Archive for February 16th, 2012

Dual-Flush Toilets Shouldn’t Be a Crapshoot

Which flush is which? Dual-flush fixtures should be better at making it obvious.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Evan Dick for this guest post. Evan is a former writer from BuildingGreen and now works at the Center for EcoTechnology in Massachusetts.

The adage “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” might be an acceptable water-saving solution in some households, but certainly doesn’t meet our expectations for cleanliness in more public throne rooms. Enter the dual-flush toilet, invented in 1980 by Bruce Thompson, an Australian working for bathroom products company Caroma. Dual-flush toilets have a full-flush option for solids and a partial-flush option for liquids. Each flush represents a measured and appropriate response to the waste-removal needs of the moment.

Unfortunately, flush controls on some models make it difficult to know which flush is which. Most of these toilets are in more public facilities, and getting busy, distracted people to understand and use the green design features we implement is a tricky problem, as we discussed in our recent feature on occupant engagement.

Confusing instructions

I used to get regular treatments from a Community Acupuncture Clinic in Tucson, Arizona.  Not wanting to be distracted during my treatment, I almost always used their restroom. The toilet was equipped with a perplexing dual-flush handle, and no instructions except a circle split down the middle, with one semicircle fully filled in and the other semicircle halfway filled in. This circle was located at the pivot point of the handle.

I was never sure which flush I was choosing.  Other models I have seen come with arrows or with stickers that can be placed on the tank to add further instruction.

Another type of lever uses a dual-action approach, where the main lever has a smaller lever within it that moves separately. The small lever moves independently for the half flush, and the large lever activates the full flush. However, because moving the large lever will also move the small lever, users can also find this confusing.

Pushing my buttons

While levers are common for dual-flush conversion kits, new dual-flush toilets are usually equipped with a push-button system. While these shiny chrome circles divided into two buttons look nice, they too fail the clarity-of-use test.

One side is usually larger than the other, representing the larger flush, but the size difference is slight enough that further instruction is often required. Some systems use equal-sized buttons with decals identifying which side is which. This is adequate, but could be problematic if the decals come off and are not replaced.

The most straightforward button system consists of two separate buttons, each manufactured with a full or half-full circle to direct the user. 

Potty training needed?

Maybe other folks are better potty-trained than I am, but an informal office survey found that other BuildingGreen employees had experienced similar confusion, with both the handle- and the button-controlled varieties.

The handles and buttons used for dual-flush toilets do important work and save water. That water savings should not be compromised by confusing design. If you have one of these toilets, simply adding an instructional sign, or making sure that markings on the controls are clear and well maintained should be enough to direct users to the right flush.

Looking for guidance on the most efficient dual-flush and regular-flush toilets? GreenSpec’s listings of commercial toilets go a step beyond minimum federal standards, both in water efficiency and flushing performance.

Visit the original post at: BuildingGreen.com LIVE

Toyota Announces Return of "100 Cars for Good" Program in 2012
At the Chicago Auto Show today, Toyota announced the return of its “100 Cars for Good” program. For the second straight year, Toyota will award 100 vehicles over the course of 100 days to 100 U.S. nonprofits, with winners selected through public voting on the Toyota Facebook page. Applications for the program will open on March 12, 2012 at http://www.facebook.com/toyota. The announcement was made by Michael Rouse, vice president of philanthropy and community affairs for Toyota Motor Sales,U.S.A., who was accompanied by some of the nonprofits that received vehicles in last year’s 100 Cars for Good program. “At Toyota, we appreciate what a big difference a new car can make for organizations working to improve lives and strengthen communities across the country, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to lend a hand,” said Rouse.
Visit the original post at: ENN: Lifestyle

Innovative Wastewater Treatment Technology
Israel’s Aqwise is proving to be a success story of international proportions in the arena of biological wastewater treatment. The Company began as a small start-up offering innovative biological treatment of urban wastewater, and today offers a variety of solutions for municipal and industrial customers, due to intensive R&D and expansion into new arenas of activity.

