Terraform Earth


Green Roofs for Container Housing

I have been contemplating a very sustainable desert community. They could save lots of money and time if they built dwellings out of used cargo shipping containers. But how to keep them cool in the desert? Green Roofs.

The shipping containers would be cheap. They could be cleaned and refurbished to become modular housing components. And by putting a green roof on top, they could keep the dwelling in the cool shade. The containers would have the structural strength to support a green roof since they were designed to be stacked like blocks.

Building soil filled planter boxes on the sides would provide further shade, some insulation, and even thermal mass effects. That last aspect is where the sheer volume of dirt would keep the dwelling cooler during the hottest part of the day and warmer at night.

Posted via web from Dan’s EcoGeekery

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Global Warming Self Education Resources

Originally assembled for the Global Warming Solutions conference on 2/4/09. Any comments with additional resources may be added to the list as time allows.

Self Education Resources

Online Researching
~ Wikipedia – a communally edited encyclopedia that seems to be getting better the more people use it. Consider editing or adding an article yourself.  –  wikipedia.org
~ Google Scholar – offers searching of scholarly publications, letting the public get closer to the actual researchers and their data.  –  scholar.google.com
~ Social Bookmarking – use the wisdom of a community to quickly guide yourself to the best online resources.  —  delicious.com -or-  digg.com -or-  stumbleupon.com
~WikiHow – Want to know how to do … whatever, only sustainably? Search on this site for things like “sustainable” and “agriculture”.  —  www.wikihow.com
~ Do-It-Yourself Surveys – build your own free surveys
polldaddy.com -or-  freeonlinesurveys.com
~ Map of Flooding from Sea Level Rise – an interactive layer on top of Google Maps that will show what areas flood as sea levels rise, meter by meter.  —  flood.firetree.net
~ WattzOn – Calculate your carbon footprint using a tool that gets better the more people use it.  —  www.wattzon.com

Podcasts
~ iTunesU – free educational broadcasts hosted by Apple. Requires installing iTunes (also free). Searching is limited: you have to look up the host school, then subject. The Wood’s Energy Seminar series offered by Stanford is quite informative on global warming issues.  —  apple.com/itunes
One blogger made a guide to iTunesU:
diyscholar.wordpress.com/2007/12/18/how-to-begin
~ Social Innovation Conversations – Offering lectures, debates and conference recordings on social change subjects such as sustainability, uplifting the developing nations, disaster prevention and recovery, sustainable venture capital, equality, non-profits and progressive business practices.
Some favorites speakers:  Amory Lovins (efficiency guru), Vinod Khosla (green venture capitalist), Bunker Roy (of the Barefoot College), William McDonough (sustainable design), Dean Kamen (Segway inventor), Natalie Portman (microlending),
sic.conversationsnetwork.org
~ NPR – Mostly a news source, National Public Radio can be a great way to keep up to date on recent global warming trends. One of their weekly programs, Living On Earth, is specific to the environment, with some great archives in audio and text formats. And Science Friday frequently discusses sustainability with working scientists.
www.npr.org
www.loe.org – Living on Earth
www.sciencefriday.com – Science Friday
~ OCulture – University & College Podcasts – Podcasts and sometimes class materials from actual classes (7500) from schools like Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, MIT, CalTech, Yale, Harvard, UCSD, UCSF, UCD, etc. Try listening to a comprehensive energy talk at Princeton in ’06 by Steven Chu, the new Energy Secretary.
www.oculture.com/2006/10/university_podc.html
~ IT Conversations – One of the oldest podcast sources, they have a vast number of interviews, discussions and lectures. Available for immediate listening or download. Licensed under a Creative Commons license, so students and educators can sample and remix freely. Ranges from in-depth (college course level) to cursory (magazine article level).
Some favorites: Alex Steffen (edits World Changing), Michelle Kaufman (green pre-fab homes), Janine Benyus (biomimicry in design), Lawrence Lessig (of Creative Commons),  Howard Bloom (wrote Global Brain), Verna Allee (productive networks over corporations)
itc.conversationsnetwork.org
~ PopTech! – a conference series that hosts forward thinkers, artists, and musicians. Offers both podcasts and video clips. Saul Griffith’s energy speech may be the best ever.
Some favorites: Van Jones (of Green4All), Majora Carter (of Sustainable South Bronx),
Saul Griffith (WattzOn), Jessica Flannery (person-to-person microlending), Cameron Sinclair (Architecture for Humanity).
www.poptech.com/popcasts
~ Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner – a lecture series by executives from successful companies, speaking on their respective industries and/or start-ups. Video and audio clips.
Favorites: Larry Bawden (new solar tech), Larry Brilliant (of Google’s philanthropy dept.), Paul Diamandis (Automotive X-Prize).
ecorner.stanford.edu/podcasts.html
~ Commonwealth Club of California – A long-standing discussion and debate club that covers a wide range of subjects.
Favorites: Arnold Schwartzenagger (Sustainable California), Eric Schmidt (on Google’s green investing), Jeffery Sachs (Earth Institute).
commonwealthclub.org/archive
~ ForaTV – A video source for some terrific lectures & panels on a variety of timely subjects, including a ‘green’ section.
Favorites: Dan Burden (walkable communities), Saul Griffith (on the future of energy), Steven Chu (US Secretary of Energy), Thomas Friedman (Author of The World is Flat & Hot, Flat & Crowded)
fora.tv/topic/green

