Small Project: Home Gym

I enjoy a change of pace now and then. Recently I was asked to build an addition to a house that included a customized home gym. I loved that they planned to fill it with boxing equipment for their daily fitness workouts as I, myself, like a go-round with a boxing bag when I can. I admire people who are committed to health. It usually is a trait of those who can call themselves “green.” Somehow these interests go together as values. It is all about living well–taking care of yourself, recycling, using non-toxic products, and promoting sustainability to save our dwindling, precious resources. If health concerns are the egotistical side of the coin, then so be it. It is no sin to dwell on yourself and your longevity.

Because of my interest in boxing, the client asked me to select the boxing bag. I was more than willing and knew right out of the box (pun intended) that you can’t go wrong with Everlast. You can buy the kit online for a 70-pound, heavy bag that also comes with gloves and hand wraps. The bag has a custom filling that consists of natural and synthetic fibers blended with sifted sand. I bet few of you knew that! The gloves and wraps protect your hands against possible abrasion from the bag. Someone was thinking ahead. It also, by the way, comes with an adjustable height customization chain and a bungee cord that adds greater resistance to the bag. So, you can see, you don’t just select any brand. There is a lot more to it.

When the project was done and the gym was ready for use, complete with the best boxing bag around, I was asked to come and try it out. I suppose the client wanted to verify the room’s functionality, something that I had, of course, guaranteed. Were they putting me on the spot; I don’t think so. They were not mean spirited. I think it had to do with thanking me for a job well done. I was happy to oblige. We set a date and I appeared in gym attire ready to test the bag for all I was worth. I had a great time, and no they didn’t observe which made me feel more comfortable. I adore these kinds of considerate clients and interesting projects. They usually turn out well. It makes me think that I would love to have a home gym myself, if only I had room. Maybe I could put it in the basement or the garage, even a spare room never in use. I could then get my own Everlast and test its mettle. I would save so much time not traipsing back and forth to the gym. There is a lot to say about convenience and saving time. When you do, you seem to have more energy for other projects and interests.

Green Construction Tip: Tankless Water Heater

Today’s blog is all about prevention. There are people who think ahead, plan wisely for the future, and anticipate problems and therefore have solutions waiting in the wings. And then there are those who do not expect anything to happen and who act only after the fact when something requires their attention. In effect, they do not act, but only react. I think you will agree that this is not the pest posture to take toward the unforeseen events of life.

Take a friend of mine whose old tank hot water heater was not working. He knew it but chose to ignore the problem, thinking it will be okay and the old tin monster will live to see another day. Oh, so wrong. The old tin monster leaked and caused basement flooding. Water seeped into all the nooks and crannies destroying some of the valuable items he was storing. Plus, he had to hire a flood cleanup service and this always costs a pretty penny. It doesn’t come cheap, and you really can’t do it yourself. You need the right equipment to extract the water and giant heaters to dry the area. Excess humidity is not good for any area of the house as it can cause mold. Now there is a nasty problem and one that is very hard to deal with. But you must as mold can cause illness in your pets and entire family. So, there was a lot at stake with my friend chose to ignore the condition of his old unit. There is a price to pay for procrastination.

On the other hand, I believe in prevention. I would have bought a new tankless hot water heater from the Home Water Center the minute I saw signs of deterioration in function. I think they are a better choice in any case when it comes to environmental concerns. New construction nowadays most often includes this option. For the rest of us, it takes up less space, is easy to install, saves on utility bills, and always provides enough hot water on demand as needed. People can take one shower after another and still get the right temperature. For the purposes of this blog, let me mention that there is no risk of leaking and flooding with modern innovations. It is a win-win situation all around. Even if they cost a little more at the start, the savings will more than make up for it.

Of course, my friend finally got his own tankless hot water heater at last. All his reticence made no sense and there were consequences. If he had been in a “green” zone sooner, he would have headed off a potential nightmare. It is easy to go this route. You can go online and see the different models and sizes that suit the size of your home. You can also acquire them for offices. In my opinion, there is no alternative. I never pass up on a chance to be environmentally friendly. We all want to save energy, and with a tankless hot water heater, you definitely will.

Before You Toss Patio Furniture, Try This

Being green and valuing sustainability is not just another cause. Someday it may be a matter of life and day. I know many of you ignore the problems of the planet because it seems too much to bear. What can a person do when there is so much at stake. It takes government commitment, but citizens can play their parts in supporting environmental programs. Meanwhile I suggest you educate yourself by attending conferences, reading green literature, and doing research to find organizations to join. That is all you have to do to keep the rest of us happy. The more we join forces, the faster change will happen. You can also help spread the word as you can at home and at work. Encourage people to listen. I do it by telling stories that they can relate to such as the need to cut power by installing simple ceiling fans.

