The world is changing. We’ve come a long way from the days when the only option for fuel was the fossil-fueled version. However, more strides can be made. In 2021, fossil fuels still accounted for 79% of U.S. energy consumption. While it’s hard to leave behind our dependence on it, fossil fuels must eventually go, and renewable energy sources must take their place.
In 2021, renewable energy contributed only 12% to the total U.S. energy consumption. Of course, that rate is gradually growing upward. Now, you can find renewable fuels and even hybrid engines that combine both traditional petroleum-based fuels and biofuels. What are these biofuels?
The best way to explain them is by looking at how they work and what they do for our planet’s future. Biofuel is one of the renewable energy sources that contributed to the U.S. energy consumption in 2021. Of all the other renewable sources, biofuel was the joint-second most popular one, alongside hydroelectric energy. As time progresses, we’ll see this energy source contributing more to our energy sector and the environment.
Having said all that, here are a few ways biofuel is impacting our world today and will continue impacting it in 2023 and beyond.
Producing Biofuels is Better for the Environment
Biofuels are a renewable, clean-burning source of energy that can be used to replace fossil fuels. When you burn biofuel, you aren’t releasing greenhouse gasses into the air. In fact, when considering the life-cycle carbon footprint of biofuels—from cultivation through production and use—they actually emit fewer greenhouse gasses than petroleum or other fossil fuels.
Diesel engines and diesel are used in trucks and heavy equipment like tractors and bulldozers, buses, trains, and ships. Biofuel can be used as an alternative fuel instead of diesel fuel in these vehicles without requiring any modifications to them because it is chemically compatible with petroleum diesel.
Many colleges and universities across the world are heavily invested in research involving biofuels. Even courses are specifically designed to involve their students in either generic or extensive ways. Studying Strayer University’s notebooks will help you realize just that. Students use these notebooks to gain a better understanding of their biology and chemistry lessons. They also use them for research down the line. A quick look at these notebooks will reveal just how invested these universities are in biofuel and other green energy alternatives.
Biofuel is Less Expensive Than Other Petroleum Alternatives
When it comes to cost, biofuels have a distinct advantage over petroleum alternatives. On top of these high prices, consumers are also paying high taxes on their fuel purchases due to their carbon emissions being harmful to the environment and society at large.
Coal is another fossil fuel whose prices fluctuate depending on how much demand there is for it from utilities across North America. Coal-produced energy is also costly. Thus, biofuel needs to be embraced by the masses if they want to limit their spending on fossil fuels.
Biofuel Consumption Increases the Gross Domestic Product
The more fuel you use, the more money you spend on that fuel. When you buy biofuel, your purchase creates jobs in areas like agriculture, transportation, and distribution. This creates a ripple effect throughout your local economy as well as in other sectors around the world.
In addition to this direct benefit, governments also benefit from rising GDPs because they can collect taxes on these sales. Consumers will also have more disposable income to spend on goods and services outside of their normal budgets, increasing economic activity worldwide.
Biofuel Can be Better for Your Engine’s Lifespan
In addition to being better for the environment, biofuel can also be better for your engine’s lifespan. The reason is that the different chemicals in biofuels react differently with your engine. As a result, you may need a different blend of biofuel than your car is used to running on. This means that you should consult with an auto mechanic before using any kind of alternative fuel in your vehicle.
Biofuels Are More Efficient Than Gasoline and Diesel
Biofuels are more efficient than petroleum fuels. They have a higher energy density than conventional gasoline and diesel, which means you can get more power out of a smaller amount of fuel. This is especially important for cars that rely on internal combustion engines (ICE), which are the standard vehicle in many parts of the world.
Biofuels are increasingly being used to power vehicles around the world
The majority of ICEs cannot burn biofuel blends directly. They require some kind of modification first. However, they can use it by converting existing gasoline or diesel engines with special hardware.
Biofuels Improve Air Quality in Urban Areas
Biofuels reduce the amount of particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in urban areas. PM is a collection of solid particles that get into the air and cause health problems like lung cancer and asthma. CO causes smog that can irritate your eyes and make it hard to breathe normally. NOx gasses contribute to the formation of ozone, another pollutant that is harmful to human health.
The concentration of all these gasses and particles in biofuel emissions is low. Thus, vehicles running on biofuel do not heavily harm the air quality.
Biofuel is the future of clean energy. The sooner we understand this fact and accept biofuel, the better it is for us and this planet.
With more and more brands and companies launching a variety of different smart lighting systems, speakers, sensors, it is easier than ever to convert your home into a smart home. If you have no prior experience in creating a smart home, it can be a confusing task to choose the right kind of devices. Moreover, you might not even know the solutions available to convert your home into a smart home. That is why it is vital to first understand how to transform your home into a smart home.
If you’re worried about the expenses, there are many ways in which you can create a smart home within your budget. It will allow you to control the various aspects of your home without having to spend a significant amount of money.
