Tag Archives: Chicago

Working hard towards a future of healthy, safe, sustainable and efficiently improved homes in Chicago


Our landing page: Working hard towards a future of healthy, safe, sustainable and efficiently improved homes in Chicago and the North Shore. http://ow.ly/iI1yi #healthy #green #homes

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3 Reasons to Gradually Go Green: Healthy Homes Chicago


3 Reasons to Gradually Go Green: Healthy Homes Chicago.

Gramata Development Corporation - DesignBuild ChicagoRecently I posted on the Four Categories to a Healthy Home:

1) food & nutrition 
2) furnishings  
3) finishes & fixtures  
4) systems

If one of these components is not a part of your healthy homes decision matrix then you’re probably not living a fully healthy lifestyle. Most of us are aware of the food and nutrition category but what about your home furnishings? Your couch probably contains flame retardant chemicals used on the upholstery which when absorbed can be harmful and some research indicates cancer-causing. How about your home finishes such as the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the paint you just bought for the kids bedroom? They may contain ingredients known to cause illness too. Did you know a low or no-VOC paint is available in most cases for the same price which is a healthier option?  And what about your home systems such as your furnace? I am not talking about whether they operate but how can they be improved over time with a healthier indoor environment mind?
Some or all of these are often overlooked but critically important to a fully healthy home lifestyle and the focus of this book. Most people are not aware of this nor what options are available to them.

That is one of my goals. To make you aware of some of the options and then how to begin to implement them into your lifestyle so you can gradually go green towards a healthy home lifestyle. 

Why should we care about making our homes and communities healthy and what questions should we be asking to make sure we are comfortable that the answer is a resounding “yes”? 

It begins with awareness and knowing what important questions to ask.

Some Questions to Ask:

  • What can I do to make my home healthy?
  • How can I define my goals of a healthy home?
  • Who can I trust to help me with those decisions?
  • What resources are available to help me establish and reach my goals?
  • What decisions will have the greatest impact on my healthy lifestyle?
  • What investments or decisions will have the greatest economic return over time?
  • How can they add value to my home in addition to the health benefits?

The association between our health and our homes has been known for centuries. People spend over 90% of their time indoors including both at home and work. If your home environment is unhealthy or unsafe, it can lead to illnesses that can appear immediately or in other cases it can lay dormant and lead to illness or even death in the months, years and even decades to come.

The quality of our housing effects our quality of life. Our home can and should support both our health and our well-being for the benefit of ourselves and our communities.

Why?

According to the US Green Building Council buildings consume 14% of potable water, 40% of raw materials and 39% of energy in the United States alone consuming over 15 trillion gallons of water and 3 billion tons of raw materials annually. 

There are three general reasons to work towards healthy homes and communities.

1) Health Impact: improving our indoor air quality by reducing the emissions and chemical mixtures released by the products, furnishings and stuff we fill our homes with can have a huge impact on our lives and the development of our children. Focusing from the building envelope inwards and down to the finishes and fixtures is the only way to being the steps needed to live in a healthy home. 

2) Savings: “healthy green home systems and materials reduce energy consumption, which in turn reduce your energy bills. They can also increase asset value and profits and decrease marketing time; making your dollar go further for longer.”

3) Environmental Impact: “Implementing green practices into your home or office can help reduce waste, conserve natural resources, improve both air and water quality, and protect ecosystems and biodiversity.” 

Create a list in your daily routine which focuses on one or all three of these components and start going green over time in your life!

 

Four Healthy Homes Lifestyle Categories to Consider When Going Green


I have started to organized my thoughts on how to start going towards a fully healthy lifestyle by breaking down my healthy home choices into four separate categories which should be considered when establishing our own baseline goals for healthy lifestyles.

Each category must be taken into account when pursuing the goal of a healthy life. Our outdoor environments,  neighborhoods, our office environment and even our commutes as well as so many other factors come into play into establishing a healthy lifestyle, but I believe you might consider each of these four categories to better understand and define a complete healthy homes lifestyle. If you miss on one area you may be missing some opportunities.

Category 1- Food & Nutrition–  the way I eat – food and nutrition and products I use to maintain and clean my home. The consumables both of my family and me but also products used to clean and routinely maintain the home on a daily basis. If my diet is poor then clearly I cannot live and sustain my life in an active and healthy manner.

