30 June 2009

The DIY Spirit lives on

Reusing parts, making do with materials on hand, and can-do ingenuity -- surely these are the hallmarks of the true green home improvement spirit! In that vein, please enjoy this link to a blog devoted to fixing it yourself: There, I Fixed It.

Weatherization report tells how retailers use tax credits to drive sales

Here's a special report by the staff of Home Channel News on energizing sales at retail by making the most of the weatherization incentives in the recent stimulus package.
For many Americans, the new tax incen tives provi de the perfect justification they need to replace drafty windows and doors; add insulation to the attic; or install a new, energy-efficient water heater. These incentives are targeted to the retrofit market, providing remodelers — and their suppliers — some much-needed revenues.

Full disclosure: I'm the managing editor of Home Channel News.

25 June 2009

Green wood-like product extends reach

Lifetime Lumber makes a wood-like building product out of 65% recycled material, including fly ash. The composite boards can be used to score LEED certification points and are very fire resistant.

Anyway, the company just announced that it has reached an agreement with distributor Duraforce to offer the product in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

24 June 2009

Survey: 41% of retailers say sustainability is "key"

Prenova and Chain Store Age magazine have teamed up to produce a free report on sustainability and energy issues for retailers. You have to register with some basic data before you can download the PDF, but it's worth it. Here are a couple excerpts:
Without question, sustainability is a serious concern for retailers, regardless of the sales volume of the chain or the number of stores. In the survey, the largest percentage of retailers, 41.2%, said that sustainability is a “key component” of their strategy, and 38.6% said that sustainability is “important but not one of our top priorities.” Only 3% said “sustainability isn’t something we worry about.”

Why are the smaller-sized retailers slower to formalize their strategies? Is it simply that larger retailers have more resources to dedicate to the initiatives? Of those surveyed, only 13.9% of respondents — generally the larger-sized retailers — say that their sustainability strategies fall under the responsibility of an “energy management department,” whereas the majority of smaller retailers seem to parcel out the responsibilities to disparate groups, including facilities management, construction and finance.

Full disclosure: I'm the managing editor at Chain Store Age.

23 June 2009

Eco-news is good news at PCBC

Okay, sure, the housing market is still in the slumping doldrums (despite a little recent good news), and so the mood at PCBC, the West Coast builders show, may have been "gloomy" and "somber," but there were still some silver linings -- or should I say, green linings!

There was an interesting insulation product made partly of castor oil. (Hat tip to the Green Building Elements blog for that link, but note that the writer of the post could not resist snarking at the SFI booth.)

There were "Cool Products" that included recycled slate tiles, an energy efficient ventilation fan system, and a more-affordable rooftop solar power system.

There were "Smart Solutions" such as a wastewater system that filters water from the laundry, kitchen and shower and then reuses it for drip irrigation.

And in a report from HCN's Brae Canlen, with whom I work, Brae mentioned green-themed educational sessions as well as new products from Toto and GE. Toto's offerings included water-saving faucets and showerheads, including a motion-detecting faucet that used a turbine for energy, and needs no battery or connection to a power grid. GE's new Hybrid Electric Water Heater (pictured at the show above in a photo by Brae) uses half the energy of a standard heater by absorbing heat from the air and transferring it to water.

22 June 2009

Green flood of weatherization stimulus cash begins

News reports from all over say that federal stimulus funds for home weatherization are now really starting to flow to municipalities. Check out these articles from across the country:

Which begs the question: How are retailers taking advantage of this opportunity? Some are participating in teen job training programs. Some are just plain hiring. Some are selling more exterior doors. And some are stocking new products.

How about you? Comment here or e-mail me at malterio@lf.com.

19 June 2009

Energy on a hot solar roof

From Inhabitat, there's news of a new solar panel product built into roofing shingles.
Flexible rooftop solar panels - called building-integrated photovoltaics, or BIPVs - could replace today's boxy solar panels ... The flexible solar shingles would be less expensive to install than current panels and made to last 25 years.

18 June 2009

Web site offers green tax incentive info

Check out the Tax Incentives Assistance Project, a Web site put out by a partnership of non-profits. The top news item includes a link to informational fliers in PDF format -- the site urges businesses to put their own logos on the fliers and hand them out.

17 June 2009

A novel use for old beverage bottles

Catch A Mouse is a humane mouse trap that you use to catch rodents in a recycled drink bottle. Here's a video, complete with Benny-Hill-style soundtrack.

16 June 2009

12-step program for LEED success

Hi! My name is Michael, and I'm a LEED-aholic.

If you are too, check out Environmental Building Strategies' blog series, "12 Steps to a Successful LEED Project." The first few steps include "Delegate or Hire a LEED Manager," "Evaluate compliance and strategies," and "Write down your Sustainability Goals." The series starts with this post.

15 June 2009


Royal Concrete Concepts, of West Palm Beach, Fla., has joined the U.S. Green Building Council, making it one of more than 15,000 affiliate-members. According to RCC,
RCC building products are designed and engineered to help project teams achieve LEED points, from both energy and environmental standpoints. In the educational sector, RCC's sustainable, economical and versatile method of construction can be applied to individual classrooms, additions or entire school complexes. The modular buildings are constructed at Royal Concrete's facilities and then assembled on site - complete with plumbing, wiring and interior design. Compared to traditional methods, fewer trucks are required to travel on site, site construction is minimized, safety is increased, and waste byproducts are reduced, saving time, money and the environment. The facilities are also energy-efficient and hurricane-resistant, making for more economical, safer learning environments.

But note that the choice of concrete as a greener option than other building materials is not at all certain.