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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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Our community blogs

  1. Nature differs for different animals, but it's suffering the same fate as well: The endangerment of many species and threats to the natural resources. The seascapes and landscapes, as well as the protection of the many wild species, are important to the economic, social and environmental well-being of our country's wildlife. Here are some reasons why nature conservation important

    Safeguards Human Life

    Almost 
    50 per cent of human medicines come indirectly or directly from the natural world. Many lifesaving drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, originated in nature. 60% of people all over the world depend almost completely on plants for primary medication. Also, animals are used for traditional medicines in some parts of the world. 

    Conserving and studying nature is as significant as other human health initiatives, and the conservation health benefits have to be included together with other discussions concerning saving nature. Conservation and wildlife science are relevant to our lives.

    Environmental Protection

    Having a healthy environment is vital to healthy living. The overall earth’s atmospheric temperature is increasing, that's why environment protection organisations and groups are making environmental protection steps to reduce ozone depletion. 

    Marine Ecosystems

    Oceans are known to be the largest ecosystems and are also the largest life support systems on Earth. The oceans generate 50 per cent of the oxygen humans breath. Also, the ocean provides 16.6% of the animal proteins humans eat. The security, economy and survival of humans require a healthy ocean, that's why when you help to conserve it, this can bring many advantages to humankind.

    Natural Parks Health 

    Natural parks are home to 
    numerous endemic specie and they should be protected. These natural parks are important because they protect the areas of natural beauty, and it's a land that is set aside for animals, plants and where they live. Natural parks play a big role in keeping the environment healthy because they house many plants. The parks are also places for people to know more about native animals and plants and how they depend on each other. 

    Habitat Conservation and Terrestrial Ecosystem

    Some species can't live outside the natural habitat without the intervention of humans, like the habitats found in an aquarium or zoo. Other migratory species tend to be vulnerable to habitat destruction since they inhibit two or more natural habitats. Like everything in life, nature doesn't operate in isolation; most of the species found on the reserve are usually migratory, hence their conservation does not rely solely on the reserve. 

    For instance, many of the butterflies on the reserve also spend their time in urban environments such as in city parks or your backyard: Everything is connected. Natural habitat alteration can lead to a domino effect that will harm the whole ecosystem. 


    Therefore, everyone has an important role to play in nature conservation. Small actions such as looking for landscape services, planting native species in the garden or recycling water bottles, to big actions such as investing in hundreds of thousands of trees, all help to keep our planet and nature healthy. For landscape services, 
    click here.

  2. Plots of land where nothing has previously been developed on are quite rare these days, especially in urban areas. No matter if the land is purchased for farming or house building, checking the soil for contamination is extremely important, in order to avoid hazardous chemicals from coming in contact with anything that’s being developed on in or in the nearby sites.

    Up until recent years, environmental laws were more relaxed and it was not uncommon for waste was dumped close to where the products were used. Chemicals can persist in the soil for decades and can be really dangerous, especially if it comes in contact with crops or animals. Fortunately, there are multiple solutions that have been developed to treat the soil and restore its fertility.

     

    The Dangers of Soil Contamination

    To put it simply, soil contamination occurs when the soil comes in contact with pollutants, mostly due to hazardous past activities that were conducted on the site. The concentration of pollutants becomes higher than normal, often spreading to the nearby areas and polluting the neighbour lands as well. People have often reported dealing with contaminated soil, due to recent demolition or construction work developed close to their homes or farms.

    Living or working in close contact with contaminated soil increases the risk of chemical exposure through skin absorption or inhalation of chemicals. If corps are being planted on such lands, they can quickly absorb chemicals from the soils that travel from their roots to their leaves, fruits and seeds and eventually reach the people who consume the produce.

    Before coming in contact with the human body, soil contamination can also affect crop quality, by decreasing the fertility of the soil and alter its structure. The crops will develop poorly and, over time, the soil will become less productive and even completely infertile due to large quantities of toxic chemicals.

    Soil contamination can also lead to water pollution. After rain, the surface runoff can carry the polluted soil and mix it into different water sources. This way, the water fills with toxic chemicals, which make is unfit for humans, plants or animals.

