Home Entertainment’s Take on the Green Life Project

Read more: http://www.hemagazine.com/Green_Living_Smart_Living#ixzz0aSCNvSPt

Selecting the best appliances for energy and water savings

Our appliances were delivered and as much care went into their selection as every other product in our Narragansett LEED house. In addition to considerations for style and performance, all of our appliances (with the exception of our stove because stoves are not rated) are top performing ENERGY STAR appliances.

As available appliances for the project will bear the ENERGY STAR label and assist us in maintaining the highest level of energy efficiency throughout the home. Additionally, the new Whirlpool Duet washer, which uses 74 percent less water and 80 percent less energy than traditional top load washers manufactured before 2004 and you can watch how it works in this video, will aid the project in its LEED-H for Gold certification quest by providing a point in the Innovation & Design category. And yes, we did pick the cranberry.

Our selections include:

Whirlpool Brand Resource Saver Dishwasher – Features the eco-friendly Resource Saver wash system and CEE Tier II recognition from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency ratings. We chose to have the custom cabinet panel installed to match.

Whirlpool Brand Duet Dryer–Uses up to 40% less energy with Eco Normal cycle when paired with a Duet washer.  A more precise set of heat and moisture detection sensors allows clothes to dry more efficiently. The Quick Refresh steam cycle tumbles 2 to 5 items, helping break down odors and relax wrinkles. Combined with the Duet washer, it is the brands most efficient laundry pair to date, providing $837 in energy and water savings over the first five years of use. Though dryer’s do not yet earn ENERGY STAR ratings, this dryer is top energy saver and when managed on the Control4 appliance module will only be allowed to run during non peak pricing hours to manage our cost per kwh budget.

KitchenAid Architect Series II Double Drawer Dishwasher – This ENERGY STAR dishwasher is able to wash 2 different loads independently or simultaneously and features 5 cycles for flexible washing options. We installed it right across from our kitchen wine bar which will be great when entertaining and keeping the glasses plentiful.

KitchenAid Architect Series II Refrigerator – The 48” main refrigerator provides the elegant aesthetics and functionality that my gourmet cook’s kitchen deserves.  This ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator will be monitored on the Control4 appliance module for real time monitoring of energy consumption and load shedding from 1 – 4 AM daily for a projected annual energy savings of 12 percent of running costs. A second ENERGY STAR labeled Whirlpool French Door refrigerator, located in the home’s pantry, will also be monitored on the Control4 system.

As I watch our appliances get installed and I think about the months of planning and meetings we had, the product reviews I read, the color swatches I compared and the immense time I spent designing the kitchen and laundry room, I cannot tell you how muchI look froward to doing a load of wash adn running the dishwasher. Seriously.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster

Blue is the New Green: Water Conservation in a LEED Home, Part 2 Outside

Continuing my post from yesterday, we put together a very agressive exterior water collection and conservation plan in an effort to conserve what we consider a very precious and diminishing resource.

6. Landscape Irrigation: Our irrigation was designed from the ground up according to the specifications of the LEED-H program. From determining how much grass we would have in relation to our overall permeability to specifying a custom local URI blended grass that is both drought and disease tolerant to designing beds that have grouped native, drought tolerant plants, trees and bushes, we have been working on this landscaping plan for nearly a year. The irrigation system is critical in the overall success of the design because we still want use as little water as possible. Right now, we think we have absolutely maximized what we can do here. From measuring our evapotranspiration rate  to measuring how much water we are using in our control system, we left nothing out. With measure nozzles and heads for accurate spray, rain sensors, and even humidity sensors, our irrigation system is a complex tool deigned to work with our land.  Our system is not even connected to the municipal water supply. We achieved such as high GPM water flow from our geothermal well, that our system is designed to call to the well for water when we haven’t collected enough water in our rainwater harvesting system. All our water is our own, that which we take out, filter and put back just keeps circulating from our well for the ultimate in blue…I mean green building.