My blogs are about conserving resources and recycling anything from metal, to used wood, to appliances. Don’t throw out an old stove that will just add more bulk to the landfill when you can have it repaired. You can be green in so many ways. You probably can think of more than I can. Today it is about that used patio furniture. Some people just want to throw anything away before they consider repurposing. I have a friend who had some rather nice pieces that had gotten rather dirty, to the point of grimy, and he wanted to toss them in the garbage can. He wanted to buy new items which means energy waste in manufacturing something you already have. Energy is not finite and it is expensive. Power is limited and we only should use so much given the number of us humans there are on the planet.

I told my friend to STOP and listen and consider the consequences of throwing away things that show a speck of dirt. You just want an excuse to go shopping. My suggestion is to buy or borrow a good electric power washer to bring anything and everything back to life. You can wash down the garage floor, clear debris from the sidewalk, clean exterior walls, and much more. In fact, you can use it on the patio furniture and it works like magic to restore chairs and chaises lounges to their original glory. It is as simple as that. Now you are saving money and being green at the same time. My friend agreed and did as I suggested for you. I am super proud of him. He now has a new focus on things.

Power washers come in different sizes for commercial or residential/personal use and you can choose from gas, electric, cold-water, or hot-water pressure washers depending upon their purpose for you. The key to cleanliness is the high-powered nozzle, the right hoses, and any special cleansers. They can run up to a thousand dollars for a mighty motor. Not everyone needs to spend that much, but you can spend more. This is not to scare you into breaking your budget, but in making a different point.

Upcycling Building Materials

As a contractor, I place a high value on upcycling building materials and encourage everyone else who hasn’t thought about it, to start doing the same. This strategy is one of the best ways that we can reduce the impact that our business has on the environment. While recycling is very good and I place it high on my list of priorities, it came to my attention just how valuable upcycling really is.

Decreased Production and Fewer Disposals

All of us who are involved in the construction industry from architects, engineers, developers, and builders to property owners and site managers can make a difference. Upcycling starts when the inception for a building is first being discussed. It involves making the decision to include a green approach to design as well as in the material choices and construction. Using each resource in the most efficient ways possible reduces waste that ends up in our landfills and the need for increases in production. We can cut back on the use of resources by using better planning that takes this important topic under consideration.

Benefits for Upcycling

Since billions of dollars go into the planning and construction of buildings that are designed to last for ten to thirty years, the first obvious sign of waste is right in front of our noses. With the use of a little foresight, the money could better be spent on structures that will hold up for much longer periods of time. Instead of hiring a demolition crew to come in a decade later, a stronger and more reliable structure could be erected that could be repurposed or at least remodeled with less refuse generation. This would decrease the cost of building and refuse management drastically but it needs to start with the professionals who are in charge of ordering construction and authorizing the design specifications.

Leaving the Disposable Mentality Behind

Our society has moved towards a disposable mentality for the sake of convenience for the past few decades and it has reached epidemic proportions. We seem to thrive on convenience with the use of eco deadly materials for our fast food, our homes, electronics and the wonderful manufacturing plants that process our disposable goods. It has entered the construction industry in the form of disposable buildings. It is a mentality and therein lies to the difficulty for effecting any large-scale change. While in the majority of cases, money is not the issue as much as convenience and moving on from one project to another. Planners who take this route are not thinking about environmental impacts, but now is the time that they should. As the professionals who are shaping the landscape of this planet, it’s time that we all unite in a common cause to cut down on the amount of waste that we’re generating and start working together to reduce the waste we produce while conserving on every possible resource.

Two Worthy Goals for Upcycling

If nothing more can be attributed to the value of upcycling, we can certainly see the benefits we’ll gain by reducing our carbon emissions footprint and reducing the waste that is clogging our waste management systems. Every contractor that contributes to the cause is making a difference. When associates ask why you employ green strategies, you’ll have the opportunities to open their eyes a little wider to the reasons why they should consider taking the same approach. Partners in conservation are formed over a lifetime of negotiations and information sharing and with a little effort; we can make progress towards these goals.

Peaceful Trip

I love outdoor sports and welcome any opportunity to enjoy water recreation whether it be in a lake, a river, or at the shore. If I don’t mind driving awhile, I have access to snorkeling or kayaking as my mood dictates. A friend asked me to join him for an open weekend and I suggested we opt for the boat this time. He has an inflatable kayak which is so easy to transport. He told me that he had thought of buying a regular one since he enjoyed the activity, but immediately noticed that it is heavy and causes drag on the roof of a car. He knew that would get my attention given my green nature because it means that the car uses up more gas. He is right. I don’t believe in wasting energy so why not go for the inflatable kayak. Your time on the water is virtually the same. You are zipping along at a nice pace as you take in a gorgeous day of fresh air and sun. Even a darker day is fun. You can’t control Mother Nature, but sometimes we get lucky as our great Instagram photos tell.

Sometimes things go awry and there is trouble inflating the kayak. Other times we forgot food and water and had to go on the hunt. While ashore, we can encounter critters and pests who want to spoil our day. Or we can lose sight of our car and have to walk for a mile or more to find it. Oh, for a peaceful trip! That is our goal. But we handle any adversity that comes our way. The most important point is that the kayak is solid, durable, and reliable. Inflatable isn’t a negative word. They are just as sleek, fast, and performance oriented as the other kind, but they are so much lighter. Some have an innovative design that is intended to be safe and stable. Plus, they don’t cost as much as the rigid models.

