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If there's a big message we should all get out of the typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) tragedy, it is the fact that green lifestyle should be in. Yes, eco-friendly living!
Shopping with your own bags is a good start. Patronizing the recycling market is another major step forward. But let's bring it on by talking architecture and interior design. Yes, there is such a thing as green design. It focuses mainly on energy efficiency so that natural elements like air, light and heat can flow beneficially. It also involves making use of renewable sources of materials like abaca or cogon and not hard wood or plastic. Of course, recycled items are also included.
Once saw an exhibit of PSID - that's Philippine School of Interior Design featuring such style and they all look fantastic. The newest development in the universal go-green movement is the use of green office furniture, and this has excellent potential to make companies eco-friendly.
LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards is a certification program that encourages sustainable practices design and development. It is governed by the by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC; founded 1993) and is founded on “sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.”
If you reuse existing buildings and preserves surrounding environment, you are LEED. If you incorporate earth shelters, roof gardens and extensive planting throughout and around buildings, you are LEED.
If your building design conserves water - including the cleaning and recycling of gray (previously used) water, you install building-by-building catchments of rainwater, and you monitor use and supply of water, you are LEED.
If you are energy efficient because you have maximized seasonal changes in the sun's position and use of diversified and regionally appropriate energy sources - like solar, wind, geothermal. biomass, water or natural gas, you are LEED.
If you used desirable materials - those that are recycled or renewable and those that require the least energy to manufacture, locally sourced and free from harmful chemicals - and used nonpolluting raw ingredients, you are LEED.
If your indoor environment addresses control over personal space, ventilation, temperature control, and the use of materials that do not emit toxic gases, you are LEED.
Here are ways on how we can 'green' our homes and offices:
A portable, compact office built independently, meaning you can easily whisk it away because it is not connected to walls or ground. They are cost effective because they are smaller.
Invest in rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. You can run almost anything, from flashlights to digital cameras, with rechargeable batteries. In the long run it is cheaper and better for the environment.
Use CFLs or compact flourescent lamps instead of the normal incandescent bulbs. Choose brands and services that offer green solutions and alternatives. Don't patronize companies known for taking negative or no environment steps.
First used in the US, low flush toilets use less water therefore conserves more. If you don't want to replace your existing toilet, you can instead put a clean brick or a filled bottle inside the tank and this will yield same results.
Don't print unimportant documents. Keep soft copies instead. A single DVD disc can store up to thousands of .doc files.
Rally your employees to actively participate in environment causes. Plant trees. Give giveaways and promotional items that are environment-friendly.
This is a bit drastic and inconvenient. This measure means changing your habit, literally. Like walking, taking the stairs, giving away the automatic dish dryer and turning off the lights when not in use. Literally, consciously observing natural way of living.
By opting photoluminescent products for emergency exit signs, signs powered by ambient light from standard fluorescent lighting, 100% recyclable and reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 500,000 pounds annually, per 100 signs installed, establishments can conserve more power and lesson carbon footprint.
Green roofs use non-standard roofing materials which promote simple high-reflection roofing that can increase durability over that of common roofing. It also allows a bounce-off effect of direct sunlight, reducing cooling costs. Green Roofs, or full roof gardens, reduce the costs of air conditioning further, increase roofing longevity by 30-50 years, and provide valuable “green space” for students to utilize and enjoy.
Check with your architect and interior designer how to use greener technology to bring back the open window, draws fresh air through roof venting, and utilizes heat energy from stale, expelled air to reduce energy costs. Health savings to the community can add up to millions.
Active solar panels clearly reduce emissions and energy costs. Passive solar power, through use of large windows and skylights, is another way to save. This technology draws from the natural warmth of sunlight to reduce the need for powered fixtures and mechanical heating.
Tank-stored rainwater is typically used to power flush toilets, irrigate gardens and, when properly filtered, provide tap water for the entire building. The annual cash savings can total in the tens of thousands.
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