Eco-Logical Home Podcasts
Listen Up! In just 15-30 minutes, you can learn about new sustainable choices for your home and community. Whether building a new house, installing a rain garden, remodeling the kitchen, or retrofitting your home for resource efficiency, here you’ll find great information you can really use.
Hosted by long-time EcoBuilding Guild member Terry Phelan, these podcasts are a fun way to get tips on the go. Healthy building materials, geothermal and passive solar heating, non toxic finishes, alternative wall systems, and permaculture are just a few of the subjects to help you create nurturing, healthy shelter and community support systems for comfortable, healthy, and resilient places to live.
Some of the episodes posted here were created for Living Shelter Radio, and retain references to that program in their introduction and closing. Living Shelter Design and their non-profit sponsors continue to create and support the program, and are pleased to share it with the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild. Just click on a title to listen up!
Moms are some of the strongest proponents for health, sustainability, and social justice. They also represent over 80% of the world’s purchasing power, and businesses are taking notice. Corey Colwell-Lipson of Celebrate Green, Green Halloween, and the EcoMom Alliance joins Terry to talk about the power of moms to help propel an environmentally, socially, and economically healthy world.
Getting a permit to build a home from natural materials like clay and straw can take time and tenacity. The good news is; all the effort isn’t for just one permit! The process establishes credibility for whatever innovative method the project is using, and doors open for others. There is a resource being developed for sharing information about permit success stories called the Code Innovations Database, and Chris Van Daalen, who is heading up this project, joins Terry to talk about this important work.
We are what we eat! Our bodies come into contact with a myriad of things every day that affect our well being. While we can’t always control our environment, we can choose what food goes into our bodies. Terry’s guest on this episode is Dennis Weaver, who is on a campaign to inspire us to eat better with Change your Food Change your Life, a high-energy good health education company. Listen in to the fun!
There are community solar projects popping up in many parts of the US, including the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative in western Washington. Chris Herman, who has been designing solar projects in the PNW for over 25 years and spearheaded the Edmonds project, joins Terry on this episode to discuss the process and how others can benefit from a similar endeavor.
In the past few years, the mortgage industry has been under fire. Today there are signs of new life as the mortgage industry finds new footing, and offers some specific ways to fund energy efficiency and universal design improvements that are helping open doors to buyers. Dave Porter of Evergreen Home Loans joins Terry on this episode to walk us through some of these interesting opportunities.
Our bodies are subjected to a myriad of chemical compounds present in the environments we spend lots of time in. Children spend lots of time in school, where many of these chemicals can often be found. They are also particularly susceptible to sensitivities caused by environmental exposure – their bodies and these chemicals don’t always play well together! Margo Young, regional director of Children’s Environmental Health at the Environmental Protection Agency, joins Terry on this episode to talk about the EPA’s Healthy Schools Initiative.
One of the first things people think to do when considering a home remodel is to redo the flooring. That’s a good thing, as getting rid of old carpeting is one of the healthiest things you can do! But what then? Do you want to refinish a wood floor, and if so what are the best methods? Or perhaps you’d prefer to bring in a new material, like cork or tile? Sandy Campbell of Seattle’s Entero Design joins Terry to help explore some sustainable, healthy options for different rooms in the house.
The Pacific Northwest has long been a leader in the timber industry. Some say the spotted owl brought that industry to its knees, but out of the ashes comes a rebirth in sustainable forestry. Kirk Hansen is the Director of Northwest Certified Forestry at Northwest Natural Resource Group, joins Terry to talk about the growing sustainable, environmentally sound timber industry in the Pacific Northwest.
Shared housing is a sustainable choice for so many reasons. It stretches budgets and reduces energy use, building material needs, and food preparation time per person. We recently learned about a shared housing initiative called CoAbode, an online ‘mom-matching’ service which connects single moms for house sharing opportunities. CoAbode founder Carmel Boss joins Terry on this episode to talk about how this service is improving the lives of these moms and their kids.
Jobs are on everyone’s mind, and Green Jobs put people where they can do the most good. From energy efficiency retrofitters to solar panel installers and rainwater harvesting providers, people are finding ways to make a values-driven living. Some of these people are fortunate enough to be trained in their field by the company they work for. Callie Ridolfi of Ecofab joins Terry on this episode to talk about how they have integrated a robust training program into their business model.
The Rocky Mountain Institute has been a forerunner of the green building movement since the 1980s. It was founded with the foresight of then husband and wife team Amory and Hunter Lovins, and continues to inspire people to push the envelope on projects large and small. This episode features guest Elaine Gallagher Adams, who is a Senior Consultant in the Built Environment Group at RMI. Elaine joins Terry to talk about their latest work called Reinventing Fire, and using 10xE principals for breakthroughs in sustainable building design.
You have probably heard of LEED, which was originally developed for larger projects such as schools and commercial buildings. LEED for Homes is available, but is a bit onerous and expensive. There are some more accessible options around the Pacific Northwest, and the most robust of these require third party verification. Pam Worner of Green Dog Enterprises is a third party verifier, and joins Terry to talk about the different certification programs and the value they bring to a project.
