A prefab house that's green — and gorgeous

Article: A prefab house that's green — and gorgeous

When it comes to housing, phrases like “prefab,” “modular” or “factory-made” still bring up certain images for me: either a mobile home/trailer or a boxy, uninspired dwelling made from cheap materials. That’s on me, though, as, over the past decade or so, designers have recognized the potential of this concept and started creating unique, beautiful, stylish homes. What’s more, they’ve built upon prefabrication’s lower environmental footprint by adding materials and features that use resources more efficiently and maintain a healthy indoor environment.

Hemp: the world's grooviest building material?

Article: Hemp: the world's grooviest building material?

Is there anything you can’t do with industrial hemp? Turn its fiber into paper or cloth? Yep. Eat its oil or seeds? You can do that, too. Smoke it? Well, you can, but you won’t get the desired effect: industrial hemp has only trace amounts of THC (the active ingredient in hemp’s cousin, marijuana). One thing you definitely can’t do: grow it in the United States. Despite the multiple potential uses (almost all of which create a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional materials), it’s still illegal to farm industrial hemp here.

Green tech finds: Recycled guitars and impromptu speakers

Article: Green tech finds: Recycled guitars and impromptu speakers

Cool concept cars and planes, speakers that turn ordinary objects into amplifiers, and the potential environmental cost of washing your jacket: this week’s green tech finds.

Honda’s very cool, very light electric concept vehicle: Unfortunately, “concept” often means we’ll never see one on the road. Still, Honda’s EV-STER (which rolled out last week at the Tokyo Auto Show, and is pictured above) shows the company combining electric power with light weight (through lots of body elements made from carbon) and sweet styling; maybe they’ll keep thinking this way as they work towards new production vehicles. (via Earth Techling)

Best of Kickstarter, 11/28

Article: Best of Kickstarter, 11/28

We scoured the pages of Kickstarter to bring you this week’s best projects. Have a great Kickstarter project of your own or see one you think deserves some extra attention? Let us know about it the comments and we may just feature it in our weekly roundup.


Portals:  Sure, we all feel pretty modern and fancy about our touchscreen technology (last week, I played Fruit Ninja for two uninterrupted hours in a turkey stuffing-induced daze), but the future isn’t about what you do on the screen – it’s what you do underneath or inside it. Using green screen technology, grad student Jayne Vidheechar designed a set of “portals” that allow users to interact with different objects in a myriad of environments and settings.

Twine: Feel like everyone is text-addicted? Soon, even your laundry machine will be sending you text messages. If you don’t believe me, check out ”Twine,” a clever new gizmo produced by freaky MIT geniuses that enables you to receive notifications from pretty much any object in your house…

Green tech finds, 10/13/11

Article: Green tech finds, 10/13/11

Teenagers build a really fast hybrid, GM’s got an all-electric vehicle in the works, and Nissan has a concept for charging a car in ten minutes: your green tech finds for the week.

Another EV1? Let’s hope not. Chevy plans to start selling the Spark EV (above) in limited US markets in…

Certify it: the Clean Green Certified standard for organic marijuana

Article: Certify it: the Clean Green Certified standard for organic marijuana

If you’re a good treehugger, you always look for USDA Organic certification on food and personal care products, the FSC label on paper and wood products, and the Green Seal on cleaning products. But if you happen to enjoy recreational medicinal horticultural products, caveat emptor dictates your purchases. There’s no way to know the growing practices that produced that dimebag, right?

Tikkun Olam awards recognize teen gardening advocate

Article: Tikkun Olam awards recognize teen gardening advocate

The Hebrew phrase Tikkun olam translates as “repair the world,” and has come to represent the notion of “human responsibility for fixing what is wrong with the world” in the Jewish faith. The Helen Diller Family Foundation and The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco borrowed this phrase for their awards program that recognizes Jewish teens in California for work that embodies Tikkun olam. This year’s winners, which each receive $36,000 for college, or for supporting their philanthropic work, have just been announced, and include young people working on issues ranging from the refugee crisis in Darfur to access to textbooks in Liberia to providing school supplies for disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles.

California's Butte College hits first in the nation solar milestone

Article: California's Butte College hits first in the nation solar milestone

Colleges and universities are hot spots for renewable energy installation and experimentation. From on-site energy generation to educational programs designed to train students for clean energy careers, schools are right up there with start-ups in terms of pushing renewable technology towards mainstream use. Last week, a community college district in Northern California set a new standard for renewable energy use in higher education, though: Butte College became the first “grid positive” school in the nation.

