” says builder, author, entrepreneur, and humanitarian Frank McKinney. “There are so many places around the world that do not have the social service net to protect the indigent like we have here [in the U.S.]. So we took our ministry, if you will, to Haiti.”

This is Part 2 of a three-part interview with McKinney, author of the book, The Tap. He’s a complex individual living a dichotomous life, as described in Part 1. Using the sale of the mansions he builds, he funds the charity he founded, the Caring House Project Foundation (CHPF), which constructs villages for some of the world’s poorest people.

“We realized the dollars would go so much further by creating self-sufficient villages in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” Frank McKinney explains. “Commencing in 2003, and by the end of 2010, we will have built 15 self-sufficient villages in Haiti. We were there seven years before the earthquake took place. And we’ll be there many years after.

“We realized we could touch a life with shelter for about $500 internationally. So we sold two of the domestic houses [described in Part 1], kept one, and took whatever proceeds we had and stretched those dollars further internationally.” …

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Frank McKinney – “Tapped” to Live a Dichotomous Life

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Frank McKinney isn’t just a man, he’s a full-fledged brand. His name is synonymous with the most expensive, most lavish homes built on speculation in the United States. In typical style, Frank McKinney’s Acqua Liana estate is a not only a $22.9 million masterpiece of architectural design and luxury, it’s also arguably the most environmentally friendly home for the super rich that’s been built to date. As you might guess, Frank McKinney doesn’t do things half way.

But this interview series isn’t about Frank McKinney, builder to the world’s elite. It isn’t about Frank McKinney, extreme athlete (he’s that, too, running an ultra marathon across Death Valley each of the past five years — in his mid 40s). It isn’t even about Frank McKinney, daredevil and showman, dressed as a pirate and descending a zip line at one of his luxury home unveilings. It’s about Frank McKinney, humanitarian.

Blue Planet Green Living interviewed McKinney by phone from his oceanfront home in Florida. This is part one in a three-part series about McKinney, his Caring House Project Foundation, and his book, The Tap….

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Sustainability – A Personal Journey… by Stuart W. Rose, Ph.D.

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When I started reading Sustainability by Stuart W. Rose, Ph.D., I expected to learn about the innovative community he and his wife, Trina, had designed and built in Poquoson, Virginia. And I did. But I also learned many more things about sustainable communities and futurism that I hadn’t expected.

The book is an easy read, but also sort of quirky. Rose has a habit of ending one thought with ellipses and trailing off into a new paragraph. He has an interesting idea about where to place commas (e.g., as the last character before closing parentheses) — not exactly standard English composition. But it’s kind of charming in its literary naiveté.

Rose, however, is far from naive. As readers learn at the beginning of the book, “Dr. Rose is a registered architect, and a graduate structural engineer. He holds a doctorate in organizational development, has been a professor at three major universities, and has worked for several decades as an educator and a consultant to architects, consulting engineers, and other design professionals. Sustainability is arranged in chronological chapters, beginning “Circa 1985″ with the author’s professional and personal concerns about global sustainability.

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Striving for Sustainable Design

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Eco-friendly, or “green,” design options are better for everyone involved, from the builders and painters to the people who use the completed structure. The new norm is sustainable design, and “green is the new black” in building and decorating homes, offices, and other buildings.

The primary purpose of sustainable design, according to Wikipedia, is to “eliminate negative environmental impact completely through skillful, sensitive design.” Sustainable design includes green building materials, paint/stain, flooring, counter tops, furniture, hardware/fixtures, lighting, and even decorative accents.

It may sound easy, then, to choose sustainable products and materials when you are building, renovating, or improving a home. Yet, there’s still much to learn in this relatively new field, and the importance of doing things right is overwhelmingly obvious. After all, the more resources we use right now without acknowledging the necessity of sustainability, the less we will have to work with later….

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What’s Your Steel IQ?

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When artist Alli ReauVeau talks about steel, the medium on which she paints, she gets passionate. And one look at the gorgeous artworks she creates convinces us that steel is a perfect “canvas,” indeed. But there’s much more about steel that ReauVeau admires from a construction and architectural viewpoint — and she knows whereof she speaks.

ReauVeau is co-owner, along with her husband, Alan Bendawald, of Steel IQ™, suppliers of an environmentally friendly construction product called Bare Naked Steel™. ReauVeau serves as Education Specialist for the company, sharing the message that Bare Naked Steel is the best steel for construction, for architectural design, and for the planet….