Newspapers & Magazines
~ San Francisco Chronicle Environment section  —  sfgate.com/news/environment
~ San Jose Mercury News –  www.mercurynews.com
~ L.A. Times/Environment Section – Current Environmental issues around the globe such as frequent articles on Global Warming. —
www.latimes.com/news/science/environment

~ Environmental Design and Construction Magazine – As the name suggests, this magazine is about Global Warming solutions from the perspective of designing and building better residential and commercial buildings in order to reduce our Volatile Organic Compounds and our impact on our environment.  — www.edcmag.com

RSS Feeds
Most online information sources offer RSS feeds: once you subscribe, they will send you articles (in text, audio or video form) on specific subjects, such as climate change. The articles will show up as perodic emails, perhaps with files attached. Most email programs & web browsers, along with a few media players (like iTunes), will handle RSS feeds.

Learning through Games
~ Spore – a game that teaches evolution by letting players evolve their own species, from primordial ooze to spaceflight.   –   www.spore.com
~ A Force More Powerful – a game built to train non-violent protesters, contributed to by Ivan Marovic, one of the members of the student organization that helped overthrow the government of Slobodan Milosevic.   –   www.aforcemorepowerful.org

Local
~ KQED, local public TV & radio – Recommended shows: the California report, TechNation, Quest.  —  www.kqed.org
~ Green For All – an Oakland non-profit trying to encourage green collar jobs. Founded by Van Jones. —  www.greenforall.org
~ US Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter – Research the LEED standards, get a LEED certification, attend green building gatherings, or network with the sustainable building industry.  —  www.usgbc-ncc.org
~ Silicon Valley Environmental Partnership –  www.svep.org
~ Sustainable Silicon Valley –  www.sustainablesiliconvalley.org
~ Santa Clara Valley Water DistrictThe Santa Clara Valley Water district has an entire section on Global warming on their website including the district’s perspectives and their plans for dealing with Global Warming Solutions.  They also have great links for further educating yourself on the solutions being looked at around the Santa Clara Valley and beyond.  ––  www.valleywater.org
~ Acterra – Located in Palo Alto, Acterra strives to provide answers and perform actions to help create a healthier planet.  One of the goals’ of Acterra is to bring people together to develop local solutions to Global Warming and related problems.  The website calendar is filled with events to help people find solutions to Global Warming.  There programs include training people to help others in their communities learn to led greener lives.  There informative website also has an environmental question and answer section, an Ask the Expert area and an environmental library.  —  www.acterra.org
~ PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center – offering free training classes in building efficiency, solar installation, lighting, HVAC, etc.  —  www.pge.com/pec/

National

~ NOAA – the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, which recently published an article in their news section saying that climate changes may not be reversible for a thousand years.  —  www.noaa.gov
Irreversible Climate Change article  —
www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090126_climate.html

