Better Insulation, Better Ideas

Working in the construction industry has given me some fair insights into how insulation can impact the building owners and the environment. Choosing the type and grade of insulation as well as the thickness will impact the overall energy efficiency of any structure. Some materials are manufactured with the planet in mind and these are my personal preferences to maintain our operations as being eco-friendly to the highest possible degree. I’d like to share my insights about which insulation types are the better alternatives for a more innovative approach to energy conservation.

Types of insulation and which is the best

The best insulation depends on the application and where it is needed. For example, homes which are already built most often take advantage of loose fill insulations because they can be pumped into existing walls without the need to remove any materials other than a small hole which is plugged and refinished after the process is completed.

Blanket, Batts and Roll insulation

This type comes in a format that is fairly easy to handle and to cut into precise measurements to fit into any size space. The materials used vary from Mineral wool; fiberglass; plastic fibers or natural fibers. This type is generally used when insulating structures with unfinished walls, foundation walls, floors, and ceilings. It is installed by fitting the batts or sheets in between the beams, studs, and joists. These are the most popular type for do it yourself enthusiasts and for contractors who are working with spaces with few obstructions. It is a fairly inexpensive type of insulation and when the recommended thickness is observed, it is quite effective.

Concrete Block Insulation

Foam board is the standard type of insulation used for concrete blocks. Some brands feature the infusion of foam beads into the concrete for increased R-values. These are generally placed on the exterior of the wall during new construction on the interior for existing structures. These require an expert skill level for installation and are often dry stacked and surface bonded. They help to increase the R-value of the walls for greater energy efficiency.

Loose-Fill/Blown-in Insulation

This type of insulation as alluded to earlier is the best choice for insulating existing structures. The most common materials for this type include cellulose, fiberglass or mineral wool. It is effective for use in enclosed existing walls or any open wall cavities, in unfinished attic floors or any other hard to reach places. Special equipment is needed to blow it into walls and other spaces, or it can be poured into other vacant areas if there is ample workspace.

Modern Insulation is eco-friendly

Most insulation materials manufactured today including cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral wool are made with recycled materials that were once considered to be waste. Fiberglass has a high content of recycled glass, mineral wool is 3/4 recycled industrial waste and cellulose is made from recycled newsprint.

Better materials with Better Benefits

The newer insulating materials are eco-friendly and they re-use materials that were once considered waste and clogged our refuse sites. An additional benefit of using the recommended insulation to seal air leaks in a building is the dramatic impact that it can have on monthly utility costs and occupant comfort. Yet another dual benefit that comes out of the situation is that we’re using far less energy while saving money to boot. I can’t make a stronger case for why your home or business should be thoroughly insulated.

Ways to Cut Your Power Dependency

I wanted to write a blog for fellow souls, those who value being green and supporting sustainability ideas. Let’s all rally around a good cause and save the planet. It is as simple as that. We don’t want to punish any businesses excessively, but we do want to stop chemical dumping practices. We want consumers to make smart choices in their products and to recycle when they can. We want, in short, more awareness and I depend on you to help me spread the word. Being green is being practical so it takes a certain kind of mind to be ecological in spirit. I value people who don’t turn their heads away from facts. I say, get real and face reality before it is too late. Now I am not one of those scare mongers so keep reading. I just want to remind people of their responsibility as citizens and to do their best to comply with what we already know about saving resources. We want to repurpose wood and metal in the construction industry and to avoid taxing the planet to give us more and more supplies.

Meanwhile I am here to provide a few handy tips that are easy for everyone to do like unplugging your phone charger when you are not using it and the job is done. I also advise using power strips and turning off lights when you are not at home. I am all about cutting power dependency today. Just look at your utility bills and you will know what kind of user you are. If you are average, then so be it. If you rank in the over-usage range according to the data, it is time to listen up. I don’t care if you can afford to be wasteful. Let’s just make an effort to conserve energy.

Here’s one idea you can adopt with little money and no effort: a fan. Yes, this simple old-fashioned device can help cut energy usage, especially in the summer when the air conditioning unit is operating at maximum level. If you want a more modern design, buying one of the best tower fan models on the market is a must. Even in winter, they circulate the air (remember, warm air needs to be moved from the heat source to be most effective) and keep you warm. No need for excessive heating from your central system.

So, I really love the idea of a fan and I recommend that you do as I did and put one or two in your home. Maybe it is not possible to get offices on board, but surely you can value the energy savings and great décor that a fan adds to your space. They come in virtually all sizes and colors. You can customize your rooms with painted or wood-stained options. Anything you like. But we all know that it is not about interior decoration. Installing a fan is the least you can do to get green and start changing your wasteful ways.

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.