Moreover, the products available these days are becoming more and more affordable. As a result, it is easier to build a smart home. We will today list a step-by-step guide which will allow you to convert your home into a smart home.
1. Smart lighting
Lighting systems are the best way to control the appearance of your home. Moreover, when you opt for a smart lighting system, you can easily control the ambiance of the house with the help of a Wi-Fi connection. Most of them offer a mobile application through which, you can efficiently manage the entire lighting system. Every light on the lighting system connects to the central hub.
Therefore, controlling it is easier than ever. When you’re looking at the individual bulbs which you can buy and integrate with the Wi-Fi connection at home, you can opt for the ones from TP-Link and LIFX. These products are not only compatible with the Wi-Fi connection, but many of them work along with Bluetooth as well.
Some of the other well-known companies who sell such smart bulbs include Philips Hue, Sengled Element. These, however, can be controlled by Zigbee signals which in turn work along with the Wi-Fi signal. Ultimately, A router can control them. You can manage these with the help of the app on your smartphone. The app will work on any Android-based device. As a result, programming the light according to the theme selected in the app is not a problem at all.
In case, you want to automate your existing lighting system you can change the switches and replaced them with smart switches and cameras. You can use smartphone applications to control them. Some of the companies which sell the smart switches are TP-LINK, Ecobee, Leviton, etc. these switches are directly controllable through Wi-Fi. It will not require a central hub.
That is why; you can save a significant amount of money by going for the switches. If you want a centralized system, you can go with Noon Home’s system. It is comparatively expensive, but it allows you to have complete control over the lighting system. Thus, when it comes to smart lighting, there are a wide variety of options available.
2. Smart speakers
Smart speakers play a significant role in a smart-home. You can control the various functions of the house using the voice commands. As a result, they work as an assistant to control every aspect of your home. You can go with the Google home speaker or the Amazon Echo speaker. The choice is entirely up to you. If you want a single speaker to control the various options, you can go with Amazon Echo speaker.
On the other hand, if you’re going to create a series of such points in your home, you can go with the Google home series. Google series works on the fact that you can install multiple speakers throughout your home and one in each room to control every aspect of your home. That is why, if you want to create a network of smart devices, Google home is the perfect option for you.
Google home is controlled using Google assistant. Amazon Echo devices are controlled using Amazon Alexa. Even Lenovo sells quick display series which work using Google home.
Lenovo is not alone, which is integrating these devices along with its offerings. Various other device manufacturers are doing the same. That is why, when you want to incorporate the smart speakers in your home, it is easier to do so. You can create the entire ecosystem of smart devices and control TVs, lights, thermostats, and a variety of other functions of your home with the help of these speakers.
3. Smart thermostats
Climate control systems in our home consume the maximum amount of energy. Moreover, when the weather is at extremes, they make sure that the ambiance in your home is entirely comfortable. You can go a step further and save even more energy with the help of smart thermostats. These ensure that you can easily control the ambiance of your home. These thermostats have a predictive system which means that they can set the temperature of the house conveniently and on their own.
When you look at the basic working of these thermostats, they require you to set up sensors everywhere in your home. They control the temperature precisely in the part of the house where you are present. They also keep the rest of the home like the passageways at a comfortable temperature. However, precise control is in the area in which the individuals are present. HVAC companies recommend pairing your system with smart vents for optimal efficiency. Hence, there is a significant amount of energy saving.Thus, when you want to control the temperature of your home efficiently, smart thermostats are the perfect option.
4. Home Security Cameras
When converting your home into a smart one, it is also essential to make it more secure. The smart-homes are easy to secure as they rely on sensors and devices rather than individuals. It is even more affordable as compared to hiring security guards. The best tool which you have got to handle the security of your home in a smarter way is the smart camera. With the help of the smart CCTV camera, it is easier to monitor your home.
Moreover, when there is any unusual activity in your home, you can get alert easily. Also, the smart cameras which we are speaking about are not just helpful for detecting intrusions or burglary, but also can help you in monitoring your children and pets. They are multipurpose which means that you can use them for the application which you prefer.
Some of the options which you have when it comes to smart cameras are:
The advantage of smart cameras is that they incorporate lights and a variety of different motion sensors into the security system. They also integrate the doorbell so that you can easily monitor the entry and exit points of your home. You can communicate with the individuals at the entrance and exit points without having to open the door at all. You can do so remotely as well. As a result, you can control the access to your home remotely or from your smartphone without any problem. Video doorbells are very popular these days not only for security reasons but also for smart features.
The motion sensors ensure that you get an alert whenever there is unusual activity in the monitored area. As a result, you always get alerts about any intrusion or unfriendly individuals even before they enter your home. The smart cameras are easy to install and do not require any unique fixtures which ensures that you can make the security of your home smarter by merely installing these cameras and connecting them with the Wi-Fi system.
5. Smart audio systems
The multi-room audio systems ensure that you can get that you get entertainment in every room. There are options to choose from like:
These are self-contained speakers. You can keep them in every room and connect them with the Wi-Fi. They will help you to stream the music. Moreover, they can stream music from a variety of different services like Spotify. You can also select the tracks through your smartphone.