    Low levels of contamination can produce reactions such as nausea, fatigue, rashes or headaches, while exposure to high levels of contamination can even result in neurological or reproductive disorders. Studies have reported that prolonged high chemical exposure can also increase the risk of cancer. The most vulnerable are usually elders, pregnant women and especially children, who often play in gardens and ingest soil particles from touching their mouth with dirty fingers. In such situations, the health risks are much higher.

     

    Common Soil Contamination Reasons

    In urban areas, lead is the most common soil contaminant, mostly because it used to be found in the compounds of exterior paint. It is very easy for old paint to disintegrate and fill the soil around the house with flakes that can contaminate it. Avoiding to grow crops or do digging near buildings that could have been painted with such old paint is one simple way to avoid contamination. Heavy metals and industrial chemicals are also present in urban areas, though they are more likely to be found in industrial areas, rather than residential.

    There is a wide range of activities that can lead to soil pollution, such as mining, that can release sulfuric acid, mercury and acid into the soil. Fuel storage can release hydrocarbons, while agricultural and industrial waste can pollute the soil due to leaks, spills or pipeline ruptures. Even light industrial or agricultural activities conducted on the site can result in some sort of contamination. Some of the most common reasons are:

    ·         Pesticides: after World War II, people started using DDT, an insecticide that turned out to be extremely dangerous for the environment, to deal with rodents, weeds and insects that threatened their crops. In 2011, traces of DDT were still found in human bodies, despite being banned almost 30 years ago.

    ·         Industrial pollution: improper disposal of chemical waste from various types of industries has led to soil acidification and contamination with heavy metals, oils and toxic chemicals.

    ·         Poor irrigation: bad irrigation practices have led to increased soil salinity, while improper maintenance of irrigation canals and intensive farming slowly degraded the soil over time.

    ·         Urban activities: disposal of solid waste is another form of soil pollution, most common from plastic or batteries, which contain lithium that causes soil leaching. Sewerage leaking can also damage soil quality or change its chemical composition.

     

    Dealing with Contaminated Soil

    Testing soil for contamination is quite easy and many laboratories offer such services. Private companies and public universities also offer soil testing services, which can reveal all the information needed.  Some of these services are mail-in and the labs will provide instructions on how to properly collect soil samples and send them through. After the test reveals the level of pollution, there are a few procedures that can help deal with contaminated land.

    ·         Soil Washing: this is often considered to be the best technique to treat heavy metal and hydrocarbon contamination. Soil washing is a process that involves physically separating the contaminated particles from the soil by using heat or water to remove them.

    ·         Bio-piles: this process involves excavating the soil, forming it into piles and mixing it with soil amendments. The piles are enclosed and an irrigation system pumps air and nutrients through the soil. The treatment time varies between 3 and 6 months, after which the excavated soil is returned to its original location.

    ·         Soil Stabilization: typically used to treat sub-grade materials, such as clays or granular materials, the process is used to enhance the physical properties of the soil. It uses reduction and oxidation to incorporate additives into the soil, until it achieves the desired properties and the contaminated soil become non-hazardous.

    The decontamination process can vary, depending on the type of pollutants that are found in the soil and the contamination period. After decontamination, the disposal of the contaminated remains must be carried out according to local regulations, to avoid polluting other areas.

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  3. Protein is mainly composed of chemical elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. It is an important biological macromolecule. All proteins are multimers formed by the connection of 20 different amino acids. After Forming proteins, these amino acids are also called as a residue.

     

    The boundaries between proteins and peptides are not very clear. Some people believe that the number of residues required for a functionally acting domain is called a polypeptide or peptide if the number of residues is less than 40. To function biologically, proteins need to be properly folded into a specific configuration, mainly through a large number of non-covalent interactions (such as hydrogen bonds, ionic bonds, van der Waals forces and hydrophobic interactions); in addition, in some proteins (especially in the case of secreted proteins), disulfide bonds also play a key role. In order to understand the mechanism of action of proteins at the molecular level, it is often necessary to determine the three-dimensional structure of a protein. Structural biology has been developed by studying protein structure, using techniques including X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, etc. to resolve protein structures.

