Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thorne Our Guy for Landscape

Today David and I met with David Thorne, Principal, and Hillary Curtis, Designer and ex-SF Ballerina, of David Thorne Landscape Architects. We have been working with them for months and are so giggly about our current plan for mostly ultra-local natives plus some cool graywater sculptures and eco-fencing.  Landscape is one place where we need to do what brings a sensual experience without making us feel like slaves to green.  Think we got it, but let's see how it unfolds.

Their office is at 3315 Grand Avenue - who knew such designy and hot spaces existed on tired Grand Avenue?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Renovation Nation Airs Our Segment

Our home and the GreenPod by David Gottfried will be featured again on August 20, 2008, on Discovery Channel's Planet Green, airing 6pm PST. Around our zipcode of 94618 - that is Comcast channel 201 and channel 286 on DIRECTV.

The initial airing of the show was July 31, 2008.

The producers have changed our air date several times, so we'll keep you posted!

GreenPod has 1.4 KW of solar power, plus we have an additional 1.4 on the house and 3 solar hot-water panels.  More on that soon.

New Green Bank Provides Our Home Loan

We are thrilled to finance our eco-remodel with New Resource Bank, the nation's first green bank.  New Resource gave us 0.5% off of our home equity loan for our use of solar and the LEED rating system.  They also offer solar financing, helpful because  you can pay monthly as your utility costs go down, which helps with the slow-ish return on investment with Solar.  Check them out right here.  They also offer personal and business banking services, and they are based in 'cisco.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We obsessed way too long on paint.  Our colorist wanted Benny Moore, but my darling husband was not sufficiently impressed with the green titer.  We chose Mythic - coverage is sweet, coupled with no VOCs and no toxins.  You can practically eat this stuff in your morning smoothie.

Here's my darling husband against the yummy new green powder room walls.

Here's the dining room in progress.

You probably know already that VOCs or Volatile Organic (not the GOOD organic) Compounds are little nasty beasts that you can smell when someone paints with the toxic stuff.  It might make your eyes tear or cause your throat to be scratchy, or give you a headache or dizziness or perhaps kidney failure or sick building syndrome.  Some VOCs act as greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.  One estimate is that 10% of the ozone depletion in the US is due to VOCs.  Not good.  We can do better!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dwell Features Spray Foam Insulation

Thumbing through the June issue, I happen upon Fritz Klaetke's renovation of a South End row house in Boston. Fritz was a friend of my roommate in medical school, Katherine Hein, MD. The home is gorgeous although how can those pics look so good when they have a kid? Do you stage your house and stay in a hotel while the photography is being done?

Fritz and his wife, Susan Battista, set up their businesses on the ground floor: Fritz is a graphic designer; Susan runs a market-research firm, Topic 101.

I miss the South End!

Fritz used closed-cell spray foam insulation to keep his house non-drafty, which is rather extraordinary for a Boston home, especially one built in 1846. I was never as cold as my five years at Boston in med school, and when I interviewed for residency in January 1994, it was 10 degrees in Boston, and sunny and 70 degrees in San Fran... I ranked UCSF first with lightening speed. In any case, we also used closed-cell spray foam - InsulStar - in our more modest craftsman in Rockridge.

David chose InsulStar because it had the highest R value (6.4) and does not off-gas nor mold (I have terrible mold allergies as do many people, very important). We sprayed in our attic and bathroom.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Curtains for Certain

Can you keep a straight face when people say "window treatments?" There I was last Monday, hanging out with beautiful Kendall Wilkinson, famous interior designer to the San Fran stars, and she said it. Oy, now need to source some pretty eco-curtains and be a grown up about it.

How 'bout these from Drape Source? Made of bamboo and linen. First saw them on the blog Green Your Decor.

I like these patterns. Waiting on swatches -- isn't that what adults do? Check out Drape Style right here. Let me now if you know of other pretty and eco sources as I am finding the options limited.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lush Native Garden: Not an Oxymoron

Tonight we ate oak leaf lettuce harvested from our garden, and we were feeling rather virtuous, as if we were channeling Michael Pollan. We've been slowly waking up to the fact that we need to work on landscaping, and our idea is to be ultra-local about it. Only problem is that the "Native Plant" gardens we've seen seem rather... scruffy, to say the least.

Have no fear, a beloved patient of mine has clued me into the work of noted local master Fourth Dimension, "restoring the Earth, one garden at a time." Check it out.

So we are slowly adjusting to the scene. We are letting go of the lush Mediterrenean garden with boug, fragrant clematis and vibrant color in favor of super local plants. We got turned onto the Native Here Nursery in Tilden Park, where they sell plants that are all started from seed gathered in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. We're just trying to avoid the scruff factor.

