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  • Mark Piazzalunga

    DESERTEC project, Sahara Sun could power Europe by 2050

    By Mark Piazzalunga

    Sahara desert climate is hot and arid, everybody knows it. So how can this simple and well-known fact become the idea to power a continent like Europe? Let’s start from the principle: renewable energy is the future of energy; we assume that this sentence is true since all facts gets to this point. Second principle: European territory is restricted and allows the construction of a few plants that could use renewable energy. Paradoxically, countries like Africa have renewable sources, particularly solar, in abundance but scarce funds to make the best of these resources. Now find the connection. Is it possible to produce huge amounts of solar energy in Africa and transport them to Europe through energy infrastructures? Apparently yes, according to DESERTEC project developers and supporters. And what is DESERTEC? It’s an initiative of the Club of Rome (a global think tank that has its headquarters in Switzerland) started in 2009. Directly from the official website of the project (Desertec.org): "The DESERTEC concept was developed by a network of politicians, scientists and economists from around the Mediterranean, from which was born the DESERTEC Foundation. Demonstrates a way to provide climate protection, energy security and the development of sustainable energy generation from sites where renewable energy sources are at their most plentiful." In practical terms? Connect renewable energy power plants in Africa to Europe through a network of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) systems. The Foundation target is to build several renewable power plants of various types (mainly wind, photovoltaic and solar concentration) throughout North Africa. To support the project financially, the Foundation and other 12 companies (including Deutsche Bank, E.ON, RWE and ABB) created an industrial initiative: Dii GmbH. The construction project would continue until 2050 and for that date, the cost is estimated at € 400 billion, which means $ 546,720,000,000, approximately seven times Bill Gates’ fortune. It’s little bit expensive (life on Mars seems cheaper) but the entire network could provide Europe with the 15-20% of electricity that it needs. We must also consider the drastic decrease of pollution, direct effect of the project. This project isn’t just an idea but it seems an accurate and long-term plan. This could be an opportunity to connect two continents and to give them economic opportunities and jobs. There could be some problems like the wars and the instability of some of North Africa countries or how to get all 40 nations to agree to an arrangement for subsidizing the green electricity. There’s also the possibility to build the plants in Europe, just $ 54 billion more, and doing some math it brings to a shocking number: €2 per citizen per year to keep tens of thousands of jobs in Europe -- and to prevent Europe from becoming dependent on foreign countries for its electricity. Well, the project just started and it has the funds to go forward. We can't wait to see the results. Photo from Desertec.org
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    • 3,567 views
  • Megan Bonetti

    Conferencing Climate Change: Teamwork or Tug-of-war?

    By Megan Bonetti

    India. Culture, cows and rubbish. As an Aussie living for a short time in India it is such an intriguing country. Indians love their diverse nation yet they use the streets like rubbish dumps. Even my friends here tell me it’s ok to throw my paddle-pop wrapper out the car window. I can’t… so I just hold it tight and wait till I get home. Growing up in Australia, those ‘emu hunts’ in primary school have willed my littering days away. Yet I suspect that even my household trash bin will just be dumped across the road for the cows to eat or worse still, burnt on the street…for the cows to eat. This is India. Love it or hate it. (#tii) As an Australian social worker volunteering with an NGO in Southern India I witness the large divide between the rich and poor of this incredibly colourful nation. I work with many children whose whole families have had to migrate from various parts of India due to the rapid effects of drought on their land and the significant urbanisation of major cities in the last 10 years. It turns out India has seen a boom in it’s industrial and technological trades a little later than it’s western neighbours and they are loving it. But India’s urban boom is threatened with westerners telling them they have to stop producing and polluting. The earth doesn’t like it. Sorry India…We made our big capitalist bucks, but you don’t get that chance. Just when things are getting good and you’re developing astronomically, your main source of energy is being taken away. It turns out fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy for the developing world, especially as they try in earnest to develop the same standard of living as we have. So as one the most formidable countries in the developing world, India not only has the pressures of navigating a massive population but also has to figure out how to go green on the cheap. It’s interesting that the Turnbull government has reluctantly agreed on a 5% reduction in carbon emissions in the next five years. “Phew! Glad we got through that one boys.” They wipe their sweaty brows while developing countries are drowning, burning and trying to survive on scant resources. These countries are just trying to make a crust, while Eurocentric nations are slowly turning a baguette into organic multigrain sourdough (and throwing the crusts to their hobby cows). If the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is truly the last attempt for international cooperation, leaders cannot just show and tell their contribution and sit back with folded arms. But how can mere human individuals promote serious teamwork? This brings me back to the children I work with here in India. Every day their parent’s lives are tied to corrupt building associations. They are bonded labourers—gypsies moving from construction to construction. These families have no hope of returning to their now desolate homeland and are not provided social security measures that protect their livelihood. Then there is India’s neighbour, low-lying Bangladesh, experiencing saltwater intrusion that poisons whole water supplies for entire villages. In our own backyard we see Australian farmers shooting all their cattle only to turn the gun on themselves under the shadow of unprecedented drought. This is human impact. Global warming is not just about penguins and polar bears. Climate change is a social justice issue. We live in a globalised world. The industrial revolution brought us here; and climate change is the consequence. No longer do we just neighbour cities, we neighbour nations. The leaders of Australia must be held accountable to all their neighbours including the ones just trying to keep their head above water. It simply won’t do for wealthy nations, such as Australia, to show the world their own country’s carbon reductions and sit back down. This summit can’t work as a set menu; it has to be a potluck dinner, a time for sharing, understanding and safeguarding. For the sake of our beautiful earth and the many diverse cultures of the human race, this time I hope and pray that the leaders of the world provide a resounding voice for the marginalised. This summit and our government must not stop at figures, but uphold the basic democratic and human rights principles that cradle modern society. The United Nations was created so that man-made and worldwide calamities could no longer grasp our world with such authority. Well, it turns out a world war with Mother Nature is knocking on our doorstep. Will we listen and respond? I hope so.   For more information please visit the below links. They offer great insights into climate change realities and are positive and accessible resources for engaging the conversation. The reality of climate change | David Puttnam | TEDxDublin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjtO-0tbKU India: Climate Change Impacts http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/india-climate-change-impacts Climate Change and the End of Australia http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-change-and-the-end-of-australia-20111003 The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health (Australia) http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1bb6887d6f8cacd5d844fc30b0857931.pdf GoPro: Climate Change and the Optimistic Future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT6jtTtsG_M Paris Climate Conference: COP21 Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qd8YCaoQ4 Why is the Paris UN climate summit important? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnztR5JllA4 Adam asks new PM Malcolm Turnbull on climate change in Question Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqXtKt-Is54 Morgan Freeman's Powerful Climate Change Short Film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8  
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    • 1,146 views
  • Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste               Every year Thanksgiving weekend is overshadowed by Black Friday and in recent years Cyber Monday as well. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when families can get together, even if it’s just for a day or dinner, to talk and reconnect. However every year more American’s are focused on shopping. Stores are now open by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day resulting in people sitting at the dinner table with their families while browsing on their phones for the best deals that they hope to buy in a few hours.  This is just another example of how our modern, technologically advanced society is constantly becoming more materialistic. Aside from Black Friday overshadowing an American holiday and tradition, it is an annual example of how Americans over-consume and by doing so are very wasteful.  A huge fraction of purchased goods during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are things that people don’t need, they are things they think they need. Advertisements and social trends play a big role in the impact of this event (I refuse to call it a holiday) and in our consumption behavior in general.             Companies are tricking and forcing us to buy un-needed goods through the use of planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is disappointing because it refers to how companies purposely make products to only last a few years and by doing so force consumers to by new products from them every couple of years. The most common example of this is electronic devices. Apple creates a new IPhone every year so that once yours break “accidentally” there’s a brand new, more expensive one to purchase as a replacement. Not to mention that such companies stop making old models, forcing you to buy the newest model. On the other hand, perceived obsolescence is promoted by companies but ultimately results from our own social actions. Companies, through advertisements, constantly throw the promotion of new goods in our face. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an advertisement of some sort. These advertisements tend to increase around the holiday season, hence the origin of Black Friday. The main reason such advertisements work is due to the social pressure we put on each other and ourselves. Everyone wants the next new model or brand and once a friend or family member purchases something then we are pressured and attracted to buying it as well. The biggest example of this is the fashion industry, where new trends come and go each season resulting in constant purchasing of new, unnecessary clothing. These companies are clearly getting the better of us based on the success of such events as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.             So why is over-consumption such a bad thing, why should we care if people waste there money on unnecessary goods? It’s simple: overconsumption leads to waste! One of the downfalls to the technological advancements of today’s world is that we create materials that cannot be found in our natural world. This means that when we throw something out in the garbage it will never decompose. Purchasing many of today’s consumer goods is bad enough because most cannot be recycled and will sit in landfills, but over-consumption takes this once step further in that we buy more than we need! We buy new clothes or new phones before our old ones are worn our or broken. By doing so we are creating more waste because we constantly thrown away products that are still functional and contribute the ever-growing amount of waste humanity has created on this planet. In order to help reduce the waste we create of course we should recycle and reuse as much as possible. However, I believe that the creation of waste should be stopped at its source, and that’s our consumer purchasing. Buying less and using goods to there fullest is a sure way to decrease waste. Resisting social pressure and advertisements is key to getting this accomplished. So next year put the phones away and turn the TV off at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you don’t need them. Joseph Ramondelli  
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    • 1,075 views

Our community blogs

  1. The world’s need for energy supply is increasing, and fortunately there is a lot of dedication towards the development of renewable energy.  In this context, Norway is often referred to as being Europe’s battery.  But what exactly does this mean?

