Green Living in Adobe House – The Benefits of Living in a Green Adobe House

On a visit to Tucson in 2003, an old high school friend of mine, Daniel Snyder of Westwind Solar Electric, introduced me to the designer and builder Tom Wuelpern.  As the award winning owner of Rammed Earth Development, Wuelpern has built many an adobe house in the Tucson area.

Wuelpern lives and works in the Barrio Santa Rosa district of central Tucson and the 800 block of Meyer Avenue has been a principle focus of his creativity.  Here he’s built homes that complement the vintage adobes of that historic district.  When he first arrived there wasn’t a single house left on that stretch of Meyer Avenue so Wuelpern had to live out of a trailer while building his first home.  He says the neighborhood was “a little rough” and that occasionally he’d sit out in front of the trailer “with a gun over my knees.”

Things have changed since those early days when people said that Wuelpern was crazy to build in a “slum.”  Now the original residents share the Barrio Santa Rosa with, artists, architects, symphony musicians, and many other creative types attracted by the rustic character of the adobe house.

Adobe construction was first brought to the southwest by the early Spanish settlers who were originally introduced to it by the Moors from North Africa.

One old adobe after another crowds the Barrio’s dusty avenues, many of them painted in vibrant colors which scintillate in the desert heat.  The Barrio Santa Rosa really has the feel of a traditional Mexican town.

I, being a “creative type”, was enchanted by all of this and when Wuelpern offered me the opportunity to have some input on the adobe house that he was about to build, I had to say “yes.”

And it has been a treat to get to know the pleasures of a small Green adobe house. 

The walls are 18 inches thick and the floor is poured concrete with a radiant heating system embedded in it.  I chose recycled blue jeans insulation which is as effective as fiberglass for temperature but even better for sound, and more green and ecological so that it will never present any hazard to the environment or to anyone’s health.

I get a snug feeling just thinking about my adobe abode.

The paint on the interior walls is uniquely appropriate because it is a non-toxic clay paint composed of earth pigments sourced from the desert landscape itself.  All other interior paints are Non-VOC, so they do not pollute the interior space of the house.  I am always struck by the yucky smell of toxic chemicals emanating from the paint, carpeting, and other components of newly built or remodeled conventional buildings.  It’s the first thing I notice and there is none of that in this Green Living, ecological, adobe house.

In addition to benefiting our health by not out gassing toxins the natural paint allows the thick adobe walls to breathe because it doesn’t form an impermeable skin between the interior air and the walls.  These walls can then act as a temperature and humidity reservoir for the house which stabilizes the in door climate through out the day.

Adobe is not a very efficient insulating material so an adobe house is not the best choice for regions with harsh winters but it is an excellent choice for the desert where it gets very hot during the day and can be very cold at night.  This is because adobe has a good “thermal mass,” which means that as the suns heat is absorbed by the exterior walls it gradually penetrates through the wall to warm the interior during the night.  By the next morning the cold night air has cooled the wall contributing, in turn, to cooler interior temperatures during the day. This allows me to cut back on the air conditioning and the heating. 

Since adobe is essentially an inert material, the “toxic” content of the structure is hugely reduced.  This makes adobe construction, when feasible, a very attractive Green Living alternative.  Adobe construction is a reasonable way to achieve sustainable living spaces appropriate for us and the environment.

This is a very comfortable Green Living and ecological adobe house.  It is a beautiful residence which places no demand or burden upon its occupants; it feels neutral and enriches the spirit with its light and benevolent character.

Brick Home – Understanding Its Advantages and Disadvantages

The most common dilemma that people are facing is choosing between investing in a wood house or a house made from bricks. The decision of the people will basically be based on their economic standing. However, sometimes people will miss looking at the many advantages of investing in a brick house because they are so consumed with their desire to cut down their expenses.

The advantages one can get from owning a brick house will also depend on there location. If you live in cold places, then a brick home can be best for you. The properties of the bricks absorb heat and retain it for a long time. More so if your house is placed where it can directly absorb the heat of the sun. And because heat travels slow in bricks, your house will remain warm even until night. Another good thing about this type of home is that you can be assured that you are well protected from storm. This can be a better option for people who live in areas where storm is a great threat. However, for those who are living in remote areas where there is a risk of erosion that can damage the bricks and there is a wide supply of wood, wood can be a more practical option.