The difference between the speakers and something like Amazon Echo or Google home systems is that these speakers have a much better audio quality. They are not just for listening to commands, but actually up the entertainment quotient. Moreover, they can be integrated with TV and enhance your music watching experience. You can control them with the help of the tablet or the smartphone without any problem.
When speaking about something like Sonos, it works with the help of Amazon Alexa digital assistant. As a result, you can integrate it into your smartphone without any problem. Thus, when looking up the entertainment question and make your entertainment devices smarter, these are the speakers which you should choose.
6. Smart sensors
The sensors play the role of eyes and ears in any smart-home system. Without sensors, it will be challenging to control the functions of a smart-home. The smart sensors ensure that they detect motion inside and outside the home. Inside the house, they correct the climate control system to make the ambiance more habitable. Also, they can switch on and off the lights depending on whether a room is vacant or not. Hence, it becomes easier for you to automate the climate control system.
Additionally, some of the sensors are used for smoke detection as well. The smoke detection sensors alert the smartphone numbers which you input as well. You can authorize a contact to get an alert with the help of the smart sensors. As a result, whenever there is a problem at your home, the authorized contacts will get an instant alert as well. When those contacts get a warning, they can act accordingly and arrange for the emergency services to reach your home as well. The sensors are not just available for fire detection.
There are the sensors which monitor the air quality of your home as well. These sensors, especially monitor the carbon monoxide levels. Accordingly, it instructs the climate control system to filter the air or the air purifier to activate. The more the number of sensors the more precisely each smart device can operate.
Also, there are smart smoke alarms available. The Nest Protect is such a smoke alarm system. It has emergency lights as well to show you the way out. Moreover, it sends an alert to your contacts as well. When it comes to sensors, they can accomplish a wide variety of factors. It is wise to use such sensors in your home to make your home smarter and safer.
7. Smart irrigation system
Technology is available to automate every system of your home. That is why, if you’re worried about manually doing the lawn and garden irrigation, you don’t need to worry anymore. The smart irrigation systems can automatically detect the moisture in your lawn or your garden. As a result, they can use the irrigation devices to ensure that you can water the garden or backyard. They also take into account the type of plants which you have.
Moreover, if you do not want to automate them, you can control them through your app. You can install duplicators or sprinkle indicators. When you manage them with the help of the app, they will start and stop according to your commands. As a result, without having to control the irrigation devices manually, you can efficiently manage your garden or your lawn. When you do that, you can be sure that the plants or the garden will always be in proper condition.
The advantage of smartphone app control is that even when traveling, you can water your lawn as well as your garden without any problem. It will ensure that you don’t need to hire anyone else to take care of the lawn or garden irrigation.
So, when it comes to converting your home into a smart home, these are the seven steps which you need to follow. Each of the above steps deals with a different system. With the help of these seven smart home systems, it is easier than ever to automate various aspects of your home. According to VIP Realty, homes will also sell faster and for more money.
You can control them from your mobile application as well which will ensure that you can customize each element of your home remotely. In the process, you can also save a significant amount of resources and utilities. With smart systems becoming more and more affordable, now there is no reason why you should not convert your home into a smart home.
After you’ve tackled some of the major infrastructure projects that will make your home greener, you’re going to want to start working through individual rooms as well. Small, simple changes throughout your house can help make your home more eco-friendly.
Right now, harmful toxins and chemicals are probably lurking all over your bedroom. With a few changes, you can turn your bedroom into a healthy, sustainable space that you can enjoy for years to come. Here are 6 tips to help you create a sustainable bedroom:
1. Consume fewer materials with recycled furniture
Instead of buying new furniture for your bedroom, extend the life of an existing piece of furniture! Head to a thrift store. You’ll likely be able to find a few high-quality pieces that have lots of life left in them.
By buying used furniture, fewer materials will be consumed to build new furniture. Another positive of buying used is that any toxic paint or stain will have already had time to off-gas.
When buying used furniture for your bedroom, don’t settle for the first piece you see. Shop around and find furniture that is built to last. Many prefer antique wood furniture because it was built to higher standards than today’s furniture.
2. Eco-friendly mattresses are easy to find
Most mattresses are filled with toxic chemicals, including flame retardants and formaldehyde. These toxic chemicals are released into the air, which could lead to you breathing them in for hours while you’re sleeping.
Non-organic mattresses are known to lead to health problems such as chest tightness and trouble breathing.
Luckily, several companies are starting to produce organic mattresses for side sleepers, hot sleepers, and everything in between. These types of mattresses are eco-friendly and free from toxins.
Look for mattresses that are composed of organic wool, organic cotton, and natural latex. If you’re unable to afford a new eco-friendly mattress, air out your current one outside to help with off-gassing and use a dehumidifier within your room.
3. Plants improve air quality
Plants are a great addition to any room. They look pleasant, add natural odors to the room, and can also improve your air quality.
