Miami Green Homes


Oregon Passes Most Comprehensive Plastic Bag Ban in the Country – Surfrider Foundation

Following the passage of the Sustainable Shopping Initiative (House Bill 2509), a bill eliminating single use plastic carry out bags, Oregon has become the third state to pass a policy addressing this chronic source of plastic pollution via the legislature. Through a strong alliance of business, environmental and waste management professionals, the bill passed with the Oregon Senate today and is now headed to the Governor’s office. With the inclusion of restaurants, Oregon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative is set to be the most comprehensive bag ban policy in the nation.
— Read on http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/oregon-passes-strongest-plastic-bag-ban-in-the-country



6 Sustainable Home Renovation Tips to Improve Your Fixer-Upper, guest post by Ray Flynn
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Photo via Pexels

When planned correctly, buying a fixer-upper can help you save money while creating the house of your dreams. You’re sure to have a few expectations and ideas about how you want your house to turn out, but where do you start? Try taking a sustainable approach to your home improvements so you can reduce your energy usage and feel good about your environmental footprint. If you’re looking for ways to keep your home renovations green, this article is for you!

Use Steel to Create Additional Space

If you’ve found the perfect house but it’s lacking storage space or that workshop you’ve always dreamed of, consider adding an external garage. A separate storage area can help you cut down on clutter inside the house, give you a place to store yard equipment, and protect your car from the elements. Whatever you need the space for, consider using steel as your building material — it’s cheap, versatile, easy to work with, and durable. Plus, steel is a highly sustainable material because it can be recycled almost endlessly. Consider insulating the building to protect your car from extreme temperatures and adding a few windows to light your garage naturally.

Choose Renewable Flooring Materials

Most fixer-uppers could benefit from new flooring. If you’re hoping to replace that dated carpet with sleek, bare floors, choose sustainable materials. Cork, for example, can be harvested without cutting down the cork tree, making it the perfect green choice for your floors. As an added bonus, cork is naturally insect-repellant and fire resistant. Bamboo is another great eco-friendly option if you’re looking to mimic the look of real hardwood floors. Alternatively, you can find reclaimed wooden boards from old houses to recycle into your own beautiful floors.

Avoid Harmful Paints

Conventional paints can leach harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air for up to five years. These compounds are bad for both the environment and your family’s health. When it’s time to upgrade your walls, opt for eco-friendly paint. The Spruce recommends looking for paints labeled as low VOC or zero VOC. Even better, choose paints made from natural ingredients like water, plant dyes, chalk, and resins.

Upgrade Your Kitchen with Recycled Counters

Making minor upgrades to your kitchen is a great way to increase your property value and help your house appear modern on a small budget. Paint your cabinets, replace the floor, and upgrade the hardware. If your countertops are in bad shape, consider replacing them with recycled work surfaces. You can get fun, accent countertops made from recycled glass in concrete or resin. On the other hand, butcher-block style countertops made from old boards are a rustic and homey option to consider.

Optimize Natural Light

Taking advantage of natural light in your home can cut down on your electricity bills and even help your home feel more spacious. Consider installing larger windows in your living room or an entire glass sliding door to open up your home to your backyard and let in more light. Painting your walls in light colors and adding decorative mirrors will also help brighten up your rooms. Real Homes recommends installing skylights since these can easily be incorporated into a variety of roof types. Skylight windows let in significantly more light than side windows and can completely eliminate your need to use electrical lights during the day.

Install Green Appliances

Most old appliances burn through electricity at a surprising rate. Replacing outdated appliances with new, eco-friendly options can help your fixer-upper look more attractive to today’s environmentally minded homebuyers. Plus, energy-efficient appliances will save you a lot of money while you’re living in the home. However, ensure you choose matching appliances for your kitchen to give it a polished look.