Bricks can be a worthwhile investment. Its value does not depreciate and it can be sold at a much higher cost than the actual expense of building it. Thus you can sell the house at a much higher cost with less effort. But one disadvantage of using bricks for your house is that your options for renovation are very minimal. You can not just simply change the structure if you wish to because the bricks. Thus, a brick house will not be a very good idea if want you want is a semi permanent house. Also, for eco-friendly people woods can be more appealing. More so, wood is more affordable. Bricks can last fro almost two life times if installed properly. On the other hand, properly seasoned woods are also durable, though it is not termite free like bricks are.

Although bricks are really durable, but low quality bricks can also give you a lot of headaches. Bricks that are not properly made or those made from low quality materials may chip off or break easily. If you are unlucky to may have used this kind of bricks, you may be faced with a real headache. Another disadvantage of using bricks is it can be prone to molds especially if you are living in a humid climate.

You see, your location greatly affects the durability of the materials that you will use to build your home. Thus, it will be much better if you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using bricks for your home fairly. Of course, you need to put in to consideration your geographical location in deciding. This will spare you from facing a lot of problems in the future.

Evolution of Green Real Estate Properties

The ideologies of the buyers in the real estate industry have been drastically changed over the years. All they need is eco-friendly or environmental properties with required facilities. Some of the environment friendly features are:

Use of renewable energy sources

The current trend in the market is demand for eco-friendly properties. Use of solar energy in water heating appliances, air conditioners and inverters can attract many buyers. This kind of energy sources can reduce their E-bills.

Rainwater collectors

Rainwater harvesting is effective way of storing rainwater for domestic usage. By using this method in our home, a large scale of water scarcity can be reduced.

Use of wooden furniture’s

Consumers are considering organic materials like wood and bamboo to be used in interior furniture. Plywood made from wood chips and window treatment, which include bamboo shades are some of the organic designs evolving in the green properties. Wooden furniture can add warmth, richness, comfort and finesse to the household area.

Natural landscaping

It is one of the important factors for the green real estate property. Properties, which have native plants and trees growing in and around the surroundings, have much demand among the consumers. A property, which has artificial grass lawns, requires lot of water to be supplied whereas native plants and trees require only seasonal rainfall to grow. Plenty of water can be saved by having natural growing trees and plants.

Eco-friendly interior insulations

Interior insulation in home is necessary as it affects the room temperature. Use of eco-friendly insulations with wooden chips, cotton, small broken pieces of stones and rocks, newspapers, cellulose insulation can reduce the noise and green house gas emission. Natural insulations have a low embodied energy and are fully disposable/recyclable at the end of their life.

Due to the increased demand in green real estate, many firms have started to promote their properties as eco-friendly homes. Buyers are showing more interest in having energy efficient products and systems in properties. Many financial institutions and private sector firms are investing huge money in green real estate predicting its demand in the future. According to government policies, investors who are investing in this sector pay fewer taxes compared to commercial sector investing. Green building construction has become increasingly popular and construction of such buildings has been a great challenge in long run. A green building is setting up new avenues in sector and increases the talent among the architects, environmentalists and suppliers.

Ideas For New House Siding

One of the easiest ways to update the exterior a building house is to change the siding. Exterior siding can either replaced or repainted.

One of the common house siding ideas is to repaint the walls. Paint comes in a variety of finishes, from matte to high gloss. Needless to say, the glossy look is very unusual for the exterior of a house and sometimes isn’t available in anti-mold or weather resistant formulations. Neutral and earth-tone colors are perennial favorites, and light-toned pastel colors can brighten up the exterior of a house. Very dark colors are inadvisable on smaller houses as they can make it look closed-in and forbidding. Unless that’s the exact look you’re going for, of course!

