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Monday, April 06, 2009

We have completed our new website including a blog on sustainable living and design.
You can find out website at http://www.cm-interiordesign.com and our blog at http://www.cm-interiordesign.com/wordpress

Please come, visit, and say hello!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Cycle How Single Stream Recycling Works

The Cycle recently won a best in show award at SXSW in the education resource category.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Earth Hour -1 hour 3.28.09 For the Planet

My Family will be enjoying a candle light dinner at home and a walk to the Connecticut River for a block party. How will you spend your 1 hour for the Earth?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fun in the Kitchen

Some of us love to play in the kitchen. It is the place where we gather as families for meals, or for homework, or even the place to hang out during parties. It is the heart and hearth of our homes.

It is also one of the places where we can practice sustainable living every day.

That sustainability starts with the design process.
Using technology today we can:

  • Conduct meetings online, saving travel expenses.
  • Construct 3d models giving clients a better feeling for space and details.
  • Save time and money on the construction phase by eliminating errors.
I hope that you have as much fun playing in our spaces as we do creating them. In the comming months we will be writing more about the changes in sustainable living in areas starting with energy conservation, and carrying through to home energy generation and home automation.

If you have any topics you would like to suggest, please feel free to leave us a comment.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Repower America -Keep it moving

We need your help. Climate change is real.

At this critical time in our nations history, we are faced with an awesome opportunity. We can work to stop the climate crisis and simultaneously rebuild our economy with clean green jobs, and reduce the money we send outside of our country possibly funding terrorist organizations.

Please visit We Can Solve It at http://wecansolveit.org/content/whyjoin

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OOPS A Little Interior Design Humor

Have you ever had a potential client question your design fees?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Building the Green Economy

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an advocate for clean energy and a member of the Pickens Army.)

The Meeting

Underlying the strength of the Economic stimulus package is the idea of a "Green Economy and Green Jobs" It sounds good doesn't it? But what does it mean? What kind of jobs? Although the details are being worked out as I am writing this, they general outline was discussed today, February 22, 2009 at a Coalition meeting titled "National Clean Energy Project: Building A New Economy " at Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. In this article I want to talk about who was at the meeting, a little background information about Green Energy, and the things that were discussed surrounding the development of the Green Economy and Green Jobs.
In attendance were some of the brightest and most respected minds people in the world including John Podesta, President Bill Clinton, Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, Senator Harry Ried, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu.
Others in attendance included:

• Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar
• Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
• House Energy Independence and Global Warming Select Committee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA)
• Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman, Appropriations Committee Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
• Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Acting Chairman Jon Wellinghoff
• Former Governor George Pataki (R-NY)
• Owens-Corning CEO Michael Thaman
• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors and Former CEO Lee Scott
• American Electric Power President & CEO Mike Morris
• Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope
• Riverkeeper Alliance Chief Prosecuting Attorney Robert Kennedy, Jr.
• American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode
• National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Fred Butler
• Green for All Founder and President Van Jones
• Service Employees International Unions President Andy Stern
• U.S. Green Building Council President & CEO Rick Fedrizzi
• Sea Change Foundation President Nat Simons

From the federal government to the states, to industry, environmentalists it seemed that every constituency was represented.

Green Energy, What is it?

Green energy is often used interchangeably with renewable energy, clean, or alternative energy. Green energy sources include solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro. They are considered "green" because the have a very low negative impact on the environment. Green energy is considered to be "renewable." At times the energy is harvested and used directly like the old water wheels that were used to mill grain and other times green energy is produced on a commercial scale. Sources are considered renewable because they are not consumed. Their production can vary with factors like weather. Like all energy sources they can be consumed, transmitted, stored or converted to another form and even transported (like converting solar energy to hydrogen). Unlike fossil fuels, they do not produce carbon emissions which harm the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

Definitions and examples of green energy

1. Solar energy is the energy that arrives to earth from the sun in the form of light and heat. At the basic level it can be "saved" in a thermal mass. An Example of this would be the heating up of water in a large tank during the day and allowing the built up heat to radiate out at night when it is cooler. In more sophisticated systems like Photo Voltaic (PV) panels, solar energy can be converted to electricity and stored or transmitted through the power grid.

2. Wind is a source of energy that can be used to rotate turbines and converted to electrical power. The United States has a huge wind corridor running form Texas to the Canadian border.

3. Geo Thermal is the heat of the earth. Because of its mass, the earth retains the heat of the sun, and also is very hot at its core. Even in cooler climates like the Northern states, the temperature underground stays a pretty consistent 50 - 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Geothermal power plants can produce electricity on a mass scale and geothermal can also be used to heat and cool homes. Many people are familiar with heat pumps. They are popular in the Southern United Sates where the winters are milder. A heat pump works similar to a refrigerator, only in reverse. Most heat pumps work by cooling the outdoor air a few degrees (and they cool a LOT of it ) The couple of degrees that are extracted are then used the heat the smaller volume of air on the inside of the home or commercial building. Geothermal heat pumps use ground water which has a higher mass than air. The Water is cooled a few degrees and the extracted heat is used to heat the home. Because the ground water is a fairly consistent temperature, a ground water heat pump works better for heating buildings than air to air heat pumps, especially in cooler climates. Heat pumps can also work in reverse to cool the interior of a building. For more information on geothermal tri http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy#Geothermal_technologies

4. Hydro power
1. Tidal Energy comes from the rotation of the earth and the gravitational forces of the moon and sun in relation to the earth. Harnessing that power comes in different forms including harnessing the kinetic energy which works like a windmill, or in the form of the potential energy or the Rise and fall of the water level.

