No matter what your decorating style, there’s one kind of kitchen renovation we can all get behind: eco-friendly remodeling does more than make a kitchen look cool—it uses up otherwise wasted materials and may even save costs over the long haul.
Here are our five top eco-friendly kitchen renovations to get started!
1. Green Countertops
When we say green countertops, we don’t mean the color. We’re talking sustainability. Eco-friendly countertops from Durcon (TM) are made from a proprietary blend of post-consumer recycled glass and other materials. Plus, they’ve been voted a top product by HGTV, the Great Big Texas Home Show and other DIY networks.
2. Cork Kitchen Floor
Made from bark that’s peeled off of a tree and allowed to grow back, cork floors are a sustainable option that come in various styles and colors. Other eco-friendly kitchen floors include Marmoleum or bamboo.
3. Energy Star Appliances
When it comes to eco-friendly appliances, the decision’s a no-brainer: Energy Star ratings reveal whether or not an appliance has passed an energy-efficiency test, so opting for those means taking a step in a green direction.
4. Solar Lighting
Swap out your lightbulbs with LED replacements and you automatically make your kitchen more eco-friendly.
5. Recycle the Old
Just as important as what you add when renovating your kitchen is what you take away. Don’t just trash your old floors or countertops, but instead find a way to recycle them. Advertise materials that can be reused and placed in a new home, or find recycling centers that will repurpose your materials into other uses.
(Image source: Trendir.com)
The University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, recently launched a new solar project. Dubbed UB Solar Strand, this 750-kilowatt solar project from architect Walter Hood will provide power for hundreds of student apartments on campus, not to mention prevent the emission of as much as 400 tons of greenhouse gases each year.
“Even today, we’re generating power,” said Robert G. Shibley, dean and professor at UB’s School of Architecture and Planning.
Located on the university’s North Campus, Solar Strand consists of 3,200 photovoltaic panels, made possible by a $7.5 million investment from the State Power Authority—an investment that project designer Walter Hood considered encouraging given the current financial climate.
“[Making an investment like this] means you have to be very optimistic and you have to have faith in an idea, not something that you know,” Hood said Monday. “This is something that Americans, I think we’re getting better at – being optimistic again, being able to go into the future and not know what we’re going to get.”
Designed to mimic the pattern of a human fingerprint, the unique solar project will be publicly accessible for visitors to walk through and tour, with “no chain-link fence surrounding” according to Shibley. At 140 feet wide and 1,250 feet long, it will also be used as a natural classroom for university students as well as local school kids.
From a financial perspective, UB Solar Strand is designed to save about $60,000 annually in energy costs, meaning the university will recoup its original costs within 125 years.
For more information on UB Solar Strand, go to buffalo.edu/sustainability/solar-strand.html.
(Image source: Buffalo.edu)
As we’ve said before at Soluxe Solar, there are many reasons to pursue new solar energy solutions–not the least of which is a financial one! The power that comes from the sun can be harnessed to provide clean energy that not only benefits the environment but also your bottom line.
Take the example of Lee, Massachusetts, an historic New England town that describes itself as “a unique blend of small town living, great schools, retail establishments, restaurants, shopping and services, in abundance and of a high caliber more often found in much larger communities.” Citizens of this Massachusetts town could be saving as much as $1.5 million in new solar energy solutions from a proposed solar bill aimed at helping power the northeastern city’s municipal buildings.
Through a tentative deal with a Boston company, the deal would mean the installation of three solar arrays that will cost $11.8 million to install but will generate three megawatts of electricity that will save the town money each year–even as much as $65,000 the first year and $1.57 million over the next 20 years.
“We will earn energy credits [from WMECO], with the money saved going to help pay other bills,” said committee Chairman Thomas Wickham.
According to the proposal details, there will be solar arrays installed at a former landfill, a wastewater treatment plant and on three acres of a 171-acre land parcel. The latter location has drawn considerable controversy from citizens in favor of farming the land, but officials believe the savings outweigh the drawbacks.
