the family blog

Green Groups Blast U.N. Climate Panel for Alarmism

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via Forbes: Green Groups Blast U.N. Climate Panel for Alarmism

If you haven’t yet heard, hell froze over last week. Oddly enough, this is likely to be bad news for a warming planet.

Last Monday, more than 125 environmental groups sent a scathing letter to Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel prize-winning head of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the institutional nerve center within the United Nations’ global-warming juggernaut.

The letter accused the IPCC of taking climate change ‘too’ seriously. In particular, the letter argued that the IPCC had no authority to sponsor a small meeting of climate scientists taking place tomorrow in Lima, Peru. The meeting will consider so-called “geo-engineering” options for responding to worst-case scenarios of catastrophic climate change.

By attacking the IPCC for responding to the risks of climate change too aggressively, the letter marks a major pivot in the politics of climate change, which have officially crossed into the twilight zone. Continue Reading →

Cyberbullying: New Problems, New Tactics

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One of the prime areas of focus on this website is providing environmental education for our children. In doing so, we would be remiss if we did not provide alarms to both children and parents concerning internet safety. KidsHealth, the most-visited site on the Web for information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years, recently posted a short article that addresses the disturbing and sometimes tragic effects associated with cyberbullying.

Bullying is an old problem that remains difficult to bring under control, in part because technology offers new ways for kids to pick on one another. Indeed, cyberbullying can extend the reach and power of some of the worst bullies, subjecting kids to taunts from beyond their own schools and neighborhoods.

Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it’s impossible to know just how many are affected. But it’s estimated that one third of teens have been victims of some form of online bullying. Yet they often don’t realize it happens to so many of their peers, adding to their sense of isolation.

As the pressure builds, victims can experience anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. As recent well-publicized cases have shown, some kids and teens ended their lives to escape bullying. Experts say that kids who are bullied — and the bullies themselves — are at an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides.

Parents are often desperate to help when their kids are bullied. It’s hard enough to combat the typical schoolyard thug — so what can be done about the sometimes anonymous tormentors who strike from behind a computer screen? Continue Reading →

The dangers of bone-headed beliefs

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From The Sydney Morning Herald, The Dangers of bone-headed beliefs

Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies…so their grandchildren could say, ”Really? You were one of the ones who tried to stop the world doing something? And why exactly was that, granddad?”

Continue Reading →

Building Green on a Budget: Advice from Leading Architects

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What are the best ways to build sustainably within budget constraints? Writing for, Lisa Taylor asked several leading architects for insight on this timely issue. Their collective advice on building green on a budget is to return to the fundamentals of good design and choose climate-appropriate materials that offer a quick payback.

Back to Basics

…building green on a budget is as simple as returning to the roots of good architectural design. When you build things with a sense of craft and purpose, they are more frequently cared for and looked after, which makes them last longers. “Good, beautiful design is a large part of sustainability.

Site Matters Continue Reading →

How to Install a Branched-Drain Greywater System in a Green Home

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Although many communities regulate and/or prohibit private treatment of wastewater, this installation may be a suitable option where public sewers are not available or on-site greywater treatment is permitted. This is a very well documented installation, complete with photos and a downloadable greywater system proposal used to submit for permitting. From the Energy Vanguard Blog,  follow me »

A-cero Ltd.

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We just added A-cero Ltd. to the list of Studio4’s favorite chillin’ websites. A-cero is an architectural and town planning studio, established in 1996 and home based in Madrid. An impressive website where you can easily be consumed by the stunning collection of contemporary, and modular architectural works, both commercial and architectural. 

Private Residence

 Wave Tower

To visit the A-cero website, follow me »

What’s in a Green Building Product Label?

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This recent article in Professional Remodeler, written by Michelle Desiderio, director of Green Building Programs, NAHB Research Center, provides an overview of the major green product certification programs for the home building industry. The following briefly outlines the various programs involved in green product certification.

What’s in a name?