Kayaking is a dream in inflatable boat. My friend and I can pack it in a bag that is a fraction of its full size. This is called stowable portability. When I first saw this kind of kayak, I was impressed with the breakthrough in construction. When I first took a ride, I also saw the value of high-performance paddling. Bravo to the manufacturer of our particular boat. It is tough enough for whitewater due to the thick hull material. This is not a flimsy item and it sets up in a mere ten minutes. They are suitable for beginner or experienced paddlers alike so I can recommend it to anyone young or old. We knew we made a good choice when my friend bought it. It has provided many hours of outdoor enjoyment and fun. What a great value in boating today. I say go for it.

Meanwhile we had a wonderful time with no mishaps. It was a day of flat-water paddling, a scenic view, and exercise of a unique kind.

The Solar Powered Generation

The generation that we’re now living in has a valuable resource in solar energy. Solar power is clean and reliable but the greatest feature is that it is a renewable energy resource. Using the energy of the sun for power will reduce the amount of pollution that we are producing while helping to conserve what is left of our non-renewable natural resources for future generations.

A quick glance at the process for creating solar energy

Energy from the sun is converted into usable energy through the use of solar powered photovoltaic (also known as PV) panels, which convert the rays of the sun into electricity. This is accomplished by an excitement of the electrons in silicon cells with light photons that are produced by the sun. An inverter is used to make the conversion to DC electricity. The process may seem complicated at first glance, but in reality, it is a fairly simple concept and it is a process that is just gaining in popularity but its use is not as widespread as it needs to be.

Benefits of Solar power in this generation

We’re at a stage in our evolution when we have clear signals that our environment is suffering from the effects of pollution. It is affecting our climate and resulting in drastic weather changes and a poorer quality of the air that we breathe and the water that we consume. In addition to this, we’re using up natural resources so quickly that soon there will be none left. This means that the resources we currently rely on to power our vehicles, homes and businesses will be gone and we’ll have no choice but to develop different sources of electricity. Now is the time to take action and start making the conversion instead of waiting. By adopting solar power, we can help to clean up the environment with huge reductions in carbon emissions.

Additional advantages of solar power

Solar power can result in lowering the utility bills. While some may view the cost involved in switching over as a burden, in the longer run, a solar system will pay for itself. Once this milestone is reached, overhead expenses for businesses and utility bills for homeowners is less than what those who rely on other energy sources are paying on a monthly basis. The process of generating solar energy is silent and it doesn’t contribute to noise pollution and solar electricity power plants produce no emissions.

What we have to gain from solar power

In addition to saving money in utility expenses, the switch to solar power is a step in the right direction for taking a green approach to everyday living. When you are making a contribution to the generation of a cleaner green power source from your solar electrical system, you’re reducing pollution by cutting down on the need for fossil fuels. You leave a smaller footprint in the delicate ecosystem and you’re helping yourself in the process.

Smarter Landscaping Ideas

I think that most of us are aware of the need to conserve water as a precious resource that is also at risk for depletion. Many countries around the globe are now experiencing shortages that are costing them the health and lives of their citizens. While we’re still in a good position to do so, it’s time to start planning ahead with more water smart landscaping plans.

How the water smart system works

The advances that we’ve made in technology are amazing and very useful. There is actually an application called the WaterSenese Water Budget Tool and it is really useful in planning a new landscape to maximize its water efficiency. It works by calculating the size of your yard and your climate based on the zip code of your home or business. The app lets you know where you stand with regard to available water resources for your area. Here are some tips that can help you in landscaping for a smart water system.

Go with native plants

The plants that are found naturally growing in your region are the ones that are the most likely to thrive under the climate conditions. By selecting low water requiring species, you cut down on the amount of irrigation that is needed throughout the year. Some of the more exotic plants often found in lush moisture laden climates are likely to require larger amounts of water.

Configure planting in conjunction with water requirements

To get the most out of the water that you’ll need to use for irrigation, put the plants with the most similar watering needs in close proximity. This is an excellent way to cut down on water waste. Your plants are also more likely to thrive if you use this type of grouping system. Under or overwatering will affect the overall health of the plant so you win twice with this system. You’ll have your own little system of hydrozones that can also have an aesthetic appeal.

Reduce water runoff

A lot of water gets wasted on hills and slopes. Once the plants are watered, the rest runs off into areas that may not need the drink. If you do use hills and slopes in your landscaping, a smart way to approach the situation is to tier the plantings so any runoff will spill onto plants that are in need of the water. This is a great way to maximize the use of every drop of water.

Plant native grasses with high water retention

This might take a little research on your part, but there are varieties of grasses that are native to your region that will do well in your climate with minimal amounts of water. Those that form a heavy turf tend to soak up water and retain it for a reduction in the need for watering.