    Agva Kraft is buying guarantees of origin for all energy the company sells.  This allows for more money to flow towards producers of renewable energy, which in turn makes it more attractive for businesses to set up new renewable based power generation. Combined with carbon taxes and carbon credits, these are all important measures for the market to take when contributing to solving energy and environmental problems.

    According to Bjørn Arctander, the Marketing Director of Agva Kraft, fossil power is being replaced by solar and wind energy all over Europe. Our hope is for expansion to take place at such a rapid pace that the highly pollutive coal power sector becomes unprofitable and obsolete’.

    Wind and solar energy are naturally dependant on respectively the wind and sun. And what if the wind is not blowing simultaneously as the sky is overcast?

    ’This is where power storage comes into play’, says Arctander. ’The development of battery systems in industries and households are rapidly being implemented, and we will probably find more and more technical solutions for these as we move forward.  The huge water reservoirs we find in Norway, among other places, are where you will find the largest capacity for storing energy, as they more or less act like natural ’batteries’. Hydropower is extremely flexible as production can quickly be turned on and off as long as there is water in the reservoirs.  Under normal circumstances you can visualize all of Euope, including Norway, being powered by wind and solar power’.

    In Norway, solar power is also paying off, especially during the summer as we have plenty of hours of sun’, says Arctander. When this natural resource is no longer is avalable during the winter, northern coutries such as Norway and Sweden, as well as Switzerland can tap into energy stored in their reservoirs. That way we have renewable energy at all times from resources like wind, sun and water.

    A system as described above is reliant on efficient power exchanges through powerlines between markets. According to Arctander, ’this could lead to more expensive electricity, but we have to remember that Norway as a huge power generator will benefit from this in the long run’.

    Bjørn Arctander in Agva Kraft finishes off by saying, ’After all, we would never consider shutting down the possibility of transporting oil out of the country in order to keep lower gas prices at home, or to drop exporting fish altogether to acheive lower salmon prices on our store shelves.’

    Read more about the green energy, how Norway potentially can transform the energy market in Europe and other energy initiatives of Agva Kraft on the Agva blog or the Agva website.

  2. Remodeling 3 Ways To Be Environmentally Conscious.jpeg

    Remodeling a home is a great way to shake things up. If you care about the environment, one of the major shakeups you can make deals with environmental friendliness. As you change things up in your home, you can make sure your new space is a bit greener. Here are a few tips to make your remodeling more environmentally conscious.

     

    Reuse What You Can

    The remodeling process involves a great deal of destruction but it can also involve quite a bit of creation. Instead of getting rid of everything that doesn’t work, why not try repurposing some of it? You might be able to save money and help the environment by repainting old cabinets or repurposing some of the building materials from the area that you are remodeling. If you can’t reuse what you’ve got, try using reclaimed items from someone else. This helps to cut down on the pollution involved in manufacturing new items and keeps detritus out of the landfills at the same time.

     

    Dispose Of Your Waste

    The way you get rid of rubbish can play a huge role in the green nature of your company. If you’re burning trash or just dragging bags out to the curb every week, the odds are that you’re contributing to the problem more than helping. Instead of going that route, why not work with professionals, like those at Green Bin, to make sure your trash is hauled away in an environmentally safe way? While you should always do what you can to reduce waste, getting rid of what is left in the right manner is a good start.

     

    Be Energy Efficient

    Finally, pay attention to the efficiency of what you’re adding to your home. Bringing in newer appliances is usually a good way to ensure that your energy usage is a fair bit lower, but you don’t have to stop there. Look into other energy-saving techniques like environmentally-friendly insulation or lower ceilings that will require less energy to heat and cool. You can even reduce your dependency on the electrical grid by installing solar panels when you remodel. Choosing energy-friendly additions to your home can help you to reduce your carbon footprint.

     

    Always make sure you keep environmental friendliness in mind when you remodel. Reuse materials when you can, dispose of things properly when you can’t, and always look for more efficient ways to bring energy into your home. If make going green a priority you should be able to find ways to make your remodel fall in line with your plans.

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    You can’t assume that winter is the one season where you have little impact on a frozen environment. During winter, a lot of chemicals, dirt, debris, and waste are collected along with the snow, and as soon as the spring thaw hits these pollutants are washed away into local storm drains and water courses. Even before the thaw, exhaust and other harmful substances can impact air quality and human health. Here are some steps you can take this winter to help preserve the environment.

    Use an Eco-Friendly Deicer

    Some deicers contain harmful chemicals, while others that seem to be natural, such as common rock salt, are not safe. Most deicers can be harmful to pets, wildlife, playing children, and the environment. Check the labels for eco-friendly, pet-safe brands. Even then, use them sparingly. Follow the manufacturer recommendations. Don’t forget that common dirt or sawdust can provide traction on slippery ice while being much more eco-friendly.

    Electric, Not Fuel

    If you can, try using an electrical or battery-powered snow blower. This will reduce the fossil-fuel hydrocarbons that are going into the air to damage the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. You and your neighbors will also breathe much easier while snow removal is taking place. Inside the home, never use fuel-based heaters. These can lead to a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide as well as harmful exhaust. Even if you’re using a fireplace or woodstove for heat, have a carbon monoxide detector installed just to be safe.

    Pick Up Debris

    Pick up any kind of trash before it becomes part of the deep freeze. This is especially true around trash bins where litter is most likely to accumulate. If you have outdoor equipment like boats, lawnmowers, or project automobiles, be sure they’re fully winterized and stored indoors to prevent leaching rust, heavy metals, or oils and grease into the soil as the ice melts. If you don’t have the internal space, consider renting a storage unit from a business like Walsh Moving & Storage where you can keep your things safe and dry during the cold season.

    Maintain Your Heating System

    Inefficient appliances are big wasters of fuel or electricity. This means you’re either squandering limited resources like natural gas, or drawing needless energy from the grid that power companies have to work harder to replace. Your fuel and electrical providers work harder, releasing their own pollutants into the environment. Whether you’re using a traditional stand-alone furnace or an electrical HVAC system, have it checked when the cold weather hits to be sure it’s performing optimally.

    The long months of winter can also add a lot of pollutants to the air and ground. Don’t let the focus on staying warm or planning for the holidays let your environmental concerns lapse.

  4. Everyone wants to save a little more money, especially on electric bills since it is usually one of the highest bills people have to deal with. This is true during the winter when you turn up the heat to stay warm. Do not fret about this; there are a few ways to stay warm while reducing your electric bill.

    Use a Fan

    One way to stay warm this winter without forcing your heater to work hard is to use a fan. What you want to do is simply reverse the blades so that they are spinning clockwise. There is usually a switch on the fan that helps you do this. The reason this is effective is that the fan pulls cool air upward while pushing warm air downward, helping your home warm up faster.

    Insulate, Insulate

    It is important that you do your best to insulate your home. You can add insulating foam to your attic, basement, and the walls if needed. You are going to have to talk to a professional to have your home insulated though some homeowners try to do it on their own. Making your home trap warmer air while keeping cooler air out should definitely help reduce this bill.

    Alternate a Bit

    Sometimes the best thing you can do is use an alternative way of heating your home to avoid those electric bills. You might want to consider a fuel-powered heater instead of the one that uses electricity.

    The prices are more than competitive as long as you find a company that sells bulk fuel such as BUCKSFUEL.COM at the right rate. These furnaces are just as good as electric furnaces, which should be good enough for a family trying to stay warm without breaking the bank.

    Repairs Make a Difference

    Some homes have little problems that could make it harder for your heater to preserve warmth, which spikes your bill in the long run. For example, air could escape from your home through weak window seals, cracks on the walls, or other similar issues.

