THE NATURE-SMART CAREER: 11 New Jobs For a Nature-Rich Future

Maryland Green Awards THE NATURE SMART CAREER: 11 New Jobs For a Nature Rich Future Article by Rich Louv – What if high schools and colleges helped students create a nature-rich future, helped them become outdoor entrepreneurs? By that, I don’t mean careers devoted only to energy efficiency. That’s important, but there’s a whole new category of green jobs coming and some of them are already here — nature-smart jobs.

These careers and avocations will help children and adults become happier, healthier and smarter, by truly greening where people live, work, learn and play.

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Here are some exciting careers that you – and your kids – may never have considered:

1. Nature-smart workplace architect or designer. Studies of workplaces that have been created or retrofitted through biophilic (love of nature) design show improved product quality, customer satisfaction and innovation. Successful models include the Herman Miller headquarters building, designed for abundant natural light, indoor plants, and outdoor views, including views of a restored wetlands and prairie on company grounds. After moving into the building, 75 percent of day-shift office workers said they considered the building healthier and 38 percent said their job satisfaction had improved.

2. Restorative employee health and productivity specialist. To reduce employee stress and boost morale, companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Sunset magazine promote on-site organic vegetable gardens. The company Airbus now uses wilderness retreats as a reflective catalyst for leadership training. At least one company offers weeklong nature camps for adults who need to recharge their physical, emotional and intellectual batteries.

3. Nature-smart residential builder. They’ll specialize in window-appeal (the view of nature from inside the home) — not just curb appeal. They’ll know how to place a new house in sync with the sun’s movements, use local materials to reflect the nature and history of the region, install a super-insulated green roof that can last 80 years, design for natural air-conditioning, and weave nature in homes and offices in even the most crowded urban neighborhoods.

4. Nature-smart yard and garden specialist, who will help homeowners and businesses reduce traditional lawns, and replace them with bird-attracting native vegetation, butterfly gardens, chlorine-free natural swimming ponds, organic vegetable gardens, beehives, places to raise chickens and ducks and gather eggs. As local governments continue to loosen regulations on yard farming, and as nearby production of food becomes more important, this specialty will become more popular.

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5. Urban wildscaper. Urban designers, landscape architects, and other professionals whodevelop or redevelop neighborhoods that connect people to nature through the creation of biophilically-designed buildings and preservation of natural land will be increasingly in demand. They will design and establish biodiverse parks, urban forests and community gardens, wildlife corridors and other wild lands. Seattle recently announced plans for a massive urban forest that will produce free food. Wildscapers will also manage wildlife populations.

6. Outside-In decorator, who will bring the outside in, creating or improving our homes to nurture health and well-being through nature: “living walls” of vegetation that purify air; indoor vertical vegetable gardens with automatic drip-irrigation systems; biophilic decorations such as twig furniture; fluorescent lights that adjust throughout the day via light sensors at the windows; bird-warning elements for windows; indoor water gardens and other living features. So will individual homeowners decorating their own homes. This goes way beyond Feng Shui.

7. New Agrarian. Who’s that? Urban farmers who design and operate community gardens. Designers and operators of vertical farms in high-rise buildings. Organic farmers and innovative vanguard ranchers who use sophisticated organic practices to produce food. The focus is on local, family-scale sustainable food, fiber, and fuel production in, near, and beyond cities.

8. Health care provider who prescribes nature. Ecopsychologists, wilderness therapy professionals, are going mainstream. Some pediatricians are now prescribing or recommending “green exercise” in parks and other natural settings to their young patients and their families. Hospitals, mental health centers, and nursing home are creating healing gardens. The Portland, Oregon parks department partners with physicians who send families to local parks, where park rangers serve as health para-profesionals. In the U.K., a growing “green care” movement encourages therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy, and green care farming.

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9. Green exercise trainer. Exercising indoors and outdoors seems to produce different results. Even when the same number of calories are burned. Outside exercise appears to have better results, especially for psychological well-being. Green exercise trainers can help individuals and families individually or by organizing “green gyms” and family nature clubs. “People walkers” can help the elderly take a hike.

