Category Archives: Thoughts

Thoughts – Albert Einstein

“A human being is part of the whole called by us the universe,
a part limited in time and space.

We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something
separate from the rest, a kind of optical illusion of consciousness…
Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our
circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole
of nature in its beauty… We shall require a substantially new manner
of thinking if humanity is to survive.”

-Albert Einstein

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Creative Citizen on Yahoo Green

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Are you a creative citizen?

By Kastle Waserman

Posted Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:50am PST

The idea of global warming can sometimes be a daunting, overwhelming concept. How can one person help fix this problem that is literally changing the face of the earth? The website Creative Citizen offers a manageable answer — by one action at a time. Based on the idea of social networking, Creative Citizen consists of a community of people who are taking simple measures and have found creative ways to conserve, reuse, and recycle.

Together, they post and share ideas such as: Wash your car with a waterless cleaner, tell your dry cleaner to keep the plastic, have plants in your house as natural air purifiers, and the list goes on. Each solution tracks how much it will save in water, energy, waste, emissions, and dollars. You can search for creative solutions, read information about each idea, see photos, add or read comments, edit and provide more info, and then take an action by sending to a friend or bookmarking it.

By clicking “I’ll do it” you add to your “Greenage” as a Creative Citizen. “Greenage” is a tally of points Creative Citizens earn by participating in the online community. People with the most Greenage points can go on to make the Top Citizens board that lists the biggest contributors. In your Citizen profile, you can keep track of what solutions you’ve adopted and connect with friends and see what actions they’ve taken. It makes you feel like what it would like to live in an ideal green world where everybody cares and shares, and it’s a demonstration of what happens when people take small actions to make a big impact.

Now that’s getting eco-creative!

Check it out, Take a tour

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Free Green Living Workshops in Santa Monica

all-greenFREE  GREEN  WORKSHOPS

Workshops will be held:

SM Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street @ Ocean Park
Santa Monica, CA 90405

January 24, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 1
Green Living

This workshop on Green Living, will help lay the foundation to create your green abode
– whether you own or not. Learn the simple ways to make your home energy and
water efficient while eliminating toxins and drastically improving indoor air quality!

The workshop will cover a DIY cleaning product demo, lecture, and interaction with the
audience.

I will provide all attendees with an E-Book on all material covered as well as local
resources!

January 31, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 2
Green Decor

Few people are aware, that just as in our homes as our workplace, there is an
opportunity to choose objects and products that do not pollute our homes and are
harmful to us and the environment.

Learn how to decorate your home in a way that improves your indoor air quality, and
your overall state of being, by pairing down on clutter and waste, eliminating toxins,
and breathing in a new breathe of fresh air into your home!

I will provide a basis of information that will help guide you in a direction of knowing
what questions to ask from your suppliers and manufacturers to insure that the
materials and finishes you choose for your home are environmentally sound.

There will be samples and materials incorporated, to provide a better understanding for
greening your decor!


Februray 07, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 3
Green Landscaping/Gardening

A basic introduction, offering everything you wanted to know about greening your
garden and landscaping!

This workshop will provide an introduction to Permaculture and good gardening
practices, that you can begin implementing in your green space today!

Information will be provided on local programs, through Santa Monica, on sustainable
gardening and landscaping.

Learn simple tools that will help you save time, money, water and energy in your
garden!

Welcome President Obama

obama

Whatever direction you are slanted, there is no doubt that one can feel the exuberance in the air.

It is a sigh of relief that is being felt coast to coast.

Americans are joining in, with the anticipation that we are in the dawning of a new epoch.

This marks a historical moment, re-empowering this country, to reclaim its sense of dignity.

Perhaps, an overwhelming feat for one person, but collectively, we can make it happen, and we are!

Calender of Events in The World Of Green – Winter 2009

January 15 Green Building Workshop (Brooklyn, NY)

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: LC 400, Dibner Library Building   5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY
A workshop that brings industry researchers and developers of green buildings technologies, entrepreneurs, investors, representatives from green buildings and sustainability initiatives, regulators, architects and building designers.

I will be speaking on ‘Integrating Green Building in the Urban Environment’

at 9:55 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

January 24  – Green Living Workshop  – Part 1  (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street   Santa Monica, CA 90405
This workshop on Green Living, will help lay the foundation to create your green abode – whether you own or not.  Learn the simple ways to make your home energy and water efficient while eliminating toxins and drastically improving indoor air quality!

The workshop will cover a DIY cleaning product demo, lecture, and interaction with the audience.

