Recycling

Why Recycle?

Recycling is one of the simplest solutions for sustainable living. From the perspective of environmental health and sustainability, recycling and reducing waste is one of the most important actions we can take. While it may not result in the tangible short-term cost savings to the home owner as decreasing energy and electricity use, neither does it have the associated upfront cost. Nevertheless, recycling and waste reduction result in long term cost savings for the entire community by reducing the demand for landfills.  Municipalities can even make money by selling the recycled material.

What can by recycled?

In the US, municipalities are generally responsible for any curb-side or city-wide recycling programs. The municipality will usually decide what types of materials they will accept for recycling. Therefore, you should always check with your city or town recycling program to determine what can be recycled at the curb. The most common materials for curb-side recycling programs are plastics, glass, cardboard, paper and certain metals. Even if your local program accepts all of these materials, there are often others, such as batteries and light bulbs that can be recyclable but aren’t accepted with curb-side recycling programs. In the Green Living Resources section of the Green Pro Directory site, you can find various links and information that will enable you to find a drop off location that will accept such materials for recycling.

Organic Gardening

With the onset of supermarkets in the past few decades, increasing numbers of Americans have become less and less familiar with growing at least a portion of their own food supply. Realizing the dangers and drawbacks to eating processed, mass produced, and mono-cultured foods has led some to start looking elsewhere. Farmers markets, co-ops, and other local and organic food providers are a great antidote for these problems. You can find such local and organic food providers on the green directory. Going a step further and getting some hands-on experience is worth the effort. Community gardens provide such an experience and are becoming increasingly popular as means of providing nutritious, fresh food for urban, suburban and rural families alike.

Community Gardens

Community gardens are beneficial for many reasons. Economically, many crops can often be cultivated and harvested for less money than they would cost to by in a store. If there is enough, you could even sell the surplus at a local farmer’s market. Socially, the sense and strength of community is increased as the individual members cooperate on the garden work. Environmentally, much less energy is consumed and emissions produced because the food does not have to be transported hundreds, if not thousands, of miles. Also, the environment benefits from the use of minimal or even no pesticides or other environmental pollutants. Educationally, children and adults gain valuable life experiences through the practice of sowing seeds, maintaining the garden and harvesting crops. Last but not least are the health benefits associated with eating food from community gardens. This food is often more fresh, more nutrient-rich and less laden with preservatives and other potentially toxic chemicals and pesticides.

Where to Start

Talk with your neighbors to gauge community wide interest in starting a community garden. If it seems like there is enough support for the idea, start planning basic details like location, size, types of crops, work responsibilities, produce and, if applicable, profit sharing. Abandoned and underutilized plots are good places to consider. Community gardens can transform these eyesores into useful and valuable land. It’s always a good idea to have the soil tested before you begin to insure it is safe for planting and eating edible crops.

Who to Call?

Consult with a local green pro for help where needed. The green landscaping section of the green directory is a great place to find green professionals who can help in your area. You can also ask a green pro any specific questions you may have on the green forum and find additional educational green living resources on sustainable food sources and other topics in the Resources section of the Green Pro Directory website.

Rain Water Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting provides an environmentally-conscious and sustainable source for water usage in and around your residence. In this blog you will find valuable information and tips on how to harness rainwater.

A Wasteful Tradition

Relatively clean water falls on our properties; flows into the street, into the gutter, then through a labyrinth of pipes. This water gets increasingly dirty along its journey to a stream and a water treatment facility. Energy and chemicals are used in water-treatment facilities to clean the water of the pollutants it picked up on its journey. Finally, more energy is used to pump this cleaned water through another labyrinth of leaking pipes to end its journey back at the properties where the journey began. To make matters worse, much of this high-embodied-energy water is used to perform tasks such as collecting and flushing human and other waste.

A More Sustainable Alternative

Rainwater harvesting allows us to collect the rain that falls on our property, store it in a tank, and use it when needed. These uses can be as simple as watering the lawn, or for household non-potable (low-quality water not sufficient for consumption) and even potable needs (high quality water suitable for consumption) where not prohibited by law. For the latter, the water will need to be filtered and tested to insure it is safe; however this is rarely a problem that cannot be overcome. For every 1,000 square feet of roof area, around 600 gallons of water can be collected for every inch of rain.