Category 2: Furnishings & Finishes – the products and services that I bring into my house. Such as the couches, tables or chairs I sit on or the furnishings I bring into my home.  Also, the  finishes of my home including including the bathroom tiles, the paints and flooring finishes I use in my home. If the finishes or furnishings are made of unhealthy or unsustainable products then we must ask why are they a part of our healthy homes lifestyle.

Category 3: Systems – this category gets more into the  mechanical systems, the type of delivery of the heating and air-conditioning and mechanical and water delivery systems of our home as well as the plumbing systems and ventilation systems; Also it should consider and understand the new sustainable delivery methods such as geothermal energy sources, wind and solar as well as the higher velocity mechanical systems which can deliver warm comfortable well filtered air which will significantly improve the indoor air quality and healthy living environment. If this is sounding too complex I will explain all this in detail later.

Category 4: Building Structure & Shell – this category focuses more on the shell of the building;  the building envelope and the exterior walls – the structure itself. If I am eating my organic apple on a non-fire retardant treated couch with my high-efficiency furnace creating healthy air quality levels but the plywood under my floors is emitting formaldehyde off-gasses or there is an ongoing leak in the basement allowing mold to grow, then I believe three out of four does not constitute a complete healthy home life.

How healthy is my home lifestyle? Well the point is that the goal should be to incorporate all four categories into the healthy homes lifestyle design.

The way I look at it is that if I am eating really healthy and nutritious and getting my exercise and if any of the other three categories are not living up to the healthy way they should be or could be then I am not living a healthy lifestyle. I would then by my definition be living in an unhealthy home.

So where to begin? Because that really is the question  all who think about this stuff are asking. First we each need to individually ask ourselves what kind of life do we want to live and how far do we want to take this? I think the only way to really answer this is to be informed and made aware about the consequences and options available for each of the four categories outlined above.

I can say with certainty that we all want to live a healthy life. No one would disagree with that statement. However, I  know for sure that most people are not aware of what it means to make healthy choices in each of these four categories. You might be eating well but if you buy a couch that unknowingly has fire retardants on its surface that you absorb each time you sit down that can cause cancer would you do so? Or when you buy a home and you’re told the furnace works are you also told how well it performs? How much better it would perform if the air it filters went from filtering dust to filtering dander and even viruses. Do you think most homeowner’s know to ask their mechanical contractors how to improve their indoor air quality? Not most because it is not really a hot sexy topic.Wanna talk energy audits? Won’t see that on television. Wanna talk organic natural pure life improving green products? The airwaves are full of it.

Most believe the choices they’re making are healthy and some may be. But I know in my own experience many choices I make or have made I did without knowing they were compromising my health or the health of my children.

Yikes. That is not good.

It’s not so much redefining what it means to live a healthy but becoming aware of the choices available to live a healthy life and on this blog specifically about how to make our homes from the interior walls and woodwork, to flooring and foundation and structure and roofing and siding and finishes and appliances and mechanical systems and new energy methods. The complete package mostly related to categories 3 and 4 above. I will be focusing on how to do this primarily in existing homes but also in new construction since I am a designer and architect I want to understand not only how to improve our existing housing stock (reuse) but also I want to improve the standards by which we build our new housing and establish much much higher healthier standards which take into account the materials and methods used and the sustainable path to making sure the resources are renewable and available for the next generations to come.

Enough about this – let’s start moving forward. Let’s get our entire lifestyle from food and nutrition to the furnishing we fill our homes with to the systems within our homes to our actual built structures and the shells of our homes.

Becoming aware is the first step. Let’s take a look together and begin the first step to a healthier, happier, more comfortable and sustainable place we call home.

Chicago City Council OKs electricity deal with zero coal-fired power


Chicago City Council OKs electricity deal with Integrys – Utilities News – Crain’s Chicago Business http://ow.ly/g3gYU #healthyhomeschicago

“Chicago will be the largest aggregator in the nation and the first major city to adopt this kind of a program,” he said. “And, in fact, I suspect Chicago will set a national standard by utilizing the cleanest power mix possible without increasing cost.”

In winning the deal, Integrys agreed not to purchase any coal-fired power in supplying the city’s residents and small businesses. Company officials told the City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday that the vast majority of the power will come from natural gas-fired plants.

While not without negative environmental effects, the burning of natural gas contributes significantly lower emissions of carbon gases that are tied to global warming. Coal also is connected to pollutants that contribute to urban smog.

Over the course of the two-year deal, city officials project the average household will save $130 to $150.

Said Mayor Rahm Emanuel today: “I think it sends . . . a clear message, the fact that we made sure for families that live paycheck to paycheck that our residents are going to get what the suburban residents have been getting for a while: saving on their utility bill.”