10. Natural teacher. As parents and educators learn more about the brain-stimulating power of learning in natural settings, demand will increase for nature-based schools and nature-based experiential learning, providing new opportunities for natural teachers and natural playscape and school garden designers. Librarians can be natural teachers, too, creating bioregional “naturebraries.”

11. Bioregional guide. We’ll see the emergence of the citizen naturalist who, as professionals or volunteers, help people get to know where they live. One organization, Exploring a Sense of Place in the San Francisco Bay Area, guides groups that want to have a deeper understanding of the life surrounding them. Think of these guides as nature-smart Welcome Wagons who help us develop a deeper sense of personal and local identity.

The list of possible careers can go on. Stream restorers, law-enforcement officials who use nature for crime prevention and improved prison recidivism, specialists in nature-based geriatric services.

See more examples in the comments below. Once the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, it’s easy to start thinking of new products and services. And when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.

New Jacket Feb 14 199x300 THE NATURE SMART CAREER: 11 New Jobs For a Nature Rich Future Richard Louv is chairman emeritus of The Children and Nature Network and the author of “THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,” from which this piece is adapted, and “LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”  This column was first published in April, 2012.

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Investing in Sustainability: Enhance Profitability and Attract Investment in Your Middle Market Business

financialgraphsandcharts 72689 Investing in Sustainability: Enhance Profitability and Attract Investment in Your Middle Market Business

by Chuck Leddy - Every middle market business leader knows that investing to reduce your energy consumption, shrink your environmental impact, and decrease your exposure to legal liability makes good business sense. Yet, aside from helping you manage your operating costs, these initiatives can also (quite literally) improve your stock with investors, especially institutional investors. In the long-term and in the aggregate, they may even help sustain our planet.

 

In a recent TEDTalk, Chris McKnett of State Street Global Advisors explained that adopting sustainable practices like the ones mentioned above isn’t just about rainbows and unicorns, but “economic issues” directly “relevant to risk and return.” Bad practices on sustainability issues can damage your middle market company’s bottom line and leave you in the bull’s-eye of regulators. “I think it’s reckless to ignore these things,” says McKnett, “because doing so can jeopardize future long-term returns.” McKnett, whose Boston-based company helps invest billions of dollars, cited the fact that “about 80 percent of global CEOs see sustainability as the route to growth [and] competitive advantage in their industries.”

Investors too are increasingly focused on the area of sustainability, not just a company’s financial metrics. “Environmental leadership is compatible with good [financial] returns,” says McKnett. And a Goldman Sachs report echoes just that: “Companies that are considered leaders in [sustainability] policies are also leading the pack in stock performance by an average of 25 percent,” it said. Read more at http://www.middlemarketcenter.org/investing-in-the-sustainability-of-your-business.

Increasingly, cash-heavy institutional investors are demanding good results on sustainability issues as a prerequisite for investment. McKnett offers the example of the massive pension fund for California public employees (CalPERS), which has $244 billion in assets. CalPERS is now using sustainability criteria when making investments decisions. As more investors put their money behind sustainability, companies will have to follow suit, McKnett notes. Paraphrasing President John F. Kennedy, McKnett makes the case for doing something on sustainability rather than being passive: “There are risks and costs to a program of action . . . but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

So if investing in sustainability makes good business sense and can attract investors to your middle market company, what kinds of sustainability initiatives should you be considering? Here are three areas to look at:

1. Environment. Look for ways to reduce your energy consumption and waste, both in your equipment purchases and changing your processes. Not only will this reduce operational costs in the long-term, but it will also minimize your exposure to potential regulatory problems and legal liability. You should also look to begin reporting on your environmental efforts both internally and externally, which will enhance your image with potential investors.

2. Social. Look to build community both inside and outside your company by creating more open communication and partnerships with employees and relevant outside groups. Efforts to promote health and wellness might be an obvious place to start, or even educational outreach efforts with local schools. Doing this informally can work, but approaching it in a systematic way will have more long-term impact. Internally, such investments can help reduce employee turnover, retain talent, and increase levels of productivity and creativity. Externally, they enhance your company’s reputation among stakeholders.

