Friday, May 8, 2009

The Visionaire : High Class Green

Its no coincidence that the color of money is green...

High class green living! Is it possible? I'm learning green living in general can be expensive. From the cost of solar panels (which eventually pay themselves off), to the cost of organic cereal over its non-organic, lucky charm wielding competition. But how classy can one really get while staying green? Can you be like the Jefferson's and get busy "movin' on up!" while remaining true to your convictions or at least your eco-friendly intentions?

Oh... you certainly can. But its gonna cost ya... How does $1300 a square foot sound?

As with everything "green" related that I'm teaching myself, I always need to define something before I can begin. Its easy to say "This is a green building!", but is it? What makes a building "green"? Leed Certification is the answer! But what is this Leed Certification?

"LEED is an internationally recognized certification system that measures how well a building or community performs across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts." - Source U.S Green Building Council

Video Explanation... BORING. This reminds me of the documentaries about dung beetles I was exposed to in 7th grade Earth science. I fell asleep during those too.

Video Explanation... Slightly Better. Although this poor woman's sweater was clearly put in the wa
sh with a purple sock and left in the dryer to long.

Alrighty, now that I'm wise to the ways of the Leed Certification, we can move on. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are more Leed Certified buildings in NYC than I would have thought.

In 2006 the first Green building was completed winning Sky Scraper of the year. The popular blog "treehuger" has a post about this building explaining its eco-friendly architecture which can be seen here.

If you would like to see additional updated information on this topic, there is another blog called "GreenbuildingsNYC" which can be seen here.

As for my blog, I'm going to cover "The Visionaire" in Battery Park area of NYC, as high class as a priceless green emerald. Not only is the Visionaire LEED certified, but it achieved the coveted LEED Platinum certification which means that it received over 80 out of 100 possible points on the rating chart. That in itself is impressive.

Here are some of the features that make this building so fantastically green:
• A 48-kilowatt photovoltaic solar power system is integrated into the building facade.
• Open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows in living rooms transmit ample daylight.
• High-efficiency natural gas-fired heaters and micro turbine simultaneously generate electricity and hot water.
• A 25,000-gallon- (95,000-liter-) per-day waste water treatment plant in the basement recycles
water to resupply toilets and provide makeup water for the HVAC system cooling tower.
• The roof garden catchment system harvests up to 12,000 gallons (45,000 liters) of rainwater for irrigation.
•Other sustainable features include a high-efficiency air filtration system with a 24-hour indoor air quality monitoring system; occupancy light sensors in common areas; no- and low-VOC paints, adhesives, and sealants; FSC-certified sustainably harvested oak; regionally sourced and recycled-content materials; and water-conserving plumbing fixtures and appliances. Over 85 percent of site construction waste materials were collected and processed for recycling.

-Source "ArchitectureWeek 1-17-09"

This building does it all... Solar Panels, Eco-friendly materials, construction wastes were mostly recyclable, water treatment center in the basement (yeah, for real. I saw a picture, its huge), water collecting rooftop gardens, and a natural light salt water fish tank in the lobby.... WHAT!?

I want to live here. Some day... I'll still be dreaming of it. I hope you enjoyed this less exciting, more technical explanation of my recent education on green building. The next post will be more exciting as I will cover Styrofoam!!! No, not really...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Solar Power : Oh Solio Mio!

I'm a firm believer that all learning and no fun makes Dan a fairly testy dude... So after the all the symbols from yesterday, its time for a bit of fun. Like so many out there, I'm addicted to my iPhone. The last thing I needed in life was the ability to check facebook from anywhere. Lord help me...

So how can I combine this obsession of mine with a green lifestyle you may ask? Funny you should ask that, I asked myself the same question. My first integration of mixing my iPhone into my new green fascination was to use it when hiking. There are a variety of great GPS applications out there that will track your path, average speed, min/max elevation, distance, "hot or not" rating, etc... There is an extensive list of applications out there, check out the iTunes store under Navigation for the list. I currently use "GPS Kit". It appears there is a new application called MotionX-GPS which allows you to track journeys you have taken and to share them on your facebook profile with one simple click. Crap, now I need to get that one too. I digress...

