Monday, October 31, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Eating Organic Foods

Have you heard that organic foods are healthy to eat and good for the environment?  If you have, you may be interested in making the switch to organic foods.  With that being said, you may still be a little bit uncertain about doing so.  For many individuals, a change in eating habits is a big deal.  In fact, a change in eating habits can also be considered a lifestyle change.  To help ensure that you are making the right decision, you may first want to examine the pros and cons of eating organic foods.

Collecting eggs from a chicken coop at an orga...Image via WikipediaPerhaps, the greatest pro or plus side to eating organically is the health benefits.  Organic foods differ from many of the conventionally grown foods that are available for sale today because they are not made with chemicals and other additives, some of which may be harmful to our bodies.  Organic food is one hundred percent, completely natural. You are also given guarantees, as most organic foods must be certified and pass rigorous tests.

Another pro or plus side to eating organically is that organic food is ideal for individuals of all ages.  This is great if you are looking to have your whole family eat organic, not just yourself.  It is also important know that organic foods aren’t just fruits and vegetables. There are snacks, drinks, and deserts that are all considered organic.  Most organic foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and snacks are designed for individuals of all ages.  With that being said, there are also many companies that specialize in selling organic foods for babies and toddlers, for example Earth's Best Organics.

Another pro or plus side to making the switch to organic foods is that you can do your part to help the environment, as well as organic farmers.  Unfortunately, small family farms seem to be a dying breed in the United States.  Many farmers, even those who have been farming for years are finding it too costly to continue.  Although many will simply just close down their operations, more and more are choosing to make the switch to organic foods.  This not only helps to keep farmers afloat and in business, but it can also help the environment, by eliminating the number of pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals that are used.

Although there are a number of pros or plus sides to buying and eating organic foods, it is also important to touch on the downsides of doing so as well. One of the biggest cons or downsides associated with eating organic is the cost of doing so.  Visiting one of your local supermarkets and walking through an organic food section will give you an idea as to the costs.  When compared to other foods, organic food generally does cost more money.  While that cost is more than worth it to many, some are turned off by it.  With that being said, it is important to know that there are a number of ways that you can save money on organic foods.  These ways involve searching for store sales on organic foods or by using organic food coupons. Or, the best way of all is to buy directly from local farmers, thus saving the costs of the "middle man," and also providing more profit to the farmers, and fresher produce for your family.

mcenroe organic farmImage by istolethetv via FlickrThere are also many individuals who are unhappy with the selection of organic foods that they are able to gain access to locally.  For the largest selection of organic foods locally, examine specialty organic food stores, as they specialize solely in the selling of natural foods.  You may also check the internet, as there a number of product manufacturers who sell their organic foods online, as well as organic food stores that sell a number of different brands. Even better - visit your local farmer's market, where you can shop at numerous farm stands in one place, and often find fresher organic foods at cheaper prices than you would find in a store.

Regardless of where you find them, organic foods can be a great addition to your diet, providing more nutrients, better taste, and fewer toxins to contribute to your toxic load.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Hydrogen Boosted Gas Engines - Wave of the Future?

With the ever increasing cost of gasoline prices, auto makers are having to work overtime to cost-effectively improve fuel economy, while still meeting the strict emission requirements of today with gasoline engines.

A Volkswagen Group 2.4 litre straight-5 diesel...Image via WikipediaOne promising way to boost the fuel economy of gas engines is to add hydrogen to the fuel/air mixture in the engine.  Since hydrogen isn't available at the local gas station, selling a hydrogen-boosted gas engine wasn't on the list of engines - until now.

Lack of Emissions
A major cost and environmental advantage to hydrogen boosted gas engines are low amounts of NOx emission gas, which will completely eliminate the need for external NOx emissions control.  Currently, NOx emissions control is a major cost problem for diesel engines which use expensive traps to meet the emission standards.  Diesel engines particulate emissions that must be collected by a filter that should be changed periodically.

