Saturday, April 29, 2006


Possible Opportunity for Sustainable Housing designed by Architecture Design/Build Studios?

Request for Proposals
Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority(LARA)

The City of Houston is seeking comments on a draft request for proposals for turning vacant lots into affordable housing. The City is foreclosing on delinquent properties and will build housing allowing truly affordable home ownership. The first RFP will include about 175 lots suitable for 195 or more housing units. Down payment assistance shall be used to bring monthly payments down to a level where many working families now renting can instead build equity in their homes.

This neighborhood revitalization will be done with community development corporations and non-profit and for-profit builders with a track record in financing. Experienced builders will be asked to bid for particular lots and selection will be based by criteria heavily weighted toward the quality and value per construction dollar.

view links and read more HERE

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ford Partners with TerraPass for Consumer Carbon Offsets

[Via Green Car Congress]
Ford Motor Company and TerraPass (earlier post) have a joined in a partnership to market TerraPass-branded carbon offsets to all drivers of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars and trucks.

Under the joint marketing program, to be called Greener Miles, Ford dealers will be given brochures on TerraPass and directed to the website from several Ford product sites. Ford said it has no plans to run a broad-based advertising campaign for the initiative.

TerraPass allows car owners to purchase a TerraPass from the company. The company then pools the money and invests in renewable energy projects—especially projects that might not have made it through an initial capital-intensive startup phase. In return, buyers receive a sticker for the windshield verifying the offset.

The company offers four levels of Terrapass based on the amount of CO2 emitted by the vehicle.

TerraPass Levels
Level Carbon - offset (pounds) - Annual cost
Around Towner - 6,000 - $29.95
Cross Towner - 8,000 - $39.95
Out of Towner - 12,000 - $49.95
Road Tripper - 20,000 - $49.95

Continue reading at Green Car

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Free 3-d modeling Program

SketchUp- for free

Google is giving away a "personal" version of SketchUp, free. Limitations are similar to GoogleEarth (no extra format export).

SketchUp is a simple but powerful tool for quickly and easily creating, viewing and modifying your 3D ideas.

+ Click on a shape and push or pull it to create your desired 3D geometry.
+ Experiment with color and texture directly on your model.
+ Real-time shadow casting lets you see exactly where the sun falls as you model.
+ Select from thousands of pre-drawn components to save time drawing.

Watch the fun tutorials to learn how to start using this tool.
Available only for Windows. Although it does say "Macintosh: Coming Soon" :(

BOTTLED WATER: Pouring Resources Down the Drain

February 2, 2006-1
.Copyright © 2006 Earth Policy Institute
by Emily Arnold

The global consumption of bottled water reached 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004, up 57 percent from the 98 billion liters consumed five years earlier. Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing—producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline....

...Tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. Nearly a quarter of all bottled water crosses national borders to reach consumers, transported by boat, train, and truck. In 2004, for example, Nord Water of Finland bottled and shipped 1.4 million bottles of Finnish tap water 4,300 kilometers (2,700 miles) from its bottling plant in Helsinki to Saudi Arabia.

Fossil fuels are also used in the packaging of water. The most commonly used plastic for making water bottles is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is derived from crude oil. Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year. Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year.

Read the whole article at

Earth Sheltered Houses

A highly practical guide, Earth-Sheltered Houses brings earth-sheltered construction completely up to date for those who want to build their own underground home at moderate cost. It describes the benefits of sheltering a home with earth, including added comfort and energy efficiency, low maintenance, and protection against fire, sound, earthquake and storm. The book covers all of the various construction techniques involved, including details on planning, excavation, footings, floor, walls, framing, roofing, waterproofing, insulation and drainage. Specific methods appropriate for the inexperienced owner-builder are a particular focus and include:
* pouring one's own footings and/or floor
* the use of dry-stacked (surface-bonded) concrete block walls
* post-and-beam framing
* plank-and-beam roofing, and
* drainage methods and self-adhesive waterproofing membranes.

About the Author
Rob Roy, a former contractor, has twelve previous books to his credit, including Cordwood Building and Timber Framing for the Rest of Us. An expert on underground building, he founded the Earthwood Building School in 1981 with his wife, Jaki, and is frequently a speaker at events throughout North America.

Paperback - 256 pages
Width: 7.5 Inches x Height: 9 Inches
BISAC: HOUSE & HOME / Design & Construction
Publisher: New Society Publishers
ISBN: 0865715211
Pub. Date: 2006-04-03

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Free Book

Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble

You can read it in a browser, or download chapters in .pdf format, but of course you can also buy it to support Lester Brown


(Mexican SUV...note driver in radiator cut out ;)
The auto- centered city of Houston, Texas uses 40 percent more gas per capita than transit-centered New York City.

Reduced commuter traffic helps our environment in three ways:

+ It reduces toxic gases and dust particles spewed into our atmosphere,
+ It reduces chemicals washed into our waterways, wells, rivers & estuaries,

+ It reduces the need to have to find new sources of oil.