     

    A certain number of residues are necessary to exert a certain biochemical function; 40-50 residues are usually the lower limit of the size of a functional domain. Protein size can range from such a lower limit up to thousands of residues. The current estimated average length of proteins differs between different species, typically about 200-380 residues, while eukaryotes have an average protein length of about 55% longer than prokaryotes. Larger protein aggregates can be formed by many protein subunits; for example, by the polymerization of thousands of actin molecules to form protein fibers.

     

    Discovery history

    In 1959, Perutz and Kendrew analyzed the structure of hemoglobin and myoglobin, solved the three-dimensional structure, and won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    Pauling discovered the basic structure of the protein. Based on the X-ray diffraction data, Crick and Watson proposed a model of the three-dimensional structure of DNA. Received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. After the 1950s, Hauptmann and Karle established a purely mathematical theory for the direct determination of crystal structures using X-ray analysis, which has epoch-making significance in crystal research, especially in the study of macromolecular biological substances such as hormones, antibiotics, and proteins. And the molecular structure of new drugs played an important role. They were awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

     

    Structure type

    Protein molecules are covalent polypeptide chains formed by the condensation of amino acids end-to-end, but natural protein molecules are not loose random polypeptide chains. Each natural protein has its own unique spatial structure or three-dimensional structure, which is often referred to as the conformation of the protein, ie the structure of the protein.

    The molecular structure of a protein can be divided into four levels to describe its different aspects:

    Primary structure: A linear amino acid sequence that makes up a protein polypeptide chain.

    Secondary structure: a stable structure formed by hydrogen bonds between C=O and N-H groups between different amino acids, mainly α-helix and β-sheet.

    Tertiary structure: The three-dimensional structure of a protein molecule formed by the arrangement of multiple secondary structural elements in three dimensions.

    Quaternary structure: used to describe a protein complex molecule that is functionally formed by interactions between different polypeptide chains (subunits).

    In addition to these structural levels, proteins can be transformed in multiple similar structures to perform their biological functions. For functional structural changes, these tertiary or quaternary structures are usually described in a chemical conformation, and the corresponding structural transformation is referred to as a conformational change.

     

     

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    Our products and services are used worldwide in research fields for diverse applications, including basic research, drug discovery, and diagnostic study. Here are some our products like: Cryo-EM,membrane proteins,virus-like particle service,VLP construction,etc.

     

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    We all like to take pride in being environmentally-friendly. There’s just something that feels good about being kind to the environment around us. However, it’s nice when that kindness lines up with getting us some extra money as well. Here are some great ways to do your part for the environment while putting some much-needed green into your own wallet.

    Scrap Metal Recycling

    We’re sure you’ve all seen or heard those commercials about cash for junk cars. The truth is that you can make some good money with the help of scrap metal services. Whether you have an old car you’re looking to get rid of or other extra metal items that are just taking up space in your yard, calling a scrap metal service can help to clean up your space and score you some green as well.

    Government Solar Tax Incentives

    Solar panels are becoming a popular way to help save energy costs and reduce our carbon footprint. In fact, many towns are implementing solar panel incentives for those who install these systems. The federal government has been on a rally to offer tax incentives to those homeowners and business owners who upgrade their properties to run on solar power. This type of energy also supplies the power grid that you’re connected to with energy. The power company will also pay you for the units of energy that you feed into the power grid. This means a double payday for you, once from the electric company and twice for the tax break.

    Reduced Gas Expenditure

    When you think about air pollution, one of the first things you may think about is your car. When you drive to and from work every day, your car releases air pollution into the environment. It also costs you money in gas to do so. Instead, you can sign up with a carpool group from your work or local community. This way, you can share the cost of gas. This means that you’ll be paying out less money in your monthly gas expenditure than if you were to drive by yourself each day.

    Going green doesn’t have to be a difficult task. This holds especially true when you set yourself up to receive some monetary incentive from doing so. The above are a few great ways to consider going green that will be able to put some green in your pockets. We’re sure you’ll be able to keep coming up with more little ways to change your environmental impact while cashing in.