When you buy a house that needs some work, you have the power to turn it into your perfect sanctuary. Whether that means creating a separate workshop in the backyard for your hobbies or letting sunshine flood into your living room, these custom improvements can really make your house feel like home. Maintain a sustainable approach while making your renovations to save money on energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Ray Flynn | DiyGuys.net

ray.flynn@diyguys.net



DIY HVAC Maintenance: What’s Safe and What to Avoid! Guest post by Ray Flynn
ac

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Being a homeowner is a wonderful investment that brings many fulfilling rewards. Of course, it also brings many (often unexpected) costs. From plumbing to electrical issues, there are hundreds of home repairs that could break the bank. Unfortunately, HVAC repairs could be one of them. HVAC repair technicians charge up to $80 per hour, and the repairs themselves can cost hundreds of dollars. Some Miami homeowners spend thousands, depending upon the types of repairs.

Of course, it’s inevitable that every HVAC will eventually be in need of repairs. Adding further complication, some HVAC-related costs can be tax deductible while others are not. So, what is a homeowner to do? One option that many homeowners are considering more frequently is just doing it themselves. It’s no secret that do-it-yourself (DIY) home repair projects are gaining popularity, especially among women.

Before You Begin

Before embarking upon a DIY HVAC maintenance project, however, there are a few things you should know. First, actual HVAC repairs should still be left to the professionals. Otherwise, you might damage your HVAC even further and end up having to pay a professional for costly repairs anyway — or worse, an entirely new HVAC system.

Instead, the best HVAC projects to attempt on your own are fairly simple maintenance projects. When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, there are certainly a few things you can do on your own without needing to call a professional.

Change Your Filter

Proper maintenance of your HVAC system requires that you periodically change (between 30 and 90 days) the air filter. The air filters prevent airborne particles from getting into the HVAC machinery, where they could potentially cause damage. Failure to change HVAC filters could lead to permanent damage and expensive repairs.

Here’s one bit of advice: Although changing your HVAC air filter every so often is fairly simple, choosing the right size filter when making a replacement is essential. That cannot be stressed enough. Turn off the unit before replacing the filter, and always follow the instructions for your particular HVAC unit. If you run into any difficulties, call a professional to help you.

Clean Your Unit

Another thing you might have to occasionally do is clean your HVAC system. From time to time, dirt, debris, leaves, and other natural contaminants can get inside the machinery. If these items aren’t removed in a timely manner, they can clog things up.

Additionally, while you are inspecting your HVAC system for dirt and debris or changing the air filter, you might want to give it a good cleaning. This involves checking for any holes, leaks, or blockages, inspecting the fans for wear, and wiping down and cleaning the outside of the unit.

A few more simple maintenance tips and DIY repairs to consider might include changing the blower filter at least twice a year (or more, if you live in a dusty climate), adding a programmable thermostat to help make your home more energy efficient, and cutting back any vines or other vegetation that might be growing near your HVAC system.

It’s important to care for your HVAC system. By taking proper care of it, changing the filters, and performing regular maintenance as needed, you can keep your HVAC system running reliably for years to come. Best of all, these are DIY tasks that you can do yourself, which saves you some money by not having to call a professional. But if you’re new to home improvement and/or if any repairs are actually needed, those jobs are best left to the professionals. It’s never worth harming your HVAC system just for the sake of saving a few hundred dollars.



DIY HVAC Maintenance: What’s Safe and What to Avoid! – by Ray Flynn

Thank you to Ray Flynn (ray.flynn@diyguys.net) for this guest contribution:

guest post

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Being a homeowner is a wonderful investment that brings many fulfilling rewards. Of course, it also brings many (often unexpected) costs. From plumbing to electrical issues, there are hundreds of home repairs that could break the bank. Unfortunately, HVAC repairs could be one of them. HVAC repair technicians charge up to $80 per hour, and the repairs themselves can cost hundreds of dollars. Some Miami homeowners spend thousands, depending upon the types of repairs.

Of course, it’s inevitable that every HVAC will eventually be in need of repairs. Adding further complication, some HVAC-related costs can be tax deductible while others are not. So, what is a homeowner to do? One option that many homeowners are considering more frequently is just doing it themselves. It’s no secret that do-it-yourself (DIY) home repair projects are gaining popularity, especially among women.

Before You Begin

Before embarking upon a DIY HVAC maintenance project, however, there are a few things you should know. First, actual HVAC repairs should still be left to the professionals. Otherwise, you might damage your HVAC even further and end up having to pay a professional for costly repairs anyway — or worse, an entirely new HVAC system.

