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Niagara's New Eco-Friendly Toilet!

by Preservation Properties

2010_9_16_Niagara.jpg

Niagara has recently come out with the Stealth Toilet which uses only 0.8 gallons per flush. How does it work?

While it looks pretty much like any typical toilet, the new Stealth saves 37% more water than a typical toliet. How does it work? According to the manufacturer:

During Filling:
Water fills the tank and inner chamber, forcing air to the top of the chamber and down the transfer tube. Positive pressure is exerted on the water in the bowl by the air being forced through the transfer tube into the trapway. A larger water surface area is created in the bowl due to the pressurized trapway.
During Flushing:
Inside the inner chamber, the exiting water creates a vacuum effect that depressurizes the trapway. As the trapway depressurizes, a suction force is created that pulls the wastewater into the trapway. The trapway is completely filled producing an extremely efficient flush. Water exiting the tank cleans the bowl and flushes waste down the trapway.

Priced between $310 and $325 the Stealth Toilet is a great way to conserve water behind the scenes.

Find out more at Niagara Conservation.

(This post comes from ApartmentTherapy.com)

How To Shop For Environmentally-Friendly Rug

by Preservation Properties

So, you'd like to get an "eco-friendly" rug, but you're probably wondering: what does that even mean? Get informed and confident about your purchase with these 5 shopping tips:

1. Look for natural fibers. Over 90% of all the carpets and most machine-made rugs are made of petroleum-based synthetic fiber, which can off-gas a lot of VOCs. In contrast, natural fiber rugs are made from renewable resources, are biodegradable, many (like wool) have natural stain resistance, and they emit low amounts of VOCs. Try to choose from the following fibers: untreated or minimally-treated wool, organic cotton, jute, seagrass, sisal, and coir.

2. Look for non-toxic backing and underlay pads. It's important that rug backings and underlay pads are also made of untreated natural materials to prevent off-gassing. Look for pads made from untreated wool or camel's hair felt that are sewn, not glued, to a jute backing. Or, look for a natural latex backing, wwhich is preferable to foam rubber, synthetic latex, or plastic.

3. Ask about the chemical treatments. Even if the rug was made with a natural fiber, many times those fibers can still be treated with stain, insect, or flame repellents, all of which can emit VOCs. For example, sheep raised with conventional farming practices are often dipped in pesticide baths to control parasites such as lice, ticks, and mites, which creates a lot of health risks for the sheep and the workers. Wool fiber is also traditionally processed with solvents and detergents. Cotton farming consumes on average 25% percent of all chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and relies on large amounts of synthetic chemicals, including fixers and dyes. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown and processed without dioxin-producing bleach, defoliants, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers. So look for rugs that are labeled as organic, untreated, minimally-treated, or non-toxic.

4. Look at the certifications. Trying to find out all these details as an individual consumer can be difficult, if not impossible sometimes, so that's when it's good to buy a rug whose environmental and health claims have been verified by an independent organization. The best certifications guarantee that the rugs in question are made from renewable resources or recycled materials and that the company has taken steps to reduce pollutants and waste from the manufacturing process. A few certifications to keep your eye out for:


5. Check out Take Back programs for synthetic rugs. If you do purchase a synthetic rug, check if the manufacturer has a take-back program. When a rug or carpet is returned to the manufacturer, it's either used to make a new carpet (closed loop recycling), cleaned, refurbished and given to a charity (repurpose), or stripped into its components and made into new, lesser products like auto parts, carpet pads, plastic lumber, sound barriers, landscape timbers, nylon pallets, and parking stops (downcycling). The Carpet America Recovery Program (CARE) is an independent organization designed to encourage manufacturers to assume responsibility for a carpet’s lifecycle, including its disposal. Check out their website for rug recycling locations.

Real Estate Q & A

by Preservation Properties

This is a recent post with the New York Times with a few Real Estate Q&As.  I follow their real estate section quite extensively so you will surely see many posts from them.

The Parking Meter Will Keep Running

Q My wife and I are rent-stabilized tenants. Included in our lease is a parking spot in the building’s garage. Our car was recently stolen and we might not replace it. Must we pay for the spot until our current lease expires?

A “Yes, the writer must pay for the parking space until the end of the current rent-stabilized lease term," and may even have to continue to pay for the space under a renewal lease, said Thomas P. Higgins, a landlord-tenant lawyer in Manhattan. He noted, however, that since parking spaces are usually in high demand, the landlord might allow the writer to give up the space immediately. “It’s worth asking,” he said.

No Reserve Fund at New Condo

Q I bought a condominium in a new-construction building two years ago. The sponsor did not create any emergency reserve fund for the building. Was there any legal obligation to do so?

