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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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    • 1,922 views
  • Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

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

  1. Obesity is a common and costly disease in America. The Center for Disease Control estimates over one third of Americans are obese which is defined as having a BMI of over 25. This third of Americans also cost our healthcare system an additional $147 Billion in 2008.

    The best way to lose weight and improve your health is through a combination of diet and increased physical activity which always should be started and managed under a healthcare providers supervision.

    Ways to improve your diet

    Simplify – Avoid diets that require complicated recipes or including more than 5 ingredients per meal. Remember KISS – Keep It Simple Silly.

    Track – Track to a level that provides you feedback on what you are eating. If you are detailed orientated, consider a diet diary app to calculated your daily intake down to the calorie. But if that’s not your style, use a simple tracking system like these so you know if you are having more good eating days or more bad eating days.

    Improve basic nutrition – An effective diet will need to restrict your calories by about 10% so eliminate any empty calories first so you don’t notice the reduction.

    Ways to improve your physical activity

    Make a schedule – And stick to it. One of the biggest challenges in working out is recovering from a missed workout. You are significantly more likely to miss a second and third workout if you miss the first planned workout. From the beginning, make a realistic schedule that fits your daily demands so you can set yourself up for success and positive reinforcement from consistently working out as you planned.

    Get a workout buddy – If you are highly social or are motivated by not letting a friend down then consist a workout buddy as they motivate both types of character traits. In addition, a partner can provide peer advice and words of encouragement to keep you on track.

    Pick activities you naturally enjoy – While variety is great, consistency is more important. Research has shown that learning a new cardiovascular exercise increases your risk of skipping future workouts while people who pick one favorite workout such as running or spin are more likely to continue working out.

    Fighting through mixed results

    It’s extremely common to try and to fail a few times. Don’t get discouraged and learn each time from what worked and what didn’t go so well. If you have managed to meet your weight loss goal but still are discouraged by a few ‘trouble spots’ where the fat seems to linger, you are not a lone. There are 3 places that personal trainers report seeing toning problems.

    1. Cheeks
    2. Neck
    3. Back of Arms

    The best way to tone all of these classical trouble areas start with improving your diet and increasing your cardiovascular active. However, once you reach a BMI under 25 and still have negative body images of yourself, you may want to find specific ways how to get rid of chubby cheeks or how to lose neck fat. The best specific strategies include adding highly targeted stretches and small movement strengthening exercises. These ultra targeted activities will NOT burn the fat from the specific area but you will be able to tighten the muscles in the trouble area which will help naturally hide the fat with tighter muscles.

    References

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    Most business owners have been put off by the idea of environmentally friendly business. It sounds expensive, it sounds like a lot of work and they believe that business has no benefits from switching to green practice. All these reasons not to “go green” are common misconceptions that have nothing to do with reality.

    As a matter of fact, making your business green help both your business and the environment. This practice contributes to your employees’ health and well-being, increases productivity, reduces your company’s bills and saves you a large sum of money.

    Let’s see 5 most affordable and efficient ways to make your business green.

    1. Switching to compact fluorescent and LED lights

    Although compact fluorescent bulbs cost more than incandescent bulbs, they are the easiest way to switch to a more energy efficient home and office. If you use them on a regular basis, you can expect visible money savings. Compact fluorescent bulbs last up to 12 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use much less energy.

    Although LED lights haven’t been popular due to their high price and narrow light beam, the development in LED technology has solved these issues. Today, they are the most cost-effective bulbs and soon, they will be even more popular than compact fluorescent lighting. Also, they do not contain toxic substances such as mercury.

    2. Recycling and reusing

    In the office, most people just toss their papers and plastic cups into a trash bin, without even thinking about reusing them. Do not let this happen again - ask around whether your community has a recycling program and encourage your employees to think green. Designate a “reuse” area where the employees would check in before ordering new supplies.

    Introduce additional green measures, such as: reusing envelopes, refill pens, tape dispensers, cardboard boxes and other office supplies when possible. Always purchase recycled ink cartridges, recycled paper products and used office furniture. Stop using paper and plastic cups and use porcelain mugs instead. You’ll see – the savings will be dramatic.

    3. Going paperless

    You can make your business almost completely paperless, in just several easy steps. Investing in the right technology may be expensive at the beginning, but it will surely pay off later. Buy a multifunctional device for your office, such as a photocopier which can fax, scan and print documents.

    Inspire your employees to use all advantages of web-based applications. Most of them are free of charge (basic accounts). They allow team members to communicate with each other, share files, take notes and track different phases of projects (Basecamp, Trello, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and so on).

    Also, it would be wise to hire transcription experts to type all your recorded business meetings, delivering them via email or any other means of file transfer.

    4. Using green cleaning products.

    After the working hours, most offices are thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed. Unfortunately, most of the products which are used in the process are toxic to both people’s bodies and the environment. Even seemingly harmless products that are used by the employees (dish and hand soaps, bathroom fresheners etc.) may be harmful if they are full of cheap and aggressive ingredients.

    Think about your employees ’ well-being – switching to green products will result in their (and your) improved health, less allergic reactions and better working conditions. Buy biodegradable and organic cosmetic and cleaning products that reduce exposure to toxic ingredients. There are lots of stores that sell such products and they are not necessarily more expensive than the regular ones.

    5. Installing water recycling system

    Plastic bottles of water may be recycled - but why generate such a waste? In the US alone, there were 32 million tons of plastic waste in 2011. Only a part of such huge waste can be recycled. The other part that can’t be recycled still poses a great threat to the environment.

    If you don’t want to partake in such terrible pollution, don’t buy bottled water for your employees - install a water filtration system in the office instead. The water in the office will be clean and fresh. More importantly, your business will save a significant amount of money as you are doing a good deed for the environment.

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    So summer has officially arrived in Australia and it’s getting hot! While it may seem like the easiest option to stay cool is to crank your aircon, it might not be the most cost effective way, and definitely not the best for the environment. Even with carbon tax gone, energy is still costing an arm and a leg. So to save you money during the next few months I have include 8 low-cost ways to keep your home nice and cool.

    Install Blinds or Shades

    If you don’t already have blinds or shades installed on your windows, consider doing that this summer. By shutting your blinds and curtains during the day you will help block the sun’s heat from warming up your home.

    Let The Cool Evening Air In

    During the night the weather tends to be much cooler. If this is the case where you live, make the most of these refreshing hours by opening your windows a few hours before you sleep. Be sure to close your windows and blinds the next morning to stop the heat from letting in.

    Close Your Windows

    Close your windows during the day may seem counterintuitive but this will stop the heat from warming your home. When you shut your windows and close doors to unused rooms you will find your home feeling much cooler. Don’t forget to reopen them at night to allow the nice cool night air in.

    Install Awnings To Keep The Sun Away From Your Windows

    Awnings can save you money on energy bills by cutting down on the heat your house absorbs. Not just this but also provide shade to outdoor areas giving you invaluable protection from sun and heat exposure. By shielding your home from the sun’s rays, you’ll cool your home down and have the option of enjoying refreshing time outdoors without overheating.

    Turn off lights When Not In Use

    Incandescent lights may produce a lot of lighting but they also put out just as much heat. This means by substituting your incandescent lights with cooler light emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescents (CFLs), you will be able to not only save energy but also keep your home cooler.

    Set Your Ceiling Fans to Rotate counter-clockwise

    When you use your fans strategically you will find they do a great job cooling your house down without the need for your AC. When it comes to your ceiling fans ensure it’s running in the right direction, counter-clockwise. You want to feel the breeze from your fan blowing down. This will help keep you cool during sleep time. And remember a ceiling fan cools people, not your room so switch it off when no one is there to save energy.

    Do your laundry, ironing and cooking during cooler parts of the day

    When using appliances that give out large amounts of heat you will find it won’t take long for your home to get really hot and stuffy. To save using the aircon, try doing your laundry, ironing and even cooking in the cooler parts of the day. Especially if your have a gas stove, try grilling your food instead or simply make meals that don’t require cooking like salads, sandwich’s, smoothies and juices. Additionally you can even consider cooking bulk meals or large quantities of grains once a week to save time throughout the week and reduce your need to cook during the day.

