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Apr 30, 2007
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A top Chinese legislator has asked the media to help the government in controlling pollution.

During an annual media tour, where journalists representing 28 state media outlets tour the country, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, Wu Bangguo, called for a greater role for the media in raising awareness of environmental issues in China.

Wu suggested that the media should create public awareness surrounding energy use and conservation, and should cover environmental problems facing the country - more specifically calling for in depth reports on issues that get the most complaints.

This 2007 media tour is focused on topics of energy consumption and pollutant emissions - both areas that the central government are falling behind on in their targets. Although much of the state run media is, well, controlled by the state, utilizing the media to help in emission reduction and energy use targets is a good move for the country and could mean we'll see more coverage of these issues (both positive and negative) in China and beyond.

Via China.org.cn


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Posted: Apr 30, 2007 9:43am
Apr 30, 2007
www.greenoptions.com

The strategy of "open building" can be traced back to European and Japanese roots. While it has been widely adopted in those parts of the world, it is only relatively recently beginning to see any use in North America. However, an increased interest in pre-fabricated construction is helping to expand awareness of this approach to building.

The principle is to maintain a separation between the different aspects of the building in order to be able to make repairs and do upgrades with a minimum of interference with other elements of the building. Open building stipulates separate zones or chases for different functions and services. This will, for example, make it easier to change plumbing systems without needing to repair other systems that cross or interfere with access to the necessary parts of the plumbing system.

Open building also makes construction easier by minimizing the interference between different systems, so that the installation of different systems can take place at the same time, rather than needing to be staggered one after another. With each trade and system given its own designated area, the builders (and also the future remodelers or repairers) of those systems can do their work with much less concern about damaging other elements of the building.

Open building lays out six "layers" with different lifespans. They are:

  • Site - the location; building site itself. Timeless duration
  • Structure - the framework; the "bones" of the building. 100 to 300 year lifespan
  • Skin - the cladding. 40 to 100 year lifespan
  • Space plan - the interior partition walls. 10 to 30 year life
  • Services - electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and heating/ventillation systems. Updated every 1 to 10 years
  • Stuff - belongings and furnishings. Can change monthly

Open building is often incorporated into pre-fab systems. Concentrating all of the plumbing elements in one area, for example, helps to put all elements of that system in one area for easier repair access. It also serves to reduce the amount of plumbing material needed. If all water uses are concentrated in one area, there is less piping needed which can mean a reduction in the amount of copper or other material used in the construction. The benefits of engineered construction with pre-fabrication, rather than having all of the installation of the services done on-site, can make for better use of materials and better buildings.

Taken to its extreme, however, open building can become restrictive, forcing configurations on the building that do not serve the needs of the inhabitants. If other parts of the plan are forced into awkward configurations in order to accommodate the structure of open building, then the savings in that one area may be lost in other areas. However, there can be benefits to understanding open building even without wholly embracing the open building system as the chief principle for constructing a building. Looking at the building with an eye to the life cycle of the different systems can lead to a better building, and can help reduce later problems.

Buildings need to be built to meet immediate needs. But they also need to be constructed in a way that future needs and changes to the building are also given consideration. Much in the same way that we need to conserve resources for the use of future generations, the buildings we build today will also be used and re-used well into the future, and a longer-term approach to building is another part of building green.

Article: Reinventing the House (Fine Homebuilding reprint - PDF)


By: Philip Proefrock
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Posted: Apr 30, 2007 9:38am
Apr 30, 2007
You know you're in hot water when you get your electric bill every month, but did you know that if you stopped using so much hot water, you'd help yourself and the environment? Today we're asking you to adjust how you wash your clothes - and it's going to be easier than you think.

No, we're not going to ask you to start doing a whole bunch of manual labor...just to adjust how you use your washing machine. The US Department of Energy starts out their page on laundry with this, "About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes—use less water and use cooler water."

If that doesn't get your attention, we're not sure what will! One more time. Around 90% of the energy for washing clothes is for heating the water. So let's not heat the water! The thing is, the clothes come out clean anyway. You don't even need a "cold water" detergent - they all do the same job. So if you normally wash with hot water, switch over to warm. If warm has been your thing, give cold a try. You won't be able to tell the difference. Of course, super dirty & oily clothes are potentially a different story, but for the most of us, daily wear clothes can be washed cold.

The second part of the Department of Energy's tip was to use less water. Wash in full loads whenever possible. If you mush wash a smaller load, adjust the water level appropriately. Like so many eco-tips, when we give you energy saving advice, it's great for your wallet and the planet.

Rebecca says: I've been washing on cold for around 2 years now and haven't noticed a difference - except in my electric bill! Living in Florida, the "cold" water is never all that cold - you'll just have to play around and see what works for you. But give it a shot, I think you'll like it.

www.greenoptions.com

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Posted: Apr 30, 2007 9:09am

 

 
 
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Noelle D'estries
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