In the residential construction industry, third parties test, certify or verify that a product meets the criteria of an established industry standard or code. For green product labeling specifically, third parties provide scientific expertise in testing, assessing and auditing a wide range of environmental attributes. While there are multiple legitimate third parties providing green product certifications within the construction industry, it would be impossible to be comprehensive in a brief article. The article provides a summary of some of the third-party product certifications that currently touch the broadest array or volume of building products, including who offers them and what they mean when you see them on products and materials.

ICC Evaluation Service Sustainable Attributes Verification and Evaluation
What it is: The ICC-ES SAVE Program provides independent verification of manufacturers’ claims about the sustainable attributes of their products.

Who runs it: The ICC-ES is a subsidiary of the International Code Council. ICC-ES is a non-profit company that evaluates building products, components, methods and materials for compliance with code.

How it works: ICC-ES provides verification in accordance with one or more of nine ICC-ES SAVE program guidelines.

NAHB Research Center Green Approved Products
What it is: Green Approved Products have been pre-approved by the NAHB Research Center as being eligible for specific points in the ICC-700 National Green Building Standard. The NGBS is the first green rating system to be approved as an ANSI consensus standard. Continue Reading →

Energy Efficient Home Landscapes

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How to use the landscape to reduce the energy consumed by a typical suburban home. See how smart tree placement and green roofs and walls dramatically improve energy efficiency.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.

To read the entire article about energy efficient home landscaping, visit the American Society of Landscape Architects website.

Demolition or Deconstruction?

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Demolition and Deconstruction – aren’t they effectively the same? In a sense yes, as each requires the removal of a building and/or its contents. But this is where most similarities end – here one day and gone the next day (or two…). Demolition is the destructive removal and disposal of the building and/or contents with a total disregard for material salvage. Tear it down, toss the materials in a dumpster and transport everything to a landfill for disposal. On the other hand, Deconstruction selectively dismembers the materials that make up the building. Today Deconstruction is “green speak” for the removal of materials with the intent to reuse, recycle, or incorporate into a Waste Management Plan (WMP). 

What are the issues to consider when determining whether to select Demolition or Deconstruction? There are 2 fundamental factors to consider – costs and the environmental benefits associated with Deconstruction. First is the cost factor, and this can be somewhat difficult to accurately assess. Some studies show the cost to be 2 to 3 times as much for Deconstruction as opposed to Demolition. However, with Deconstruction you can factor in adjustments such as the market value and after-tax benefits of the salvaged materials. The leading authority on Deconstruction and Reuse is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has recently focused a great deal of attention on Waste as it relates to Resource Conservation. Or as the EPA refers, the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Additional information relating to cost comparisons can be reviewed at these sites: The ReUse People and Building Abatement Demolition Company, Inc.

Builder Magazine has an article titled Picking Up the Pieces that exemplifies the many benefits of sustainable deconstruction. The article follows the process of clearing an urban infill lot for the New American Home 2011.

Energy 101: Wind Turbines

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Developed for over a millennium, today’s wind turbines are manufactured in a range of vertical and horizontal axis types. The smallest turbines are used for applications such as battery charging or auxiliary power on sailing boats; while large grid-connected arrays of turbines are becoming an increasingly large source of commercial electric power. The use of wind turbines can be a great way to provide a source of clean and renewable energy for your home or business. There are a number of small wind energy devices that you can use to generate power and these can be very cost effective in providing a significant level of electricity. The demand for wind turbines for homes has been increasing over the past few years due to people wanting to seek alternative energy sources. Energy sources such as solar and wind power are being sought after as a way to cope with the ever increasing electricity bills.

As with solar systems, wind powered systems can be used in two ways: off-grid or on-grid. Off-grid is when your home or business is entirely disconnected from an electric utility company and you generate all of the electricity your home or business requires. An on-grid wind power system sends all of its electricity back into the public electrical network (grid) which the electric company gives you credits for. At the month, the electric company sums up your credits with how much your home or business has consumed, and issues rebates if you consumed less than you put into the grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.

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