    Consider a few long-term improvements

    If you’re sick of paying so much money from running your aircon it might be worth to invest in longer-term adjustments to keeping your house really cool during summer. Some of these include installing insulated window films and attic insulation/fanning. You could also plant tress strategically to stop the sun beating down on your home.

    Bottom Line: If years ago our ancestors could survive without aircon than we definitely can as well. Just think smart and you’ll be able to keep nice and cool this summer without spending much money at all.

  4. Eco-friendly changing of your habits

    Every person counts. This is not only the case when it comes to elections, but when it comes to something far more serious, like saving the planet we live on. Whenever you think you are just one person and your deeds don’t really count much, think about this: “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” Like Ghandi put it, if you chose to think differently today, you can influence the others tomorrow, and maybe it’s your destiny to eventually make a crucial change. After all, it’s in your best interest.

    Transportation alternatives

    Try to imagine yourself riding an eco-friendly car. If you’re not in situation to invest into one right now, consider switching to compressed natural gas. It is way cheaper and it will save your environment from bad vehicle emissions. Also, you can walk more or ride a bike. This way, not only will you be in better shape, but you will also save money.

    Saving energy

    The world is energy deficient. Making enough energy for all people directly affects of pollution. Unfortunately, people are not aware of the fact that turning off even one lamp can be significant. Turn around while reading this and check if we were right. At least one device is unnecessarily turned on, we’re betting on it. Take first step in order to help your planet and turn it off. Were we wrong? Congratulations. You already have a high level of conciseness. So what else you can do to save the energy loss? You can switch to LED lights or even consider making your own energy investing in solar panels.

    Recycling

    This is another way to act ‘green’ and keep earning money. Different materials have different recycling prices. For instance, metals like aluminum and copper are the most expensive. Glass is a lot cheaper while paper and plastic are the cheapest. If you have huge amounts of these materials and don’t know what to do with them, here’s an opportunity to get rid of it – recycle! However, if you will still be needing it but you have nowhere to keep it, consider investing in container shelters.

    Cultivation of organic food

    Did you ever consider planting some agro cultures in your own garden? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to harvest a cabbage, carrots or radishes that you grown? Eating more organic vegetables and less meat will make you feel healthier, stronger and happier. But, it’s even better thing to know that you’ve help your planet by saving energy for its production. Therefore, you increased pollution too.

    Become and stay ‘green’

    If you’re involved in media or politics use your influence to contribute to the better future of our planet. It will only take a few minutes from your day, but to someone else it would mean a lot. Remember that you owe it to your kids, because they are stay on Earth, after you’ll gone. Imagine a place where you would like to leave your offspring, and fight for it.

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    Concrete pools are the ideal type of swimming pool Melbourne. You can also add an addition space for sunbathing, for entertainment, and just relaxation, in your swimming pool. These types of pools have more advantages when we compare it with the other types that are used these days. This concrete pools are strong, long lasting, and gives good functional value to the swimming pools. The concrete is the most general substance which is used in the construction process of the in-ground pools. You can get a varied option to choose from in this type of construction; the most important feature is that people can design their pool according to their need and the customized designs. The process of the construction will take 4 to 5 months, and the charges of the pool’s building may depend upon the constructor, your choice of designs, the standard, and also the finishing style.

    Below mentioned are some benefits and drawbacks of the concrete pools, they include:

    Benefits:

    · Design flexibility: As powerful and continual as concrete happens to be, this building content has long been described for its extreme flexibility for design. The developer of concrete private pools will allow for unique, customized design features, such as unusual ends, disappearing boundaries, islands, separated levels and many more such things.

    · Strength: Concrete is known for its sustained strength, and this is the reason why people go for concrete pools in Melbourne. When tangible private pools are established, they are shored up using wood and metal. Then the outcome is magnificently constructed pool that will hold up for decades. While the tangible share development process will take a longer period due to its complexes, the completed product can be one that is truly a specially designed work of art that is intended to last for a life time

    · Beauty: Concrete pools present buyers the benefit of just about any surface that they want. Concrete can be completed with stones, variety glass, vinyl fabric, flooring, ceramic tiles, paint and a mass of other equipments. Although the pool configuration on the floor will be made of strong, sustained concrete, but the outer area can take on just about any look possible.

    Drawbacks:

    • A high lifetime cost: Concrete pools will need to be remodeled every 10-20 years. This includes restructuring and re-tiling the pool at a cost of $8k-$15k or much higher based on material used.
    • More chemical use: Because the surface area of tangible private pools is very permeable, more substances and purification are required to prevent plankton. This also involves a lot of chemical usage for the purification of the water which prevents the users from falling sick or catching any allergies from the water.

    • More maintenance: Concrete pools also need to be frequently boomed or taken with a sheer sweep to eliminate plankton from the floor or the total surface.
    • Longer install time: Concrete pools, take longer to set up....usually 2-4 months.

    Regular servicing also includes keeping the surface clean. As, with any tangible accumulation from fungus can cause pool, and the outdoor patio areas to become slick. Periodic power cleaning or light cleansing with a light soap will eliminate any dust build up and will ensure that your pools are clean and safe.

    The professionals for the concrete pools in Melbourne will be able to offer you expert advice while in the construction process, and will do the work in stages. When you consider the above mentioned points you will be in a best place to decide on what you need to go for.

    Above mentioned details intended to reader who are seeking for information about concrete pools. Click here for more information which may give you few more idea.

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    How much do you know about Mt.Davidson? Besides being the highest point in California and one of the original Seven Hills there is so much more to this interesting feature that will definitely intrigue you. It is also one of the 44 hills in San Francisco. This is just the basic stuff. Do you know anything about the origins, how it got its name? Well, this one is for you.

    The mountain was given an honorary name after George Davidson, then Chief of the US Coast & General Survey’s Pacific Operations. He was also a scientist, and one of his notable projects was commissioning an astronomical observatory on the West Coast. Click here for more facts

    Hiking

    The mountain is at 125 Dalewood Way. The 0.44 mile distance marks an interesting hiking experience for hikers, the distance to the top of the hill. The trailers are usually graded properly though from time to time you might find them slightly overgrown with vegetation. It is an incredibly easy hike all the same.

    In terms of the exposure, the trail is characteristic of lots of shade and a little sun here and there, moderate traffic and dirt trails. It should take you roughly one hour to make the hike. One of the best things about hiking on Mt.Davidson is that you can basically plan your hiking at any time, any season, though it is open between 6 in the morning and 10 in the evening. On the brighter side for pet lovers, you are allowed to bring your dogs with you.

    Tourist attraction

    The lush greens turn into a major tourist attraction in February just as the season turns. This brings forth wildflowers like the mule’s ears and the California poppy, the hog fennel and the checker bloom among a host of other incredible plantation that blooms right around that time. The privately owned summit does attract a lot of visitors, and the park at the top of the hill is also another incredible feature that will definitely appeal to visitors. There is public transportation all the way to the Park, 36 Teresita Muni line.

    The Cross

    Besides the naturel attraction that it is, Mt.Davidson has since become famous especially for those who are religious, for the cross, a gigantic one that was first erected at the site in 1923. Later on in 1924 another cross was erected, but it was burned down a year later. In 1931 arsonists torched a third cross that was also erected atop the mountain. The cross is significant to those of Christian faith especially Catholics, and this cross is often illuminated during Easter every other year. In 1933 after the third arsonist attack, the burned down cross was replaced with a steel and concrete cross.

    If you are a serious movie fan, this was the iconic cross in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 set, Dirty Harry. Every year during Easter there are walking tours held through the trail. Apart from that there is a clean-up session every month that is aimed at keeping the mountain area clean and free of debris.