Hydrogen boosted engines on the other hand require neither NOx or particulate control and require only a low cost oxidation catalyst to control very small amounts of exhaust which is formed mostly during the engine starting up and warming up.  Additional cuts in emissions control requirements stem from the engine's ability to use only the clean hydrogen enriched charge during the cold start phase when 90% of emissions are generated in the emission test.

Diesel engine Uniflow, Two stroke diesel engineImage via WikipediaCost
The hydrogen boost system is effectively a bolt-on technology that can be added to an existing vehicle's engine compartment.  According to those developing the system, the cost of the system is less than half of the added cost for a diesel vehicle. 

The Future
Prototype hydrogen boosted engines are now be installed in test SUV vehicles that have sufficient space for the reformer and its related system.  The start of long-term road testing for performance, reliability, and durability information is planned for later next year before the system goes further into development.

Four cylinder gasoline engines will likely be the prime candidates for the technology as high gas prices continue to generate competition among the higher fuel economy models that seek MPG leadership. 

With gas prices getting higher and higher, hydrogen boosted gas engines offer you the chance to get more miles per gallon and not have to worry about burning up all of your fuel.  Instead of having to go out and buy a diesel or hybrid to conserve fuel, hydrogen boosted units will help you preserve gas.

Even though they aren't available to buy right now, they will be very soon.  Many manufacturers are looking into them, as they offer gasoline engines something like never before.  If you own a gas powered vehicle and have thought of giving it up to go diesel, you might want to think again - as hydrogen boost units may change the world of gas engines forever.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Are the Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles?

As a follow-up to Monday's post, here is a list of the most efficient gas-powered cars in the various car classes. New innovations in fuel efficiency are happening all the time, so hopefully this list will soon grow much longer (and higher in efficiency). Be sure to check back Friday when we will discuss one particularly promising innovation that could greatly increase the mileage numbers for just about any car out there.

Honda Insight BackImage via Wikipedia1. Most efficient overall - Honda Insight hybrid
With 60 mpg city and 66 mpg highway, the Honda hybrid has top honors as most fuel efficient in the United States.  With a 1.0 gas engine mated to an electric motor, the insight was designed to make the most of the power by using low resistance tires.  The bad things about the Insight include a cramped interior, seating for two, and a very odd exterior styling, which some find unappealing.

2: Most fuel efficient mid size car - Toyota Prius hybrid
(60 mpg city and 51 mpg highway)
The Prius, unlike the Honda Insight, is capable of carrying 5 people plus their gear.  The Prius will generate a total of 110 HP from its gasoline engine and electric motor.  The sleek shape to the Prius has a low co-efficient drag although Toyota has managed to do this with a larger, yet more driver friendly vehicle than the Insight.

3. Most efficient compact car - Honda Civic hybrid
(49 mpg city and 51 mpg highway)
With a reputation of being the cheapest hybrid in North America, the Civic hybrid takes the great design of the regular Civic and makes it a lot more efficient.  With an output of 110 HP, the Civic hybrid is very competitive for the class. 

Prior Design VW New Beetle GT3 Front Bumper Bo...Image by Prior Design NA ( via Flickr4. Most efficient sub compact car - Volkswagon diesel
(37 mpg city and 44 mpg highway)
The Volkswagon Beetle diesel is ahead of even the sub compact hybrids.  Making 100 HP, the Beetle diesel may not sound that powerful, although the 177 lb-foot of torque will put shame on every other vehicle in the same class. 

5. Most efficient station wagon - Pontiac and Toyota
(30 mpg city and 36 mpg highway)
The Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix are both the result of a joint venture of Toyota and General Motors.  Both vehicles come equipped with Toyota engines, although a lot of the design and engineering came from General Motors.  Both the Matrix and the Vibe are versatile with active lifestyles.  With a fuel efficient 1.8L 4 cylinder that produces 126 HP, the Matrix and the Vibe aren't going to win a street race although they make up for it with smoothness, efficiency, and refinement.