If every week 32,000,000 Americans would telecommute at least one day they would not drive 1,260,800,000 miles (equal to 51,000 times round the Earth); would save 74,164,700 gallons of gas, worth $111,247,050.

POLLUTION SAVINGS would be 1,081,955,230 lbs, or 540,978 tons. The pollutants saved would be Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Particulate Matter and Hydrocarbons.

Additionally, by not wasting time in traffic, telecommuters could be MORE PRODUCTIVE for the equivalent of 4,000,000 extra workdays every week. Productivity increases, typical for telecommuters, would provide a bottom line benefit to the economy of $311 billion yearly.

On average, at the personal level, a 30 miles round trip commute = 1.5 gallons saved = $2.25 saved in gas costs alone, or $15.06 in terms of REDUCED TOTAL COST OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP (repairs, Insurance, depreciation, gas etc) Also, 25.7 LBS. OF POLLUTANTS WILL NOT BE EMITTED into the air that we all breathe. Multiply all #s by 48 to get yearly savings - 52 weeks less holidays etc. Assumes 1 day/wk telecommuted.

Free environmental building software

The BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) software brings to your fingertips a powerful technique for selecting cost-effective, environmentally-preferable building products. Developed by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Building and Fire Research Laboratory with support from the U.S. EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program, the tool is based on consensus standards .... Version 3.0 of the Windows-based decision support software, aimed at designers, builders, and product manufacturers, includes actual environmental and economic performance data for nearly 200 building products.

BEES measures the environmental performance of building products by using the life-cycle assessment approach specified in the ISO 14040 series of standards. All stages in the life of a product are analyzed: raw material acquisition, manufacture, transportation, installation, use, and recycling and waste management. Economic performance is measured using the ASTM standard life-cycle cost method, which covers the costs of initial investment, replacement, operation, maintenance and repair, and disposal. Environmental and economic performance are combined into an overall performance measure using the ASTM standard for Multi-Attribute Decision Analysis. For the entire BEES analysis, building products are defined and classified according to the ASTM standard classification for building elements known as UNIFORMAT II.

BEES 3.0 runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, and XP personal computers with a 486 or higher microprocessor, 32 Megabytes or more of RAM, and at least 110 Megabytes of available disk space. A printer must be installed.

Download your free copy of BEES now. If you prefer a free BEES 3.0 compact disc and printed manual, place your order through the EPA Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse by calling (202) 566-0799 or e-mailing

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jane Jacobs, May 4, 1916 - April 25, 2006

[via article by treehugger.comand]

Jane Jacobs was an American-born Canadian writer and activist. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States. The book has been credited with reaching beyond planning issues to influence the spirit of the times.

She believed that residential and commercial activity should be in the same place, that the safest neighbourhoods teem with life, short winding streets are better than long straight ones, low-rise housing is better than impersonal towers, that a neighbourhood is where people talk to one another. She liked the small-scale.

If you haven't read the should definitely check it out. Available at Amazon . com

+ treehugger article
+ Jim Kunstler interview with Jane Jacobs for Metropolis 2001

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Exhibition at Rice Gallery

SHINE: Rice Student Art Exhibition 43

27 April – 13 May 2006

SHINE : Rice Student Art Exhibition 43 will feature works in a variety of media created by graduating visual arts majors. The guest curator for this exhibition is artist Christian Eckart. Many student works will be available for purchase.

+ Thursday, 27 April
Opening Celebration Events:

5:30 – 7:30 at Rice Gallery
Reception and exhibition of graduating student work

7:00 – 9:00 pm at Rice Media Center
Reception and exhibition of undergraduate work

7:30 pm at Rice Media Center
Awards Ceremony, Cinema Auditorium

8:08 pm at Rice Media Center
Student Film “Flicks,” Cinema Auditorium

+ Friday, 28 April at noon
Gallery Talk and Luncheon at Rice Gallery
Guest curator Christian Eckart will give a gallery talk.
A complimentary light lunch will be provided for all who attend.

These events are free and open to the public.
For more information, please visit, or call 713.348.6069.

SHINE at Rice Gallery

Upcoming EVENTs

Next Meeting, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The second roundtable about the concept of “megaregions” was held in New York recently, and the Institute’s David Crossley was a participant. He’ll present the findings of the event and parts of presentations that were given there.

The meeting is Wednesday, April 26, noon-1:30 pm, Houston-Galveston Area Council, 3555 Timmons, second floor. Bring your lunch.