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  7. Today is the International Coffee Day. If you start every single day with the cup of aromatic brown drink, you are one of the millions that are celebrating today. Drinking coffee is not just a habit, it’s a ritual. What’s more pleasant than making a big cup of good coffee with milk (or without) and drinking it in bed while reading a book or a magazine?

    “Let’s have a cup of coffee". I’m sure you all get excited when you hear that. It means not just drinking coffee, but also meeting a friend, sharing some stories and emotions.

    Except of the emotional delight here are 5 more benefits of drinking coffee:

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    It contains a lot of antioxidants

    An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules, so if you want your body to function properly, it’s good to make sure you provide yourself enough of it. Some fruits and vegetables are rich of antioxidants. Coffee too. So, it you have concerns that your coffee addiction is bad for your health… well, that’s not 100% true.

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    It helps you concentrate

    You get up at 8 o’clock in the morning at your first thought is “coffee, please”, you are not the only one. In fact, drinking coffee is not only an usual morning habit. It’s proven that coffee actually helps you not only to wake up, but also to stay focused. So, if you have a list of important tasks to do today, make yourself a cup of excellent coffee. If you have to learn for an important exam, coffee will help you stay concentrated. It gives you energie too - if you are moving home, for, example, have a cup of coffee first... or call professional removalists in Melbourne to do the job for you.

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    It boosts metabolism

    There are few health benefits of drinking coffee in the morning and one of them is that it boosts metabolism. So, don’t miss your mug of coffee, guys. A glass of warm water before you have breakfast helps too.

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    It’s a great reason to meet friends

    “Let’s go for a coffee” is one of the most common used invitations when you want to meet somebody. We always serve our guest a cup of coffee after the meal, too. In some societies drinking coffee is a whole ritual. There are special ways of making it and serving it in Turkey, for example. In some offices people enjoy drinking coffee together and talking about the weekend or their free time for a while before we start dealing with the daily tasks.

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    Some more reasons why coffee is actually great for your health

    A fact that you may don’t know about drinking coffee is that it can lossen the symptoms of Parkinson disease!

    If you are a woman, coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.

    Coffee can make you more intelligent and it keeps your brain in great condition.

    It reduces the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.

  8. Green, sustainable building is conquering the world of architecture. It’s no wonder - building homes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is rewarding on many levels. By building homes that are “green” you’re minimizing impact on both people’s health and the natural environment.

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    Image Credit: GJ Gardner

    What are the main characteristics of a green home? To begin with, it is a building that efficiently uses natural resources and alternative sources of energy. It is a home that preserves the health of its occupants and helps in reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation.

    Let’s see what every green home must include in order to be a true, eco-friendly building.

    Materials used in green building

    Whenever we build, there has to be some sort of environmental cost. We often use natural materials and expendable energy resources uncontrollably. People think that using only wood, for example, will immediately make their house or lodge sustainable, but this is far from the truth.

    The first and the most important rule when it comes to materials is: always use sustainable, local materials that are recycled or recyclable. This often means reusing existing materials and reducing waste. Timber can be used in green building too, if it’s locally and sustainably sourced and FSC-certified.

    Also, the more processed the material is, the more energy was spent (embodied) to produce it. Therefore, green homes should be constructed from materials that have low embodied energy. Alternative forms of concrete are always a better option than conventional concrete, the production of which is responsible for high carbon emissions.

    Sometimes, even materials we consider “junk” can be used in the construction of a green home: tires, bottles, cans, materials left over from the pre-existing building, etc. Wood from fast growing trees (instead of hardwood), recycled stone, rammed earth, straw bale and mud brick are the traditional materials that most builders turn to nowadays.

    Clever design for an energy efficient home

    The design is another important factor in making a building “green”. Sustainable homes are smartly built – which means they are designed to last long, to fit the climate and use all the benefits their environment provides. Passive design almost always involves positioning homes in relation to the sun and shade to reduce the use of electricity. This can be done is several ways: by spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, insulation, shading, glazing and using thermal mass.

    The house should be placed on a ground that receives a lot of sunlight in the winter, with large windows facing the sun and collecting “passive” solar power. Prevention of heat accumulation in the summer can be obtained by strategically placing trees, roof overhangs and horizontal slats. A well-designed floor plan can only help in achieving energy efficiency. Also, adding solar panels can save energy even more and make a building truly eco-friendly.

    Insulation

    Adding good insulation is a crucial thing in the building process - it is the most effective addition you can make to your home. Insulation, shading and waterproofing can save up to an amazing 45 percent on monthly energy bills.There are lots of insulation options. However, the top sustainable insulation materials are sheep wool, cotton, aerogel, polystyrene and icynene.

    We know that polystyrene doesn’t sound very “green”, but it’s an outstanding insulator that can be recycled. It brings structural integrity to walls and provides excellent thermal resistance. Wool fibers are perhaps the healthiest and most fire resistant insulation option.

    Water management

    A sustainable building must include water saving in addition to energy saving. An excellent way of saving water is rainwater harvesting – collection, filtration and use of rainwater. This reduces the need for main water supplies and can lead to significant economic and environmental benefits. Rainwater is collected in leak-proof tanks and can be used for many purposes.

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    Image Credit: Wikimedia

    Swimming pools are big energy spenders and a real luxury in water scarce areas. Therefore, modern green homes feature increasingly popular natural pools and ponds. Water in such pools and ponds is cleaned with the help of plants and bacteria and no chemicals are used in the process.

    One of the steps in being a responsible water consumer includes using products and appliances that save water significantly. Your home must be equipped with adequate plumbing products, sanitary ware and white goods that use less water than others.

  9. It feels good when you are associated with some kind of charity. It gives you a sense of fulfillment and a satisfaction of doing something for someone who might not be as fortunate as you are. For all, making cash donations might not always be possible. Thankfully, there are places like Outreach Center who strictly follows one principle: donation can be in any form. It can be real estate or land or simply the junk old car that you would no longer use. Outreach Center is that one non-profit organization that offers a car donation charity. The vehicle donation program is not only restricted to New Jersey. Outreach Center accepts used and old cars and channelizes the proceeds from the same to fund a good number of programs that are meant to bring a sea change in the lives of the underprivileged children. Outreach center believes that all children have the right to enjoy the basic necessities in life. Through their car donation charity, they are keeping an avenue open for all such children to bring about a change in their life.

    Benefits of This Vehicle Donation Program

    As far as the vehicle donation program goes, there are clearly two winners. One is the car donor, the champion of this noble cause and the other are the innumerable children who are going to benefit from the funds that is going to bring a positive change in their life and help them become better human beings. As far as the car donor is concerned, every car donated to Outreach Center is tax deductible. Hence, they get to enjoy a lot of tax deductions.

    What Questions Should You Ask In Relation To The Car Donation Charity from Outreach Center?

    It is not wrong to be inquisitive or gather some useful information regarding the car donation charity. So, there are some very common questions that you need to get answers for. The following is a list of common questions that every car owner wishes to get answer to.

    What Are The Things That I can Donate?

    Apart from cars, Outreach Center accepts donations in the form of boats, RVs, travel trailers, fleet vehicles and real estate.

    What do I Need to Do For the Donation Process?

    As the vehicle donor, you will need to provide the title to the vehicle. If the paperwork is not in place, not an issue as other arrangements can always be made. The contact details are to be provided either online or by putting across a call. A convenient pickup time is then scheduled and the tow truck is sent by Outreach Center to pick the vehicle from the mentioned location.

    Which States Are Covered By Outreach Center Under Their Vehicle Donation Program?

    The many places where the car donation charity works includes Arizona, Alabama, California, Florida, Miami, Maryland, Kansas, New York, Montana and more.

    How is the value of the vehicle determined?

    According to the IRS, car donors can claim a tax deduction on a donated vehicle for the lower of its FMV (Fair Market Value) or $500, or the selling price at auction if the amount should exceed $500. However, if the donation is among the donations valued above $500, it is ensured that you and your accountant receive the paperwork necessary to document larger donations.

