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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
Native American Proverb

There are no passengers
on Spaceship Earth. 
We are all crew.

Marshall McLuhan, 1964

It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent, but the one most
responsive to change.

Charles Darwin



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    One Biosphere is an alliance of people and organizations who are united to preserve the quality of our global environment through our forum and publications, education, advocacy, research and communications among our members and partners.

Green Homes - Eco Friendly Housing

       Green housing concepts are being rapidly implemented in an accelerating number of eco-friendly developments throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Iconic home designs are now being developed throughout North America.
       Inventive eco projects are being developed on brownfields.  For example, a development project known as Dockside Green located on former industrial land adjacent to the Inner Harbor in Victoria, B.C. Canada has been designed as a green project.  The immediate environment is the adjacent Inner Harbor of Victoria which is surrounded by unsightly shipyards and old industrial buildings.  Such new developments set eco standards that will ultimately become the environmental norm for new residential buildings throughout North America and the world.
            Builders and residents have become very knowledgeable about eco-friendly housing.  Environmentally conscious residents are interested in environmental and conservation housing issues and appreciative of the special features of green residential buildings.  The development philosophy involves incorporating an eco-friendly, efficient design in a reasonably priced housing complex.
            There is a combination of well-known green attributes that are found in many new structures as well as several novel approaches.  For example, commonplace features include motion sensing switches, low flow faucets and toilets and energy efficient appliances.  Also, rooftops may be green, with flower beds and communal gardens and on-site parking for vehicles owned by car sharing services.
            There are several fresh concepts that are advancing the art of green communities.  For example, the Dockside Green complex has its own sewage and wastewater treatment plant that will return water to flush toilets in each suite and will also be used to feed a creek and pond system that meanders through the development.  Also, the project includes an on-site biomass gasification plant that converts waste wood into energy to provide heat and hot water to the units.
            Also, each unit includes a smart meter that monitors water, heat and electricity consumption, while an innovative ventilation system passes 100 per cent fresh air to each home, instead of recirculating air through the corridors which is the norm in most condominium projects.
            Construction is also performed in an environmentally friendly manner so that 90 per cent of construction waste is recycled and the cement used in the construction is specially formulated to contain fly ash which is a material that reduces carbon-dioxide emissions and strengthens the material.
            This pioneering project which is being built on a brownfield or cleaned-up industrial land that was originally aboriginal property was designed to be socially responsible.  The project contractors established programs to help aboriginal workers obtain construction skills and jobs by working on the project.
            The $600 million (Cdn) complex will ultimately be home to approximately 2,500 people by the targeted completion date of 2014.  The developer has stated that the green, environmentally sound attributes will not make the construction and development more expensive to construct and manage.
           Through careful planning and construction techniques, higher initial costs may be offset by savings later.  At Dockside Green, construction costs are projected to be roughly 1-1.5% higher than a traditional project.  However, the environmentally friendly design should ultimately reduce costs when the architects, engineers, builders and landscapers work together to make sure the buildings are as efficient as possible.
            For example, the south and west-facing windows have awnings and exterior blinds, insulation is increased and special glazing is installed.  In the end, less heating will be required and the need for air conditioning is eliminated so that other mechanical expenses are reduced.
           Similarly, construction of an on-site sewage treatment plant is costly, but the complex will not be required to pay sewage fees to the city because it the municipal system is not utilized.  The energy efficient lighting and biomass heating system will reduce electricity consumption by roughly 60 per cent relative to a traditional building.  Over decades, there will be major energy savings.
           Interestingly, because of the widespread positive publicity about the project, there have been substantial savings on marketing costs.  Free publicity about the complex has been gained because of its environmental features.  The green features have facilitated issuance of the municipal approvals.  The costs involved in obtaining governmental approvals typically constitute a huge initial cost for most developers.
           These kinds of savings certainly may be obtained by other green projects throughout the U.S. and Canada.  On-site sewage plants or biomass energy facilities require surprisingly small footprints.  Accordingly, downtown urban condominium projects may be able to integrate such systems in their development in the future.
          These projects are very ground-breaking to the extent that they are commercial ventures that are developed on time, on budget, and for profit.  As a result, developers will no longer be able to assert that sustainability is not compatible with modern development and construction businesses.
             On the other hand, although more developers are recognizing the value of environmentally friendly building and proposing these green solutions, governmental and planning authorities must remove impediments and roadblocks which are not flexible enough to accommodate these new environmentally friendly, innovative projects.
             The building industry is in the state of evolution because new designs and creative techniques are being developed and implemented.  However, the bureaucracy of municipalities and other levels of government must be removed to allow new eco-friendly development projects with many new technologies to proceed effectively.  The blockage of local government process needs to be eliminated for innovation to prevail.

Eco-Friendly Housing Features

            Dockside Green has dramatic innovations that distinguish it from other projects, such as a sewage treatment plant and a biomass-based heating facility.  However, there are a multitude of other eco-friendly features.  These include:

* Awnings and remote-controlled exterior blinds together with "low-E" glazing that make air conditioning unnecessary;

* Balconies that have rainwater storage for watering plants;

* Native plants used for landscaping that do not require irrigation;

* Interiors that are painted with eco, low-emission paints; carpets that are also low-emission;

* Buildings that have bicycle storage and parking stalls for shared vehicles;

* Washing machines that are low energy, together with condensing dryers (that do not require expensive venting);

* Floors that are made of environmentally sustainable bamboo;

* Common areas that have low-energy LED lighting;

* Each new resident is provided with a six-month supply of eco-friendly cleaning products.


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