Tag Archives: San Diego

Green Apple Day of Service

September 29, 2012 is the date for the first ever Green Apple Day of Service, an event hosted and promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools.

On that day, advocates from all over the globe will join together to show support for a healthier and more sustainable world by performing various environmental service projects.  Even though the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is based in the United States, it recognizes that environmental issues are of global concern which is why the organization has reached out to conservation and sustainable-living movements for involvement on a multi-national scale.

Green Apple Logo

On mygreenapple.org, participants can search for service projects by country, city and even by the type of project they would like to be involved in. The site lists a number of different target areas relating to sustainability and environmental protection – featuring titles like “Waste Not,” “Take it Outside,” and “Educate” – making it easy for people to find service projects that best suit their interests and areas of expertise. There is even an RSVP option that allows participants to make a commitment to attend an event in advance.

One of the most exciting things about this project is the fact that it involves organizations from all over the world.  A large number of international organizations have already joined the USGBC in support of the Green Apple Day of Service and are hosting events in their own communities to help tackle important environmental issues.These are issues that affect us all and being able to join together from across the globe makes a powerful statement.

To date, the Green Apple Day of Service has already added more than 270 service projects worldwide. Join one by clicking here. Green Apple Day Map

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“Reduce Your Use” Program Reminds Us to Conserve

Energy companies are finding creative ways to save energy, especially when needed. “Reduce Your Use” was started by San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) as an answer to high-use energy days that caused shortage problems around the county. The program’s participation is optional, but SDG&E gives cash rebates to residential customers that play along.

The rules are simple: SDG&E customers who reduce their energy use from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Reduce Your Use days will see a credit of $0.75 per reduced kilowatt hour on their next energy bill.

SDG&E Customers are encouraged to set up email or text alerts by visiting sdge.com/reduceuse so that they can be notified the day before a “Reduce Your Use” day occurs. This will enable customers to plan ahead and take steps to save the most energy and maximize their reward. Watch this video to learn more about “Reduce Your Use” days.

Common ways to save energy on high-use days:

  1. Raise the air conditioning thermostat five degrees higher than normal
  2. Unplug unused electronics
  3. Use appliances in the evening or early morning

Additional ways to save energy can be found by taking the interactive Energy Tour.

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QUIZ: Water Conservation 101 Answers Revealed!

Sustainable Water SupplyThe following quiz is from a recent article in Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C) Magazine on water conservation and the elements of facility design. The answers to the quiz are highlighted in green. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages to see who landed the title of “Green Building Guru” for scoring the highest! If you’d like to take this quiz to obtain Continuing Education Units (CEU), click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for instructions!


1.       One of the most regular and predictable of all indoor water uses accounts for about 33 percent of total building water consumption. What is it?

a.       Coffee machines.

b.      Toilet flushing.

c.       Janitorial maintenance.

d.      Restroom faucets.

2.       Which of the following is NOT used to treat storm water or greywater for reuse within a facility?

a.       Aerobic pretreatment.

b.      Reverse osmosis.

c.       Rain sensors.

d.      Settling.

3.       True or false: Aside from leaks, the three ways that water is eliminated from cooling towers include evaporation, drift and blowdown. The total of these effects equals the cooling towers total makeup water needed.

a.       True.

b.      False.

4.       To improve the water efficiency of heating and hot water systems by as much as 70 percent, a retrofit or new construction project can include:

a.       A single-pass cooling system.

b.      Blowdown processes.

c.       Drift elimination.

d.      Condensate return system.

5.       A novel restroom fixture technology seen recently in Europe allows users to determine the level of water flow, from ultra-low flow to higher flow levels, based on a mechanical feature. This fixtures work based on…

a.       Resistance to force applied to the handle.

b.      Use of aerators to change the water flow appearance.

c.       A range of setting indicators corresponding to specific water needs.

d.      None of the above.

6.       Predevelopment site hydrology includes awareness of both site conditions as well as regional conditions of a natural site before construction-related land disturbance. Which of the following is NOT considered on the assessment of predevelopment hydrology?

a.       Runoff.

b.      Irrigation needs.

c.       Infiltration.

d.      Evapotranspiration rates.