    What you want to do is inspect your home, and try to deal with all of these problems to ensure that warm air stays in. Again, you can hire a professional, or try to deal with these little issues on your own.

    Hopefully, some of these suggestions help keep you warm while saving money. Remember, there is always more to do. For example, you can wear warmer clothes made with materials like wool or alpaca.

    Hot vs Cold How to Stay Warm in the Winter Without Pricey Electric Bills.jpeg

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    Going green isn’t just a trend. It is a strategy for moving towards more sustainable ways of living that could help preserve the earth for future generations. To combat things like climate change and deforestation, cleaner and more efficient power sources must be relied on. Below are some clean power sources worth utilizing.

    Solar

    The greatest power source in the galaxy is one that often goes under-utilized on Earth. That of course refers to the rays of the sun. Thankfully, installing solar panels on a building is easier and more cost effective than ever. Doing so will lead to significant long term savings. Taking into account the initial investment, a residential solar panel system should save a homeowner $50 a month on utilities.

    Hydropower

    Hydropower concerns the use of running water as a fuel source. As you probably know, hydropower harnessed by dams is used to power large swaths of the country. Hydropower technology is also evolving. Hydroelectric power systems that can be used to supplement other power sources in a home are now commercially available.

    Industrial Electrician Services

    If you wish to implement a solar power system, hydroelectric system, or some other form of clean alternative energy into your factory or other industrial facility, you should contact an industrial electrician service to help complete the job. Switching to green fuel may have many benefits, but it’s certainly not something a novice should attempt on their own.

    Wind

    Wind is another clean power source that once went under-utilized. However, that is beginning to change thanks to large wind turbines sprouting up across America’s heartland. Wind farms made up of these huge turbines can produce enough electricity to power entire communities. They can also do so without adding any pollution to the earth’s atmosphere.

    Biofuel

    One of the challenges facing conservationists is the fact that human beings produce so much waste and garbage. However, what if a good portion of that waste could be transformed into a clean fuel source? That is the possibility presented by the advent of biofuel. Creating biofuel involves the transformation of biomass, things that were recently living, into a sustainable fuel source. Today, biofuel technology mostly involves plant waste, but it could someday soon encompass almost all food waste produced by humans.

    Going green should be a long term goal for all of society. Curbing pollution and stopping climate change will help to ensure that the environment can be enjoyed by future generations. Clean alternative fuel sources can help make a greener future a reality.

  6. Want to Go Green 4 Keys to Energy Efficiency in Your Home.jpeg

    Making your home more energy efficient can reduce your carbon footprint. There are some simple changes that you can make to be more efficient in your home. For a larger impact, use these solutions to make your home more green.

    Energy Star Appliances

    Appliances are scored on their annual anticipated energy usage. The Energy Star Program is run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA looks at all models that are on the market and determines their total energy consumption. It is a completely unbiased analysis designed to aid the consumer in making a purchasing decision. Consider replacing your older appliances with ones that have a higher rating. Not only will you be helping to reduce carbon emissions, but you will be saving money on your electric bill.

    New Windows

    Older windows allow more air leakage than newer models. This is especially true if your home has single pane windows. Even windows that have aluminum frames and older vinyl windows can become less efficient over time. This is due to the seals on the windows breaking down with exposure to the elements. Not all windows are created equal. New windows are rated for certain climates. There are even varieties available that offer triple pane windows. This reduces the amount of air lost and helps with noise control.

    Upgrade Your Heating or Cooling System

    Even with routine maintenance on your AC or furnace, the parts can break with the passage of time. It may be time to consider upgrading to a more energy efficient model, like those you might get from a provider such as Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc. Something to take into consideration is the amount of usage of your system. You need to size your unit correctly based on the amount of square footage in your home. Sometimes it may even be prudent to oversize your unit if it sees heavy usage. This will allow the unit to run less while maintaining the desired temperature.

    Install Solar Panels

    For the most extreme solution for going green, solar panels are it. This is not a solution for everyone. It can be costly. There are government rebates that can be utilized to help offset the expense. Your home also needs to have a certain amount of roof square footage and sunlight exposure. With the installation of solar panels, your home can generate its own electricity. The surplus can then be sold back to the power company. This can also help to offset the major upfront expense for the installation of the solar panels.

    Energy efficiency in your home can be a huge expense. There are programs that can help with mitigating the cost. Consider these solutions for making your home more environmentally friendly.

  7. As a business owner working to increase revenue and provide a safe place for employees in the beautiful state of New Jersey, you need to take a number of things into account. The one we will address here is a low-cost way to invest in providing safe working conditions for your people. New Jersey is notorious for hidden oil tanks on commercial properties. Oil tanks were commonly used to heat businesses at the turn of the century. As more than 100 years have passed, these oil tanks leak into the soil due to deterioration. Old stagnant petroleum is the most common toxin to enter properties, though metallic and other pollutants are also regularly found when oil tank detection services are performed. Ultimately, calling an oil tank removal NJ company for commercial properties is a smart way to improve your business on multiple levels. Here are four of them.

    Increase the Resale Value of Your Property 

    One sure sign you are growing is when you need to move into a larger space. That said, because leaking oil tanks come with a huge degree of liability, calling in a company to perform oil tank detections and removal will help you get full asking price (or more) for your property. Upgrading your commercial property means you will be investing more money, so doing everything you can to increase the resale of your current building is paramount to your growth.

     

    Protect Yourself from Legal Problems 

    One way to really take a hit in growing your business is to get slapped with a lawsuit, especially if multiple people are suing you for the same thing. Whether or not a property owner is aware of a leaking oil tank on their property, they are liable if people get sick from its spillage. It is worth it to have oil tank detection experts come out, look for buried tanks, and remove them once and for all. 

    Safeguard Employee Health 

    It goes without saying that healthy, happy employees produce the best quality work. People exposed to leaking oil tanks have reported severe nausea, dizziness, skin irritations, lung problems, burning eyes, headaches, and respiratory problems. If someone already has a weakened immune system, being exposed to soil saturated in oil tank spillage can cause a whole slew of more severe health complications. 

    Avoid Paying Fines 

    A leaking oil tank in New Jersey violates state and federal environmental laws. Once an oil tank leak is discovered the commercial property owner must report the leaf to the government. For every day the soil goes untreated, thousands of dollars in fines can amass. Furthermore, if an oil tank has been leaking for some time, the government can fine you based on the estimated time the leak has been a problem. 

    Oil Tank Removal and Commercial Soil Remediation is Well worth Your Investment 

    Why put your business in jeopardy by not having oil tank inspection experts come to your commercial property, scan the land, and remove any oil tanks that would be threatening your livelihood and wellbeing of your employees?  A leaking oil tank can rack up fines, pollute the environment, make your employees sick, and harm the resale value of your building. Cover all your bases and call in the oil tank removal pros!

  8. What Is Organic Waste & How Does It Make Our World Greener.jpeg

    Organic waste refers to those waste materials that can decompose. It usually comes from either plants or animals. When disposed of, it will naturally decompose through bacterial activity. Therefore, it is a better form of waste compared to other non-biodegradable forms such as plastics. Because of its degradable nature, organic waste leads to a greener environment through several ways:

    Reduce Water Pollution

    When well-composted, organic waste reduces the need to use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on the soil when farming. Using those fertilizers and chemicals normally leads to contamination of underground water when chemicals seep deep into the underground water levels. Flowing water also carries these chemicals into water bodies such as rivers which ends up causing pollution to our water bodies.

    Reduce the Effects of Global Warming

    When organic waste is put in landfills, it produces methane gas which is 21 times worse than carbon dioxide in its contribution to global warming. Since organic waste is not normally disposed in landfills, less methane gas is produced and this has a reduced impact on global warming. SF Gate Home Guides insists that organic waste must never be dumped in the landfills but must be composted, which not only reduces global warming but also is a big nutritional benefit to the soil.

    Improves Aesthetic Value

    When the organic waste is put in the appropriately marked green trash cans, such as those provided by Ware Disposal, it improves the aesthetic value of the environment. It makes it look neat and clean. It also reduces the probability of the waste getting into contact with, for example, children, which prevents potential infections.

    Improves Soil Structure

    Compost manure, which is formed by organic waste, helps to improve the soil structure and composition in a great way. It increases the ability of the soil to hold water in a way where it can be easily accessed by the roots of plants which as a result reduces the need for irrigation. It also adds microbial organisms to the soil such as insects and earthworms. Better soil leads to healthy plants which are important in the environmental cycles such as the nitrogen cycle.

    Organic waste, therefore, has a big benefit to the environment. It is always important to separate the organic from the inorganic waste when disposing and ensure that as you take the inorganic to the landfill, the organic waste should form compost manure. In this way, you will be able to realize the full impact organic waste has to the environment. It is also very economical to dispose and will, therefore, save you some money.