Instead, the best HVAC projects to attempt on your own are fairly simple maintenance projects. When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, there are certainly a few things you can do on your own without needing to call a professional.

Change Your Filter

Proper maintenance of your HVAC system requires that you periodically change (between 30 and 90 days) the air filter. The air filters prevent airborne particles from getting into the HVAC machinery, where they could potentially cause damage. Failure to change HVAC filters could lead to permanent damage and expensive repairs.

Here’s one bit of advice: Although changing your HVAC air filter every so often is fairly simple, choosing the right size filter when making a replacement is essential. That cannot be stressed enough. Turn off the unit before replacing the filter, and always follow the instructions for your particular HVAC unit. If you run into any difficulties, call a professional to help you.

Clean Your Unit

Another thing you might have to occasionally do is clean your HVAC system. From time to time, dirt, debris, leaves, and other natural contaminants can get inside the machinery. If these items aren’t removed in a timely manner, they can clog things up.

Additionally, while you are inspecting your HVAC system for dirt and debris or changing the air filter, you might want to give it a good cleaning. This involves checking for any holes, leaks, or blockages, inspecting the fans for wear, and wiping down and cleaning the outside of the unit.

A few more simple maintenance tips and DIY repairs to consider might include changing the blower filter at least twice a year (or more, if you live in a dusty climate), adding a programmable thermostat to help make your home more energy efficient, and cutting back any vines or other vegetation that might be growing near your HVAC system.

It’s important to care for your HVAC system. By taking proper care of it, changing the filters, and performing regular maintenance as needed, you can keep your HVAC system running reliably for years to come. Best of all, these are DIY tasks that you can do yourself, which saves you some money by not having to call a professional. But if you’re new to home improvement and/or if any repairs are actually needed, those jobs are best left to the professionals. It’s never worth harming your HVAC system just for the sake of saving a few hundred dollars.



Residential Energy Savings pyramid

Not sure where to start with energy updated for the home? Ready to install PV panels to get off-grid? …or anywhere in-between. This is a great tool to help make sense of where to start and how to prioritize energy related updates to the house. Look also for other posts on this site for solar panels, insulation and design considerations.

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A Green “Home Away From Home”

Becoming environmentally conscious has emerged as a main concern of homeowners, business owners, and the government over the past decade. Green homes, with lower potable water consumption, less energy use, and better building materials are sprouting up all over the world and commercial businesses are following their lead. All of the basics of sustainability easily transfer from one building type, making the possibility for green hotels possible.

  1. Form an environmental committee- This committee will develop a plan for energy, water, and solid waste use.
  2. Monitor electric, water, gas, and waste usage- This should be done monthly and annually. This will also help the hotel determine which of the following should be addressed first and in what order.
  3. Install digital thermostats in hotel rooms and throughout hotel and replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents- These two go hand-in-hand. It is a matter of simple installation. Using the CFL bulbs saves on energy costs, as well as using the digital thermostat. Many hotels inEuropeare using a technique to limit use of air systems and light by requiring that the key card be put in an activation port in order for the lights to be on. This means that when the patron leaves the hotel room and takes their key card out of the port, the lights and air turn off and remain off until the patron returns and put the key card back in the port.
  4. Implement towel reuse program- Many hotels have begun using this technique to save on laundry water used. By hanging up the towel after use, the patron is indicating they will reuse their towel. If the towel is on the ground, housekeeping is expected to remove and wash the towel. For guests staying at a hotel for more than one night, it makes sense to save the towel and wait until it has been used more than once before placing it on the floor to be replaced by a clean one.
  5. Install 2.5-gpm (gallons per minute) showerheads or less in all guestrooms and employee shower areas- Low-GPM shower heads conserve a lot of water and in a building like a hotel where showering can occur every minute of the day, these shower heads work to decrease water used significantly.
  6. Install 1.6-gallon toilets in all guestrooms- Switching from a standard to a low flow toilet can save thousands of gallons of water per year. There are also toilets with two different flush options, one of which cycles out the water, the other flushes all waste.
  7. Implement a recycling program, for light bulbs, batteries, etc.
  8. Purchase Energy Star appliances- These could be the washer and dryer used for sheets and towels, dishwashers, refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, and much more. A complete list of Energy Star products can be found at: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_find_es_products
  9. All office paper products should have 20% or more post-consumer recycled content