He also said the deal proves “a city the size of Chicago (can be powered) without any coal.”

Chicago Mayor Jump starts the Electric Vehicle Industry


Mayor Emanuel Jump starts the Electric Vehicle Industry

Last week, Mayor Emanuel joined city, state and federal leaders to make a number of important announcements with respect to electric vehicles and batteries: a $15 million incentive program to encourage the adoption of electric trucks; Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Corp. opening an electric-vehicle factory in Chicago; a new procurement program that will encourage city contractors to purchase electric vehicles; and a dramatic expansion of the city’s commitment to building an energy-efficient fleet. The week was capped off with the announcement of a historic partnership and a $120 million investment in Argonne National Laboratory that will turn Chicago into a world-renowned battery hub.

These five initiatives fit into one broad strategy that addresses every aspect of electronic vehicles, from their conception and design to their construction to, ultimately, their presence on our streets. In line with Goals #11 and 12 of the Mayor’s roadmap, Sustainable Chicago 2015, this strategy will lead to Chicago becoming the electric-vehicle epicenter for Illinois, the Midwest and beyond.

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/December-2012-City-of-Chicago-Sustainability-Programs—Events.html?soid=1102254033668&aid=ZG9c_8teC74.

Buildings: Global Consumption and Sustainability


I wanted to share these thoughts I wrote one night a few months ago when  the thoughts and data which were floating around in my head came together which is the primary purpose for my putting all this new energy into this blog and this career. It is more than a job, It is a mission:

Buildings: Global Consumption & Sustainability

When I was born there were 3 billion people on the earth. When I turned 40 there were 6 billion people on the earth. When my daughters turns 40 there will be over 12 billion people on the earth.

“If undeveloped countries consumed at the same rate as the US, four complete planets the size of the Earth would be required. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.”

At the current rate of population growth and human consumption at some point there is no debate the earth will not be able to supply the resources necessary to meet societies needs and our current rate of consumption.

At this inevitable rate of growth the time to act is now before it’s too late. If we continue to build homes that demand the current resources to build, maintain and operate our homes and commercial spaces the point on the graph where these two points meet will likely be in my lifetime but in most cases in my daughter’s lifetime and I cannot as a responsible parent and as a steward of the planet allow this to happen.

Building Science Digests

The construction and operation of buildings consumes over a third of the world’s energy consumption, and 40% of all the mined resources. Striving to make buildings more sustainable, while saving construction and operating costs and improving health and occupant well being is not only possible and practical, it should be the goal of the building industry. Achieving this goal requires an awareness of the problem and the skills to design, specify, construct, and operate buildings in a manner that is often quite different from current standard approaches. This digest will review the challenge of sustainability, discuss methods of assessing green buildings, and recommend a process by which more sustainable buildings can be delivered.

http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/digests/bsd-005-green-building-and-sustainability/

Consumption by the United States

In the United States:

Reducing consumption without reducing use is a costly delusion. If undeveloped countries consumed at the same rate as the US, four complete planets the size of the Earth would be required.

Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.

On average, one American consumes as much energy as

2 Japanese

6 Mexicans

13 Chinese

31 Indians

128 Bangladeshis

307 Tanzanians

370 Ethiopians

The population is projected to increase by nearly 130 million people – the equivalent of adding another four states the size of California – by the year 2050.

Forty percent of births are unintended.

Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day – that’s roughly 200 billion more than needed – enough to feed 80 million people.

Americans throw out 200,000 tons of edible food daily.

The average American generates 52 tons of garbage by age 75.

The average individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world’s population lives on 25 gallons.

Fifty percent of the wetlands, 90% of the northwestern old-growth forests, and 99% of the tall-grass prairie have been destroyed in the last 200 years.

Eighty percent of the corn grown and 95% of the oats are fed to livestock.

Fifty-six percent of available farmland is used for beef production.

Every day an estimated nine square miles of rural land are lost to development.

There are more shopping malls than high schools.

Other Facts:

250 million people have died of hunger-related causes in the past quarter-century — roughly 10 million each year.

700 to 800 million people, perhaps even as many as a billion, don’t get enough food to support normal daily activities

Africa now produces 27% less food per capita than in 1964.

1.7 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and by the year 2000, the number of urban dwellers without access to safe water and sanitation services is expected to grow by 80%.

0.1% of pesticides applied to crops reaches the pest, the rest poisons the ecosystem.

