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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do low-flow toilets really work?

Of course they do

The federal government decided that after 1994 toilets shouldn’t use any more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Manufacturers had to comply, but by most accounts their early efforts were a flop.

That was a decade and a half ago. The redesigned low-flow models that followed work as well or better than older models that used as much as 7 gallons of water per flush. There is, in fact, a joint U.S.-Canadian evaluation program called Maximum Performance (or MaP) that uses soybean paste encased in latex to see just how well these low-flow toilets work. And most of them work very well. Test results are easily accessible on the Internet.

High-efficiency toilets use even less water than standard low-flow models, some as little as 1.1 gallons. Dual-flush toilets, which have separate flush modes for solid and liquid waste, are another water-saving option. The differences in performance may seem trivial, but switching from a standard to a low-flow toilet can save thousands of gallons of water per year.
Replacing an old toilet with a low-flow model is a simple and fairly inexpensive way of conserving resources—a cornerstone of green building.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

If I use only green or recycled building products, is my house green?

No, but they don't hurt.

Building products made from recycled products don’t make a house green by themselves any more than solar or photovoltaic panels do. But keeping the goals of sustainable building in mind can guide purchasing decisions in the right direction.

Take something innocuous, like a stone countertop or a bamboo floor for a kitchen . Stone and bamboo are natural materials that off-gas no hazardous chemicals and are extremely durable—all positives. But what if they are imported from the Far East or mined in a country where labor or environmental laws are suspect? Is the material still green? Well, not as much. It would be better to purchase flooring and stone locally, even if that limits the number of options.

The same template can be applied to purchases of wood products. Illegal logging is rampant in some parts of the world, threatening regional ecologies and in some cases underwriting violent criminals. Buying lumber that has been harvested locally or certified as sustainable by a third-party, such as the Forest Stewardship Council, is a contribution toward green building.

But choosing appropriate materials is a lost effort if the house itself wastes fuel or is poorly designed and haphazardly built. Green products are becoming more plentiful all the time, and given the right context they are an important part of sustainability. It’s the context part we shouldn’t forget about.

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