Simple Home Improvement that Creates a Sustainable Home to live 

Since the industrial revolution, societies have been driven to consume. The consumerist world exploded after the world wars and continued to expand to this day. Children are raised to do good in school, get a high paying job and live years of abundance. Material wealth has always been our standard of success.

Don’t you think it’s time for a change?
There’s an emerging movement that aims to challenge our perception of a successful life: minimalism. Minimalism, contrary to popular belief, is not a product of the 21st century. It’s in the core of many cultures in Asia. 

The Buddhist concept of Zen emphasizes on an individual’s consciousness of the self and its relations with nature. “Zen contends that physical nature and human nature must be sought in an experiential dimension practically trans-descending,” according to a paper published by Stanford University. Minimalists are upholding the Zen principle in various aspects of their life, from their decision-making behaviors to their lifestyle choices.

Sustainable living: a complete lifestyle shift


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Sustainable living is a way of life that involves reduced dependence on natural resources. It embodies the Zen principles of caring for nature and the ideals of minimalism. To live a sustainable life, you may need to make a significant shift in your mindset. “It is such a simple principle – and yet if it is extended to include all living beings (an essential component of sustainability), it requires a complete shift in how we live our lives. Because we do unto others all day long – through the clothes we buy, the energy we use, the food we eat, even the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. Every choice we make impacts others – through its creation, its distribution, its use and its disposal,” noted GlobalStewards.org.

Sustainability in your living space can be done in simple ways. If you’re new to the concept, you can start with the easiest steps. Here are some home improvement tips for a sustainable living.

Explore passive design strategies


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Passive architecture is the use of energy efficient designs to reduce ecological footprints. It includes daylighting, natural ventilation and solar energy. Daylighting simply means using sunshine to illuminate your space. You can create external reflection letting sunlight reflect from the flooring of your home, wide window sills, and light shelves. Internal reflection can be achieved allowing natural light to reflect from internal walls, ceiling and high reflectance surfaces. You can also apply light-colored finishes and mount mirrors to reflect light around your home. However, avoid high levels of direct sunlight that can cause glare and increase the need for cooling.

Passive cooling strategies involve energy efficient designs to control heat gain in spaces. These designs include ventilation, windows insulation, and shading. Remember that the cooling strategies you can apply in your home is determined by your climate. If you live in a tropical region, you may need year-round shading.

Create indoor green spaces

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Studies suggest that living near green spaces is good for one’s mental and physical health. Greenery has a therapeutic impact that helps reduce stress levels. Living in a neighborhood with parks and open spaces encourage an active and fit lifestyle. You can reap the benefits of green spaces by creating one inside your home. If you’re living in a tight condo space, you can install a vertical garden in the patio, kitchen, and even in the living room. There’s a wealth of creative condo garden tips you can check on Pinterest and other social media sites.

Houseplants offer a number of benefits. They can purify the air, cool down room temperature, provide supply for fresh vegetables and herbs, and decorate a space. The pothos plant can absorb toxins like formaldehyde from carpets and floor cleaning materials. The spider plant, which is usually displayed as hanging plants, also have air purifying qualities similar with dracaena and weeping fig. Other plants that can clean indoor air and have cooling effects include bamboo palm, boston fern, and aloe vera.

Go energy efficient with your appliances and gadgets


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A sustainable and minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean that you should let go of the comforts of technology. It’s just a matter of choosing the right furnishings and appliances. Go only for appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings. When shopping for electronic devices, choose Energy Star-labeled products that can save up to 75% in power consumption. You can further cut down your energy consumption, and save on costs by using an advanced power strip. 

This reduces “vampire loads” or electricity wasted when appliances and gadgets are plugged in but unused. Vampire loads commonly occur in computers, kitchen appliances, and home entertainment systems.

For your computer, here are 3 no nonsense tips to go energy efficient:
Use your computer on low-power mode. This can save energy, and allows your equipment to run cooler and last longer

Turn off the switch on the power strip or surge protector if the plugged equipment is not in use 

Activate the power management feature on your computer. This will automatically put your screen into sleep mode after a period of inactivity

Take advantage of government-sponsored programs


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The US Department of Energy (DOE) developed a national rating system, the Home Energy Score, that assesses the energy efficiency of a home based on the architectural design and heating, cooling, and hot water systems. The agency offers financial incentives and financing programs that attain a high Home Energy Score. For solar energy systems, you can avail of a federal tax credit for 30% throughout 2019, 26% for 2020 and 22% for 2021. The taxpayer may claim the credit of qualified expenditures on an energy-saving system in a residential structure he owns in the United States. “Expenditures include labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home,” according to the DOE.

Sustainable living is a change in mindset and behavior. It involves simple, mundane decisions such as recycling plastic cups and major matters like shifting to a passive home design. You don’t need to rush in and change all your appliances tomorrow, but start in any way you can. Uncluttering your home can be your starting point.

Author: Emily Harper, Mother, Blogger and Owner of the Blog SecurityOcean.com

Toyota Hybrids getting Made in America!