    Author Bio: Joana Hall is a freelance writer with many years of experience in writing on varied topics. Her current write up speaks about Outreach Center and their car donation charity that is making a big difference in the lives of many children.

  10. First and foremost, knowing exactly what organic wine is, is the key to making it properly.

    Grapes grown organically are the first thing required for making of organic wine. When a certain fruit or vegetable is grown organically it means there were no pesticides and/or chemicals involved in its growing. Many manufacturers of wine tend to break the rules of organic. It certainly pays off more to include some manipulating in wine-making, just to have it last longer and taste better. But since you have decided to make wine yourself, we don’t question your aspiration to get that organic wine just right, in a proper way.

    So, what you first need to do is gather supplies. Naturally, this sounds like a logical step to take and you are wondering why do we even mention it. Well, because more often than not beginners in wine making tend to omit certain things which then leads to the wine getting ruined by bacteria or bugs. To avoid that, gather these supplies:

    - An airlock

    - A 1-gallon carboy (a glass container with a small neck)

    - Clean wine bottles with corks or screw caps

    - A 2-gallon crock or glass jar

    - A thin plastic tube to be used for siphoning

    - Campden tablets (optional)

    Once you have all this, the games of wine making can begin! For the record, wine can be made of any type of fruit. So, if you want to experiment and try something unusual choose something else rather than berries and grapes. The most important thing is to choose fruit at the peak of its flavor.

    Cleaning the fruit

    Washing the fruit is easy - clean it of any dirt and/or rotten parts. Remove the leaves. Rinse it thoroughly. Done!

    You’d think everyone is cleaning the fruit before doing anything with it, right? Well, not really. Some wine-makers like not to wash the fruit before crushing it. Given that fruit has natural yeasts on its skin, wine can be made with using only the yeast from the fruit's skin and the air. The negative aspect of not washing the fruit is that wild yeast get to grow and they are likely to produce foul flavors. While, when you wash the fruit you can control the taste and adjust it to you liking.

    Crushing the fruit

    Crushing the fruit is done with your hands or a potato masher. All you should do is squeeze the fruit so that it releases its juices. You should repeat the process of until the crock you have previously put washed grapes in is filled with 1/2 inches of the top with fruit juice. If there isn’t enough fruit and juice, top it off with filtered water.

    To kill bacteria and wild yeast, add a a Campden tablet. It will release sulfur dioxide into the mixture which will effectively kill wild yeast and bacteria. If you’d rather not use a tablet, you can alternatively pour 2 cups of boiling water over the fruit.

    Also, when using water, avoid tap as it contains additives and it will affect the taste of your wine. Make it your business to use filtered or spring water only.

    Add honey for sweetness of your organic wine. Limiting honey to two cups will give your wine not so sweet a taste. You can, of course, add more if you like your wine sweeter. If you don’t like honey, you can add (brown) sugar instead of honey.

    After this is done, it’s time you added the yeast! Stir it into the mixture with a long-handled spoon.

    Fermenting the Wine

    To keep bugs out of the crock, cover it with something firm yet such a fabric that will allow air to flow in. Perfect cloth would a t-shirt or a stretch cloth. Just make sure you secure it in place with a large rubber band. The covered crock should be placed in a warm area overnight, with a temperature around 70 degrees. The day after you have made the mixture, you should follow the process of stirring it thoroughly.

    The stirring should go on for 4 days:

    - 1st day - stir every 4 hours or so- other 3 days - a few times per day

    You’ll know fermentation process when you see it - as the yeast moves into action, the mixture should start bubbling. This will lead to delicious wine.

    Three days after it begins, the bubbling will slow down which is a sign it’s time to strain and siphon the liquid.

    - Siphon the liquid into your carboy for longer-term storage

    - Affix the airlock to the opening to prevent oxygen from coming in and spoiling your wine while allowing for the release of gas

    Let the wine age for nine months. If you are in a rush to try it, then leave it for at least one month.

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    Green technology can be a confusing concept for many people, and one of the reasons for this is because there are no official criteria for what makes technology green. For example, an app on your smartphone, an energy efficient fridge and a wind turbine could all be categorised as green tech.

    Because of this, there are many misconceptions about green technology, and this can make it hard for consumers to make the best decisions. Here are a few myths that you may want to keep in mind when it comes to greener technology.

    Everything About Green Technology Is Eco-Friendly

    When you buy a green technology product, you may think that it is going to be made from greener materials, but this is not always the case. Its green credentials may be that it uses less power, but the actual materials may not come into it at all.

    Or it may save you energy, but it may not be made from materials that can be recycled. Quite simply, not all manufacturers will take this into account when they design technology products.

    Try to look for technology that is green in more ways than one. Not just in its use of less power, for example, but also in the materials it is made from and how it is recycled.

    Green Products Are Always the Best Option

    Sometimes you may be led to believe that simply by choosing an eco-product you are doing your bit for the environment. You may see a new computer advertised as eco-friendly because it uses less power, but leaving that computer on all day may use more energy than turning off another non-green computer when you are not using it. Green technology is not therefore automatically better, and it requires your input to get the most out of it.

    Green Is Always More Costly

    Many people will automatically assume that green tech is always the more expensive option. Sometimes this is true, but not always. Green technology is often about longer-term benefits. You might pay more in the immediate future, but down the line you may be able to make large savings. And you have to remember that savings also come in the form of environmental savings.

    Other green technologies could help you to make more immediate savings. Something like the Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, could be considered green technology, and it could really help you to save you money by cutting the amount of energy you use. The new smart meters may also be able to help you cut down on your energy usage by increasing your awareness of how much energy you use each day.

    When it comes to saving money, there are many factors to consider, and it's important to look at all of these together. For example, you may want to use something like the Nest thermostat while also choosing a more suitable energy tariff to reduce your bills. You could also use an online tool to help you do this, such as the Tariff Information Label search tool on the npower.com website. So don't just rely on one type of technology to save you money, and consider all your options.

    It's How You Use It that Matters

    The most important thing to remember is that it is how you use green technology that matters. Reducing your energy use may well involve choosing greener options, but don't stop at that and assume you are doing enough. The fact is you may also have to change your habits to cut energy usage and reduce your bills.

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    The roof of a building should do more than keep the rain out. After all, when properly designed and planned, a roof can also be an energy efficiency power house, thus keeping the building occupants comfortable and saving money at the same time.

     

    The options for creating an energy efficient roof, or just improving an existing one, are numerous. This means that homeowners will certainly find one or more options that work for them and their budget.

     

    Attic insulation

     

    Attics are neglected corners of a home that residents rarely visit; unfortunately, this also means that the insulation in an attic is generally insufficient. Homeowners looking to lower energy bills should check that the insulation in their attic has a high enough R-Value for their climate and that there aren't any gaps. For best results, the attic floor and ceiling should be insulated.

     

    Install a cool roof

     

    Not all roofs are created equal, and there's almost no match for the cool roof's energy efficiency. Made of a variety of materials, there is always one shared characteristic between cool roofs: a highly reflective surface. Most homeowners don't want to start from scratch on their existing roof, so this option is generally only used in new construction. However, there are additional considerations to remember before installing a cool roof: special care is needed to avoid mould and heating bills will be higher in cold months.

     

    Roof paint

     

    Homeowners generally only worry about the paint on the walls of their home, but a roof needs to be maintained too. Higher quality product will help your energy efficient roof last longer and look better too. When selecting a new paint, remember, lighter colours reflect more heat, which means less need for cooling costs. Not all roofs are suitable for painting. According to Roofline, painting is suitable for several roof types, including concrete tiles and metal surfaces such as Colorbond.

     

    Solar panels

     

    Solar energy systems are only getting more popular and, as a result, more affordable. However, they aren't a great option for every home. A specialized contractor should be hired to access the home's exposure and potential problems, like trees that will block the sun. Even where challenges are present, there are some workarounds for homeowners who really want to harness the power of the sun.