“There’s really no way to take out one (part) without affecting the rest,” Wickham said. “They are all tied together.”
(Image source: Conserve Energy Future)
Ask anyone you know about public restrooms, and you’ll probably hear the same thing: notoriously filthy, smelly and unpleasant, public restrooms are not the kind of place anyone is excited to go to.
Except maybe in Portland.
This Oregon city has five solar-powered, highly durable downtown toilets–all of which are defying preconceptions, working well and remaining resistant to vandalism. Standing 10 feet high, the so-called “Portland Loos” currently average about 200 flushes a day and have over 250 followers on Facebook. Features include a graffiti-resistant metallic-gray finish, prison-grade toilets, a tiny hand-washing faucet outside and workers who clean the bathrooms twice a day.
“We can ship them to somebody for $99,000 and all they have to do is bolt them on to their sidewalk and hook them up to sewer and water,” said City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who originated the idea for the loo after Portland had its own publicized failure with public bathrooms.
What’s more, the bathrooms have been designed to be protected against vandalism and damage. ”The whole idea behind it was to design it not as this beautiful, aesthetic piece of work and then be aghast if somebody did something bad to it,” Leonard said. “We designed it anticipating all of that.”
The Portland Loo has a pricetag of about $60K, with yearly maintenance averaging around $12K.
There’s already been one sold to Victoria, British Columbia, and the cities of San Diego and Anchorage have expressed interest, as well.
There are more than citywide festivals happening this April 22. In honor of Earth Day, several stores and organizations are offering exciting, cost-savings promotions—from free reusable bags to 20% discounts and more. Check out some of the hottest green shopping deals below!
1. Target: Not only is Target giving away $1.5M in reusable bags to customers on April 22, but the retail giant has also launched a temporary website at target.com/earthday, providing $50 in savings on sustainable products, as well as partnering with Recycle Bank to reward individuals for making earth-friendly choices.
2. Chipotle: Purchase one of Chipotle’s limited edition reusable bags before Earth Day 2012, and you get a free burrito April 22!
3. Barnes and Noble: 20% off your purchases at B&N on April 22!
4. National Parks: Commune with nature on the day that celebrates it–at no cost to you! The National Park Service and National Park Foundation are offering free admission at all 397 of the nation’s major parks during the entire week of April 21-29.
5. Groupon: In honor of Earth Day 2012, Groupon is launching new eco initiatives: GrassRoots and a partnership with Edward Norton’s CrowdRise. As of April 16, you can take the Groupon Challenge by visiting CrowdRise and donating to a cause of your choice. Learn more at groupon.com/pages/earthday.
7. Starbucks: Bring in your own mug on April 22 and participating Starbucks will reward you with a free brewed coffee or tea.
8. Origins: Simply bring in this filled-out form with your current skincare to Origins, and the skin care company will trade you a full-size version of their Origins cleanser.
(Image source: Plover Organic)
It’s almost Earth Day! This Sunday, April 22, cities around the country–from Santa Barbara to Alexandra, Austin to Indianapolis–will celebrate the world’s favorite green-focused holiday with various festivals and events that promote eco-friendly living and sustainable choices.
Here are 10 green festival ideas coming up for Earth Day 2012!
1. SANTA BARBARA EARTH DAY FESTIVAL
Location: Alameda Park, Santa Barbara, California
Dates: Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22
Highlights: Eco-Marketplace, Green car show, kid’s corner, great food & drink
More info: SBEarthDay.org
2. DURHAM EARTH DAY FESTIVAL
Location: Durham Central Park, Durham, North Carolina
Dates: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 22
Highlights: Green activities and demos, Sustainability Expo and Market, music, food and more
More info: DurhamNC.gov
3. ST. LOUIS EARTH DAY
Location: Forest Park, Muny Grounds
Dates: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 22
Highlights: Festival, symposium, recycling extravaganza, greening workshop
More info: StLouisEarthDay.org
4. 2012 EARTH DAY FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
Location: Various locations throughout California’s Central Coast
Dates: Saturday, April 21
Highlights: Dishes made with locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, olive oils, and more. Live music, a silent auction, unlimited samples of local cuisine and mingling with farmers who grow great food and wine while nurturing a healthy environment.
