Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Initiation Into The Green World

As my semester comes to an end with graduation in a couple of weeks, I wanted to convert this blog into a personal piece relaying my time spent in the green world-- how I was welcomed, how I learned beyond my imagination, experiences I had, the green people I met and what I intend to do next.

Introduced to the green world by fault of my senior journalism capstone (thank goodness), the Cat Scan, I never knew its wide and large extent, alongside its effort in trying to educate the non-green world members. Thus, I was initiated into this alternate lifestyle for the past 4 months and I've enjoyed it thoroughly, and will continue to enjoy its liveliness and passion beyond completion at the University of Arizona.

Combining basic journalism skills and focusing on one theme throughout the semester, "Living Green," I not only continued to learn journalism practices and principles, but I learned how to care about something in a different way-- my earth, our earth.

Granted, I haven't fully adopted the "green" lifestyle, but I've attempted to do as much as I can to change my carbon footprint in order to use up less planets.

Besides that, I've experienced a great deal of green...

Stories I've covered mostly dealt with lifestyle, including the uses of bamboo, to a profile on an architecture firm and their green practices. Also, the people I've met along the way are truly passionate about their greenness. Oh, and I can't forget the amazing time I've had covering green decor and interior design with this blog.

More importantly, I've learned that going green is not a choice, it is a lifestyle that some normally live, through no fault as my capstone course. I consider myself lucky to have experienced and participated in this global green movement and lifestyle.

Above all, I know what green is. It's beyond color, it's beyond following a movement, it's beyond a class theme.

Green is simply-- good.

All Best,
(Green World Member)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Carswell Residence: Part III of The Tucson Innovative Home Tour

Traveling forward from the Mercado District of Menlo Park, my Cat Scan tour group ventured to a private residence nestled in the palm of Tucson and surrounded by mountains.
As an award winning designer and builder, Ron Carswell's home embodies green. Our last stop on the innovative home tour, the Carswell residence is truly an amazing example of sustainability and conservation.

When we arrived at the home, after obtaining our daily workout in the Arizona sun by walking up a hill to reach the home, we caught our breath and again, "wows" came forth from our mouths.

The first aspect of the green home that we noticed before we entered was the "solar wall," rather the "double glazed wall with low-e windows 12 feet high by 65 feet long," Carswell said.

"Through material choice, solar orientation and use of shade, our home in the desert saves more than 75 percent of the utility costs of a conventional 'stick and stucco' house," he added.

Upon entering the Carswell home, we walked into a great room with high ceiling fans circulating the air. To the right was another large room, containing a TV-watching area and the kitchen which featured a large rectangular window over the sink. This large window created an outdoor feel to the kitchen, connecting the kitchen with the scenic view outdoors. To the left of the kitchen was a sliding door leading to the pool area and extended view of Tucson.

Walking past the great room and turning right, down a hallway, you'll find two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office. The home sits in a u-shape, with the pool/back patio area in the middle.

Now that you're acquainted with a visual layout of the home, on to the good, green stuff!

The Carswell residence comprises straw bale insulation, framing and roofing systems made out of steel, evaporative coolers (which are strategically shaded by honeysuckle vines), windows and sliding doors framed by wood, roof overhangs that provide shade, a fiberglass pool, efficienty appliances, LED lighting and fluroescent lighting and so much more.

"My design criteria honors the seven generation belief that you build not just for the present, since the home could be inhabited for hundreds of years, we need flexibility," Carswell said. "Our luxurious hilltop straw bale home demonsrates that energy conservation is practical and affordable, in any size and style of building, in any climate, in any market."

Overall, the home tour was amazing. And although we didn't get the chance to visit every house along the way, the three that I highlighted are only a fraction of how going green can be done in the home.

Happy Eco-Designing!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mercado District of Menlo Park: Part II of The Tucson Innovative Home Tour

Continuing last week's innovative home tour, our second stop was in the Mercado District of Menlo Park, rather a remote town in Spain or Mexico because of its unique appearance and international atmosphere-- but in Tucson.