     

    Green roofs

     

    While solar panels aren't exactly considered attractive, green roofs most certainly are. Not every building is fit for a green roof as specific architectural requirements must be met. The possibilities for a green roof, however, are essentially endless: vegetable gardens, small trees, flower beds, etc. As an added benefit, the green roof will be removing carbon dioxide from the air while it's being energy efficient.

     

    Avoiding asphalt shingles

     

    Asphalt shingle roofs, while by far the most popular option in parts of the world, are also one of the least energy efficient. If shingles, for whatever reason, are the only option, then check out shingles that use a highly reflective surface or have solar panel membranes built in.

    Unless homeowners are proactive, odds are that their hard earned cash is literally flowing right out their roof. While the most energy efficient roofs are built from scratch, almost all existing roofs can still be improved with some simple changes. However, homeowners who are lucky enough to be building their own house from scratch should really invest in the most energy efficient roof possible.

     

    Image source: Flickr - phototouring

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    Changing times call for making changes in our lifestyle. The way we live today is very different from the way our elders lived. The environment today is no longer as clean as it was even a decade ago, and problems such as global warming, the ozone hole, and rising pollution levels loom large over our planet.

    While a lot of people do want to do something about it, many are clueless about how they can help. Charity begins at home, it is said. So, why not start with modifying the way you live? You can always start by making certain changes to your home décor in a way which is supportive of the environment.

    While redecorating your home to make it more eco-friendly may seem cumbersome, it is really quite easy. Just a few additions and deletions from your home will help you make it aesthetic as well as pro-nature.

    1. Get Rid of the Clutter

    First and foremost you need to de-clutter your living space to make sure that it is no longer stuffed with things that you do not require, need, or can harm the environment.

    Think of it as a cleansing ritual. By clearing your home of the unwanted stuff, you’re letting go of the negative, thereby making room for the positive and productive to enter your home. And by deciding to go green, you’ve already made a great start.

    2. Brighten It Up

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    (Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/32580797278826904/)

    Stark white walls may make a home look like it is in dire need of some personality and dimension. So, you might want to add a splash of color to the walls by painting them. You can do so in an eco-friendly way.

    Opt for paints that are low or nil in VOC or volatile organic compounds. These compounds are nothing but harmful emissions from paints (the off-putting smell that most newly-painted homes give off). These paints are high in lead content and hence, extremely dangerous to people and the environment.

    By choosing low/no VOC paints, you will protect your family, pets, and nature from their harmful effects.

    Alternatively, you can also use wallpapers to add color to your walls. You can cover your floor in stone or ceramic tiles, or wooden panels as these are eco-friendly too.

    3. Use Eco-friendly Art

    A great way of adding character and sophistication to your home in a jiffy is by using wall paintings. These also come in eco-friendly options, so make sure you scout for those and put them up. They are, typically, made from clay or milk-based paints and are very low in chemical content.

    Using eco-friendly art does not mean you will have to comprise on the colors and designs, it only means that you’re going for art that promotes a natural way of doing things.

    Eco-friendly art supplies are available in plenty, so if you decide to create a masterpiece for your home yourself, make sure you use those.

    4. Use Natural Fibers

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    (Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/7177680627509295/)

    If you like to use carpets at home, make sure they’re eco-friendly too. Instead of those made from synthetic materials, choose carpets that are made of natural ones like wool. You also have the option of installing modular carpet tiles, which utilize non-toxic dyes and colors and are made from recycled materials.

    Apart from being toxic-free, they are also convenient-to-maintain and easy-to-install. They can be returned to the manufacturer for recycling once their shelf-life is over.

    Another area where you can make improvements is when choosing day-to-day home items such as mattresses, beddings, and pillows. Go for those stuffed with wool as that will ensure that your house stays free of allergy-causing dust mites.

    On the same lines, say no to plastic, particle board, and chromed metal as well.

    5. Build a Small Kitchen Garden

    Even if you’re spatially-challenged at home, you can still make room for a small kitchen or an herb garden at home. You can grow useful plants and herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, and thyme on your windowsill, and something more ambitious like cherry tomatoes and lemons in your verandah, stairway, deck or roof.

    By planting a kitchen garden, you will be doing your bit to increase the green cover, thereby reducing your carbon footprint. Additionally, you also get the benefit of eating fresh home-grown produce and saving money.

    6. Give a Thought to Your Appliances

    When buying new electronic gadgets and appliances for your home, go for ones that are the most energy-efficient. You need to look for a label with the Energy Star logo as it mentions all the information you will need when making a decision.

    And while they may seem a tad expensive at the time you buy them, know that they will go a long way in bringing your energy bills down, thereby saving you a lot of money.

    This also applies to light fixtures. Replace your old ones with energy-efficient or solar-powered fixtures. Use LED or CFL lights as they burn cooler, give a better glow, as well as help you cut electricity costs.

    7. Old Furniture Turned New

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    (Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/273875221061844776/)

    Thinking of giving your home a new lease of life by changing the furniture? What if we told you that you need not change the entire stuff?

    More often than not, what your old furniture really needs is some sanding and re-painting to look as good as new again. Unless it is badly damaged, you can retain it and simply get it repainted and/or re-polished. This way you save a lot of trees from being cut for their wood.

    If you must buy new furniture pieces, shop locally, thereby avoiding the huge carbon footprint produced by moving sofas and other furniture halfway across the world. Look for those made from sustainable materials and carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo.

    You can also buy old/antique furniture to discourage the consumption of non-renewable resources. Antiques will help make your space look more sophisticated and attractive.

    Conclusion

    The next time you decide to do your home interior, think green, think environment-friendly, and think sustainability. You will do well in taking the above factors into consideration when decorating/redecorating your house. They will go a long way in providing you with a home and a lifestyle that helps save the environment as well as your money.

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    When most people envision a landfill, the images that most likely come to mind are those of great heaps and mountains of garbage with a steady stream of dump trucks running day and night and piling more and more on top of what is already existing. While, part of this image may be accurate, the modern landfill is quite different. With people becoming more aware on a daily basis of the impact their actions have on the earth, even landfills are being designed with conservation and sustainability in mind.

    The Environmental Protection Agency summarizes modern landfills as "well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations." In order to ensure that these regulations are being followed in modern landfills there are various protocols in place.

    One of the first things considered in the planning of a landfill is location. They must be built in a suitable geographic location, away from wetlands, faults, or any restricted areas. Once a location is chosen some sort of liner must be laid in place to prevent any contamination of groundwater and underlying soil. One of the more popular liners currently being used is a geosynthetic liner. These liners are made up of a very thin layer of clay sandwiched between two layers of some sort of geotextile. These are durable and more efficient to install than the more traditional clay liners. A geosynthetic liner is also highly popular in areas with significantly varying temperatures. They stand up well to freeze and thaw cycles. Many modern landfills also consist of some sort of leachate collection and removal system. This is installed on top of the liner and acts to remove sludge and other harmful leachate from the landfill for treatment and removal.

    Modern landfills have a much smaller impact on the environment than landfills of the past. Once in place, operating practices are strictly monitored. Periodically, the waste is covered with a layer of compact soil. This helps to protect public health by minimizing odor, insects, and rodents. There are also scheduled ground water checks to ensure that nothing harmful from the landfill has leached into the groundwater. When it does come time for the landfill to close, there are strict protocols in place to continue to protect the environment and help to provide long term care for the closed landfill areas, making our earth a better and cleaner place for all.

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    With so many housing developments today, forests are slowly dying. Forest serves as the natural habitat to a lot of animal species. What will happen if the forests are gone? First possibility is that animals will dwell with human in cities or towns. Can you imagine sleeping soundly then you realize that a python is next to you? Or a big bear is sitting in your veranda? Second possibility is that wild animals will die, which eventually affects the food chain.

    Dead forest is sure to have negative impact to the next generation. There will be no more forest to hike or trek.Lush green environment will become limited. Needless to say, many other detrimental effects will likely happen. This is why it is critical to help save the forest. In our own little ways, there are things we can do. If you cut trees, be sure to replace it new seedlings. For instance if you want to cut 1 old tree, you should plant 5 new trees. If all people share the same mission, our forest will stay until the next generation and the next.