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Rebuilding after Disaster – Greensburg Becomes a Green Town

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On Friday, May 4, 2007, an EF5 tornado cut a two-mile-wide swath of absolute destruction through Greensburg, Kansas. This was the largest tornado in recorded history, and it reduced Greensburg to rubble. Eleven people were killed in Greensburg that evening, while 22 other tornados swirled violently across the state. Every building in Greensburg was damaged or destroyed.

Under such dire circumstances, it would have been easy for the townspeople to give up and walk away. But that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. …

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Michael Roberts – Creating a Healthy Environment and a Healthy Bottom Line

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Michael Roberts is a futurist, an environmentalist, and a capitalist – inclinations that he feels all work in perfect synergy. “I’m looking for where the business opportunities are going to be in the future. If we take the position that we can create quality of life without destroying the planet, there’s money to be made doing that.” He firmly believes in a healthy environment and a healthy bottom line. “My daddy worked for the post office for 39 years. We weren’t rich, we weren’t poor. We just didn’t have any money. Well, you can accomplish a lot more with capital than just by work alone.”

Roberts and his brother, Steven, his partner in an estimated $500 million business empire that encompasses real estate, hotels, broadcast, telecom, entertainment, publishing, and aviation holdings, have always been eco-conscious. “We started out building green before anyone knew what LEED was. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Sustainable building was reputed to be more far more expensive than typical construction practices. In our experience, it only added about five percent to our cost, and now, as people become more ecologically conscious, they’re seeking our properties out. ‘Green’ brings another form of green,” he says…

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Middle School Students to Design Affordable Housing in Future City Competition

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WASHINGTON DC, June 2009 – Designing affordable housing for those most in need is enormously complicated. But how to do it while adhering to LEED recognized green building standards, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint?

That’s the challenge for Chicagoland middle schoolers [and students around the nation] as they prepare for National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2009-10 Future City® Competition…

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Donovan Rypkema on “Sustainability, Smart Growth and Historic Preservation”

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Now and then, I run across an article so worthy of reading that I’m compelled to share it with friends — no matter that it was written some time ago. The article that follows is excerpted from a presentation by Donovan Rypkema, called “Sustainability, Smart Growth and Historic Preservation.” Rypkema gave this speech in 2007, to an audience at the Historic Districts Council Annual Conference, held in New York City.
You may be familiar with Rypkema’s speech, as it has circulated somewhat on the Internet. It was new to me until recently, however, and I am pleased to have Mr. Ripkema’s permission to share it with readers of Blue Planet Green Living. If you’ve never read it, be prepared to rethink some of the cherished notions of “green building.” And if you have read it before, consider reading it again. I learn more each time I do…

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Green Festival in Chicago May 16, 17

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If you’ll be in Illinois this weekend, head on over to Navy Pier to attend Chicago’s third annual Green Festival, May 16 and 17. Billed as the “original green consumer living event,” the weekend will provide “a vision of a cleaner, more efficient future for American businesses, homes, and lifestyles.”…

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GreenChoice Bank: Green Services You Can Bank On

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Going green as a business makes economic and environmental sense, even in tough economic times. It also provides opportunities to make a positive difference in a community. Like any business venture, a green business requires investment capital and banking services. GreenChoice Bank, led by co-founders, Steve Sherman and Jon Levey, is targeted specifically to address the unique financial needs of green businesses in the Chicago area.

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Uniting for a Greener and Safer World

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There’s celebration afoot, as our nation prepares to swear in its first African American president. But tomorrow, after the last balloon has floated away, the real work will begin for our young leader. We must not expect him to do it alone.

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Going Green Requires a Cultural Change

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Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. What follows is Part 3 of a four-part interview.

BPGL: You mentioned that making changes in the way companies do business isn’t just a matter of changing the equipment, it also requires a cultural change. Tell us more about how that looks to you.

RAFSON: The biggest thing to my mind is that the cultural change has to happen on all levels. Consumers need to look for green businesses, and there need to be watchdog organizations on the alert for “green washing” — companies proclaiming they’re environmentally responsible just for show.

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Tailgating for A Common Green Purpose

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Did you watch the Bears play the Packers yesterday from the warmth of your home? Or maybe you were among the frozen fans braving 7-degree weather to root for your favorite team on the shores of Lake Michigan. Blue Planet Green Living was there, too, tailgating in the parking lot of the Adler Planetarium near Soldier Field.

So, go ahead, ask. What does the Bears/Packers game — and tailgating, for that matter — have to do with green living? It’s a fair question.

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Renewable Energy, a Tool for Social Equity

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A dozen volunteers swarm the yard of the Villareal house on the east side of Austin, Texas. The atmosphere is jubilant, almost celebratory — a real coming together of people with a purpose. By the time the volunteers leave today, the home will have been retrofitted with energy-saving improvements that the family could not have afforded to make themselves.

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