Cities

Oh, those pesky existential questions!

Puppies and bunnies and carnivorous eco-curmudgeons

Carl M via flickrThose of you following our last post (Should Kuba Have a Puppy?) can see that both votes and comments on this question are running 9 to 1 in favor of the gratification of pet ownership. This is even though eco-curmudgeon Ken has made the point, with hard statistics, that keeping domestic animals essentially ensures the death of wild creatures that we would all heartily agree to preserve (indirectly, through habitat loss and overuse of resources). So what? Well, the JP Green House is meant to be a demonstration project. We aim to build a zero-carbon house on …

Block party

Obama admin teams with grassroots groups to ‘Green the Block’

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, discusses the Green the Block partnership. In the background (L-R) are Dept. of Energy Undersecretary Kristina Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. Kate Sheppard / GristEnsuring that low-income communities and minority youth benefit from green jobs programs is the goal of a new partnership between the White House and two grassroots organizations — Hip Hop Caucus and Green For All. Two Cabinet members and leaders of the grassroots groups unveiled the Green the Block initiative Tuesday at a White House press …

Sprawling Over the Past

Alabama city destroying ancient Indian mound for Sam’s Club

City leaders in Oxford, Ala. have approved the destruction of a 1,500-year-old Native American ceremonial mound and are using the dirt as fill for a new Sam’s Club, a retail warehouse store operated by Wal-Mart. A University of Alabama archaeology report commissioned by the city found that the site was historically significant as the largest of several ancient stone and earthen mounds throughout the Choccolocco Valley. But Oxford Mayor Leon Smith — whose campaign has financial connections to firms involved in the $2.6 million no-bid project — insists the mound is not man-made and was used only to “send smoke …

It's crafty all right

Is this a green home?

I’m thinking about reporting on this house as an example of sensible environmental design reproducible for the masses. Can anyone help me decide? This is a press release (emphasis mine): We handle parenting author, environmentalist, and “The Crafty Mom” Mary Lyon who recently built her 6,700 square foot spectacular “green” home in Brentwood, California. Below is some info on this amazing house, which Mary describes as “The Jetsons meets the Flintstones.” … Parenting author, environmentalist, and “The Crafty Mom,” Mary Lyon recently built her “green” house. The 6,700 square foot three-story passive solar home (including a basement) is equipped with …

Heating the JP Green House with a hairdryer

The amazing promise and many challenges of passivhaus construction

I’m in decent shape for 52, but it took everything I had to carry a hefty piece of welded steel plate out of the backyard — and I didn’t place it any too gently on the curb when I got it there. So I was impressed when John from Blue Scrap & Recycling casually flipped the hunk of metal into his truck without apparent effort. John suggested we ought to give him a call when we have more demo work. “We’re used to moving heavy stuff around,” he said. “Plaster and wood, that’s kid’s stuff.” Even so, it took John …

...or, how we fight over the kids, housework, and money like everyone else!

Love in a time of cataclysm

Wanted: Experienced couples therapist, preferably also with degrees in theology and law, for fractious, passionate pair riddled with apocalyptic anxiety, burdened with love for their children (all of them), acutely conscious of the finitude of time and resources, and fearful that the world has gone mad. Must take insurance. Everyone told us that building a house could wreck a relationship. And we knew it was true. The rehab of a beautiful old house in Hull had been one of the final blows to Ken’s marriage. I spent part of my childhood living in one room with my family of five, …

Radiant Cities: Drive Through This

Can we really make the drive-thru a source of power?

My father believes that the one modern invention above all others to contribute to the downfall of the planet, not to mention our civilization, is the drive-through — or, in the spirit of efficiency on which it’s based, the drive-thru. Your idling could light this sign!Not only does it encourage laziness and obesity by tempting fast-food fans to stay seated in their automobiles during both purchase and consumption, there’s the whole car idling issue. By one estimate, every fifteen minutes of idling consumes 0.175 gallons of gas, resulting in as much as 58 million tons of CO2 dispersed into the …

Are new nuclear plants the answer? No.

Oh, those sexy building codes: More powerful than 100 nuclear plants

Building energy codes are the key.Are 100 new nuclear plants the solution to our climate troubles? I asked that question in a post last week. The answer lies buried deep within the 1,428-page Waxman-Markey climate bill (H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act), passed by the House and now under consideration in the Senate. It is Section 201, pages 320-348. It is this section that makes H.R. 2454 worth passing. No matter what else is compromised or changed in the climate bill as it works its way through the Senate, Section 201 must not be changed or weakened. …

This Week in Placemaking

The greenest grocery store, biggest “living wall,” and more eco-innovations

The green-building news is coming so fast and furious it can be hard to delve deeply into each story. So here’s a survey of a few of the shiniest, brand-spankin’-newiest, innovativest projects taking shape: The nation’s greenest green grocer.Fore SolutionsHannaford Supermarket, Augusta, Maine. This grocery store in the Pine Tree State’s unassuming, working-class capital has earned top honors from the U.S. Green Building Council: LEED Platinum certification. It’s the first supermarket in the country to do so, and the regional chain — which made green headlines in the past for being certified as an organic retailer — hopes it won’t …

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