Earth Day 2010

In honor of Earth Day today here is a list of ways to be green in multiple ways.  Here are tax credits and rebates you can receive for energy efficiency upgrades to your home.  There are rebates available for everything from new appliances, new metal roofs, solar panels or solar hot water heaters, attic insulation, and more.  Below are links for additional information.

Federal Tax Credits:

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index

Austin Energy Rebates:

http://www.austinenergy.com/Energy%20Efficiency/Programs/Rebates/index.htm

Attached is a spreadsheet that breaks down the individual rebates and how much you may be eligible for.

Click here for Tax credit PDF

Austin Farmers Markets

To continue the earth day blog here is a list of local area farmers markets.   They are a great way to support local food, farmers and business!

AUSTIN
4th & Guadalupe – Sat 9-4, All Year

Triangle Park 46th btwn Lamar & Guadalupe – Wed 4-8, May-Dec

303 Johanna St – Sun 10-3, All Year

2910 S Congress (by St Eds) – Sat 8-1, All Year

1200 Montopolis – Wed 8-12, Seasonal

8405 Pleasant Valley – Thu 3-7, Seasonal

2302 Webberville – Thu 3-7, Seasonal

La Tejanita Record Shop E. 7th St- Sat 9-1

E 2nd btwn Chico & Chalmers – Tue 2-6

Hope Farmers Market – 14 Waller St, Sun 11-3

Sunset Valley – 2300 Jones Rd Toney Burger Center – Sat 9-1

Round Rock

Brushy Creek 16318 Great Oaks Dr- Tue 4-8, Sat 9-1

200 E Baghdad Rd – Sat 8-12, Apr-Jul

Pflugerville

500 E. Pecan St – Tues 3-7, May-Oct

Dripping Springs

HWY 290 & RR 12 – 1st & 3rd Saturdays, thru October

Cedar Park

1890 Ranch Shopping Center @ 183A & FM1431 – Saturdays

For More please see: http://www.edibleaustin.com/content/farmers-markets-resources-109

Austin Recycling

Reduce Reuse Recycle

In honor of Earth Day this month I will be posting resources that can help all of us be kinder to the environment and even save some money in the process.  The first topic is recycling.  However, the first step to that is reduce.  When you are shopping thing about what you are purchasing.  Did you bring your own shopping bags?  When choosing items can the packaging or the item itself be reused or recycled when you are done?  When we go out to eat I try to remember to take tupperware with me.  These days portions are so larger there is always left over food and most restaurants used styrofoam to go containers.  Throw a tupperware container in the car with your shopping bags and it’s with you whenever you might end up with leftovers.  When you are done with something consider if someone else might be able to use it.  It it is not trash and may be reused by another person consider donating to a charity such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Safe Place.  There are many charities in Austin that can use old clothes, household items, cars, computers, etc.  Building materials can be donated to the Habitat ReStore at 310 Comal Street.  (512)478-2165.  While that fan or sink might not be your taste Habitat ReStore can put it to good use.

On to the recycling resources for once an item has reached the end of its life:

General – glass, plastic, aluminum, tin, metal, paper, cardboard

Ecology Action:  www.ecology-action.org,  Daily 9-5

Electronics

Best Buy:  cell phones and rechargeable batteries

Goodwill – Computers and other electronics for resale or recycle

Ecology Action – cell phones and ink/toner cartridges

Office Max/Office Depot – they often offer discounts on purchasing recycled paper if you bring in your ink/toner cartridges for recycling

A list of other places on the City of Austin website:  www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/zerowaste_recycling_electronics_local.htm

Hazardous Material

City of Austin Hazardous Waste Facility – 2514 Business Center Drive – (512) 974-4343 – T-W 12-6 and 1st Sat of the month 7-12

www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/residential_hazardous_waste.htm

batteries, fluorescent bulbs, paints and solvents, lawn care chemicals, household cleaning products and automotive products

The City of Austin has a Reuse Store/Public Reuse Center where new or slightly used household hazardous items are given to residents who have a use for them. This program includes paint. www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/residential_hazardous_waste.htm#reuse_store

Appliances

City of Austin Refrigerator Recycling – Get 50$ for old working refrigerators or freezers, and they will pick it up from your home for free (if you are a City of Austin customer).

www.austinenergy.com/energy%20efficiency/Programs/Refrigerator%20Recycling/index.htm

City of Austin Resource Center – 10108 FM 812 – (512)243-3325 – M-F 8-4:30

-air conditioners, hot water heaters, dryers, stoves, refrigerators, appliances, metal, antifreeze, motor oil

Connection to Nature Makes U s Nicer

I came across the article, ” Immersion in Nature Makes Us Nicer” by Tom Jacobs.  While I have always believed that a connection to nature is important aspect in our lives it is interesting that there are researchers studying it.  Just one more reason for the architecture community to create designs that are more connected to their environment and allow for more interaction and visibility with the outside environment.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/news/immersion-in-nature-makes-us-nicer-1430

New research finds those who feel a strong connection to the natural world have a more caring attitude toward others.