Which Rainwater Harvesting System is Best?

Rain barrels are a good first step, but quickly become inadequate if you are serious about rainwater collection and use. A standard barrel can contain 60 to 80 gallons, a fraction of the collection potential from a typical roof. For those who want to start small and build storage capacity in a step-by-step way, modular setups are an eco-friendly and water efficient solution. Modular systems can be aesthetically pleasing and versatile. Many can be oriented vertically or horizontally and stored along a wall or fence, under a deck or in some other convenient location. Start with a number and capacity you can afford and manage and, as you are able, add more. Installation is simple and connects easily with other modules. For those ready to put in a larger system from the start (e.g. 1,500+ gallons), a modern cistern is a water saving solution. New versions of this centuries-old system can be located either above or below ground and offer both a safe water supply and almost unlimited storage capacity.

Who to Call?

The Green Directory on the GPD website will help you find green professionals that install rain water harvesting systems in your area. You can also ask a green pro any specific questions you may have on the “Ask a Green Pro” forum and find additional educational resources on rainwater harvesting and other topics in the Green Living Resources of the Green Pro Directory website.

Green Directory Tops 50,000 Green Businesses

GreenProDirectory.com (GPD) is the online home nation-wide green directory of local green pros and green living resources.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY – Aug 09, 2010 – There are now over 50,000 green businesses in the GPD online green directory. To the environmentally-conscious public, this milestone translates into unprecedented and comprehensive access to local green professionals providing a large variety of services. Visitors to the green directory can find local green pros such as green builders and remodelers, energy auditors and solar PV installers, indoor air quality testing, green landscapers and much, much more.

In addition to local green pros, the green directory has a valuable and expanding resources section to educate home and business owners about going green. These include a forum where green pros answer questions that visitors ask about green topics and a green resources page with DIY tools like a carbon footprint calculator.

Contact
Carrie Mills: media [at] greenprodirectory [dot] com or (646) 504-5258.

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About New Leaf Group
New Leaf Group works behind the scenes enabling our clients — whether national corporations or small independent businesses — to flourish in the green economy. If you are serious about realizing your full potential in this growing sector, call or email New Leaf Group (http://www.NewLeafGroup.net) today.

Press Release: Green Directory and Green Resources at your Fingertips

GreenProDirectory.com (GPD) is the online home to the freely accessible, comprehensive, and nation-wide green resource center.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY – Aug 02, 2010 – Green Pro Directory is the home of the freely accessible, comprehensive, and nation-wide green resource center. The site features an array of green companies as well as a green forum where the public can ask questions to green professionals. Also on the site will be a section connecting the public to green living resources, such as do-it-yourself tools and financial incentives. When searching the directory, only professionals local to the viewer’s area will be displayed.

The resource center currently contains over 100,000 green professionals, companies, organizations and resources located throughout the US.

The GPD eco resource center will increase public awareness of and access to the green professionals, tools, and resources that can help everyday citizens live more sustainably. Green Pro Directory will also help foster and grow the burgeoning green economy by providing green companies with increased visibility through exposure to a nation-wide, eco-friendly client base. Visitors can view and compare company profiles and contact them to schedule a job or get a quote.

As an owner of one of the green businesses listed on the site noted, “This has been a missing link in facilitating the green economy. There is a surprisingly large amount of local green businesses out there, it’s just been difficult to connect the dots until now.”

Contact
Carrie Mills: media [at] NewLeafGroup [dot] com or (646) 504-5258.

# # #

About New Leaf Group
New Leaf Group works behind the scenes enabling our clients — whether national corporations or small independent businesses — to flourish in the green economy. If you are serious about realizing your full potential in this growing sector, call or email New Leaf Group (http://www.NewLeafGroup.net) today.

Energy Tax Credits

Energy Tax Credits and Green Financial Incentives

There is currently a set of federal tax credits that are available covering a host of green and energy efficient projects. In addition, many states, municipalities and utilities have financial incentives including rebates, tax credits and tax deductions for green and energy efficient projects.

What Projects Are Covered?