Certain types of plants can help purify your air. They reduce CO2 and increase humidity. Adding a plant to your room can get rid of that stale, toxic air and improve your health.
Plants that you might want to consider for your bedroom include peace lilies, Boston ferns, snake plants, and aloe veras. All of these plants can purify your air and are easy to take care of.
4. Go green with natural bedding materials
With such a wide choice of materials available for your bedding, you might wonder what the most eco-friendly option is. You’re going to want to look for sheets and comforters that are made of organically grown materials that are free from chemical dyes.
Hemp is a popular choice for sheets. Hemp sheets are breathable and can also help protect against dust mites.
For comforters, consider organic cotton or wool. Cotton comforters are great for the summer, because they’re lightweight and breathable. Wool is a popular choice for the winter because it holds in heat.
5. Stay away from toxic paint
Painting your room is a good way to quickly freshen up your space. Unfortunately, most paints emit harmful VOCs into the air.
Now that we have a better understanding of how toxic paint is, many companies are producing eco-friendly paint options. Look for paint that uses natural pigments and that is low in VOCs and biocides.
Many assume that eco-friendly paint only comes in natural shades, but this isn’t true. You can get paint in most colors. If you’re struggling to pick a color, most stores will provide several smaller cans of paints so you can test it on your walls.
6. Hemp rugs are stylish and natural
While there are carpets made of renewable materials available, not everyone wants wall-to-wall carpeting. Rugs are a great way to quickly make hardwood or laminate floor cozier.
The fibers of the fast-growing hemp plant are used in a variety of items, including in rugs. Hemp rugs are durable, come in a variety of natural colors, and are mildew-resistant. They’re also very easy to maintain—they just need to be vacuumed regularly.
Some people find hemp rugs to be stiff, but the material does soften over time. Other natural-fibers used in rugs include jute, seagrass, and sisal.
It’s time to get rid of those toxic chemicals in your bedroom! Being mindful of what materials you’re using in your bedroom and focusing on improving your air quality are among the steps you should take to create an eco-friendly bedroom.
When you consider any macro-level activity, every small step counts. The same is true for waste management too. You can reduce the amount of waste reaching the landfill if you can encourage the best practices for your establishment.
The increased amount of waste disposal, mishandling of the waste, or ill-treatment of the discarded waste lead to many complexities for us. The air we breathe in or the water available to drink gets contaminated because of such activities.
California is home to thriving startup culture. There are several offices from Silicon Valley to San Jose. Waste disposal and treatment becomes specifically crucial for such an area. Improper business waste management can not only affect the surface but contaminate the air too.
This article highlights the various ways you can increase the efficiency of your waste management initiatives to cut down such an impact on the environment.
1. Quantifying the Generated Waste
The first step for any waste management activity is assessing the waste. A quick visual waste assessment can help you understand the amount of waste present in the bins before collection.
It is ideal to opt for the various sizes of the bins to address the different quantities of waste generated from your business premises. You can define the system’s efficiency by tracking how often the waste collection bins get full or the collection intervals.
You may have a standard 240 L bin to collect all the waste generated from your office. If you observe that the bins get 75% filled and the collection happens once every week, it translates to your premise generating around 180 L of waste every week.
Once such information is available, you can ideate how much waste your business will produce for a given period.
2. Reduction of Waste Going Out
When you consider the waste management of a particular area, you need to keep track of the local happenings that impact the environment. The latest wildfire in San Jose, California, led to an aggravation of the level of pollutants in the air of the local area.
Being a resident of such a place or having your business premises at such a location needs higher awareness. Checking the air quality in San Jose can be your first step to understanding the prevailing conditions.
You can get an idea of the air quality that you have an office in by checking online, but it is crucial to maintain and keep the pollutant levels low. It often happens that the waste effervesces gases in the atmosphere. You should ensure a reduction of the waste going out of your premises to landfills to curb the escaping gases that it can contribute to later.
For this, you can pursue:
Reduction – can you avoid or reduce the waste your business generates by its operation?
Reusing – can your waste serve as the input material for another local industry?
Recycling – what are the materials that you can keep in the list of recyclables?
3. Identifying a Well-Equipped Local Collector
Once you have a quantity of waste that your business generates in the datasheet and the options to reduce the generated waste, you can identify the ideal local waste collector for your establishment.
Identifying a suitable recycling and collection contact is crucial for your business. Although, the California startup culture warrants driving the business growth and not indulging in how the waste gets disposed of after collection. You need to identify a well-equipped California collector with a facility to properly ensure measures to treat the waste that you are asking him to collect from your premises.
4. Keeping Efficiency at the Core of Waste Management Contract
When drafting the recycling and waste collection contract with your local vendor, you should delve deeper and understand its key nuances. Do your research to understand what part of the waste that your establishment generates can be recycled.
If the collection happens once a fortnight, you should have proper bins to stop the waste from disturbing the surroundings. You can increase the efficiency of the waste management techniques by writing the effective ways of waste management in the proposal document.
