Tag Archives: Community

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!

 

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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.

Illinois’ Third Passive House built in River Forest


The home’s cobalt blue siding sets it apart from older brick houses in its River Forest neighborhood. But the color of the house on Jackson Avenue is the least of its distinguishing factors.

 

As northern Illinois’ first certified passive house, Corinna and Rodrigo Lema’s new house is a celebrity in architectural circles. Originated in Germany, a passive house has maximum indoor air quality and is super energy-efficient.

 

The Lemas’ house is the third certified passive house in Illinois, according to the Passive House Institute U.S., which certifies them. The other two are in Urbana and Champaign.

 

“If it were a car, it would be getting 300 miles per gallon,” said Mark Miller, executive director of the Passive House Alliance United States, which advocates for these homes. “Europe has embraced this for years. In the U.S., we’re just catching up. There are only 34 certified in the U.S.”

 

Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities | Video on TED.com


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The Sharable Future of Cities

TED Talks How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need — while reducing the time we spend in cars.

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

Rethinking the global vision of moving towards urban net zero designs. As always TED rocks and so does Alex Steffen

See on www.ted.com

Climate Change and Human Responsibility


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It can’t be denied any longer: Sea levels are rising, major droughts are continuing, and record hot summers are being experienced all around the world. Climate change is real and, as residents of Earth, we have a responsibility to our planet to do something about it. A recent study conducted by Yale University and George Mason University finds that, for the first time since the research began in 2008, the majority of Americans believe that global warming is mostly a man-made phenomenon.

As sobering images of catastrophes are making headlines, this graphic looks at how people are recognizing that the effects of their actions aren’t just an increasing danger to the world but are a direct threat to the future for themselves and their families.

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

Decisions have consequences. In some cases irreversible and significant. Changing Tides….great post

See on columnfivemedia.com

Building the Green Economy and Job Creation


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Main Authored by:  Maggie Comstock Media Feature image:  Prolonged applause, two standing ovations, a full crowd erupting in…

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

Pushing forward the concept of sustainable building and job creation!

See on new.usgbc.org

New homes planned for NOLA


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New homes planned for Lower 9th WardThe Daily AdvertiserNEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former professional football players are teaming with New Orleans area builders to construct at least three new homes in the Lower 9th Ward — and they’re hoping to have it…

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

More good things happening down in NOLA

See on www.theadvertiser.com

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.”

My guilt on fake vs real tree has been answered!


My guilt on fake vs real tree has been answered! Real Christmas trees more sustainable than fakes http://ow.ly/g2oRl#healthyhomeschicago

Real Christmas trees more sustainable than fakes, forestry professor says

Steve Mitchell among the cultured Christmas trees at the UBC Farm in Vancouver, B.C., December 7, 2012. Mitchell says the most sustainable Christmas tree is the wild tree cut from underneath power lines and road right of ways – with a permit. The carbon footprint of artificial trees takes about 20 years to payback.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop , Vancouver Sun

An artificial Christmas tree would have to be used for 20 years before its carbon footprint matches that of a farmed tree, according to a forestry professor at the University of B.C.

Steve Mitchell said most artificial trees are kept only six years before fashions change and owners throw them out. Most end their life in a landfill.

“Artificial trees need to be kept for 20 years for the carbon emissions to be equivalent to using natural trees,” Mitchell said, referring to a life cycle study done in 2009 by Ellipsos, a Montreal-based sustainable consulting company.

People can choose a wild tree and either a farmed cut tree or a farmed living tree. Of all the options, the most sustainable is a wild tree, he said.

Technology Green Energy: Sustainable Design


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architecture building and culture a unique compendium of links for those interested in and building a good start when moving toward making life easier on the earth bridge the oregon chapter of the american apwa …

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

A wealth of topics and resources on sustainable design & energy grids

See on technologygreenenergy.blogspot.fr

Congress Creates New Water Heater Energy Efficiency Ratings


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new water heater energy-efficiency rating system for the US

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

From my last post about making no small plans to this post about the smallest of common housing systems; the domestic hot water heater and the congressional rating system about to be established for our country. Small plans too are just as important as the larger ones.

See on feedproxy.google.com

A Sustainable Community – Constructech


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A Sustainable CommunityConstructechGreen building is growing at a rapid pace. Rather than one-off, high-tech, sustainable buildings, many governments have something a bit larger in mind—sustainable city centers.

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

Daniel Burnham said (amongst other wise things) “Make no small plans”. Take heed Chicago and global friends. Think sustainable at the neighborhood scale and city center scale.

See on www.constructech.com

#USGBC Is at it again with this awesome interactive and innovative website they just launched to promote the global initiatives being discovered and improved around the world. GBIG


Green Building Information Gateway http://ow.ly/fYHml #healthyhomes

The First Net-Zero-Energy Stadium Will Be In The Next World Cup


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Brazil is about to do double-duty hosting international sporting events–first, the 2014 World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics. That means some serious sports center remodeling is in order.

See on www.fastcoexist.com

Stay out of my living room say some


Stay out of my living room say some. Smart meter installation | SmartPlanet http://ow.ly/fW5KR ^HH

Organic = Healthy: Who Are You Kidding? – Huffington Post UK (blog)


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Organic = Healthy: Who Are You Kidding?Huffington Post UK (blog)Ok, before we get started, I’m all for the environment, I’m totally against the abhorrent treatment of animals, and as my profession would suggest, I’m very much up for people eating…

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Sustainable homes for Earth – Earthship Biotecture


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By Caitlin Howlett G Magazine Looking like something Tolkein’s hobbits would reside in, the quirky Earthship homes are in fact some of the greenest ki…

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American Homes Filled With Fire Retardants | Care2 Healthy Living


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Spare change isn’t the only thing hiding in your couch cushions. Fire retardants are surprisingly common in everyday furniture items.

See on www.care2.com

The incredible origami house that can change shape depending on the weather


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This new incredible folding house is able to, in the words of its creators, ‘metamorphosize’ into eight different configurations to adapt to seasonal, meteorological and even astronomical conditions (The house that is EIGHT homes in one: The incredible…

See on www.dailymail.co.uk

Shooting hoops for healthy hearts at HMS – Helena Independent Record


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Shooting hoops for healthy hearts at HMSHelena Independent RecordAbout 50 Helena Middle School students took to the basketball court Friday morning to keep their hearts healthy, learn basketball skills and celebrate their contribution to the…

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