Walking through the courtyard, in between two rows of lavish homes, we were attracted to how large and design-stricken the structures were. Upon entering one of the homes, a small entry courtyard invited us to continue our tour through the home.

Walking through the front door, we all gasped "wows."

Developed by Street Scene, the Mercado District homes couple design with energy-efficient architecture.

"Street Scene Development is the culmination of two visionary companies, Stellar Gray Fine Homes and Rammed Earth Development. Stellar Gray, renowned for developing authentic adobe villages, creates organic architecture influenced by regional and historical design. Rammed Earth Development specializes in authentic rammed earth and adobe construction. The vision and focus of Street Scene is to design and build homes with sustainable materials, creating neighborhoods that feel integrated with their environments - a sense of belonging in the Sonoran Desert," according to the Street Scene Development Web site.

Houses built with adobe bricks offer the lowest amount of embodied energy and the "average adobe brick home is made using only 10 percent of the embodied energy used for the construction of a typical modern house," according to the Adobe Building Systems, LLC, Web site.

Homes built with adobe bricks are heat resistant, keeping the homes cool in the summer heat and warm in the winter. Adobe exterior and interior walls need little maintenance and are "vermin-proof, dust-free, fire-proof, flood-proof, insect-proof, bullet-proof, rust-proof, water-proof, and can be wiped clean with a sponge. Since adobe is non-toxic, the walls are also non-allergenic," according to the Adobe Building Systems site.

So, if you're looking for beautiful design that meets green architecture using adobe as the structures prime building material, the Mercado District stands as a great example of just that! Besides, having a home that's bullet proof is pretty cool if you think about it...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

indigoMODERN: Part I of The Tucson Innovative Home Tour

Saturday, November 3, Tucsonans had the chance to view 15 homes at 10 different locations around town that are advanced in energy-efficient savings, practices and design. The Tucson Innovative Home Tour featured homes that have won awards, along with homes awaiting to win awards for their eco-friendly structures, also educating the general public about innovative approaches to designing homes with sustainability and conservation in mind.

Deciding to attend the tour with three other fellow Cat Scanners since they chose to cover it for a special class assignment, I tagged along and was extremely glad that I did!

We traveled around town, stopping at three different home locations; indigoMODERN, the Mercado District of Menlo Park at Rio Nuevo and the Carswell Residence.

This entry will consist of three parts, the first discussing indigoMODERN and what the development has incorporated in its design that's "green."

Indigo Modern is located along the 3rd Street bike path. The beautifully modern townhouses comprise superb architecture, intertwining effective and energy-efficient design. The units are also TEP guaranteed and charged $42.08 a month for heating and cooling.

When we arrived at the townhouses site, we were amazed at how modern, clean and new the structures looked. After briefly talking with Warren Michaels, representative for Metro Realty Advisors, LLC, about Indigo Modern and its green efforts, we showed ourselves around the home, admiring its simplicity and decision to be a sustainable home.

Innovative measures taken in an Indigo Modern home include:
pre-wired for solar
pre-planned for solar hot water
passive solar shading
rain water harvesting
TEP guaranteed
community pool-with a salt water system
toto toilets(dual flush upgrade)
bamboo flooring
low-e glass/windows
xenon kitchen lighting
compact florescent lighting
solatube skylight
hardiplank siding
standing seam steel siding and fencing
timbor-wood preservation, insecticide, fungicide
dunn edwards eco-shield paint
blown-in cellulose insulation
green series sealants
polished integra color concrete floors
photovoltaic panels
solar hot water heater
passive solar sun shade door

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Palm a Pom keep the glass!

I was in need of a refreshing drink after class this past week due to the weather still being warm, despite the fact that we're about to enter into November. Anyways, back to my refreshing drink. I decided to pick up a Pom Wonderful Tea drink, but wondered why it was $3.25. I thought to myself, 'hmm, this drink is a little on the pricey side.' After talking with a friend about my purchase and checking out the Pom Web site, I was informed that the price was as is because the glass in which it comes in is reusable. So, besides coming in a beautifully packed glass container with a lid, the glass is yours to keep and refurbish later with your drink of choice. And what better way to compliment your kitchen cabinets, counter, desk, or dining table, than with recycled glasses?