3. Corporate governance. Make sure that you are aligning your compensation policies with your corporate values and sustainability initiatives. You should also set up communication and reporting structures in order to support all these sustainability efforts, including (of course) reporting about them to your internal people and your investors. Put someone in charge of such efforts, define targets, and hold people accountable for achieving them.

Adopting a sustainability approach in your middle market business can help your bottom line and enhance long-term value creation. Pushing your company in this area is good business and might even help transform our communities into better places to live. But like it or not, investors are increasingly demanding that you work on sustainability before they show you the money.

Boston-based Chuck Leddy is an NCMM contributor and a freelance reporter who contributes regularly to The Boston Globe and Harvard Gazette. He also trains Fortune 500 executives in business-communication skills as an instructor for EF Education. Circle him on Google+.

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Economic Impacts of Obesity in Howard County

A new study from the Sage Policy Group released today estimates that obesity may cost Howard County businesses as much as $169 million in economic losses each year, a loss that represents approximately 2,500 jobs. The study was sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the health and wellness of people who live or work in Howard County.

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“These numbers are staggering and indicate that there are significant economic consequences for the increase in obesity and related diseases in our county,” said Nicolette Highsmith Vernick, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “But the study offers solutions too, and in addition to the work Horizon is doing to promote healthier lifestyles, businesses can implement measures that improve the health of their employees and their bottom lines.”

Howard County is consistently ranked one of the healthiest counties in Maryland, but with over 50 percent of adults classified as overweight or obese, it is not immune to the complications presented by unhealthy weights, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, the three largest causes of premature death in the county.

Using public health data and economic modeling, the report finds that obesity leads to increased health-related costs for businesses and reduce productivity. In its analysis of obesity-related costs, Sage’s team focused on a variety of influences including increased insurance costs, lost hours due to increased sick days, lower wages, and presenteeism.

The study also explores the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs. Their effectiveness varies based on program-design but the most effective ones are shown to demonstrate considerable returns for businesses and improved health and quality of life for employees.

Our modeling shows that obesity and related diseases are clearly impacting business productivity and profitability in Howard County” said Anirban Basu, Chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group. “But we also found that well-designed employee health programs can generate significant ROI for individual businesses.”

The report’s initial findings were presented at a luncheon last summer sponsored by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and the Horizon Foundation.

A “policy brief” is available to download here: Obesity and Business POLICY BRIEF

The entire report is available to download here: Business Implications of Obesity in Howard County SAGE

The above infographic can be downloaded here: Economic Report Infographic

- See more at: http://www.thehorizonfoundation.org/report-details-economic-impacts-of-obesity-in-howard-county/#sthash.woQorE0m.dpuf

From a press release written by Ian Kennedy of the Horizon Foundation

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Computer Recycling and Identify Theft: Fact or Fiction

computer waste Computer Recycling and Identify Theft: Fact or FictionBuying the newest technology is part of the American way. Whether it’s a business expanding their network, a family buying the newest flat-screen television, or an individual upgrading their cell phone, Americans buy tons of electronic devices every year. In fact, in 2009, we purchased 438 million new electronic devices, according to the EPA.

While those new devices bring numerous benefits, they also lead to a dangerous by-product – electronic waste. According to a United Nations report, American threw out nine million pounds of electronics in 2012. That number is expected to grow 33 percent by 2020.

The risks of electronic waste are clear. Electronic devices contain metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and copper that can seep into the air, water, and soil, leading to dangerous pollution and health risks for nearby residents. Increased recycling of electronics would help ease the problem. However, many businesses and individuals are reluctant to recycle old devices because they’re afraid the device’s hard drive could be compromised.

This concern isn’t unfounded, but there is some misinformation out there about electronic recycling and it’s security for sensitive data.

FACT: Identity theft from disposed electronics is a very real danger.

