How to Choose the Right Native Plants for Your Landscape Design

Not everyone has a green thumb, but ask any Landscape design expert and he or she will tell you that there’s always hope! This hope comes in the form of native plants. Native plants are those that naturally thrive in your area, like in the wilderness, without any human intervention.

Because these plants have adapted to the local conditions, they make a beautiful, rugged, weather-resistant landscaping alternative.

Benefits of Native Plants in a Landscape Design

  • Simpler to maintain: Because the plants are in their natural environment, they’re simpler to care for. They require less of your time, and less pruning and fewer fertilizers than common garden plants.
  • Save water: Most native plants do not need more water than the normal rainfall provides, which helps conserve H2O and money.
  • Fewer chemicals:  Native plants naturally resist the pests in the area, so you don’t need to use pesticides in your garden.
  • Attract wildlife: Native plants attract the local wildlife to your garden, including butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Tips & Considerations when Choosing Native Plants

5 Sustainability Metrics to Pay Close Attention to

These days, most businesses and institutions recognize sustainability is important. Now more than ever people are aware of how everyday actions like heating a room or taking a shower are impacting the world around them.

Organizations across the board are taking steps to be more eco-friendly and often consider sustainability to be one of their core values.

However, when all’s said and done there is minimal awareness about how sustainability is actually measured. Many workplaces say they engage in green business practices, but few of them have concrete data to back up their efforts.

Often, this is unintentional, as people simply don’t know how to quantify how green they are. In order to really make a difference in energy conservation, though, we all need to use sustainability metrics to measure our impact on the environment. Here are five sustainability metrics every business should know about — and implement — in the future.

1. Material Intensity

Material intensity refers to the amount of material wasted during the creation of a new product. The metric is important because any material wasted causes us to create more of it later on and is ultimately unsustainable.

Green Landscaping

Do you currently have a yard to take care of? Maintaining a clean and manicured yard can be difficult and time-consuming, but is a chore that must be done. How do you take care of your yard? What specific products do you use to get the job done?

Have you ever considered using eco-friendly supplies or “green” materials? Take a look below at a few tips that could not only help you take care of your yard, but do so in a new way to help protect the earth.

The Benefits

Have you been contemplating to “go green” or use eco-friendly products in your yard? Once you make the decision, you will be able to take advantage of numerous benefits, such as: nurture wildlife, reduce air, soil, and water pollution, and make healthy recreation spaces. Does this sound appealing to you?

The Beginning

When “going green,” you must start by choosing the appropriate plants. For example, you’ll want to choose native plants or parts of plants that are native. Why is this method essential? Native plants will naturally adapt to your regional environment.

Do you currently have a fence in your yard? Though you may be concerned with privacy or keeping certain things in (or out) of your yards, fences aren’t the best for wildlife habitat. Instead, consider planting a living wall or a large hedge. These two methods will also look more pleasing than a fence that can and most likely will rot or rust over time.

Getting Started with Road Cycling: Trim Your Waist and Fatten Your Wallet

Cycling is one of the best all around activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a fuller pocketbook. Picking up road cycling as a habit could even save your life. Many of us are so busy that exercise seems to always take the back burner to work and family – but cycling can be added to your daily routine without sacrificing anything else.

We will look further into this later. Biking is a great way to commute to work and is the single most sustainable form or transportation next to walking! Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of road cycling.

It makes financial sense

Do you ever have trouble making ends meet with your monthly budget? Picking up cycling can be a way to save money – and potentially a lot of it. Think about how many costs are associated with driving and owning a vehicle. The average American family spends upwards of 400 dollars a month just on gas.

Compound that with the costs of maintenance, registration and insurance and you have thousands of dollars per year spent on your vehicles. Replacing just one of those cars with a road bike could add thousands into your pocket book.

I’m not advocating getting rid your car entirely – although that could be an option – but start with something simple like commuting via bike to work. The amount you’ll save upfront and in wear and tear on you car will be significant. Biking also keeps more funds in your local economy rather than sending your money to overseas auto manufacturers and oil refineries.

Do Electric Vehicle Price Drops Signal Doom or Boom?

Consumers can expect lower prices on EV (electric vehicles). Recently, Nissan lowered the Leaf’s price by $6,400. Chevy slashed the Volt’s price by $5,000, and Ford took $4,000 off the Fusion price tag. In response, sales for EVs are picking up. The Leaf and Volt set records for monthly sales in August 2013. What do EV price drops mean? Keep reading to find answers before you open your wallet and drive away with one.

Nissan’s Leaf

This past year, Nissan slashed prices on the Leaf. The car will carry an MSRP of $28,000 with tax incentives of $7,500 from the U.S. government and additional $2,500 credits in California. You can take one home for around $18,800, a price comparable to many mid-size sedans. Throw in the combined 115 mpg gas rating and 129 mpg, and car buyers can save hundreds more a month on gas, depending on how much you drive.

Why Your Roof Is A Missed Environmental Opportunity

You may think your roof is simply there to keep you dry at night, but it can do so much more than that. In fact, your roof can be a major contributor to the environmentally-friendly nature of your entire home.

Your roof can add significant environmental value to your home. If you are interested in making your roof work for you, try one of these ideas to make your roof earth-friendly.

Prevent Leaks

Stopping leaks does more than keep you dry. Preventing leaks in your roof can actually contribute to the environmental friendliness of your home. Much of the air that cools and warms your home eventually ends up in your attic. If you have leaks in your roof, the air generated by your HVAC system escapes from your home.

This causes you to spend more money and energy cooling and heating your home each year. The more energy you use, the more drain on the environment you cause. Simply by stopping leaks in your roof you can cut down on energy use by up to 40 percent.

Add Insulation

If your roof is not insulated, even if you no longer have any leaks, you will also use more energy than necessary. Attics and roofs act as heat traps in the summer, which leads to a large increase in the amount of energy that you use. The opposite is true in the winter.

Sustainable Brands/Products You Should Consider

Using products made from sustainable materials or manufactured through sustainable processes can reduce your impact on the environment. The next time you go shopping, look for these products. Choosing them could help you make the world a better place.

Sierra Nevada Beer

You might not equate brewing beer with saving the planet, but Sierra Nevada has combined these two pursuits in every conceivable way.

Sierra Nevada creates 20 percent of its own power needs with 10,573 solar panels. The company also has hydrogen fuel cells that create about 40 percent of the brewery’s energy needs which is an extremely an inventive way to make its factory more sustainable. Sierra Nevada doesn’t stop there. Some other innovative measures include:

  • Composting organic waste to fertilize the company’s gardens and fields

  • Using the CO2 produced through fermentation in its factory

  • Convertible its restaurant’s used vegetable oil into biofuel for its fleet of delivery trucks

Not many companies make that kind of commitment to the environment. Think about that the next time you go out for a six-pack

Energy Consumption & Cost: How to Reduce Both While Going Green

Many people associate green living with drastic lifestyle changes or giving up modern conveniences. However, there are a number of simple ways to reduce energy costs and consumption without sacrificing comforts.

Of course, it is important to understand many of the common sources of energy loss to know where to start. This guide will show simple ways to gauge your energy consumption and ways to go green without stressing your lifestyle or budget.

Analyzing Energy Costs

When it comes to reducing energy bills, knowing the appliances and devices that consume the most power helps. Though your personal situation might vary, due to model differences and other factors, common energy hogs in the home include:

  1. Air Conditioners and Dehumidifiers
  2. Water Heaters
  3. Heating Units

  4. Refrigerators and Freezers

  5. Computers and other Electronics

  6. Lighting

Savvy Marketers Make it Easier for People to Get “Green” Cleaning Products

Just a few years ago, natural household cleaning products were almost solely restricted to the shelves of health food stores. Now, a quick browse of product offerings from mass-market retailers like Target and Walmart shows how environmentally sustainable products are becoming more like the norm, rather than hard to find.

Product Sales on the Rise

A company called Packaged Facts found that in 2011, sales of green cleaning products topped out at $640 million, a significant increase from 2007 totals of $303 million. One of the big reasons sales more than doubled in four years is likely that marketing departments realized the need for such products existed. The key was to make it easier for customers to find them without going to great lengths.

 Clorox’s Existing Product Line

 The Clorox Company is just one example of a well-known company that branched out and appealed to eco-friendly consumers. Their Green Works line features a full assortment of household cleaning products made from mostly natural ingredients. Whether consumers are looking for toilet bowl cleaner or all-purpose wipes, the collection has products to suit those needs, and they’re readily available in grocery stores.

Most Energy Efficient House In The World

After a long winter of freezing temperatures and rising energy bills the average homeowner will now be pleased they can finally turn down the dial and cut their energy consumption.

However, there is still likely to be the odd cooler day, and are we really prepared to go through the same thing when winter rolls around again sometime in mid-September?

In order to combat the rising energy prices some homeowners have been doing everything they can to make their property more efficient and cut down on excess consumption.

As well as leaving them with some extra pounds in their pocket this will also help them do their bit for the environment and the summer seems the perfect time to compound those efforts and for others to follow in the same vein.

The Winds Of Change

In the wake of new environmental initiatives that have been brought by the government, there are now much more stringent rules and regulations involved in the construction and development of properties.

Not only do all new dwellings and those proposed to be expanded need to have an SAP calculation carried out in order to determine the property’s energy performance certificate (EPC), but there are also regulations to meet regarding airtightness and air leakage.