Maintaining a connection to nature, either through the presence of indoor plants or artworkdepicting the natural environment, has been shown to decrease stress levels and stimulate healing. Newly published research suggests it may also make us better people.

A series of studies suggests immersion in nature “brings individuals closer to others, whereas human-made environments orient goals toward more selfish or self-interested ends,” according to a paper posted on the Web site of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. This appears to be the first research to examine the impact of the natural world on people’s values and aspirations, and its findings have intriguing implications for architects, designers and urban planners.

A team led by University of Rochester psychologist Netta Weinstein conducted three studies in which participants were shown a series of slides depicting either natural landscapes or urban settings. They looked at each slide for two minutes, while they were asked to notice the color and textures and imagine the sounds and smells of the environment pictured. They were then asked to what extent they felt involved in and engaged by the photos.

Those participating in the first study were then asked to rate the importance of four life goals, two of which were related to community and connectedness (“to have deep, enduring relationships” and “to work toward the betterment of society”) and two of which were more egocentric (“to be financially successful” and “to be admired by many people”).

The results: Those exposed to the nature scenes placed a higher value on community/connectedness values and a lower value on self-oriented values than those who saw the cityscapes. What’s more, “as individuals were more immersed in the slides presenting natural settings, they experienced greater increases in intrinsic [community/connectedness] aspirations.”

Another test confirmed these results by having participants engage in a “funds distribution” task. “As individuals were more immersed in nature slides, they were more likely to make generous decisions,” the researchers write. “As they were more immersed in non-nature slides, they were less generous and greedier.”

In a separate test that did not involve slides, “participants who were immersed in a lab setting with plants present reported higher valuing of intrinsic aspirations” than those in a setting devoid of living green growth.

So why would immersion in nature instill feelings of selflessness? Weinstein and her colleagues suggest the answer lies in an enhanced sense of personal autonomy. “Nature affords individuals the chance to follow their interests and reduces pressures, fears, introjects and social expectations,” they write.

While conceding that more research will be necessary to confirm or refine these results, the researchers say their findings “highlight the importance of effective urban planning that incorporates green spaces and other representatives of nature.”

Their findings will also be of interest to architects and interior designers. Frank Lloyd Wright’sconcept of bringing the outside inside may not just be a prescription for aesthetic beauty, but also for peaceful coexistence.

“Together, these findings suggest that full contact with nature can have humanizing effects,” the researchers conclude. “Our results suggest that, to the extent our links with nature are disrupted, we may also lose some connection with each other.”

kta

I thought I would start by introducing myself.  My name is Kathryn Tart but I go by Kate.  I was born and raised in Savannah Georgia where my parents passed on a love and desire to protect this planet.  Growing up, I would spend my summers out west camping, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, basically anything you could think of outdoors.  I developed a respect for both the power and fragility of mother nature.  In the Colorado mountains, miles away from any lights, I would lie under the stars, staring up at the milky way and be reminded that I am just a tiny piece of the big picture and yet I have a large responsibility to be accountable for my actions towards this planet.

Alaska

Alaska

Equally important to protecting our outside spaces is to improve our interior spaces.  I believe that buildings can also have a significant impact on how you feel and live.  The business community is learning that productivity can be increased, healthcare costs can be reduced because of improved health of their employees and money can be saved through sustainable design.  The residential world is slowly realizing similar gains.  Our houses can make our lives easier, can make us more relaxed, improve family dynamics and save us money while increasing the value of our home.  Good design should connect to the environment, be sensitive to our natural resources and meet the needs of its users.  Just as we are all entitled to breath clean air and drink clean water I believe we are all entitled to good design that meets our needs and improves our quality of life.  It is my passion to make good design and architects accessible to everyone and not just a luxury of the wealthy, to create buildings that work with and not against mother nature, and to create beautiful architecture.  I believe each of those can be accomplished in a single project.

Stony Pass in Colorado

Stony Pass in Colorado

So why this blog?  I was inspired by the fact that I often get random questions from my brother in thinking about the house he would like to build.  His is always thinking outside the box and asking about new technologies or ideas.  I thought I would use this forum to share new design ideas, technologies, materials and even some old ideas with you.  They may pertain to new construction and they may pertain to day to day life in the house or office you use today.

I grew up in a house that was built in 1853, which for the rest of the world is fairly new, but still predates most of the modern conveniences we are accustomed to today.  Back then they understood daylighting, passive ventilation, solar shading and solar orientation.  They knew how to build a house in the south without lighting or air conditioning.  They understood the importance of community and related city design to the individual and not to the automobile.  Sometimes we need to look back to be inspired in how to move forward.  This blog will contain both information on new ideas, theories and technologies as well as some older design principles and theories that deserve to be resurrected.