For more information call 713-523-5757. The Gulf Coast Institute and the Houston-Galveston Area Council host Livable Houston/Smart Growth bring-your-own-lunch meetings that are open to the public on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

+ Envision Houston Region Forums
Exploring Growth Alternatives: A Series of Community Forums

Envision Houston Region will hold four forums in the month of May to solicit citizen input into their effort to create a regional “vision” to address and successfully manage the future growth of our area. This vision will be used to inform the creation of the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan. The forums will include experts from throughout the Houston region to give insight into prevailing trends in Houston’s growth and possible strategies for our future. Envision Houston

+ Al Gore to Speak at Progressive Forum
Topic is “Global Warming: An Inconvenient Truth”

Former Vice President Al Gore will speak about global warming at a June 7 Progressive Forum event coinciding with the release of his new book and a documentary, all named “Global Warming: An Inconvenient Truth.” His talk will focus on his vision for an economically viable solution.
Progressive Forum Houston

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Getting Greener

High energy prices can make an environmentalist out of any homeowner.

By Les Christie, staff writer
April 17, 2006: 12:23 PM EDT

As we celebrate Earth Day, April 22, the National Association of Home Builders reports that green building is near a "tipping point." The green construction industry segment will climb from 2 percent of all residential starts in 2005 to between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2010....

What's holding some back is higher perceived costs. But skyrocketing energy prices change the math - homeowners paying $2.70 a gallon for heating oil are more receptive to paying now and saving later.

Read the whole article

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Recycle Your Ink Cartridges

Cartridge World has efforts under way to reduce the disposal of empty printer ink cartridges. Their remanufacturing service offers to refill your inkjet or laser cartridges with "top quality brand-specific inks and toners."


- It takes nearly a gallon (3-1/2 quarts) of oil to produce a new laser printer cartridge, and 2-1/2 ounces of oil to manufacture each new inkjet cartridge.

-In the United States, printer cartridges are thrown away at a rate of eight per second and this is expected to increase by 12% annually.

- The total weight of cartridges thrown away each year in this country is equivalent to 67,612 Ford Explorers or 112,463 Volkswagen Beetles.

- Every reused cartridge saves nearly 3.5 pounds of solid waste from being deposited into landfills.

Type in your zip code on their site to find the store nearest you.

Some in Houston:

+Cartridge World - Dunvale
8582 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77063
(713) 783-9200

+Cartridge World - Katy
6725 S Fry Road
Katy, TX 77449
(281) 343-0089

+Cartridge World - The Woodlands
4775 Panther Creek Drive
Suite 310
The Woodands, TX 77381
(281) 419-9883

UT School of Nursing, Houston in top 10 U.S. Green Projects

School of Nursing & Student Community Center in Houston
BNIM Architects, Kansas City, Mo. & Lake/Flato Architects, San Antonio

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

The School of Nursing design team became stewards of the vision established by University leadership for a nursing school and student community center designed to be state-of-the-art for learning, research, student service and workplace. The resulting building reduces the use of energy, polluting chemicals, cleaning agents, potable water and other resources.

“Fast Facts” about UT's School of Nursing
and Student Community Center

Jury Comments: “This was a programmatically complex project on a difficult and dense site. They had to combine a lot of human and high tech functions. I like that they set this building up to get greener; there is a framework for photovoltaics when they can afford it. I think we should all be thinking about designing buildings that can adapt over time.”

The projects will be honored on May 3 during a presentation at the National Building Museum in Washington and again in June at the AIA 2006 National Convention and Design Exposition in Los Angeles.

Clean launches Radio Segment on KPFT

To find solutions for Houston’s environmental problems, Jane Dale Owen, president, organized a group of prominent scientists, medical doctors, environmental specialists, concerned citizens and representatives from several environmental groups to form CLEAN (Citizen’s League for Environmental Action Now).

In an effort to improve health and environmental quality of Houston-Galveston area residents, the Citizens League for Environmental Action Now (CLEAN) is joining forces with local radio station 90.1 KPFT FM to present a daily segment to educate the public on solutions for a cleaner, healthier environment and more sustainable ways of living and doing business. Earth Care airs Monday through Friday at 12:58 PM.

Listen to some of their segments

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Join Houston MOD:

Houston Mod is a non-profit, 501(C)(3), membership organization dedicated to promoting knowledge and appreciation of modern architecture and design in Houston and Texas. Houston Mod advocates the preservation of this cultural legacy and seeks support from its members and the general public in achieving this goal.


They're having a MIXER!!!
April 20, 2006 *** 6:00 - 9:00 PM
Retropolitan Ballroom 3221 Milam, 2nd Floor

Meet the new Houston Mod president, Ben Koush, and other new additions to the Mod Squad board. Talk with a Mod Squad member about ways you can get more involved. Bring friends so they can learn more about Houston Mod.

Retropolitan Ballroom is full of available midcentury furnishings you can take a test lounge on, so bring your tape measure and shopping list. Metro Modern and Era located on the first floor will also be open for more shopping.

McMansion backlash

[via MSN realestate]
By Christopher Solomon

From Atlanta to Austin, Texas, and beyond, more governments have started imposing stricter building limits and even temporarily halted new construction while they try to get a handle on the explosion of these 4,000- to-10,000-square-foot homes, sometimes sneeringly called "garage mahals," "Hummer houses" or "starter castles."