7.       True or false: By definition, xeriscaping plantings are (1) appropriate to the local climate, (2) require minimum watering, and (3) contribute to landscaping that minimizes evaporation and runoff.

a.       True.

b.      False.

8.       Which of the following statements accurately describes the features or use of rain sensors?

a.       They can be hardwired or wireless.

b.      Some contain hygroscopic disks to activate switches.

c.       They can be combined with freeze sensors.

d.      All of the above.

9.       For site installations where irrigation systems are used, assessments of potential water-use reduction goals may be undertaken with a basic punch list or audit, which provides for:

a.       Pre-selection of low-flow restroom fixtures.

b.      Full commissioning of irrigation systems.

c.       Review of site inspection, performance testing and irrigation scheduling.

d.      None of the above.

10.   True or false: Two fixtures with the same rated efficiencies will save the same amount of water, regardless of use conditions or end-user behaviors.

a.       True.

b.      False.

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Old Flip-Flops Find an Eco-Friendly Function

In areas where the climate is mostly warm and sunny, if you were to look into the average person’s closet you would most likely find at least one pair of flip-flops – that well-known footwear staple of beach-goers, surfers and laid-back types the world over.  You might even find 2 or 3 pairs, or in some extreme cases more like 23 pairs, all in different styles, colors and designs.  The flip-flop has moved up in the world of footwear fashion, and for die-hard floppers everywhere there will be no turning back now or any time soon.

One thing about flip-flops, though, is that they tend to wear out quicker than most other shoes, probably because we wear them so much and we wear them with our bare feet, both of which tend to work against a flip-flop’s best interests.  Because there are so many different styles to choose from and they are relatively inexpensive compared to other shoes, we usually just toss out the old and bring in the new.

But now, a movement called the Flip-Flop Brigade is being spearheaded by TerraCycle, a company that takes things that aren’t normally thought of as recyclable and turns them into a variety of products that are both useful and environmentally friendly.  The Flip-Flop Brigade partners with companies like Old Navy to recycle old flip-flops in exchange for discounts, coupons and exclusive special deals.Recycle Flip Flops

It’s totally free to participate in a TerraCycle Brigade. There are no signup or participation fees, and the shipping is covered by the program.  Just collect a bunch of old flip-flops (you have to send in at least 18 lbs. of stuff, or about 50 flip-flops, at a time to get the special deals offered) and then go online to the TerraCycle website to print your free shipping label and get started saving the environment AND saving money.

And with all the money you save from the coupons and special offers you get, just think of how many more flip-flops you can add to your collection!

For more information about TerraCycle and their many other recycling “brigades”, click here.


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RenewAire is Green from the Inside Out

RenewAire LogoRenewAire recognized the importance of energy efficiency years befor­­e the “go green” movement and at the dawn of an age where companies were just beginning to evaluate the importance of sustainable practices.

Since opening its doors in 1978, RenewAire’s commitment to energy efficiency has only grown. A U.S. manufacturer of energy recovery ventilation systems, the company has installed more than 150,000 energy-efficient ventilation systems in homes and businesses from across the nation. Their commitment to sustainability can be seen in the 2005 construction of their new “green” office headquarters – a LEED® Silver project with Green Globes and ENERGY STAR® ­certifications.­RenewAire Going Green

Another of RenewAire’s green ventures was joining the Madison Gas and Electric Green Power Tomorrow (GPT) program. The GPT initiative promotes the purchase of clean electricity, like wind and solar power. The program claims that for every kilowatt-hour of green power purchased, there’s a kilowatt-hour of electricity that won’t be generated with nonrenewable fuels. Through joining the GPT, RenewAire made the commitment to harness 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources – mainly wind.

Joining the GPT initiative also propelled RenewAire toward its latest energy efficiency goal: certification as a WindMade company. WindMade is a recently launched international organization that promotes and certifies the use of wind-generated electricity for businesses around the world. The organization has quickly become of interest to other international institutions and has even garnered support from the United Nations.

RenewAire is and is one of just a few U.S. companies to be a pioneering member of the group.

Whether it’s LEED, Green Globes, ENERGY STAR® or WindMade certification, one thing is certain; RenewAire is a leader is corporate sustainability and organizations across the globe are taking notice.

­RenewAire is a valued Partner of The Green Schoolhouse Series. To learn more about its Partnership, visit the RenewAire microsite here.