More info: EarthDayFoodandWine.com
5. EARTH DAY INDIANA
Location: White River State Park, downtown Indianapolis, Indiana
Dates: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 28
Highlights: 140+ environmental and conservation exhibits, great music, children’s activities
More info: EarthDayIndiana.org
6. AUSTIN EARTH DAY FESTIVAL 2012
Location: Historic Browning Hangar at Mueller, 4550 Mueller Blvd, Austin, Texas
Dates: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 22
Highlights: Green-focused workshops and sessions, interactive drumming, petting zoo
More info: EarthDayAustin.com
7. ALEXANDRIA EARTH DAY 2012
Location: Ben Brenman Park, Alexandria, Virginia (4800 Brenman Park Dr)
Dates: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21
Highlights: Exhibitors covering various green topics, tree sale, fashion show of clothes made from recycled materials
More info: http://alexearthday.org
8. TUCSON EARTH DAY
Location: Reid Park off of Country Club Road, Tucson, Arizona
Dates: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21
Highlights: Parade, exhibits, hands-on activities for kids, music, dancing, food
More info: TusconEarthDay.org
9. EARTH DAY ON THE NATIONAL MALL
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Highlights: Big-name music, booths, interactive exhibits
More info: EarthDay.org/mall
10. EARTH DAY FESTIVAL (UMASS)
Location: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Dates: Sunday and Monday, April 22-23
Highlights: Student Farmer Aid concert, sustainability fair, movie showing of “The Last Mountain”, self-guided tours of library’s courtyard garden, kite festival
More info: UMass.edu
(Image source: EarthDay2012.com
Sullivan Solar Power, the California-based company that’s already installed $8 million watts of solar power systems throughout the southern part of the state, recently announced a new initiative: the San Diego Solar Program. Centered in the city recently named #1 in the state for solar rooftops, the countywide program will make it possible for eligible residents to install solar panels at no upfront cost, plus give them a significant cash incentive—one that’s even greater than incentives currently offered by the state.
“San Diego’s Solar Program is designed in a manner that financially encourages the entire community to go solar,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “The goal is to shift San Diego’s dependence from nuclear power and imported fossil fuels to renewable resources and show the rest of the nation that it can be done.”
Modeled after the state’s program, the San Diego Solar Program will give the greatest incentives to the most early adopters: those who get in on the first phase will get $2,500, but that amount will reduce as more and more sign-ups come in, up until the closing time of 5 p.m. on December 31, 2012. A total of 500 residences can benefit from the solar program.
“With the financing options that we have available today, homeowners can go solar for $0 out-of-pocket, save money every month and then with the San Diego Solar Program, we are going to send them a check,” Sullivan said. “We are paying people to go solar with this program. How is that for an economic stimulus plan?”
San Diego homeowners can learn more about the program at a luncheon scheduled for Saturday, May 12, at 11 a.m. at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park (1439 El Prado). There is also additional info available at SanDiegoSolarProgram.org or by calling 1-800-SULLIVAN.
Just in time for Earth Day, preordering on Sprint’s eco-friendly LG Viper phone begins this Thursday, April 12. First announced at Consumer Electronic Show 2012, the LG Viper will cost $99 with a two-year contract and a $50 rebate—and what’s more, to the delight of environmentally conscious individuals, the Viper will be the first 4G LTE device with eco-friendly features offered by Sprint.
“LG Viper pairs perfectly with our unlimited data plans to bring customers the benefit of new technology, including our upcoming 4G LTE capabilities at a great price,” said David Owens, vice president of product development at Sprint, in a press release earlier this month. “This smartphone is packed with the tools our customers need to stay connected. Best of all, customers can feel good about owning LG Viper because of its robust list of eco-friendly features.”