Austin's fight
Austin typifies the McMansion craze -- and the backlash that's followed. Several of the city's neighborhoods like Tarrytown and Travis Heights have seen an influx of large homes, said Kathie Tovo, president of the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, who lives in a "funky, fun" area just south of downtown that also has seen some change. Just down the street from their modest home, Tovo and her architect husband bought a house as an investment. After they finished remodeling it, the home next door got knocked down and replaced by a 4,000-square-foot building housing two condominiums. "What had been not a tiny, but a modest-size and -scale cottage, has been replaced by something hugely bigger than what's the scale along that street," Tovo said. "The entire yard is now lined by this massive house," she says of her house.

In February, Austin put in place interim rules that limit the maximum size of a new single-family home on any lot that previously had a house. For now, a builder can build up to the greatest of the following: 2,500 square feet; 20% larger than the home that was removed; or a 0.4-to-1 floor-to-area ratio for the lot. There also are limits on major additions to homes. Meanwhile, a task force is studying the issue.

Read the whole article

Msn Real estate offer 6 ways to maximize space

Green Maps

A Quick History

Before there was a Green Map System there was an original Green Maps, the Green Apple Map of New York City. It was created by Wendy Brawer and Modern World Design and published twice in 1992. This map received a tremendously positive response from New Yorkers and other urban dwellers who wanted to replicate the project back home. These inquiries led Wendy to conceptualize a systematic, collaborative approach to mapmaking that would be useful to both residents and visitors in communities around the world.

These locally created maps chart the natural and cultural environment. Using adaptable tools and a shared visual language of Green Map Icons to highlight green living resources, Green Maps cultivate citizen participation and community sustainability in hundreds of places around the world.

I saw something for Austin...but nothing for Houston...hmmm....
Click here for list of US Green Maps

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Upcoming EVENTS

+ HOUSTON HOME SHOW. April 21-23 2006

+ 2006 Environmental Summit
June 1, 2006

The City of Houston, along with co-sponsor Keep Houston Beautiful will be hosting the 2006 Environmental Summit on Thursday, June 1st at the Marriott Westchase.The goal/theme of the Summit promotes Mayor White's environmental plan and vision for Houston and states, "Make Houston a Model Environmental City".

Download the
2006 Environmental Summit Brochure (pdf file)

The noon luncheon will be highlighted by Mayor Bill White presenting Environmental Excellence Awards to worthy recipients, along with a “Recycled Fashion Show” coordinated by Houston Community College.

For more information and to obtain general information about the Summit contact Gary Readore (713.837.9137) or Ed Zilton (713.837.9139). For information about the Environmental Excellence Awards contact Marilyn Leday (713.837.9138).

PAST EVENTS....But keep them in mind
Houston Green Drinks meets the second Thursday of each month, 8pm.
We meet for food and mingling from 6-7, then host a guest speaker to lead a topical discussion on an environmental issue from 7-8.
Anyone is welcome!!

Last meeting was April 13th atat Field of Greens. Guest speaker was Chris Manning of Manning & Associates. Chris began Manning & Associates last year to focus exclusively on Socially Responsible Investing.

For more info contact Megan Parks:

Field of Greens is a vegetarian restaurant, located at 2320 West Alabama (between Kirby and Shepherd)

Renewable Energy Projects in Houston

SpawGlass Corporate Offices
Directions: From loop 610 north, take US-290 West 11 miles to the Hempstead Hwy/Northwest Fwy exit. Turn left on West Road and go about a mile to 13800.

Brief Description: The SpawGlass building on West Road is the first certified "green" commercial office building in Houston. Among other things, the building has a white roof to reflect heat, reflective glass and efficient electrical systems to cut down on energy usage. The restrooms are equipped with waterless urinals and fixtures that use limited amounts of water. Designed by the Kirksey architecture firm, SpawGlass' building has lots of glass walls to let in natural light. At $2 million, the building cost 5 - 10 % more than typical construction. The company should recover a lot of the extra cost through reduced energy bills. The SpawGlass building, which will house about 50 of its employees, was the first local building to be certified by the United States Green Building Council, a nonprofit environmental group. The council has awarded the green certification to 50 projects around the world since the rating process began in 1999. It judges buildings on everything from water and energy efficiency to indoor air quality.
view Design/Cost Data pdf

5307 Valerie Street
Bellaire, Texas.

Directions: From the Galleria take 610 south to the Evergreen exit, go west on Evergreen. Take a left on Chimney Rock. Go right on Valerie Street

Brief description: Large urban home with Solar Electric, Solar Hot Water, Solar Pool Heater, Geothermal Heating and Cooling , Passive solar features and energy efficiency.

Walk the Walk

Green Magazines
Green is now also a fashion statement.