6. Most efficient large car - Hyundai Sonata
(24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway)
The Sonata is a major surprise, beating out very stiff competition.  The 2.4L 4 cylinder engine is very smooth, responsive, and powerful.  The suspension however, is soft, and geared more towards comfort than handling.  This isn't a BMW, although the build quality is great, clearly demonstrating that Hyundai is no longer a second rate manufacturer.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Choosing a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

With winter coming, and those travel-filled holidays, many people are thinking of looking for a more fuel-efficient vehicle. This week we are focusing on this topic, starting today with exploring a few important considerations to look at when choosing a vehicle. Later this week we will post a list of the most fuel-efficient cars, as well as some very exciting upcoming innovations in fuel efficiency.

Whether gasoline prices may be crimping your your household budget, you would like to reduce the U.S. dollars that flow to the Middle East for oil, or perhaps you are motivated by your concern for the environment, or even the nagging reality that oil is a depleting resource that shouldn't be wasted, making a fuel-efficient choice in a new car is of greater importance to many these days.

Here are 3 important things to consider when choosing a new vehicle:

New fuel economy label in 2008 shows estimated...Image via WikipediaFuel economy
To put it into perspective, the fuel economy are the numbers posted on the window sticker of a new vehicle.  Studies have shown that the average driver only receives 75 percent or so of the mileage figures that are on the sticker, so be sure to take that into account.

You can use these numbers to determine the best type of vehicle for your purchase.  The numbers will let you know how many MPG your vehicle will get, so you can compare vehicles and then go from there.

Hybrid pricing
The gas electric hybrid vehicles are normally priced higher than non hybrid counterparts, anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to several thousand dollars.

Container of GasolineImage via WikipediaHybrids can get a lot of miles per gallon, some averaging around 45 - 55.  This is great for those who want to save money on gas, as hybrids can go many extra miles on a full tank of fuel and they come with extended warranties as well.

Diesel efficiency
Diesel powered vehicles are yet another fuel efficient option.  Diesels are known for getting extra mileage from every gallon of fuel.  They also offer much better torque than many gasoline engines.  The price differential they have over gasoline engines are usually much smaller than that of the hybrid.

With plenty of options available (more every day), you're sure to find what you need to help conserve fuel. Before you make a purchase, always remember to shop around and find what's best for you.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Video - pHion Detox System Overview

Here is a quick overview of a good detox/cleanse program, if you are going to go the supplement route, vs. the dietary method (we will discuss more on the differences between these two in the weeks ahead, and how and when to use one vs. the other, or a combination of the two).

Whole Body Detoxification Supplement - Detox Your Liver & Much More!
Detoxify Your WHOLE Body, Liver, Lymph & Kidneys! pHion Whole Body Detoxification helps to eliminate bacteria, yeast and fungi - as well as the mycotoxins, exotoxins and endotoxins they produce - throughout your WHOLE body.

Click Here to Learn More, or click on a product below.

pHion Cleanze - Capsules
The Gentle, Yet Powerful Cleanse! The secret behind pHion Cleanze's efficacy is its ionic nature. The negatively charged elements in pHion Cleanze binds and remove acids, microforms, toxins, and heavy metals from your colon.

pHion D-tox - Capsules
Detoxify Your WHOLE Body! pHion D-tox helps to eliminate bacteria, yeast, and fungi - as well as the toxins they produce - throughout your WHOLE body. Plus, it will give your liver, kidneys and lymphatic system a detox tune-up. Eliminates yeast, fungi, and bacteria. pHion D-tox contains a comprehensive blend of herbal extracts and dietary ingredients that kill yeast, fungi and harmful organisms.

pHion Cleanze and D-tox Pack - Capsules
The Cleanze and D-tox Pack contains everything you need to cleanse & detoxify your entire body.  Includes: pH-boosting alkaline water additives, Cleansing & detoxifying elements with beneficial probiotics and prebiotics.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Detoxing: What Is Is It, And Is It Right For You?