  9. Use Well Water 3 Strategies For Keeping It In Top Shape.jpeg

    If you depend on a well for your water supply, you will be responsible for taking the specialized measures that will help to keep your water safe and continuously available for cooking, washing, drinking and other purposes. Your well requires a number of preventative measures to ensure it will provide sanitary water. Here are 3 strategies to help your well system maintain good operation.

    1—Avoid Contamination From Toxic Substances

    Property owners should take special care to ensure that chemical substances that could contaminate water not be used around well areas. Avoid the use of pesticides, fertilizers, motor oils and paint chemicals around well sites. Make sure well covers are in good repair. If you notice changes in water clarity, odor or taste, contact a well services company to investigate the problem.

    2—Use Caution When Maintaining Lawn Areas Around Wells

    You always use care when doing routine lawn maintenance around well sites. Careless use of mowers can lead to cracks in the well casing, which can introduce bacteria into the well and may require expensive professional repair. Your well cover should be above ground level, and the ground should slope away from the well to ensure proper drainage. Avoid piling leaves, snow or other materials around the well.

    3—Have Your Well Checked Periodically

    A checkup is as important for your well as it is for any piece of equipment you use on a daily basis. Any preventative maintenance you do will help to prevent more expensive problems in the future. A reliable water well servicing contractor, like those at Mike's Drilling, can help you with common well problems like broken pumps etc. Don’t try to do well repairs yourself. You may inadvertently introduce bacteria into the well, creating a health hazard for your family. Call in well professionals to ensure repairs are done safely and appropriately.

    Your well is a critical home system that requires your careful attention to ensure that it continues to provide clean, healthy water for your family’s use. Many people are not familiar with well maintenance before they purchase a home with a well, so educating yourself on the maintenance needs of this important piece of equipment is a duty every homeowner should undertake immediately. Your local well services company can help you understand the routine needs of your well system. Follow their detailed advice, and you will enjoy untroubled use of your well for many years to come.

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    So you want a home that's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but you're sick and tired of paying ridiculous monthly energy bills. You look around and wonder if there's any way to keep your home comfortable, while not giving the utility company another dime. What options do you have for changing the temperature of your home's air while staying "off the grid?" Actually, more options than you probably think.

     

    Let the Outside In

    If the idea of high utility bills and constant maintenance don't sound like your idea of a relaxing summer, consider opening some windows to drop the temperature in your home. The key here is to allow air to flow through your home, as moving air feels much more refreshing on the skin than standing air. So, open up windows on the front and rear of your home, as wide as you can, and enjoy nature's free air conditioning.

     

    Go Old-Fashioned

    If the thought of chopping wood and wearing flannel get you fired up, consider heating your home the old-fashioned way, with a wood-burning fireplace. Though requiring more effort than a traditional furnace, a fireplace can efficiently warm the common areas of your home, supplemented by heavy blankets in bedrooms. Additionally, if you can access an inexpensive wood supply, you will have constant heat all winter for a fraction of the cost.

     

    Go Hi-Tech

    Solar is another option when considering going off the grid, though it has a high initial cost of investment. While many panels would be needed to adequately power an HVAC system, using smaller heating and cooling units, supplemented by other heating and cooling methods on this list, could allow you to meet your entire power need. Not to mention, many utilities and local governments offer substantial rebates for significant solar investment, resulting in a shorter time for you to recoup your initial cost.

     

    Go Down Under

    Geothermal systems can also be a practical component of off-the-grid living. These systems use pipes buried deep in the ground to take advantage of the more constant temperatures found at that depth. Always more refreshing than the surface in the summer, and warmer than the surface in winter, a decent-sized installation will enhance the effectiveness of other methods you use to reduce your utility bills. In more temperate climates, you may be able to rely solely on a geothermal system for all your heating and cooling needs.

     

    Charge It Up

    A large rechargeable battery, while not creating any energy of its own, is still a critical component to employ in an off-the-grid system. Large batteries store excess energy from other off-the-grid sources for many days, meaning that they can power heating and cooling appliances for a substantial amount of time. If you're planning on going completely off-the-grid, but don't want to change your lifestyle more than you have to, a battery is essential.


     

    Whether you choose to go off-the-grid only some or go all the way, off-the-grid heating and cooling methods can save you a vast amount of money, over time. Knowing the right techniques to integrate for your home and using them effectively will ensure that you have the best results, and are the envy of your friends and family when you tell them how you kissed the energy company goodbye.

     

    Resources

    Telegraph

    Classic Air

    Texas Fireframe

    House Logic

    HowStuffWorks

  11. In the last couple of decades, people became more conscious of the different ways we affect the environment. Our interested in ecology opened up topics like what damages we've done up until now, can we reverse them and can we prevent them from happening in the future. With global warming, polluted waters and deforestation more people want to take part in protecting our planet, bringing the conversation to our homes. Now we do our research and make conscious purchases.

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    Let's talk about cleaning for example. Some of the products we used to think are harmless, are now proven to be dangerous. They go down the sewer or into the ground on their way to disturb the natural eco-system.

    Some companies gained a bad reputation for using not-so-eco-friendly chemicals in their cleaning solutions. Behind the beautiful packages and expensive commercials stands something very ugly. The truth. "Kill all the germs!", "More powerful than ever!". What about when this solution goes into the sea? Nothing is lost, the poison just changes locations. Be sure, those chemicals are as bad for the fish, plants and you, as they are for the germs. Simply following the cycle of water, we can see how easily the dangerous chemicals find their way back into our homes.

    No wonder people have second thoughts about over-the-counter cleaning products. More people opt-in for professional cleaning services because they offer safe cleaning solutions. But beware! A lot of companies saw this demand as a possibility to break through the market, so they started labelling their products as "eco" and "organic". Some of them really are but most are just as bad as the previous ones. Their lie is hidden on the back of the labels.

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    People often get discouraged, as they feel like an insignificant speck in the cosmos. But we should all remember that big changes happen with one step (person and household) at a time. We shouldn't wait for others to change. We should take care of ourselves first and set a good example for everybody else.

    The number of bad things we should watch out for seems to be growing. From where do you begin?

    The first step is conscious purchases. Be aware that mass production is in fact "mass" because consumers buy the stuff. Think about it this way – with every choice you make, for every product you buy, you claim what world you want to live in. If you buy products with heavy, harmful chemicals or made by industries that exploit their workers, it's like giving them thumbs up for it. You invest in it, you give it green light. Having this in mind, you can now start applying it in your everyday life – from grocery shopping to what kind of paint you use for your house.

    The second step is to swap disposable items with reusable ones. Why do you have to spend who-knows-how-much dollars in your lifetime on something that you use only once? Like wet wipes for example. They don't disappear into thin air or dissolve in water as lots of people seem to think. "But it's only one wipe," said a million people while flushing it down the toilet. They build up, causing problems for plumbers, as well as for nature. Simply washing with water and soap should do the trick. And they should be replaced with reusable cloths in our households. We can at least try to cut down the usage.

    Getting back to the chemicals in the domestic cleaning products. Some of them (actually a great deal of them) are labelled as dangerous to the environment picturing a real wasteland – with a dead fish and a dead tree. This is pretty straightforward. But other companies slip under the radar. Thanks to laws and policies, the businesses are not obligated to list all of the ingredients of the product if there is very little of the toxins in it. Okay, so they're harmless then? Well, no. Combining cleaning solutions can be dangerous and the toxic chemicals build up.

    Even those that are labelled as “toxic-free” and “green” can be misleading. Watch out for phonies, who use “eco” or words like this only to decorate their label. They should be certified, not just state it freely. People can start feeling discouraged as they seemingly cannot be sure about the trustworthiness of anything.

    But do we really need to use chemical-based products that much?

    There are ways to clean without any cleaning solutions. Like using a squeegee and purified water – for windows. Steam treatment technique – for carpets. Pressure cleaning – for outside walls. The later is effective even if the surface has graffiti on it. Those are maybe the best ways to do domestic (and corporate for that matter) cleaning. The equipment for these methods is professional and quite expensive so it's usually used by cleaning experts. If you are looking for service here's a list of what you should be looking for:

    • Environmental Policy
    • Energy Saving processes
    • Responsible products
    • Low energy usage equipment
    • Recycling policy

    Even if we don't like it, we do have an effect on the world. Why don't we turn that into something positive and actually be the change in our choices? We try our hardest not only to repair the damages done by previous generations but to prevent any of them repeating in the future. And we can do it. Minimising the negative effect on nature has become more important than ever and every household counts. Are you in?