In short, energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects are covered. Energy efficiency improvements include energy efficient water heaters, heat pumps, air conditioners, appliances, windows, doors, insulation, and many others. The credit for these improvements can be as much as $500.00 to $2500.
Renewable energy projects include solar hot water, geothermal heat pumps and solar and wind power. These projects can receive a federal tax credit of up to 30% in addition to any state, municipal or utility incentives in your area. One of the biggest changes concerns residential renewable energy projects like solar panels. The federal tax credit for these alternative energy projects was previously capped at $2000.00. However, this cap has now been removed. This potentially reduces the cost of a solar PV system for a residential application by as much as $10,000.00. Go to the Resources section of the Green Pro Directory site for links and information on federal, state and local energy tax credits and green financial incentives applicable to you.

Who to Call?

Green Pro Directory provides a selection of green companies across a comprehensive range of service types in your area. Use the green pro directory to find and contact green pros in your area to help you determine what incentives are available and which green or energy efficient projects may be of interest to you. You can also find more detailed information on current green financial incentives at the links on the Resources section of the GPD site.

Home Energy Audits

What is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is an inspection of a property that reveals how energy is consumed and how that consumption can be reduced, eliminated and/or made more efficient. There are two general factors to be considered in an audit: building and occupant. Building factors are those which are inherent to the property itself (e.g. presence of energy efficient lighting, insulation, etc). Occupant factors are those related to how occupants live and operate within the building (e.g. how frequently lights are turned on, thermostat settings, etc). A thorough audit will attempt to reveal the great majority, if not all, of both factors.

Energy auditors typically utilize diagnostic equipment such as thermal imagers and blower doors to both qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate your home. A thorough audit should take around two hours for the typical home and will provide you with very valuable advice on how to lower your energy bills and improve your property’s efficiency, comfort, value, and sustainability.

Why Should I Get an Energy Audit?

Most of us know about low-flow shower heads, CFLs and unplugging our cell phone chargers when not in use, but there is so much more. There are often major money drains in your attic, crawlspace, and throughout the house that a professional auditor can help locate and correct.

An energy audit is also appropriate when considering any energy efficiency or renewable energy project. The audit can help you decide whether or not these projects are truly worthwhile for your property, or if your money is best spent elsewhere.

Who to Call

As with any service, energy audits and energy auditors are not all equal. Use the green directory to find an energy auditor in your area. Look for one with HERS or BPI certification. Many auditors focus almost entirely on energy specific issues. Find an auditor who can incorporate other areas such as water, landscaping, and indoor air quality if these are important to you as well.

After you get your energy audit, Green Pro Directory will also help you find insulation contractors in your area that can implement the recommendations from the energy audit.

Hiring a Green Business

There are enough obstacles on the green path to cause even the best intentioned to stumble and get off track. Fortunately, trouble finding a professional and knowledgeable green contractor need not be one of them. We want to help you make your green project go as smoothly as possible and finding the right pro is the essential element. We hope the basic principles in this article will improve the quality of your project experience and outcome.

For starters, GreenProDirectory.com provides a comprehensive resource center for green living,  full of educational tools that can help you successfully plan and implement your green project. There is also a green forum where you can ask a green professional questions you may have. Finally, the directory contains green pros that can help you with practically any green project you can imagine. You may find that there are many green pros to choose from and making a decision can be confusing, if not daunting. Utilize the following principles to narrow your search for a green pro that best suits your needs.

  1. Compare: There are a host of “green” certifications out there. It takes some skill to know which ones mean something. The certification your pro should have will depend on the job in question. This is something we are working to provide further assistance on in the near future. Currently, you can view a company’s certifications, project profiles, client references, description and answer to the question “What makes you green?” in the directory. Comparing this information should offer an excellent first or second stage filter to narrow down your selection to the best pros in your area. The directory listings also can include a link to the company’s website. This is another easy way to find more detail about a specific company or pro.
  2. Contact: Once you’ve narrowed your list based on the above two steps, contact your prospective green businesses through the directory. The information you ask for will vary depending on the job, but consider the following:
    1. Previous Client References
    2. Tenure of Business
    3. Credentials and Qualifications
    4. Licenses (if applicable)
    5. Insurance (if applicable)
  3. Quote: Request a quote from each pro that meets your criteria. If the project is large scale, meet face to face with the pros you are considering to make sure you can communicate well with each other.
  4. Contract: Ask for a formal written agreement. This is the best way to make sure that all parties are on the same page, expectations are clearly understood, and everyone agrees on the terms.
  5. Enjoy: Appreciate a green job well done!