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Home Green Homes
Preventing Cancer at Home with Melanie Palomares
"You know, I thought, I know about your podcast and I'm really thinking about what I can contribute in. It's really quite numerous. And so as I said, very little hereditary and so most of it is environmental. So one thing I want to say, it's tangential to your question, but I don't want it to be lost. It is family history and non-hereditary because we also share environments, share homes, maybe sometimes workplaces, and so it's not always that there's a gene." -Melanie Palomares I have had episodes to talk about what makes a home healthy in comparison to home being “green.” I would say most of us who are interested in “green homes” would probably want our homes to be healthy. So I wanted to talk to a medical professional who can give a perspective from the medical standpoint of prevention. What is it that we should all be aware of so that we know our homes are a place of nourishment and healing. Today, I have a guest named Melanie Palomares. She is an MD-MS. She's affectionately known as Dr. Mel as a preventive oncologist and founder of Cancer Prevention Movement. We discussed the various environmental factors that can contribute to cancer, including pollution, cleaning products, water and air quality., and exposure to EMS. We also talked about the importance of awareness and prevention, such as using filters and detectors, and making lifestyle changes to reduce exposure to harmful substances. Melanie offers various cancer prevention strategies including the importance of diet, exercise, and environmental factors. Jue 4 is a National Cancer Survivors’ Day, which celebrates cancer survivors and highlights the need for prevention. Melanie’s foundation: https://canpreventmovement.org/
Changing the Perception of Green Homes with Alter Eco
“Part of that is to be able to honestly and clearly articulate the difference between cost, especially the upfront cost and long term value, obviously the fiscal value of something that works as your monthly output is less for that. And that money can go towards small add to your mortgage. But there’s also these amazing soft cost value that people don’t know. You can’t quite grasp until you’re in. The air quality is amazing. They’re very quiet homes. You don’t have any drafts on the big windows, and you have great light and things like that. Those are the things when you actually bring some people to a home like that. It’s like walking into the nature, you just get that feeling, this is amazing.” Joe Lombardi and Brian Falcon are founders of a home building company, Alter Eco (https://alterecobuild.com/), based in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Joe and Brian, both architects, started their partnership in sustainable and energy-efficient home building after working together in a firm where they encountered difficulties in implementing green building principles due to clients' lack of understanding.They faced pushback from contractors and structural engineers who were used to a certain type of system, but were able to gain exposure and clients through national awards and articulating the importance and benefits of sustainable building. We discussed the sustainable design and construction practices they implement in their architecture firm, including the use of energy-efficient systems, minimizing water waste, and achieving third-party certifications. They also talked about how they have been able to control costs and reduce waste in construction through their integrated design process. the trend of green and sustainable home building, including the use of pre-fabricated and panelized parts, and the importance of considering the embodied carbon of building components. More importantly we talked about the need to educate people on the benefits of sustainable homes and how it doesn't necessarily require a change in lifestyle.
Human Health vs Environmental Health with Andy Pace
"I’m a big believer that if a product or space is human friendly, then by definition, it’s environmentally friendly. I don’t think the same is true in the opposite direction. There are plenty of products that are eco-friendly but still very very dangerous for humans. There’s also plenty of examples of things that are 100% natural that are dangerous for humans." - Andy Pace When I first learned about what we call, “green homes,” the aspect I was most interested in was the “health” factor of what a green home is to provide. As I learned more about what makes a home green, I soon discovered that the definition of “green home” can be rather complex and can be elusive. Soon I realized a “green home” is not necessarily a “healthy home” for certain people. Typically in the green home world, the health or wellness factors often talked about are indoor air quality, comfort, daylighting, access to the outdoors, etc., yet for some people, that’s not enough. Both my guests, Jen Stout and Mike Bender, had a long journey in finding their way to create a home that they could live in without having any reaction. Mike discussed how he worked with Andy in his attempt to create a home that he could live in, so I thought I would go directly to the source. As founder of The Green Design Center (https://www.thegreendesigncenter.com/), Andy Pace is an invaluable worldwide expert in the field of chemical sensitivity, building materials, and non-toxic construction with over 30 years of experience. He is a leading educator for those who suffer from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities and struggle to create healthy living environments. He is also a host of Non-Toxic Environments podcast (https://www.thegreendesigncenter.com/non-toxic-environments/)
Go Solar with Confidence with Carol Cole Lewis