It’s Electric: Toyota to Bring First Hybrid Powertrain Production to U.S.
September 26, 2017

PLANO, Texas (September 26, 2017) – Toyota just upped the stakes to remain the top manufacturer of hybrid vehicles worldwide with a $373.8 million investment in five U.S. manufacturing plants that will support production of its first American-made hybrid powertrain and to implement Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) at its Alabama plant. Each of the projects is scheduled to begin this year and all should be operational by 2020.

The investments will include adding new production of hybrid transaxles (hybrid vehicle transmissions) at the Buffalo, West Virginia, manufacturing facility; expanding 2.5-liter engine capacity at the Georgetown, Kentucky, plant; increasing production of 2.5-liter cylinder heads at Bodine Aluminum’s Troy, Missouri, plant; and modifying the Bodine Jackson, Tennessee, plant to accommodate production of hybrid transaxle cases and housings and 2.5-liter engine blocks. The Huntsville, Alabama, plant will undergo a comprehensive upgrade to enable it to build engines that complement TNGA. 

“This investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them,” said Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America. “This strategy is designed to better serve our customers and dealers, and positions our manufacturing operations to fulfill their needs well into the future.”


The 2.5-liter engines manufactured in Kentucky and transaxles made in West Virginia will be used in hybrid vehicles built in North America such as the Highlander Hybrid manufactured in Princeton, Indiana. Toyota remains the world leader in gas-electric hybrids, surpassing 3 million sales in the U.S. and 10 million globally.

 Fifty new jobs will be created because of the investment at the Alabama plant. There will be no net gain of jobs at the Kentucky, West Virginia, or Bodine Aluminum facilities, but these investments will help to ensure the stability of the plants’ employment levels in the future. 

“This investment across five American plants expands capacity for our latest TNGA engines, and localizes production of hybrid powertrains, a core Toyota technology,” said Jeff Moore, senior vice president for Manufacturing. “It underscores Toyota’s confidence in the capability and global competitiveness of our North American manufacturing.” 


The total investment of $373.8 million will be distributed as follows:

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, KY – $120,960,000

Bodine Aluminum Jackson, TN – $14,500,000

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, WV – $115,300,000

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, AL – $106,000,000

Bodine Aluminum Troy, MO – $17,050,000

These projects, and others previously announced, move Toyota nearly halfway ($4.1 billion) toward its commitment to invest $10 billion in the U.S., as announced by Toyota Motor Corporation CEO Akio Toyoda in January 2017.
Source: Toyota 

Every Jaguar and Land Rover Launched From 2020 Will be Electrified

London, UK, 7 September 2017: From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified. The company made the announcement at its inaugural Tech Fest, a series of debates and a free public exhibition about the future of mobility.
Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles. Our first fully electric performance SUV, the Jaguar I-PACE, goes on sale next year.”


Jaguar E-type Zero

The electric Jaguar E-type Zero future-proofs one of the world’s most famous cars. Acclaimed by Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car in the world”, the E-type now combines breathtaking design with electric power for the first time. E-type Zero is based on a 1968 Series 1.5 Roadster and features a cutting-edge electric powertrain for 0-60mph in just 5.5sec. It was engineered by Jaguar Classic at the company’s new Classic Works in Warwickshire, UK. 


Jaguar I-PACE Concept

With I-PACE we started with a clean sheet and engineered a bespoke, tailored, pure electric SUV from the ground up, creating a beautiful design with everyday practicality. It’s a performance SUV, it looks stunning, is great to drive and will be on sale next year.

Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE

The Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE is a vision for the car of 2040 and beyond. The fully autonomous virtual concept explores mobility for the connected world of tomorrow, where vehicles could be shared not owned. 

07.09.2017 Source: Digital News Agency

Toyota Takes the LEED in Texas

Toyota Headquarters Campus Achieves LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, The Largest Commercial LEED Platinum Project in The State Of Texas, To Date

Plano, Texas (Sept. 22, 2017) – Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, that is, except Toyota’s environmental footprint. 

Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas has officially achieved LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Jonathan Kraatz, executive director, USGBC Texas Chapter, presented the prized Platinum plaque to Jim Lentz, TMNA president and chief executive officer, today at the new campus. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Toyota’s new campus is the largest commercial LEED Platinum project in the state of Texas, to date.


“At Toyota, we have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and preserving our natural resources,” said Lentz. “With the installation of greenspaces, thousands of solar panels, a massive rain water capture system, and natural light wells, we have designed our new headquarters to reflect the local habitat and enhance its biodiversity. Recognition as a LEED Platinum facility is a testament of our efforts to become a model for energy efficiency and sustainability, and speaks to our challenge to ourselves to create a net positive impact on the planet by 2050.”

“USGBC is proud to award LEED Platinum to Toyota, for their thoughtfulness in their campus energy planning and space design as well as the overall net positive impact on the community and environment,” said Kraatz. “Our mission at USGBC has challenged organizations to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Toyota’s new Texas campus is a great example of what can be accomplished with the right leadership.”