Other times, people casting about for house siding ideas will decide to replace the siding completely with a different material, color or texture. The materials are generally either “natural” or “synthetic”. Wood, brick, stucco and other materials with a natural veneer appearance are always popular. The cost of the material varies with its quality. However, natural materials like wood are more expensive to maintain and may need periodic replacement if not cared for properly. Synthetic siding materials like plastic, or vinyl, siding, as well as wood-plastic composites are quite popular. Such material initially costs more but maintenance is relatively cheap. Additionally, this can be more durable than natural materials such as wood.

Having climbing plants, which not a good idea for impatient people, is another way of changing the exterior look of a house. A trellis should be used as a frame for the creepers to climb on, as allowing the plants to climb directly up the walls has the potential to cause structural damage, e.g. cracking and rot. In addition to being eco-friendly, plants cool your home by shading it during hot weather. Just remember to water them regularly!

As always, don’t forget to bear in mind local housing requirements and also set aside an adequate budget for any home improvement project!

The Services Provided by House Clearance Companies That Makes Your Life Easy and Stress Free

The level of service that is provided by the house cleaning companies nowadays, have come a long way from the old days when this service was first started in a professional way. The stress is being more environment friendly, so you can be assured that the waste that is collected from your home will be recycled in an useful way, rather than being discarded in a dump yard where it would collect rust. All the ethical companies of recent times are very conscious of this fact and if you hire a reputable company then you can be rest assured that your stuff which has been rejected will find a suitable end.

So how do you find a reputable house clearance company that will adhere to all the rules and regulations while carrying out their task in a sensitive an deficient way… well there are a number of methods, and if you keep in mind some points, then you will surely get a company that carry out the service in a way which does not harm the environment as well as takes care of all your clearance needs. Below mentioned are some tips for choosing the right company:

  • Before beginning the job, specifically ask the company how they plan to recycle your waste products, and what are the fees that they will charge for the entire work. It will be better if the entire thing is taken down in writing, so that there is no debate on the charges applicable while the job is completed midway.
  • Make sure to ask the clearance company what they plan to do with the bulky and hazardous items and how they plan to recycle the same, so that there is no harmful carbon footprint left behind during the clearance process.
  • Make sure that the company you are thinking of hiring have all the necessary legal papers to carry out each clearance task in a proper way, and do not land you into trouble in any way by irresponsibly dumping things where they are not supposed to get dumped. Ensure that they are fully covered with liability insurance so that you don’t face any huge damage if by accident there is any damage to the items that you have planned to keep or to the property in general.
  • Pay attention to the fact that the house clearance company that you have hired has all the heavy duty trucks or vehicles that can haul away any item, as well as their manpower are trained and experience so that there is no hitch in the clearance process.
  • Make sure that the company you choose is properly registered with the environment agency, and carry out their clearance function in an eco friendly way. All the materials should be hauled away safely so that the grounds around the house or property is not littered and does not mess up the locality.

There can be a number of reasons why the services of a house clearance company is required by a homeowner or a property holder. Whatever the reason it is the main aim of the house clearance company to clear the clutter and bring things to a manageable level. The services of clearance can also be required by people looking for selling off their property or letting them out on rent. Hence the house cleaning company should be trained to handle a wide variety of items starting from washing machines, refrigerators to carpets and furniture, books and bikes, as well as clothing or upholstery items. A qualifies house clearing company provide services that will most likely be charged, based on cubic foot of area to be cleared, in addition to any extra instruction such as removal of toxic or harmful materials and recyclable substance. Molds, mildew, lead based paints all come under the purview of clearance and make sure that you choose a thorough professional who will be able to handle all and everything.

Transportable Homes – Your TOP Benefits and Advantages of Modular Homes

Transportable Homes are Environmentally Friendly

Damage to the environment on your site is minimised compared with having a team of builders on site for 3 months. Also, when placing your new relocatable home, the impact on fora and fauna is greatly reduced. The ability to choose your building materials empowers you to make good decisions so your new home is more energy efficient and eco-friendly.

Solar heating is an option; like with any regular home. Your ability to reduce your impact on environment and have a clean, green home is achievable with a pre-manufactured home.

In some cases, a company may use recycled building materials upon your request to embrace eco-friendly building practices.

