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Posts tagged ‘EcoPlanners’


10 Easy Tips for a Beautiful Water-Efficient Spring Garden

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1. I woke up this morning to a deafening racket. Without regard for my attire, I shot out of the house to see what was making such a clatter. The sewer manhole skirt was being jack hammered into pieces. “Halt!” I ordered, “I need those scraps for a garden planter”. So, the nice community services worker kindly stacked the pieces in my driveway while I went back to sleep.


Recycled concrete in my garden.

The first of my ten water-efficient landscaping tips is: recycle, reuse, and repurpose materials before purchasing new. Materials like broken concrete (photo) can be found in such places as your home, construction sites and thrift stores. Your landscaping will cost less, retain moisture and will add a homey feel to your garden.


2. Find out what kind of soil you have. Is it sand, silt or clay? Clay holds water and sand acts like a sieve. Silt is more like moist clay—the small particles hold water, but it lacks air spaces for roots to grow. Knowing your soil guides watering schedules and determines the amount and type of soil amendment required. Sandy soil needs the most help to hold nutrients. Cultivate four inches of organic matter into the soil around plantings. Clay needs about two inches (I like Harvest Supreme) and one inch for silty soil.

Having said all that, most drought tolerant plants will turn yellow and die if you fertilize them or water too much. They like to be stressed out with nutrient deficient soil.  Read more »


Saving Water: Finding the Most Efficient Water Heating Method

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image-6The saying, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water came from a time with the whole family used the same water—icky.   They saved a lot of water, but with a family of 6, losing the baby was a likely casualty.  Save water, shower with a friend, but washing in the buff is a solo pursuit. America’s water consumption is unrestrained. Luxury showers with multiple shower heads and body sprayers use so much water, one needs a dedicated water heater to accommodate the extravagance.

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How to Navigate Lighting Design: Energy Regulation Inspires Creative Interior Design Solutions

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The Bright Side of Title 24 Lighting Design

When my sister was about three years old, she stuck a bobby-pin in a plug outlet. It knocked her back about 10 feet.  Fortunately she survived to learn a valuable lesson. By experience or observation, most of us don’t want to get anywhere near those electrifying pulses. However, Heather Gray, principal electrical engineer with Gray Electrical Consulting + Engineering (GECE), loves the mystery and excitement of electricity and lighting. In a recent interview, Heather shared some tips and advice with me.

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Work productivity hurt by too much noise: a guide to softening the blow

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imageDuring a typical day at the office, the air-conditioning is whirring, fluorescent lights are humming, muzak is playing, conversations are echoing, phones are ringing, the printer is spitting out paper, keyboards are click-clacking, raucous laughter is nearby, drawers are being banged shut, the elevator ding dongs, and a jet roars over head.

Technology has brought us speaker phones, open work stations, video conferencing and voice activated computers. Ah! The “hmmm of the workplace”.

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Gardening in a Box, Pot, Bag, or… Up a Wall

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Claudia Harmon Worthen is the principal designer at EcoPlanners LLC, a network of sustainability experts in building and interior design.

Tired of chasing gophers?  Love flowers, but no time to garden?  No space to plant a garden?  Don’t think you have a green thumb?  Has the drought forced you to eliminate outdoor watering?  Container gardens may be the perfect solution, as well as your best guarantee of horticultural pleasure.

Lettuce us discuss some ideas for restrained gardens…  Like high-spirited children, it’s best to define boundaries so they can flourish and express their distinctive personalities and grow healthy under a parental eye.

assetSome botanical children need more attention than others.  Choosing the right size and type of containment is determined by aesthetic preference and specific botanical needs such as tending time, irrigation, size of plants and desired colors.

Consider foliage and flowers—some leaves are quite beautiful without any blooms (as pictured to the right).

The color of the pot, box or bag is important for color balance, as with a painting or sculpture, and the whole concoction should coordinate with your home.