I will provide all attendees with an E-Book on all material covered as well as local resources!

January 25 –   Go Green Expo –  (Los Angeles, CA)

Time –  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: The Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 South Figueroa Street   Los Angeles, CA 90015

Go Green Expo is a showcase for earth-friendly products and services – a trade show that wholly focused on green living.

I will be on the panel for Green Building and Design on the tradeshow floor on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

January 31  – Green Decor Workshop  – Part 2 (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street   Santa Monica, CA 90405

Few people are aware, that just as in our homes as our workplace, there is an opportunity to choose objects and products that do not pollute our homes and are harmful to us and the environment.

Learn how to decorate your home in a way that improves your indoor air quality, and your overall state of being, by pairing down on clutter and waste, eliminating toxins, and breathing in a new breathe of fresh air into your home!

I will provide a basis of information that will help guide you in a direction of knowing what questions to ask from your suppliers and manufacturers to insure that the materials and finishes you choose for your home are environmentally sound.

There will be samples and materials incorporated, to provide a better understanding for greening your decor!

February 07 – Green Landscaping Workshop  – Part 3  (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street Santa Monica, CA 90405

A basic introduction, offering everything you wanted to know about greening your garden and landscaping!

This workshop will provide an introduction to Permaculture and good gardening practices, that you can begin implementing in your green space today!  Learn simple tools that will help you save time, money, water and energy in your garden!

Information will be provided on local programs, through Santa Monica, on sustainable gardening and landscaping.

Integrating Green Building into the Urban Environment

Green Living Roof

Green Living Roof

The business, of environmental capital is not only a vast new market in the making, but it is a global economy, a shift in our patterns, as well as a turn in ecological literacy.

Urban green building has been on the forefront of this movement and has set the stage for us: the designers, architects and civilians of our country to drive this properly.

Let us start looking at all facets of the construction industry – the basic building blocks that represent the building industry – and begin filling in the gaps, where needed.

This is a ripe opportunity to integrate all the available elements that we have before us – while continuing to push the envelop in design.

Economy – New Business Model

As a new business model, Green Building has been speculated for some time, and perhaps, even considered a fad.  With the Dow Jones having introduced the Sustainability Index a mere nine years ago, this indicates that this shift had already begun to gain traction, on an economic and public front.

It was considered the first global platform in which indexes were tracked and measured for companies, that held the model of the triple bottom line.  A term used to reference the 21st c. business framework, that takes into account the people, the planet and profit.

As we move away from the old paradigms, that are disintegrating behind us –  we are in the midst of designing a new business model.  It is a model, that aside from the ubiquitous triple bottom line, is integrating the value of the collective.

Corporations are now finding themselves in a new state, yearning for the solutions that will help them compete and integrate into this new economy.  A sense of moving away from being compartmentalized and working in a more integrative system that will result in efficiency and profit.

An integrative strategy, represents a whole systems approach – taking into account the many variables at stake.  This creates an effort to design with a more wide approach, yet, while being able to be specialized.

We are sewing the tapestry of a new culture, here in our country, abroad, and within humanity.  As Americans, this is our opportunity to set the bar for ourselves, and set an example for the rest of the world.

It is imperative that we demonstrate that following our previous path, has lead us in a direction, that is having us, redirect the way we build and the way we live.

Building, is such a pivotal sector, within our economy.  If positioned properly, it can serve as a model for all other umbrella industries; as it already has begun to do so, with innovation in materials, technology and systems.

In the past 15 years, enough data has been gathered to build a case against conventional modes of construction and operation.

Buildings of the world consume:

17% of our clean water
25% of the wood harvested
40% of the world’s energy and materials

These numbers, alone, present an ideal opportunity to use the ingenuity we have been known for.  Create buildings that require less energy to perform, turn waste into energy, and releasing cleaner water.

Begin integrating nature as a model by moving away from linear thinking and mathematics to a more organic multifaceted frame of mind.  Because, the reality is that we live in a 3 dimensional world.

Green Building

Green Building has been one of the largest driving forces of this movement.  It has taken some time to realize that how we have been building, in the past, has been ineffective and inefficient; all while creating depletion of natural resources, en masse, and intoxicating ourselves.

Building greener buildings indicates using renewable energy alternatives, low impact efficient materials, in addition to, measuring the environmental performance of buildings.

Today, we have the knowledge, the technology and innovation to build in such ways that are not only, cutting edge and lucrative, but also offer, sustainable living or working environments, in addition to, being “smart”.