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Eco-friendly Guitars – From the Forest to the Factory

Taylor Guitars believes in being an active participant in the worldwide ecosystem and the company expresses that belief by making sure its guitars represent the highest level of eco-responsibility at every stage of construction.

Taylor Guitars was established in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug and has since become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium acoustic, acoustic/electric and electric guitars.

The renowned guitar company, headquartered in El Cajon, California, has grown since 1974 from a small operation to a large enterprise that now employs nearly 700 people.  Each day, Taylor Guitars produces hundreds of guitars in its state-of-the-art factories in El Cajon and Tecate, Mexico. The company’s guitars are available in more than 800 retail locations in North America and more than 60 countries worldwide. However, the company’s undeniable growth has not hindered its commitment to the environment.

In the 1990s, Taylor developed an environmentally friendly polyester guitar finish that didn’t have the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in finishes commonly used on other guitars. Taylor also changed its specifications for milling neck wood from mahogany trees to increase the number of guitar necks yielded from each tree harvested by about 50 percent. Even the containers that house its guitars are made with the environment in mind. Taylor’s Partner, Reflex Packaging, uses recyclable materials to produce the guitar box inserts used to cushion guitars during transport.

Another sustainable initiative taken by Taylor was to increase the companies recycling efforts. In 2011, Taylor recycled more than 35 tons of cardboard, 20,000 pounds of paper and paper products, all plastic wrap, used printer toners, electronic equipment, batteries, fluorescent lights, blades, and electrical parts and components, including e-waste recyclables and oil and coolant products.

Much of its scrap wood and sawdust is converted into particleboard and mulch, and some pieces are even donated to a local association that transforms the materials into toys for orphans in Tijuana, Mexico.

Even as a growing, multi-national company, Taylor Guitars believes in the importance of not just its product, but of the environment and community.

To learn more about Taylor Guitar’s commitment to sustainability, visit its website.

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Bike to Work Day

As gas prices rise and busy schedules leave little time for a workout, many commuters have found a green alternative by biking to work. On Friday morning May 18th The Green Schoolhouse Series will take part in the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) annual Bike to Work Day.

The third Friday in May is nationally recognized as Bike to Work Day and SANDAG supports bicycling as a “viable, environmentally friendly, cost-saving commute choice.”

The Green Schoolhouse Series will be hosting a pit stop during the event with drinks, tee-shirts, granola bars and a chance to win a Starbucks gift card!

Check out this map to see the locations of all the sponsors and what they are offering to the cyclists in their areas.

The Green Schoolhouse Series and Partner Reno Contracting, will be stationed from 6:00am to 9:00am at the northeast corner of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real in Carlsbad, Calif. We look forward to seeing you cycling in our area!

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River Mapping

RiverviewYou’ve probably heard of a little off-shoot website called “Google Maps.” For those who haven’t, Google Maps is a web mapping service application and technology provided by Google—one that powers almost any mapping service you encounter on the web. It offers street maps, a route planner for traveling by foot, car, bike or public transport and an urban business locator for numerous countries around the world. In terms of transportation, it seems that Google Maps provides users with everything they need – unless they are traveling by water. That’s where Jared Criscuolo comes in.

The 30-year old San Diego Native and water sports enthusiast became intrigued by the concept of mapping our nation’s water systems in 2006 after encountering pollution problems in the southern California post-rain surf.

What started as intrigue eventually grew into a five year commitment to document the nation’s rivers and water pollution levels from a first person point of view. After contacting the United States Geological Survey in May 2011, he was enlisted to work with them on their attempt to video document 27 rivers in a time frame of five years.

RiverviewThe Riverview Project (as it is now called) will be provide a 360 degree view similar to Google’s Streetview and will be used for tracking paddling, fishing and camping routes. It will also serve as an environmental policy and protection tool due to the project’s plan to have Criscuolo test the pollution levels of all of the areas he encounters.

While Riverview will probably be used most by fisherman and paddlers, the project is attracting the attention of a number of non-profits as well.

The process Criscuolo is using to accomplish this feat involves harnessing the same technology and resources used by Google Maps. Criscuolo and the Riverview team have actually managed to enlist a few people from Google to advise them on how to optimize the company’s mapping tools.