A Allen H. Brill, a Manhattan co-op and condo lawyer, said that under state law and regulations relating to new-construction condominiums, a sponsor is not required to establish a reserve fund. In fact, the typical offering plan often explicitly states that no provision has been made for any contribution by the sponsor toward the reserve fund. But, Mr. Brill said, sponsors often provide for a “working capital fund” to be financed by unit buyers in the amount of about one or two months’ common charges to meet immediate expenses.

Landlord’s Liability in a Burglary

Q I moved into my apartment at the beginning of August. The landlord knew the previous tenant left on bad terms and failed to replace locks after telling us he would. Later that month, our apartment was robbed by someone with keys to the outside and apartment doors. Can the landlord be held accountable for the value of our stolen property?

A “I think there may be sufficient facts here to make a claim against the landlord for the damages,” said Kent Karlsson, a Manhattan tenant lawyer. He said that the landlord’s knowledge of the problems with the former tenant, along with his failure to change the locks, would bolster that claim. The tenant can sue the landlord in Small Claims Court if the loss is less than $5,000, and in civil court if it is more. “The tenant should have proof of the facts he alleges, such as testimony or documents, and proof of the value of the property that was stolen,” Mr. Karlsson said.

Dealing With Fees on Security Deposits

Q A landlord of a rent-stabilized apartment is allowed to charge 1 percent of the security deposit as an administrative fee. If the interest rate on such a deposit is less than 1 percent, can the landlord take the fee from the deposit itself?

A “The law that allows for the fee is imprecise and was enacted at a time when interest rates on security deposits were above 1 percent,” said Robert Sokolski, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants. He said that while the law is as the writer states, the Legislature apparently believed that there would remain a balance to be paid to the tenant. So, Mr. Sokolski said the intent appears to limit the 1 percent to the interest paid on the account and not on the account itself.

Empires of Food Book Signing

by Preservation Properties

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/greenblog/2010/09/empires_of_food_book_signing.html

The Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) is hosting Andrew Rimas, co-author of the book Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations for a book reading and signing on Friday at 6:30pm. After the event, there will be complimentary hor d'oeuvres and wine. The event is free, but you must RSVP: information@bcae.org

Devices That Help Plug Electrical Leaks

by Preservation Properties

I just saw this article from the New York Times

You dutifully sort your plastic and paper. You are hip to the latest low- and no-VOC paints. You have even thought about buying a hybrid car. But what about the electricity you use at home? Not only does it come at a cost to the environment, but it also costs you — to the tune of $2,200 a year, on average, for a single-family home.

A “smart” power strip from Belkin can learn what to turn off and what to keep on.

Hand-held gadgets with batteries are great about communicating their energy needs (“recharge me if you ever want to hear Scritti Politti again!”), but what about the bigger machines in your home — the ones that lazily slurp up power all day long even, in some cases, when you think they are turned off? What can you do about them?

Spend any time reading about the country’s electrical infrastructure, and you might think a solution is around the corner. Politicians and policy wonks use phrases like “smart grid.” In the future, they say, we will all live in intelligent homes that will not only take from but also give back to the energy matrix.

In the meantime, there are a number of products to help you track and manage your energy consumption.

VAMPIRES AMONG US

Vampire power may sound like a radical movement of “Twilight” fans, but it is far more mundane. The open secret is this: The things you turn off, like televisions, DVD players, cable boxes? They’re not really “off.” Many devices have to maintain a trickle of electricity (indicated by those little red LEDs that glow) to receive a signal from a remote control or display a digital clock.

This has been more an offense to people’s principles than to their finances. Under the best (or worst) of circumstances, vampire power accounts for tens of dollars a year — not enough to make a real dent in your savings, but still, money that could be saved. Until recently, the only way to ensure that these things were truly power-free was to take direct, manual action, like unplugging the TV from the wall or turning off a power strip’s switch.

But who wants to do that several times a day? The less motivated but still guilt-ridden can get the same result by buying a “smart” power strip. There are many models, but the goal is the same: to cut all power to devices that do not require it when they are turned off, while continuing to supply electricity to things that do, like DVRs. Belkin, the tech-accessory maker, has a smart strip called the Conserve AV that retails for about $30. When you turn off your TV, the strip knows to shut off power to other devices (like your DVD player and your home-theater system) that are plugged into it as well.

Another handy device from Belkin, the Conserve Insight (also about $30, available in September), measures the energy draw of plug-in appliances. It allows you to identify the worst offenders and estimate their cost, in dollars, kilowatts or pounds of carbon dioxide.

THRIFTY PRODUCTS

In the future, efficiencies will not be add-ons — they will be built into the products themselves. Some progress is already being made.

Apple’s new AA-battery charger (about $30), for instance, shifts into low-energy mode once it has finished recharging a pair of batteries.