Smart buildings use internet protocol-based networks, new digital technology as well as proper design and building materials.  This innovation works to convert waste into energy, save on operational costs, by requiring less maintenance, and reduce energy and water consumption by storing and using these elements from the sun and rain.

Understanding the science of buildings, and the psychology of how people live and work, serve as pillars, to create efficient models, for the various phases of a building.

This foundation, can prove to facilitate efficiency and costs associated with the various stages of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, demolition and recovery.

In essence, acknowledging the life cycle of buildings, will help urban designers and architects plan and design, in ways, that take far more into consideration than the mere aesthetic of a building.

Studying the location, the intended land use, the building objective, and projected occupant needs can begin to help set the scene for charettes, amongst the design team.

Charettes, are an open forum that is an integral component, found in virtually all green projects, where key players on the project, use their expertise in co-creating a fully integrated vision.

By incorporating: site location, human scale, and natural elements such as, weather patterns, and local materials into the design of buildings, projects work with available resources.

In understanding, the needs of a building, and integrating these elements, in such a way, that cohesively work together, have proven to be successful models that are in rhythm with the natural patterns of nature, and ebb and flow with the culture and seasons of a region.

Through the application of sustainable landscapes, design specifications correspond to site specific project locations, as well as with the local flora and fauna.  Natural settings  create habitats for building inhabitants to spend time outdoors, while encouraging native species and biodiversity to flourish.

In addition, to complementing the visual aesthetic, sustainable landscaping can be integrated into the model of the design and contribute to the energy and water efficiency of the building.  Indoor landscapes, also act as a natural filter – contributing to better indoor air quality and circulation.

Innovation/Standards

Green building effects every sector in human development: from residential to commercial, education to non profit, and health care to entertainment.

Naturally, the initial cost impact of building green, may distract short sited builders and investors; although, there is a significant amount of data to back up any upfront cost associated with green building.

Benefits in productivity, increase in sales, lower rates of absenteeism, and overall employee and tenant satisfaction, rank extremely high in buildings considered green, versus their counterparts.

To an investor, this may seem trivial, yet, considering the significant added real estate value and low operating costs, it could appear to be more of an incentive to understand the larger market value

With certifications and green building programs, such as The Green Building Council’s LEED program and Build it Green, green building is now receiving the added property value and credentials it deserves.

Cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, have implemented green within their municipal policy for new commercial and Federal buildings to be a minimum, of being LEED certified.

In addition, they are facilitating work permits, expediting building plans and priority processing, which encourage, time sensitive projects to consider, this as viable and lucrative alternative.

On the state level, government is offering various incentives, rebates and tax credits for upgrading to energy star appliances, full energy audits and weatherization of homes.

On a local level, the development of legislation in creating a green framework, could prove to be the initiation, that commerce and residents, a like, need to embrace this new practice.

We are creatures of habit, and we are naturally slow, at the reception of change.

It is pivotal, to provide people with the health benefits associated with building sustainably; versus, using the scare tactic, and the costs associated with conditions like, sick building syndrome.

Providing home and business owners, with the multitude of ways in which money can be saved, by implementing green strategies, can serve as the turning point in which a consumer chooses green materials over the conventional counterpart.

With the installation of proper windows, good insulation, efficient fixtures, appliances, and HVAC systems, in addition to, energy and water conservation, can result in stark savings, over a short period of time.

With the learning curve we are living through, we are also writing the history books.

Learning what works, and what does not.  We will be in this phase of research and development for some time, as this is all new.

Materials and resources will continue to grow, and expand, as with the field of professionals, and with the depth of knowledge we will accrue over the years of experience.

It is imperative that we use this technology and innovation, that is currently available.  We must design buildings that help address energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, toxin elimination, improved indoor air quality, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Urban Green Building

Integrating green into the urbanization of our cities, requires the proper tools to keep within the evolving fabric of a metropolis.

As cities evolve over the years, they begin to build their history, reflecting a community’s current social and economic state.  Implementing green strategies to compliment the landscape of urban development, and seamlessly integrating it.

Today, we build buildings with a life cycle of 50 – 60 years and materials and products with a virtually disposable lifespan.  A mere 100 years ago, people built things to last – a stark contrast, to where we are today.

This is a huge component within the green building initiative that must be addressed – Recreating our frame of mind to design works of art that will leave a lasting impression.

More over, supporting cost-effective dis-assembly, by understanding the future reuse of building materials, will help reduce the amount of waste associated with the deconstruction of a building.

As other countries, continue to emulate the way in which a live and build, we have the ripe opportunity to educate others with Eco Literacy.