Earthen floors are an alternative to concrete that is warm to the touch, with a hardness between fir and oak. They are experiencing a rebirth in north America after being overlooked for years, with installations in both rural and urban locations. Sukita Reay Crimmel is a natural builder living in Portland that has become known for her work in earthen building, and especially with these beautiful floors. She joins Terry to talk about them, and how natural building is influencing the construction industry today.
These days most of us spend about 90 percent of our time indoors. While our homes may look and feel clean and sanitized, our indoor air quality is often less healthy than we imagine due to the many chemicals we live with. These come into our homes via things like building materials, furniture, electronics, and cleaning agents. Gretchen Stewart of TM4 Group joins Terry to talk about some strategies we can all use to create healthier homes.
Most homes today are built by contractors and skilled laborers. While this is efficient, it doesn’t provide the same connection between the people that live in the home with the process that is celebrated in many other cultures. Natural building, on the other hand, brings community and family into the process, and empowers people in a way that goes to the root of the human experience. Joseph Becker of ION Ecobuilding in Olympia joins Terry to delve into this positive phenomenon.
Sustainable building projects sometimes include alternative materials and methods that are outside the realm of standard building codes. Alternative Solutions Resource Initiative (ASRi) in Victoria BC is creating a guide for builders and designers to use when preparing for an alternative building, laying the groundwork for these types of projects to move more easily through the planning and permitting phases. Steve Satow is one of three founders of ASRi, and joins Terry to talk about this exciting initiative.
Healthy communities need sustainable agriculture to survive. 21 Acres is a non-profit organization based in Woodinville, Washington helping people rediscover their agricultural heritage and learn about the benefits of fresh local produce and farm products. They recently completed an innovative building housing classrooms, farm to market kitchens, a market, and offices. Gretchen Garth is the founder and Board President of 21 Acres, and joins Terry to talk about their inspiring journey.
Synergy increases the effectiveness of individual efforts. David Hymel of Rain Dog Designs has been developing some ideas to transform entire neighborhoods into economically and environmentally sustainable zones through synergy. David has been working with non-profits and jurisdictions to cluster rain garden installations and partner with complimentary service providers, and is Terry’s guest on this episode. Listen and be inspired!
From balancing our budgets to a desire to reduce our carbon footprint, more and more people share an interest in using natural systems to keep our homes comfortable. The earth’s constant temperature is one of the most reliable supplies around and provides what is known as geothermal or ground-source heating and cooling. In this episode, geothermal specialist Sean Dillon joins Terry to talk about using the earth’s heat in our homes.
Amee Quiriconi is the queen of taking trash out of the waste stream and repurposing it into beautiful, sustainable building products. You may know her as the inventor of Squak Mountain Stone – a business she stepped away from last year to explore even more ways to use construction waste. She joins Terry to share her pragmatic business approach, a model any entrepreneur in the green space can learn from.
Kelly Lerner of One World Design is known as an innovator in the fields of straw bale design and earthen plasters. She is also the co-author of the book Natural Remodeling for the Not So Green Home, where she explores how people can bring their homes into harmony with nature. With so much emphasis on the technical aspects of green building, it’s important to remember that homes are sanctuaries to rekindle our spirit. Listen in as Kelly joins Terry to talk about designing homes for Human Delight.
Z-Home has been in the spotlight recently as the first zero-net energy and carbon neutral multi-family development in the United States. Now that construction is complete, we wanted to examine some of the lessons learned from this first of its kind development. Z-Home project manager Brad Liljequist of the City of Issaquah’s Resource Conservation Office joins Terry this week to share his insight in this 30-minute interview.
The view of Modular Homes is improving, as new developments prove that both building quality and environmental integrity can be improved when a home is constructed with the right materials in a controlled environment. Ann Rabb of Greenpod Development is one of the people leading the modular home paradigm shift in the Pacific Northwest. Listen in as Ann and Terry delve into what can make today’s modular different.
Many people are aware of health issues related to our built environment such as chemical toxins and mold, but not much has been published to date on Electromagnetic Field Pollution or EMF from power lines and cell phone towers. Sonia Hoglander of Home Evolution, who has a background as an Electrical Engineer and a Building Biologist, joins Terry to discuss some of the research on the subject that is coming to light.
Rammed Earth is a natural building method which creates beautiful low-maintenance walls. Rammed earth has been used for centuries, and lasts as long with grand examples such as the Great Wall of China. Bly Windstrom of Earthdwell, LTD practices this building method, using a few minor modifications to make it more appropriate for the Pacific Northwest climate. Bly joins Terry to discuss this highly sustainable practice of building with earth.
Local food is a big part of the resiliency conversation, from supporting your local farmer right down to keeping backyard chickens. Jessi Bloom of Northwest Bloom, a sustainable landscape design firm serving the Puget Sound region, has a new book called “Free Range Chicken Gardens” which is getting rave reviews. Jessi joins Terry to talk about the backyard chicken movement and integrating these little powerhouses into your garden.
Energy Retrofits are a great way to increase the comfort in an older building, and can save you money to boot. Energy Audits are the most typical way to determine just where energy is leaking before a Retrofit is done. Yves Vetter of Vesta Performance has been doing both of these services for a few years, and joins Terry to talk about their latest approach and the many benefits and paybacks, including some that may surprise you!
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