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

Through Pollution Prevention Let’s Talk about Solar!

Happy Belated Pollution Prevention Week! Been a bit busy! LOL

The EPA had dedicated a week to increasing efforts to reduce and eliminate sources of pollution to prevent damage to the environment, as well as maintain the planet’s resources and move towards sustainability.

One technology that has advanced these efforts greatly across the United States and the world is solar power. In the United States, .005 percent of all energy consumed comes from solar. This may seem like an insignificant number, but it’s actually quite substantial. In addition, between 2014 and 2015 alone, there was a 33 percent increase in solar power generation across the globe! Currently, the total photovoltaic (PV) power generation capacity around the world stands at 231 gigawatts.

As the solar industry grows, the demand for people working in the industry is growing too. The number of people working in the solar industry is expected to grow by 24% by 2021. Looking to get into the industry? California might be a good place to start as they have a 34% market share in solar as of 2016.

Want to learn more about the future of solar power? Check out the infographic below created by New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Electrical Engineering program.


NJIT Online

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/.

 

Solar Power Lights Up Amazon Communities Fighting Dirty Energy

September 19, 2017 — Three indigenous communities on the front lines of the Amazon rainforest’s most emblematic rights and resources struggles now have solar energy generation capacity and internet hubs thanks to a partnership between Amazon Watch and Empowered By Light.

While Trump administration denies the impacts of climate change on the disastrous weather events in recent weeks, indigenous communities in the Amazon are leading us toward a brighter future as they embrace clean energy while defending the living forest, as demonstrated in the new video released today by Amazon Watch and Credo Mobile.

“These communities are true climate leaders,” said Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director at Amazon Watch. “Lighting the way for our climate and our forests, these indigenous earth defenders know that the solution to climate change must include stopping the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.”

Solar micro-systems and radio communications infrastructure now power five Sápara communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon as they resist oil drilling on their lands; two Munduruku communities in the Brazilian Amazon as they demand legal recognition and protection for their territory; and four U’wa communities in the Colombian cloud forests as they defend their sacred sites. More installations are planned for late 2017 and 2018.

The astoundingly biodiversity of the Amazon is home to hundreds of distinct indigenous peoples whose futures are threatened by this resurgent wave of resource exploitation, often living in remote areas where they are vulnerable to violent repression. The solar power and communications systems being installed are critical for these communities to assure their safety and communicate their stories as they defend their traditional practices and territories. In the past, protecting themselves and their territories has meant using polluting and unreliable diesel and kerosene generators, with fuel being brought in from the outside at significant expense.

Photo credit: Amazon Watch

The solar and communications equipment allow these remote communities to communicate internally to improve their safety and engage in cross-community dialogue; tell their own story to the broader world directly through new communications technology and training, subsequently further increasing their visibility and safety; and have access to reliable, clean energy for other community needs without relying on dirty energy sources like kerosene or diesel.

“We hope the introduction of clean, renewable solar power will not only help these communities protect the Amazon rainforest, which is critical for climate stability, but that it will demonstrate to their governments that similar remote or off-grid communities can leapfrog fossil fuels,” said Moira Hanes, co-founder of Empowered by Light.

Collaborative project planning, along with maintenance and communications trainings, are integral parts of all of these projects in order to maximize both system longevity and impact. These projects, all of which were specifically requested by the communities, provide critical external and internal communications capacity, thereby allowing communities to increase both their personal safety and visibility for their emblematic campaigns.

For more information:

Amazon Watch: www.amazonwatch.org/solar
Empowered By Light: www.empoweredbylight.org