You can also define the key here is where your waste can get disposed of and how you want it to undergo treatment. You should always keep in mind that the recycling contract is legally bound. Therefore, the contract should have well-defined catchment areas putting forth the scope of work of the contractor.
You can review the offers of all the California contractors who meet your criteria. You should look at the condition of the facilities in which your waste will get processed. Although the above is not an exhaustive list, these can increase the waste management contract’s efficiency.
Green building concepts have come a long way. As architects, designers, and builders gain access to better tools that help push the limits of construction energy efficiency; we see longer strides made towards more mainstream adoption of green building standards. One such standard that is coming of age is passive houses. The concept of passive houses was first mooted in the early eighties when the idea of green homes was still in its infancy. Today, the concept is well entrenched with over 25,000 houses and buildings across the world qualifying as passive houses.
We recently caught up with Toyin-Ann Yerifor, an architectural consultant focused on exploring new and innovative ways to design with reduced impact on the environment to explain what passive houses are and their benefits. She holds an MSc in Architecture (AEES) from the University of East London, an MBA from the University of Northampton and an MSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the Université Grenoble Alpes.
What is a Passive House?
First, what is a passive house? Toyin-Ann explains: A passive house is any building that adheres to rigorous energy efficiency standards. The term passive comes from the fact that the building’s energy efficiency comes from its passive structures, which include the roof, walls, windows, doors, and floor. By radically improving the building’s insulation and energy conservation features, it is possible to reduce its heating requirements by up to ninety percent. As such, passive housing as a standard is focused on helping reduce the energy requirements of buildings through insulation, and by extension, their overall energy footprint.
When you reduce a building’s energy footprint, says Toyin-Ann, several benefits accrue, including environmental, health, and cost efficiency benefits.
Environmental Benefits of Passive Houses
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “energy efficiency is the first fuel of a sustainable global energy system. It can mitigate climate change, improve energy security, and grow economies while delivering environmental and social benefits.” Passive houses deliver on this mandate superbly, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.
One of the biggest challenges traditional buildings face is energy loss. When a building easily loses energy in the form of heat, it takes burning more fuel to heat the building. When this happens, overall energy consumption goes up, which is bad for the environment because a major portion of heat generation comes from burning fossil fuels. When buildings are radically energy efficient, on the other hand, less energy is required, and so fewer fossil fuels need to be burned.
While this is the macro view of the environmental benefits of passive houses, are there any micro benefits of investing in this technology? Here are two, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. First, think of the air quality that comes with less energy consumption. In homes that rely on furnaces, doing away with the furnace improves the air quality in and around the home significantly.
Second, sound pollution is eliminated if you no longer need to use a furnace, HVAC units around the home, or any other heat generation and management devices. Essentially, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor, passive houses reduce the need to burden the environment. Through radical energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, passive house buildings become a part of the environment and not just an addition to it.
Health and Comfort Benefits
When most people hear about passive houses, they imagine living in a sealed paper bag. That thought can be quite disheartening because issues of quality of air, air adequacy, and comfort come to mind. Although the idea behind passive houses is energy efficiency through a tightly sealed envelope (building), this does not mean health and comfort are compromised. Take air quality, for instance. Most people consider opening a window the best way to guarantee air quality in a room. Now, passive houses rely on closed windows to ensure no heat escapes, which presents a dilemma. Passive houses address this dilemma well, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.
Although you can open a window in a passive house, even if you do not, the heat recovery ventilation system ensures there is enough quality air circulating the house. Regarding comfort, passive houses maintain a comfortable temperature regulated by the passive heat sources in the house like appliances, body heat, and lighting. Also, they tend not to have cold spots or hot spots, which is often the case with traditionally heated homes. Through rigorous design standards afforded by tools such as the Passive House Planning Package, homes built on the passive house standard adhere to comfort standards as rigorous as the energy efficiency standards stipulated.
Cost Efficiency Benefits
Cost efficiency is at the heart of the passive house concept. When a building is exceptionally well insulated, it can use as little as 10 percent of its regular heating energy requirements. This, of course, also significantly reduces the costs associated with heating the building. So, how does the passive house concept achieve such a radical reduction in energy needs? The answer is insulation, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. Passive houses rely on extensive insulation to gain this level of energy efficiency. Why is insulation so effective?
Traditional buildings lose a lot of heat through the roof, walls, floor, doors, and, most of all, windows. With a passive house, each of these structures is carefully designed and built to ensure close to zero loss of heat. When you look at the thermal scan of a passive house next to a traditional house, you’ll notice the passive house is almost entirely blue, meaning there’s close to no energy loss. The other building is close to all red, meaning it is losing a lot of energy. This level of energy conservation and efficiency is what leads to the massive energy savings that make passive houses so cost-efficient.
Passive houses are a concept that is yet to hit mainstream construction. However, this does not mean it is impractical to build passive houses. What it does point to is the need for better awareness of the concept. Toyin-Ann Yerifor recommends anyone interested in the concept to visit a passive house showcase home to experience its benefits firsthand. She says this is the only way to understand and internalize this breakthrough energy efficiency concept.