  5. When it comes to environmental responsibility, Australians are among the leading citizens who are striving to do their part. Many Australians understand the importance of global conservation and have made efforts to protect the planet’s vital ecosystems. This includes personal life choices as well as enacting eco-friendly governmental policies to protect their local environment. Here are some of the main ways that many Australians are protecting the planet. 

    Implementing Strict Pet Travel Laws 

    Australia has some of the strictest laws in the world that govern how pets are allowed to travel and which types of species are allowed to enter the country. Many of these laws are intended to prevent foreign species migration that has historically been known to wreak widespread havoc on the country’s crops and ecosystems. Australia even requires all cats and dogs that are brought into the country to have special microchips implanted to show that each pet meets strict health standards. This prevents the spread of parasites and diseases that could be transmitted to their own wild and domestic animals.

    Eliminating Plastic Bags 

    Numerous Australian companies have worked to eliminate plastic bag usage to help the environment. Unlike other materials, plastic isn’t biodegradable and remains in existence indefinitely. Discarded plastic bags that end up on roadways, in oceans or in other areas where they don’t belong can be deadly for animals that unknowingly ingest them. To try to solve this problem, nationwide efforts in Australia have been made to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags made of cloth and other material so that plastic bags no longer need to be used. Shoppers who opt for single-use plastic bags are often charged an additional fee by stores. 

    Switching to Septic Systems 

    Instead of using standard sewer lines that contribute to water pollution from human waste, many Australians are having domestic septic tanks installed on their properties. These special tanks are able to clean and conserve water instead of sending it out to the ocean. Once these tanks are full, they can be emptied by professionals with little hassle. This prevents a lot of the problems that come from the traditional sewage systems that dump wastewater into local lakes, rivers, and oceans. This introduces contaminants to different ecosystems, whereas domestic septic tanks treat the water on site and allow for much of the wastewater to even be recycled back into the home for use in lawn sprinklers and toilets.

    Installing Solar Panels 

    Solar panels offer a great way to get energy from the renewable sources, and large numbers of Australians have had these panels installed on their properties. Solar panels offer a better, greener alternative to getting power from more environmentally hazardous sources such as gas, coal or electricity. People living in the country have also come to love solar energy because of its cost-effectiveness and ability to lower utility bills. Entire communities in Australia have been constructed surrounding the ideals of renewable living, and solar panels play a significant role in powering these communities.

    Australians take pride in their efforts to protect the environment. While they, like the rest of the world, aren’t perfect yet, they strive to improve their policies and protect their local and global environment. Other countries can learn from Australia’s conservation efforts and follow suit to make the planet safer for all people, animals and ecosystems.

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    Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but figuring out which materials are recyclable can be confusing. Luckily, this process is going to be incredibly easy once you get the hang of it. Here is a closer look at a few tips that will help you determine which items and materials are recyclable.

    Organic Waste

    Many people are surprised to hear that most organic waste can be recycled. If you run a business that produces organic waste, then you should contact your local waste management company to see if they have a food waste recycling program. For homeowners, composting is a great way to get rid of food scraps and other organic materials. Setting up a compost bin only takes a few minutes, and you will have a constant supply of nutrient-rich compost.

    Metals

    Metals can be broken down and reused hundreds of times without changing their properties, and that is one of the reasons why many recycling companies pay for used metal products. A piece of metal that has been recycled multiple times is going to be just as strong and durable as new metal that was just pulled out of the earth. Most of the metals that you are going to come into contact with can be recycled, and that includes steel, aluminum, gold, copper, silver, and brass.

    Computers and Electronics

    While the vast majority of electronic devices can be recycled, you can’t just throw them in the recycling bin. Tossing your electronics in the trash is very bad for the environment, and you might be fined if you are caught. The best way to get rid of laptops, phones, televisions, and other electronic devices is to contact an e-waste company that does laptop recycling and other types of electronics recycling. Those organizations carefully break down electronic devices and separate all of the key components before recycling the materials.