You may have heard a lot about detoxing or detox diets. In fact, many celebrities swear by detox diets to lose weight. However, detoxing offers many more benefits than losing weight. If you’re curious about detoxing or interested in improving your health we may be able to help answer your questions.

pHion Cleanze and D-tox Pack - Capsules.
What is Detoxing?

Detoxing is the process of eliminating toxins from your body. There are many ways that toxins are naturally removed from your body. For example, if you are sweating toxins are removed from your body in your sweat. You urinate toxins and they are also eliminated in your stools. Additionally you can take a bath in Epsom salts or sea salts and remove toxins from your body.

Toxins can be stored in your fat cells, muscles, blood and organs. Many of these toxins enter your body from every day exposure to chemicals. For example, car exhaust is inhaled. Second hand smoke is a toxin. You also ingest pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers and other chemicals when you eat. If you drink alcohol then you want to help get toxins out of your body. And if you eat junk food or processed food then you also consume chemicals in the form of artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavorings and colorings. All these poisons accumulate in your body to make up what is called your "toxic load."

sweatingImage via WikipediaHow Does Detoxing Work?

A detox diet or detox plan helps lessen your toxic load by getting the toxins out of your body quickly. Most basic detox diets work by eliminating any chemicals from being consumed. For example, you might drink only organic juices for five days. This gets all of the toxins out of your body and doesn’t add any into your body. If you add sweating, massage and salt baths to the process then you detoxify even faster.

Why Detox?

If you’re feeling particularly run down you might want to detox. Getting the toxins out of your body can help restore health. If you’re considering going on a diet or fitness plan then a detox diet can help you start on the right foot. Additionally, if you want to lose weight then you might detox.

Detoxing Risks and Side Effects

Detoxing isn’t for everyone and it’s not without risks. You will likely experience a few withdrawal symptoms if you are on a detox diet. This is because your body is used to sugars and other chemicals. When you stop eating them, your body will need time to adjust. You might experience headaches, a bit of insomnia and some stomach distress. These side effects pass quickly. Once you’ve made it through the withdrawal symptoms you’ll feel great. You’ll likely have more energy. Your complexion may improve and your digestion and mental clarity will improve too.

Before you detox, talk to your doctor or an alternative healthcare professional. Pay close attention to your body during your detoxing experience. Detox too fast and you may become ill as toxins are released from your muscles into your bloodstream. You can always slow down the detox process.

Your health is important. Detoxing can improve it. Detox carefully and with careful attention to your body.

Here Are Some High Quality Detoxing Products:

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Different Types of Toxins and How They Affect Your Health

You may have heard that detoxing helps improve your health. What you may not know is how. What happens when you remove toxins from your body? And what types of toxins are inside you?

Overview of main health effects on humans from...Image via WikipediaToxins come in a few different categories. They include:

* Household toxins
* Food toxins
* Environmental toxins
* Lifestyle toxins

Let’s take a closer look at each type of toxin.

Lifestyle Toxins

These toxins are the easiest to eliminate from your life. However, the detox and withdrawal process can be quite challenging. Lifestyle toxins are the toxins you get from smoking, taking prescription and over the counter medications, and drinking alcohol. Sugar and white flour can also act as significant toxins in your body and cause serious problems. Even high levels of caffeine can cause health problems.

Food Toxins

Food toxins include artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Acesulfame K. It also includes chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and preservatives. During the farming and manufacturing process the food you eat is exposed to hundreds of chemicals. The human body isn’t equipped to manage these chemicals. Thus those chemicals stay in your body. The result can be severe including cancer and immune or neurological disorders. Detoxing helps get them out of your body.

Acesulfame K SVG formatImage via WikipediaEnvironmental Toxins

Go outside and take a breath of fresh air. As cleansing as that breath can feel, it is contaminated by toxins (at least if you live in just about any urban or suburban area). These toxins are off gasses from farming and manufacturing processes. In addition, combustion engines and other systems create pollution. That pollution finds its way into your body in the air you breathe and the water you drink.