    Image from sxc.hu

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    Renewable energy companies have been in a tough situation for more than twenty years (since the beginning of renewables' sector). Two fires, two enemies to fight, the first is the entire fossil fuels' sector, the second is the internal competition in its own sector. The first is a strong, old and rich institution, with thousands of billion of dollars and has exponents like Shell, BP, Total, Exxon and Chevron. The second is also strong and in a long-term can monopolize the entire energy market, it's the internal competition in renewable energy sector, where companies double their profits in less than a year (like First Solar or SunPower) and hydroelectric sector growth rises every year of 3.1%.

    The slow but inevitable ascent of renewables in the energy market can't be stopped although it can be delayed and this delay can represent a high environmental price and the Earth (and also us) will pay it. We're talking about the deadly consequences of climate change, triggered by an abudance of fossil fuels usage. It's vital, for our lives and for our environment, that fossil fuels leave the market in the fastest way as possible and to do that alternatives are required, strong alternatives. To improve and strengthen remewable energy market one of the two enemies must be fought: fossil fuels (already happening) and internal competition. How can renewable energy companies overpass this obstacle and become a strong, united market? Joint ventures.

    Someone already thought about that, like Solar Power Inc. The company, which 71% is owned by China's LDK Solar Co., has formed a partnership with Wircon GmbH to build projects in the U.K. The joint venture intends to own and sell the projects it develops in the U.K., Roseville, California-based Solar Power said today in a statement. The company initially intends to build about 55 megawatts of capacity. This will go to reach U.K. goal of the 30% of the country's power from renewable sources by 2020. In Japan the lack of land territory brought Kyocera Corp. and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. to build two solar power stations designed to float on the surface of reservoirs.

    I've mentioned it already before but it's here again: DESERTEC project, building renewable power plants in territories with an abundance of solar and wind energy and connecting three continents with energy infrastructures. The consortium which administrates the project is one of the biggest companies union in the world. The Dii GmbH is composed by E.ON, ABB, Siemens, Enel Green Power, Terna, State Grid Croporation of China, Deutsche Bank, Flagsol, Abengoa Solar, Schott Solar and RWE. This consortium administrates more than $500 billion and operates in three continents.

    Another consortium focused on energy infrastructures is Medgrid (focused more on Middle East) and formed by Abengoa, GDF Suez, EDF and other companies. Between the many examples of joint ventures in the world there's the cooperation between First Solar and BELECTRIC for the construction of PV power plants or 3SUN, the biggest solar power joint venture in Europe including Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics.

    Joint ventures help new companies to invest in foreign countries and strengthen relationships between companies increasing the profits and the total capacity of renewable energy power plants all over the world. But if we want to accelerate the process the number of joint ventures and consortia have to double. The final target? A global renewble energy network, connecting all the companies of the sector. In fact, a renewable energy OPEC doesn't exist, it must be created. In a world where everything is connected it's unthinkable that renewable energy companies are isolated and under the pressure of fossil fuels companies. Like oil is transported from Middle East to the U.S. so renewable energy must be an international fuel to power a clean and green future.

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    If you are thinking about moving, you should consider being as eco-friendly as possible. There are many small things that you can do that will help the environment while making your move a simpler process. Enjoy using these tips whenever you are thinking about relocating your home.

    Share What You Have

    If you have a lot of items, you may consider donating some to charity so that you can rent a smaller moving truck. This will be a good choice for the environment, and you can feel good about donating items to help people that really need them. You can donate everything from clothing to furniture.

    Never Buy New Boxes

    There is no reason to buy new boxes to pack items when you can use boxes that have already been used. Check out your local grocery store or even a liquor store that may have plenty of boxes that you can have for free. You want to make sure that you pick out sturdy boxes and make sure that you have the bottoms of the boxes taped securely so that nothing falls out during the moving process.

    Be Creative with Packing Materials

    Instead of purchasing packing peanuts or bubble wrap to wrap your fragile household items in, be creative. You can wrap items in towels or shirt. You are going to be packing these items anyways, so using them to protect your breakable items is a good idea. You can also use old newspaper to wrap glass and other valuable items in so that they do not get broken during transit.

    Rent a Storage Unit

    We all have stuff that we don’t use but they have a certain sentimental value to us and getting rid of them is no option. When that is a case, finding long term local storage unit to store your belonging is a good solution. It will enable you to access them whenever you want and leave you with fever possessions that require

    less vehicles for transport – reducing your carbon footprint even further.

    Buy New Items

    If you are moving a long way away from your home, it may be more cost effective to buy new furniture and appliances. You can find many nice furniture items in your new location by visiting furniture stores or yard sales. You can often buy a nice looking piece of furniture that is gently used for less than the amount of money it would take to ship your old furniture to your new location. You can also invest in energy star appliances that are good for the environment and can help you save money on your energy bill each month.

    Find the Best Way to Move Your Items

    You have many different moving options to choose from depending on how far you are going to be traveling and how many items you are going to be bringing with you. You can rent a trailer and pull it behind your vehicle or rent a moving van or truck. If you need to, you can also hire a professional moving company. There are many companies out there that specialize in green moving techniques. You should take your time and enjoy finding the best moving solution for your specific needs.

    You want to find ways to move that are good for the environment. As added bonus, many eco-friendly solutions are also very affordable. You can enjoy saving money and having a safe moving experience at the same time.

    Image credit: Flickr - swanksalot

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    Efficiently doing your job when you move from one home to another, will not only save you time and money, but it will also undoubtedly spare your nerves. What are the characteristics of an efficient move? Read on and find out for yourself.

    Prepare a List!

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    A list is the very first thing you need to create before your moving day has even come. It is essential that you do so, because having so many things on your head, and not being able to fall back on a sheet of paper that has everything you need, spells disaster. The list in itself must be clear and informative, be sure to have a page or a column for every room, that way you'll be sure that nothing is misplaced and that everything is going to plan. This will be your safety net, the neater it is, the better it will dampen your fall.

    Boxes, boxes, boxes!

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    There are stores that will sell you moving boxes, or you can also nicely ask your local grocer, they have an abundance of them that are not needed. Moving companies also have boxes of their own, and some rent out or sell them beforehand, so you are all set when the moving day comes. Regardless of how you acquire them, they are the backbone of your operation so make sure you get some sturdy ones, that way they won't fall apart.

    To be extra careful, put the clothes that you plan on keeping, in plastic vacuum sealed bags, suck the air out and place them in sturdier boxes to ensure that there will be no moisture dampening them. Wardrobe are what most moving companies use to move large quantities of material around. They are tall and wide wooden boxes and they are probably one of the most efficient ways of doing it. You can neatly arrange everything, like a tettris game, to make sure that nothing will be loose and be broken during the drive. If you are doing the moving yourself, you can still call a moving company and rent out such a box, or if you are hiring be sure to mention that you want one.

    Dealing With Fragile Things!

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    Bubble warp, while a very effective ally when shipping goods, it alone cannot save your precious china. It used in accordance with a smart arrangement of the boxes and their contents will save you many tears over the shattered heirloom. When dealing with plates wrapping each individual one is quite time consuming, and although it might seem like it would work, it is more harmful you might think. The key word here is friction, a lack of it during a sharper turn in the van, might send some of the contents of those boxes flying out or rattling against one another - this leads to breaking. Rather warp several in one package, but be sure to place a piece of paper between them, preferably a double ply kitchen paper, this will have extra friction and make sure that you don't lose aunt Margy's wedding gifts. Wrap 4-5 plates in a two layer bubble wrap and there you go.

    Color coordinate!

    There are ways to be even more efficient. People quickly learn to associate colors with certain things, be smart about it and use different duck tape to seal the boxes of different rooms. That way you won't have to read what each box says, but you will know which for which room is designated. Red for kitchen, blue for bathroom and so on and so on. Such supplies you can get from hobby shops and even a regular corner store.

