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Do adobe homes really work in all climates? – Book review

Posted October 26, 2010 12:28 PM by Tristan Roberts
Related Categories: Books & Media, BuildingGreen's Top Stories, Nature & Nurture

The weather is turning cold here in southern Vermont. A friend just got chased off the Long Trail (which she was hiking from the Massachusetts to the Canadian borders) by 18 inches of snow on Killington. While the leaves are still turning here in the Connecticut River valley, it's time to start huddling up by the fire and thinking cozy thoughts.

It was with this frame of mind that I excitedly cracked open Adobe Homes for All Climates Simple, Affordable, and Earthquake-Resistant Natural Building Techniques by Lisa Schroder and Vince Ogletree. It's another well-produced addition to the library of natural building tomes offered by Chelsea Green Publishing.

Making Lime Mortars DVD

Posted September 23, 2009 6:36 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Product Talk
Over at The Last Straw blog, Jeff Ruppert has posted a review of Making Lime Mortars, the first of a four-disc tutorial offered by St. Astier Natural Limes. Perhaps the thing I like best about the review is that it doesn't get into the whole "Why use lime" conversation... it respectfully assumes that you already know. But in case you don't know, here's most of the product description for St. Astier's natural hydraulic lime from GreenSpec:
St. Astier Natural Hydraulic Lime, or NHL, is a 100% natural product that has been in production since 1851. St. Astier NHL Mortar is widely used in the restoration of old buildings. This natural hydraulic lime mortar imported from France allows stone to "breathe" naturally. Used in construction as plaster, stucco, mortar, and paint, its high level of vapor exchange and mineral composition can help reduce the risk of mold development and dry rot.

Stimulus-Funded Green Jobs = Left-Wing Conspiracy

Posted September 23, 2009 2:48 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Op-Ed, Politics
Over at GreenBuildingAdvisor, veteran journalist Richard Defendorf combined his abiding interests in green building and politics by taking a look at a Fox News Forum opinion piece from the policy director the conservative advocacy group (natch) Americans for Prosperity. It contained gems like this one:
"Most green jobs consist of hiring low-wage workers with caulking guns to weatherize buildings. We are trading away high-wage, high-value manufacturing jobs for these green caulking jobs. Any time you spend billions of dollars you will create some jobs, but the key question is, what the cost is when you divert resources from higher-value activities?"
Defendorf had the audacity to respond with thoughtfulness and logic. Take a couple minutes to read it: Stick 'Em Up, I've Got a Caulk Gun!

More Toilet Flushing Fun

Posted September 1, 2009 11:13 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Product Talk
Regular readers might remember the toilet-flushing video from March that showed ridiculous quantities of carrots, chess pieces, Gummi bears, hot dogs, plastic letters and numbers, grapes, golf balls, and dog food getting flushed. Fun, but it didn't qualify for GreenSpec because it only met the federal minimum standard for water use. Well, here's one that does. The H2Option Dual-Flush from American Standard offers an industry-first siphonic flush of either 1.6 or 1.0 gallons. And it's fun, too. Be sure to show this to the kids (because they don't already have enough ideas).
  • 20 golf balls (full flush)
  • 1 lb orange peels (full flush)
  • 11 water wigglers (full flush)
  • 56 chicken nuggets (full flush)
  • 2 lbs flushable cat litter (full flush)
  • 5 large hot dogs (full flush)
  • 5 large hot dogs (half flush)

Factory Building Rolls Over. Upside-Down.

Posted August 13, 2009 11:11 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Miscellania
In the wake of the pictures of that 13-story apartment building that fell over, here's video of a multistory factory building rolling over and coming to rest upside-down, largely intact.
Success and failure are often matters of perspective.

The label says:
Bottled at Source — Hand Pump #1, Atal Ayub Nagar, Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, India.
And in tiny print:
Not suitable for human consumption.

The nutrition label says:
Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 22mg
Carbon Tetrachloride

The website says:
The unique qualities of our water come from 25 years of slow-leaching toxins at the site of the world's largest industrial accident.

The Yes Men's website says:
Twenty Bhopal activists, including Sathyu Sarangi of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, showed up at Dow headquarters near London to find that the entire building had been vacated.

Smart Strategies to Market Your High Performance Homes

Posted July 10, 2009 10:44 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, The Industry
Another in an ongoing series of webinars offered for free from our sister site,, is coming up on Tuesday, July 14, at 4 p.m. Eastern. The market for green building keeps growing as more and more people recognize that it just makes sense on so many levels. But it's not always as simple as "if you build it, they will come." Smart Strategies to Market Your High Performance Homes will offer effective and inexpensive ways to market green homes, giving you some of the best strategies in this challenging economy. Presenter Dina Lima is a business owner, author, speaker, educator, and the founder and CEO of Living Green Institute. Register for Smart Strategies to Market Your High Performance Homes. Other upcoming webinars from You can also view archived webinars.

Trade Contractor Management for High Performance Homes

Posted July 5, 2009 8:58 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, The Industry
Here's a free webinar (this Wednesday, July 8, at 4 p.m. ET) for you green contractor types about getting the subs on board — or at least in line with the goals of green. Chances are good that there will be things worth knowing for non-professionals, too.
Most contractors use trade contractors for the majority of the work on their projects. Effectively managed trade contractors assure higher performance, minimize rework and reduce warranty and callbacks. Carl will address how to create performance-based management systems focusing on the major components of green building. Attendees will see examples of management systems along with guidelines for creating them for their own businesses.
The presenter, Carl Seville of Seville Consulting, is a 30-year veteran of home renovation and construction... a green builder, educator, and residential sustainability consultant.

Rebuilding Green After Catastrophe

Posted July 3, 2009 8:15 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Case Studies
BuildingGreen's Michael Wentz has been coordinating for some time with DOE on case studies of the green rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas, which had 90% of its buildings destroyed by a tornado in 2007. He described the work in a blog post here last year. Then, in a congressional address last February, President Obama cited Greensburg as "a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community," to which Michael added, "they are also a leader in green building including initiatives to work green building strategies into their building codes." A compelling hour-long documentary about what happened in Greensburg and the community's subsequent decision-making process in the wake of the two-mile-wide, F5 tornado is available to watch over the web. Previous coverage in Environmental Building News:

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