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    A good well is a priceless part of off-the-grid living, and maintaining one can be surprisingly easy. However, first-time well owners may find that there is a bit of a learning curve. Unfortunately, mistakes can be costly if they damage the well or cause contamination. Here are three simple ways to avoid those troubles and keep your well running smoothly.

    Keep An Eye On The Calendar

    Regular water testing is an important part of maintaining a healthy well. In most places, an annual test for bacteria and other contaminants is enough. Check with your local health department when working out a maintenance schedule, however, because some areas may have specific risks that require more frequent testing. During this annual check, it’s also a good idea to give your system a routine flush with chlorine as a preventative measure, as well as checking the flow rate to make sure your system is working as well as possible.

    Watch For Changes

    Most of the time, wells run just fine with just a little preventative maintenance. However, even properly maintained wells can develop contamination issues for reasons ranging from failing equipment to flooding from major storms. If you notice any changes in your water quality, schedule another water test immediately, and consider drinking bottled water while you wait for the results. These changes can include cloudy or discolored water, new odors or a strange taste.

    Changes in the rate of the water flow can also be a sign of trouble. Pumps may become sluggish or inefficient before they break down completely, or a broken pipe may be causing you to lose water pressure without totally disabling the system.

    Know When To Call The Professionals

    The average homeowner can handle some minor maintenance, but for most issues it’s best to call in qualified professionals, like those at Taylor Heating Inc. Wells are more complicated than they seem, so a problem that would be minor and easy to fix for an experienced technician may turn into a major headache for a homeowner. Inexperienced people also may accidentally introduce dangerous bacteria into the system while doing something as simple as removing the well cap.

    Wells are a major investment, so it’s important to take the time to keep yours running smoothly. Preventative maintenance may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. By scheduling routine testing and treatments, addressing any potential problems and finding qualified professionals to work with, your well can last a lifetime.

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    Eco-landscaping is about making a difference in your yard, the one that results in making surrounding a healthier place that reduces water, soil and air pollution. The advantages of such responsible approach are reasonable savings in time, money and maintenance. The eco-friendly method is growing in popularity for its obvious reasons while creating and designing an eco-friendly landscape is not more complicated than designing a traditional garden. It does take some planning and involves maintenance, but all the efforts invested in a project like that are nothing compared to benefits.

    Planning

    For starters, you will have to make basic analysis and assessment of the yard. Determine the ground thickness by running the water to see how it is draining and where the ground is soaked the most. That way you’ll know where to plant as well as where to place hardscape. Check which areas get most of the sunlight and which ones are in the shade. Decide which area will serve its specific purpose, meaning where you will place a patio, play area or flower beds. This way you’ll know ahead what materials and plants you will be using and what will structure the basis of your eco-friendly yard.

    Downsize the lawn

    Having a smaller lawn means there will be less mowing and you will use less water. Limit your lawn by placing artificial grass or synthetic turf. Create walkways and paving and make sure to use low-maintenance materials like concrete, bark or gravel. You can use permeable pavers to direct rainfall back into the ground. Place gazebos or benches to fill the space in the yard that won’t require any watering.

    Eco-friendly mowing

    Since there will be a lawn that needs mowing, consider using a reel lawn mowers. Although mowing can go a bit slower than with gas or electric mower, reel mowers are true eco-friendly device since they are a perfect example of energy conservation. An alternative to reel mowers are the mowers powered by rechargeable batteries.

    Plant low-maintenance plants

    Consider planting native plants since they are best suited for the environment. Also, try choosing drought-resistant plants because there will be less maintenance while planting them will save water in the long run. To reduce the usage of water, try to group plants with similar water requirements. Plant some ornamental grass, pansies, and marigold. Planting clover is recommendable since it is insect and weed repelling plant.

    Clever landscaping

    Strategically planted trees and shrubs around the house can act as an insulation and save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling costs. One of the best landscape design firms advises planting deciduous trees on the sunny spots next to the house. That way the trees will provide the shade in the summer, while they will allow more sunlight in the cold months. Also, vines can be used to cool some areas.  

    Watering

    To reduce water waste, install drip irrigation system that brings water directly to plants. Watering with automatic irrigation is more effective while the technology allows you to program it the way you want. You can set the system not to release the water while it rains. You can use rainwater, previously conserved in barrels to water the lawn and the flower beds. When watering in the summer, always water in the late evening and early in the morning to avoid evaporation.

    Weed and insect control

    Avoid using chemicals to fight or to control weed, but take some preventive measures like planting in raised beds, preparing the soil, using landscape fabrics and mulching. To get rid of the weed you can use corn gluten or vinegar, only make sure to use it carefully since it a strong herbicide that can harm other plants.  The last stage of fighting the weed is an old-fashion move of pulling the weed from the ground.  As for insects, learn more about companion planting and see how your plants can benefit from it.

    Fertilizing

    Learn to make and use compost and keep the chemical fertilizer away. Composting is the best possible way to keep your ground properly fertilized, aired and watered, while it will significantly reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the landfills. Almost anything can be used for compost, starting from grass clippings and leaves to fallen branches, food scraps, coffee filters, tea bags, newspapers, cardboard, etc.

     

    Going green takes a bit more than these few tips since it extends further on the maintenance and how you care for the environment aside from the yard. Remember to recycle and reuse all the materials and to establish a sustainable eco-system in your home and your yard. Do your research and create an eco-friendly garden that you will enjoy in years that come. An effort toward the healthier environment is worthy of praise so design your garden and be proud.

  14. The foundation of your home, is, by no surprise, the most important aspect of it. While others may argue, the fact that your entire house depends on the integrity of your foundation means that any damage that might occur to it, can be drastic. Since your entire house literally sits on top of this concrete base, any little mistake in its design means that the problems will increase as you go up. Ensuring you protect your foundation will mean longevity and hassle-free home maintenance. Here are ways you can protect your home’s foundation.

    What is the Foundation?

    To begin with, for those who are unaware, the foundation of your home is made from a combination of materials, with the most common being made from poured concrete or concrete block, and a poured concrete footing system. With the majority of North American homes being built this way, it’s safe to assume that your house was also. During the construction process, it is vital that the foundation is poured and dried at level. Any dips or slants will cause structural problems throughout the rest of the house, making it a headache to fix and to sell.

    Ways to Protect Your Foundation

    Now that you are enlightened on what your home’s foundation actually is, here are some ways in which to ensure it is protected, and remains its integrity and strength.

    1. Make Sure the Ground Slopes Away: Keeping water away from the foundation of your home is critical in ensuring it stays dry and protected. Ensuring your backyard or front yard are sloped away from the house will enable runoff water to flow away from the house, instead of towards. If it is sloped towards, water will likely seep into the foundation, causing flooding in your basement and structural damage to the concrete base. If the ground is sloping towards, you’ll have to either call a professional (depending on the severity) to level out the ground, or fill in the areas with dirt yourself, if it’s not too difficult.  

    2. Clean Out Your Gutters: While generally keeping your gutters clean is a good habit for good water runoff, it’s especially important to ensure the water from rain and other precipitation doesn’t get backlogged and then seep into your house. Ensure they are pitched correctly so that they water flow is away from your home, and clean them at least twice a year to remove any buildup that can cause clogs.

    3. Inspect Your Downspouts: As with your gutters, make sure your downspouts don’t have any leaks or holes present. Also, make sure they are pointing away from the foundation of your house, rather than just next to it.

    4. Monitor the Foliage: Especially during the fall, leaves, trees, and foliage tend to shed everywhere. Managing plants and vines that are up against your home is helpful in ensuring they don’t have an active part in trapping moisture and dampness against your home when they are wet. Try not to plant any trees near your foundation either, as they can soak up the moisture that prevents the foundation from cracking.

    5. Water your Foundation: While this may seem contrary to what we’ve been saying about keeping water away from your foundation, no moisture at all can result in cracking and shrinking in the spoil of your foundation. Giving it a good soaking during the summer at periodical intervals will help prevent this from happening.

    Warning Signs You Have a Problem:

    While you may have implemented these preventative measures, if there is a problem with your foundation, you should be able to see warning signs pretty clearly. Here’s what to look out for:

     

    1. If you see pooling occur, especially after a rainstorm, this is a good indication that something isn’t right. Water gathering in pools around the foundation of your home means the ground isn’t level and water is seeping towards the base. Hiring a professional to both level the ground and pump the water away from the house is most likely the best course of action here.

    2. Water leaks don’t always show up easily, so looking out for water stains on the walls or ceiling is a good way to tell if anything is wrong with the house. You might notice it as well with discoloured baseboards or musty smells.

