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Composting Toilets: Large Scale Systems

by Justin Thomas •

Composting toilets can be a practical solution even for large businesses. We recently visited the Philip Merrill Environment Center, which is the headquarters for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It has a Platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council. After taking a tour of their offices (about a hundred people work there), …

“Watch-Out” Roundabouts: More Efficient Than Stop Lights

by Kathryn Kozowski •

roundabout

The safety and efficiency of roundabouts has been hotly contested in countries that have been wary to embrace them, such as the United States. People have argued that roundabouts are more confusing than signal lights, and consequently lead to more frequent accidents. While it is true that roundabouts can be confusing for first-time users, officials argue that once people have …

Milk (Casein) Paint

by Justin Thomas •

This is the perfect paint for people who love the dappled, richly textured look of old plaster but find themselves surrounded instead by flat drywall. It is sold as a powder, made according to a recipe that’s been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. As you need it, you mix it with water and ochres and oxides color …

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LED Lamps That Glow With Warm White Light

by Justin Phelps •

LED Lamps With Warm White Illumination: Koncept Z-Bar ($165) and i-Tower ($195) Pablo Designs LIM L Floor ($350) Cree XLamp XR-E Warm White LED Lantern ($25) The color temperature of light is measured in degrees Kelvin. Lower-temperature white LEDs (around 2,000-4,000 K) are warm (yellowish white) like incandescent bulbs. White LEDs with higher color temperatures (above 5,000 K) are cool …

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Natural Indigo Jeans: Metaefficient?

by Justin Thomas •

Originally, jeans were dyed with the color of the actual indigo plant. Today, natural indigo jeans can’t be considered metaefficient because they are expensive and only available as a kind of designer jean. Notwithstanding this, people admire these jeans because of their distinctive, deeply hued appearance. The story behind them is interesting too. There are at least three companies making …

Efficient: Private, Decentralized Networks

by Justin Thomas •

network-growth

The Internet is a wonderful invention, and we are now entering a time where the Internet is becoming nearly ubiquitous in our lives and quickly supplanting traditional forms of media. However, today the Internet is often censored and tracked by Internet Services Providers (ISPs) and companies like Google and Facebook, as well as governments around the world. (I’ve outlined some …

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The Largest Building In The World To Be Green

by Justin Thomas •

Foster + Partners have just been granted preliminary permission to start construction on this volcano-shaped superstructure in Moscow, which will be dubbed “Crystal Island”. In terms of efficiency monolithic buildings like this seem unnecessary, but the proposed dimensions are amazing: it will be 1,500 foot tall with 26,909,776 foot squared of floor space, that’s enough room to house 30,000 people.

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SmartSwitch Takes Human Error Out Of The Energy Efficiency Equation

by Justin Thomas •

The quest for low-impact, efficient living is often at odds with the human flaws of sheer laziness and absentmindedness. This couldn’t be more poignantly-illustrated than in an average American home. Much electricity is wasted each and every day by very simple, avoidable behavior. One of the most common examples is the vast amounts of electricity that are essentially thrown away due to …

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The Best Cargo Carrying Bikes Of 2014

by Justin Thomas •

Surly Big Dummy Longtail Commuter Bicycle

If you are interested in carrying cargo on your bike you should consider a dedicated “cargo bike” or “utility bike”. These bikes are great for transporting luggage while commuting, touring or running errands. Cargo bikes feature a long wheel base for more space on the rear luggage rack. They usually have a strong frame and wheels to carry more weight …

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The Best Toasters of 2014

by Siel •

What makes a toaster efficient? Read through reviews of popular toasters, and you’ll see that many people seem to care more about the bells and whistles — automatic lowering of bread, pleasant dings when toasting is complete, and the like — than anything else.