Thursday, August 20, 2009

How do you tell if something is really Green? Part 1

Everone can tell their products are green by adding the appropriate buzz words.
This product is "organically" grown. It is "environmentally friendly" or "natural".
That is all well and good, but there has to be some organization that overlooks this. Who determines that a product is truly green? How would any one know if a product is truly green or not?
There are, however, independent organizations out there that provide certifications for products and services. Many of which have been created by or are chaired by scientists and business owners who want to legitimize the industry standards for producing green products and services.
These organizations create the standards by which a product must live up to in order to be certified. Some even have levels of certification that can range from bronze to platinum.
So who are these organizations?

  • In the building industry there is the LEED certification which is administered via the US Green Building Council. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
  • ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
  • Green Seal provides science-based environmental certification standards to a wide variety of consumer products.
  • FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
  • The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is an industry-independent, non-profit organization that oversees the GREENGUARD Certification ProgramSM. As an ANSI Authorized Standards Developer, GEI establishes acceptable indoor air standards for indoor products, environments, and buildings.

This is a good list. I will have to continue on with this list in my next post.

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Flush or Not To Flush...That is the Question.

Ok, I read a lot about conserving water. Even saw a show on TV dedicated to water on earth. You read about the drought in the Western US, in the Middle East (yes in Asia). Fresh water is a precious commodity all over the world. Especially with global warming, as the scientists seem to think, water needs to be treated like oil.

Well here in the North East there has been no sign of a drought. As a matter of fact this summer has been one of the wettest on record. We are a little spoiled when it comes to water. My rain barrels have not had a chance to go dry. We have not had to extensively water our lawns. Plants are growing and flowering like the weeds. OK OK so now we are gloating.

Where does that fit in with the global environment? Should we rest on our laurels? Should we pray to the rain Gods to stop sending us rain and start sending it to the drought stricken areas? Well we can, but let's not go that far yet. Remember how we had those dry seasons in the Northeast several years ago lowering the Great Lakes to several feet below normal? Well, this could happen again.

I say everything in moderation. Just because you have an abundance does not mean you won't run out. Fresh water is precious commodity and should always be treated as such. Why do you think there are companies spending all kinds of money on how to get fresh water from the ocean? There are filters that purify water and there are gadgets that will pull water from the air.

Until fresh water is readily available on all dry areas of land, it should be treated respect. Even if it means reducing the amount of water you use for your shower. And even if it means reducing the number of flushes of your toilet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nature and Conservation not Humane?

I could not pass on posting this trailer.
I was a little surprised at what was happening here.

Just when you thought that the human race is making strides in helping nature over come its obstacles. Along comes a new "threat". I have not seen the movie yet, but would like to see it when it comes in the area.

Please comment.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Using the sun to heat a pool.

To heat the water in our pool I recently purchased a pool solar heater.
We have an in-ground pool with a liner that sits on dirt.
This makes for a cooler pool to begin with. On top of that we have a yard that backs to the woods with old oak trees that give us plenty of shade.
I do have a roof that gets plenty of sun for about 7 hours of the day.
So I thought let's make use of that time we have in the sun.

I did not want to spend a lot of money so I went with two 1' x 20' panels. This kit included connector hoses, a check valve, a diverter valve and the other hardware needed to mount the panels on the roof. I did have to buy additional 1 1/2 inch pipes and a shutoff valve that did not come with the kit.

Let's not forget the safety aspect: You need the ability to get on the roof safely and an additional hand to hold the panels in place while you mount the solar panels.

I plumbed in the 1 1/2 inch pipes from the filter outlet to the roof. I went through my roof so I did not have to run pipes on the outside of my house. (Good thing I did my roof myself about 5 years ago so I know how to cleanly install pipes without leaks) I installed an appropriate shutoff and diverter valve. I placed the panels and mounted them according to the directions and made sure all the connections were secured.

Of course no job goes without glitches I had a couple of leaks and a line break. All fixed properly and after some "kind words of encouragement" the system is functional.

Now as you all know Upstate New York can throw you all kinds of curves when it comes to the weather. And this year is no exception. We have yet to have multiple days of clear sunny skies with nights that are warm and sticky. Now most people people like the cooler summer days we have been having. But trying to test the solar heater has been less than favorable as you do need continuous sun for at least 6 hours.
The solar panels are making a bit of a difference on those few sunny days by helping raise the pool temp by about 3 - 4 degrees. This is all done by heat from the sun... free... no additional cost.

The panels are doing the job. But the square footage of the panels does need to be twice the current size to effectively raise the temperature by 5 degrees. For my budget that will be a project for next year.