The state-of-the-art, 100-acre campus boasts a Platinum-sized list of sustainability aspects, from renewable energy to drought resistant landscaping:  

Renewable Energy

Largest onsite corporate solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas

8.79-Megawatt solar power system, designed and installed by SunPower Corp.

Produces up to 33 percent of daily electric needs for headquarters campus

Reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,198 metric tons

Creates enough energy to power 1,200 average US homes for a year

Installation of high efficiency lighting and building envelopes to reduce energy usage on campus

Specialized rooftop design teeming with plant life to manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings

Flexible energy contract to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid

Grid energy offset by Texas wind farm renewable energy credits

Repurposed Rainwater

State-of-the-art rainwater capture system will provide up to three months of water supply for irrigation use

Cistern water storage with a capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water

Estimated to save more than 11 million gallons of potable (drinking) water annually

Excess drain water will be collected and repurposed for sanitary facility use

Recycling

More than 99 percent of the construction waste was recycled

Construction waste was sorted offsite at North Texas’ first Construction and Demolition waste processing facility

Sustainable Landscaping

Exterior landscaping features drought-tolerant, North Texas indigenous plants like savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows

Campus landscape will provide a natural habitat for endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies

Approximately 1,300 trees planted onsite by Toyota

More than 80 mature trees saved or relocated onsite, including a 100-year-old oak tree

Landscaping will be managed without expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or artificial irrigation

Historic wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved to protect its natural state


Professionals who led this project include a host of Dallas-based firms: KDC Real Estate Development & Investments to develop and build the campus, architect Corgan Associates to design the campus, and Austin Commercial to manage the construction.

In late 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the 2050 Toyota Environmental Challenge, a set of ambitious environmental goals to reach beyond net zero, and create a net positive impact on the planet. To learn more, please visit http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/.

 

How Data Centers are Using Renewable Energy to Lessen their Carbon Footprint

Data storage is big business in today’s world. In fact, there’s a good chance all your photos, videos, documents and files are stored somewhere in the cloud. Moreover, setting up automated backups and syncing across all our devices is so effortless that we forget where this information really lives: huge data centers spread around the world. And these data centers consume a lot of energy.

So how do some of the biggest energy consumers lower their carbon footprint? That’s easy: through renewable energy sources and other innovative means to keep those servers cool. These are how today’s data centers are preparing for tomorrow’s world of energy.

Small Business

While one mega data center may have a large carbon footprint, its use of technology and systems pales in comparison to all the servers used by small businesses across the country. As you might imagine, small-to-medium-sized companies don’t have access to the same energy-efficient technology that major corporations employ — and those on-site server rooms take up a lot of space and plenty of energy needs.

How Data Centers are Using Renewable Energy to Lessen their Carbon Footprint
Of course, the cloud isn’t just for smartphones and PC and laptop backups. Small businesses are opting out of using local storage and instead are adopting enterprise-level cloud-based services like those sold by Mozy. Removing server rooms from small-to-medium-sized companies — and instead turning to cloud-based technology — allows data to be accessed anywhere, anytime.

Dell’s Liquid Cooling

Anyone who has ever assembled their own PC knows there are two ways to cool a CPU — by using a heatsink and fan, or a liquid pump and radiator. The latter means is more expensive upfront, but reduces heat much easier and faster. Likewise, data centers produce a lot of heat, which takes even more energy to cool.

That’s why companies like Dell are creating innovative ways to cool servers using liquid technology. Liquid-cooled data centers usually use ground or city water from central pumps, which can use a lot of energy to distribute. But Dell’s cooling technology, which is used at data centers owned by eBay, store water in towers above the servers and let gravity do most of the work to bring it into the server racks. In the end, there’s no central pump to contend with and much less power is required.

Apple’s Green Initiative

iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage system and the home to almost every uploaded photo, video and backup by iPhone users, now runs on 100 percent renewable energy. This is no easy feat, and Apple goes into great detail about how it reached that pinnacle in its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report.

You may not know that most of Apple’s data centers operate in rural areas, where huge wind and solar farms power 100 percent of their energy needs. But because Apple relies on using so much of this land, the company has made it a point to create more renewable energy sources.

Next Steps

Major players like Google, Apple, Dell and Amazon have all committed to “going green” with Big Data. Indeed, these corporations certainly have the resources to build large solar and wind farms, but the next step in truly eliminating their carbon footprint is to improve efficiency — both in cooling and the servers themselves.

The Intel Xeon, a chip commonly used in servers, consumes more energy than CPUs in your standard PC. But Intel has made efforts to reduce the required wattage with each generation of processor it develops. Reducing energy dependency by five or 10 watts may not seem like much, but multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of servers and it adds up. Small increments like these can save enterprise-level companies millions of dollars on their utility bills.

Nearly 10 years ago, we talked in gigabytes, while today we talk in terabytes. And in the near future, we’ll be talking in petabytes. Big Data is growing exponentially, and it’s up to the big players as well as small-business owners to create new ways to power these data centers without increasing their carbon footprint.