Posts tagged ‘green living’

March 27, 2011

San Francisco Renewable Energy By 2020

green living by 2020 for San Francisco

San Francisco is an innovative city. The oldest “big” city on the west coast in also in many ways the most sophisticated. The city and its governing bodies always seems to be in the forefront of new movements. Remember Hippies in Haight Ashbury, Gay Rights and now eco-friendly living.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said recently at a gathering for solar enthusiasts in San Francisco that he believes the city can be functioning on all renewable energy in nine years. Nearly 800 people attended the event and paid $100 each as part of a fundraiser for the Vote Solar Initiative, which is a grassroots solar advocacy project backed by the Tides Center. They have about 50,000 members nationwide. They work at the policy level with legislators to make solar power more affordable to businesses and consumers. San Francisco currently generates about eighteen megawatts of electricity from solar power. The city offers various incentives for adding new solar installations, both for consumers and businesses.

Former Mayor Gavin Newsom said of their program: “GoSolarSF has more than doubled the number of solar installations in our City and created dozens of jobs. This program is literally transforming how our homes and businesses generate and consume electricity rooftop by rooftop.” (Source:

Actually, it was Newsom who first put forth the goal of 100 percent renewable energy in San Francisco by 2020. One source said that in 2006, San Francisco was only at about 12 percent renewable energy, and that rate put them easily in the top ten U.S. cities for clean energy. Currently San Francisco receives a significant amount of its electricity from the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric powerplant. It was recently reported that the city had failed to find a competitor to their main supplier, Pacific Gas and Electricity, who can deliver power from 51 percent renewable sources.

Some say the 100 percent renewable goal by 2020 is not feasible, but the director of the city’s Environment Department said the city had actually exceeded their very ambitious recycling goal of 75 percent diversion from the waste stream, so a very aggressive energy goal might be beneficial.

Take note other cities the sooner you convert to renewable energy the better it’ll be for all of us.

Image Credit: photo via flickr

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September 28, 2010

The Best Alternative Roofing Materials

It’s possible to be stylish with a roof even while paying attention to the environment

Using “green” materials for a treehouse roof is not a fad. It’s a way of both making a statement and contributing to the overall health of the environment. Using eco-friendly roofing materials may seem like a small gesture, but if every builder made environmentally friendly choices, the benefits in aggregate would be enormous.

Living roof made of plantlife

Roof in bloom

The building industry is taking big steps to help provide builders and designers with more environmentally friendly building options. Hazardous asphalt shingles, for instance, are already a thing of the past. They were a petroleum-derived product that was (and still is) a significant contributor to our landfills. Recycled plastics, fiberglass, and wood are quickly becoming standard in roofing.

Recycled tire roofing made to look like shingles

Recycled Tire Roofing

One of the more exciting developments in green building is the movement to recycle old tires. Tires can be used in its native form or it’s cut into little squares and then coated with granular-sized sand pebbles. The end product is then stacked like any other tile.
Solar powered shingles are also readily available. A great way to help generate power in a treetop dwelling, they usually need a bank of batteries installed to store the power they generate.

As the list of new innovations grow, every builder needs to incorporate them into their constructions. The environment will not be saved by any one large gesture but by a number of very small ones.

A typical shingle roof is a good low-cost option, but there are many alternative roofing materials that literally last forever and have lifetime warranties. Many of these have a raised profile that allows air to circulate beneath them. This helps reduce your air conditioning bills during the summer.

Fire resistance of some alternative roofing materials (tile, concrete, slate, fiber-cement, recycled synthetics) is a plus and required in some areas. This also may reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums. A burning ember escaping your own chimney can start your or a neighbor’s house on fire.

Fiber-cement is an excellent roofing material. It has a Class A (best) fire rating and has a transferable limited lifetime warranty. It can be formed into almost any shape and colored to simulate other roofing materials.

Fiber cement roofing

Fiber Cement roofing

Fiber-cement roofing is lighter weight than slate, concrete or tile, so you should not have to reinforce the roof structure. An extra lightweight concrete roofing material is also available, but it is not recommended for severely cold climates. Your local roofing contractor can advise you.

A combination of recycled plastics and wood fiber (from scrap pallets) is used to produce simulated cedar shakes and slate. This material has a Class A fire rating, withstands 150-mph wind, and has a 50-year warranty. Other larger recycled plastic roofing panels, which simulate shakes, install quickly.

Concrete is an excellent roofing material and the raw materials are in abundant supply. Similar to fiber-cement, concrete can be molded to simulate other materials. Pigments made from oxides of natural metals are used to color the concrete when it is molded to produce a large array of colors.