    3. Inspecting the perimeter of your home will let you know if there is a problem. If you see cracks or breakage, this is not a good sign. Making sure the siding, whether it’s brick, wood, vinyl or metal, is at least six inches above the bottom of the foundation is helpful, because often times, dirt and debris can make its way in there and shrink the clearance area. This provides a place for moisture to invade. If possible, power wash and clean away this dirt and buildup to improve the clearance.

  15. Whether it is repair or renovation, home damages are always a crucial concern for each one of us. You have a plethora of things to take care of; you need to spare your time from the daily hustle and bustle and the most essential, you have to budget your home repair.    

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    At times, we fail to figure out the damage at an early stage and have to bear a massive expenditure for its repair. Hence, it is always advised to inspect your roof at a regular interval through and take residential roofing services if required. Despite the inspection, if you cannot find the damage, here is the information on how to find out the leakage of your roof at an initial stage to avoid the unnecessary expenditure. 

    Ø Use The Flashlight:

    The very moment you saw the damage on the roof, you should make sure to check in depth the source of leakage. It is highly essential to know the roots of leakage to understand how dangerous is it. 

    Take a flashlight and head it towards the highest point of the house. Check the attic that is directly above the leakage area and makes a thorough inspection of the leakage depth and its surrounded area. 

    Ø Turn Off The Lights:  

    The leakage is undoubtedly severe if the light can come through it. Quite a few times, due to the internal lighting, you don’t get to see how much is the roof affected. To check the severity, switch off your lights and check if the lights are coming through the walls and ceiling. If you see the signs of lights, contact your residential roofing company at the earliest. 

    Ø Check For The Reflections:  

    It is an excellent trick to find out the source of leakage. See through the flashlight whether there is any reflection coming through. The reflection of lights coming through roofs gives an idea of the affected area. 

    If you are unable to see the reflections directly through the flashlight, shine it around the suspected area. The water reflects well so if there is any such leakage, you will be able to see it quickly. It is noteworthy that the metal or glue can also reflect like water so don’t conclude that it is damage by merely seeing the reflection. 

    Ø Examine Intrusive Objects:  

    If you didn’t find any reflection, check for any intrusive or out of space objects in the roof. A misplaced roof, or an out of space seal is quite simple to identify. Once you find anything misplaced, broken or cracked, simply have a close look so that you can see whether it causes the leakage or not. 

    Ø Silent The Surrounding:  

    Once you have examined your eyes, its time to test your ears. At times, you may not get the source of leakage through the flashlight or such other mean. Under such case, when you can feel water leakage, try to put your ears and figure out from where the water is coming.  

    Ø Scrutinize Your Pipes And Drainage:  

    If you could not find out the source of leakage from the above tricks, check the pipes and drainage. The leakage from the gutter and drainage is quite challenging to figure out. The exterior drains and tubes can be the cause of leakage that needs to be checked properly. However, make sure the pipes are clean and properly connected. Now, check each of them by pouring water into it. With this mean, you will be able to find out the source of leakage.  

    If none of the above tips works, its time to call the professional. When the damage is too deep, it is natural that you cannot find the source and you need the right residential roofing services. 

    So, you know the drill now. Don’t wait for anything. Find the solutions today.

  16. Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world. With an estimated net worth of nearly $20 billion dollars, this massive portal has changed the ways in which online shopping occurs. It is therefore understandable that the recent announcement of Amazon entering into the Australian marketplace and the intention to use Melbourne as their base for operations has turned quite a few heads. Why is this movement so important and what could it potentially mean for the average Melbourne business? Let's take a closer look at the answers to both of these questions, as the face of the retail industry could be forever transformed.

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    The Potential Winners

    The answer to the first question, primarily depends upon the type of business. For example, it is predicted that online sellers within Melbourne will reap the greatest number of benefits. As they will soon be presented with an entirely new venue to digitally promote their items, their overall ROI should dramatically increase.

    This same observation can be made for international sellers who have been looking to tap into the lucrative Australian marketplace. As they can ship their products directly to the consumer, these sellers will likely enjoy a greater amount of business. However, we should keep in mind that this relationship will partially depend upon the strength of the Australian dollar in relation with other major currencies such as the pound and the euro. 

    The Possible Losers

    The bad news is that traditional retailers might not fare so well. When Amazon does indeed enter into the Australian marketplace, consumers may opt for cheaper goods from international sources as opposed to purchasing similar items from a local business. This is particularly the case in terms of Melbourne-based electronics firms, as Amazon has always had a strong market share within this industry. The only possible trade-off is that those businesses which are able to translate their operations into the e-commerce sector will likely enjoy success over time. Still, these predictions have yet to materialise. 

    The Employment Sector

    Many are rightfully concerned as to whether the introduction of Amazon will bolster or deflate the job market. Robert Bruce,
    Amazon’s director of operations for Australia attempts to alleviate concerns stating “Over time, we will bring thousands of new jobs to Australia and millions of dollars of investment as well as opening up the opportunity for thousands of Australian businesses to sell at home and abroad through Amazon Marketplace.”

    Those businesses within Melbourne (and throughout the entire country) which are able to adapt to the online retail community could very well see their businesses expand at a rapid pace.

    Thanks to the new warehouse to be located in Dandenong East, local trades such as sales, customer service, HR, Operations Managers and warehouse operatives will all be in high demand.

    However, the verdict is still out as to whether traditional retail businesses will be forced to downsize. 

    The Real Estate Impact

    We should also expect to see some changes within the real estate market. As The
    Financial Review highlights, dropping brick-and-mortar sales may impact the number of commercial leases being renewed throughout Melbourne. However, there is a potential bright side as well. Businesses centred around the field of e-commerce could very well experience increased sales. Thus, they might require more office space to store and ship goods to the end user. This will particularly impact the Melbourne metropolitan area thanks to the looming presence of a truly gargantuan Amazon warehouse. 

    The entrance of this giant online retailer into the Australian marketplace will certainly shake things up a bit. However, few analysts are surprised at such a move and it only makes sense in a world increasingly defined by digital purchases. The main question is how Melbourne businesses will adapt to this shift and if they will be able to capitalise upon such a profound move into the future. 


     

  17. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an average American spends almost 90 percent of their life indoors, and most of that time is spent in the living room. People don’t often perceive this as a problem, since they consider their homes to be safe and healthy. The truth is that indoor pollutants are just as dangerous as the outdoor ones (if not more). Luckily, there are ways to make the spaces we live in healthier. Here are some things you can change in your living room that will drastically improve its influence on your health.

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    Check your paint

    Did you know that the paint on your walls can emit harmful gasses that can find a way into your lungs and eventually harm your health? Before painting your home, you should check whether the paint you want to use contains VOCs (volatile organic compounds). There are some paint colors that have low levels of VOCs, but it is always better to go with the ones that are completely free of these toxins.

    Clean house equals healthy house

    Dust on the bookshelves surely looks bad, but there is much more to it. Dust mites are one of the most frequent indoor air-pollutants, and they can trigger allergic reactions or cause even more harm. Regular dusting will keep you and your family safe. Vacuuming (twice a week) is also an important part of the cleaning process, and to avoid just spreading the dust around, it is best to use a steam-based vacuum cleaner.

    Choose cleaning products carefully

    Cleaning is important, but if it is done with products that contain chemicals and toxins that can harm you, you are not really doing yourself a favor by using them. With that in mind, you should turn to organic cleaning products or make your own cleaning mixtures by using simple ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda.

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    Clear the air

    Most indoor pollutants settle in the air. Besides addressing the problem at its roots, you should also try to purify the air inside your house. This can be done by introducing houseplants ‒ which are natural air purifiers ‒ and using air-purifying machines with HEPA filters capable of minimizing the harmful particles in the air.

    Change the lighting

    Do you feel unhappy and fatigued when spending a lot of time in your living room? Poor lighting might be the reason. Lighting can not only affect your mood but also cause headaches, eyestrain, emotional stress and sometimes even physical illness. If you notice that lighting in your living room is too bright, too low, or too cool, any reliable Sydney electrician can change it completely and adapt it to your space and needs.

    “Lower” your rugs

    High pile rugs can do wonders for the décor and introduce a warm texture. However, they are also a perfect habitat for allergens and dust. This issue can’t be resolved even with regular vacuuming. That’s why it is better to compromise and opt for low pile rugs, such as flatweave, which will make it difficult for tiny particles to settle and are also easier to clean.

    No shoes inside, please

    The bottom of your outdoor shoes might be the dirtiest and the most germ-affected spot in your home. It is never a good idea to leave them on when entering your living room, unless you want to take all the germs with you. Instead, get a pair of indoor slippers and make a switch between the two at the entryway.

    By following these tips, you can make your living room much healthier for you and your household members and finally turn it into the safe haven it should be.