As with everything awesome, there are downsides. The price of awesomeness is extreme battery suckage. You heard me... It's such a shame that there is no way for me to plug my iPhone in WHILE I'm hiking. Wait for it... Introducting the Solio Magnesium Edition (pictured above to left of the title picture.) Am I really seeing solar panels I can strap to my backpack to plug into my iPhone while I'm on the trails? Indeed I am. Here are some of the features of the Solio so conveniently put together by its manufactuer:
  • One hour of sun will give you enough juice to play your iPod™ for about an hour or provide up to 25 mins of additional talk time on most cell phones.*
  • Provides an emergency power source when away from power outlets.
  • Adapter tips allow you to power multiple gadgets with a single charger ( tips for most products included in pack.)
  • Works with multiple gadgets, including mobile phones, iPhone™, Bluetooth® headsets, smartphones/PDAs, MP3 players, portable gaming devices, digital cameras, GPS and much more.
  • Reusable - use it again and again.
  • Compact lightweight design - convenient for travel or emergency use.

This unit features 3 NASA grade Solar panes which charge up a Rechargeable Lithium Ion 3.7V 1.8A cell battery. This unit can be charged via the sun, or tranditional wall socket. Many of my friends have units they use with their iPhone to charge it when not at home, but all rely on the use of traditional alkaline batteries. I would rather use the suction cup provided and stick it to my window to charge it up. Granted, I do not have one of these yet, so I'm going off the company literature, but you have to admit, its pretty damn cool. Also of note, this can be used to charge handheld game systems, digital cameras, and a variet of other small electronic devices. Unfortunately, it will not charge a laptop.

To use this unit with iPhone 3G, you will need an extra adapter tip which costs about $15. The cost for the solar charger itself runs $169.95. All together, not a bad deal. This is more expensive than the traditional alkaline battery iPhone chargers, but taking into consideration its green advantages, and the overall price of batteries over the time you use it, the difference will pay itself off. Plus it has a cool factor.

I plan to get one of these in the future. When I do, I will write a full review from a hands on perspective. If you purchase one, please let me and everyone else know what you think!

As always, thanks for reading. Stay green people...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Recycling Symbols everywhere... but what do they mean?

Now I'm not saying that I don't know what that symbol above means, but I am willing to admit that I have no idea what the numbers inside the symbol mean.

And with this first admission of ignorance, we begin. Class is in session.

Its hard to buy anything without having it come in plastic packaging. The miso soup I get from the Chinese restaurant is conveniently packaged in it, as well as the crunchy spicy salmon roll I get. All of them have the same small "Recycle Me" symbol on the bottom. But what the hell do the little numbers inside mean?

Type 1: Found in Soft drink, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers.Recyclable: In most places via normal curb side recycling.Recycled into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers

Type 2: Found in Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box linersRecyclable: In most places via normal curb side recycling.
Recycled into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, picnic tables, fencing.

Type 3: Found in Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows.Recycling: Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber makers.
Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats

Type 4: Found in Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet.
Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities will accept it.
Recycled into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile

Type 5: Found in Some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles.
Recycling: Number 5 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs.
Recycled into: Signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays.

Type 6: Found in Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases
Recycling: Number 6 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs.
Recycled into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers

So all this information is good to know. I'm glad I looked it up and now understand the differences, but... what does that mean as far as my recycling habits in Staten Island? After finding this handy link to the NYC Department of Sanitation, I now that NYC only accepts Types 1 and 2.

UPDATE!  As  of April 23, 2013, all rigid plastics can be recycled.  This excludes plastics such as shopping bags, Styrofoam, and squeezable drink pouches.

If you are not sure what types of plastic are recycled in your area, I encourage you to get off your butt and check with your local trash service. Come on people, we are doing it for the world and our children. Make the call.

And for the next post.... CARDBOARD!!! Just kidding. I'll make it about something more exciting. If you don't know about cardboard, I can't really help you. :)