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If you’ve been reading up on sustainability and going green, then you might have heard of Earthship Biotecture, but do you know what it is? While is sounds like something found in the next Star Wars movie, it is actually one of the most versatile and economical building designs around right now.

What in the World is "Earthship Biotecture"? {The Dirt on Green}

New Mexico Global Model Earthship

What in the World is "Earthship Biotecture"? {The Dirt on Green}

Georgia Global Model Earthship

What in the World is "Earthship Biotecture"? {The Dirt on Green}

Interior of an Earthship Villiage Home Under Construction

These “radically sustainable” buildings are made out of recycled materials and are designed to “take care of you, while still being sustainable, affordable, strong and [meet] your local building codes.” In short: totally awesome.

Earthships are designed around six main principles:

  1. Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling—Earthships maintain comfortable temperatures in any climate. Our planet is a thermally stabilizing mass that delivers temperature without wire or pipes. The sun is a nuclear power plant that also delivers without wires or pipes.
  2. Solar & Wind Electricity—Earthships produce their own electricity with a prepackaged photovoltaic and wind power system. This energy is stored in batteries and supplied to the electrical outlets. Earthships can have multiple automated sources of power, including grid-intertie when needed.
  3. Contained Sewage Treatment—Earthships contain use and reuse all household sewage in indoor and outdoor treatment cells resulting in food production and landscaping with no pollution of aquifers. Toilets flush with greywater that does not smell.
  4. Building with Natural & Recycled Materials—Earthships are comprised of indigenous, sustainable materials occurring naturally in the local area.
  5. Water Harvesting—Earthships catch rain and snow melt and use it four times, but can have city water as backup. Water is heated from the sun, biodiesel and/or natural gas and do not pollute underground water aquifers.
  6. Food Production—Earthship wetlands, the planters that hold hundreds of gallons of water from sinks and the shower are a great place for raising some of the fresh produce!

Based in Taos, New Mexico, the Earthship Biotecture team travels around the world teaching about sustainable living and building Earthships for people for more than 40 years. Right now, the folks at Earthship are raising funds to build a sustainable community center in Malawi, Africa. Pretty cool, huh?

To learn more about Earthship Biotecture, rent one for the night, attend a seminar about sustainable living or simply sign up for their newsletter, visit their website.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

ENERGY STAR certified buildings and plants are good for the environment and good for the bottom line. Read on for 10 compelling reasons why your organization should pursue America’s most trusted symbol of energy efficiency for your properties.

Ten Reasons to Pursue ENERGY STAR Certification {The Dirt on Green}

1. Lower operating costs.

Once in operation, ENERGY STAR certified buildings use, on average, 35% less energy than similar buildings nationwide. Those are substantial savings! For example, ENERGY STAR certified office buildings cost $0.50 less per square foot to operate than non-certified building. Currently, ENERGY STAR certified buildings are saving nearly $140,000 per building – that’s $2.3 billion every year!

2. More marketable.

In an era when fears of “greenwashing” abound, cut through the clutter with ENERGY STAR, the most trusted environmental label in the United States. ENERGY STAR is the only energy efficiency certification that is based on actual, verified energy performance, making your buildings all the more attractive to potential buyers and lessees who want guaranteed savings.

3. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Because ENERGY STAR certified buildings are verified to use an average of 35% less energy than similar buildings, they can also be verified to contribute 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere. By earning the ENERGY STAR, you’re joining the front lines in the fight against climate change.

Ten Reasons to Pursue ENERGY STAR Certification {The Dirt on Green}

4. Lease to federal tenants.

If you want to lease your space to a federal tenant, your buildings must be ENERGY STAR certified (per Executive Order 13514).

5. Higher rental rates.

According to a CoStar Group study1, rental rates in ENERGY STAR certified buildings are $2.40 per square foot higher than similar buildings. The same CoStar Group study found occupancy rates to be 3.6% higher in ENERGY STAR certified buildings, too.

6. Increased asset value.

Reliably persistent energy performance makes it more likely that the higher net operating income from energy cost savings will be recognized through higher building value. Experienced managers of large portfolios of ENERGY STAR certified buildings interviewed2 confirm that ENERGY STAR helps increase building value!