7. Rainwater Harvesting: As mentioned, our rainwater harvesting system collects the rain from more than 80% of our roof and disperses it through an interconnected gutter system that directs all of the water to our 5000 gallon underground storage tank. We collect more than 3500 gallons from a 1 inch rainfall and here the water sits until we need to irrigate our grass, plantings or even our garden. Fitted with two floats that measure how much water is in the tank and one communication device that calls to the well when water is needed, the system, works in

8. Outdoor shower: We live by the beach and I love the days we spend sitting in the sun, riding the waves and building sandcastle-like structures. But I’m a sand-a-phobic. After living the past five years without an outdoor shower, it’s like the dark ages for me. Sand belongs outside, not tracked in to multiply on the floor, clog our indoor showers and then ultimately find its way into our beds.  My plan?  A hot/cold outdoor shower for everyone to get clean before coming in. Brilliant! Using a 1.75 gpm Kohler showerhead attached to removable outdoor shower system that is filtered and sent to our collection well for distribution into our grass and beds, it’s just another way for our family to conserved and reuse the water we use.

I realize that our approach to water conservation was aggressive. I would not expect most families to unilaterally attack each section in order to conserve water. But, everyone can do something. You can easily add an aerator to existing faucets at a cost of about $1.59 each. You can upgrade an old 2.2 gpf toilet that is leaking and past its day to a 1.28 or even 1.1 gpf toilet for a cost of approximately $550 – $750 per toilet. Rainwater harvesting system installation? All told based on size, you’re looking at about $12k for the gutters, tank, excavation, piping, communicating devices and landscaping. The irrigation system for an acre of land will run you another $10k.

 posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter :  newscaster

Blue is the New Green: Water Conservation in a LEED Home, Part 1 Inside

When we talk utilities, energy tops the list of resources people are looking to save. That electric bill and oil or gas bill crosses the mailbox every month, but water is quarterly in Narragansett and in some towns might only come once per year. If you’re on a well you may not ever think about it. But let me tell you; blue is the new green. Our water supply is not infinite.

The cost of water is expected to increase over 10% per year.   By the year 2025, if present water consumption patterns continue, 2 out of every 3 people on the planet will live in water stressed conditions as reported by the United Nations Environment Program.

We prioritized water as a resource to conserve when building our Narragansett LEED home as much as anything else.

Here’s the list from our home project of how we are conserving water:

1. Toilets – We installed 1.1 over 1.4 or more normal 1.6 gpf high efficiency toilets. That’s a savings of half a gallon of water for every flush. We have four family members and a full time babysitter at home every day.  We host family gatherings at our house and manage to have a revolving door of summer guests. Ashley practically lives with us enough that if I could carry her as a dependent I would.  With an average flush rate of 10,000 flushes per year,  we will save 23,800  gallons of water per year when compared to a 3.5 gallon toilet (pre-1992) or 8,200 gallons compared to a 1.6 gallon toilet?

2. Faucets: Whether in the kitchen or bath, we didn’t discriminate. Every faucet we have is 1.5 gpm. This is the lowest flow faucet you can buy today. All of our faucets meet the EPA WaterSense specification and come from Kohler.

3. Showerheads: Again, all products of Kohler and all meeting the EPA Water Sense requirements, every showerhead, including our outdoor shower are 1.75 gpm. They are engineered for maximum aeration so shower takers (of which I am not a huge fan) gloriously claim they maintain pressure without feeling like you are being sprayed by house or only getting that trickle of water which makes it impossible to get the soap out of your six year old’s tremendously thick hair.

4. Washing Machine: Everyone laughs at me about the fact that we are going for a LEED point for our washing machine but what can I say it saves water. The Whirlpool Duet front loading steam washer saves the most amount of water of any washing machine in its category. It provides more than a dozen settings so you can wash your clothes correcting and the machine figures out how much water you need. Now if only it put them in the dryer. It’s coming, just wait.

5. Dishwasher and Dishdrawers – Some people might accuse us of being wasteful because we have more than one dishwasher, but I completely disagree. Our dishwasher and dishdrawer combination is designed for the job at hand. If you’ve never had them, dishdrawers are amazing additions to your kitchen, easily concealed, compact, efficient and quiet, this is the second time we’ve installed Kitchen Aid dishdrawers in a home project. The beauty of them is how you can use them to conserve energy and water by washing full loads that are small. If I know the kids are only going to be eating at home for the day, then I can load the dishdrawer and not the big dishwasher. Instead of handwashing all our wine glasses after a big dinner party, they all go together in one dishdrawer. The new Whirlpool dishwasher will be our main family sized dishwasher for those cooking at home nights. Big enough to fit the days dishes plus the night’s cookware, and boasting an ENERGY STAR rating, it will handle anything our family throws at it.