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    The maintenance of the car battery should be an essential task for the proper care of it. A faulty battery will quickly shorten its life. And among one of the tasks for such maintenance is knowing how to clean it.

    The importance of this act is that the battery produces sulfated salts that are usually accumulate on its edges. If you do not clean it regularly, this can damage any other element in the vehicle around you, whether it is electric circuits or the same sheet of the car.

    If you do not know how to clean it, you have two options: first, take it to the garage or car dealer ; or the second, do it yourself. In case you chose the second option, then Toyocosta presents some tips to properly clean the car battery.

    Recommendations for cleaning the car battery

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    If you see that on the edges of the battery appear some formations of greenish-white appearance (sulfated salts), you must act quickly. And for this there are two types of materials that will help you do it: baking soda or fizzy drink.

    Unscrew the terminals from the edges of the battery. Do it carefully and avoid forcing it. He will also try not to cross the terminal wires or touch any metal parts of the car.

    Once the cables have been disconnected, you must insert these oxidized terminals in a container with water and bicarbonate. Try to saturate the container with baking soda, and if you do not have it, use a carbonated drink.

    Let the mixture act for a few minutes, then remove from the bowl. There you will see how all the rust has been removed.

    Clean any debris on the edges of the battery with paper. Never use a garment, since it will be burned and can not be used again.

    Finally, place the terminals and apply abundant petroleum jelly to protect the edges.

  18. Natural-Bedroom_Design.jpg

     

    Your bedroom should be a place of leisure where you can kick back and let every nerve and muscle in your body just chill. By doing this, your body can fully recuperate from hassles and stresses of your everyday life. But is it possible to enjoy this rejuvenating power of your bedroom if your bedroom contains unhealthy elements such as a bed or bedding that’s made from synthetic materials filled with hazardous compounds, or if you have poor ventilation and no fresh air? Probably not.

    There are lots of reasons to keep your bedroom natural and ensure that it maintains its powers of rejuvenation and some of these reasons include;

    1. Improper lighting messes with your sleep cycle.

    Natural lighting is hands down the best no matter the situation you are in and that includes when you are resting. If you have bright glaring light in your bedroom when you should be resting, it tampers with your sleep and can lead to you waking up feeling totally unrested. Keep lighting natural in your room by installing the right LED lights for night time, especially if you are one of those who aren’t comfortable sleeping in total darkness. This will help ensure your body can sleep properly and rest your mind as well as everything else to strengthen you for the coming day.

    1. Poor ventilation is unhealthy.

    Fresh air is very important for both overt and subtle reasons. If your bedroom’s window is constantly closed, it simply means you are breathing in all the old air and stale gases your body has expelled and this isn’t healthy in the long run. Open your windows as frequently as possible to let fresh air in and clear out the old air. This will keep you cool the right way instead of depending solely on recirculated air from fans and air conditioning. And if you are totally averse to opening your window for some reason, place some leafy potted plants in your bedroom. These plants will absorb carbon dioxide and other unhealthy elements from the atmosphere of your bedroom and give you clean, fresh oxygen in return. These potted plants should be natural, not synthetic ones.

    What about the bed?

    You can heighten the comfort and enjoyment of your bedroom by also throwing out your old synthetic mattress and replacing it with a natural organic one. According to Brentwood Home, “…organic mattresses are some of the most comfortable natural sleep products you can use to get the best night's sleep…”

    If you opt for a natural mattress, you can expect to enjoy the following benefits;

    1. Synthetic mattresses are well known for harboring dust mites, mold, and certain forms of bacteria. All these elements can be causes of irritation for you while you sleep. But with an organic mattress, all that goes out the window because the composition of an organic mattress ensures that it is mold-resistant, anti-bacterial, as well as capable of repelling dust mites.

    2. Organic mattresses are made from wholly natural materials and are thus free of the harmful chemicals found in synthetic mattresses. Some of these toxic chemicals in synthetic mattresses have been found to cause cancers as well as trigger allergies.

    3. Natural mattresses have moisture wicking capabilities which means no more sweat drenched sleepless nights for you.

    4. Instead of depending on hazardous chemicals, organic mattresses have their own natural fire resistant properties.

    5. The 100% natural wool and cotton mix of organic mattresses make them more breathable and ensure you can keep cool in summer, and warm in winter while you sleep.

    6. And best of all, natural mattresses are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. This means when you throw it out, it will be absorbed back into earth without negatively impacting the environment.

     

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    For people who have become more conscious of what goes into what they eat, the good news is that an escalating amount of food manufacturers are proposing organic options, making organic food one of the fastest-growing sectors of food production in the United States. The bad news is that all of those options can be uncertain, especially when factoring in food made without GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Some people could be trying to eat an all-organic diet, and others may simply be trying to dodge GMOs. Although foods may be labeled as USDA-certified organic or Non-GMO, consumers may not understand the difference. In some cases, there is an overlap between the USDA Organic and Non-GMO labels, but there are some key differences consumers should be aware of when trying to make the distinction between organic foods and foods made without GMOs.

    Normally, foods with the USDA Organic label have been manufactured without the use of GMOs as well as other standards that certify that the food has been produced with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Foods that have been labeled as Non-GMO, on the other hand, only need to meet the criteria that they contain less than 1 percent of GMO content. Foods certified as Non-GMO may have been exposed to fertilizers or chemical pesticides, animals may have been subjected to hormones or antibiotics, and livestock may not have been fed using 100 percent organic feed. In short, all USDA Organic certified foods are Non-GMO, but not all Non-GMO certified foods are organic.

    The inflated variety and selection accessible at the grocery store today may be more confusing, but anyone who is concerned about what goes into their favorite organic chocolate brands will need to know the difference between the labeling and what the labels mean. The following chart helps delineate the differences between USDA Organic and Non-GMO labels, so review it the next time you check the labels on your favorite snacks.

    Check out the useful infographic that spray drying company, PacMoore has created below:

     

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  19. Every once in a while there comes the time to freshen up your garden and it is important to remove your green waste the responsible way. A common problem that arises is what to do with all that garden leftovers. If you are looking for Eco-friendly ways to get rid of your yard waste you are in luck because what follows is a comprehensive guide on how to dispose of your green waste without harming the environment. Read on and enjoy.


     

    Turn your waste into an eco-friendly fertilizer

    Much of your yard waste can be turned into compost that may be reused later as a fertilizer in your garden. Grass, veggie scraps and flower cuttings are ideal matter for this purpose. You will need a DIY composting bin or specially designed composting station. Do get in touch with your local government administration, as the office may provide composting bins for free to encourage sustainable gardening practices. It is important to take proper care of your composting bin – keep it moist and secure and add layers of different materials regularly. Unprotected composting bins may attract insects and rodents. Take a look at composting know-how to learn more.


     

    Use the worms

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    Beware fellow gardeners as vermicomposting is on the rise! More and more home-grown and professional gardeners are drawn to using worms as green waste disposal system which can turn garden and organic home waste into the ultimate soil enricher. Designated worm species, such as red wigglers and white worms will gradually consume your waste and turn it into nutrients-rich worm castings that can be used as a top or side dressing for the plants or worked into the soil without burning the roots. You can get worm boxes from your local gardening store or make them yourself. If you opt for the latter, do remember to line the box with fabric and drill little holes for drainage.


     

    Arrange waste pick-up

    Many countries have implemented regular yard waste pick-up – you simply need to bag your waste and leave it on your parkway. Unfortunately, there is a significant drawback to this method, as you are allowed to dispose of limited amount of garden leftovers. When you are planning a major clean-up or you are about to finish an extensive yard project it is a good idea to hire professional waste removal company to tackle your garden waste problem. Companies such as 1300 Rubbish will take care of as much of green waste as you need. The undeniable advantage of waste pick-up is the fact that you won't have to lift a finger, as the heavy lifting will be done by the professionals.


     

    Take it to the nearest waste collection center

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    If you do not want to arrange for organized waste pick-up you can always take your garden trash to the nearest collection service yourself. This method might be time-consuming, but it gives you the comfort of knowing that your waste has been disposed of legally and safely. You can also find tailor-made facilities designed specifically to handle large quantities of green waste. Collection centers and dumps may charge you a small fee per weight or load and you will be expected to unload your deposit in the right section of the tip.


     

    Garden waste can build up pretty quickly, therefore it is essential to implement efficient and sustainable strategy for green waste removal. You no longer need gas-guzzling chippers or heavy machinery to get rid of excessive waste, as with the help of our 4 tips you will be able to handle your green waste like an expert!