According to Israel NewTech, Aqwise is one of the first companies which singled out the potential of the cleantech market for Israeli hi-tech based entrepreneurs. The Company began as a small start-up, which developed innovative technology for the biological treatment of wastewater. Now, 12 years later, the Company is profitable, has 150 installations around the world, and representation and partnerships in over 20 countries.
Visit the original post at: ENN: Lifestyle

Scraping the Surface of Exterior Paint Prep

For wood siding, preparing the surface is as important as the paint itself. Here are some factors to look for, or fix, to help that next paint job last.


Premature paint failure is often caused by poor preparation.

Even before you choose an exterior paint product, it’s important to learn a bit about what makes paint stick–or not. For background I sought out a few paint prep tips from an expert, Bob Cusumano, president of Coating Consultants and past president and current technical director of Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.

Get the lead out

According to Cusumano, “You first have to consider whether or not there is a previous coat of lead paint.” If you have a house that was painted before 1978, there is a good chance that there’s lead in the paint.
Lead can cause serious neurological and other health issues, especially in the young, but “a lot of architects don’t understand the implications of lead regarding cost and the required steps in the preparation process,” he says. If there is lead paint present, there are significant environmental and legal ramifications, and up to three times as much cost.
Lead removal is a complicated issue, so look for more information from us in the future, and from EPA’s guidelines. For now, let’s assume there is no lead.

Some prime considerations for old clapboards

What is the integrity of the wood surface? Wood with rot caused by exposure to moisture, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, pollution, or other factors will not hold paint well and will need to be cleaned, repaired using an epoxy filler, or replaced.
In some cases there, might even be rot lurking underneath reasonably sound paint. Cusumano recommends probing the surface of the wood with a small sharp knife. It will sink in if there is rot underneath, and the paint won’t last long.
But before replacing the wood and repainting you should figure out what caused the damage. Problems such as poor flashing that allow moisture in behind the clapboards should be fixed or you’ll run into even larger problems down the road. Mold or mildew need to be cleaned off, too, and the area thoroughly cleaned. If not properly treated, the fungi will just grow back through the paint, and if not properly rinsed, the paint will blister off.

  • How well are the existing coats adhering? “Every coat of paint you apply over what is already there applies more weight and stress,” said Cusumano. Adhesion tests will determine if the coatings are going to hold. If the paint is ok, then you can go over the top. If not, the paint has to be removed, hopefully through simple scraping. An adhesion test, where a paint is applied, allowed to cure, and then tested, is worth the time and can avoid expensive paint failures and callbacks.
  • Is there chalk on the surface? According to Cusumano, “When paint ages and the resin breaks down, the pigment is released as chalk.” Paint will not adhere to chalk, so it has to be removed or treated. Depending on the thickness of the chalk layer, “You have to wash it, scrub it, or use a primer that absorbs into the chalk and solidifies so you have a sound base for additional coats.”
  • How glossy is the paint? New paint will not adhere to a glossy surface either, so it will need to be sanded to provide mechanical adhesion for the next layer.

What about new wood?

New wood siding can have two very different surfaces. Siding that comes out of the mill with a rough-sawn appearance will need to be sanded, or the paint will have a difficult time penetrating the rough surface. Siding can also have the exact opposite condition, an ultrasmooth surface called mill glaze.


Paint-shaving tools like this one can remove layers of old paint and can be hooked to a HEPA vacuum as part of a lead abatement process.

Cusumano explains, “Mill glaze can happen through the planning process as the resin in the wood gets heated up and comes to the surface creating a plastic-like finish on the top.” For mill glaze, you need to do some heavy sanding to abrade the surface.

The sun is not your friend

Peter Yost, BuildingGreen’s residential program manager, points out that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage the top layer of wood after only a couple days’ exposure, compromising the primer’s ability to adhere to the wood. For new siding, a factory-applied primer can take care of this problem, but for a repaint job, the surface has to be properly scraped or sanded to expose a new layer of wood (or well-adhered paint layer), and contractors need to move quickly to get that first coat on.

Some cool tools

We list a paint-shaving tool in GreenSpec that uses replaceable tungsten carbide blades whose depth can be adjusted to strip even the thickest layers of paint. They can be set deep enough to strip off a thin layer below the paint, exposing fresh wood that is more likely to accept paint. But the best part is the tool can be hooked to a HEPA vacuum, helping to simplify the complex work of lead remediation.
For other systems and tools that help with lead paint removal and abatement, see GreenSpec’s listings under CSI Section 02 80 00: Facility Remediation.

