Thursday, April 16, 2009

Earth Day Tweet up Game

Welcome Earth Day 2009!!!

Game: ( #greenphilly #contest )

Hosted by @Envirosavvy @SustainableHous

Time: The game will take place on Earth Day 2009 (4/22) from 2pm-8pm Eastern Standard Time. A Winner will be announce between 9:30pm-11:30pm.

Rules: The #greenphily #contest will take place completely on Twitter, if you haven't joined twitter yet, you should.

This will be a point based game, and therefore ALL POSTS for the game must include the TWO hashtags #greenphilly AND #contest .

1 pt - tweet your entry into the contest (EXAMPLE: I'm in! #greenphilly #contest )
1 pt - Earthday related tweet (EXAMPLE: I love Earthday because so many trees get planted! #greenphilly #contest )
1 pt - for each photo of an Earth Day 2009 event in progress; include caption of location for fun~
5 pts - share your EarthDay blog post link (EXAMPLE: "Post Title" "Link" #greenphilly #contest )
10 pts - re-tweet about the #greenphilly #contest between 2-8pm EST

You can post as many photos as you want.
The blog post must be from your own blog.
You can only retweet the contest between 2-8; and not more than once per hour!!

PRIZE: Although I originally planned having 2 prizes, one has had a little mishap and has been replaced! So, I'm sorry for any confusion regarding the prizes of the game, but here they are:

The first prize winner of the game (most points) will receive a tote bag made from 100% repurposed by me 16lb cat food bag.

It is very versatile; it can be used for many various activities - including gardening. Because it is completely plastic, you can simply hose it out and let it sit to dry to wash it.

You can see below that it holds 2 beach towels comfortably; and it has a small pocket inside goods for holding seeds, gloves, cell, anything small.

The runner up by point count will receive this lot of garden seeds. It includes pumpkins, carrots, cucumbers, head lettuce, and Marigold flowers seeds grown and packaged right each on the east coast of the US!

Good luck, and start racking up those points!
I will announce the winner between 9:30-11:30pm 4/22 (depending how long it takes to count points!!)

PS- DON'T FORGET: Every tweet must have 2 hashtag: #greenphilly AND #contest .. Tweets without both will not be counted!!!

UPDATE 8:15pm: Elliot wins!! Tote bag to take to critical mas at the Temple University Bell Tower this Friday 4/24

Cold Frames

Cold frames at Temple University Ambler Campus,
Ambler, Pennsylvania, U.S.
More Photos of these cold frames available here.

What is a Cold frame?

A shelter make specifically for plants in cold weather. It consists of four walls to trap heat and shelter plants, made of any sturdy material — plywood, concrete, even bales of hay and a transparent lid that admits light, typically an old window works perfectly as a lid, but Plexiglas or plastic sheeting tacked to a frame also works just as well.

But why use a cold frame for plants you ask?
Well, it's a great way to start plants earlier in the season (before the last frost of spring) and also a great way to acclimate your seedlings begun indoors to outdoor conditions.
A cold frame can extend you growing season by up to a month! In some climates, you can even grow straight through the winter!

Setting up a cold frame
According to Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening the best site to locate a cold frame is a south-facing, sunny spot with good drainage and some protection from the wind. Western facing Ideally, the site should get full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The glass lid should have at least a 10 percent angle for added sunlight exposure.

Cold frames can be permanent features in your garden where in the summer you can vent by opening the lid, of temporary structures you can put away when you're not using them. It will depend on the style you choose .

Before you set up a cold frame in a permanent spot, dig out the top 3 or 4 inches of soil inside the frame and replace it with a layer of coarse gravel; Then replace 6 inches of topsoil back ontop of the gravel - this is help with drainage! Mixing compost, processed manure, peat moss or other forms of organic humus with your existing soil to create a good fertile soil.

You can grow cold frame plants in pots, flats or right in the soil. Example: if you're growing just one type of plant, like salad greens, plant right in the soil.

Care Tips
Each cold frame will have specific requirements when it comes to the amount of care it needs.
Consider it you're own little experiment.

The watering requirements will vary from day to day and season to season. Generally, during the winter season the cold frame will only need to be watered once a week. Or you can let Mother Nature do the job by opening the top of your cold frame on a rainy day

If the soil is prepared properly, there should be little or no need for feeding (fertilizer) during the winter. The exception may be leaf crops, like lettuce, spinach and chard. A light feeding of an organic type 'Vegetable Garden' fertilizer two or three weeks after planting would be beneficial.

*Beware of slugs! The warmth will attract them and you will need to take appropriate actions to control them

Keys to using a cold frame successfully
You have to pay attention to the temperature!! The trick involved is keeping it COOL rather than warm.
Typically you want the temperature in your cold frame to stay BELOW 75 degree Fahrenheit if you're growing summer plants; and BELOW 60 degrees F for plants that normally grow in spring and fall.

A good rule of thumb is to prop the lid open 6inches when outdoor temperatures are above 40 degrees; when the outdoor temps clear 50 degrees F, remove the lid completely.

You can also purchased automatic venting systems from gardening catalogs. A crawlspace vent can something also work this way and can be purchased at any home improvement store.

On very, very frigid nights, a bit extra insulation may be required; Most heat escapes through the glass, so pile insulation on top. You can use old blankets, straw, newspaper or whatever is handy. And although snow insulates well too, you will want to brush heavy snow off the glass so it doesn't break!

Check out this video featuring many different designs of cold frames. Some are very easily assembled and good for small yards (if you live in a city). Others are large and good for big yards, but still easily put together and movable! At night you want to replace the lid to restore the warm environment for the night.

