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Miscellaneous Schmidt

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Philip J Reed, on behalf of Daybreak, has put together an interesting article for us:

Sustainability is, and should indeed be, a popular topic right now.  We hear the word everywhere, and sometimes it seems to get tossed around so frequently that it starts to lose meaning.  Any company (or organization, or even individual) can claim to do their part when it comes to operating sustainably, but it may be wise to question them before taking them at their word.

The Daybreak community in Utah is taking sustainability seriously, and they’re making their efforts very clear to anybody interested in what that entails.

For starters, they are working closely in conjunction with Garbett Homes, who makes a point of using solar panels to generate energy for the houses that they build.  That in itself might not sound too revolutionary, but the real significance lies in the fact that this solar energy is built standard into each home that they construct, resulting in around 300 new homes per year taking advantage of sustainable energy.

We spoke to one solar-friendly resident while preparing this article, and she reported that her energy bill for one entire summer month was a measly $7.  (Just in case you think this resident is a significant exception, nearly all solar-friendly residents of Daybreak average between $10 and $15 per month for their energy bills.)

Daybreak is also the first community in Utah to require that every home be built to EPA Energy Star standards, and they are also the first community in the United States to require that all new homes be tested and rated by HERS (Home Energy Rating System).  In addition, the community is designed to maximize a car-free lifestyle, taking into account walking and biking distance for employees, shoppers and even elementary school children.  Their “5 Minute Rule” means that no resident will live further away than five minutes’ walking distance from a park or trail.

Sustainability is also being embraced by Daybreak in their standard, day to day practices.  After all, sustainable living doesn’t end when the home is built; it needs to continue forever!  To this end, they plant 35 trees each week, employ a storm-water retention and reinfiltration system, and recycle more than 75% of their construction waste.

The Daybreak community is doing its best not only to negate its own environmental impact, but to assist the healing process of the environment overall.  It’s a great start to what could really become a new standard in community development.

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I ask this question to people from time to time.  I have pretty much always gotten the same answer, which is to say “Zero nights you moron, who sleeps in a bed with bedbugs?

I mean if you knew that the bed had an actual bedbug, let alone a freaking colony, once you get done screaming and running around stripping off your PJs, checking every inch of your body several times over, most sane people would bring out the flame thrower and torch their bed lest the nasty little creatures somehow escape and infest the entire room, apartment or house.

While pointing the nozzle of the flamethrower at said bedbug infested mattress may not technically be the greenest option out there, there are solutions that sometimes transcend the need to be ecologically sensitive.  Anyways I am sure you can buy a carbon offset for the burning bed.

So when, for example, I hear from one of my building managers that during a routine, annual smoke alarm/CO monitor swap out the nice tenants down the hall mentioned that they have had bedbugs for a year, and that there solution has been to smash the bugs and wipe their remains on the walls and then go back to sleep, and that the bedbugs were in their old apartment but thought when they moved, bringing of course their old mattresses WITH THEM TO THE NEW (i.e. mine) APARTMENT who would have thoguth that the bedbugs would be there too.

What are the odds?

Its not like this is the only bunch of Einsteins I have had lengthy discourse with regarding this subject.  I bought a building once, and the nice lady and her daughter who lived down a different hall showed me the water bottles that they sprayed on the bedbugs to “make them go away”.  That the bedbugs had been in the apartment for some years might have been a clue that away was not nearly as far as they thought it was, but who am I to point out such fine points?

So while sustainable living is always the preferred option, there are times when you need to break out the no holds barred chemical warfare gear.  Not mustard gas mind you, though it is appealing – your pest guy (if he does not totally suck) will be able to show you the right stuff and should have a cleaning protocol to follow.  But seriously, if you had these things in your home, would you just roll over and go back to sleep?

 

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The Garbage Goldmine

by Sustainable Nikos on August 2, 2011 · 0 comments

in Miscellaneous Schmidt

Throughout my time working for SRELP and blogging on “sustainablechmidt.com,” I have continually referenced my goals of reducing “black bin” or garbage waste and increasing the volume of compost waste. However, I have only touched on or vaguely mentioned my project without going into any detail about the nuts and bolts of my task. I refrained from providing detail because although garbage is an undoubtedly important area of our lives, it isn’t particularly exciting. However, having come to the conclusion of my garbage project, I can definitively say that garbage IS something that can be exciting.

Garbage can be exciting in that one can save a boatload of money through careful and responsible waste management. In the case of SRELP’s building garbage profile, for example, Helmut was spending $3,878.05 per month to provide garbage services for the 6 buildings he manages. At several building locations, he was providing more garbage space than his tenants required. Available garbage volume is calculated by adding up the volume of available bin space (2 96 gallon bins provide 192 gallons of available bin space) and multiplying that sum by the number of garbage pickup days per week.  2 96 gallon bins picked up 7 times per week=1344 gallons of weekly available bin space.

By traveling to each building location repeatedly over the course of 2 wees and recording the amount of available volume that was being used, I was able to determine that most of our buildings use far less space than we provide.  In other words, we were paying to provide garbage volume that wasn’t being used.  We then worked to come up with a new available garbage volume that would better fit the habits and necessities of our tenants.  Upon finding said number, we called and changed our building garbage profiles for 3 out of the 6 buildings that we manage.  The results were as follows:

Original price for waste management: $3,878.05 per month

New price for waste management: $2,479.37 per month

By reducing our garbage bin reliance and applying a more eco-friendly waste management program, we saved (and will continue to save) $1,398.68 per month.  If saving almost $1,500 per month doesn’t make you excited, then just think that you can save a lot of money AND save the environment by becoming more compost and recycling conscientious.

Signing off,

A very excited SRELP intern

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Mission Accomplished!

by Sustainable Nikos on July 27, 2011 · 0 comments

in Miscellaneous Schmidt

I am back! Recently, I went to our building on Bush Street with Steven and one of his colleagues from the SF Department of the Environment. We traveled from door to door, offering compost pails to the residents.  2/3 of the residents we met took the compost pails! The other 1/3 of the residents told us that we were (and I quote) “barking up the wrong tree.” 15 of the 33 residents answered the door during our entire voyage through the building!  On the whole, 11 out of the 33 residents were at home and accepted the compost bins– a  33%starting point.  I still consider this mission a success for both economic and environmental reasons:

Economically, the introduction of the compost bins allows for a reduction of garbage pickups.  After traveling to Bush street regularly  to check the volume of garbage bin space that was being used with the SRELP group, we came to the conclusion that we could reduce the garbage pickup schedule by 3 days (which saved more than $800 per month).  The compost bin will provide a new space for biodegradable waste, giving us the ability to reduce our reliance on the black bin, which saved us money.  Fortunately, San Francisco’s Recology policies ensure that compostable and recyclable waste management is a free service.  In this way, we can divert what was once garbage volume into composting volume, saving money.

Environmentally, even a 33% increase in compost use is beneficial.  True, it’s less than we would have hoped– but I am certain that through persistent phone calls and communication with our tenants, we can still convince some of the Bush street residents to help us save our planet.

Next stop, compost at Guerrero!

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