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Kyle Graycar

In addition to my internship here with Sustainable Schmidt, I’ve been spending some time interning with San Mateo County government for their Energy Upgrade program.  This statewide incentive program provides rebates for homeowners who want to increase the energy efficiency of their homes.  This program is unique in that it helps you to “upgrade” the comfort and efficiency of  the home as a whole – not just single products like PG&E’s rebates.  Each county in the Bay Area has their respective branches to this program.  Rebate amount goes from $1000-$4000, depending on how much you improve your efficiency by.  My goal by the end of the summer is to convince my dad to retrofit our home with this program.  With any luck, we’ll be able to combine them with other rebates and tax credits.  If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of all the different rebates in your area, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

Ever really thought about what that tree in front of your house does for you? The Colorado Tree Coalition has written a comprehensive list of the Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas.  I understood the obvious benefits of urban forests like carbon sequestration and reduced run-off, but had never considered how trees in neighborhoods would strengthen its community, or helps slow traffic.

I’m halfway through Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart.  These two authors introduce an interesting concept for product life-cycle that draws inspiration from nature itself.  Rather than creating products that create unusable waste and degrade the natural environment, a product design that encourages integration of its life with the rest its environment.  For example, whereas conventional roofing degrades, overheats, and eventually has to be thrown away, green roofs covered in plants “maintain the roof at a stable temperature, providing free evaporative cooling in hot weather and insulation in cold weather, and shields it from the sun destructive rays, making it last longer.” William McDonough gave a good lecture on TED Talks of this design concept:



Hello! My name is Kyle Graycar.  I just finished my first year at UCLA, and am just finishing up my first day with Sustainable Schmidt.  I have gotten used to “coach” Schmidt these past four or so years from high school cross-country, and am still adjusting to addressing Helmut on a first name basis.  Before I get in to the logistics of what I have been tasked to for the summer, I’d like to wish John, the boss’s second in command, a very happy birthday.

Generally speaking, I have been tasked to compile information on the various components of a sustainable apartment kitchen.  This template should contain  comprehensive lists of different kinds of “green” products for the kitchen.  It will be exciting work, especially when you consider the how essential the kitchen is to home life.  This central hub, where meals are conducted and created, serves as the nexus for interactions at the home – it’s really an obvious decision to make this place devoid of environmental hazards and deteriorative products.  The challenge here lies in finding the middle ground or compromise between environmental-friendliness and cost.

Today I’ve been trying to find a general way to focus my research.  I came across an interesting page on the EPA website that gives a nice, general definition of what Green Building is.  The EPA calls Green Building “the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.”  I too hope to find the best products for my compilation that take all these different aspects of its life-cycle into consideration.

Well, looking ahead, I’m excited to be here this summer.  I’m especially excited to see the tangible outcome of my work: Helmut hopes to apply my research into the remodel of a kitchen in a unit on one of his properties.  More posts to come!