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Solutions & sustainability - July 25

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Gray Turns Green - Older People Stay Fit Keeping The Environment In Shape

Scientific Blogging
Volunteering for environmental protection activities can be physically and mentally sustaining for older people, according to the latest issue of Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR). In fact, this demographic group is in a unique position to have a noticeable impact on its surroundings.

For those looking to fill meaningful roles in the community after retirement, volunteerism provides opportunities for social integration. The programs of environmental organizations routinely bring together people of different generations. Many of these involve healthy physical activity, such as the testing of rivers or clean up of natural areas, for example.

The ongoing increase in the number of older U.S. citizens, coupled with a senior population seeking meaningful participation in society, can greatly serve environmental protection efforts.
(22 July 2008)



Natural Air Conditioning with Sandwiches and a Shake

Albert Bates, The Great Change
The heat index today in our part of Tennessee is 110°F (43°C), so if you want to get chores done outside, the best time is the morning. At 6:30 we convened our bleary-eyed but green-tea-infused permaculture workshop outdoors to work on the roof of the strawbale greenhouse, putting in a garden. It was a lovely 68°F (20°C), perfect weather for gardening.

We are gradually in the process of greening up all of our roofs since we discovered to our delight that the indoor temperatures in structures we had built or retrofitted with green roofs were typically 15 degrees cooler than outside temperatures in the summer, as well as having enhanced insulation in winter. Only part of that summer effect is insulation. The other part is evaporation, or the transpiration of water from the roots to the leaves, dropping coolth into the building below. It's the same way your fridge works.

We don't have very big construction budgets, so most our materials are harvested or scavenged locally. The basic technique is to build a sturdy roof (one which can support the weight of wet topsoil and the maximum snowload), and then install a "carpet sandwich."...
(21 July 2008)


Don’t let green roofs be victims of the crunch

Phil Clark, Building Design
Why green roofs add real value to a building, not just ‘eco-bling’

Why bother specifying a green roof when it adds extra costs, consultants, hassle and work? This attitude seems common when it comes to deciding whether to add vegetation to your scheme’s structure. And in the credit crunch, any part of a project that could be considered an added expense is likely to be first for the chop. So does this spell a decline for the green roof, which has emerged as a significant sustainable design addition in the past few years?

One certainly hopes not. First, to claim that green roofs are mere eco-bling is profoundly misguided. Benefits range from the improved performance of the structure itself, to reducing flood risk, enhancing biodiversity, and creating better urban spaces. Its sheer versatility can actually be a curse, according to one of its leading proponents in London, Dusty Gedge.
(18 July 2008)


Better than new: Give your home an eco facelift

Donnachadh McCarthy, The Independent
Soon after I decided to leave mainstream politics – I was the deputy chair of the Liberal Democrat Party – and concentrate on becoming an eco-auditor and writer, I looked around my home and realised that, like many a politician's property, it had suffered from years of neglect and now badly needed repairing and redecorating. Knowing that more than 72 million tons of waste is produced each year by the UK construction industry and that huge resources and CO2 emissions are involved in producing new building materials, I resolved that the refurbishment should be as eco-friendly as possible. I would avoid new products and, where I had to buy new ones, would opt for those with good environmental credentials.

The interesting thing, in view of the current silly debate on whether we can afford to go green with the economy in turbulence, is that without my realising it, going green saved me a huge amount of money. If I had gone down the usual route of buying the various items new and non-eco, the materials would have cost just under £7,500, whereas buying the reused or eco-versions cost only about £1,400...
(24 July 2008)

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