Statistics on identity theft from disposed electronics are hard to track down, in large part because so many identity thieves operate undetected. However, we do know that many disposal companies ship their electronic waste overseas to Third World Countries. PBS’s Frontline recently featured Ghana as being nearly overrun with electronic waste. Guiyu, a city in China, was profiled in a recent issue of Fast Company and was described as the center of the electronic waste universe.

Electronic waste in these countries serves as a black market economy, with devices picked apart for scrap metal and other useful parts. Hard drives are some of the most valuable parts for resale because of the data on the drives. The hard drives are often sold in black markets to identity thieves, who then use any sensitive information to launch a financial attack.

FICTION: Recycling increases the risk of identity theft.

The truth is actually the opposite. Recycling with an R2 certified recycling company ensures that your sensitive data is protected. The R2 certification signifies an EPA endorsement and means that the company adheres to a rigorous set of rules and guidelines when it comes to data security. In fact, the only way to know with certainty that your sensitive data has been protected is to recycle your old devices with an R2-certified recycler.

 

Article contributed by Adam Dumes. Adam is the Director of Electronics Recycling at Cohen Recycling.

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Improving Net Income Through Sustainability

bottom line Improving Net Income Through SustainabilityOne of the primary foci of any small business is increasing monthly net income. With more money at your disposal, you could implement some of those ideas that could vastly improve the organization’s practices. While larger companies feel comfortable with layoffs and cutbacks, becoming more sustainable could be your means of keeping more money in the bank accounts. How is being a green business good for your income potential?

1. Energy Bills - One of the obvious aspects to promoting sustainability is the reduction of the energy your business consumes. This can be done by a number of ways including:

  • CFL or LED lighting
  • energy star compliant devices
  • motion sensing light switches
  • powering down computers and equipment each night
  • relying more on natural light from windows then overhead lamps
  • installing solar or wind generators

Not only will your business be doing its part to promote a more eco-friendly existence, but your electric bills will be lower each month as well. You could potentially save enough money to put into improved marketing and advertising, or perhaps buying more efficient tools.

2. Going Digital - Many businesses can go through a great amount of paper and ink each month. With the development of email and Internet access, there is really no reason why most of them have to burn through such materials. In fact, many organizations are utilizing digital alternatives such as emailed receipts, correspondence, payroll and other aspects that once relied on pen and paper. Most of these businesses pay for monthly subscription plans online for a paperless system that saves more money than what they would spend on paper and ink. Going digital in your organization is more than merely having an appreciation for trees. It’s a more efficient use of technology that can save time and help promote a healthier monthly net income.

3. Used and Recycled - Instead of buying new tools or office equipment, why not consider buying used and recycled components? For many aspects of business, used and refurbished items can work just as well as brand new ones. By reducing your monthly budget for equipment and furniture, you are keeping more money in the bank account while giving a new life to an older product. You may practice electronic and paper product recycling, but not everyone else does. Not only are you increasing your net income by purchasing those used goods, but you are eliminating the bulk from those items from being added to a landfill.

4. Water Use - Depending on the business you have, you may not go through a lot of water. However, any little bit can help when it comes time to pay the bill or keep more water available for the residents of the area. If you have more than five employees, your water usage can be greater than you may realize. What can you do to reduce the impact of your organization to the community while improving your net income?

  • Install water-conscious toilets
  • Add aerated water faucets
  • Install tankless water heaters
  • Use rainwater for watering gardens

Sustainability is more than just caring about the environment in which people live. It’s a method that can help you keep more money in the business bank accounts. While some of the methods for sustainability could cost a few dollars to implement, the savings over time could be well worth the expense. Don’t let your business be a drain on society, and do what you can to improve your monthly net income.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

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Cuts in funding will hurt counties’ preservation programs

Conservancy Photos1007 044 300x225 Cuts in funding will hurt counties preservation programsHoward County attracts a lot of people and businesses because of its great school system, a large educated talent pool, and because it is a beautiful place to live. Key to this are the wonderful open spaces that have been preserved for us all to enjoy. Our county is one of the leaders in the country in preservation of park and farm lands. They are valuable resources that compliment living and doing business in this green oasis between two major metropolitan areas.