    Can't be bothered?

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    Several moves later and you simply don't feel like going trough it again all by yourself? There are professional movers that are really good at their job. Utilize their services if you simply don't feel like doing it again. They will take care of everything written mentioned above and a lot more.

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    In a world with growing environmental awareness, we all have to chip in to save the planet. One easy way to do that is to go green with your cleaning by using eco-friendly cleaning products and methods to get your home to look its best. Use the tips below to go green with your home cleaning, and you can feel confident in your efforts to preserve the environment.

    Use Indoor Plants to Filter Your Air

    Indoor plants are great for increasing oxygen levels in a home, but they can also promote good air quality by naturally filtering the air around you. Plants help to eliminate toxins in the air that can turn into dirt, grime, germs, and bacteria over time. Put a few house plants throughout your home and you'll have a passive cleaning partner working for you.

    Keep Your Windows Open

    The air in your home is probably more toxic than the air outside. By keeping your windows open, you are allowing a gentle breeze from outside to clean out the germs that hang in the air. Try opening windows opposite to

    one another to create maximum airflow.

    Choose an Eco Friendly Carpet Cleaner

    If you are going to have your carpets professionally cleaned, try to find a local carpet cleaner who uses eco-friendly cleaning products. Some cleaning companies will offer this type of service for an additional fee, while others use only green cleaning products. Supporting a company like this will allow you to help the environment while still getting your carpets to look like new again. It's a win-win situation.

    Create a Pleasant, Natural Aroma

    You can use natural herbs to make your home smell fresh. This will help you avoid chemical air fresheners that will only put more toxins into your air. Boil a pot of water on the stove, and then add rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, or any other herbs you like the smell of. You can also add in some lemon juice or other citrus fruits to create a wonderful aroma in your home.

    Make Your Own Cleaning Products

    Rather than using harsh cleaning products you can buy at the store, try making some on your own. Consider the following ingredients:

    • Lemon: Great for killing mould, removing sticky substances, and deodorizing your home.
    • Vinegar: Great for getting rid of grease and waxy build up.
    • Baking soda: Great for eating odours in carpets and softening water in other homemade solutions.

    You can combine these ingredients and others found in your home kitchen to create your own home cleaning products to use on a daily basis. Some of these may not be as strong as commercial cleaners, but they are certainly better for the environment.

    Use Steam When Possible

    Steam is a fantastic cleaning mechanism that uses nothing but hot water to get rid of stains, remove dirt, and eliminate odours in your home. You can steam clean your carpets, curtains, and upholstered furniture without having to use any chemicals at all. Vacuum ahead of time and then put your steam cleaner to work. This will have no adverse effects on the environment.

    Follow the tips above, and you will be a green cleaning pro in no time!

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    Eco tourism is tourism that is designed to make sure that when one travels to a new place, one does so without creating problems for the environment. In general, eco tourism is a process where people can visit the world in a loving and intelligent way. Many countries have worked to help make eco tourism a possibility in their nations. In the small Middle Eastern nation of Dubai, eco tourism has become a real practice, one that travellers everywhere should welcome and embrace fully.

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    One of the most important things that natives have done to encourage eco tourism is to make sure all newly built houses and other kinds of construction such as hotels are eco friendly. In many instances, newly built houses and hotels are designed to work with the intensely hot Dubai climate. The Dubai region often gets a lot of heat and very little water. Designers and builders have worked with scientists and urban planners to help create structures that provide shade and coolness without using too much water or energy. Many new area buildings in Dubai are built with high tech materials that allow the building to absorb heat when necessary and use it to provide power for the residents living there. A lot of these buildings are being blogged and written about as they are much more eco friendly and are setting a great example for the rest of the country and world to follow.

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    The Dubai government has also aimed to help residents and visitor’s alike work to reduce their use of non-renewable energy sources such as oil and other fossil fuels. The Dubai government actively encourages people to make use of sources of power such as solar and wind power.

    The government encourages those visiting the region to embrace the area's natural culture and attractions. To that end, tourists are welcomed into activities that work with area attractions. For example, desert hikes are highly popular here. Desert hikes allow people to go camping and hiking in the local mountains. They also encourage people to go snorkelling and scuba diving off the coast of the city, in an area where people can see many kinds of wildlife in their natural habitat. These areas are located just outside the city and make an easy day trip for many people visiting the region. Visiting here allows the traveller to participate in efforts to help maintain the natural beauty of the area's classic desert landscape.

    Eco tourism can be a great way to see the world. Visit Dubai knowing that you will have many opportunities to be an eco tourist here.

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    Everybody loves a clean house, but not everybody likes to clean. You don't have to be a cleaning freak to keep your home clean and tidy, though. All you need is to learn how to keep everything under control. Tackle small messes before they grow bigger and get your family in the routine of helping you out by performing certain chores right away. Check out some of the habits that you should acquire for a cleaner house.

    Take off your shoes. Shoes are a very convenient way for dust and dirty to enter your home. So, in order to prevent this, make sure you and your family get into the habit of taking their shoes as soon as they enter the house. Forget what you see on movies where everybody is walking around the house with their shoes on - they don't have to clean anything afterwards, but you will have to if you enter with your muddy sneakers.

    Regular vacuum sessions. You don't have to clean thoroughly everyday, but it is a good idea to vacuum high-traffic areas in the house every two days or so. Pay special attention to the carpets and doormats because they are the ones get dirty the fastest. Also mop the kitchen floor too in order to remove any crumbs, stains and other residues.

    Don't forget the windows. You would be surprised how many people neglect their windows. However, a regular cleaning can save you plenty of time and effort in the long run. So instead of washing your windows only once every year, trusted window cleaners from Sydney suggest doing so every 3-4 months.

    The fridge is another place which should be maintained systematically. Before you put the groceries you've just bought, do a quick check up of the current food in the fridge. Throw away everything that has expired, smells funny or it's getting mouldy. In this way you will not only free up some space, but you will also avoid having your refrigerator smelling horrendously. Just make sure you also give it a quick swipe with some glass cleaner for disinfecting the area.

    Dealing with the bathroom. Keep a small squeegee in the bathroom and get your family in the habit of using it after they finish bathing. Wiping down the walls regularly will prevent the build up of soap scum and will keep the mould away. And while you are in the bathroom, it is also a good idea to start cleaning the sink daily. Use baby wipes to remove hair and toothpaste stains or mascara drips.

    Finally, sprinkle some baking soda in the rubbish bin, add a cup of distilled vinegar and half a lemon (or orange). Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then rinse. The vinegar is a natural disinfectant and the lemons will provide you with exotic scent.

  20. Many people discard unwanted items in the landfills. The emissions from the landfills produce a gas that is harmful to the environment. When you move the eco friendly or green way, you are reducing that rubbish. This helps to eliminate or reduce the emissions from the landfills. You can relocate to a new area more responsibly by following a few tips on eco friendly moving.

    Give Away or Sell Items

    Some items that you no longer need can be donated to others. For instance, books can be distributed to local schools or libraries. Other avenues for disposing of non-essential items are charities or thrift outlets. You can take your old clothes, recyclable items, old computers and other unwanted things to these places instead of the landfills. By discarding these items properly, you will be protecting the environment and providing others with items that you no longer need.

    Packing Eco Friendly

    To pack green, you will need to use recyclable packing materials. These can include cornstarch packing peanuts, recyclable packing paper, reusable boxes and twine. According to DMV, reusable boxes can be reused around 500 times. Therefore, once you have finished moving, you can share the packing materials with others in need. When you use the proper packing supplies, you will be protecting your valuables and the earth. In addition, it is recommended that you pay special attention to detail and preparation to ensure that everything is packed safely and responsibly. Being prepared can eliminate potential problems when moving, and it can save you some time and money.

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    Image source: Reusable boxes by

    Man And His Van

    Cleaning the Eco Friendly Way

    When you move, you will want to leave behind a clean place. You should use cleaning supplies that will not harm the environment. These eco-friendly cleaning supplies are nontoxic cleaners that are biodegradable. Green cleaning will be healthier for you and the next occupant.