Vanity Fairs "Special GREEN" April Issue is out...My husband brought it home for me as a gift from CVS. I've also read that the May issue of Elle magazine will be devoted to environmentally friendly health, beauty and fashion. [via]

People are sceptical of Elle magazine’s attempt at going green by using 10% recycled content in their up coming green issue, many were were hoping Vanity Fair would improve on this percentage. Unfortunately not, according to Remy Chevalier of Cocktail Organico who picked up this news on Muckraked. ‘Vanity Fair has dropped the idea of using recycled paper in the issue. "They were scrambling to do it but it was too short a time frame and they couldn't make it happen," says one insider.

A single issue involves the destruction of thousands of trees and it's printed using chlorine and other chemicals. The Vanity Fair "green" issue probably used up to 2,247 tons of pulp, and produced up to 4,331,757 pounds of greenhouse gases,13,413,922 gallons of wastewater, and 1,744,060 pounds of solid waste throughout the printing process.

An online article from this issue perhaps worth checking out Fifty Ways to Help Save the Planet

That being said, and to quote George Clooney in this same "Green" issue: "You can't just talk the talk. You gotta walk the walk."

If you feel strongly about this topic, send Vanity Fair an email with your thoughts:

Lets see what Elle comes up with this coming May.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Past Future and Social Responsibility

Intersting and kind of funny to look back at past forecasts for the future.

Definitive document of pre-World War II futuristic utopian thinking, as envisioned by General Motors. Documents the "Futurama" exhibit in GM's "Highways and Horizons" pavilion at the World's Fair, which looks ahead to the "wonder world of 1960."

"I find it ironic that this optimistic film proclaiming the dawn of a new era was debuted at a time when the world was starting a war that would devastate continents, kill millions, attempt to annihilate a race, and start a cold war that would last for decades. It's sad, too, in that--over 65 years later, we still have not realized the dreams of the beautiful cities we are shown here. (of course, I still don't have a flying car, either!)"

Other links:
++ GM's Corporate Responsibility report

i++ "Life cycle approach" to vehicle design Basically, as the vehicle moves through the development process, they track their progress to confirm they are achieving their goals. These requirements include specifying vehicle recyclability and recoverability and compliance with GM restricted and reportable materials requirements.

2006 An Evening in the Park - Thursday, April 27

Following the resounding success of the 2005 Evening in the Park gala, the Conservancy has begun planning for our 2006 event, scheduled for Thursday, April 27. Event co-chairs Suzanne and Jim Waller and Roxanne and Trip Casscells are hard at work planning for a magical night that will honor long time Hermann Park Conservancy supporters Ed and Wilhelmina Smith.

For more information on sponsoring Evening in the Park, please contact Melissa Krauser, Community Development Manager, at 713-524-5876, ext. 333 or

For online table reservations or the purchase of individual seats, or to purchase tickets to the Hermann Park Regatta, click here.

Green Investing

I recently had a friend ask me about Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)...which got me thinking about "Green Investing".

What is SRI
Integrating personal values and societal concerns with investment decisions is called Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). SRI considers both the investor's financial needs and an investment’s impact on society. With SRI, you can put your money to work to build a better tomorrow while earning competitive returns today.

Social investors include individuals and institutions such as corporations, universities, hospitals, foundations, insurance companies, pension funds, nonprofit organizations, churches and synagogues.

"Green/Sustainable Investing"
There seems to be quite a bit of information when you google this topic. But just to get you might want to check out the following links.

+Social Investing Forum+
Introduction and guide to SRI.
Use this dynamic resource guide to discover up-to-date return and performance information on a range of socially and environmentally-responsible investment options -- and Forum members to help you determine which investments are right for you.
Or, for more information about how your personal financial decisions can build strong communities and a healthy environment, visit Co-op America's site.

Co-op America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982.
Mission : to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. This site seems to be a good resource for greenbusinesses, latest news and hot topics and links.
+green Century Funds+

Eating Sustainably?

The Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

If you’re wondering what sustainable food is, this site is the right place. The eat well guide will provide you with a wealth of clear and accessible information on what constitutes “eating well” and how it relates to the sustainable food movement.

The Eat Well Guide is a free, online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants and online outlets in the US and Canada. Consumers simply enter their zip code to find local products that were raised sustainably, including no antibiotics, no added hormones, pasture raised, grass fed and organic. Scores of new farms and stores are being added on a continual basis.

I looked up some in within the 77030 area code and came up with:
Pomona Farm
P.O. Box 3272
Humble, TX 77347
::Restaurants:: Aries, t'afia
They even had Online Shopping( White Egret Farms) and Organizations results.( Slow Foods)

Local Harvest is another website that helps you find other sources of sustainably grown food in your area. Just click on the map to zoom in, or use our search form for quick results. If you are a farmer, market manager, or run a business related to locally-grown food, you can add your listing to our directory - free.

Friday, April 14, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Rating: PG
In Theatres: May 24th, 2006
Davis Guggenheim (dir.)
Al Gore

The trailer comments:
"Eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Al Gore’s personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change.A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way. The film is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry."

