Saturday at the Bloomington, IN Farmers Market we met Mandy Corry, co-owner with her husband Matt of Schacht Fleece Farm, and bought one of their free-range chickens. Their farm is located on the south side of Bloomington and their land and animals are managed naturally without the use of chemicals. The Bloomington Farmers Market is outstanding and we look forward to buying a lot of our food from there now that we have moved to town.
Seven Generations Ahead has organized a tour of seven green homes in Oak Park/River Forest, IL that I know you will enjoy. SGA events are always well-organized, informative and fun, and there's always good food involved, too. Here's information from their press release:
"Thinking about greening your home, but not sure how to go about it
or what products are available? The Green Home Tour provides an
exclusive look inside seven high end and everyday Oak Park and River
Forest homes that look great, save money, and are easier on the
environment. Homeowners and building professionals will be available
during the tour for questions and everyone will receive a free copy of
our Remodel GREEN CD. Included in the tour is a wine and cheese reception from 4 to 5
p.m. at the new "green" Marion Street Cheese Market, 101 N. Marion
Street, where drawings will take place for a variety of green prizes!
Hope you can make it. (Image Credit: Seven Generations Ahead)
My friend Lisa shared this picture of her helping install solar panels on one of the thousands of buildings that her employer, Solar Service, Inc., has installed in the Chicago area over the last thirty years.
This is not her regular job at Solar Service -- normally she is a salesperson who is very knowledgable about solar energy and speaks regularly about solar energy to community groups. Naturally she would be great, since she was taught by one of the best in the business -- Brandon Leavitt, the owner of Solar Service.
But this particular day she got up close and personal to help install panels on this rather intimidatingly high roof. (Lisa left a staid marketing job for a field she feels passionate about -- renewable energy. We congratulate her!) Below is another home with panels installed by Solar Service -- these particular ones are solar thermal panels to heat water and provide suplemental heat.
On Sunday we drove over to EverGreen Village, a 12-unit green development in Bloomington, Indiana that is nearly completed. The landscaping features natural, native vegetation amid closely clustered homes. The homes will be made available to eligible homeowners based on maximum income levels, and will feature the following:
State-of-the-art storm water filtering design system with restored creek and natural rain gardens
Permeable-paving walking path running along the creek
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-registered energy efficient design
Solar photovoltaic modules donated by Duke Energy
The homes will range in cost from $100,000 to $200,000, and homeowners will be required to take courses in maximizing the energy-efficient aspects of the homes, in order to keep the operating costs low. My favorite of all the designs was the four-bedroom configuration pictured above.
Bloomington's Mayor Mark Kruzan and Public Works Director Susie Johnson spearheaded the effort, which puts Bloomington in front of a nascent green building movement just getting off the ground in Indiana.
The Energy Center at Appalachian State University offers affordable passive solar house plans, which range from 900 to 1300 square feet in size. It's interesting to see these designs try to replicate the past. Do these houses have good daylighting inside to avoid having to burn electricity to light them? How is the indoor air quality -- does the house ventilate itself well, or will air conditioning and fans be needed? Passive solar design is a good thing, but I wonder if these house designs have gone far enough.
Living Designs Group suggests once again that people who live in New Mexico just know how to design things more beautifully. Of course, the weather helps. This condo development, Suenos de la Loma, is located in the historic district of Taos, New Mexico and its units are carefully sited to receive maximum solar gain and daylighting. The use of historic adobe walls helps the structures blend with the historic architecture of the area. Adobe is also very effective as a passive solar design element, as it absorbs heat through the day, in effect sheltering interior spaces from the heat of the sun, and slowly gives off heat during the cold desert night. This condo development is within walking distance of Taos Plaza.
The cost of oil is putting a crimp in globalization, according to the New York Times. As the cost of fuel rises, products shipped around the world become less profitable and it makes more sense to produce them nearby to consumers. Locavores will already be ahead of the game, as food is one of the products that will start to be produced locally.
Production chains that no longer make sense include that of Tesla's electric-powered cars, whose 1,000-pound battery packs were made in Thailand, shipped to Britain for installation, with the partially-assembled cars shipped to the U.S. Now they'll be entirely made in California.
"Globe-spanning supply chains — Brazilian iron ore turned into Chinese
steel used to make washing machines shipped to Long Beach, Calif., and
then trucked to appliance stores in Chicago — make less sense today
than they did a few years ago....The cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to the United
States has risen to $8,000, compared with $3,000 early in the decade,
according to a recent study of transportation costs. Big container
ships, the pack mules of the 21st-century economy, have shaved their
top speed by nearly 20 percent to save on fuel costs, substantially
slowing shipping times." --The New York Times
Other signs of the "neighborhood effect":
Ikea opened a factory in the U.S. and more furniture is being made in America
Electronics companies who moved to China from Mexico are moving back
Chinese steel exports to the U.S. are falling while U.S. production rises
Avocadoes in Chicago in January and bananas all year round will make less and less sense
My friend and editor on CleanTechnica, Sarah Lozanova, shares her story on how she and her husband installed solar panels on the roof of their condo building in Chicago, in the June issue of Solar Today:
"Compared to houses, condominiums typically offer more energyefficient,
eco-friendly living. Centralized water heating in our building reduces
the standby losses experienced with numerous water heaters used less
frequently. Shared walls lessen the heating load of
the building. Exterior lights benefit all inhabitants, reducing
individual electricity consumption. And the smaller footprint of
high-density buildings frees up open spaces for all to enjoy.
Despite these benefits, condo owners can find it difficult to implement
narrowly supported green efforts, like a compost pile or rain barrels
in the yard. I expected a solar system would be one of those cases. To
my surprise, however, the other owners in the building welcomed our
plans." -- Sarah Lozanova, Solar Today
We get a lot of questions at the Illinois Solar Energy Association on how to persuade condo associations to go solar. Sarah's article has a lot of helpful information and inspiration. Hint: ask for solar panels for your wedding present.