2. Wave Energy. Waves are created by the wind passing over the surface of the water. Wave energy varies around the world, but one of the stronger areas is in the Northwest United States. The energy is harvested in a number of ways at or near the surface of the water. For More information visit http://ocsenergy.anl.gov/guide/wave/index.cfm
3. Hydro power. Waterfalls or dams are used to convert the movement of water due to gravity to turn a turbine. The turbine can produce electrical current for homes or neighborhoods, or on a large scale basis like the Hoover Dam. For more information visit http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/hyhowworks.html

5. Biomass is basically organic material. It is a renewable energy source, and is generally thought of as carbon neutral, it does contribute to global warming through the off gassing of Carbon Dioxide when in decay. There are companies that are experimenting with algae and using it to produce cleaner burning bio fuel. I have included it here for discussion as its green or clean status is up for debate.

The Ambitious Agenda

The underlying theme throughout the meeting was the idea that the United States can achieve three important goals while developing the new green economy even though on the surface they seem to be in conflict. The goals are:

1. To stimulate the economy through investment in technology and infrastructure while creating jobs in the production and distribution of clean energy.

2. To increase National Security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil imports from countries who are not supportive and are sometimes even hostile toward the U.S.( The United States imported over $450 Billion dollars in foreign oil in 2008 alone and that amount is increasing. By reducing that amount we would stimulate our own economy.)

3. To reduce carbon emissions and therefore our negative impact on the environment. Clean energy is free, but the infrastructure to harvest and deliver it is not. We need a plan to take down the barriers, establish standards and then let private companies take over the implementation.

These are lofty goals and will take time to implement. In the meantime during the time it takes to resolve some of the questions, there are some immediate things that can be started.

President Clinton made the point that energy conservation is one thing that can be done immediately and conservation is an important part of the plan. Lee Scott of Wall Mart noted that when consumers are offered the choice and shown the value, they will make the cleaner energy choices.

What Else Besides Conservation Can Be Done Now?

The closest we have to a comprehensive plan at the moment is an interim plan put forth by T Boone Pickens, an oil industry mogul. His Plan called "The Pickens Plan", calls out practical solutions to cover the transition time it will take to build the harvest centers and distribution systems. Pickens open states that he has profit motives as well as an interest in helping this country reduce its "sending 485 billion dollars a year to countries that are not all that friendly." There are several Pillars in the Pickens Plan:
• Create millions of new jobs by building out the capacity to generate up to 22 percent of our electricity from wind. And adding to that with additional solar capacity;
• Building a 21st century backbone electrical grid;
• Providing incentives for homeowners and the owners of commercial buildings to upgrade their insulation and other energy saving options; and
• Using America's natural gas to replace imported oil as a transportation fuel.
While dependence on foreign oil is a critical concern, it is not a problem that can be solved in isolation. We have to think about energy as a whole, and that begins by considering our energy alternatives and thinking about how we will fuel our world in the next 10 to 20 years and beyond. From the Pickens Plan Website. Visit http://www.pickensplan.com/theplan/

Difficutlies to Overcome Distribution of Power

Building a Smart Grid

Secretary of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu made a good analogy at the meeting of a water tower and the plumbing pipes delivering the water to users. The power is generated at a power plant and sent in one direction to the business, government, or residential consumer. This one way nature is one of the most difficult problems to overcome in making the transitions to clean energy. Photovoltaic cells producing power on the roof of a home during the day when no one is home needs to be either stored in batteries or directed back to the power grid where it can be consumed by businesses. There is an ebb and flow that needs to be managed. Decisions on where to divert power need to be made in fractions of seconds requiring switched that can monitor supply and demand and manage the flow. Wind Energy produced in the wind corridor and wave energy produced off the western coast needs to be distributed to the urban centers where it is needed. The system will need "Intelligent" switches and there is currently no industry standard on which technology to use. It will take government intervention to get people together and develop the standard. Otherwise power companies will be reluctant to invest the money. They will worry that the technology they invest in today will be outdated if another standard becomes adopted in the near future.

There are other areas of difficulty that will require government intervention including the location or sighting of transmission lines. There will be arguments that will need to be settled. There will also be educational and funding problems that will need to be overcome. It was pointed out that if it is going to cost Americans more money out of their pocket right now, there will be resistance because the money is just not there. The budget of the average American is stretched to far as it is. Most at the meeting acknowledged that along with the knowledge that in the long run it will be cheaper to take the right steps in the right directions now and to avoid every possible error.

Where are the Jobs

So, where will the jobs be in the new green economy? In the immediate future they will be in the implementation of conservation efforts. Better weatherization of homes and businesses, energy audits to highlight where power can be saved. They will be in the conversion of fleets of trucks from Diesel to Natural gas from domestic sources. There will be jobs in the construction of the new smart power grid and installing power generation centers like windmills, hydroelectric plants, wave and tide systems. There will be new jobs in training employees in theses systems. There will be jobs installing photo voltaic panels on homes, government and business buildings.


It seems like it would be impossible to convert the US economy to clean, green, renewable energy, increase security and take care of the environment all at the same time. But that is exactly what is happening in the United States at this very moment.