“So it is one of the most effective things you can do as a homeowner to make a difference to the world with respect to climate is by going solar. So please do not delay because our planet can, well, our planet will be fine, we'll just be dead. We need to make a difference if we want to make this planet a planet where our children and grandchildren are going to be able to enjoy. So make that decision now to go solar. It's not only a great decision from a cost effective perspective, but your grandchildren and their children are going to thank you for the decision you make today.” - Carol Cole-Lewis An independent solar consultant Carol Cole-Lewis and Izumi explored various aspects of solar energy and incentives for homeowners including the transition from Net Energy Metering 2 (NEM2) to a new net energy metering rate plan (NEM3) in California and the importance of battery storage. Carol advises homeowners to choose a reputable installer based on factors such as experience and financial stability. Topics also discussed were the different business models of solar installers and the importance of energy efficiency before going solar. Carol emphasizes the potential benefits of various financing options, including loans, leases, and power purchase agreements. The conversation also touched on tax credits and incentives per Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the importance of taking action to combat global warming. UpstartEnergy.com Go Solar with Confidence, a book by Carol Cole-Lewis DSIREUSA.ORG - Check available incentives Drawdown.org - Project Drawdown
Quiet House for Hypersensitive People with Mike Bender
“I think especially when you get to the point of EHS, that everybody takes responsibility for their own energy, and that’s part of the healing. Just as important it is to put that metal shielding around those wires as it is to be very mindful of how we’re using our energy, and how we’re treating out bodies.” Michael Bender, an artist and writer by profession, who struggled with increasingly aggravating and mysterious health issues that most doctors couldn’t figure out pretty much all his life after he was bitten by a tick at the age of 11. He was not only sensitive to the typical toxins found in homes, but started to have reactions to some of the most benign home products such as lavender fragrance of his wife’s shampoo. Needless to say, he developed electrical hypersensitivity (EHS), which reacts strongly to electrical signals and what’s commonly known as electro-magnetic field (EMF). After decades of challenges, he finally built a house where he and his family can live by creating a “Quiest Home,” which is a result of his tenacious effort to find solutions in various disciplines and modalities. He shares of a few resources he either used for himself and what he may recommend to others. • Mike’s article, The Quiet House, in Men’s Health Magazine, March 2022 • The Green Design Center, Andy Pace • SafeCoat Paint • IQAir Perfect 16 Air Purifier
Inflation Reduction Act with Cynthia Adams
“A couple of things to know about tax credit. So there’s efficiency tax credit and renewable tax credit. Efficiency tax credits are the ones that were expanded this year. It used to be set at $500 whereas now you can take up to $3,200 in the tax year in which you make the installations. On the renewable side, one thing that’s important to know is that for the first time now battery storage is a part of what you can get 30% tax credit as well. That didn’t use to be the case.” As a part of the new legislation, Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, some financial incentives are now available for home owners and builders to build higher performing residential buildings as well as to improve existing homes for better comfort and efficiency. I have been dying to learn about what IRA has to offer to homeowners and builders so I can guide them to utilize this massive bill. Cynthia Adams, CEO and Co-founder of Pearl Certification generously offered to explain IRA in a nutshell. While there are many moving parts and the mechanics of rebate are still pending, Cynthia offers some information we should be aware of. Incentives are offered in two different types: 1) tax credits for efficiency and renewable energy upgrades; 2) electrification (HEEHRA) and efficiency (HOMES) rebates. Here are some helpful website links Cynthia mentions in our conversation: • Area Median Income Look-up Tool: https://ami-lookup-tool.fanniemae.com/amilookuptool/ • Greendoor.app by Pearl Certification: https://www.greendoor.app/
Constructing Green with Karen Benner
“If I’m speaking to a builder, your home owner, your client is going to be more comfortable, they’re going to be happier; they’re going to be healthier; and they’re going to love living in this home compared to any other home that is less than, and that is something that I think isn’t top of mind for a lot of people when they think about green building. Health and comfort doesn’t always come.” Karen Benner is a building consultant, who has worked in the residential construction industry over 20 years. Once she became aware of the impact construction industry has on the planet in early 2000s, she emersed herself to learn about green building and high performance building, and took it onto herself to inform, encourage and empower the home builders she worked for to build better homes. She has navigated the landscape of the construction industry to shift the mindset from focusing on short-term financial benefit to include long-term benefit, providing guidance to mitigate risks and manage projects with a new perspective of building green. While her experiences were primarily with production builders, Karen sees that once you commit to building sustainably, the business model can be successful and scalable even with smaller builders and developers. Resources Karen mentions in her interviews: • National Association of Home Builders • Enterprise Community Partners
Waste Free Lifestyle with Amanda Cavallo