Each year 25 million people are poisoned by pesticides in less developed countries, and over 20,000 die.

One-third of the world’s fish catch and more than one-third of the world’s total grain output is fed to livestock.

It takes an average of 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat in modern Western farming systems. It takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.

Each person in the industrialized world uses as much commercial energy as 10 people in the developing world.

source: Paul Ehrlich and the Population Bomb / PBS

To our Healthy Homes. It is more than just a fleeting thought or idea. It is a mission.

Where to Recycle Your Christmas Tree in Chicago – Chicago Christmas Tree Recycling 2012-2013


I will once again be leading up the St Josaphat’s Elementary School Green Recycle Christmas TREECYCLING efforts. We are offering pick-up services for a $10 donation in the Lincoln Park and Lakeview and surrounding neighborhoods and will bring your Christmas trees to the Chicago Park District for you!

If you would like to set up a time for us to come between January 1-15 please let me know!

Here is a list of recycling sites if you are venturing out on your own!

Ready to take down your Christmas tree? The Chicago Park District is accepting trees at the following locations. Also, there will be some wood mulch available at the sites. If you have additional questions, you can call the Department of Environment at 312-744-7606. The Park District will be accepting trees through January 17.

Chicago Christmas Tree Recycling Sites:

Bessemer Park: 8930 S. Muskegon Ave.

Clark Park: 3400 N. Rockwell Ave.

Forestry Site: 900 E. 103rd St.

Garfield Park: 100 N. Central Park Ave.

Grant Park: 900 S. Columbus Dr.

Humboldt Park Boathouse: 1369 N. Sacramento Blvd.

Jackson Park: 6300 S. Cornell Ave.

Kennedy Park: 11320 S. Western Ave.

Kelvyn Park: 4438 W. Wrightwood Ave.

Lake Meadows Park: 3117 S. Rhodes Ave.

Lincoln Park: Cannon Dr. at Fullerton Ave., parking lot east of Cannon Dr.

Margate Park: 4921 N. Marine Dr.

Marquette Park: 6700 S. Kedzie Ave.

McKinley Park: 2210 W. Pershing Rd.

Mt. Greenwood Park: 3721 W. 111th St.

North Park Village: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

Norwood Park: 5801 N. Natoma Ave.

Portage Park: 4100 N. Long Ave.

Riis Park: 6100 W. Fullerton Ave.

Rowan Park: 11546 S. Avenue L

Sheridan Park: 910 S. Aberdeen St.

Warren Park: 6601 N. Western Ave.

Wentworth Park: 5625 S. Mobile Ave.

Where to Recycle Your Christmas Tree in Chicago – Chicago Christmas Tree Recycling

Why healthy sustainable home designs? How about 84 Billion reasons


Why am I so interested in healthy and sustainable housing? Well the primary reason is because it makes sense to want to live in a healthy environment in built homes that are using resources that will not be gone in 100 years. The idea of designing and building without regard for the impact on the occupants health or the availability of resources and environmental impact of our future generations (my children) is in comprehensible. May nay-sayers balk at these ideas as nonsense but the world population has already doubled in my short time here on earth and it will double again by the time my daughter reaches her adult life.

It is inevitable that path cannot be sustained. So where does this leave us? In my opinion if you’re not interested in these principles at least you may be interested in business opportunity because they are real and if you have vision they are very real. Look at this study and consider if nothing else look at the idea of healthy sustainable design as a real and economically viable business opportunity worth pursuing. Regardless the reason all I am interested in is the end results of healthy sustainable and environmentally responsible design/builds.

 

 

While conditions in residential construction throughout many parts of the world may be challenging right now, those seeking long term growth opportunities need look no further than the green building and energy efficient housing sector.Indeed, over the next decade, the value of work done in energy efficient residential dwellings – properties which are built to exceed the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code by 15 per cent on a kilowatt-hour per square foot basis – will grow by around sixfold from around US$14 billion now to around US$84 billion in 2020 according to a report from Pike Research, a global market research and consulting firm specializing in clean energy.

Check out the full story here via Pocket : $84 Billion in Green Building Residential Opportunities.

Chicago advances sustainable streets concept


Moving the most advanced sustainable design techniques to the most unlikely of places in Chicago on Cermak Rd on the west side.

Cermak Road on Chicago’s West Side is a historic, industrial artery that time almost forgot. The area is cluttered with smokestacks and corrugated steel warehouses, crisscrossed with train tracks and barbed wire fencing, viaducts and underpasses. At its center stands the brick edifice of the soon-to-be-shuttered Fisk coal-fired power plant.

via The greenest mile: Chicago pushes the limits on sustainable streets | Grist.