Definitely a drama intensive trailer... ;) there are both compelling images and drama/thriller music. Looks interesting.
++Watch the trailer++ or click play below.

More US Business Move Towards Biofuels

This from Last Night's PBS News Hour:

Listen to the Program on REAL AUDIO

and/or Read the Transcript

Edge Condition

Last one of the Spring 2006 UofH Lecture Series
Ron Rael from Clemson School of architecture presents:

"Earth Scrapers"

April 18 , 3pm in the Architecture Theatre

view parking info

Find Solar

This is a FREE service matching you to pre-screened Solar Pros.

They have a "My Solar Estimator" Where you enter basic information about your home or building and your current energy usage.
They will provide you with information to help you determine if solar electric, solar pool/spa, water or space heating/cooling systems are right for you, what the costs might be to install a system, and what benefits you may realize.

Also, "Find A Local Solar Pro" option They will provide you with a list of Solar Professionals that can service your needs.
For each Solar Pro, you can review their company profile and read customer reviews and ratings. You can then contact these Solar Pro's yourself, or if you prefer, they will immediately contact the Solar Pro's that you select. They do this by sending them an email asking them to contact you.

To find Original Equipment Makers (OEM's) - click "Find a Solar Pro", then use "Find an Equipment Manufacturer or Distributor". We link each OEM to the Solar Pros they supply with products. So, if you have a particular brand of equipment you are interest in, search for that OEM (brand), then click the link on the OEM's profile to "View a list of Solar Pros using products or services from ...."

View a list of Solar Professionals for Harris County, Texas that came up when I used this research tool.

Houston Green Builder

Green builder goes for the gold

By Laura Elder
The Daily News
Published April 10, 2006

Jacob White Construction Co, a Houston-based firm, headed by Jeff Mickler, is building the area’s first green, or environmentally correct, medical offices at 251 Medical Center Blvd. in Galveston.

The 48,000-square-foot center will include a grass roof with 8 inches of soil and plant life that works to trap storm-water runoff, keep the building cooler and generate oxygen for the atmosphere. A 172,000-gallon underground tank will capture water for landscape irrigation and use in toilets, Mickler said.

The developer is building the three-story center under U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines. For such certification, the building must have a healthy indoor environment, maximum energy efficiency and be developed with the thoughtful use of natural resources. The highest rating under the council’s certification is gold, for which Mickler is striving.

++Read more via the daily news++

Forget Computers, Here Comes the Sun

This from today's NYT Business Section:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — T. J. Rodgers is surrounded by a sea of silicon wafers on the roof of his company's headquarters in a Silicon Valley industrial park.

No, not the ones that Mr. Rodgers, who founded Cypress Semiconductor in 1982, used to make high-speed computer memories or the newer specialized chips that go into iPods and high-end Mercedes-Benzes. These wafers are soaking up the sun's rays and turning them into electricity.

(Read the Rest of the Article HERE)

Get 1/5th of our Energy from Renewables?

...Sweden says YES!
This off the wire from AFP:

Sweden has met targets for energy production from renewable sources for the second consecutive year, the country's energy agency said.

"Sweden fulfilled 99.9 percent of its quota for the April 2005 to March 2006 period", Roger Oestberg, spokesman for the energy agency, told AFP.

In accordance with European Union directives, the country has a target of producing one fifteenth of its electricity from renewable sources such as water, biogas, wind and solar power by 2010, Oestberg said.

The target represents 10 terrawatt hours per year of Sweden's current 150 terrawatt hours, Oestberg added.

Sweden introduced legislation requiring the use of alternative energy sources in May 2003.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What the BLEEP!

An Evening with
Masaru Emoto
May 4, 2006
Rice University
6100 Main St, Houston
Grand Hall of the Rice Memorial Center/Ley Center

Masuro does research on the concept of micro cluster water in the US and Magnetic Resonance Analysis technology.

After all, we are 80% water.

AIA Committee on the Environment Celebrates Earth Day 2006!

Blackwood Educational Land Institute
Hempstead, Texas
April 22, 2006

A living classroom that teaches us to explore the natural web of life and to develop a healthy respectful relationship with nature. A managed ecosystem with wooded acreage, natural spring pond, abundant plant and animal life with a 5,000 SF strawbale house, butterfly gardens, and stone labyrinth.

Tours of the institute and learning programs will run from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Tickets are $5.00 per person or $10.00 per family. Limit 100

Payment accepted at the gate (cash or credit card) but reservations must
be made via email at

Directions provided upon receipt of reservation.

Visit for more information

Houston AIA Committee on the Environment

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Eco Baby

Your babies can help be eco-friendly as well!