Lutron’s Eco-Home dimmers have a variety of enlightened energy functions. The Maestro Eco-Minder dimmer (about $46 at lutronstore.com) encourages conservation with LEDs that change from red to green when your lights are dimmed 15 percent or more. It’s a subtle reminder to dial back when you do not need operating-room levels of illumination.

The company’s Maestro Eco-Timer (about $48) automatically shuts off power after a certain length of time, making it useful for bathroom fans and vestibule lights. And its Maestro Dimmer with Vacancy Sensor ($54) can determine when a room is unoccupied, shutting off the lights when no one is home.

CLIMATE CONTROL

 The best tool for getting energy use under control may be one that many people already have — a programmable thermostat.

The energy spent on heating and cooling generally far outweighs the energy used by consumer electronics, appliances or lighting. What’s more, there’s a real opportunity for savings because people often do not take full advantage of their digital thermostats.

“It’s just a pain to program them,” said Seth Frader-Thompson, the chief executive of EnergyHub, a start-up company that is designing an easy-to-use thermostat and energy control system. “The interfaces are really obtuse.”

Mr. Frader-Thompson estimates that about 80 percent of Americans do not use the settings. “It’s just like the 12 o’clock blinking on the VCR,” he said.

In fact, because a thermostat’s effectiveness is entirely dependent on how it is installed and set up, Energy Star stopped rating them in 2009. The government program estimates that a properly programmed thermostat can save an average of $180 annually.

Lutron’s Maestro Eco-Timer shuts off power after a length of time; it can be useful for fans and vestibule lights.

Apple’s AA-battery charger draws less power once it has finished recharging a pair of batteries.

The first step is to find the manual and set aside 15 minutes for programming. (If you no longer have the manual, search for an electronic copy online, using the model number.)

The next step is setting comfortable morning and evening temperatures, and day and sleep temperatures, to keep the heating and air-conditioning systems from working too hard. Energy Star’s recommended settings, listed on its Web site (energystar.gov), are a good starting point.

For those who do not have a programmable thermostat, upgrading to one (which costs about $50) can be an easy do-it-yourself project or a quick job for an electrician, who may also help you with the setup. When choosing a model, keep in mind that simplicity is crucial, but make sure it has modes for weekends and weekdays.

ONLINE INSIGHTS

 Another way to get control of your energy use is to squeeze more information out of your utility bill. Several free Web sites may show your usage history more clearly than your bill. Earth Aid (earthaid.net) synchronizes with your utilities’ accounts and shows your electricity, gas and water use in colorful graphs; it also compares your usage with that of any neighbors who are members.

Google’s PowerMeter (google.com/powermeter) site and Microsoft’s Hohm (microsoft-hohm.com) offer a similar free service, with number-crunching graphs and efficiency recommendations. Earth Aid’s service, however, connects with more than 200 power, gas and water companies — far more than its competitors. It also rewards good behavior: If you curtail 75 kilowatt hours, for example, you earn points redeemable for a dog wash. Or a cupcake.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

 The biggest gains for energy management will come once most traditional electrical meters have been replaced with smart meters. This will facilitate two-way communication between a home and the power grid and will also allow homeowners to take advantage of off-peak pricing, when power rates are lowest. The eventual result will be appliances that can make efficient decisions, like a dishwasher that waits until rates are lowest to run its cycle.

But widespread installation of smart meters isn’t expected until 2020; less than 10 percent of American meters now in use have the technology. And smart appliances are still hard to find.

If “Jetsons” wizardry is something you can’t wait for, utilities around the country are running pilot programs that bring smart meters and forward-looking technology into a few homes. In Queens, for example, Con Edison is outfitting 300 homes with smart meters and energy-monitoring equipment; a small control panel displays real-time energy use for appliances that can be turned on or off remotely. Your utility company can tell you if similar programs are available for you to test drive.

Top 10 Energy Saving Tips

by Preservation Properties

1.    Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

CFLs use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and can last up to ten times as long.  By replacing the five most commonly used bulbs in your home, you can save about $70 every year on energy costs.  The more you replace, the more you save.  For more information, visit our green topic page on compact fluorescent light bulbs.

2.    Unplug appliances, chargers, and electronics you are not using. 

Vampire power (also called phantom energy) is the energy used by electronics that are turned off.  This can account for as much as 10% of your home energy use. To help combat these unused power drains,

  • Keep outlets clear as much as possible. 

  • In areas where you have several electronics that are commonly used, consider plugging them into a power strip and turning the strip off when they are not in use.  This will prevent the energy drain that would occur if they were plugged directly into the wall. 

  • To help avoid tangled cords (especially when unplugged), consider purchasing a charging station or labeling the ends of the cords using tape or small labels with the name of the electronic it powers.  This will make it easier to identify what you're plugging in without having to retrace cords. 

  • Unplug electronics when they are fully charged.

Lawrence Berkley's National Laboratory claims that aggressive measures taken to combat vampire power can reduce the amount of standby electricity utilized in your home by about 30% (http://standby.lbl.gov/cutting.html). For more information, visit http://standby.lbl.gov/standby.html

3.    Install a programmable thermostat.

Programmable thermostats are a great way to lower your energy bills by offering you pre-determined control over your homes heating and cooling schedule.  Not only does this save on energy by altering temperature to energy-saving settings while you are away or sleeping, it does it automatically according to your set guidelines allowing you to save energy without even thinking about it. Many models come with a filter sensor that tells you when to change your HVAC filters to further maximize energy efficiency.  For more information on programmable thermostats, visit our green topic page.

4.    Save water - Put aerators on faucets and install a low-flow showerhead.

Aerators attach to your faucet to decrease the water flow while maintaining high pressures.  Since faucets make up around 15% of a typical home's indoor water use, decreasing the water flow on every faucet in your home can easily help save a significant amount of water.  Low-flow showerheads essentially work the same way, minimizing the amount of water you use while running the shower. Look for hardware with the EPA's Water Sense label for products that are at least 20% more efficient than standard models.  For more information on water savings, click here.

5.    Recycle.

According to the National Recycling Coalition, the average American discards 7.5 lbs. of garbage every day!  Recycling not only helps minimize this amount of waste being put into landfills, it helps minimize the use of natural resources and saves energy in manufacturing new products.  And the best part is, it's easy!  Put up bins in your garage or laundry room (if you have kids, let them decorate them) and sort your cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass, steel, etc.  Once every couple of weeks, make a trip to your local recycling center and deposit your recyclables.  For more information on the effects of recycling, check out http://www.nrc-recycle.org/theconversionator/shell.html.

6.    Use eco-friendly cleaners. 

In 2007, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that 15% of all asthma cases were caused by exposure to unsafe cleaning products.  To avoid this and other negative effects, look for cleaners with the EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) label or the Green Seal.  These products are held to rigorous standards ensuring the the safest ingredient in each class (bleach, sterilizer, etc.) is used.  For a complete list of DfE products, click here.  For a list of certified Green Seal products, click here.

7.    Fill air leaks with caulking or weather stripping. 

Cracks around your windows and doors can be a major energy drain on your home as they decrease the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by allowing air to escape.  To avoid this problem, apply caulk or weather stripping around windows and doors or other spaces where air may be leaking through.  To find these spots, consider having a home energy audit done on your home by a certified auditor.  For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savings page on Caulking and Weather Stripping or check out our green topic page on sealing the existing home.

8.    Plant a tree to shade your home.  

Planting a six to eight foot deciduous tree with high spreading crowns on the south side of your home can help increase the efficiency of your air conditioner by up to 10% (http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/landscaping/index.cfm/mytopic=11940).  Because of evapotranspiration (the process by which a plant moves and releases water vapor into the air), areas surrounding shade trees typically see a 9 degree temperature reduction, with a 25 degree reduction in the direct shade of the tree.  This can obviously yield tremendous energy savings by helping keep your home cool without the extensive use of fans or A/C.  For best results, plant a tree to the south of your home for maximum summer shading.  (If you have a solar system on your roof, do not plant directly to the south as the tree may block direct sunlight from reaching the solar panels.)  For more information, visit our green topic page on shade trees and windbreaks.

9.    Insulate your hot water heater and furnace.

By putting a "blanket" of insulation around your hot water heater and furnace, you can reduce heat loss by 25-45%, reducing your energy bill by 4-9% (http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13080).  Some blankets come pre-cut and ready to wrap around your heater while others require cutting and forming to fit your specific model.  These blankets are available at many home improvement stores or online.

10.  Replace your HVAC filters. 

Energy Star recommends that you check your filters every month for excess debris that can restrict air flow and cause dust and dirt to enter your ventilation system and decrease your home's indoor air quality.  Filters should be replaced at least every three months or whenever they look dirty to avoid negative health effects and increase your HVAC's efficiency.  For more information on how to maximize HVAC efficiency, check out Energy Star's Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling

-Your Team At Preservation Properties

Source: EcoBroker.com

FYI: Green Rentals

by Preservation Properties

 

Going green? All of our available green rentals can be found on our website
www.preservationproperties.com or www.boston.com. Go to either of these
websites to find out more information and to see what makes a rental “green”.

 

Going green? All of our available green rentals can be found on our website www.PreservationProperties.com or www.Boston.com. Go to either of these websites to find out more information and to see what makes a rental “green”.

We have also added a nice feature to our Rental Database that lets you see immediately if a property is has any green features.

Happy Home Hunting!

-Your Team at Preservation Properties

Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

Contact Information

Preservation Properties
439 Newtonville Avenue
Newtonville MA 02460
Office: 617.527.3700
Fax: 617.527.2050