Among its eco-friendly features, the Spring LG Viper will boast semi-recycled casing, an energy-efficient charger and almost entirely recycled packaging. It is ULE Platinum Certified, which is the highest environmental performance ranking recognized by sustainable requirements of UL Environment and Sprint. It is also RoHS compliant, which means it’s free from hazardous materials like PVC, phthalates, halogens or mercury.
Equipped with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, mobile hotspot capabilities and a 4GB card microSD slot that can support up to 32GB, the Sprint smartphone will even include a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash, as well as a VGA front-facing camera.
According to Sprint, LG Viper customers will be able to enjoy unlimited data through Spring Everything plans with data, which include Web, texting and calling throughout the United States, starting at $79.99 a month.
For more information on the LG Viper 4G LTE, visit www.sprint.com/4GLTE.
(Image credit: Sprint.com)
In Eugene, Oregon, solar installations have been on the rise for several years–54 systems installed in 2011, up from 29 the year before and only 3 four years before that. But in 2012, it seems this northwestern city is on track to boost even higher, at least if The Resource Innovation Group (TRIG) has its way. By making it easier for consumers to take the plunge into photovoltaic power, the nonprofit’s volunteer-driven, community project Solarize Eugene hopes to see the city double solar installations this year.
“The program is modeled after similar successful projects that have enabled other Oregon communities to increase their solar installations by 200% to 500%, despite the recession,” says TRIG. “[Our] staff will work directly with volunteers to make this solar volume-purchasing project a success.”
As part of their commitment to boosting participation in Eugene, Solarize Eugene will give an $0.10/watt discount to customers who sign up before May 1, and what’s more, the city of Eugene has offered a $100 discount in permit fees to the first 25 who sign up.
“If you have the (right) roof and you have — or can get — the financing, this is a crazy good deal, a one-year payback and free power for 25 years or more,” Sarah Mazze, program manager at The Resource Innovation Group, said. “Once the word gets out about that, the systems should be flying out of the warehouse.”
Thirty homeowners have already signed up for solar installations as part of The Solarize Eugene campaign, which ends June 15. The systems are under warranty for 20 years but may be able to last up to 50.
For more information about this initiative, visit SolarizeEugene.info.
(Image source: Solarize Eugene)
Ecobuild, known throughout the world as the biggest event focusing on sustainable development, design and construction, continues to expand. Not only did it recently hold a successful 2012 event, Tuesday through Thursday, March 20 to 22, in London, but it also has plans to be in India next spring. The launch of Ecobuild India is set to take place Tuesday through Thursday, April 16 to 18, 2013, at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai.
“The launch event will distil the key components of Ecobuild in the UK to deliver a showcase of the most impressive sustainable construction projects from across India and the world, the latest and most innovative products, and a conference programme that will tackle the most pressing concerns and the biggest challenges facing the region,” said James Blue, Ecobuild’s Portfolio Director, in a recent press release.
Each annual Ecobuild brings a wide range of sustainable professionals, including architects, designers, developers, product manufacturers and other stakeholders, who meet together to debate and connect on issues of the environment.
Planning to hold next year’s event in India reflects the growth in construction investment the country has experienced–with current strong demand for residential, commercial and industrial construction work. What’s more, India’s government has made it a top priority to boost the nation’s infrastructure, already investing $500 billion and planning to put a further $1 trillion in future work. Green building is on the rise there, too–making up $15 billion of total construction and expected to be $39 billion by 2015.
Sanjeev Khaira, Managing Director of UBM India, details: “Sustainably developing an infrastructure to support [our] vast, youthful and vibrant population is high on the agenda in India right now. We see this as the ideal time to work with our UK colleagues to launch an Indian edition of the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to the future of sustainable building design, construction and the built environment.”
To learn more about Ecobuild, visit Ecobuild.co.uk.