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Posts Tagged Sustainable

CEO talks about scaling sustainable business

Growing up in New Hampshire, I took many class trips to Stonyfield farms, but as a child didn’t grasp at what was going on with the company, or how big it would get.  At the time the farm, while a viable business, was still very small.  Now I live in NC, 1000 miles away and drink their milk.  Gary Hirshberg talks about how his company’s dedication to sustainability has been able to drive out costs and bring in revenue.  Below are 5 principles that he feels are key to scaling green/sustainable business, that even scale to business making 100’s of millions of dollars.

1) Be activists where we shop
Hirshberg stated that consumers have to drive the demand, so we all must do our research and make sure that we’re buying the greenest product (which might not always be the local product).
2) Recycling means we’ve failed
Businesses have to figure out how to reduce and reuse so that recycling is unnecessary.
3) Organic is not just for the elite
Organic foods often seem like they’re only available to those with enough money to buy them, but Hirshberg is adamant that it doesn’t need to be this way. We need to make organic foods affordable for everyone.
4) Design sustainable products and packaging
Hirshberg noted that Stonyfield Farms recently switched all of its packaging to plant-based plastic. He stated that while that reduces the company’s oil consumption, corn isn’t a perfect option. So they ensure that they counter their footprint with GMO offsets, which goes to literally paying GMO corn growers to switch to non-GMO corn.
5) Engage in politics
Hirshberg pointed out that the five largest agriculture interests spent $28 billion on lobbying since 2008. Organic businesses have to get active too, pushing for the regulations that protect the environment and businesses together. He also noted that we have to become more open source — Stonyfield Farms keeps no secrets, letting their competitors know their moves because they feel this will lead to faster advances on sustainable practices.

Here are two videos, shorter version first, longer second.  they are great videos by the CEO (CE-Yo, for yogurt) talking about being sustainable and the business case for it.

The Little Easy

This is definitely on the larger side of small homes, but it has 2 bedrooms and everything is reletive to the number who live in the space.  Also being that it is a LEED certified home and still around (guessing here) 1000 square feet I thought it was post worthy.  Other interesting facts is that it can be built for under $100k, it is hurricane proof, it is handicap accessible, integrates food production and is a stellar design. This house was chosen as a winner in a LEED design competition and will actually be built in New Orleans.

At the end of the photos there is a link that will expand to show the insane amount of detail and thought put into this house.  They considered the environment, location, design to foster community building etc etc etc it is a lot of text, but I encourage you to check it out.  It is this level of thoughtfulness that drives great design,  it is not a house built by a checklist of specs, but a house driven by a philosophy and good design; This is what cookie cutter housing lacks.


Check out all the details in the link below

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Next Generation Home

So I recently read a comment written by one of our readers, Jason, he made an interesting point when he said (paraphrasing) at what point can we take a house and stop it from consuming, to producing.  This is a very interest notion, traditionally houses and their systems require resources to operate, to maintain, to use etc.  Now being a producer could mean the house itself produces, a system within the house, the person who lives in the house; how can we turn this negative into a positive?

So it left me wondering how could I have a house that doesn’t consume, but produces; while this might actually be impossible if you start looking at the laws of physics it might be a more accurate statement that a house that can offset the inputs with it’s outputs.  But is this even possible?

The average American home creates 4 tons of waste in just its construction, the average house produces almost 90,000 pounds of carbon emissions.  Now a Tiny House will drastically reduces the amount you have to offset, but it will still be a good bit.  Here are some ideas that could help us get closer to making our house a producer, not a consumer.

Reduce your usage right off the bat

First and foremost I would urge you to first reduce what you consume, being conscious of what you consume, if you have to purchase something, think about how you can extend the life of it or if you can use something that you have to preform the function.  Finally if you have to use something, recycle or up-cycle it.

Grow your home

How about instead of building a home, you grow one!  Here are two idea, the first is a real example that is being used already, the other is a concept that is grown from protein structures.

Green Roofs

Not only does the roof process CO2, but it can grow food and drastically reduce cooling and heating costs.  This isn’t a new concept but still an attractive concept.

Green Power

Now obviously it take energy and resources to produce solar panels, geo-thermal taps, and wind turbines, so you have to take into account how much you have to produce to just offset the production, but I would suspect you could make up the difference and then some over the lifetime of the products.

What other ideas could make your home a producer, not a consumer?

ECObitat Prefab Modular System

Here is a neat prototype is kinda neat and has recently won a few awards for design.  From the designer:

The ECObitat start from a modular system of 2.44 m x 3,10 m x 12.20 m, scaled from the standard OSB  plate (oriented strand board) of 1.22 m x 2.44 m, defining areas of flexible multipurpose that can be progressively coupled and adequate for transport. Legs telescope from the base ensuring a good adaptability to different types of topographies. The responsible use of recyclable and industrial materials results in a speedy and prompt delivery of manufacturing space modules.
The main materials of the system are:
– Structure in “steel framing”
– Vertical walls and floor in OSB with thermo-acoustic insulation;
– Coverage in metal type sandwich tiles;
– Window in tempered glass;
– Green roof and walls;
– System of reuse of water;
– Use of solar panels for water heating;
– Use of wind power to generate electricity.


Luxe Hara Villa

The Luxe Hara Villa  was designed by Pinakin Patel, a designer who first got his start creating picture frames in Mumbai, has released a new prefab luxury villa for India.  Designed to be low impact, this prefab can be erected in a short time, but still have a very sense of class.   Designed to limit the use of water and electricity, this house still has all the comforts of a modern house.  A single bedroom, well apointed bathroom, AC, internet, energy saving lights the whole house comes in at $64,000 US Dollars, not half bad.

This house is pretty compact, with only 325 square feet inside and another 325 square feet of patio under a pergola, it certainly is a Tiny House.


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