We can’t however sit on our laurels. As our population grows, we must continue to preserve land so that we and future generations can enjoy it.  Reprinted here is a recent letter to the editor attempting to restore funding in the 2015 State Budget for Program Open Space.

To The Citizens of Maryland

After years of steady support for conservation, I am disheartened to hear that Governor O’Malley has decided to cut funds for land preservation programs in his proposed 2015 budget. As a lifelong resident of the Chesapeake and past Chairman of the Board of the Howard County Conservancy, I have seen the value of protecting open space and connecting people to the land and our agricultural resources. There are a number of ways we have tried to do this. On a local basis, the Howard County Conservancy holds donated easements on over 1,500 acres around the county, including historic homes, and provides volunteer opportunities and education to our residents about the importance of land conservation. The land conserved through Maryland’s Program Open Space works in tandem with the lands maintained by the Conservancy and other nonprofits throughout the state to create a mosaic of natural areas and recreation areas across Maryland. It is one of our greatest assets that we can enjoy, learn from, and pass on to future generations.

In addition to these preservation efforts, the state’s Program Open Space funding has helped our county provide recreational opportunities to local communities (e.g., Western Regional Park) and preserve important natural areas (e.g., Robinson Nature Area). State funds have also helped us acquire other properties (e.g., Meadowbrook Park) that accomplish both. All the counties in Maryland are dependent on Program Open Space funds for acquisition of recreational lands, and without these monies, the counties will have a difficult time meeting identified recreational needs of our growing population. These lands are important so that future generation have the opportunity to get outside for recreation and to learn about the natural world, fostering an early stewardship ethic. However, these proposed funding cuts mean fewer projects and a lack of these outdoor and recreational opportunities. We have made great progress in conservation in Maryland, and I hope that our important land conservation programs will receive the funding they deserve in this budget.

Ned Tillman, Author of “The Chesapeake Watershed: A sense of place and a call to action

Article first Published on 2/6/14 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-conservation-20140206,0,3626434.story

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2014 – The Year of the Carbon Tax?

carbon tax 2014   The Year of the Carbon Tax?This may be the year! This might be the year that we finally get serious about our carbon emissions. The year we finally realize that we are spending way too much money trying to repair the damage from sea level rise and weather extremes. The year we realize that trying to build in resiliency and adapt to change is way too expensive. The year we get serious about believing in science once again and responsible planning for the future.

There is so much movement on dealing with the impacts of global climate change that the U.S. just might do something. It may not be to pass a carbon tax, but it might be that we change our Congress so that a vote would be possible in 2015. If Congress doesn’t act, then there is more the administration can do.  There is so much more we all can do. Don’t focus on the naysayers. Focus on what is happening in corporate America.

The New York Times had a good article on this (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/science/earth/threat-to-bottom-line-spurs-action-on-climate.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140124&_r=0). It reveals that the big companies are well aware of the risks and the costs to their supply chains. Furthermore, they are taking major steps to deal with these issues. Water supplies and commodity prices have experienced significant fluctuations in many of the places where they manufacture their goods. These fluctuations have real economic impacts on their bottom lines.

Up until now, coal companies have kept winning the argument that cheap coal is more important than environmental stability or human health. This is changing. The World Bank is not funding new coal fire plants. The use of coal in this country is on the decline, unless they come up with better ways to use it. India and China are still the wild cards with their over dependency on coal. But even those developing countries are hedging their bets. With their extreme air pollution from their coal fired plants they have created plans to build much more solar and nuclear generating facilities in the future.

So how do we plan for the future? First, you might make sure you don’t end up with stranded assets in old, dirty, sources of energy, specifically coal. Second, you could help persuade the marketplace to invest in alternatives by buying your electricity from wind or solar providers (e.g., Clean Currents at http://www.cleancurrents.com/). The most cost effective thing you can do is to become as energy efficient as possible. Investments in more efficient lighting, appliances, insulation, etc. all have high return on investments. So keep your eyes open, we will see some significant changes this year.