The project also plans to create an interactive app called Streamview that will allow individuals to take part in the mapping process by adding their own content to the project. It will enable them to gather creative footage of what they encounter on their routes and add that footage to the collected data.

While the Geological Survey has provided access to its vast network of tangible resources (i.e. boats, staff, and scientific data), the Riverview Project’s main financial backers include the Clif Bar Family Foundation, the Alaskan Brewing Company, the Surfrider Foundation, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

To learn more about the Riverview project (and to experience the site-in-progress for yourself), you can visit riverviewproject.org.

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The Future of Prefab Homes

Prefab homes are not just an affordable housing alternative; they are becoming one of the most talked about trends in green living.

Many manufactures are unveiling prefab design prototypes that rival some of the most modern and visually appealing homes on the market – AND they are being built with sustainability in mind.

The concept of greening these prefab homes was brought about to meet the needs of the budget-conscious (and eco-conscious) individuals who don’t want to sacrifice functional design and modern esthetic for price.

A prefab home can save a homeowner up to 15 percent over a home build on-site depending on the location, size of the house and intricacies of design.

Because many of these new homes are optimized for sustainability, they will also save homeowners on utility costs, making their savings on investment increase over time.  Architects, contractors and manufactures of these prefab homes are using innovative techniques that would cost traditional homeowners more money to recreate in their green home renovations or site-building projects.

Also, by using less space and materials, prefab homes work to preserve natural resources and leave a smaller ecological footprint than conventional on-site construction.

If you still haven’t been sold on the idea, check out some of these prefabulous modulars that have been attracting the attention of the green building community:

Aktiv (Swedish for “Active”) is the latest prefab green home designed by Oregon-based architectural firm Ideabox in conjunction with Ikea Portland. These one-bedroom starter homes were conceptualized and designed by Ideabox and then outfitted with wardrobe, flooring and cabinetry by Ikea. The theme of the home is no-waste, and it focuses on maximizing space and energy usage with features that include energy efficient lighting and space-saving furnishings. These compact models retail for around $86,000.

livinghomeLivingHome C6 is now available from Santa Monica, Calif.-based developer LivingHomes. Starting at around $179,000 (plus site prep work and installation), these 1,232-square-foot homes can be fully constructed in less than two months and installed on-site in one day. Once installed, the Energy Star-certified C6 is eligible for LEED-Platinum level certification, the highest level of sustainability according to the US Green Building Council.

ma Modular homes are the “ambitious offspring” of the Austin-based design and build firm KRDB. Their mission is to make modern design homes affordable to everyone. Their homes – starting at around $140 a square foot – feature energy star appliances and options for solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling and rainwater collection.


For more info on the future of prefab homes, check out fabprefab.com.


Filed under Architecture, Recycling, Sustainability, Uncategorized

Eco-friendly Easter Projects DO Exist!

See below for our top ideas — and have a Happy Easter!

Tomorrow is Easter, and what better way to honor the Easter bunny than by taking care of his natural habitat?  Add some “spring” to your step with these eco-friendly Easter ideas:

Natural Egg Dye

Ditch the synthetic dyes and go natural. By using organic ingredients, this recipe is kind to your wallet and your health—and you’ll learn a thing or two about the beauty of nature.  “Two Men and A Little Farm” has created eggselent recipes to get the perfect springtime shades.

Revamp an Old Tradition

Instead of baskets filled with individually wrapped candies and padded with fake grass, reduce your plastic waste by switching to a greener (and healthier) alternative.

Fill a reusable basket with pencils, natural finger paints, recycled drawing pads, etc. to give your kids the gift of creativity.

Bake homemade treats made from natural or organic ingredients for your friends and family to avoid extra plastic waste from store-bought foods.  The Daily Green has a great list of healthier desserts sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Forego the baskets all together by gathering your family to plant an organic vegetable garden.  You can find cute gardening pails at your local convenience store, and most nurseries sell vegetables that are already grown – just transplant them into your own garden and enjoy year-round.

Reusable Eggs

Rather than using disposable plastic eggs or dyeing real eggs, turn the hunt into a DIY craft by making eggs you can hide year after year.  “Favecrafts” has a great tutorial for braided Easter eggs using fabric scraps and recycled water bottles to create a unique look your friends and family will love.


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