Information obtained from Organic Gardening and Ed Hume Seeds .

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This is a short video I found on tips on selecting green building materials like concrete, reusing wood floors and glass.

Fu Tung Cheng explains Concrete counter top sustainability and conservation of materials.

Materials: Glass from dump, wood from Treasure Island where navy tore out old building, gym floor from local junior high school to reuse in house.

Counter tops: good design is sustainable! Good designs last a lifetime- aren't changed or updated as often ---less material in landfill!

Counter top Materials: harvesting/quarrying local materials: aggregates, sands and combining = regionally made material: cement
Carbon footprint: low, very local - 100 miles radius

Granite: quarried in Italy; Hauled to China to be finished, Boat to our coast and trucked to local people install and process
Carbon footprint: Large -1000s of mile

Here are some other examples of concrete cement countertops:

Partners' Blog

Have you visited these blogs recently??

John's Capzle - or scroll all the way to the bottom of my blog for a sneak peak!!
Lots of interesting international sustainable housing techniques and examples!!

Tyler's Blog - Current and recent sustainable housing projects.
Also includes natural sustainable housing techniques such as Hemp cement for building

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Earth Day Tweet Up!!!

What are you doing for the Earth on Earth Day this year. April 22nd is quickly approaching us, and I know I'm planning something big!

Join us between 8pm-12am EST on April 22nd for our Tweet Up on Twitter ( @sustainablehous ) and to discuss Earth Day around the world!! We want to know everyone's stories. What did you do for the Earth? What did you experience other people doing for the Earth? Share pictures, stories, music, and LOVE for the Earth!

You can join Twitter here.

You can RSVP here:

See you there!!!

Hopefully, the Earth will also be happy with our events on Earth Day..otherwise.............

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Scrap House

It's everyone's dream, well maybe mine and a select other few's dream... A house built not just of recycled materials, but strictly of salvaged, repurposed, recycled materials!!

Featured on National Geographic a few nights ago, there it was: The Scrap House

Mission: In San Fransisco, the goal was to create an up to code, safe and stylish house out of nothing but trash in just 4 weeks in time for UN World environment Day; on San Fransisco's Civic Center Plaza.

Players: the architect, the salvager, the structural engineer, the building inspector.

Thesis: We live in an age of construction and demo 24 million new homes are built each year in the US; tear 200,000 to the ground creating an endless cycle of 100billion lbs of trash including building materials and appliance. Is it possible to make a new house out of this trash??

Rules: NO new materials except for screws and nails.

Here is just a few of the materials they recycled into this house: scrap metal, old street signs, traffic lights, sheet metal scraps, old shower doors, some computer keyboards, scrap metal studs, old fire hoses

1st problem: No full length 2x4 at dump
Solution: Find of left of metal studs from an industrial construction job.
TIP: Small pieces of scrap metal stud can be jointed together safely unlike wood studs!!

2nd problem: No plywood!!
Solution: 40 year old Masonite found!
Made from wood fibers, but weaker, not ideal wall material but stronger enough to keep walls from twisting

3rd problem: weather proofing material for exterior
Solution: Shingling with small piece of durable materials: smaller than a door, larger than a license plate. Using: shower doors; old street signs; sheet metal scraps
TIP: Overlap of at least 6in protects against leakage
TIP: Galvanized steel can last 50-70 years without rusting=VERY DURABLE

4th problem: Framing
Solution: 10,000lbs of structural steel from a warehouse demolition
TIP: Withstands up to 7 on Richter Scale; Recycled steel doesn't result in a lower quality material, unlike paper or glass (High demand) TIP: In US, 75% discarded steel is recycled; Cars recycled at a rate of 25 cars/minute TIP: Each year steel recycling safe enough energy to power 1/5 of all homes in America

5th problem: Need glass for giant floor to ceiling window walls (~150 pieces of various size glass)
Solution: double pain scrap glass find at dump = savings of nearly $100,000
TIP: When building sky scrapers architects usually buy 5% extra glass in case of breakage. (31 story building = up to 200 extra windows)

6th problem: Interior design
Solution: Use everyday items in a new, random orientation!
Patches of scrap leather to make patterned floor. Hang keyboards on walls as tiles; turn doors into a wall. Wall insulation out of phone books (blown paper is better than fiberglass)
TIP: An R rating measures how well an insulation works Formula: (Temp. difference X Area X Time)/heat loss [R rating of fiberglass=3.14 per inch; r rating of blown paper=3.7 per inch]

7th problem: Stairs
Solution: Built offsite from a salvaged cut tree. Handrail from scraps of leftover steel

8th problem: wall coverings
Solution: Old fire houses, conveyors belts, miss matched wood trim

9th problem: Light fixtures
Solution: traffic light glass chandelier; Lamp collage

Other trash to treasures: wooden bed headboard, dishes, bathtub, sink, cabinets, counters

How amazing 100% junk, 100% brand new house! Can you imagine if everyone used at least 1 recycled item from the dump, keeping all that potentially useful, reusable material out of our landfills!!

I'm willing to do this, are you??

You can watch the full episode here on Hulu:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

World-Wide Eco-house Map

My group just received an invitation from @naturalhomes on twitter to add to this great world wide eco-house map. It's interactive! Zoom in to a country/state/city/neighborhood to see natural homes all around the world.

Natural Homes website can be found here they have many interesting items on their site.

Please come back to this post occasionally as I will update here when we add to the map!!