Household Toxins
There have been many studies that have shown that the air inside your home is much more dangerous than the air outside your home. Indoor pollution is a real problem. Household cleansers are filled with chemicals. You breathe them in whenever you use them. Additionally, bath and body products are also filled with chemicals.

Toxins are everywhere. They’re inside your home, workplace and the places you visit. They’re also in the food you eat and the things you drink. You can minimize your exposure to toxins by eating organic and locally grown foods (or even growing your own). Use natural cleaning products in your home and bath.

You can also purge the toxins from your system by occasionally going on a detox program. You’ll be able to purge the toxins from your body and maintain your health. It’s a great way to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. You can gain renewed energy, better sleep, more mental clarity and even lose weight by occasionally detoxing. Take great care when you detox. Follow your doctor’s guidelines and treat your body well.

For more on toxic load and what you can do about it, visit our website at

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Home Energy Savings Tips: Preparing for the Winter

Whether we like it or not, winter is coming. So get prepared today, and you can potentially save a lot on your winter energy bills - and help the environment at the same time.

Winter means one thing: cold air. But for many, winter also means larger electric bills. Yes, it is true. In some areas summer causes the highest energy use, but in many locations, winter is the season where your electric bills skyrocket to digits that can cause financial burden. In winter, the heating system consumes the biggest portion of our electricity budget. Fortunately, we have the whole fall to prepare for it. And to prepare for it means that we must have the right tools, and proper information on how to save energy during the coming season.

Here are some areas to examine:

Wood-burning fireplace with burning log.Image via WikipediaThe fireplace – Getting your fireplace ready for winter will certainly yield savings; and fall is the best time to clean and repair the fireplace. Make sure that the damper is tightly sealed when not using it. Even a small gap can let the cold air rush in and send the warm air out. If you are using an electric heating system, an opening in the fireplace means the heater has to work harder to keep the place warm. Let a professional contractor do the proper maintenance in securing your fireplace for the winter.

When you decide to use the fireplace, you can turn down your heater. This can save you as much as 8% on heating costs (or sometimes more, in an efficient home).

The furnace – The furnace will have to work extra hard if the filter is full of dirt. This will equate to energy waste since the furnace will consume more power for the service it brings. To avoid this, make sure that your filter is clean. The owner’s manual will tell you how to clean the filter. A clean filter will let you breathe clean air around your house. A clean filter can save you 5%  or more on heating costs.

The ducts – Small leaks in your ducts will certainly result to lost heat so make sure that this is regularly checked. Usually ducts are located in unheated places, which is another reason why heat is lost. You can help prevent this by insulating the ducts by wrapping them with R-6 or higher fiberglass. (Never use cloth-backed tapes.) You can also wrap them with UL-approved metallic or plastic tapes and mastic sealants.  Leaking ducts can add up to 30% more burden on your heating system so make sure they are sealed and secured.

Solar heat – You need not have solar panels on your roof to use the sun as the source of heat. All you have to do is use open your drapes during the day to warm your room without using electricity. Then close them at night to keep the warm air inside. Reduction of the use of your heating system during the day can let you cut as much as 10% on your electric consumption

Thermostat FLZ 541Image via WikipediaLeaks in seals – Leaks in the seals of your doors, windows, joints and sills will let the cold air in and the warm air out - not what you want. Make sure that these openings are sealed with either sealant or weatherstripping. It will help reduce the work of the heating system immensely.

The thermostat – A programmable thermostat or a centralized heating system will let you save on heating costs, as it will let you set your desired room temperature during a specific period of the day. This is very useful when you are leaving your home or even going to sleep at night. Just one centigrade lower on your heating system will let your save you as much as 5% on your heating costs.

As you can see, following these simple tips and making sure your home is prepared for the winter weather can help you save quite a bit on your electric bill this winter, and use less fuel in the process. Most of these are easy fixes, so why not take the time right now, and put some of these tips into action? 
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Video - New Wind Turbine Design Triples Energy Production

Here is a recent news story from Japan about a new innovation in wind turbine design, which increases the power output so much that it appears possible that someday wind power could replace nuclear power as an electricity source....

