Friday, June 30, 2006

Texas mayors to tackle environmental issues

[via grist.org]

ARLINGTON - Mayors and other officials from Texas cities are slated to meet Friday at the University of Texas at Arlington's new science building to discuss ways municipalities can reduce their role in climate change.

Read more via the Dallas Star Telegram

The Friday afternoon meeting in Arlington is closed, but there will be a separate presentation on climate change open to the public that evening.

7 p.m., Scottish Rite Hospital auditorium, 222 Wellborn St., Dallas

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Green Value Study= PROFIT

image from treehugger.com


[via worldchanging.com]

60 second summary:

This study,which looked at buildings in North America and the UK,shows that a clear link is beginning to emerge between the market value of a building and its green features.

Not only are green buildings good for the environment,provide healthier places to live and more productive places to work,they can command higher rents and prices,attract tenants more quickly,reduce tenant turnover and cost less to operate and maintain.

What is Green Value?
Green Value is the net additional value obtainable by a green building in the market.

The study concludes that green buildings can achieve greater value than their conventional equivalents. But further,it found that the green building industry and others may be failing to get the message across that the main beneficiaries are occupants.

For example because they are easy to measure,a lot of attention has been focused on energy savings.However,these are usually less than 1% of business operating costs. By comparison,total annual real estate expenses are usually around 10% of such costs whilst staff costs can be as high as 85%.This means that the biggest return on investment should arise when green buildings improve business productivity. Instances were found of green features improving productivity,but neither owners,developers,appraisers,nor the green building sector,fully value or communicate this advantage.

Both the real estate and green sectors would benefit from reviewing their focus and and working more closely together.While the benefits to asset value are compelling,they are minor compared with the benefit to business.This benefit needs to be properly valued and communicated.Then all can benefit from building green.

Read the complete report HERE

Tree Hugger T.V.

Watch it.
treehuggertv.com


Their most recent episode includes recent finds and an inside track on the film "Who Killed the Electric Car".

Enjoy:


Need Volunteers? Want to Volunteer

Just enter your zip code on their site (volunteermatch.org)and find out where you can volunteer or find volunteers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Open-call for photography

HURRY...the deadline: June 30, 2006.

An open-call photography exhibition sponsored by Houston It’s Worth It and the Houston Center for Photography.

As a bonus, selected photos from the exhibition will be included in the book, Houston. It’s Worth It, benefiting The Houston Center for Photography and scheduled for release in October 2006.

+online entry
+PDF rules of entry and entry form

Urban explosion

[via bbc news]
Trace the past and future growth of the world's biggest cities



Read also: How cities affect global warming

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dewitt Jones Photography

[via Orion Online.org]
A photographer for National Geographic for twenty years, Jones now gives inspirational talks to corporations -- and shoots "drive-bys."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mesquite-to-Ethanol

[via green car congress]
A Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher is exploring the feasibility of harvesting and using rangeland woody plants, such as mesquite and red berry juniper, as an ethanol feedstock for a distributed bio-energy industry in rural West Central Texas.

Texas had 3.8 million acres with moderate to dense mesquite in 1984; that has climbed to 6 million acres.

This mesquite-covered area could provide fuel for about 400 small (5 million gallons per year) ethanol plants, according to Dr. Jim Ansley.

Read more

Friday, June 23, 2006

Coming to a theater near you

Apparently the EV1 required no gas, no oil, no muffler and rare brake maintenance. A typical maintenance check up consisted of replenishing the winsheild washer fluid and tire rotation. So why did GM kill it one month after buying the Hummer from AM General?

Other Resources:
The TravelMatters Individual Calculator measures how much greenhouse gas you generate as a result of your daily transportation activity.

You can save your emissions profile in order to compare your greenhouse gas emissions over time.

Solar gaining power?

Federal tax incentives are driving more homeowners to install solar panels, says SunPower CEO Thomas Werner. He tells Jean Lee that solar costs and aesthetics benefit as the nation's top homebuilders begin to embrace the alternative power.
watch the video via Market Watch.com.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

WKD EVENT: Dragon boat

THEY'RE LOOKING FOR ENERGETIC, ENTHUSIASTIC AND MOTIVATED PADDLERS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EXCITING SPORT OF DRAGON BOATING!

+ WHAT: Kick-Off Practice & BBQ Party on

+ WHEN: Saturday, June 24th, 8:30AM -1:00PM

+ WHERE: Tony Marron Park (808 North York)

details: $5 for BBQ and practice session (wear athletic attire)
$3 for BBQ only

find out more and register

GUSSE


GUSSE is an online place where the world will collectively discuss, review and apply the best ideas for sustainable cities. It’s like an Amazon.com for urban solutions: you can browse, get recommendations, share and pick up ideas.