Sustainability gurus over at McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) took a look and awarded them Cradle to Cradle certification. G diapers are the first Consumer Packaged Good to earn the certification.

gDiapers are a two-part system. The flushable inner refill fits into a pair of colorful ‘little g’ pants. When the flushable becomes soiled, simply flush it down the toilet. It's that easy.

watch the video or buy online

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Austin's first extensive 'green roof'

By Julie Bonnin

Tuesday, March 21, 2006In the midst of a busy Southwest Austin construction zone, on the roof of what will be a Starbucks, a piece of Texas prairie is putting down roots.

When the coffee bar opens in May, the native grasses and flowers planted in a neat grid will be attracting more than birds and butterflies. Patrons will be able to climb a staircase to sit and gaze at the rooftop prairie through a wall of windows while sipping coffee drinks. Little bluestem, meet white chocolate mocha.

The Stratus project uses a Texas-tough selection of plants, including rock rose, agarita, Virginia creeper and crossvine, along with several prairie grasses. The plants, which at maturity will carpet the roof with waves of color and swaying grasses, are contained in a series of 2-foot-by-4-foot trays that span the flat roof.

The plants were selected by Heather Venhaus, an environmental designer with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. "We mixed plant knowledge with a little bit of science knowledge with a little bit of guessing," Venhaus says.

Their biggest environmental benefit in Central Texas may be related to stormwater runoff in sensitive watershed areas.

++Read more++

Green Building Symposium

Green Roofs and Modular Construction

GreenGrid Roofs is made up of preplanted modules composed of recycled plastics that can be sited right on top of an existing roof, as long as the structure will hold.

The additional advantages of GreenGrid Roofs include quick installation, easy placement, and flexibility for easy alternations, additions, easy maintenance, and roof repair. Plus, the recycled materials making up the GreenGrid Roof modules (60 post-industrial, recycled, high molecular weight polyethylene) contribute to LEED credits.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Still want the Tahoe?

This from Wired Autotpoia:

Folks who don't want to trade in their ride for an alt-fuel vehicle or hybrid can buy some peace of mind.

"Green tags" as discussed in BusinessWeek are stickers that you can put in your car to mollify your guilt about polluting. The tags are used to buy clean energy to offset the fumes that your car is producing.

While I appreciate the support for cleaner air, changing behaviors (walking, taking a bus, or upgrading to a better mpg vehicle) is a much more powerful statement. It feels like buying an indulgence as an easy way out.

(Photo Courtesey of Zenrid's flickr Photostream)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tahoe Ads

Chevy Tahoe has an option where you can create your own commercial. Apparently, a few clever and mischievious chaps have taken this opportunity to spin it in an unexpected anti-tahoe way...TOO FUNNY...and probably won't be appearing anytime soon.Not to worry... you can watch some via YOUTUBE:

+Chevy Tahoe SUV God
+tahoe's daddy
+One-way ticket to Paradise

+++ create your own commercial+++

Houston as a Model City

Houston as a Model City: Meeting the challenges of an environmental crisis
Global Warming, Impacting today's urgent issues

by Vicki Wolf

Global warming and health issues related to living in a fossil-fueled car-based city are the most urgent issues facing the community today, according to experts working to solve health and environmental problems in Houston....People tend to underestimate the importance of their own actions and become immobile when they think a problem is out of their control. “Here we are, each in our individual actions causing the problem, and yet we don’t think we can each in our individual actions change it,” says Karl Rábago, Energy and Buildings Solutions group director with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), “We have to change that mindset.”

Switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs is just one of the things all households and businesses can do today to impact the climate change crisis. Taking advantage of daylight rather than turning on electric lights during the day, using innovative lower-energy consuming systems for heating and cooling, recycling, driving less, reducing and eliminating the use of plastics all can make a difference (see “What we can do today”).

“Houston could be a model city in lots of ways,” says Winfred Hamilton, Environmental Section director for Baylor College of Medicine. “We have one of the most ecologically interesting areas in the world with beautiful bayou systems, next to the gulf, at the divide with the Big Thicket. Anything will grow here despite our pollution,” she adds. “We could be the green energy capital of the world, selling ideas and technology and a showcase for application.”

++Read the whole article @

Westway Park

Intellicenter: Green by Design
by Charles Stillman, March 2006

Westway Park, a 150-acre office park located just off Beltway 8 in west Houston, will soon be home to Houston’s newest green building. Dallas based Koll Development Company plans to construct six such buildings known as “Intellicenters” by year’s end.

Green buildings employ resources including water, energy, building materials and land more efficiently than average buildings built simply to code. They also feature, among other things, more natural light and improved indoor air quality, which leads to better employee health, comfort and productivity.

The project developers also hope that their future tenants will adopt green principles when building their individual spaces. Gensler Architects, a design firm involved with the project, plans to provide a manual with suggestions as to how tenants can green their offices. Recommendations will include using low VOC-emitting (volatile organic compounds) paints, building low walls or transparent glass partitions to allow for greater penetration of the daylighting, using ultra-efficient lighting components, and using recycled materials for the carpeting.