By building, a robust green building infrastructure – a road map, per se, where others can have this knowledge available to them.

Design a Green Building Standard where case studies are available to the public and where short and long term solutions can easily, be modeled, with the added benefits for incorporating them.

There is a level of transparency where we are given the opportunity to fully impart the knowledge of what going green truly represents.   Become less ambiguous and available for all.

We need to create a local infrastructure, where  social equity creates a revenue model within sustainability.

As the market size widens, the trends and opportunities across the green building sectors are only going to grow on an exponential level.

In theory, we are currently one of the very few growing markets, and as the leaders of our communities we need to take a rise at this movement and truly take a lead……..

Lawns

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In recent decades, there has been an anti-lawn movement; stemming from the desire to wake up Americans to the reality that keeping up with the Jones’s, truly isn’t a satisfactory way of living.

So, what is wrong with lawns, anyway?  Aside, from being water and energy intensive, lawns are usually sprayed with a cocktail of herbicides and pesticides, in order to, maintain that rolling carpet appeal – year round.  Ironically, most grass grown in the United States is not native to our country, resulting in habitat destruction nationwide.

Lawns in front of American homes are a ubiquitous element.  For over a century, it has represented a lot more than domesticated turf; symbolizing wealth, conformity and class.  Annually Americans spend approximately 40 billion dollars on their lawns, on an area which spans about fifty thousand square miles; estimated to be about the size of New York State.

As most lawns are laden with these toxins, they are not simply effecting the lawn in which it is defused in, but in reality, an entire eco system – an effect so large it is virtually impossible to quantify the ramifications.

Herbicides and pesticides are petroleum based products, making them naturally toxic produce, apply and discard.  In addition, the wide array of chemicals in these products have been known to cause cancer, effect the central nervous system, cause deformities in fetuses, harm pets, children and adults, as well as cause death.

One of the most common popular herbicides sold today is 2,4-dichlorephenoxyacetic or 2,4-D, as it is more commonly known, is one of the key ingredients in Agent Orange.  After having seen the ongoing destruction that it has caused human life and the eco system in Vietnam, how is such a product still on the shelves, and worst, on our lawns where our children and our pets play.

These products are designed to enforce plants to artificially bloom out of season that results in the plant building a natural protection from these chemicals, eventually creating a resistance, therefore requiring more potent chemicals.

These chemicals, in turn, are a detriment to all plant, insect and animal life in its perimeter; killing what is beneficial to local regions, through nitrogen fixing, maintaining biodiversity or pollinating.

When herbicides and/or pesticides are released into the environment they seep into the ground, immediately effecting our ground water and our aquifers – directly effecting our drinking water.  New York City residents do not have lawns, yet drink chemical laden water.  In 2002 thirty-seven pesticides were traced in waterways leading to the Croton River Watershed – a clear indication of serious contamination.

After irrigating or after a rain, all these chemicals are washed into the storm drains and straight into our oceans.  For cities whose drains end up at treatment plant, these chemicals are not broken down and still end up in our oceans, rivers and streams.

These excess nutrient based products cause areas in our aquatic systems that result in algae blooms, which deprive our bodies of water of oxygen, creating dead zones – areas where no life can thrive.  Dead zones have become a recurring problem in the Gulf Coast, off the coast of Texas, where all plant and aquatic life in that region ceases to exist.  This is a serious problem that is drastically effecting our fishing industries, and in turn our food supply.

On a more philosophical level, lawns represent constraint, enforced conformity and repression.  Lawns represent monocultures – the antitheses of what our country embodies – diversity.  Mowing a lawn physically prevents the opportunity of sexual reproduction in the plant kingdom.

So, if not lawns, then what?  There are several alternatives to the old American lawn, some options may require more work than others, ultimately, it depends on your desire and aesthetic.  One probable and logical solution is eliminating the lawn completely and designing a food forest.  It is estimated that a standard yard can yield several hundred pounds of fruits and vegetables per year.  Don’t have an inclination to be self sufficient and grow your own food?  Consider creating a natural habitat with local flora and fauna that does not require the usual copious amounts of pesticides, herbicides, water and energy.

Another option is the idea of a Freedom Lawn.  It is a concept that emerged in the early ’90’s, that allows nature to take her course, naturally.  It consists of seed grass and a variety of other grass-like elements that occur only in their natural state.  It is more water and energy tolerant and may require less mowing since it probably looks best with a cushion.  When mowed, it is preferred to be done with a push-mower.

Just imagine the elimination of all those gas guzzling, noise polluting nature repressing tools – how lovely life would be!