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Man, Dry Earth, and the Economy

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It’s dry as a biscuit, a bone, a mummy, a stick, as dust.  Whatever you call it, this photo I took last year of shriveled red earth was taken in Kauai. Yes, even the lush tropics are experiencing dehydration. On the Big Island, one Hilo resident told us a few years ago, “if it doesn’t rain for three days, we cry drought”.  This season the joke is becoming a reality.

One of the jobs that hydrologists, meteorologists and hydrometeorologists face is to interpret climate modeling, but prediction is not an exact science.  What they do know is that more than 76% of the United States is currently suffering from drought in varying degrees. The paucity of rain is affecting the habitability, economics, and the beauty of our entire planet.

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EcoPlanners: How to Create Beautiful, Healthy, and Edible Gardens

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Claudia Harmon Worthen is the principal designer at EcoPlanners LLC, a network of sustainability experts in building and interior design: [email protected].

Lettuce stroll through the garden, plucking and eating along the way.  Fragrant herbs are nestled between lavender and rosemary, and cabbage roses are bursting with perfume over chives.

It may seem odd, but actually roses and chives are good friends.   The chives watch over the roses by keeping the aphids at bay.

Protecting the perimeter from marauding cucumber beetles and white flies are marigolds and perennial yarrow.  The symbiosis ensures healthy pest-free edibles and pretty landscaping.

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Edible Weeds: Free Food in Your Backyard

The Native Americans who lived in California could not have survived without uncultivated plants and trees.  During the Great Depression, some people survived by eating weeds along the roadsides.  Native plants may no longer be critical for survival, but many of us are returning to our “roots,” partially driven by concern over eating pumped up GMO and pesticide dipped fruits and vegetables.

Claudia Harmon Worthen is the principal designer at EcoPlanners LLC, a network of sustainability experts in building and interior design. Have any questions about green living? Email her: [email protected].

If your brown thumb threatens to bring the grim reaper, there’s an easy solution.   Next time you pull a weed, you may just want to pop it into your mouth.  Eat weeds?   You may be surprised to find some of these undesirables are tasty and nutritious—a free lunch straight from the lawn.  Try it and you just may be jump-starting a solution to the pollution problem while providing beauty, biodiversity and better nutrition.

Good weeds are full of antioxidants, protein and vitamins.  If you don’t use pesticides, the nutrition factor may be better than vegetables from the grocery store.

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Edible Tires? From soybeans to orange oil

SoybeansSoy you bean thinking about buying new tires? Have you bean losing sleep worrying about a blow-out? What to buy? Where to go?  Thanks to the soybean industry, your choices will be even more diverse. Even on a desert island you may not want to actually eat your tires, but this is indeed the latest ingredient.

The United Soybean Board (USB) researches new products to promote more bean growth. ”We must continue striving for even greater yields….and leverage soybean checkoff resources to maximize profit,” reads the USB Mission Statement.


Growers are encouraged to embrace additional ways to sell this rather tasteless food crop. This isn’t a new concept— we already have: soy insulation, soy carpet backing, soy ink, soy diesel fuel, soy-based foam, soy infused seals and gaskets and “soy-on”.

In order to push the demand for soybean oil, the USB granted Goodyear Tire Company $500,000.00 in 2012 to help them investigate the viability of soybean oil in lieu of petrochemicals in tire manufacturing. Read more »


EcoPlanners: What is an EcoBroker?

How would you like to supplement your financial resources for the rest of your life without getting off the couch? Is it legal? What’s the catch?

EcoBroker CertificationIt’s simple—just build or purchase an energy efficient home.  At minimum, you can save 5% a year on utility bills and, depending on the improvements, as much as 95%. With the cost of water and energy going up each year, the financial savings can be significant.

Who ya gonna call for energy and water-efficient real estate? EcoBrokers!

Allyson Nakasone, an EcoPlanners consortium member, was an early pioneer as a green Realtor.  She spoke to me recently about her green designations.

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