A school for freerunning

Article: A school for freerunning

Tempest Freerunning Academy from The Cool Hunter on Vimeo. When you sit all day at your computer, it’s easy to forget what your body is capable of — the movement, the strength, the agility, the fitness. Which is what helps make this video from the Tempest Freerunning Academy so inspiring. It’s a showcase of California’s…

Green tech finds (3/3/11)

Article: Green tech finds (3/3/11)

An electric unicycle, iPad recycling, and creating your own bike lane on the go… this week’s green tech finds.

Distributed car sharing ready to blow up in California?

Article: Distributed car sharing ready to blow up in California?

Thus far, car sharing services have looked a lot like traditional rental programs. Sure, there are a few key differences — cars located near potential drivers rather than the airport, membership models, etc. — but Zipcar and WeCar still provided cars they bought to customers for set time periods. In February, I took note of a different model — distributed or “peer-to-peer” car sharing — in which anyone who owned a car could rent it out to someone else. RelayRides was just getting off the ground on the East Coast, but legal changes in California may make the Golden State the place where distributed car sharing really takes off.

White House not the only public property slated for solar panels

Article: White House not the only public property slated for solar panels

Last week’s announcement that the White House would install solar panels and hot water systems the first residence grabbed a lot of attention in the mainstream media and green blogosphere… especially after Presidential staffers rejected a gift of one of the solar panels from the Carter presidency in September.

Nobody actually works in LA

Article: Nobody actually works in LA

No one works, they just create traffic jams. (Photo from RESPRES’ Flickr.)
OOOf. It has been a while. My bad. Truly. I was off in New Orleans hanging with hunky Bayou Boys for a story on BP and the conmen living on Flotels for AOL… Then went to LA to hang with my sisters and tape the voicing for the animation on my MTV show, Grits. LA is so funny. Everyone either thinks I’m going to move there or have already moved there. Which is weird as LA is like my personal purgatory. You try finding someone in that town who isn’t a “producer” (scam artist), “model” (pretty girl with no job), “actress” (hooker), or “realtor” (see model). It’s pretty damn hard. What other city has traffic jams at 3 pm on a Tuesday? No one actually works there! (Says me, typing that shit in and noting the irony).

San Quentin inmates explore green job opportunities

Article: San Quentin inmates explore green job opportunities

San Quentin probably brings to mind Johnny Cash’s legendary performance at the prison… or perhaps a particularly creepy episode of Lockdown. But green jobs? Yep… on Saturday, the Insight Garden Program (which attempts to rehabilitate prisoners through organic gardening) and the California Reentry Program hosted a green careers fair at the prison.

More giant bubbles

Article: More giant bubbles

Stinson Beach Bubbles (canon 550D) from markdaycomedy on Vimeo. Ok, so we like giant bubbles around these parts. Matthew featured some at the beginning of this month. And I cannot stop watching the above video, shot at Stinson beach, in Northern California. Set to chill-out music by Incompetech and shot by Mark Day, a stand-up…

Stagecoach Music Festival: A Great Time in the Bowels of Humanity

Article: Stagecoach Music Festival: A Great Time in the Bowels of Humanity

My sister and I at The Oakridge Boys
I spent this week in the bowels of humanity. No — literally! I toodled on out to Palm Springs for the Stagecoach country music festival — Coachella’s redneck sister — with my pal Theano and my little sister Emily. And none too soon.

See, here’s the deal with being single in NYC. You can find your physical type, and you can find your mental type — and never the two shall meet. Trust. I’ve tried. So, being a (physical) lover of very large manly men (and you try finding big manly guys who know how to fix a tire in NYC), I decided why not just wallow in a sea of my physical type and while I’m at it — get to see Merle Haggard, The Oakridge Boys, Sugarland, Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, and a whole lot of sweaty cowboys?

Back from Passover with Joan and Melissa Rivers

Article: Back from Passover with Joan and Melissa Rivers

Melissa, Sue (in a Charlize Theron inspired homemade outfit), Joan Rivers and me at Seder

So I had to make (yet another) trip back to Cali last week. But the good news is: it was totally disgusting in NYC and LA was sunny and fab! So there, take that, jet lag! And Karl was cool with it because he got to go. He only farted like twice on the plane, but at least he didn’t release the goods — you know, till he got outside. But hey — who am I to judge High Altitude Flatulence?