    Paper Products

    As a general rule, paper products can be thrown into a recycling bin, but you need to make sure that there aren’t any other materials attached to those products. An example of that would be a pizza box that still has food debris on the inside. That food debris could damage the machines that break down and recycle corrugated cardboard. Some experts also suggest that you avoid shredding any paper that you plan on recycling. When paper is shredded, the fiber strands are shortened, and that makes it much more difficult to recycle the material.

    Recycling is great for the planet, but you need to keep an eye on what you are putting in your recycling bin. Throwing certain materials in those bins could contaminate huge piles of debris that would have been recyclable.

  7.  

    A household consists of a thousand moving parts. If you count trinkets and paraphernalia into that mix, then the number of constituents is pretty much endless. This is why every home needs reasonable storage solutions, especially if you are prone to hoarding. Thankfully, in the times of eco-friendly trends, there are many storage ideas out there that are truly inventive. If you are thinking about the balance between storage and sustainability, here are the most sensible solutions for your home.

    Go vertical

    There are many sensible green home renovation techniques out there, some of which are obscure while others are known around the world as go-to practices that simply work. For example, vertical storage is warehousing 101 and a solution that can virtually save your household should you choose to implement it. Simply speaking, the amount of square footage and resources you can save by going vertical is immense – it is the most logical eco-friendly step. On the one hand, you will invest in the future, on the other, you won’t have to spend money on the additional building. Furthermore, storage that spreads floor to ceiling and across the wall can also serve as an additional layer of sound-heat insulation.

    Keep the shelving modular

    Armoires, old cupboards and stylish vintage cabinets are perfectly fine aesthetic choices that are recommended by interior designers around the world for people who want eclectic combos. However, if you are a green thinker, the first question you should ask if whether it’s functional and space-saving? Aesthetics are secondary when you are looking into superb adjustable shelving for the most flexible solutions, though they can look absolutely crisp should you choose well. What you’ll want is a storage option that consists of numerous modular units which can easily be rearranged according to the changes in your interior. This way you’ll have future-proof durability and flexibility.

    Reused building materials

    Do you want your sustainable storage units to be built from zero? If you want to keep the process eco-friendly you should consider reused or recycled materials, especially if you require fine wood and stained wooden surfaces in order to keep the storage in sync with the rest of the room’s overall style. Thankfully, it has become so much easier to find retailers that deal in reusable goods, as well as carpenters and other building professionals that have a lot of experience with recycled materials. In addition, you can go with sustainable materials if you want them fresh – for example, cork and bamboo. However, you should keep in mind that these are not as flexible as some less-sustainable variants.

    Push it out into the garage

    Do you own a garage, a shed or an exterior storage space of some shape and form? If you do, you might want to consider moving as much as you can out of the house and pushing it into that storage. Typically, this will be a garage wall reserved for storage units. Whether it’s simple pallet racks made out of (recycled) plastic or full-fledged cabinets, keeping most of your clutter out of the house gives you more elbow space to arrange the interior according to your wishes. Plus, it will keep the otherwise cluttered rooms larger. You may also want to bring more sustainable lighting solution in the proximity of your storage so it would become easier to see what hides behind cabinet doors. Of course, only LED or CFL lights should be considered in this case, as they do not only waste less energy but last significantly longer than incandescent bulbs.

    A cluttered home looks messy, ugly and, let’s be perfectly blunt, downright depressing. If you want to avoid the horror of clutter, you should consider the sustainable storage solutions mentioned above. Implementing at least one of them can make a lot of difference, so you’ll probably want to go all the way with these sensible solutions for your home as soon as you try one method.

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  8. The world is experiencing more threats from pollution than ever before. In addition to the climate, there are other factors that are making it more dangerous to ignore green technologies. Therefore, it is important to understand the benefits of using renewable natural gas. Here are several points to consider as we move forward:

    Recycling

    There is no secret that recycling is going to be an important part of moving forward into future generations. When we simply use products one time and throw them away, it takes away from the power we have to reuse those materials. Natural gas is used in a lot of recycling projects to prevent the greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere, making it key to the future of a green world.