7. Manage risk when developing properties.

Are you developing commercial real estate? Achieving the Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR label for your building’s designs can help diminish risks to profitability by validating assumptions made during the development appraisal, such as operating costs, rents, asset value and occupancy. Some jurisdictions even allow expedited permitting, review, processing and inspections to projects that have been designed to earn ENERGY STAR qualification.

Ten Reasons to Pursue ENERGY STAR Certification {The Dirt on Green}

8. Hedge against future mandates.

Numerous cities and states have passed legislation containing energy efficiency mandates for commercial new construction projects and existing buildings. The vast majority of them incorporate ENERGY STAR and Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR. The trend is growing every year as more and more cities and states look for ways to reduce costs and emissions. By earning the ENERGY STAR now, you’re in a better position to respond to any future laws or mandates that come your way. See the list of legislation and campaigns leveraging ENERGY STAR.

9. No cost.

All of EPA’s tools and resources, including Portfolio Manager and Target Finder, are free to use. So you can spend your budget on finding other ways to save, rather than on a third-party program.

10. It’s the right thing to do.

We are big believers in doing the right thing. Studies have shown that 68% of adults like to do business with companies that are environmentally responsible3.  More than 80% of workers are attracted by an employer with an environmental reputation. And about half of workers said they would forgo higher pay or a promotion to work for an organization with a good reputation4.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via EnergyStar.gov (with minor editing).


1Does Green Pay Off? July 12, 2008

2Summary of the financial benefits of ENERGY STAR labeled office buildings, 2006

32007 National Technology Readiness Survey

42009 Kelly Global Workforce Index

Images from http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/tvs-get-greener-with-yellow-en-132244

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

BMW is going to unveil the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, but in the meantime the automaker has released the first batch of specs for the i8, the flagship of its new i sub-brand. In addition to featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain wrapped in a sports car body, the i8 will be the first production vehicle to be equipped with Gorilla’s chemically-hardened glass.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

Until now, technology for the chemically-hardened glass has been used primarily for smartphones, as it is very strong and scratch-resistant. For the BMW i8, the partition between the passenger compartment and trunk of the BMW i8 consists of 2 layers of chemically hardened glass, each of which is just 0.7 millimeters thick and weighs about 50% less than conventional laminated glass.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

Thanks to the i8′s carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell and the addition of technology like the Gorilla Glass, the BMW i8 weighs less than 3,285 lbs. The BMW i8 is powered by a 231 horsepower turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder engine that is mated to a 131 horsepower electric motor. The four-cylinder engine powers the rear wheels, while the electric motor sends its power to the front. The i8 can travel up to 22 miles in full electric mode, reaches 0-60 mph in under 4.5 seconds and can be recharged in 1.5 hours using a 220-volt outlet.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

So, what do you think? Would you buy it?

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via Inhabitat, photos by BMW.

Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green}

We love solar lights, so naturally, we love this solar powered art museum in Austria!

Located on the west bank of the River Mur in the historic center, the Graz Art Museum opened its doors back in 2003. Created as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations, the one-of-a-kind building rapidly became a city landmark. Measuring 27,000 square feet, this massive building was designed for showcasing contemporary art exhibitions, new media displays and hosting events.

Far from your average art gallery, the Kunsthaus Graz is covered by thousands of semitransparent acrylic glass panels that form a “BIX Façade” (a combination of the words “big” and “pixels”). Designed by Berlin design firm realities:united, this oversize urban screen features light sources under its skin which are computer controlled and are used for massive displays communicating with its environment. While the glazed outer skin takes an important mediating role, it also generates power through integrated photovoltaic units.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via Inhabitat, photos by Eduardo Martinez, Nicolas Lackner, Christian Plach.

Need a Creative Boost? Hit the Dimmer Switch and Purchase CFL Lights.

 

One more reason to add a light dimmer switch to your home or office – a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology finds dark rooms may improve creativity.

When someone enters a room, he or she receives visual cues as to how to behave and appear. In turn, they must decide whether to behave as if in an open and welcoming environment or a confining one.

According to findings, dark rooms promote a more global perspective, which can enhance creativity.

That’s not surprising since previous research has shown soft light is often relaxing (that’s why you love to work from the coffee shop down the street) and makes people feel safe. Such environments can also make them more apt to take risks – from writing harsh reviews online to hugging a stranger – because they don’t feel they are being watched or under pressure to act a certain way.