Building in Hot Humid Climates: I

Walls:
Air-conditioned buildings constructed in the humid climates should have a vapor reetarder and air barrier installed as close as possible to the exterior of the wall to prevent condensation occuring on the inside cladding of the wall during the summer.

For air-conditioned buildings constructed of masonry, a surface coating on the masonry block that retains suffiecient elasticity to avoid cracking under temperature changes to which it is exposed can alleviate condensation on the back of the vapor retarder. A saturated sheathing paper installed between teh masonry block and the insulation would also protect the insulation and the interior plasterboard.

Floors:
Concrete slab floors should be underlaid with a 4in. layer of gravel to serve as a capillary break for groundwater. The gravel should be covered by a continuous vapor retarder of sufficient strength to prevent puncture by the gravel during construction. The subfloor vapor retarder should be turned up and sealed with the vapor retarder in the walls. The vapor retarder should be placed underneath the grade beam in that type of construction.

Part II: Ceilings and roofs, Indoor relative humidity

Resources:
U.S. department of Energy
**Hot-Humid Climate: Houston Profile[via Building Science.com] Lots of info!
Florida Solar Energy Center
General Construction Principles by Paul R. Achenbach

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

JUNE 21: Summer Solstice

Longest day and shortest night of the year occur on this date, marking the beginning of summer. A.K.A. Midsummer.
At the point of the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears to be directly overhead at midday along an imaginary line on the Northern Hemisphere at latitude 23.45 deg N known as the Tropic of Cancer.

Depending on where you are in the Houston area, you may or may not even notice the extended daylight. Usually, this would not be such a bad thing considering Houston is in one of its hottest months. A little cloud coverage usually helps on this day to relieve us of the extra heat...although considering the continuous rain, the sun might be welcomed to dry out some of the flooding.

Happy Summer Solstice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Virtual Farmer's Market

This from o'reilly radar:

"Via Growers & Grocers, this is interesting:

The Internet-based business, Greenleaf LLC, gets under way this summer. [...] Greenleaf could be a virtual farmer's market that never closes.
Local farmers will be able to post what they have to sell, such as fresh produce and meats.
Buyers will be able to browse through the offerings and make online purchases from the farmers.

Greenleaf will charge sellers a fee, perhaps 2% of a sale. Buyers will pay an annual subscription fee, that hasn't been finalized, to use the service.
Buyers and sellers will be responsible for making their own arrangements for payments and deliveries. [Former Whole Foods employee Heather] Hilleren said she will stay out of the transactions as much as possible.

"It's strictly between the buyer and the seller," much like eBay, she said.
The whole story is worth reading. I wonder if this would work; while the eBay analogy is better for the press, this feels more like Etsy Foods to me. I love that."

Energy Freedom Challenge

In 2006, the nation races toward clean energy.

The Energy Freedom Challenge is a national race run by cities, each competing to achieve a state of energy independence. The winning city will obtain more than 50 percent of its electricity needs from clean, renewable, domestically-produced resources such as wind, solar and bioenergy, and claim the coveted title of "Clean Energy Capital of the U.S."

This Challenge is a long-term vision for positive change. The efforts to bring about this change will easily stretch into the next decade and most likely beyond, especially for large cities with heavy energy demands. Collaborative partnerships of concerned citizens, city governments, local business and energy providers – in communities across the nation – will be working for the better part of our lifetimes to transform their cities into the clean energy communities of the future.

The Energy Freedom Challenge was initiated by a partnership between the Texas advocacy group Solar Austin and the nationally recognized Union of Concerned Scientists. Initial funding for the challenge was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Public education about clean energy will be the key to its acceptance, adoption and proliferation. Toward this end, this web site will serve to help administer the Challenge, act as a national clearinghouse for renewable energy methodology and achievements realized by participating cities, and encourage communities to go further and faster toward the goal of energy independence. Learn more.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

On Destruction Road

A friend shares her discoveries on a journey through Southern Louisiana and the Mississippi Coast. She documents the Katrina aftermath and how the people and land are slowly recovering through great photos and commentary.

ondestructionroad.com

Friday, June 09, 2006

Climate Change and Energy Problems "Not Hypothetical Issues for the Future"

I just came back from watching "An Inconvenient Truth". SCARY and a MUST SEE!
When i got back home there was this t.v. program on called THE GREAT WARMING by Stonehaven productions.

