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All About LEED

12 Jan

This month, I thought it would be interesting to discuss New York State’s growing green building practices with LEED projects popping up all over the State.

So, what exactly is LEED?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. Developed in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED system is the recognized international benchmark in green building design and construction, measuring important factors like “energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.” Look into LEED’s promising future here

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How to Give the Gift of Green this Holiday Season

16 Dec

It’s mid-December, and you haven’t shopped for gifts yet. What to do!?

Don’t panic. There’s still time to get great deals, plan delicious meals, and sing some holiday jingles!

This season, think about giving money-saving and eco-friendly gifts to show others you care about them as well as the environment. This gives you the opportunity to get your creative juices flowing too.

First, look for the gift you want to give. Second, figure out how you want to gift to be presented. Third, how will you and your gift(s) get there? Make sure your gift is protected from the elements. Because Ezine’s Tips For a Frugal and Environmentally-Friendly Holiday Season article was so organized, I’ve highlighted the basics with some good-natured humor:

Gift Giving

1. Make a gift or re-gift unwanted gifts, as long as you don’t return it to the original giver. You can also organize a gift swap – one person’s trash is another’s treasure, but of course there’s no guarantee.

2. Give used items, such as books from local used book stores, or green gifts. Buy seeds, bulbs, other plants, compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs, a thermos, a water bottle, etc. A bike is one of several items on my wish list, hint, hint…

3. Save on wrapping paper using newspaper comics, which you can then recycle sans scotch tape. If this isn’t your cup of tea, consider reusing any gift bags that you received from previous years. Consider “wrapping” some presents in tote bags so the recipient can use fewer plastic bags in the coming year. For a quick gift tag, reuse last year’s holiday cards, or make your own from construction/poster paper.

 

Entertaining

1. Bring a dish or two. Create your best dish so others know what you can do and consume happily. The hosts would definitely appreciate your efforts – less food for them to prepare.

2. Organize carpool trips together and save on gas and parking space. Of course, make sure there is a designated driver, and the riders are people you like or can tolerate, depending on how long the drive is.

3. Cook with a group and make a masterpiece, all with some good fun, music, and cheap booze!

 

Home Life

1. Earn extra cash from a seasonal part-time job. Those gifts can add up.

2. Green Tree. If possible, get a tree that can be planted so you can watch it grow!

3. Make it a game night. Have fun without spending a lot of money, unless of course you’re betting and want to make things more interesting…

The Huffington Post mentions how we can “Give Back Painlessly: 50 Ways To Donate Time And Find Spare Cash For Others” and simply pay it forward, like volunteering. Additional resources are listed here:

–          Planet Green, 9 Ways To Cut Waste This Holiday Season

–          Greenpeace International, Your gift to the environment

–          Eartheasy.com, How to have a Green Christmas

Traveling light and green this winter is another great way to lower your carbon footprint. Some green travel choices can be found here, and aside from carrying your own water bottle, you’ll find more travel tips on Travel Gear’s website. I don’t remember where I got the following message, but it makes a strong case for being a Green Traveler:

Supporting local businesses–keeps money in your neighborhood; you’ll receive better service; helps create and keep jobs; promotes competition and diversity; less sprawl and environmental damage; in return local businesses usually support local organizations; works toward a positive economic impact locally; you’ll invest in your community.

It’s important to reflect on this past year and make some goals for 2011, especially as New Year’s approaches, that include ways to be a greener New Yorker. A lot of us struggle with this prospect, but I hope my blog has given you some helpful and tangible tips on how we can achieve this. One 2011 tip I’ll leave you with is the “How to Save on Winterizing Your Home” article from one of my favorite websites – Real Simple’s Green Living section.

Stay tuned for my next blog entry on green resolutions. Until then, keep warm and Happy Holidays!

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