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Support of local non-profits

TRC logo Support of local non profitsIn many ways America is a generous country. We do help each other a great deal and we always come together in times of need (e.g., hurricanes, fires, floods, and droughts). We have a high level of charitable giving. However 90% of that giving is to the religious groups where we are affiliated.  Another chunk is to the political party we support or to some national cause we are interested in. That does not leave a lot to all the local non-profit organizations that do so much for our communities. In areas where government and business do not meet the local social and environmental needs of the communities, the non-profits try to take up the slack.

This is where business people can and do step in. Sometimes it is hard for a single company to take on some of the activities that would make their employees, their clients, and their communities, happier, healthier, and more productive. A single company may not be big enough to meet a pressing social or environmental need all by itself. But all the local businesses together could support a local child care center, a park, a local clinic, local training and education programs, safer water supplies, cleaner air, more outdoor activities for families. There are many excellent groups trying to make a difference. They need your help.

So if you want to do something for your community which will pay back in better employees, go hook up with a local non-profit. Join the board, support their projects, donate time and money, encourage your employees to do the same. Offer incentives to your staff to get them started on community projects. Many people need a little push to find the time to take on another project. But just think about the impacts. All of us will be better off for the civic involvement of the talent locked up in our private sector.

It is not hard to get started. Just start asking around about the needs of the community. Survey your staff to find out what they are interested in and what needs they have. What would make their lives better? Invite a different non-profit in every Friday to tell you team what they do and what kind of help they need to meet their mission. It won’t take long for you to find one or more good groups to partner with to improve the community where you work.

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Top Eco-Friendly Elements of New Modern Homes

61282 blakely rd 041 Top Eco Friendly Elements of New Modern Homes	New home builders report that green is in. Fewer than 20 percent of new homes in 2011 were green. However, a study conducted by McGraw Hill Construction revealed that this number is expected to grow to 55 percent by 2016. This projected growth comes from the fact that new modern homes have superb energy performance and cost less to operate than homes resold on the market.

The goals of sustainable design in new homes include:

  • Protecting the health of those in the home.
  • The efficient use of water, energy and other resources.
  • Reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation.

Components of Eco-Friendly Design in New Modern Homes

The ultimate objective of green building is to eliminate the impacts that homes have to the health of the occupants and the environment. Construction practices that new home builders use include:

  • Using reclaimed building materials: Construction, renovation and demolition make up about 60 percent of the country’s solid waste and 60 percent of its natural resources. Salvaging materials from deconstructed buildings and reusing them reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Items that contractors can give a new life to include antique fixtures, marble countertops, wide-plank lumber, fine-grain wood, cabinets, bricks, windows, wood flooring and ironwork.
  • Buying building materials that are recyclable: Green home builders construct new homes with the understanding that a homeowner may one day add to or alter the structure. With this in mind, contactors choose materials that others can use again in the manufacturing of new products. Materials that use recycled content, or postconsumer and recovered materials, include steel, drywall, glass tiles, insulation, plastic lumber, countertops, carpet, carpet padding and landscaping materials.
  • Installing environmentally preferable products: Environmentally preferable products are those that reduce waste, use water efficiently, are made from green building products, and are recyclable, energy efficient and help improve the quality of indoor air. In addition to choosing appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, builders may also install plumbing hardware for sinks, toilets, showers and irrigation systems that have the WaterSense label.
  • Buying local: Purchasing locally manufactured or produced materials reduces the need to ship over long distances, reducing transportation-related emissions. Transportation emissions have a great role in the eco-friendliness of a product or building material, especially when such items are heavy. In some instances, an item that’s produced locally or regionally without any environmental claims may actually be more eco-friendly than those with a green label that traveled farther to reach your home.
  • Reducing loads: Loads are the energy needs of a home. Green home builders use measures that help increase the energy performance of a building and reduce air leaks. To tighten a building envelope, contractors use items like high performance windows, building wraps, extra insulation and strategically placed awnings. They also strive to lower the embodied energy—the energy used to construct a home—as it can represent up to 30 percent of the total life cycle energy consumption.
  • Optimization: A home is only as sustainable as the maintenance that you put into it. Today’s new-home builders design houses and use materials that make them more cost-efficient, less wasteful and simpler to maintain and operate.
  • Improving homeowner health: It is not uncommon to find that the indoor quality of air inside a home is worse than air quality outside. To improve the indoor environment, green contractors use heating and cooling systems with filters that reduce dust, pollen and other irritants. In addition, they also avoid using materials that release toxins, such as paints with VOCs, PVC pipes, halogenated flame retardants, lead, mercury-containing light bulbs and carpets made with certain synthetic fibers.
  • Implementing renewable energy: Many eco-friendly contractors design new modern homes so they accommodate renewable energy systems. Techniques include creating a passive solar home design, solar panel installation and installing solar water heating systems to warm water, floors and/or spaces.