    Recycle, Reuse and Donate

    Many things can be reused or recycled. At Recyclenow website, you can learn about the importance of recycling your items. When you recycle, old products are made into something new. These items are helping to reduce the consumption of the earth’s natural resources. When a new product is made, it requires raw materials obtained from the forest or mines. Recycling helps conserve these raw materials. You can donate all of your items that are no longer important or useful to you to a recycling center in your area. Recycling will save the earth’s energy while it helps to protect your environment. The donated items are reducing the necessity of using raw products, which require extracting, processing and refining. The process of making new products causes the air and water to be polluted.

    Reduce to Save Time and Money

    By reducing the items in your home, you will have less to move. This means less packing materials will be needed, and it will take fewer trips from each location. This will save on fuel for transportation.

    Moving can be time consuming and costly. However, eco friendly moving can be done easily and safely when you follow these tips to make the right choices for packing and reducing your unnecessary items.

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    As consumers learn more about the importance of sustainable living, more homeowners are turning their attention to eco-friendly projects for their homes. As demand increases so does supply and there are many in the construction industry seeking for eco-friendly solutions to help consumers live sustainably. One of these solutions which has been growing in popularity is metal roofing.

    The rise of metal roofing

    When you look at all the benefits of metal roofing, its easy to see why it's become so much more commonplace in America. Metal roofs are some of the most durable roofs you can find. They can withstand the most fierce weather including heavy rain, snow, hail, and strong winds. In addition to holding up against the weather, they're impervious to other things that threaten most roofs such as fire and pests. Because they are so durable and easy to maintain, they benefit the environment in a number of ways.

    Energy efficiency

    One of the major ways that metal roofs can help the environment is by saving energy. Metal roofs are considered cool roofs because they reflect the suns rays back up into the atmosphere rather than absorbing them like dark roofs (such as asphalt shingle roofs) do. According to a study on different roofing materials at the Oak Ridge National Labratory, cool metal roofing was the most effective at reflecting sunlight. The research also suggests that cool metal roofs could even lower the ambient temperature in urban areas by reducing the urban heat island effect. In warmer climates, metal roofing can be a huge advantage because not only do they lower cooling costs, but they are conserving that energy to be used elsewhere.

    Longevity

    When a roof is replaced, most homeowners don't give a thought to what happens to their old roof. Usually, the old roof ends up in a landfill. The more often a roof needs to be replaced, the more waste that's going into landfills. Another major advantage to metal roofing is that it can last 2-3 times longer than an asphalt shingle roof. That means 2-3 times less waste. Combine that with the fact that metal roofs require very little in the way of maintenance and you begin to see why so many homeowners are beginning to switch to metal roofing.

    Recyclability

    Of course no roof lasts forever and even a metal roof will need to be replaced eventually. Unlike other roofing materials that usually end up in a landfill, metal roofs are highly recyclable. Most metal roofs already consist of up to 40% recyclable materials to begin with. But 100% of the metal roof can be recycled once the roof is replaced. That means that old roof can be turned into a new roof for someone else or into something else. Where it won't end up is in a landfill.

    Home improvement news brought to you by bartonroof.com

    Source: triplepundit.com/2014/08/metal-roofing-unlikely-way-reduce-waste-save-energy/

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    Who would have thought that from the simplest and the most basic things would pave the way to the introduction of much more comprehensive and convenient concepts of machines and equipment that most often than not, help people in accommodating their day-to-day routines ensuring the best outputs later on?

    Construction, with the advancement of technology, has incredibly experienced staggering developments aiming to improve quality of lives.

    Starting from the drawing up of blueprints up to acquiring environmentally and healthy designs of infrastructures, it has now been touched by technology and innovation.

    If one would care to look deeper into this, they’ would be surely introduced to the concept of LEED certification.

    The LEED Certification Concept

    LEED, which basically stands for Leadership Energy and Environment Design, is a certification program for third-party clients. This initiative has started in the year 2000 by the US Green Building Council or USGCB aiming to offer standards and concepts for designs, operations and the overall construction of high performance buildings tailored to the specifics of the environment.

    The LEED encompasses a whole lot more objectives as opposed to what it may seem since it does not only focus on ensuring that buildings are designed with compatibility to the health of the environment but also for business and company owners to have an infrastructure that is profitable.

    Ask why profitability? Well, that is simply because acquiring the LEED certification would allow one to have the means and the knowledge to practically and successfully cut down the operational costs from the ever increasing bills for electric and water consumption.

    Yes, as you have realized by now, any kind of infrastructure is often packaged with all sorts of machines that consume a lot more energy and water than you can imagine. This then equates to overwhelming energy and water bills that cut a huge chunk from the company’s earnings.

    With the great performance of buildings that have acquired this certification, LEEDhas been awarded with points thus acknowledging its edge for sustainability and energy efficiency. Going Green with LEED and Its Notable Advantages

    At the surface, one could simply read that acquiring certification would help in cost cutting of utility bills. However, looking closer into it would surface more convenience and advantage than just simply lowering your operational costs.

    With such certification, one could simply achieve and experience the following benefits:

    • Ensured cooled and heated infrastructures as needed with minimal energy usage
    • Tested to minimized duct-work and envelope leakage
    • Minimized indoor and outdoor water usage
    • Predicted to only utilize approximately 30% to 60% less energy compared to other established buildings without the LEED Certification.
    • Recycling materials that can be used for building constructions
    • Supplying power and energy via renewable and unharmful methods
    • Reduced and minimized environmental impacts during construction as well as maintenance as with this certification emission of greenhouse gases and other substances and elements that often occur with just the traditional design of buildings

    The LEED Tiers

    Since we have already tackled about the basics of LEED, let us get to more detailed and important elements about it such as the Tiers. There are 4 known tiers of the certification. This tiers indicate the increasing sustainability of building practices among clients.

    The first tier is the Certified equating to 40 to 49 points, the Silver for 50 to 59 points, the Gold for 60 to 79 points and the platinum, which pertains to 80 points and above.

    While it is true that the higher levels of LEED can be quite challenging to achieve, there are still efforts that one could do to achieve it. After all, nobody knew before that we could have things we have right now, right?

    Achieving higher levels would surely provide one with much overwhelming benefits, which they could later on take advantage.

    An example of which is a high LEED certification level making a great selling point that are often used by corporations to court environmentally aware and conscious consumers as well as investors toward their business.

    Aside from this, it has also been noted that there are respective incentives in the form of local and federal tax benefits or other subsidies that are made available for high level certified LEED infrastructures. Some Well Known Buildings with LEED Certification

    To give you more facts about the incredibility of this program, let us make a quick list of some of the known buildings that are certified with LEED. One of the latest most buzzing names when it comes to this is the Serbian IT park. Its known as the first infrastructure which is certified with LEED in the region.

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    This has greatly affected their operations making the management more productive while having the means to save money and to have a healthy and comfortable workplace for the whole team.

    Another LEED certified building is the Hearst Tower in New York City. With its continued efforts to live green, this building has now gained Gold level with over 90% of its steel used for structure that came from recycled durable materials.

    David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh is known, on the other hand, as a gold and platinum level holder being the first convention center in the globe to acquire the LEED.

    The Connecticut avenue building in Washington D.C. also has a LEED platinum status and is known as the first redeveloped office building on the US East Coast to acquire the LEED certification.

    University of Texas at Dallas, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as well as the Yale University are proud infrastructures having the LEED certification, which they acquired through thick and strict efforts to go green and live a practical and energy-efficient office lifestyle.

    Be among them now and start making a lot of profits than you can imagine without posing harm to the environment. LEED Certification would also enable you to provide the best working environment to your clients, partners as well as business investors pushing them to be more productive.

    Invest in this venture now and harvest the fruitful and unimaginable benefits it could provide, not just to you but to the people and the community surrounding you as well.

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