~ Environmental Defense Fund – The Environmental Defense Fund states on their website that they are “dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people, including future generations. Among these rights are access to clean air and water, healthy and nourishing food, and flourishing ecosystems.”  They evaluate environmental problems based on science such as access to clean air and water, healthy and nourishing food, and flourishing ecosystems. They also promote solutions to the problems they evaluate.  Their website is filled with research and information related to global warming.  — www.edf.org
~ RMI – the Rocky Mountain Institute has been researching energy efficiency since the ’70s. They research and publish many reports & books on mixing sustainability with profitability.  —  www.rmi.org
~ ACEEE – the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is a great resource for finding the most efficient appliances and the tax rebates they can get you. — www.aceee.org


The Credit Crisis, Insurance and Sprawl

As we face this financial crisis, we can watch for at least one positive effect from an environmental standpoint: less sprawl.

Both the lending mechanisms and the insurance industry have been hurt badly. This will result in more caution on the part of developers, their investors, and their customers. They will build fewer developments due to the comparative lack of available funds. And where they do build, they will find less demand from home buyers whose agenda coincides more and more with the sustainable development movement:

– High gas prices discourage too long a commute.
– The migration of population away from remote suburbs towards more dense urban centers will mean the jobs will follow.
– If there’s too much of a threat from floods, forest fires, hurricanes, or coastal erosion, then insurance will either be too expensive or totally unavailable.

So as the population moves from owning to renting, the units closer to jobs will be in higher demand. The developers will build denser neighborhoods with shorter commutes and less insurance risks from climate change effects. And the wise home-buyer will be seeking out more sustainable homes, giving the green developer a market advantage.

And with enough of a sustainability sentiment in government, we might even see additional market incentives through a carbon market or tax breaks for LEED homes.

There will be personal hardship for many, and I don’t mean to minimize or dismiss the impending struggles of those who will suffer (probably including myself). But I am pleased that some of the market mechanisms seem to be making the more sustainable choices coincide with financial wisdom.

>>>Dan


Mark Lakeman of City Repair Interview

Highlights starting from:   6:28    12:10    16:05    21:35


DIY Home Energy

Quest, a science program that airs on KQED public television in San Francisco, recently ran a program featuring three Bay Area individuals whose homes make extensive use of alternative energy. Here is a summary. Chris Beaudouin, a resident of the Castro district, at the recommendation of California’s Department of the Environment, contacted Blue Green Pacific, the wind generation start-up company of another San Francisco resident, Todd Pelman, who is a marine and energy engineer. Soon to be on top of Chris’s garage (only one has been installed), looking as he describes it like two pieces of sculpture, will be two vertical wind turbines. He is anticipating that his experiment with micro-wind generation will reduce his energy bill 20-30%. The target price for one of the systems is $5000 dollars. Pelman estimates the payback period to be 8-10 years. Gavin Newsom, recently encouraged home owners to experiment with wind energy.

The second home featured is the home of Lisa and Michael Rubenstein, a 6,000 sf single level home in Hillsborough. Despite its size, the average monthly energy bill is $8. The Rubensteins wanted their dream home to be as sustainable as possible and so invested in a geothermal system as well as PV cells. The home is 41 percent more efficient than state Build It Green Standards. (The home was built before a residential LEED program was in place.) Other eco-friendly measures include: graywater recycling, reclaimed wood floor, insulation made from recycled denim, dual flush toilets, and fly-ash concrete. 

The third home was the remodeled Victorian home of Dixon Beatty and Stephanie Parrot. They remodeled the home to use solar thermal energy to provide hot water and heat to their house and photovoltaic cells to meet most of their electricity needs.


Take the America’s Energy Quiz

The answers may surprise you and give you hope for cleaner and more sustainable energy. From Al Gore’s We campaign: http://quiz.wecansolveit.org/

Taking the quiz, meeting Gore’s call for supplying all of our energy from non polluting sources within 10 years seems not only possible but imperative.


Prix Pictet – Sustainability in Photography

“Can a photograph help sustain the planet? It depends on the photograph.”

“The Prix Pictet is a major new global prize in photography that focuses on perhaps the greatest single issue of the twenty-first century: sustainability. The award is sponsored by Pictet & Cie, in association with the Financial Times.” The shortlist for this year’s award has just been announced.

The theme for this year is water. The elements that demonstrates first the effects of global warming through increased droughts and floods, contamination, and rising sea levels.