    Heat and Cooling

    If there is one kind of energy usage that is harmful to the planet, it is heating and cooling. The machines and gases that are used in this are always being emitted into the atmosphere. Even worse, the electricity that powers these in the first place is generated via harmful, polluting mechanisms. In order to have a green world, we need to find ways to reduce this. Luckily, natural gas is a much more efficient form of natural energy. It is not going to pollute as much as a fossil fuel will.

    Cars

    There are more cars than we will ever know what to do with on earth. This means that they are either going to be on the road putting out chemicals or they are going to be put in dumps where their chemicals will leak into the environment. Either way, their gas usage should be reduced or at least switched to natural gas which is better for everyone and the planet's natural ecosystem.

    Heavy Machinery

    With a steam generator powered on natural gas, you can get machinery moving. You don't have to spend as much on the extraction of harmful fuels either. This is a winning scenario for everyone involved and is an exciting glimpse into the future of green energy.

    Not all kind of energy is created equal. Some forms actually empower us to live cleaner lives and do better for the world in which we live. When we have the opportunity to use these, it is important to take advantage of them to full effect. So make sure to review the benefits above and see how you can us natural gas in your daily life to make an impact.

    Keeping the World Green 4 Environmental Benefits of Using Renewable Natural Gas.PNG

  9. Remodeling your kitchen is an excellent chance to upgrade it in term of eco-friendliness. You will finally get a chance to separate waste and apply natural cleaning solutions in order to cause the least amount of harm to the environment. The best thing is that these changes will not require a huge amount of money because you can work with what you’ve got and the little you do need to invest is a small investment compared to the benefits you get.

    You will see how a remodeled kitchen will soon turn into a hub of social activity in the house as even the children will want to join the whole ecological hype that their parents became part of. We provide you here with a 5-step checklist that will help you transform your kitchen into an eco-friendly space that will work with Mother Nature, not against it.

    1. The labels have to be green

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    Whatever additions you decide to introduce into your kitchen, whether it is something as simple as a new teapot or even a brand new countertop, this product must bear a green label. This means that the product has been subject to testing on how the ingredients of materials for it were produced. A label of the color green usually stands for sustainability, like the Follow to Frog sign and the Forest Stewardship Council stamp that indicates that fruit or timber have been outsourced from regions that care about protecting the local environment.

    2. Cork for flooring

    The bark of the cork tree is used for kitchen flooring as a cheap and efficient replacement for linoleum, hardwood floors, and tiles. It is fairly easy to install, as it is simply glued to the existing surface, like concrete. Once in place, it is coated with acrylic that will ensure cork is waterproof and slip-resistant. Because it has a rather soft texture, it will act as a natal spring that will adjust to the weight of your body, so you can even walk barefoot over it. This can come in handy when children play around the kitchen and if one of them falls down, the cork will cushion the blow.

    3. Plexiglas in the kitchen?

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    The material you never thought belonged inside the kitchen is Plexiglas. Well, the automotive industry does not have exclusive rights over it as kitchen walls can benefit from it too. A thin layer of Plexiglas over the kitchen tiles impregnates their joints and ensures they are 100% waterproof, so no mold or mildew will ever form. The best thing about Plexiglas, that you can outsource from Plastic Wholesale Online is the fact that it is an eco-friendly material that does not hurt the environment. Basically, anything around the kitchen that needs waterproofing could be treated with Plexiglas in order to decrease the impact on the environment.

    4. Reducing energy consumption

    In terms of reducing the carbon print, you want to make sure your new kitchen is as energy efficient as possible. This is done by introducing green energy through house appliances and the reduction of total energy used. For the latter, a simple change in the type of light bulbs you use can make a huge difference. Replace the incandescent light bulbs with LED ones and just look at your energy consumption going down. As with everything else, when shopping for new appliances look for the Energy Star logo that ensures the manufacturer took great care of energy inefficient.

    5. Composting

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    The last item on our checklist concerns the way we manage organic waste. Recyclables should go into separate bins but food leftovers should end up outside, not in the trash can but in the garden compost. You can create it in order to decrease the total amount of waste you generate and later use the compost in your garden instead of buying hummus from the local garden center.