This is an overview of what we’ve done inside the house, in my post tomorrow I am going to overview our exterior water conservation plan.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter :  newscaster

Green Building Perspectives: Kohler

kohler-logoGrowing up, I never considered how much water toilets used, let alone their brands. In fact, the more water, the better, right?

It wasn’t until recently, particularly as the economy started to slow down, that I began to think about all of that water. How much does a toilet really need to operate effectively, anyway? How much water am I wasting every time I flush? I’d already become more conscious about letting sinks run unnecessarily, but there didn’t seem to be much I could do with a toilet to cut down on water usage. I’m not quite ready to move into a world where you don’t flush after each use.

Not surprisingly, Kohler Co., which makes toilets, sinks, faucets and all kinds of kitchen and bath products, has water conservation high on its list of priorities. Founded way back in 1873 and headquartered in its namesake of Kohler, Wis., Kohler is also, interestingly, one of America’s oldest and largest privately-held companies.

Kohler spokesperson Mark Mahoney said the company is excited about its participation in the Green Life Smart Life project because it’s a good opportunity to educate homeowners about water conservation and the solutions that are out there. With Kohler products, he said, “You can help the environment and save money along the way, without sacrificing performance.”

Mahoney shares some interesting stats about those flushes we all take for granted. It turns out that toilets have already become much more efficient than they were in the past. This fascinated me. Thanks to the U.S. Government’s Energy Policy Act (EPACT), all toilets installed after 1994 use 1.6 gallons per flush. To get a handle on just how revolutionary that is, consider this: Toilets installed before 1993 used 3.5 gallons per flush. Toilets installed before 1980 used five gallons per flush. And toilets installed before 1950 used seven gallons per flush!

As you can see, we’ve come a long way, but Kohler thinks it (and we) can do better. It sees demand for high-efficiency toilets increasing, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because water shortages are expected to spread across the United States over the next five years. “Water conservation is still a regional issue, but we expect that to change,” said Mahoney. “Traditionally, the trouble areas are the Southwest/Southern California, but water shortage has spread to the Southeast, particularly the Atlanta area, as well at the Northwest U.S. We expect almost all of America will be touched by this problem in the coming years.” And depending on the locale and the severity of the shortage, water bills could rise rather quickly; it’s already happening in Southern California, said Mahoney.

Kohler’s products are directly helping consumers cut down on water consumption. Its dual flush toilets offer you the option of a 1.6-gallon flush or a 0.8-gallon flush. It also offers toilets that use only 1.28 gallons per flush with the help of its High-Performance Gravity technology. Kohler also offers faucets, shower heads and other products that save water while not sacrificing performance.

Kohler is a proud partner of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, which promotes water-efficient products and practices nationwide. Toilets like Kohler’s that carry the WaterSense label use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than their less efficient counterparts. Kohler is such an advocate for the program that it was named the one and only 2008 WaterSense Manufacturer Partner of the Year.

Kohler has various videos on its site that describe its products. You can see a run-down of its water conservation program here and its environmental philosophy here. It has even started a site called SaveWaterAmerica.com, which features water-saving ideas; Kohler even donates $1 in water-conserving products to Habitat for Humanity’s sustainable building efforts for ever visitor who takes a brief quiz. Kohler distributors are taking water conservation ideas directly to consumers, setting up tents and educating users on how they can save money, conserve water, and make the switch to more efficient water consumption.

Kohler is also doing its part internally to contribute to the greening of the planet. “It’s not just the right thing to do, but from a cost perspective, we can examine our processes and eliminate waste, which is good for business and for the environment,” said Mahoney.

Posted by Joe Paone


A Year of Greener Living

Earth Day 2009 marks the one year anniversary of our family’s transition to sustainable living. For us, this meant more than simply taking advantage of our town’s recycling program; it is the one year mark of changing the entire way we live and how our family will impact the earth. Some of our changes were simple, some of our changes were massive, some were inexpensive, some have upped our budgets; all of our changes are innate now and that was always my goal.


Pictured below: Abby and Max after one year of green living.


 Max and Abby on 4.18.09

 When we decided to build our new house environmentally friendly and sustainable in April 2008, I realized that we there were things we weren’t doing that we could be doing. Our family has made a lot of changes this past year, and I decided that our Earth Day post 2009 could serve  to review how we’ve gone green and to challenge others to review their lifestyles and see if there were more things they could be doing.