Check this out, and see what may be the wave of the future in efficient and clean energy production:

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production!
June 27, 2011 NHK News

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Monday, October 10, 2011

How Wind Turbines Work

There are many alternative sources of energy. Solar energy, hydro electric and wind energy are three of the most common options. Wind energy may be one of the most promising resources to explore.

A wind turbine at Greenpark, Reading, England,...Image via WikipediaWhat is a Wind Turbine?

A wind turbine is essentially a wind mill much like you’d see on farms or in Holland. However, instead of being attached to a mill to grind grain into flour, the turbine is attached to a generator. The result is energy. How much energy? Well that depends on the size of the blades and the wind speed.

Wind turbines can be used on a large scale to produce energy for a city. The turbines generally have two or three blades or rotors. On sunny, windy days they can produce several megawatts. The energy can also be stored for non windy days. On a smaller scale, for home use, a wind turbine can produce about 100 kilowatts. They work well to compliment a solar electric power system.

How a Wind Turbine Works

The sun is what heats the earth. This heating and cooling creates wind. In a way, wind energy is also solar energy. When wind is created it has force. It has energy. If you’ve ever stood outside on a very windy day you know that this energy can be quite powerful.

A wind turbine captures this energy and turns it into electricity. The wind turns the blades or rotors. The rotors are attached to a rod. When the rotors turn the rod turns as well. The rod is then attached to a gear. In an old fashioned wind mill that gear connects to a heavy gear at the bottom of the mill. It turns as the teeth of the gear rotate and it grinds the grain. In a wind turbine the gear is attached to a smaller gear and a generator. As this gear spins it creates electricity.

The generator creates electricity by using a magnetic rotor inside the generator. As the rotor spins around the core it electromagnetic induction and generates an electrical current.

This wind turbine charges a 12 V battery to ru...Image via WikipediaAn Environmentally Sound Energy Source

As you can see, there’s really no byproduct of wind energy. The energy is either used or stored. There is no byproduct of the energy. The only downside to wind energy is that if the wind doesn’t blow at least 10 MPH then little to no energy is created. Additionally, the generator can be quite expensive.

If you’re looking to include wind energy for your home you may want to investigate the costs and lifespan of a typical generator. Over the life of a good generator you’ll definitely make your money back. And you can rest well knowing you’re using one of the cleanest and most environmentally friendly energy sources available.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Video - Sustainable Building for the Future

Here is a pretty cool video about a sustainable building project. It's a bit light on audio description, so be sure to pay attention to the text-overs, and check out the really cool looking finished building at the end!

Plus it will give you a whole new respect for ants.... :-)

Sustainable Buildings
How a new way of thinking about the buildings we live in will help solve issues of sustainability by reducing carbon emissions so you can become carbon neutral. This is about making buildings 'nutritious' for mind, health and ecology.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sustainable Building Products for Your Home

Building a new home or renovating an existing one? You might want to consider using sustainable building products. Sustainable building products have come down in price over the past few years. You may be able to receive a tax credit for using them. And you’ll be doing a large part to help the environment.

Giant Bamboo in EcuadorImage via WikipediaWhat Are Sustainable Building Products?

Sustainable building products are products that are easily replenished. They come from sustainable resources. One example is bamboo. Anyone who has a stand of bamboo in their backyard can testify that bamboo grows very quickly, and any plants that are cut down are quickly replenished.

Another example might be solar cells. They’re not made of sustainable materials. However, they produce sustainable energy. They harness the sun’s power and convert it into electricity in your home.

What Qualifies a Building Product as Sustainable?

There are no certification boards to stamp something as sustainable. However you can look for a few keywords to help you make a decision. Some keywords include:

* Recycled Content
* Low-Emitting Materials
* FSC certified
* Zero VOC emissions
* Energy savings
* Low flow – water savings

Where Can You Find Sustainable Building Products?