Pom Wonderful drinks are made out of pomegranate fruit, which is historically one the earliest fruits cultivated on earth. Consuming pomegranate fruit has a number of health benefits including the prevention and slowing of cancer growth due to the fruits carrying of antioxidants. Products of Pom Wonderful includes their tea (which was very tasty-- I had the Peach Passion White Tea), juice and even pomegranate pills, for those with less time to enjoy the liquid form of the pomegranate fruit. After doing some research on the pomegranate fruit and its contribution to a better, healthy lifestyle, it also contributes to the green world of conserving products. And in this case, offering buyers a glass to keep and reuse.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Walking Barefoot Never Felt So Good: Earth Weave Carpet Mills, Inc.

Like walking barefoot outdoors? Earth Weave Carpet Mills, Inc. enables you to do just that--but indoors on all-natural, non-toxic carpeting.

"We're a very unique product," Kent Kelley, general manager of Earth Weave, said.

Based in Dalton, GA and as the only manufacturer in North America that produces 100 percent, non-toxic carpeting, Earth Weave has been in business for 12 years and obtains distributors all over the country, Kelley said.

Earth Weave's Bio-Floor Collection includes carpets that are biodegradable, are made with 100 percent all-natural wool, use natural pigmented wool fibers instead of chemical dyes for color and uses hemp and cotton as a base instead of polypropylene which keeps the wool yarn in place. Even the adhesive to combine all elements of the Bio-Floor carpets together is 100 percent natural and biodegradable. The adhesive is made from rubber trees. Jute is also used as a backing on the carpets, which comes from "a hardy earth friendly fiber producing plant," according to the Earth Weave Web site.

The photo below shows the different layers of Earth Weave's Bio-Floor carpeting. Photo Courtesy of

Carpeting with wool has many added benefits, but costs more to manufacture, Kelley said.

"Wool is sustainable, and when you put it under a microscope, you'll see that wool has scales on it and many manufacturers try to mimic wool the non-natural way," he said. "Though it costs more to produce wool carpeting the right way and profit margins are thinner, wool is resilient and we believe in what we're doing by contributing to peoples health and this great country."

Earth Weave even maintains nature in the naming of their different carpet styles.

"All styles are named from mountain ranges," Kelley said. "Even the colors of the carpet is naturally named, indicative of nature, for example our Pyrenees style comes in a wheat color."

The photo below is a carpet sample of the Pyrenees style in a wheat color. Photo Courtesy of

Below are carpet samples of the McKinley style in snowfield (top) and the Dolomite style in a granite color (bottom). Photo's Courtesy of

Working with Earth Weave is Kelley's first opportunity to work in manufacturing he said.

"There are more people everyday that understand benefits of natural things, rather than synthetic materials," he said. "We've enjoyed 12 years of success and we love it."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Small Green Flare: Soy Candles

With all the hype on Target going green with numerous products, I had to mention them again for a second time to compliment my organic sheets.

Soy is all around us-- soy milk, soy beans, soy clothing. Recently, I was doing my usual drive by at Target and decided to browse the dollar bins at the front of the store. And what did I find? Method Soy Candles for a buck! It was quite amazing. I then decided that I'd browse the home section and came across bamboo candles that are made out of 90% vegetable wax. I bought a few of the method candles and a bamboo candle, and I must say that I'm pleased with their burning abilities and scents. Plus, what better way decorate any room in your house than with candles-- simple, right?

Why burn soy wax instead of regular candles that contain paraffin wax?
According to Greenspace Candles, soy wax is non-toxic, burns cleaner and longer, originates from a renewable source and is biodegradable. Paraffin wax, on the other hand, contains petroleum. Petroleum smoke contains carcinogenic toxins and produces black soot, is not a renewable source and contributes to polluting the air and global warming.

Besides adding a green flare to a room in your home, burning soy candles is not only better for the environment, but better for you. For more information on smoke and soot produced from candles made out of petroluem,check out the report that the Environmental Protection Agency produced on the reduction of soot.

Burn wisely, happy decorating!