If you’re worried about your kids losing academic skills over the summer, you might be searching for activities to keep them mentally stimulated. You might have already signed up for a summer reading program or researched some fun math activities. However, throwing in some hands-on science activities can also be fun and educational for kids!
Kids learn best when they’re actively engaged in an activity. If you’re looking for a fun hands-on science activity that you can start this summer and continue into the school year, consider growing your own indoor garden!
Aside from providing a fun activity, there are additional benefits to starting an indoor garden.
Having plants around your house improves your air quality because they aid in air filtration.
If you opt for herbs, veggies, or fruits, you can use what you grow in your cooking
Taking care of plants can provide your child with a sense of responsibility
An indoor garden doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can make it as large or as little as you would like.
A small garden can be as simple as getting a few small pots and placing them in your windowsill. Even watching a single seed grow can provide some good educational talking points. If you opt for this option, you’ll want to make sure you choose a window that gets a good amount of sunlight.
If you want to take your indoor level to the next level, you can invest in an indoor garden box to put near your windows. These are raised boxes specifically designed for indoor gardening. Most gardening stores sell them, or you can build your own. A bonus of building your own is that you can build it at the perfect height for your tiny gardener!
If you have older children who already have a good understanding of gardening basics or if you’re living in a small space, you might want to consider a hydroponic system. Hydroponics involves growing plants using a nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. You can find a number of hydroponic kits to get started available online, or you can build your own system.
For hydroponic systems, the kind of water you use is very important. If your home gets hard water or water mixed with many additives, it may be worthwhile to filter the water through reverse osmosis(https://ro-systemreviews.com) before using it for your plants.
What you’ll need
Decide if you want to grow flowers, fruits, vegetables, or herbs. After you pick what you want to grow, decide if you want seeds or cuttings. Starting with seeds is a great option if you have kids because they’ll get to see the entire life cycle of a plant. Seeds also tend to be less expensive, which can be useful if some of your plants end up not making it.
You can use almost anything for a container as long as there is proper drainage. You can buy plastic or clay pots meant for gardening. These pots will have drainage holes at the bottom.
For a less expensive option, you can dig through your recycling bin for old milk cartons, butter containers, or egg cartons. Just make sure to punch holes in the bottom of your recycled container for drainage!
If you live in a house or apartment that doesn’t receive a lot of natural sunlight, you’ll either need to invest in plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight or invest in grow lights. Grow lights are a great option because they are specifically designed to provide indoor plants with the light they need. Even if you live in the darkest of homes, a grow light will have you saying “Look at our new indoor garden”!
You’ll, of course, need something for your plants to grow in. If you’re going with the traditional container or the garden box approach, you’ll want to invest in a quality potting mix. If going for the hydroponic approach, you’ll want to choose a medium that works well with your chosen system.
Child-size gardening tools
Your child will enjoy having their own tools to garden with! Invest in shovels, trowels, and watering cans that are the right size for your child.
Connecting it to learning
The best way to connect your new garden to learning is by taking your child’s lead. Children are naturally curious, so wait for your child to ask questions. You and your child can then research the questions together, either on the computer or at the library.
Possible topics you’ll explore together include why do plants need sunlight, what the life cycle of a plant is, and how can you tell if a plant is healthy.
Remember — keep it fun! The whole point of your new indoor garden is to allow your child to explore the world around them. A great indoor learning environment creates happy and healthy kids.
While much of the focus has been on the damage air pollution can do, it turns out the air within our homes maybe even more detrimental. Last year’s Clean Air Day campaign showed that particle pollution levels are a staggering 3.5 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. With the average person spending 93 percent of their lives indoors, every effort must be made to promote clean, safe indoor air quality – including when it comes to designing homes.
Designing a home that promotes good indoor air quality not only encourages better health for you and your family but can save you money on heating costs in the long run.
If you exert effort to promote safer air quality indoors, your home will become healthier and cleaner. Contrary to popular belief, promoting cleaner and safer air quality indoors through the right home design isn’t taxing. Making small changes in different areas of your home and investing in the right tools, such as the Needlepoint bipolar ionization, can go a long way for you and your family to enjoy healthier air indoors. To make this process easier, consider the following tips to promote safer air quality indoors:
Control Outdoor Sources Of Air Pollution With Minimal Cracks, Leaks Or Uncontrolled Openings
A large determinant of indoor air quality is the transmission of outdoor pollution into the home. In an Indoor Quality Survey by UCL, nitrogen dioxide accounted for 84 percent of the variations in air quality. Nitrogen Dioxide is linked to asthma attacks and is majorly attributed to traffic emissions. The presence of nitrogen dioxide inside your home can worsen the symptoms of asthma or can increase your susceptibility when developing such disease.