     

    Finally, going eco-friendly is more than possible in the kitchen and in every other room in the house. Use our 5-step checklist as the guide during the initial phases of the kitchen remodeling project.

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  10. If you have recently decided to install solar panels, then you need to start thinking about some ways that you can make the most out of that technology. Even though modern solar panels require very little maintenance, quite a bit can be done to improve their efficiency and prevent unnecessary damage. Here is a look at a few tips and tricks that will take your solar energy system to the next level. 

    How to Get the Most Out of Solar Panels.JPG

    Feed Less Energy Back Into the Grid
    Using the energy as it is being produced is going to reduce waste and lower your overall bills. That is why many experts suggest using high-consumption devices during the middle of the day. That includes your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer. You should also consider upgrading to an electric water heater to further improve the efficiency of your home and reduce your monthly expenses. 

    Install a Backup Battery 
    In addition to being more affordable than ever, residential lithium batteries are also exceedingly efficient. With a high-quality battery system, you might be able to use almost 100 percent of the energy that your solar panels produce. If your local power company increases the cost of electricity during certain hours of the day, then you can simply switch over to the battery during those hours and save some money. Installing a backup battery is a relatively simple project, and an experienced contractor should be able to finish the job in a single day. 

    Maintain the Panels Themselves 
    As a general rule, you should carefully inspect all of your solar panels at least two or three times a week. You want to be absolutely sure that the panels aren’t caked in mud, covered in leaves, or under thick branches. Depending on where you live, you might need to clean the panels once or twice a month as well. Most dirty panels can easily be cleaned with a hose, but you might need to use a sponge and some warm water with a little bit of soap in it if there is quite a bit of grime. 

    Upgrade Your Roof 
    Before your panels are installed, you should consider contacting a company such as Landmark Roofing to upgrade your roof. A roofing company can replace your old tiles with metal sheets and improve the angle of the roof itself. In most locations, solar panels work best when the roof is between 30 and 45 degrees. Panels that are perfectly flat will be exposed to sunlight for longer stretches of time, but the energy production is going to be much lower. 

    Once your panels have been installed, you need to keep a close eye on your energy consumption each and every day. Sudden changes to your input or output could be the result of a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

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    Although the problem of protecting the environment may seem like an insurmountable one, there are many simple steps that every person can take to make a small positive impact. If everyone begins to take measures to reduce carbon use and waste, saving the planet will become a much easier proposition. Here are four simple things you can do to help save the environment in your own small way.

    Walk and Bike More

    Driving is one of the most common ways in which practically everyone releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By walking or riding your bike for short trips, you can considerably reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced as a result of your transportation needs. As an added benefit, walking and biking are excellent forms of exercise, meaning you’ll get some great physical activity as well.

    Plant Trees on Your Property

    If you have a large enough piece of property, consider planting a few trees to help absorb carbon dioxide. A single tree can sequester a full ton of carbon over the first 40 years of its life. By planting several trees on your property, you can create a passive form of carbon sequestration that will continue for decades to come.

    Get into the Habit of Recycling

    One of the best ways to prevent unneeded waste from polluting land and water is to recycle as much of your garbage as you can. Plastics, glass and paper can easily be recycled by most municipal governments, meaning that you just have to sort them appropriately. Iron, steel, copper, and aluminum scrap metal recycling are usually handled by specialized processing centers, but it isn’t too difficult to find these facilities in most cities. By recycling more of what you use, you can prevent waste from ending up in landfills and keep extra energy from being expended in extracting new natural resources.

    Grow Some of Your Own Food

    One of the more difficult environmental problems to address is the fact that the agricultural techniques needed to supply food for more than 7 billion humans are extremely harmful to the planet. Forests are often destroyed to clear land, while herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers pollute groundwater reserves on massive farms. One thing you can do to partially reduce your impact in this area is to start an organic garden at home. Growing your own food with environmentally friendly methods will lower your carbon footprint and give you access to plenty of fresh, healthy produce.

    These are just a few of the many small actions you can take to play a role in saving the planet. You should also try to encourage friends and family members to do the same, as the effect of these small steps will grow as more and more people begin to take them.