It pays to have a new modern home. Today’s green homes cost about the same as traditional homes to build, but are simpler and less expensive to maintain and operate. Talk to your local green home builders to learn more about their practices and the benefits of eco-friendly homes.

Courtesy of George Hale, owner of H. Hudson Homes, a Portland home builder that focuses on cutting-edge design and sustainability.  

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Finding Sustainability In The Woodworking Industry

wood construction Finding Sustainability In The Woodworking IndustryFew industries are so devastating to the environment in a visually apparent way than the construction industry. When you find out that your local green space is to be turned into property, it’s the sight of construction workers, concrete and the sound of drilling that brings home the reality of the situation.

People Make Choices

This industry is no different to others in that it’s made up of people, and people decide which direction they want their work to take. This is certainly something the people at Inwood keep in mind in the work they produce.

Aside from logistics, one of the main areas that construction can become more involved in eco-focused initiatives is materials. By using materials that are produced in a sustainable fashion, used in an eco-conscious way and maintained by people who want to see longevity from their use, the industry makes huge strides in the right direction.

Attractive Attributes For Materials

Finding such materials it not always easy. There are so many forces that can contribute to the choices people make in materials, including whether a material is:

  • Good quality
  • Durable
  • Easy to manipulate
  • Widely available
  • Available on an on-going basis
  • Cheap or cost-effective
  • Desired by consumers

Going Beyond “Alternative”

One of the buzzwords within media coverage of eco-friendly products over the past decades has been the word “alternative”. The issue with this is that for sustainable products to effectively compete, they don’t need to just be a “green alternative”, they need to be the best product available.

Fortunately for parts of the woodworking sector, such a product exists. Like many construction materials, this has come about through a process of discovery. The product is not natural as-such, it’s from a type of timber that wouldn’t make the grade without being “treated”.

A Sustainable, Quality Product?

The most durable, strongest timbers used in woodworking are hardwoods. Hardwoods typically require a long period of time to grow to a place where they’re ready to be felled and used in construction.

Accoya wood comes from a softwood, Radiata Pine. By itself there’s nothing remarkable about Radiata Pine – it grows to maturity quickly as is the case with many softwoods, but doesn’t stand out as being particularly durable or strong. The timber is treated and goes through an acetylation process, which improves its strength and makes it exceptionally durable. Because Radiata Pine matures quicker than hardwoods, and once treated performs better than many hardwoods, it’s a source of great quality timber perfect for construction industries.

Accoya fulfils many of the bullet points above – it is well suited to the varying purposes of construction, lasts long, and can be grown and harvested relatively quickly. By having a positive Felling/Planting balance, Accoya is a great example of how the woodworking industry can find sustainability.

How Can Other Sectors Find Sustainability?

The problem solved in this instance was more than an ecological one – Accoya is stronger than other timber produced in a similar length of time – it is quite simply a more desirable product.

This might not be possible for every section of the larger construction industry. What it is is a great example of how innovation backed by people who want to solve a problem can lead to positive results for the planet.

Take a look at the GreenSpec approval for Accoya wood here. Accoya is available in the U.S. from these distributors. It is currently sourced and treated in Europe, with plans to implement treatment plants and source Radiata Pine from local areas in the near future.

By Rob at www.woodworkersuk.co.uk!

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