Radical Choice: Induction Cooktop

I love to cook. While the roar of the big gas flame on my Mother-in-Law's Viking makes me all warm inside - it's just not that good for the planet and there are other more efficient options. We chose an induction cooktop for two reasons: energy efficiency and safety. We have two kids, and our cooktop is on a peninsula between the kitchen and dining room. Our 3-year-old in particular loves to hang out in the kitchen and we don't want her little exploratory hands to get burned.

Induction cooktops are a revolutionary way of cooking that uses the power of electro-magnetic waves to heat food fast and efficiently. Amazingly, the cooktop remains lukewarm to the touch during the heating process because the electro-magnetic waves turn the bottom of the pot into the active heating surface, rather than the cooktop. This helps them to be much safer than gas or electric cooktops. Plus they deliver unrivalled efficiency by using 30% less energy, and heat food over twice faster than conventional ceramic cooktops. They are used a ton in Europe, but we just don't see them as often here in the States.

We chose Bosch because, well, they offered a generous deal to David. Plus their cooktops are beautiful as are their refrigerators. More on that later....
Now one catch is that your cooking implements might need to shift. It's best to cook with stainless steel. But what girl doesn't want an excuse for a new set of All-Clad?!

For more than you ever wanted to know about induction, check this website. I'm thinking they offer a PhD in induction cooktop science.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Balance Your Dosha While You Sleep

Mary Mulcahy designs and creates these wondrous textiles using the ancient art of Kalamkari, using sun-bleached naturally-dyed cottons, hand-blocked with carved wood dipped in Ayurvedic dyes, derived from plants, roots, earth and rock. I need to know more about what Ayurvedic dyes do to a person, but I'm feeling my dosha getting balanced just lookin'.

We're thinking the brown bed pillows with our outlet Coyugucci.

Check out their online store right here.

Coyugucci Organic Bedding

We bought our duvet and sheets from Coyuchi's outlet store in Point Reyes. They also feature baby bedding and robes. Our youngest daughter, Maya, still uses her Coyuchi sheets to cover her cot in preschool.

Here's our duvet. We'll show it again after we paint our walls nontoxic cocoa in 2 weeks.

Buy their stuff right here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Capturing Our Hearts & Rainwater

David bonded recently with newly relocated architect and designer Sally Dominguez and we can't wait to install her Rainwater Hogs for capturing rainwater for our garden. She came up with the design when told it was impossible to fit a water storage tank under her small garden deck, so Sally did the right thing: she designed her own. The Rainwater Hog (2006) is a modular storage tank for collecting rainwater that can then be reused for watering plants, washing the car or whatever you need. “I was surprised to find the urban dweller had been completely overlooked when it comes to tools for water harvesting,” says Dominguez who designed the Rainwater Hog to work as a single unit or in multiples for homeowners, businesses or renters (installation doesn’t have to be permanent). The Hog can be installed vertically against a wall, or horizontally, and it’s specifically sized to fit between structural frames. One unit holds 47 gallons of rainwater collected from a downspout, and if a larger capacity is needed, simply attach another Hog. A percentage of sales will go to the nonprofit Water Aid. Also in keeping with the eco-conscious Hog, is the fact that it ships without packaging. Other than a small box holding an Elbow Vent and Connector taped to the unit, the Hog arrives unwrapped, unboxed and just as you see it pictured. A Leaf Catcher/Outlet Kit must be purchased (sold separately) for the Hog. (Subsequent Hogs can be added without needing extra Leaf Catcher/Outlet Kits.) A Wall-Mounting Kit is also available for vertical installation. Get it here. We're thinking 8+ hogs, vertically mounted along the side of the house.

These tanks have a capacity of 180L/47 Gallons and measure 1800mm x 500mm x 220mm. You can position the rainwaterhog to fit under decks, up against walls and along side passageways.

Here's a few snaps under your deck or mounted horizontally....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Eco-Smart Fireplace: So Cool

Came in last week. We love a cozy fire but how to do it and walk the talk? Eco-smart Fire is the way. It's basically a burner like in chem lab but it burns ethanol - renewable, eco and smart.

Then for those of us with wild children, you add a screen....

Or not.

All EcoSmart™ Fires feature a burner as its core flame technique. "While it looks clean and simple, internally the engineering and design is sophisticated and intelligently considered. The EcoSmart™ Burner assembles like a puzzle with a cover that seals and protects the internal mechanics. Its modular design allows varieties of fascias and enables it to slot into place." -- from their website.

Cool part is that it's a flue-less open fire that can be installed just about anywhere! Check it out right here.