Transportable Homes Building Material Choices

You have a wide range of different building materials to choose from to customise your relocatable home. Everything from the cladding to the roofing; flooring to paint for your walls. You have as much choice and freedom to individualised your house as building a home in the traditional method.

Transportable Homes are Well Insulated

Relocatable homes are traditionally smaller and therefore heating a compact area costs less. Also, the insulation standards of new homes is high in Australia; regardless of building on or off site.

Heating a well insulated home is going to save you money. Whether you decide to heat your new house with electricity, gas or fireplace; your costs are reduced when heating and cooling a well insulated, energy-efficient home.

Transportable Homes are the Best Value for Your Money

Because your relocatable home is manufactured off-site, the materials are purchased in bulk and the savings are passed on to you. There is less waste during manufacture in a controlled environment. Also, all the Tradesmen are in the on location and following a system which makes relocatable homes a very cost effective housing option.

Because all the electrical wiring and plumbing is laid out and tested during the building process; your costs are greatly reduced when hooking up to power, gas, water and plumbing on your site.

Transportable Homes are Stronger

In most cases, buildings that are going to be transported (sometimes hundreds of kilometers) have to have extra reinforcing to stop damage during transit. Pre-manufactured homes on the other hand are built stronger to cope with the flexing, wind and movement; heavier reinforcement is part of the normal construction.

Transportable Homes are Hassle-free and FAST.

When you decide to have a relocatable made to your liking; you pass over all the tedious and frustrating elements to your contractor. No waiting for Tradesmen to turn up late or praying the weather stays fine. Everything is taken care of by your manufactured home supplier; who may construct your new home in a massive shed. In a production-line where the weather is not a reason for any building delays. The average building time for a manufactured home is 12 weeks in Australia.

When you compare this to waiting 12 to 18 months for a builder to even start building on your block; transportable homes look very attractive.

The beauty of a relocatable home is seeing your empty land become a property with a home on it in 24 hours. FAST and convenient.

Transportable Homes Using Your Design and Floor Plan

Companies that manufacture relocatable homes have a standard range of floor-plans to choose from. However, they can be modified to suit your lifestyle. Or, you can send the company a sketch of your dream home and they will be able to help you bring it to fruition.

In the past 10 years, technology has advanced to such an extent that architects have been enabled to design fabulous luxury homes constructed in modules within the pre-manufactured building sector.

Transportable Homes can be Moved in the Future.

Relocatable homes are built on a chassis and easily moved. So, if you decide in 10 years time to relocate to another property,… you can.

To learn more about relocatable homes in Australia, visit Transportable Homes Specialist and Get Your FREE Information Guide.

