Friday, July 23, 2010

Banking Beautifully

Is it just me or do Europeans find ways to make everything a little bit prettier? And while they beautify, they still find ways to maintain sustainability and be 'green'. Maybe it's the fact that they've had to share resources (and space) for a lot longer than we Americans have. Or maybe it's just that they believe nature and development aren't mutually exclusive. Maybe it's that they think green is 'money in the bank.' The case of Luxembourg based European Investment Bank (EIB) shows us that being green is exactly that. A tubular green-house like building designed by Ingenhoven Architects, houses the world's biggest investment bank - one that is incidentally known for supporting many environmentally conscious projects.

The building itself is tres cool - a huge glass outer shell covers an inner glass structure within which lies about seven office blocks, parking and gardens - it even connects the old bank to all of the new buildings. The double shell helps to modulate light and keep temperatures moderate to help maintain energy efficiency. Parking is underground so it doesn't take up valuable surface space or create a heat-island effect. Unheated and naturally vented gardens and a radiant heated atrium provide wonderful outdoor space for the office workers. And if they don't feel like making the trip down, they can open their window that overlooks the gardens or atria. In order to maintain efficiency, the buildings are equipped with automatic resets that go off throughout the day, but individuals still have the ability to adjust within their own spaces. They even have adjustable sun shades. As far as materials and resources go, the energy is from local sources, the wood is FSC certified from Siberia, and the building complies with the strictest of environmental standards.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giggle!

Just like everyone else, I'm in love...with shopping...in New York. But I'm not just talking about the clothing stores (don't get me wrong though, I'm definitely in love with that!). One of my favorite new places is actually not really meant for me at all, but i could spend hours there. It's actually a wonderful children's boutique full of the best and safest in children's furniture, bedding and toys. Giggle is green and great! They rep a lot of my favorite lines, like Q Collection Jr, Netto Collection, Dwell Studio, Argington, and on and on and on! Check out these awesome cribs - I love the idea of doing a fun image like flowers or whales on the side of the cribs.


These sheets below are super sweet and adorable! And the swaddling blankets? Fabulous - and all of them are organic and toxin free - so your little ones aren't breathing anything but good, clean air.



And for when you just can't hold them any longer, Giggle has something even then - like popping this fabulous, organic Baby Bjorn bouncing chair and give them one of these cutie bowling pin pals and you'll be good to go!


Seriously, my new favorite store...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fashionistas Wrapping it Up

For all of you fashionistas, check out this website - Ecoist - where your candy wrappers and energy bars become the shine and the pizazz in your wardrobe.

Definitely an inventive way to reduce waste, reuse materials, and just be creative. Whether you're doing something different in your home or in your closet, every little bit of green helps - so why not check out these fun little bags. Who knows, maybe you'll find a guilt-free way to live with M&Ms!






Thursday, July 15, 2010

Take off your Shoes

And feel the warmth coming up through that radiant heat flooring. It's not only one of the coolest ways to get warm (no pun intended), but it's also really energy efficient because unlike traditional heating systems, you don't lose the heat. With traditional baseboard heating or forced hot air heating, a lot of the energy you use to heat your home is because much of the heat produced is immediately lost. But with radiant floors, that warmth is transferred directly to you as you come in contact with the floor. And it takes advantage of something we all know - hot air rises, so when the heat is generated underneath the floor, it does what it's supposed to, which is go directly above. Aside from the fact that it keeps your indoor temperature up, and your heating bills down, it's just plain fantastic. Although there are several types of radiant heat, the one that is the most cost effective and efficient in cold weather climates is Hydronic Radiant Heating. This uses liquid heated by your boiler running through tubing laid out in a pattern (usually a system of loops) underneath your floor boards. So not only do you get a constant and even heat throughout, but you can pretty much have any floor you want - wood, bamboo, concrete, tile, laminated floors - even carpet (though a thin carpet is recommended).
For a little more info, check out this US Government website.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Recycled and Remarkable

Copper is one of those materials that a lot of people don't think much about. It's always been around, from roofs to wires to pipes. Same with steel. It's everywhere and used for so much - things we see and things we don't. But both are limited in supply and hard to get. Between over consumption and the dangers of mining, it's becoming imperative that we find ways to preserve these materials. Copper is even so limited that there are often stories about how people will break into houses to steel the pipes, or take the copper gutters and trim off of the houses. Recycling has played a huge part in helping conserve these resources, but you don't always get a product that can be used for the same thing the second time around. So what do you do with it?

Well, one person who found a great way to use these materials, is Susan Venable. A Santa Barbara, California native, Susan uses recycled steel and copper to make massive, intricate, and amazing sculptural art pieces. Her work is bold. I love the fact that it seems to be moving and the contrast of the strong primary colors against the metallic and depth of the metals. Here are some of the ones I loved.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

Finally!!!!

I am finally (!!!!!) writing from a new computer - the days of no "backspace" button and a missing "o" are over! I can actually write without it taking me ages, and maybe now, finding time to share all the wonders of the eco world will actually be possible!

And since I'm writing from a new Macbook - here's the down low on how they're going green...