The report went on to highlight just how important a role the airtight design of a building plays in maintaining optimal air quality. When designing an airtight home, ensuring there is adequate insulation and choosing the right insulation material is important.
New home builders can also benefit from new construction methods like insulation within the home’s frame or the use of structural insulated panels. Final checks for unsealed leaks or cracks should also be done. However, homeowners and contractors should also keep in mind that ventilation is also just as paramount in maintaining good indoor air quality. Therefore, the inclusion of ventilation points, such as appropriately placed windows, should be kept in mind.
Moreover, common entryways such as doors and windows should be free from any kind of cracks and leaks. Homebuilders can now install silicon in the frames of doors and windows, so make sure that you use this material when designing your home.
Ensure You Have An Effective Ventilation System Design And Components In Place
A carefully designed ventilation system ensures that there is a free flow of air throughout the home and that any internal pollutants are flushed out. Ventilation is also important in the prevention and control of mold spores, which can have a large and potentially toxic impact on indoor air quality. Since molds thrive in humid or moist environments, proper ventilation can prevent their growth and the resulting health complications of mold exposure, such as the triggering of asthma symptoms or lung infections. Molds can also become an eyesore indoors, which is why you should ensure that your home has proper ventilation. A well-ventilated home can also increase the comfort of the people living in it, making the space more relaxing.
When designing your home’s ventilation system, you will want a contractor that is experienced and an NICEIC approved ventilation installer for the installation. In addition to adhering to building regulations, be sure to include mechanical switches or CO2 powered sensors for your MVHR unit so the speed can adapt according to changing conditions, such as seasons of the year. You should also consider the air filter size: larger filters allow for greater airflow, but those made with a thinner material can come with an extended life and dust loading abilities.
There are many ways on how you can improve the ventilation of your home. For instance, you can install extractor fans and attic vents or invest in a home ventilation system. There are several products available in the market today that can provide ventilation indoors so make sure to ask your contractors about your options. For you to end up paying and using a ventilation system that fits your needs and budget, do some research online on how these products work.
Choose Non-Toxic Building Materials And Furnishings For Your Home
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are one of the leading types of indoor air pollution and commonly stem from certain liquids or substances such as paint varnishes, building materials, and the finishes on indoor furniture. Research has also shown that concentrations of VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. Exposure to VOCs can result in both long and short term health complications, including headaches, skin conditions and liver damage.
To avoid this, homeowners can opt for chemical-free building materials such as formaldehyde-free boarding, Rockwool for insulation, and low VOC paints for painting and interior designs. Since you’ll be designing your home, make sure that the contractors understand your needs and will only use these materials.
When it comes to furnishing, choose second-hand furniture over new. Preowned furniture is more likely to emit lower levels of VOC when you buy them, since they stop emitting VOC after the first few initial years. As a bonus, it is much easier on your home design budget as preowned furniture is cheaper than buying brand new ones. For you to score great deals, you just have to exert effort when searching for secondhand pieces.
Key Takeaway Points
With so much time being spent in our homes, it makes sense that homeowners would want to design a home that is as safe as possible, including the indoor air quality. Incorporating simple hacks like these into your home design process can help you design the home of your dreams – and a healthy one at that.
Even the gravest of occurrences have some silver linings, and COVID-19, in all of its dreariness, has been pretty good to Mother Earth. There have been some negative drawbacks, but on the whole, the environment is one thing that has actually been positively affected by the novel coronavirus. Stay-at-home orders mean less cars on the road, and social distancing means less people at national parks and beaches in need of a good cleaning. A study now published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal went as far as to say, “In China alone, all of these air quality improvements that have outnumbered confirmed [COVID-19-related] deaths thus far.”
Here is a closer look at 5 positive environmental impacts caused by COVID-19.
1. Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure
With many citizens greatly limiting their travel, cities and states alike have been upgrading their transportation systems (trains, cars, planes, etc.). At a quick glance, a reasonable response to that would be, “Nice, better roads,” but fortunately, with advances in infrastructure resilient to climate change, it also means structures made with environmentally friendly materials, reduced waste, and made renewable-resource-ready, depending on the locale.
Some jurisdictions with a bit less of a “convinced” mindset towards climate change do, however, have a lot of legal loopholes in place regarding renewable energy, but at least making structures ready to switch power when the law allows is something to breath easy about (literally).
2. Lowered Emissions
As touched on in the intro, limited travel and social distancing have been large parts of increased air quality across the globe. Even NASA satellites have produced photographic evidence of less smog in urban areas.
As many large businesses in these large cities are becoming aware of the positive effects (both socially and monetarily) of corporate social responsibility, it’s also reasonable to think that many corporations will take into account all of the positives that come with remote work, and maximize opportunities do so in a world where going green is as good for the trees as it is the bottom line.
3. Moral Awareness / Disaster Relief
Most natural disasters affect those who can actually see the destruction first-hand much more deeply than people who just see pictures and videos. With a truly global pandemic affecting everyone on Earth, the overall will to “help a neighbor” has been tried and true during the COVID-19 wave. Some places just had much better disaster preparedness practices than others, and where there were shortages in one area, and excess in another, the right moves were made.