  20. Based on the findings of the US Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners shell out $2,000 or more every year to heat their private pools using conventional electricity. If we go by data, there are approximately 800,000 pools in Florida alone, including the above-ground ones.  Although Florida hardly gets cold, you can extend the swimming season by opting for solar pool heating in your Tampa home.  Here are some of the most important reasons to choose the solar option over traditional pool heaters:

    Efficiency

    Solar heaters have the capacity to heat your pool efficiently provided the panels are professionally installed to harness the sun’s free energy. With proper installation, you can expect to raise your pool’s temperature by up to 15 degrees, especially when you experience a nip in the air. During the cooler months, you can consider using solar blankets as well to maintain the water temperature. You can use them when the pool is not in use. The blankets will trap the heat and stop the unnecessary evaporation of water.

    You can also lower the water temperature during the hot summer months if you have a solar pool heater installed. Obviously, you cannot cool the water when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you run the heater overnight instead of turning it on during the day, the water circulating will cool by several degrees, making the pool water more comfortable to take a plunge.

    Extended Swimming Season

    A solar pool heater together with covers can extend your swimming season, especially during the summer months from May to October. These pool heaters are designed to adjust the water temperature for a comfortable dip. It depends on the season and the amount of sunlight received.  When the Florida Solar Energy Center monitored pools in the Sunshine State some two decades ago, they found that most of the homeowners enjoyed swimming for approximately 110 days in a year. Eventually, with the advancement of solar equipment and technology, people with private pools could extend the swimming season to about 290 days. It means that you can enjoy a refreshing dip with your family and kids a little longer than you have expected.

    Durable

    Gas heaters with a lifespan of about five years are not as efficient as solar ones. Moreover, they call for a lot of care and maintenance. And it is needless to say that periodic upkeep will add to your pool heating costs further. Solar pool heating systems, on the contrary, come with a 12-year warranty and last for 10-20 years requiring little or no maintenance at all. With your pool’s filtering system and chemical balance working fine, they will last for years to come. Solar panels are designed from high-quality polypropylene. They include an additional 35 percent of the material. Solar pool heaters also have UV stabilizers, making it more durable than conventional heaters.

    Eco-Friendly

    Solar pool heaters are extremely environment-friendly. In fact, you are contributing to the green cause by installing a photovoltaic (PV) system. That’s because the sun’s energy is pure and clean.

    The benefits of solar pool heating in Tampa are hard to ignore. With the significant drop in the prices of equipment over the last few years, installing PV systems is a safe and economical option for homeowners in the city. So, are you ready to take the plunge?

  21. The sustainable building trend is not just good for the planet, but for the economy — green construction is expected to account for 3.3 million jobs in the U.S. alone by 2018, a 143.5 percent increase over 2015. Green construction involves the design, construction and/or operation of buildings in ways that reduce any harmful impact on the environment and/or on human health. Some of these include reducing the carbon footprint of manufacture, preserving air and water quality, minimizing toxic emissions, and increasing energy efficiency in building operations. Sustainable building also can be economically beneficial. Using green materials and practices often benefits local economies, and the focus on energy efficiency frequently results in significant savings for property owners.

    The following infographic was created by Accurate Perforating Company and highlights 10 green building materials to consider for your next green building project.

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  22. More than 1 million U.S. homes now sport solar panels on the roof. That number is expected to double in the next two years as the cost of solar continues to decline and solar awareness continues to rise.
     
    While making the shift to solar is good for the environment, that’s not the only reason to invest in solar technology. Here are just a few of the many benefits homeowners can realize by going solar. 

    5 Reasons So Many Homeowners Are Going Solar

    1.    Solar is a good investment. While the exact ROI for solar varies according to location and other factors, research indicates that in most states it makes financial sense to go solar. Specifically, solar brings a better return than a five-year CD in 86 percent of states. If you live in one of the top 13 states for solar, you’ll actually do better with your solar panels than you would by investing in the S&P 500. 
    2.    Solar is reliable. With any technology comes the potential for failure, but solar bucks the trend by being one of the least likely of your home’s systems to break down. While solar panels are typically warranted for 25 years, 90 percent of them last 30 years or longer. One report showed that many 40-year-old panels are still generating power at 80 percent of their efficiency. In addition, a residential solar system typically has no moving parts, and almost never needs repair. 
    3.    Solar is security. Concerned about power grid security, future energy price hikes, and/or the escalating effects of global climate change on the weather? Installing a solar system with battery backup is an excellent way to ensure that you will always have the power you need at a price you can afford. 
    4.    Solar protects our planet. Sunshine is a clean, renewable energy source that does not contribute to global climate change. While all manufacture has an impact on the environment, solar panels create far more energy in their lifetime than is consumed by making them. In fact, an average 4 KW solar power system offsets nearly 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in its first 25 years. It would take planting more than 2,000 trees to equal that amount of carbon offset.  
    5.    Solar is hot — and that’s cool. Who doesn’t like to be the cool kid on the block? Solar is an undeniably hot and trendy technology, so why not add a system to your roof and enjoy witnessing the “panel envy” of your neighbors and friends?   

    How to Go Solar at Home

    According to Google’s Project Sunroof, nearly four out of five U.S. homes have enough unshaded area to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. So when you’re ready for a larger investment in your home (similar to what you would pay for a kitchen remodel or home addition), chances are good that solar will pay off for you.  

    That said, PV panels aren’t the only way to go solar in your home. Here are more ideas, at a variety of price points for any budget:
    •    Solar water heater — A typical solar water heating system saves 50-80 percent on monthly water heating costs, even in a cloudy climate.
    •    Solar landscape lighting — Solar outdoor lighting doesn’t just save electricity. It’s also safer and reduces maintenance because you won’t have to run power lines outside. 
    •    Solar chargers — A solar phone charger lets you charge your phone from anywhere, even on a hiking trip or in a boat! 
    •    Solar Christmas lights — Solar LED holiday lights are convenient to set up, and can save you up to $10 for every 300 hours they’re lit.

    These are just a few of the many benefits you can realize by going solar at home. Check out this infographic to discover even more compelling reasons why so many Americans these days are choosing to add solar to their homes. 

    Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the largest residential solar energy companies in the mid-Atlantic region. It is committed to providing homeowners with high-quality, American-made solar panels and solar energy products. 

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  23. In today’s economic uncertainty and fluctuating weather Calgary homeowners are increasingly interested in reducing their home’s impact on the environment, which can also help lower energy and utility costs. 

    Built Green Canada, a national organization with a certification program that rates the level at which a home is energy-efficient, measuring factors such as the materials and methods used in construction, ventilation, waste management, water conservation, and indoor air quality. The Calgary Herald has reported that Calgary and area builders enrolled more single-family homes in the Built Green Canada program in 2016 than a year earlier, and again more homes in the Calgary area were enrolled in the program over the first three months of 2017 than the same time last year. 

    Built Green Canada notes that there are a number of roofing materials and methods that improve thermal performance and offer energy benefit including recycled-content roofing systems and those with a minimum 30-year manufacturer warranty on roofing material. To help you make eco-friendly choices when you need roofing and siding replacement our roofing contractors at Century Roofing Limited have pulled together these common roofing related ways to make your home environmentally friendly:
    •    Proper insulation and ventilation of a roof system - reductions in power and fossil fuels used in the heating and cooling processes will help make a more environmentally efficient household.
    •    Daylighting - bring natural daylight into your home will benefit the environment by reducing electricity, and provide healthy natural light to the household. 
    •    Landscaping - keeping vegetation growth from encroaching on a roof area will aid in air circulation and reduce wear and tear on your roof system. Extending the life of the roof system reduces the material usage over time, saves money, and lowers the environmental impact. 
    •    Proper roof maintenance - keeping the gutters, downspouts, and roof area free of debris will help extend the life of a roof system. By utilizing the full life span of a roof system homeowners can delay replacement, which in turn results in cost savings and less material waste. 

    Albertans are increasingly embracing eco-friendly building options as evident in Built Green Canada’s efforts and events such as Edmonton’s Eco-Solar Home Tour, now in its 17th year (June 3-4, 2017), showcasing ways to maximize energy efficiency at home. Century Roofing Limited can help you to fill all those needs. We handle virtually everything having to do with roofing. No project is too big or small for our roofing contractors; see what our Calgary roofers can provide:
    •    Historical renovations;
    •    Custom designs/installations using quality craftsmanship and materials;
    •    Large-scale commercial or varied sized residential roofing projects;
    •    Roofing, eavestroughing, soffit and fascia renovation and repair; and 
    •    Siding maintenance and repair.

    At Century Roofing Limited, we handle virtually everything having to do with roofing and offer a host of eco-friendly options. If you have questions about your homes or business exterior contact us at 403-235-5457 today to plan your next project and get a free estimate. Serving central and southern Alberta and eastern British Columbia.

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