Green Living Tips – How to Go Green and Save Money – green living

Green living is now on most everyone’s agenda. As surprising as it may sound, even kids are leading the way in some households.But there are still some people who think that green living is beyond them as it’s perceived to be too expensive. We’re not talking solar panels and wind turbines here folks! Everyone can practice green living each day without breaking the bank with just some simple tips. Here they are…Green living tip # 1Throw out the Dryer!Okay, that might be a little extreme. But seriously guys, one of the best ways to go green is to stop using or reduce the use of your dryers. They use an immense amount of energy and I’m sure you feel it in your pocket each month when you get the electric bill. If you have just 2 people living in a household and you wash every other week, you still have to do multiple loads. I do like 4-5 loads on average, so using the dryer does add up.You really don’t need to use the dryer to dry your clothes. If you live in the tropics like I do or even if you live in warm climates, hang your clothes out to dry. The sunshine and air are great for drying clothes. Shrinkage and discoloration are also reduced, so you save money on clothes as well. How cool is that? Some of you may be concerned about bird droppings. I have big trees in my yard, matter of fact all the clothes lines are under trees which habour lots of birds, but I’ve never had that problem. Chances are you won’t either.And if I don’t live in the tropics or warm climates, you ask. Simple, you can still reduce the use of the dryer. Unless you live in Alaska maybe, I’m sure it doesn’t rain and snow all the time. So make use of the good days and only use the dryer on those days when you don’t have a choice. Your pocket will still say, thank you!For Green Living you may have to get creative or do some rescheduling like wash more on the weekends instead of during the week so you can take your clothes up. But in the end it will be worth it, you can even get the kids involved.Green living tip # 2Reduce water useWant to live greener and save money? You should check all taps for leaks regularly and fix those you find. Take shorter showers. Yeah I know, that can be a real damper. I had to adjust to taking shorter showers myself but, there was a real difference in my water bill once I started praticing it. Go a step further and invest in an energy saving shower head. Oh and those bubble baths, you might want to give them up totally or reduce the number of times you have them. Save them for special occasions, that should give you something to look forward to. While you’re at it, if you don’t already have one, think about getting a new toilet cistern that uses less than two gallons of water per flush. Standard cisterns use about three and a half gallons. Using less water uses less energy and saves you money!Green living tip # 3Forget driving for very short trips, walk instead! Have you ever noticed how some people seem to drive everywhere, even around the corner to pick up the newspaper.Have you ever wondered what on earth did they do before they had a vehicle? Yep, I’ve wondered myself.Well for the sake of the environment and your own, you need to develop the habit of walking more. As long as it’s safe for you to do so, walk for those shorter trips. The health benefits of walking are great, it keeps you fit and keeps you in shape. Ladies you know where inactivity can pack on those pounds, right where we don’t want them to go. Walking can also eliminate or help to reduce circulatory problems.For moderate trips consider using a cycle. What, you don’t know how to ride? Life is an adventure! Grab yourself a helmet, some knee and elbow pads and go learn, you’re never to too old to learn new things. Moreover it can be so much fun!So, only rev up that automobile when it’s absolutely necessary. Gas is precious and it pollutes the atmosphere. Save on burning it and you can save on your cash, as well as help the environment.These are just some simple things you can do to practice green living that won’t put you out of pocket and you can have some fun while doing them too.

Seven Tips For an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

People use–and waste–more water in the bathroom than in any other room in the house. Add all that water use with polluting soaps and shampoos, the energy used to heat the water, and more–and your bathroom could be doing damage to the environment.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many things you can do to bring a little green into your bathroom. Here are just a few.

Energy-efficient light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are 90% more efficient than incandescents. Incandescent bulbs lose most of their energy as heat–which makes them a fire hazard as well.

The best lighting for a bathroom is bright enough to let you shave or apply makeup without squinting, but soft enough to look flattering while you do it. Choose bright white energy-saver bulbs, and soften the light by hanging them at eye level on either side of the mirror or putting them behind frosted glass.

Dual-flush toilets. Most new toilets use about seven or eight litres of water every time you flush. Older toilets use 9-12 litres. However, you don’t need this much water to flush a toilet.

If you want to save water, replace your toilet with a dual-flush model. Dual-flush toilets have one flush for water waste, and another for solids. Naturally, you need less water to flush water waste.

Faucets that conserve water. Leaky faucets waste millions of litres of water per year, and cost you money as well. To prevent leaks in your bathroom taps, replace your old fixtures with self-closing taps that shut off the water as soon as you stop pressing a button. This ensures your water isn’t left on while you brush your teeth or shave, and it keeps your faucet from leaking.

Think green in the shower. We waste a great deal of water in the shower–plus massive amounts of energy used to heat the water we waste. If you want to save water and save the planet at the same time, consider installing a low-flow showerhead or an air shower.

A typical showerhead delivers 25 litres of water per minute, while a low-flow showerhead delivers only 6 to 15. Cut your shower time in half and use a low-flow showerhead, and you’ll save a great deal of water.

If you really want to save water, however, consider an air shower. An air shower device can be attached to your existing showerhead. It pumps each water droplet full of air. This makes each water droplet bigger, so it feels just as wet and strong as a typical showerhead. Studies show that air showers can cut your water use by an additional 30%.

Recycled tiles. If you’re redesigning your bathroom from scratch, choose recycled materials such as reclaimed glass tiles. Glass is completely water-resistant, making it a great choice for bathroom walls, flooring, and countertops.

Choosing glass makes good ecological sense as well. Each glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for about four hours. In addition, glass accounts for about 6% of all landfill waste and takes over a million years to break down.