Ecological Footprint Video


Featured Event this Saturday! Jackson Park Bike Clinic


Read more…

Anyone got an extra planet we can consume?


World Footprint

Do we fit on the planet?

Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.

Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one.

Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.


world footprint scenarios

The result is collapsing fisheries, diminishing forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, and the build up of carbon dioxide emissions, which creates problems like global climate change. These are just a few of the most noticeable effects of overshoot.

Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies—and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else.

World Footprint.

Your Ecological Footprint: Defining, Calculating, and Reducing Your Environmental Footprint : TreeHugger


 

Your Ecological Footprint: Defining, Calculating, and Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

by   on 02. 7.08

 

 

REpublished from treehugger.com

Ecological footprint: what is it?
An analysis that gauges our impact on the planet’s biological systems, the ecological footprint measures human consumption of natural resources in comparison to Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate them. Individually, each of us has “a footprint,” and, collectively, they aggregate across geographical zones and other means of classification. Calculation of the footprint takes into account just about everything we do; from the food we eat, to the house we live in, to the car we drive and the other consumption habits we practice each day. It’s a very complex calculation that answers a straightforward question: how much of the Earth’s resources do our lifestyles require?

Your Ecological Footprint: Defining, Calculating, and Reducing Your Environmental Footprint : TreeHugger.

City of Chicago Restarts Waste to Profit Network


The City of Chicago announced today that it has issued a grant to the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) for the re-launch of the Chicago Waste to Profit (WTP) Network, a by-product synergy project in which wastes and under-valued resources at one facility are matched with users at another, resulting in cost savings for the participating businesses while diverting waste from landfills, reducing energy use and CO2 emissions and helping create and retain jobs.

The highly successful network was started in 2006 by the Chicago Manufacturing Center and the US BCSD in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Environment, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and US EPA Region 5.  

City of Chicago :: City of Chicago Restarts Waste to Profit Network.

Going Green : A Case Study


I LOVE case studies and success stories of how a group of teachers, parents and/or community leaders not only get it but GOT it done!

Check out how this Arrowhead High School Green Group structured their successful group almost completely ONLINE (how green) and made it work. Way to GO Arrowhead.

Although we still meet as a class at least once a week, all of the materials students need are online: we discuss and edit papers online, we talk about problems and solutions online, we read articles online, we take notes online, we watch videos online and we hold discussions online.

Within this form, students demonstrated learning and growth when they were able to:
•    Set and have a goal they can reach (that makes sense to them)
•    Be internally motivated
•    Be positively challenged
•    Be useful in the learning process
•    Be given a chance to practice what they’ve learned
•    Produce quality work they’re proud of
•    See the outcomes of their learning
•    Do something
•    Complete enjoyable assignments
•    Take charge of their learning
•    Become competent in the subject
•    Be partners with the teachers in their own learning
•    Evaluate their own learning and

•    GO GREEN!

Going Green at Arrowhead.

How to Start a Recycling Program at Your School


Recycling is one of the easiest and most traditional ways to have a positive impact on your environment and community. The simple act of tossing a can into a recycling bin rather than a trashcan not only diverts needless trash from entering landfills, but also decreases the need to extract and process virgin materials from the earth.  In this way, recycling saves natural resources and energy, thus helping the economy by reducing production and energy expenses.

Here is a great step by step path to going Green by starting with a recycling program at your school.  Why reinvent the wheel? Use this great step by step guide to getting your program started and share with me your successes and failures!

I am about to start one at my daughters’ school here in Chicago and really want to expand the idea just beyond a recycling program.

Why are we recycling? What are the implications for our planet and how will our efforts measurably impact our school, our community and the world?

If kids can undertand in some way (depending on their grade level) WHY they are doing something then I think it will go a long way towards their involvement with and their more complete understanding of why we should recycle (and re-use and reduce) our waste.

How to Start a Recycling Program at Your School.

Green Home Guide from USGBC


A really great tool available to align home owner’s Green goals with contractors.

ASID Foundation and USGBC have partnered on the development of best practice guidelines for sustainable residential improvement projects. REGREEN fosters sustainable renovation practices and benefits by providing quality resources, including REGREEN Residential Remodeling Guidelines, numerous case studies, educational offerings, a Certificate of designation for green remodel professionals, a green strategy generator that specifies green measures based on project scope and goals and much more.

U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide.