[Originally posted at Jetson Green. This is pretty impressive looking at least at first glance. I haven’t seen a distribution photometric, but it’s supposed to be a pretty broad angle of lighting, unlike some of the early LED bulbs. This is only a 20-watt equivalent, but it won’t be long before there’s a 60-watt equivalent being sold in 4-packs at the big box.]

What can you do if you’d like to use an energy efficient light bulb, but you think that they look funky? How about a LED bulb that looks and functions almost exactly like an incandescent filament bulb?

Panasonic has introduced a clear bulb with a standard base that looks almost identical to an incandescent. It has a warm 2700K light color, similar to an incandescent. It has the lifespan (40,000+ hours) you would expect from an LED. And it only uses 4.4 watts of power, but produces 210 lumens, the light equivalent to a 20-watt incandescent.

This bulb also has a color rendering index (CRI) of 80, which is similar to other LEDs and good CFL bulbs. And, as with other LED bulbs, the bulb contains no mercury.

Read the whole article at Jetson Green.


[Originally posted at JetsonGreen. I really like the attitude of appropriate regionalism this shows; using the available resource. And Preston found a better image (included here) than what I was able to get for the article.]

Colorado has millions of acres of pines throughout its forests that have been killed by an infestation of beetles. New Town Builders, a residential homebuilder in Denver, Colorado, has begun using salvaged wood from these trees for the structural framing of homes it is constructing. The company was approached about building a single demonstration home using wood from lodgepole pine trees which had been killed by themountain pine beetle. New Town found that the wood was discolored but structurally sound and has now begun using the “blue wood” for all of their framing.

[Read the whole article at JetsonGreen.]

I recently wrote an article for Jetson Green about the ecobee programmable thermostat (which Matt Grocoff (Greenovation TV) first brought to my attention after he saw it at this year’s Greenbuild. It’s a nice programmable thermostat with wireless connectivity and a number of other good features.

But then, earlier this week, I saw a bunch of posts (including one at Jetson Green that I didn’t write) about another programmable thermostat called Nest that learns about the house over time. It’s also a nice thermostat with a more user-friendly appearance and a number of appealing features.

Of the two, I’m more intrigued by the Nest thermostat. The ecobee sort of struck me as a basic programmable thermostat with some nice features tacked on to it (WiFi connection, color display), but not much to really justify the $300-$400 price. The Nest doesn’t necessarily do a whole lot more, but the adaptive learning that it does perform is certainly intriguing, and the suggested price of $250 is lower than that of ecobee.

I’m less certain that the little green leaf displayed by Leaf is as useful as it is touted. The product literature says the leaf lights up “when you are saving energy,” but does that just mean it’s lit up when the furnace (or AC) is cycled off? Does that really help?

I’m interested in finding out more about how both of these perform in real-world applications, so I will be looking for real users stories about these. Of course, as I said in my article about the ecobee, “…many programmable thermostats are, in fact, never programmed and consequently, the benefits and savings that could come from having it aren’t realized. A smart appliance like this will only save energy (and money) for you if you use it intelligently.”

Links: Nestecobee

Edit to add: After writing about these here, I adapted this and posted another piece for EcoGeek about these thermostats.

I posted an article for Jetson Green on Creatherm: A Simple, Flexible Radiant Slab. I think this is a pretty interesting product. I really admire the flexibility it offers for unusual tubing layout when you want to do something that isn’t strictly on a 6 x 6 wire mesh grid, which typical in-slab installation requires.

It should also be a lot faster to install, since it locks the tubing into place instead of needing to be tied on at regular intervals. I think I’d be less likely to use it on an upper floor instead of a slab, but I would certainly still consider it. But I see a definite advantage to having a single material that provides both under-slab insulation and tubing layout in a single material.

The only downside I see with this is that the tubing is buried further down in the slab, which makes it less responsive and takes longer for the heat to propagate through the slab.

I’m still trying to find out pricing information about it.

Radiant flooring is a popular method for heating a space. Typically, installing a radiant slab on grade has required the time- and labor-intensive process of laying down wire mesh and then tying the tubing to the grid of the mesh to provide an even layout. But using the Creatherm radiant floor panel makes it faster and easier to install radiant tubing, as well as providing an insulation layer beneath the floor.

[Read the whole article at JetsonGreen.]

[Originally posted on JetsonGreen. I’ve been interested in alternatives to pressure-treated wood for quite a while. I talked about some of these in my Penguicon presentation, and I’ve been enamored of Kebony for some time.

Accoya is another wood that is processed to make it more stable and decay resistant, without using toxic materials (Accoya uses acetic acid, essentially vinegar, to transform the wood without adding anything to the wood that isn’t already naturally found there).

I’m very interested in doing some testing of my own with the two, to see how they both perform, but unfortunately it’s pricey stuff. But both should last for decades, so it’s an investment, as is the case with many other durable materials.]

If you want to use wood in an exterior application, your options are wider than ever. While durable tropical hardwoods have been decimated by unsustainable logging, there are several methods of preserving wood that produce even more durable and sustainable products. These are not woods infused with toxic chemicals or metal compounds that can leach out. Rather these woods are transformed to be more durable and decay resistant.

Read full article with further images.

[I thought this was going to be a minor little article in between the interesting things I write about for Jetson Green. I only wrote it because it was somewhat timely for spring, although I missed Arbor Day (which would have been the ideal time to post something like this, if I was an obsessive problogger).

So I was more than a little surprised when I got a message that this article got picked up and reblogged by ‘Remodeling magazine’s blog. I’ve seen a number of shares and reTweets about it, too.

It’s still interesting to me to see what resonates with other people and what doesn’t. I’m glad that this was something that people are finding useful and interesting. It was as much a reminder to myself as it was to the people who read it that simple measures can sometimes be the best answer (or at least a part of the solution) instead of always looking for a product to solve a particular issue.]

While green homes often sport all manner of technical solutions to keep them optimized and efficient, the landscaping can have a significant effect on the building and its energy use. Site orientation and landscape can also be powerful tools to control the energy needs of a building. While it’s not practical to reorient most homes, in many cases you can still make improvements by planting trees.

[Read full article…]

Had a new article at JetsonGreen about a “pop-up restaurant” that was only in place for a few weeks before it was taken down again. The main building was built with strawbales, but more as an infill than as loadbearing structure (at least that’s how it looks from the images I’ve been able to find.

The creators of the restaurant, and of the building system used to build it, didn’t respond to a couple email questions, so I had to go by guesswork and what I could deduce. I also had to rely on a very kind blogger and artist named Melissa Mai who took a few pictures of the building in Sydney and who allowed us to use them for the JetsonGreen article. If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had an article. Since I didn’t also ask for permission from her to use the images on my own blog, I will instead point you to the JetsonGreen article or to her own review of the restaurant.

I wouldn’t want to use the Productive Building system for a strawbale building in this region. It might work in some places, but the greatest benefit of a strawbale is the heavy insulation value it provides. Short-circuiting that every couple of feet along the length of the building doesn’t seem an especially good idea, and that’s what would happen with the metal framing channels.

And I think I have a fundamental bias against short-term constructions, too, even if everything is reused or recycled. There may be cases where short term structures are needed, but in general, I think that examples like this over-emphasize the materials and under-emphasize labor and transportation and energy. Recycling isn’t energy independent, either; it’s a second best solution.

But let’s not venture into ‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’ territory. While I can pick on some things with this, it’s still an interesting system and it seems to have made a perfectly wonderful though short-lived restaurant in Sydney.

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