++read article via

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Katrina cottage NEWS

Good news from Washington regarding the Katrina Cottages - The senate is considering allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide inexpensive, permanent housing to Americans who have lost their homes to a natural disaster. The key word here is "permanent," which currently prevents funding for the 300sq-ft Katrina Cottages.

Current law only allows FEMA to provide temporary housing to disaster victims, which has already resulted in the placement of over 37,000 trailers in the Gulf Coast. Governors of both Mississippi and Louisiana are arguing that there are better options considering residents of South Florida are still occupying FEMA trailers more than 13 years following Hurricane Andrew.

The design for Katrina Cottage evolved out of the Mississippi Renewal Forum, a design charrette organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism which brought together 200 professionals with the goal of developing design options for eleven communities along the Gulf Coast. One of the assignments of the Forum was to develop designs for affordable housing, which can be immediately put into place while respecting the place upon which it would be built. Costing only $35,000 to build, the Katrina Cottage has fulfilled that assignment. Built on site, or prefabricated and delivered, the Katrina Cottage is certainly a welcome alterative to the typical FEMA travel trailer, and will not cost a penny more.

Visit the Katrina Cottage website

Pimped out Hybrids!

U.S. drivers will see at least four new hybrid models this year from Toyota, Saturn, Nissan and Lexus, and older models from Honda are also getting an upgrade. While all offer better-than-average fuel efficiency, they also aim to please mainstream car buyers with more traditional features, such as higher horsepower and faster acceleration.

In addition to giving the vehicles more oomph, manufacturers will soon be leveraging hybrids' electric power in safety systems, such as steering overlays to prevent drivers from drifting out of their lanes. Electronic steering systems, which are likely to show up in Europe first, promise to provide more finite control over steering than hydraulic systems.
++read more via

Biodiesel from Houston?

Motiva Enterprises, a large oil company headquartered in Houston, recently announced that the Motiva Enterprises terminal in Dallas will now offer biodiesel at any blend level. Motiva, a partnership between Shell Oil Co. and Saudi Refining Inc., is among the first major oil companies to provide a blending and loading terminal for the alternative fuel; other refiners who already blend biodiesel at the terminal level include Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp.
Biodiesel kingpin Willie Nelson was joined by fellow booster Morgan Freeman to announce the installation of a 30,000-gallon heated tank that will allow biodiesel to be loaded onto tanker trucks already fully blended with petroleum diesel.

++Read article++

World’s Largest Laundromat uses Solar Hot Water

On the roof there are 36 solar hot water panels. Inside are a 157 washing machines and 145 dryers.

These panels, installed by Solar Service, save the laundry, in Berwyn, Chicago “about $2,000 a month."
++Read more from the article in the Chicago Tribune.

Largest Solar Kitchen?

This is at the Academy for a Better World on Mount Abu,1,300 metres above sea level, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The solar reflectors “produce steam which is used to cook vegetables and rice for up to 18 000 people.”
See pictures HERE
A combined project of the ::Brahma Kumaris India, and ::Solare-Bruecke, Germany (amongst others).

Shades of green?

An article by Michael Cockram titled "Deep and Merely Tinted Greens"

As the concept of "green design" enters the mainstream of our building culture, designers are being given a glut of information — and misinformation — on what constitutes environmentally sound practices. The term "greenwashing" has entered the lexicon to mean giving the appearance of being green without providing substantive environmental benefit.
Alternative Standards: NAHB vs LEED-H
The Official Greenwash: "Clear Skies" initiative?
Wetlands Protection?
A keystone is the question of verification of green building performance. The only way to ensure that green certification guidelines have real teeth is for the verification process to be independent and unbiased.
++

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hybrid automakers not yet close to tax-credit limit

There's still time for tax savings!
The new tax credit, which offers up to $3,400 for taxpayers who buy an eligible car, phases out once a manufacturer sells more than 60,000 hybrids. It seems that even the most popular manufacturer, Toyota, isn't expected to hit that mark for at least a few months.Many industry watchers expect Toyota will surpass the 60,000 limit before the end of the year. Toyota sold just under 108,000 of its Prius alone in 2005, and a total of 146,512 hybrid vehicles, counting the carmaker's Lexus RX400 and the Highlander, according to

There also seems to be a tax "grace period"
The IRS counts the "60,000 in sales" from Jan. 1, 2006. Once a manufacturer sells that many hybrids, there's effectively a grace period, and then the credit starts to phase out.

Something to consider the amount of the credit varies enormously depending on the model.
The IRS will judge each model on a variety of fuel-efficiency criteria, and then allot a certain amount per model. While the IRS has not yet published specific dollar amounts for each model, the ACEEE has published preliminary estimates based on the details of the law enacting the tax credit.For instance, the credit for the Toyota Prius is $3,150, while the Honda Insight is up for a $1,450 credit, according to those preliminary estimates. See the ACEEE estimates on each model.

ALSO...Prices may come down after the credit expires, suggests Mike Chung, industry analyst with
Read more via