Green Home

Five ways to green your marijuana habit

Happy 4/20! Sorry to harsh your buzz, but indoor pot growing is a major bad trip for the environment. (All right, no more mixed drug metaphors. Maybe a couple.) Let’s be blunt (okay, one more): If marijuana ever becomes legal in the U.S., we'll have to start thinking about how to keep it from bogarting all our energy. (Done now.) Fortunately, cheeba lovers of the world are already way out ahead on this one: 1. California's Organicann has started dispensing its medical marijuana in biodegradable packaging.  2. Lighting hipsters know that CFLs are for squares, and were only ever intended to …

How to build a prefab high-rise

Prefab houses are pretty awesome. Dense living is definitely awesome. And Sustainable Living Innovations is getting the prefab peanut butter in the density chocolate, designing modular high-rise buildings that unfold like cootie catchers. This video shows how it works. The result is a block of modern, open-plan apartments that is LEED Silver certified, and maybe a little ugly from the outside but no more than any other high-rise. It costs about the same to build as a conventional building, but takes as little as half as long to construct. This is perhaps not welcome news for Teamsters, but the idea …

Green Home

A warm welcome: Ask Umbra on green housewarming gifts

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, A friend has finally been able to buy a home in Florida, and I want to send a gift card.  I know she will have plenty of occasions to patronize the big chain hardware stores, but I am wondering whether there is a green alternative — either a chain that might have a brick-and-mortar store nearby, or a versatile general-purpose online vendor of things that will help make her infrastructure more sustainable? Deborah RoherNew Bedford, Mass. A. Dearest Deborah, A considerate friend, you are. A less-thoughtful (and less eco-conscious) pal would poke …

Green Home

With a rain barrel, April showers can bring more than flowers

Barrel essentials.Photo: kierkierAs the old adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. But for those looking to green their homes, April showers also provide an easy way to reduce water bills and water waste. Rainwater harvesting is a simple and efficient way to capitalize on the naturally occurring precipitation in your area, and reduce dependency on irrigated or treated water. Provided you live in a region that receives above a certain amount of annual precipitation (the EPA recommends a minimum of 8 inches), rainwater harvesting can be a cost-effective means of greening your home. The most basic way to harvest …

Green Home

Now you’re cooking with gas: Ask Umbra on energy-efficient stoves

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, My wife would like to remodel the kitchen. This frightens me, personally, but I look it as an opportunity to buy some more energy-efficient appliances. Right now we have an ancient electric stove. Would replacing it with a natural gas stove be more efficient, or should we stick with electric and just go for a newer model? (Of course we would go for the greenest option available when it comes to electricity.) Mike London, England Is remodeling brewing in your near future? Make it green.Photo: Josh PesaventoA. Dearest Mike, Greetings from across …

Too much is not enough for The Edge’s green mansion

U2’s The Edge is planning a mansion complex that’s a metonymy for post-Joshua Tree U2: It means well, really, but it’s just way, way over the top. The five homes (!) averaging 10,500 square feet (!!) are supposed to be built to LEED Gold standards, so bravo to The Edge for that. But if you really want to be green, maybe a network of oversized houses full of buffalo and belly dancers and groupies and giant lemons and shit is NOT the way to go. And especially not when you’re building it in a pristine, environmentally sensitive area like The …

How Americans defeated efficiency with consumerism

The Energy Information Administration's Residential Energy Consumption Survey, released yesterday, shows that average household energy usage has remained remarkably stable over the last 30 years — even as appliances have gotten way more efficient. Why? Well, we just have a pantload more appliances. (Seriously, look in your pants RIGHT NOW. Do you have a gadget in them? Chances are you do. I've got a phone in my pocket as I write this.) Also, there are 34.5 million more households in the U.S. than there were in 1978, and we're leading increasingly white-collar lifestyles — air conditioners, dishwashers, washing machines. If …

trips up homes down

Wanna green your ride? Ditch the Prius, hop on a train

Chart: EPA Here’s one to piss off the yuppies: Driving your hybrid car from your Energy Star home to the food co-op is not as green as hopping on the subway from your apartment. A new EPA study says that moving from a car-oriented to a transit-oriented community has the biggest impact on your energy usage — more than green buildings or green cars. Of course, doing something is better than nothing. Not everyone can move to multi-family building in a transit-oriented city, which the study found is the greenest way to go (besides, of course, moving to a multi-family …

in the pot seat

Hemp chair is not just eco-friendly, it’s eco-kind

You know those hiddy plastic stackable chairs that you see on basically every porch, stoop, and backyard? (I have some. They came with the house.) Well, what if they were biodegradable, made with sustainable materials, and kind of awesome looking? And also made out of pot? TOTAL DREAM CHAIR, right? Okay, so Werner Aisslinger’s stackable hemp chair is not exactly smokable, and it’s not exactly in production either. It just debuted at Milan Design Week. But it’s cool, lightweight, eco-friendly (the glue that holds the fibers together is water-based and has no phenols or formaldehyde), and can be mass-produced cheaply. …