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    Keeping your neighborhood clean can be good for aesthetic purposes. It can also be good for keeping the planet happy and safe for all for generations and generations to come. If you want to do your part in helping the planet, you should think about setting up a trash cleanup project in your community.

    Set a Great Example

    If you want your neighbors to follow suit, you should begin by setting a great example. Pick up trash around your neighborhood in the middle of the day when other people can easily see you. You may just motivate others to do the same exact thing. If people ask you what you’re doing, tell them proudly.

    Reach out to Your Neighbors

    Don’t hesitate to reach out to neighbors who are friendly and cooperative. You may want to call or email them to ask them if they’d be interested in joining forces with you in your cleanup effort. They may not be able to resist taking part. If you make your cleanup project sound fun and interesting, it may encourage more and more people to team up with you.

    Post a Listing on the Internet

    Word gets around rapidly on the Internet. If you want to spread the word about your neighborhood cleanup effort, you can choose to post a free listing on a classified website. Look for a classified website that caters to your specific neighborhood. It’s critical to mention your community name in the header for the listing, too. If people learn about your project on the Internet, it may persuade them to reach out to you to lend a helping hand.

    Rent a Dumpster

    You can simplify your neighborhood garbage cleanup project by getting your hands on a sizable dumpster for disposal purposes. There are trustworthy companies that offer durable skips for rent. If you rent a roomy dumpster or two, you can get rid of significant levels of garbage. This can spare you a lot of frustration. Dumpsters can make doing away with trash straightforward and speedy.

    Trash and a gorgeous planet simply do not go hand in hand. If you want your neighborhood to be immaculate and lovely, then you need to prioritize cleanup work. You can make prioritizing a clean community a lot easier by getting help from other people who live near you. Remember, doing things in groups can be fun. It can also be a lot more efficient.

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    Owning an older home can be a wonderful way to enjoy some unique character that simply can’t be found in a newer home. At the same time, it’s rare to find an older home that can operate as efficiently as a newer home, specifically in the area of water conservation. Fortunately, though, while you might not be able to implement every last water-saving device, there are several great and easy ways to save water in your older home.

    New Fixtures

    If you have an older home, it’s likely that it’s equipped with older plumbing fixtures, as well. Unfortunately, these older fixtures do very little to conserve water. In order to save water, then, you can replace these fixtures, whether it’s a shower head, bathroom faucet, or kitchen faucet, with low-flow models to start seeing savings right away. Just be sure your home’s plumbing can adapt to these newer fixtures, as many have special water pressure requirements that your home may not be equipped for.

    Find Leaks

    The materials in pipes of any kind inevitably break down over time due to the different substances found in water. Over time, this can lead to leaky pipes, which can waste a lot of water. If your water bill is higher than expected, or if you have a visible leak somewhere, it’s important to call a plumber to complete these plumbing repairs as soon as possible to ensure the water doesn’t cause any damage and you don’t waste any money.

    Collect Rainwater

    If local ordinances allow, collecting rainwater can be a great way to reduce your water bill. Especially if you can’t install a water-saving irrigation system due to the older construction, collecting rainwater allows you to keep your landscaping well-watered without having to depend on the city water supply. Plus, diverting rainwater in this way helps prevent erosion on your property since the water is being prevented from continuing on to the sewer.

    Install a New Toilet

    In addition to new plumbing fixtures, a new toilet can be a great water-saving investment for your older home. If your toilet has been around since before 1994, it’s using almost two gallons more per flush than a modern toilet. If you consider how many times a day you use the bathroom, that can add up quickly. Installing a new toilet is a fairly easy and quick process that will more than pay for itself over time.

    Be Water Smart

    Whether your home is old or new, you can save water using other methods, as well. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, and watering your lawn in the morning or evening to prevent evaporation are all great ways to save water. Ultimately, it’s important to treat water as a precious resource that is worth working to save. With a few easy fixes, it’s an effort that is totally accessible

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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

  15. 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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    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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. 


     

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    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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  20. 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!

  21. 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?

  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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