Hire a competent professional

Getting paint to stick to wood siding is a complicated business, and even with the best prep, a paint job will not last forever. Hiring a qualified professional with years of experience painting in your specific climate will go a long way toward increasing your paint’s service life.

 

Visit the original post at: BuildingGreen.com LIVE

Toyota Announces Return of "100 Cars for Good" Program in 2012
At the Chicago Auto Show today, Toyota announced the return of its “100 Cars for Good” program. For the second straight year, Toyota will award 100 vehicles over the course of 100 days to 100 U.S. nonprofits, with winners selected through public voting on the Toyota Facebook page. Applications for the program will open on March 12, 2012 at http://www.facebook.com/toyota. The announcement was made by Michael Rouse, vice president of philanthropy and community affairs for Toyota Motor Sales,U.S.A., who was accompanied by some of the nonprofits that received vehicles in last year’s 100 Cars for Good program. “At Toyota, we appreciate what a big difference a new car can make for organizations working to improve lives and strengthen communities across the country, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to lend a hand,” said Rouse.
Visit the original post at: ENN: Lifestyle

Toyota Announces Return of "100 Cars for Good" Program in 2012
At the Chicago Auto Show today, Toyota announced the return of its “100 Cars for Good” program. For the second straight year, Toyota will award 100 vehicles over the course of 100 days to 100 U.S. nonprofits, with winners selected through public voting on the Toyota Facebook page. Applications for the program will open on March 12, 2012 at http://www.facebook.com/toyota. The announcement was made by Michael Rouse, vice president of philanthropy and community affairs for Toyota Motor Sales,U.S.A., who was accompanied by some of the nonprofits that received vehicles in last year’s 100 Cars for Good program. “At Toyota, we appreciate what a big difference a new car can make for organizations working to improve lives and strengthen communities across the country, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to lend a hand,” said Rouse.
Visit the original post at: ENN: Lifestyle

Innovative Wastewater Treatment Technology
Israel’s Aqwise is proving to be a success story of international proportions in the arena of biological wastewater treatment. The Company began as a small start-up offering innovative biological treatment of urban wastewater, and today offers a variety of solutions for municipal and industrial customers, due to intensive R&D and expansion into new arenas of activity.

According to Israel NewTech, Aqwise is one of the first companies which singled out the potential of the cleantech market for Israeli hi-tech based entrepreneurs. The Company began as a small start-up, which developed innovative technology for the biological treatment of wastewater. Now, 12 years later, the Company is profitable, has 150 installations around the world, and representation and partnerships in over 20 countries.
Visit the original post at: ENN: Lifestyle

Innovative Wastewater Treatment Technology
Israel’s Aqwise is proving to be a success story of international proportions in the arena of biological wastewater treatment. The Company began as a small start-up offering innovative biological treatment of urban wastewater, and today offers a variety of solutions for municipal and industrial customers, due to intensive R&D and expansion into new arenas of activity.

According to Israel NewTech, Aqwise is one of the first companies which singled out the potential of the cleantech market for Israeli hi-tech based entrepreneurs. The Company began as a small start-up, which developed innovative technology for the biological treatment of wastewater. Now, 12 years later, the Company is profitable, has 150 installations around the world, and representation and partnerships in over 20 countries.
Visit the original post at: ENN: Lifestyle

The Greenest Building In New York May Well Be A Public Toilet

A new comfort station in the Riverside Park will be the first building in New York certified by the Living Building Challenge.
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Sunia Homes Are Modern, Affordable and An Interesting Demonstration of Changing Priorities

Which would you rather have- a closet or a solar panel? A builder in California makes some interesting choices.
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

New Budget Reflects Inefficient Energy Priorities
Filed under: Energy News


Visit the original post at: Energy News

New Budget Reflects Inefficient Energy Priorities
Filed under: Energy News


Visit the original post at: Energy News

New Budget Reflects Inefficient Energy Priorities
Filed under: Energy News


Visit the original post at: Energy News

New Budget Reflects Inefficient Energy Priorities
Filed under: Energy News


Visit the original post at: Energy News

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