1.       No more bottled water. Seems simple right? We had always recycled all our plastic bottles but I never thought about the waste stream we were creating. We all bought Kleen Kanteens or equivalent and have switched completely to tap water.

2.       Switched to CFLs. Again, simple enough but I had a hard time justifying getting rid of light bulbs that worked to make the switch. Ultimately I couldn’t ignore the statistics that stated things like “a global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world’s electricity bill by nearly one-tenth”. We’re not global but in one year we’ve lowered our monthly kWh usage by an average of 180 kWh per month.

3.       Organic eating. This is one place we have increased costs. I used to shop at our local Belmont but they just do not carry enough organic produce, so out of season I head to Whole Foods. On average I spend $100 more per grocery shopping trip (which is about 2 times per month) but I have the whole family on board on the importance of eating foods free of preservatives, hormones, pesticides, trans fats and processed sugars. I’ve changes family recipes, even creating some that are simply better than they were before. I think over time, these costs will level out, but this change was worth it.

4.       Going local. From shopping at local farms to buying from local retail shops, I have dedicated myself to buying things from gifts to clothes within our community. I’m kind of lucky in that I live in a small state and nearly everything is local to me, but when it comes to this I really focus on shopping in Wakefield and Narragansett. It’s really not that hard and I’ve gotten to know so many of my neighbors!

5.       Conserving water. We added aerators to all our faucets and I only run the dishwasher when full. I scrape, don’t rinse. We pee 3 times before we flush (TMI, sorry, but we still have 1.6 gpf toilets and can’t afford buying new ones). Jeans get worn three times before washing, pajamas get the same treatment. If we have water left in a glass or a pan, we use it to water the plants. Being green means not wasting blue!!!

6.       No paper. No plastic. I always use my own bags. I don’t think about it, I always have one with me, no matter where I am from a local shop to the grocery store to the mall or the pharmacy, I always have them with me and even keep 2 EnviroSaks in my “World’s Greatest Mom” bag.

7.       Less driving. In total, since April of last year, I have only driven 7211 miles in my car. My husband and I commute together 2 days per week as our schedules allow. I shop locally when I am at work and all the shops are within walking distance or at least within a mile of my office. When I do have a lot of places to go in one day, I drive in a sensible pattern to minimize the distance travelled.   My two biggest offenses: my parents live 40 miles away (but on the way to Whole Foods!) and sometimes I have to drive for a business trip. I try not to drive needlessly and I think, do we need it before I get in a car. My gas bill is 68% less than the same period the year before, granted gas is cheaper, but I also drove almost 3000 less miles than the previous year!

8.       Educating my children about how they can help the earth. My daughter loves to pick up trash. She reminds her brother to turn off the water. They both shut off the lights. She looks for the word organic on the food she picks and will turn down treats that have been proclaimed by me as junk. When she outgrows clothes, she lists who they can be given to and she makes the same suggestions for toys. For her birthday we agreed to a home-grown party with no presents but donations to help our local animal shelter. She is turning six and she gets it; she doesn’t feel like she’s giving anything up while living a greener, healthier life. She just lives and this will change our world.

9.       I started a Green Blog. We have logged more than 18,000 readers to our website since our launch six months ago, we have shared our ideas, our views, and our knowledge with others and hopefully we have inspired them. Our green community is alive and it is growing and I hope it will continue to be a sustainable force.

10.   Building a green home. This is the biggie; this blog, our website is dedicated to our journey through building a green home. It is what has made me undergo the changes we have and preach to anyone who will listen. We are still 4-5 months from project completion, but it has taught me so much about what we can all do to green our homes.


This year has really improved me and I am proud of the commitment that I have made to living sustainably. Making the decision to build a green home was all about my children, but it changed me in a way that makes me a better inhabitant of this planet. I try to remember I am just passing through; my footprint should be in the good I can do.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

Do you know how much water your favorite jeans consume in their lifecycle?

In a video on the  Greenbiz website, Levi’s reported completing a lifecycle analysis for a pair of thier jeans and determined it uses 3,480 liters of water in its entire life cycle. They determined that 49% of the water is used in growing the cotton while 45% is used in home laundering, and 11% in the milling, manufacturing, and prewashing the jeans.


posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster