Archive for the ‘Alternative Energy’ Category

By Abby Draper

GreenBuildLogo e1353338870850 Greenbuild Unearths Shrinking Trends in Home Design: Smaller footprints, lower bills and zero wasteIn a still uncertain economy, studies released in conjunction with the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, held Nov. 14-16, in San Francisco, express that residential green construction is on the rise. It is expected that by the end of 2012, green homes will comprise 20 percent of the market and by 2016, one third of all home builders in the U.S expect to be fully dedicated to building green. With the escalation of green building in the residential space, we predict that we will see an increase in accompanying eco-conscious interiors. After attending Greenbuild, we identified three developing design trends we hope to see prosper in the coming year:

By Christine Costa

As 2013 planning for all of our home brands comes around, I’ve been thinking a lot about how sustainability fits into the picture. Or more specifically, which brands come to mind when I think about sustainable design and why they are successful.sustainable 11 Sustainable Marketing, Sans Sustainable Messaging

This year, West Elm launched a partnership with Etsy. Through the partnership, the retailer has been a champion of artisans and designers throughout the United States. The ability for a large brand to be scalable, localized and selective about the type of materials and products it promotes and sells is a powerful message in sustainability. While West Elm’s “about us” section of its website does not speak blatantly about sustainability, it does aim to solve problems with design and inherently takes nature into consideration.

Last week, one of IMRE’s own clients, Interface, launched a dialogue about the intersection of city and nature via Instagram (#InterfaceUrbanRetreat). While Interface is well known as a leader in sustainability, the conversation in 2013 turned toward a more design-oriented dialogue – how can design merge human life with our natural environment?Sustainability 21 300x221 Sustainable Marketing, Sans Sustainable Messaging

The market has been inundated with green PR and marketing campaigns over the past several years. In contrast to the typical marketer’s approach to sustainability, these brands have found a more sophisticated method of weaving sustainability into a larger brand story. Their success in being perceived as environmentally responsible brands is largely due to the organizations’ approaches to design – purpose, function and simplicity being at the core of their product’s beauty. This thoughtful decision-making is a great inspiration and reminder to marketers, interior designers and homeowners, alike, in slowing down and considering the choices we make when incorporating sustainability into our communications and our homes.

By Kristi Rains

Think back to a few years ago, when renewable energy technology in the form of solar, geothermal, wave and wind power seemed to be the winning answer to the world’s growing energy crisis. Since then, the movement for renewable energy in the United States has hit a number of roadblocks, including cuts in government subsidies, political turmoil and international competition. By and large, these emerging technologies still haven’t caught on with most American consumers.ID 10071339 Leave The Light On For Renewable Energy Technology

However, efforts to expand the reach of renewable energy by researchers, corporations and government partners continue, with significant success. Just last week, the country’s first commercial solar plant built on federal public land was activated near Las Vegas, and now generates enough power for nearly 10,000 Nevada homes. Meanwhile, Hawaii’s government considered legislation to expand geothermal energy production in an effort to increase energy independence for the isolated state, where household power bills are about three times the national average.

Across the globe, what else is happening in the world of renewable energy? See below for a few highlights:

  • Iceland, the world’s leader in geothermal energy, is looking to expand its geothermal production by building the world’s biggest underground electricity cable, which would power 1.25 million homes.

  • Domestically, New York’s Department of State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are one step closer to offshore wind energy projects after mapping wind farms against existing bird and fish habitats.

To find out how to bring renewable energy technology into your home, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website. The site also has ideas for making your own clean electricity with small solar, wind or hybrid electricity systems.

By caraw

As a renter with defined, particular opinions when it comes to home design and architecture, it can be challenging to find a place to call home.  So last May when I stepped into apartment 1S (now home), I was thrilled to see it offered the floor plan, character and details I’ve always wanted.  And now that fall has arrived a new amenity has emerged – the fireplace.

It’s only mid-October, but one could say that my roommate and I are completely attached to our fireplace.  Having “our own” fireplace is a first for us, but luckily my roommate grew up in a quaint farmhouse often heated by the multiple chimneys, and his father is beyond dedicated to the importance of fire safety.  So we’ve spoken to the expert and gathered the essentials, including a hearthrug. According to Smokey the Bear, you might assume we are ready for a warm, safe winter.  But we’re looking for more than safety, what about sustainability?Fireplace 300x224 Questioning the Sustainability of Your Fireplace?  So Are We…

When questioning the sustainability of our fireplace so many concerns come to mind – how to clean it, how to dispose of ashes, which fire starter logs to use – the list goes on.  We’ve started our research and, like everything sustainability-related, there are tons of ways to approach the issue.  But we think we’re off to a good start with the tips and best practices we’ve gathered to date.  Here’s what we are working with:

What to burn: For a more sustainable option than traditional fire starter logs, try offerings made of renewable resources and recycle materials.  These types of logs burn clean and are a great alternative to wood.  We tried the Eco Log by ShredMaster, Ltd.

How to clean it: We all love the smell of a nice fire, but sometimes that lingering smell on day three after you’ve removed the ashes can make you feel like you’re living in a BBQ.  A trick we’ve read on multiple blogs, is to sprinkle moist coffee grounds in your fireplace.  Not only does it help keep the dust down, but it will help with the smell.  Who knew a fireplace is part composter?

How to make it more efficient: There are many ways you can make sure you’re getting the most from your fireplace.  One idea we really like, and that you can benefit from year round, is installing an inflatable plug.  This way when you’re not using your fireplace the plug will prevent warm air from going up the chimney.  To ensure you’re getting as much heat as possible into your home, try adding a fireback, or sheet of cast iron behind the fire.  This will reflect more heat into your room.

What if you don’t have a fireplace but you want to curl up next to the glowing heat this winter?  Try installing one of these outdoor fire pits.  Or if you haven’t found your dream apartment with the fireplace, try the EcoSmart Fireplace.

What are your tricks and best practices for creating a safe and sustainable fire?

By Becky Shankle

1013 45 banner home industryinsider2 (de)Sign of the times: Garden Friendly Kitchens
So more folks are doing the staycation thing, eating in has become the new eating out & they’re even growing their own food. The common denominator of all those things? The kitchen. Preferably one that is a pleasure to use & spend time in – that time we used to spend someplace else.

What is Garden Friendly?

One of my clients has a worm composting bin in her kitchen. If you make them correctly, the worms are perfectly happy to hang out in their cozy home, & not venture forth to co-mingle withyour foodie zone. They pull double duty – munching away on your table scraps, & producing rich compost for your garden out back. And the smell is minimal. Really. I smelled it myself.

Zoning the kitchen

But just in case you’re worried about separating the worm operation from the human ones, there’s always the option for a stand alone cabinet with countertop. That way there’s room for neatly sorting & sifting what goes in & comes out of the composting system. We often use pull-out shelving for the worm bin itself. Frees up the counter for the table scraps while you sift, or for filling the transport bucket to the garden. compactkitchen mediumbrown 288x300 (de)Sign of the times: Garden Friendly Kitchens

Somewhere near that same cabinet we store cardboard, which becomes compost while it keeps the weeds from taking over the garden. Sometimes we spec an entire tall cabinet dedicated to just the recycling. Since larger sheets of cardboard work better at thwarting weeds, they get their own section of a tall & deep cabinet. The remaining sections are dedicated to the usuals: glass, plastic, newspapers.

Prep for the dormant season

What do you do with the backyard bounty you can’t give away or consume as quickly as it’s produced? You freeze it. A freezerless fridge allows more space for garden goods – especially if it’s a big garden. Some people are even opting for smaller refrigerators, or even under counter fridges for 2 reasons:

  1. Valuable counter space is gained, which means prep area for jarring & freezing increases.
  2. More efficient chest freezers can live in the garage or some other adjacent room without gobbling precious footprint area in the kitchen.

Last but not least

Aside from the normal cooking features like an oven & range, we try to maximize counter space by both the sink & cooking areas. You need a place for cleaning newly plucked lettuce & peppers, & getting them ready for your taste buds. There’s also a mobile countertop option on a cart that
can be stored out of the way.

And for those who don’t want to bother with transporting the goods from the backyard to inside, there’s always an outdoor kitchen & grill option. Or, you can just graze directly in the garden.

Learn more about garden friendly kitchens by visiting Eco-Modernism’s Web site:

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