(click play button to view 2min. promo for show)

Of course it went over several issues affecting global warming, but it also showcased several people and their advances to fight the harmful causes to this SCARY condition.


Amongst them, which i found very interesting and quite innovative, was a Klauss Lackner,a physicist with the Earth Institute. He is developing a prototype machine that would remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. Basically it would act as a synthetic tree.

Read more on this new machine via the Earth Institues Report.

Also, BLDGBLOG did a post on this back in November of 2005.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

F.Y.I.

Some quick facts:
• 137 million American’s use search engines to find information
• 30 percent or more of the traffic on some newspaper, magazine or television news Web sites is driven by search engines
• 99.9 million people get their news online

Google trends lays out these searches in a graph format and will tell you the popluartiy of a search in relation to another search. Not only that but what cities/state/countries search the most for these items.

I was curious to find out the poplularty of the environment, architecture and pollution. This is what i found:
According to the graph, the search volume for architecture and the environment closely follow eachother. One can probably guess from this that when people search for environmental issues it usually has to do with architecture...fellow architects? builders?
Yet it this does not seem to lead them to also search about pollution. Seems to me that environment and pollution go together...=architects / builders not interested in pollution.

The news volume graph shows the popularity of the topics reported on by the news. Here the environment ranks highest and pollution and architecture much lower .... = news not that interested in architecture...but it seems that people are...at least those on the internet anyways.

This bar graph shows something interesting as well.... seems that Banglor, India is super interested in architecture while not so much in pollution.(what's going on in India? Will research more.) Everyone accross the board seems to be pretty disinterested in pollution. Melbourne, Australia, while being towards the bottom of the trends, is the only city interested more in the environment than architecture.

Want to see what this looks like for U.S. cities in 2006?


Hmmmm...
Have you seen "Inconvenient Truth"? YOU MUST.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

EVENTS HAPPENING THIS WEEK

Thursday, June 8, 2006
6-8pm


Green Drinks is a monthly informal gathering of people interested in Houston's environment. We'll meet at Dimassi's Middle Eastern Restaurant at 2401 Times Blvd (In Rice Village).

From 6-7 pm, you'll get an opportunity to chat with other people interested in the quality of Houston's environment.
From 7-8 pm, a featured speaker will talk about his or her organization.


“Blue Bayou: An Evening of Moonlight, Music, Films and Fireworks”
You are invited to a free, city-wide celebration! Buffalo Bayou Partnership will be hosting this grand opening event for the Sabine-to-Bagby Promenade, a new 23-acre, $15 million waterfront park in downtown Houston. The park runs along the banks of Buffalo Bayou and features jogging and biking trails, lush landscaping and the bayou's first pedestrian bridge.

When: Saturday, June 10th, 7 p.m. to Midnight

Where: Sabine-to-Bagby Promenade, Buffalo Bayou Walk. The festivities will stretch along the banks of Buffalo Bayou from Sabine to I-45, between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive.

Parking: Free parking is available at City Lot H (next to Fonde Recreational Center at Sabine Street and Memorial Drive) and Lot C (Memorial Drive and Houston Street). Paid parking is available at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts at Bagby and Walker.
view map


NEW ORLEANS JAZZ CONCERT

The New Birth Brass Band

Sunday, June 11
3:00 p.m.

Join The Menil Collection for an afternoon of New Orleans Jazz on the museum grounds. Co-sponsored by the Society for the Performing Arts, Da Camera of Houston, and The Menil Collection.
The New Birth Brass Band is at the forefront of the current New Orleans brass band renaissance. The band fuses hip-hop, Mardi Gras Indian chants, funk, and modern jazz with age-old traditional sounds. They have won a Big Easy Award for Best Brass Band. OffBeat says they produce “a big blast of sound . . . New Birth Family drives with plenty of heart.”

Lastly: Dont forget to check out the farmers' markets that are going on this weekend.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MOSS Graffitti

No kidding!
Helen Nodding, of London, is reclaiming nature. She has come up with one cool way of using nature as art. Living art, if you will.

She even provides the recipe and instructions for you to try it out for yourself!