Heat your water efficiently. Most people wait until their water heater breaks down to buy a new one. This puts you in the position of having to find one quickly, without the luxury of shopping around. But if you take your time in finding the right water heater, it could pay off in the long run.

The most common type of water heater is a storage heater: a big storage tank that’s constantly heated. Because it’s always kept warm, this type of heater loses energy even when it isn’t used. However, there are some new models that are designed to minimize standing heat loss.

If you want a truly efficient hot water heater, however, look for a tankless heater or a solar heater. A tankless heater passes water pipes directly through the boiler, while a solar heater uses the sun’s energy to heat water. Both of these will cost more to install, but they will cost less to run.

Use nontoxic shampoos and soaps. Many ordinary soaps and shampoos contain chemicals that could put your health at risk. There are many carcinogenic chemicals in deodorants, soaps, shampoos, and body sprays. Some of these persist in the environment, build up in the food chain, and return to haunt us long after they’ve gone down the drain.

Be skeptical of products labeled “natural;” under current marketing legislation in the U.K., only 1% of a product needs to be naturally derived in order to use the label. Look for soaps and shampoos that don’t use artificial fragrances–essential oils are fine, however. Avoid mineral oil, which is just another name for petroleum oil. In addition, choose soaps and shampoos that use minimal, biodegradable packaging.

Making your bathroom more eco-friendly doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Making a change in the soaps you use, limiting your time in the shower, and installing water-efficient fixtures can make a big difference. Whether you plan a few simple changes or a big overhaul, a greener bathroom is within your reach.

EPC-Belfast: “Energy Performance Certificate for Houses in Northern Ireland”

This article is provided by epc-belfast.net, a provider of EPCs in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The EPCs a legal requirement for all houses marketed for sale or to let since 2008.

What do the Energy Performance Certificates show?

As per the Department of Finance, the Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) show the energy performance rating of buildings, from A for the most efficient to G for the least efficient and is valid for 10 years.

Consider it an energy label for buildings not unlike those energy efficiency ratings of electrical appliances such as fridges and washing machines, enforced by building regulations.

The EPC allows the owner of his house, or any other property, to know how costly a property is or how eco-friendly is in terms of carbon emissions. Prospective owners and users of the building can also use the EPC to understand the energy consumption and carbon emission of the building so that they can reduce energy use and save money.

An energy-efficiency rating is an indication of good energy performance of the building, and it can be achieved if users could make recommended improvements and other cost-effective measures.

Rating

For both dwellings and non-dwellings, the EPC will show:

  1. the current rating
  2. the potential rating after recommendations were implemented.

The rating is a measure of the energy efficiency, which is associated with fuel consumption and carbon emission.

When is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) required?

An Energy Performance certificate is required when:

  1. A property is constructed
  2. For existing properties, before they are marketed for sale
  3. A property is marketed for rent.

Take note that seller and landlords must order an EPC for the buildings before they market them for sale and rent.

During the marketing of the properties, the property agents will need the EPC so that they could include it in any commercial media for that property that includes brochures, newspaper advertisements and property websites.

A copy must also be given out to the new owners/tenants after the sale/rent.

What does the Law say about EPCs and how long are EPCs are valid for?

The Energy Performance Certificate should be produced whenever a property is marketed for sale or rent at the time. As a buyer or tenant, you are entitled to receive or be shown the EPC and accompanying recommendation report from the landlord or seller. In an event that the EPC is not made available to you as a buyer/tenant, you are entitled to contact the sellers/landlord or relevant enforcement authority who will act on the matter on your behalf.

An EPC is valid for 10 years before expiry. It can be used multiple times within this period before a renewal of the EPC that is valid for the next 10 years is required.

This can be done by ordering an Energy Performance Certificate only from an accredited energy assessor who will visit the property to conduct the assessment. When the building is assessed and rated, the energy assessor will lodge the EPC onto the Northern Ireland register and provide the owner with a copy of the EPC.

District councils are the enforcing authorities for the EPC in Northern Ireland. For more details visit https://www.epc4less.com/