Only time will tell if optimism turns to reality, but thinking that the global reach of this disaster and the “all in this together” mantra will lead to more disaster relief for issues some people may not be familiar with (hurricanes, tornados, famine, earthquakes, etc.) is definitely beyond reasonable.
4. Clean Beaches
Over the last 10 years, roughly 60 million Americans visit a beach per year. Couple that with coastal population booms, and it’s safe to say the sand in the United States gets a lot of foot traffic. Though the lack of tourism certainly hurt the economy, it gave the beaches a long overdue break, resulting in massive decreases in coastal pollution, deep beach cleans by locals, and increases in water quality.
5. A Little Bad with the Good
With closures of schools and a lot of work places, brought with it closures of some recycling centers, resulting in a lot of recyclables being trashed. The increases in online deliveries are certainly sensible, but they, too, added to an uptick in waste production, due to packaging. Additionally, medical waste (including masks and gloves) experienced a steady uptick as well.
Ultimately, the environmental effects of COVID-19 are things we can take a bit of resolve in, as pretty much everything else has been affected negatively by the pandemic. Increases in air and water quality should continue to be steady, new infrastructure with renewable resources now exist and just need some legislative boosts in areas, a lot of public places that needed a good cleaning have gotten it, and the only negatives on this list involve human actions that can be adjusted, moving forward.
It’s unsurprising that air quality naturally goes downhill in workplaces. When there are too many people in too small a space, negative effects on the air that employees breathe are to be expected. Those can be exacerbated by building or remodeling projects nearby.
Poor indoor air quality may result in sneezing, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats. Medical experts caution that it may also cause respiratory disorders, asthma, and cancer to worsen and damage the nervous system over time.
Fortunately, no matter where you work, there are ways to improve air quality and provide safe working conditions. You can reduce the likelihood of illness and create a healthy work environment by implementing the following recommendations:
1. Keep Everything Clean And Germ-Free
Mold spores, dust, debris, and toxins shouldn’t be present in the air in a work environment. Instead of using toxic cleaning products that pollute the air, consider going green with cleaning agents that releases no additional pollutants into the environment. Muddy shoes should be cleaned on a scraper mat before entering the building or office to prevent tracking dirt into the establishment.
Do the floors after you’ve finished vacuuming to get rid of any airborne pollutants. Microfiber mops and dusters collect dirt and debris more thoroughly than ordinary cloth, so it’s always a good idea to use them.
By keeping everything clean, you can improve your office and help the environment at the same time.
2. Replace The Air Filters
When air filters get dirty, they stop up the flow of air. Over time, dust and dirt will settle in the air ducts, and people within the property may be at risk. In general, you should change air filters every six months.
3. Maintain An Appropriate Humidity Level
Dust mites and mold can be reduced when the humidity is between 30% and 50%. You can use two types of equipment to maintain a comfortable humidity level in your office: dehumidifiers and air conditioners.
4. Spillage Should Be Cleaned Up At Once
Mold grows in damp environments, and exposure to it can result in allergies and infections. Because it’s more costly to get rid of mold than to prevent it, it’s imperative to wipe away spills as quickly as possible and to watch for signs of leakage in the office.
5. Make Use Of Air Purifiers
Turning to commercial-grade appliances such as dehumidifiers and air purifiers ensures indoor safety without having to employ a technician.
6. Change Air Filters Regularly
To prevent the return of airborne contaminants to the indoor environment, change the filter as often as needed. Blockage or restriction of airflow can increase moisture retention and the buildup of pollutants in enclosed spaces. That’s why it’s advisable to clean air filters in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system at least twice a year.
7. Make Sure There Is Adequate Ventilation
Open the windows whenever possible to let fresh air into the office and reduce stale air, but never turn off the HVAC system. Check the ventilation system in your workplace to ensure that it’s adequate. Ensure that there are no air leaks in the hoses or pipes within the property. Furniture, boxes, and cupboards placed in front of an air vent can create a stuffy office, so remove those at once.
Having indoor plants is a great way to bring life into your workplace. They can help improve air quality as well because they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
8. Inspections Should Be Made At Least Every Month
Workplace air quality testing will give you the data and insights you need to determine if the methods you’re using to keep indoor air clean are effective. The tests evaluate airflow, humidity, propensity to damage, amount of odor, water in the air, leaks, and the degree of mold growth and contamination. An increase in the number of employees developing an illness or becoming allergic to a change in the environment may warrant scheduling a test.
If you notice any signs that your ducts are causing poor air quality or providing inadequate ventilation, call the professionals right away. With their help, you’ll find out precisely what has to be fixed to get your office back on track when it comes to health standards.
The health and happiness of your employees are directly tied to indoor air quality. That’s why you have to identify ways to make your office’s environment more conducive to productivity and wellness. These can be as simple as changing filters regularly, using air purifiers, and testing the HVAC system.
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