Soy in Galveston= biodiesel

Sunset over Galveston, Texas
photo by Nick Sãum
[via Renewable Energy Access.com]"Chevron, through its subsidiary, Chevron Technology Ventures LLC (CTV), has taken an equity position in Galveston Bay Biodiesel LP (GBB). The Houston-based company is constructing a biodiesel production and distribution facility in Galveston, Texas, said to have the potential to produce 100 million gallons per year (mgy) of clean-burning renewable fuel -- an amount that more than doubles this country's current production volume of biodiesel. It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2006.
GBB will produce biodiesel from soybeans and other renewable feedstocks, with the option to sell pure biodiesel or biodiesel blended with off-road or on-road diesel into marine, commercial, trucking and industrial markets in the Galveston and Houston metropolitan areas...." (read more

Another good article via Galveston Daily News :

Fill ’er up — with soybeans
By Greg Barr
The Daily News Published June 1, 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

Houston Farmers' Markets

As a follow up to the last post i wanted to document a couple of the farmers' markets in the Houston area. Definitely more than two.

Houston Farmers Market .org
Saturdays in the Heights from 8 AM to noon:
++The Saturday Market is located behind
Onion Creek Coffee House
3106 White Oak between Studewood and Heights Blvd

++The Tuesday Market is located in the parking lot of
Christ the King Lutheran Church
2353 Rice Blvd at Greenbriar in Rice Village

Midtown Farmers Market
++at Monica Pope's t'afia
Saturdays 8 am - 12 noon
3701 Travis Street

Bayou City Farmers' Market
++Every Wednesday and Saturday
Rain or Shine!
Wednesday - 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday - 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
3000 Richmond (back parking lot)

++ Market Square Market
Outdoor farmers & artisans marketplace, every Saturday at Market Square. Fresh organic produce, goat cheese, specialty foods. Crafters and artisans offering goods from jewelry to soap to wind chimes. Special events also, including children's activities and musical events.
Saturdays
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown, Preston & Congress Streets

++Canino market is at 2520 Airline. Mostly Mexican vendors. Good produce

Please comment if you know of others.

Houston ranked #39 out of 50 for 2006

In SustainLane’s 2005 US City Rankings, which benchmarked 25 cities, Houston came in last place. Citizens’ meetings, Internet bulletin boards, and radio talk shows were full of reactions to our analysis. Locals said there were things going on in sustainability and environmental management that we failed to acknowledge.

Part of the problem was that the city didn’t have anyone in place to manage or communicate sustainability performance. Since our rankings came out in June 2005, Mayor Bob White (should beBILL) has appointed a Director of Environmental Programming to work across the city’s departments so Houstonians and others can find out what’s happening more easily. The city has also made some positive steps toward a more sustainable future.
The public outcry and reaction to our study demonstrate that the city cares about building a better future for its whole city. Houston ranks #39 out of 50 cities this year. Up-and-coming green projects, a clean tech incubator, and affordable housing all augur a positive direction for the nation’s fourth largest city."

Read more about healthy living and the EPA’s air quality forecast , transit and economic factors affecting Houston.

Some discrepencies: Some bad fact checking... From the mayor's name to the number of farmers markets, all wrong. No doubt that Houston is toward the bottom, but lets get the facts right when making the assessment.

$100 offset and/or $500 reimbursement for a hybrid

CHALLENGE 1:
"By reading through these bulletins, you will have learned about the reality of global warming, the excessive (and often wasteful) emissions that come from Americans, the many things we can do to reduce our emissions, and that we can purchase carbon offsets to nationally bring us closer to a position of zero carbon emissions. Accordingly, for each reader (up to 1000) who finishes the series, I will make a $100 contribution to one of three carbon offset organizations. You can specify the organization for the contribution. We will forward to them your name, address and e-mail along with the $100 contribution. They will later send you an acknowledgment of the carbon offsets in your name. "

CHALLENGE 2:
$500 reimbursement for a hybrid: Read all six chapters, give responses to the questions and they'll reimburse you $500 for your purchase of a Toyota Prius hybrid.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Current Costs to Build in the USA

In about 5 minutes you can develop a home construction or replacement cost that considers all the important variables (taylored for your state and city): materials used, design features, quality, size, shape, heating, cooling and geographic area. Your printed estimate shows detailed labor and material costs for each of 34 construction cost categories. Plus, it's FREE!
building-cost.net

Great Resources

www.pathnet.orgThe Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) is dedicated to accelerating the development and use of technologies that radically improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance, and affordability of America's housing.
See techsets such as Durable Building Envelope Details and Storm-Resistant Roofing.
+ State Resources (tx)
+ Research articlies like: Integrating Panels into the Production Homebuilding Process

www.ase.org/The Alliance to Save Energy promotes energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security.


www.ecobroker.comrains agents to help homeowners buy and sell green homes