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Tag: Miscellaneous

Green Your Holidays

It is the time of year that we splurge, whether it is food, decorations, or gifts. And that’s the way it should be, but why not splurge sustainably? No, I am not saying be a Grinch and don’t eat, decorate or gift, but there are alternatives that add a whole lot of holiday cheer without emptying your pockets or negatively impacting the environment.

Here are some tips and tricks that I use to keep my over-the-top holiday spirit and at the same time feel great about being sustainable throughout these festive months.

The Highlight of the Holidays – Food

Thanksgiving DinnerAh, food. Here’s where it gets tough. How do you stay sustainable when the holidays are the epitome of food leftovers? I mean, there are tons of recipes dedicated to all the leftovers from a very classic turkey sandwich to a very mysteriously filled shepherd’s pie. However, this is also where you can make your biggest mark on how “green” your holidays will be. (more…)

SWA Helps Implement STEP, the Sustainable Technical Education Program

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Written by Karla Butterfield, Senior Sustainability Consultant 

In a new and exciting opportunity, we’re partnering with Energize CT, the Connecticut Technical High School System, The Connecticut Light and Power Company dba Eversource, The United Illuminating Company, and The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) Education and Workforce Partnership to help implement Green STEP (Sustainability Technical Education Program). This program will train CT technical high school students in a construction career track in energy, water, and resource efficiency.

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How Effective is that Range Hood?

Next time you are cooking, take a look at your kitchen hood. You are likely cooking on the front two burners, but your kitchen hood is not likely to extend fully over these burners. For typical exhaust fans, they do a good job of exhausting steam, contaminants, etc. from directly below them, but don’t necessarily pull all fumes that are outside the perimeter of the fan enclosure.  According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) the capture efficiency of standard hoods is typically in the range of 30-40% on front burners and can be as high as 90% on back burners. To demonstrate this, I boiled some water in a tea pot on my stove. Once steam was coming out, I pulled out an infrared camera and started to take images. Wait…you don’t have an IR camera just sitting around your home? You are missing out on hours and hours of fun with the kids. They are great for science projects.

Back to my point. I have an LG over-the-range microwave with extenda™ vent. This allows the vent area to extend out an additional ~6”. When the microwave hood (exhausted to outside) was operating on turbo mode (just over 300 cfm exhaust) and without the vent extension slid out, the majority of steam from the tea pot on the front burner was passing by the vent and going up the front of the microwave (as evidenced by moisture build up on the microwave door). And yes, I realize that I turned the spout of the tea pot outwards to more dramatically show the point I am trying to make. When the slide out vent was pulled out, the amount of steam capture increased dramatically, but there was still some moisture build up on the front edge of the vent slide out.  Obviously, this is not a scientific study; it is just anecdotal evidence to further the discussion on the need to consider capture efficiency in the design of kitchen range hoods.

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Figure 1. (Left) IR image of steam from a tea pot bypassing vent hood without hood extension slide out. (Center) Picture of range and hood setup with hood extension slide out. (Right) IR image of steam from a tea pot mostly being captured by vent hood with hood extension slide out.

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The Adventures of Mo and Her No Mow Lawn

I always thought the phrase ‘about as interesting as watching grass grow’ conjured a vision of ultimate boredom. That was before I attempted to grow my own no mow lawn. It turns out that watching grass grow can be a roller-coaster of emotions: the angst of wondering whether my inability to precisely follow directions would matter… the excitement of seeing the first blades of green poking up… the anguish over bare spots… and the pride over healthy, lush sections.

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April 2015 – The lower tier is seeded; the upper tier wall-building is still in progress

For years I advised clients to consider no mow lawns in their green homes, but I had never seen the end product through a full cycle of seasons. Friends of friends who own a turf farm expressed their interest-slash-skepticism at my undertaking, which more or less echoed the sentiments of a whole stream of landscape architects before. “Sure, you could try no mow if you really WANTED to… ” A search of local nurseries turned up nothing available. I couldn’t figure out why something that sounded so ingenious wasn’t more popular! An internet search for “no mow grass” turns up Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI as a major supplier. A colleague used their product, and they were extremely helpful on the phone, so I ordered the No Mow Lawn Seed Mix online.
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Connecticut Proposes Budget Cuts on Clean Energy Funding

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Written by Carmel Pratt, Sustainability Consultant

If you live in Connecticut and are as obsessed with energy-related news as we are, you’ve probably already heard about the proposed cuts (to the tune of ~$22 million) from the state’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) clean energy program. RGGI is a nine-state agreement between CT, DL, ME, MD, MA, NH, NY, RI, & VT to cap and reduce power sector CO₂ emissions. In other words, the program is designed to be a set of guidelines for regulating, budgeting, and trading emissions from electric power plants in the cooperating states. This initiative is the first of its kind in the nation, being a mandatory (as set forth by each state’s program design) and market-based emissions reduction program. The nine states are currently in the process of gathering input from stakeholders and experts for the 2016 program review. (more…)

Celebrate Earth Day 2016 – SWAstainable Lifestyles

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2016 is the 46th year of the Earth Day movement! At Steven Winter Associates, it’s a year-round celebration of our planet. Take a look into the SWAstainable lifestyles of our employees, and tell us about your commitment to ‘living green’ in the comment section. #EarthDay (more…)

HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Final Event Results & Gallery

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Announcing the Winners of the 2016 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Competition

First Place: University of Texas at Austin
Runner-Up: University of Maryland

Congratulations to the IAH winners, and to all the members of the final four teams on their outstanding solutions! (more…)

Happy April Fools’ Day!

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HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Update – Santa Barbara Site Visit

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On March 9, the four finalist teams from this year’s HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition (IAH) visited the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, California (HACSB) project site. Multi-disciplinary teams of graduate students are competing to develop a holistic solution that would allow the HACSB to meet its goal of offering safe and sustainable affordable housing to area residents. Teams are given the option of rehabilitating the current structure, or demolishing and rebuilding. The winning project proposal will thoroughly address design, community development, and finance in their solution.

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Gamifying Sustainability: Play to Save, Save to Win

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Using gamification to incentivize consumer-level sustainable behavior is a relatively new strategy. It applies classic principals of game playing to encourage green living, offering a challenge, a platform for social competition, and a reporting system that quantifies performance. In an increasingly networked society fascinated with social media and gaming, tracking lifestyle behavior in a way that’s sharable and interactive transforms the mundane into the meaningful. (more…)