Two researchers based in Germany, Anna Steidle and Lioba Werth, used six experiments to observe different aspects of creativity. The first three studies primed participants by having them describe a dark or bright environment or do a word search where the words were related to one of two illuminations. From there, creativity was measured by an imagination task, an alternative-use game or a speed-accuracy test.

LED Lights - Need a Creative Boost? Hit the Dimmer Switch.

Priming dark conditions induces a risky, more explorative behavior, leading to creativity, Steidle concluded. But to generalize it, she and her partner had to use actual lighting variations.

In the fourth study, subjects were placed in one of three types of rooms: dim, bright, or a control room, where the light was at the level recommended level for offices. Participants sat in the room for fifteen minutes before beginning a creative logic task, which was then followed by a self-evaluation of how comfortable they had felt.

Turns out the dimmer rooms promoted more insight problem-solving, as well as higher levels of comfort among the participants.

There was one caveat: The researchers noted dim light didn’t promote creativity if the participants felt inhibited. And dimmer light might hinder analytical, logical tasks.

If you want to design a creative workspace, consider grabbing a dimmer light switch or two, CFL lights and dimmable bulbs, and adding plants and windows. Also, don’t forget to check in with everyone in the office to make sure they feel comfortable as well.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via Inc.com

Chattanooga's Renaissance Park

Chattanooga’s Renaissance Park reminds us of greener days gone by while leading us into a more sustainable future.  The 28 acre park was designed with ecological recovery in mind. Two large berms cap topsoil that was removed from the former Roper manufacturing site and a system of native plants and natural filters remove toxins from urban stormwater runoff.

View From Renaissance Park

Renaissance Park has been many things over the years:  a key area to many parts of the Civil War, a location along the Trail of Tears, home what would be the end of the steamboat era and a manufacturing plant for more than 75 years.

Renaissance Park Hill

Located on the north shore of the Tennessee River, Renaissance Park is now home to many unique recreational, ecological and educational features.  The outdoor pavilion’s beautiful green roof helps to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases while improving local water quality and stormwater management.

Renaissance Park Outdoor Pavilion Green Roof

The 1.5 acre constructed wetland collects, improves and releases water from two sources of urban pollution: built up water from the contaminated ground beneath the park from the industrial park to which the area was once home and urban runoff from the North Chattanooga urban watershed.

Renaissance Park Urban Wetland

13 acres of the park sit within the Tennessee River’s flood plains and are regularly inundated. Through education and restoration efforts, the park will return native flooded woodland ecologies to this area, providing both an ideal and beautiful habitat for native plants and wildlife to reemerge and thrive.

Renaissance Park Tiered Seating

On top of all these important green aspects, Renaissance Park connects to the Tennessee Riverpark, an 8 mile greenway along the river beginning at John Ross Landing on the south shore and ending at the Chickamauga Dam upstream. The park features winding walking trails, picnic areas, a small amphitheater, tiered seating along the wetland, historic markers and several public art installations.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Online shopping may be the greatest invention of the 21st century. Stay at home and buy new stuff? That’s the best of both worlds, if you ask us. But how green is it? We can’t speak for everyone, but at EnergyEarth, we try to make your shopping experience as green (and enjoyable!) as possible.

First, we start with cardboard boxes. Sounds like nothing special, right? But did you know that cardboard is actually naturally biodegradable? On top of that, if you help us keep used boxes out of landfills by reusing as long as they’ll still hold things, then recycling them instead of tossing them in the garbage, we can make a huge difference!

Cardboard Shipping Boxes

Then, after we fill your boxes with all the money and energy saving products you ordered, we fill the rest of the box with NOVUS® Eco-Friendly Packaging that is both made from 100% recycled material and 100% recyclable. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

NOVUS® Eco-Friendly Packaging

Finally, we hand it to our local UPS man and it’s on its way to you! UPS has taken some pretty amazing steps to being more sustainable; plus, having the products delivered to you as part of a stop on a regular route actually reduces carbon emissions over you having to drive to the store multiple times a month.

So there you have it. You can feel good about shopping online with EnergyEarth. From products to packaging to delivery, we help you help the planet while you save money!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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