This time I was out there to shoot a pilot… vaguely along the lines of “speaking truth” — see last week’s blog — although not to Foxxy Brown — pretty much everyone else though. But I still can’t get over Foxxy. Heh. So while I was out there I chilled with my lil’ sis Emily and my big sister Sophie for a night — before heading to (YES THAT’S RIGHT!) Joan Rivers’ house for Passover! O hell yes!!!

Golden State Warriors practice facility goes solar

Article: Golden State Warriors practice facility goes solar

From players’ salaries (and egos) to stadiums and arenas, pretty much everything about professional sports is big… including the carbon footprint. You likely only need to take a look at huge, climate-controlled facilities with acres and acres of parking to figure that even single events are responsible for massive greenhouse gas emissions. Genuine reductions in that footprints will likely require major shifts in how fans experience the play of their favorite teams… for now, though, a number of pro franchises are doing what they can with LEED building standards, renewable energy installations, and fan education.

The Golden State Warriors basketball team will join that group tomorrow with the unveiling of a 9,641 sq. ft., 143.5kW solar installation on its practice facility in downtown Oakland.

The View From Here

Article: The View From Here

Clockwise from upper left: Larry Sultan, “My Mother Posing for Me,” (1984) Henry Wessel, “Southern California,” (1985) William A. Garnett, “Contour Graded Hills, Ventura County, California” (1953) and Ansel Adams, “Clouds, from Tunnel Overlook, Yosemite National Park, California” (1934)

Children growing up everywhere, in the middle of nowhere, middle America or in the backwoods of the Northeast all have specific visions of California. Of all the states in the country, why California? Why do people I meet today tell me how when they were children all they wanted to do was go to California? One reason: photography. Whether their impressions are of the Ansel Adams variety or the vastly more popular surfer/life guard/beach bum/eternal party culture California, they can all be traced back to specific images from photography both low (think neon bikini postcards) and high.

The green economy is dawning

Article: The green economy is dawning

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham recently said at a news conference that “the green economy is coming.” I couldn’t agree with him more. The signs are all around us, from studies that show green jobs are growing 2.5 times faster than conventional jobs to the fact that California’s clean energy industry attracted $6.5 billion in venture capital in the past three years.

These are just the signs from our own shores. From China to Germany, there is no doubt that nations are beginning to see the financial wisdom in preventing the exorbitant costs of global warming by putting clean energy solutions in place now.

The only question that remains is: Will America be a leader in the green economy?

Purdue University Will Test Alternative Fuels for Aircraft

Article: Purdue University Will Test Alternative Fuels for Aircraft

Purdue University will operate a new federally funded facility to test aircraft engines and develop alternative fuels for aircraft in an effort to reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil.

Solar boat racing provides hands-on learning for students

Article: Solar boat racing provides hands-on learning for students

When you were a high school student, how did you prefer to learn your science: formulas on the board and text books, or hands-on experiments involving building things (or maybe even blowing things up, or dropping items from high distances)? Yeah, I thought so… Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District has provided a hands-on opportunity for kids throughout the area to learn about engineering principles, solar power and electrical systems, and even water pollution and other broad environmental issues through its annual Solar Cup boat races.

Solar Decathlon: The Envelope, Please…

Article: Solar Decathlon: The Envelope, Please…

While the 2009 Solar Decathlon officially wrapped up yesterday, the winners of the solar-powered home design competition were announced Friday morning. While sixteen of the twenty student teams hailed from the US, an international competitor took the gold: Team Germany received the highest number of points, and scored a repeat of its ’07 win.

California's wildfires in time lapse

Article: California's wildfires in time lapse

As wildfires lick the hills of California, a couple different photographers have captured time lapse footage of the fires spread. The New York Times linked to the first video below which recorded the fires at sunset from LA’s Mulhulland Drive this past Saturday. Set to music by Brian Eno, the second video is a more…

Michelle Obama isn't the only "first gardener" out there…

Article: Michelle Obama isn't the only "first gardener" out there…

Cranberry Bog, Ohio Governor’s Mansion
When Michelle Obama announced plans for a White House kitchen garden, local foodies, gardeners, and health advocates rejoiced: what better way to promote the value of home-grown food than get the first family involved. It turns out that the Obamas aren’t the only executive family growing vegetables on the grounds of the official residence: a number of governors and their spouses have taken up the cause of not just planting vegetables, but also implementing more sustainable landscaping practices at governors’ mansions and even state capitols.