Depending on your home project you may be able to find much of what you need at your local home store. For example, if you’re remodeling your home you might choose:
* Cork
* Cement
* Bamboo

Bamboo flooring(,...Image via WikipediaThese work well for flooring or countertop options.

You might also choose to utilize reclaimed wood products or reclaimed appliances. In many communities you can find a facility that takes:

* Countertops,
* Cabinets,
* Appliances
* And even things like toilets, faucets and sinks.

You can often repurpose or refinish these items to use in your home project.

Consider also low emissions products when you’re painting or using an adhesive. Even carpet adhesives can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Or, they can be toxic to your health. And most carpet installation companies offer both low emission adhesives and the standard adhesives.

If you’re planning a large project you might consider consulting with a green architect, contractor, or designer. They can help you get professional discounts on sustainable home building products. These discounts can really add up.

Before you begin any home building project, the first step is to plan. Take a look at the resources your project requires, then explore your options. Where can you use sustainable and environmentally friendly products? Where can you find them locally? How much will they cost? How much will they save? Remember many states are offering tax incentives and credits for sustainable building projects.

Remodeling or building a home is an exciting time. You can make sure your home is a source of pride. Using sustainable building products can make it look great and do your part to help the environment at the same time. It’s a win win!
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Monday, October 3, 2011

What is a Living (or Green) Roof?

When it comes to maximizing space, many business and home owners are looking up. They’re turning their roof into a green space. Living roofs are becoming more than a trend. They can help you save money and beautify your space.

What is a Living Roof?

Chicago City Hall Green RoofImage via WikipediaA living roof is a roof that has been planted - that is, it is at least partially covered with vegetation. For example a living roof might be covered with grass. Or many hotels, businesses and even schools are using rooftop space to build a garden. It’s a fantastic way to maximize space, improve the environment and save money.

There are different types of living or green roofs. Some require little to no maintenance. These are the simple grass or sod covered roofs that you might see on homes in the countryside. They may require nothing more than nutrients from time to time. Roofs which have gardens or other plants on them require more work. They’re commonly referred to as semi-intensive or intensive. You may have to weed, prune and harvest. Flat roof are easier to plant on. If you have a pitched roof then sod is the simplest living roof option.

What Does a Living Roof Do?

A living roof can provide many benefits. At its simplest a living roof helps the environment. Plants help clean the air. A living roof can also add space to your home. It can become a place to go for serenity and a nice view. Imagine sitting on your roof and enjoying your flower bed or garden? If you live in an apartment building or work in a high rise in the city, this is often a great use of space.

You might also benefit from any flowers or vegetables grown on your living roof. However most of the benefit may be in the form of environmental benefits.

A green roof absorbs rainwater, and the plants and roots help filter the water. This in turn helps keep waterways clean. Also, a living roof can provide insulation for your home. You’ll spend less money on electricity or fuel to heat and cool your home. And for urban dwellers, green roofs actually lower the air temperature. In the city during the summer months the temperature in a city can be ten to fifteen degrees higher. This is because of the heat the city creates. A living roof can help lower the air temperature during the summer, and keep the heat in during the winter.

Before You Create Your Own Living Roof

Traditionnal buildings with green roofs at Nor...Image via WikipediaThere are several considerations to make before you plant on your roof. The first is what type of roof you have. If it is flat or has a slight pitch then you have more options about what you can grow. Steep pitches really only accommodate sod. Also, will the structure of your home support the added weight of a green roof?

Finally, the cost and maintenance. You’ll need to waterproof your roof before you plant. This can be expensive. You’ll also want to review your community’s zoning laws. Are you allowed to have a green roof? Finally, what are you going to plant? What maintenance will be required? Are you going to plant it yourself or hire a contractor? Will you need extra insurance for your home after the roof has been installed?

Green roofs are good for the environment. They can be fun and beautiful to look at too. But before you start growing on your roof, be sure to take a look at your options. Is a green roof right for you?

If you've already tried this interesting idea, we'd love to hear from you! Please feel free to share your experiences below.

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