These many different ideas for going green in a hotel environment also apply to green homes, office buildings, schools, and healthcare. The basic ingredients to saving energy require making small changes, whose payoffs can be great in the long run. Hotels require large maintenance and energy costs, and even if going green isn’t the main concern, these methods save money, allowing for lower operating costs.

(SE, EB, edit JLD)



The scent of building, or what is that construction smell…?

Construction sites are not the most pleasant places for both the workers and those around them. They create lots of noise [machinery], smells [ah, roof tar!] and debris [smoke, ash, fumes, etc.]. But fear not. There are many ways for a construction site to be managed that can decrease all of these effects on the surrounding area and its inhabitants and diminish the pollution created by the building process.

  1. Is there a chalky smell in your home or apartment after construction is finished? This is caused by dust buildup. This isn’t your average dust. It’s not dead skin or hair (eww!) but is rather , material shavings from materials like Sheetrock or ceramic tile. When ceramic tile is being cut for a bathroom, for example, the dust gets trapped in the ventilation. Or how about when you go through the final sanding process after mudding your drywall. First, trying to cover your furntiture, beds, countertops (anything you come into contat with on a daily basis) with a nice layer of Visqueen (that heavy duty plastic meant to keep your stuff safe. I also recommend buying a canister vacuum to get the dust out or suck it all in but then be sure to empty the canister in an outdoor area (not in the same place you just cleaned up).. Sometimes, you just have to let the vacuum remain in one place for 30 seconds in order to attract all the dust.
  2. How do you handle noise pollution? Just because workers are up bright and shiny at 7 am doesn’t mean that the neighbors are ready to face the day.  Loud equipment, delivery trucks and the ever-dreaded jackhammer create a most undesirable symphony that is simply diffiult to avoid.  But, there are ways to alleviate the problem. Creating a construction plan that allows for the loudest of jobs to be executed during the middle to the end of the day helps for sure and reminding staff that everyone does not appreciate the latest in salsa or R&B.
  3. The garbage accumulated on a construction site is made up of food, bottles, construction debris, and general packaging. Creating a recycling program helps to separate this debris. Garbage pickup on a site can be expensive, so by setting up a recycling program you don’t incur the costs of added containers and you help alleviate those back-to-back days of paella delivery. Some cities even pay you for your recycled bottles. Another way to alleviate the amount of garbage is to provide your workers with metal bottles, such as a Sigg (mysigg.com). These bottles are reusable, can be dropped from high heights without being damaged and save the environment.
  4. Some common construction smells also include gasses and fumes. These come from paints, treated woods, some metals, old  toilets, and even the construction equipment. The machines used on a construction site tend to run on gas which releases black clouds of smoke into the air. Many cities and states have made the use of machines that create these gas clouds illegal, so it is good practice to look into the more efficient and friendly alternatives. The fumes can also come from paints. High-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints tend to release noxious odors that damage brain cells and release harmful gasses into the environment. Low-VOC paint is the same price as the high-VOC paint, lasts just as long, and is just as durable, so why not make the switch?
  5. Another odor causing element of a construction site is standing water. Puddles and small pools can form during the excavation process (which releases unpleasant smells into the air ras well) and these pools, when left sitting for too long, begin to smell sulfurous. This is especially true is places like Miami which is situated right on top of its water table.  These puddles should be drained from time to time in order to avoid them becoming either a stink pool or a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes.

http://www.rez.org/2012/01/the-smell-of-a-construction-site/ http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/environment-and-recycling/pollution-noise-and-nuisance/ http://www.querrey.com/assets/attachments/15.pdf http://www.adbio.com/catalogs/BioWorld-Odor-Control-Catalog.pdf http://www.lhsfna.org/files/bpguide.pdf http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/swppp.cfm