"I went down the rabbit hall of, “O.K. how can every choice I make as a consumer be made with an idea of thinking about where does this come from, what are actually the ingredients, and materials that are being used; and what happens at the end of life of this product?” Basically, my mission right now is I guess I categorize myself as becoming a zero waste living advocate." Amanda Cavallo is an architect by profession in Santa Monica, though originally from Boston. Throughout her life, she was always in tune with nature and environment. As she works with her architectural clients recommending sustainability design, she was keenly aware of the fact that if she talks the talk, she must walk the walk. She took on herself to live a lifestyle of reducing our waste. With the social media channel, "return_to_earth_collective," she is collecting tips and info on healthy, eco-friendly living, researching natural and low-waste products to share with the public trying to inspire to change one good habit and sustainable swap at a time. Also mentioned in the interview: Dark Green Religion by Bron Taylor
Lowtility with Don Worthington
“When you purchase a home, it’s more than just principal and interest. You’re never going to own a home and not utilities, not have power payment, not have gas payment, and not have water payment. So we said, O.K., let’s talk about PITI plus utilities and then what’s that total payment, then how can we maximize that for home buyers.” - Don Worthington When purchasing homes, home buyers who are financing the purchase would consider what the monthly payment would be. They don’t always take into consideration how much it may cost to operate and maintain the homes, namely the utility bills. In some areas of the country, the heating and/or cooling cost can become exorbitant. Don Worthington introduces Lowtility, a mortgage product that allow the homebuyers to include the cost of energy efficiency improvement in the purchase price as the first mortgage. While there are other similar “green financing” products as were introduced in previous episodes of this podcast, Lowtility approaches the underwriting process with minimized utility bills in the equation. Homebuyers can have energy efficient homes for the same or less amount of monthly payments with little to none utility bills. They service all across the United States except the state of New York. Find out more from Don!
Sustainable Site with Brandon Carlson
"Definition of sustainable site is it promotes land development and management practices with our future in mind. So sustainable sites generate less waste, minimize impact on the landscape, and use less energy, water and natural resources." Brandon is a Sr. Applications Engineer for one of an innovative solar technology company. He was influenced by growing up with a father who was a pioneer of sustainable building professionals. Now that he owns a property of his own up the hills in southeast of Los Angeles near Temecula, he has undertaken a truly regenerative transformation project of what once looked like a deserted property into a home with net-positive energy sanctuary. Brandon shares the strategic approach he has taken to regenerate his home and the land surrounding his home on almost 5-acre of property including decarbonization, water management, and landscaping following the concept of “sustainable site.”
Native Plants for Lazy Gardners with Greg Travis
I think we understand more and more that life webs that we’re all in makes human beings happier and healthier, that there’s things to do to acknowledge those life webs and do what we can do to help it. -Greg Travis Greg Travis is an old friend of mine, who has become an amateur expert on native plants gardening. He and his partner bought their 1908 craftsman they now call home in West Adams area of Los Angeles in 2001. Greg’s primary goal was to have “dirt” where he could do gardening. At the time he was a self-proclaimed “frustrated gardener” and was going through a certificate program for horticulture and garden design. When not many were talking about the native plants yet, one instructor who taught him about the California natives really influenced him, which led him on a journey of creating his dream garden. He transformed the front yard from the typical grass yard into a lush garden that hosts not only a wide variety of native plants, which attracts variety of pollinators like birds, bees and butterflies, requiring little irrigation. Hear how he designed, planted and nurtured his beautiful garden including some of the mistakes he made.
Oakfield Nest - A Story of an Eco-chaplain
Adam, a long-time construction professional, and his family were experiencing health issues when they found their “property” in Redwood City, California. What they wanted was a place where they felt healthy. Yet the property was in such disrepair that his first thought was to demolish and rebuild. Instead he chose to “heal the house and the land that the house was sitting on” in the same way that he wanted to heal the family’s wellbeing. Thus Adam took on a challenge to change the construction process, which is typically very extractive, disruptive and wasteful, into a regenerative process to have a positive impact not just on the environment but also to the local community and local economy. The project touched on the Five Roots of Regenerative Real Estate®: 1) Health and Wellness; 2) Sustainability; 3) Community; 4) Ecology and 5) Spirit, which also relates to the concept of “Eco-chaplain.” (Those who work to establish people in a healthy, compassionate, and mutually supportive relationship with each other and the natural world. - Sati Center of Buddhist Studies) As a result, he was able to accomplish his Vision of truly regenerative project and indeed be an eco-chaplain for himself and his family, the property he turned into his family nest, the people who worked on the project and the surrounding community.
Wellness Homes & Habitats with Diego Torrelio
“I’m a firm believer that the soil health is human health. If we start with the land first, it will reap the fruits of our labor and it’s highly reciprocal.” Diego Torrelio is a Founder and CEO of Circlefoot. Circlefoot is the leading wellness landscaping and construction company based in San Mateo County, California. They design, build, and manage homes, gardens, homesteads, and small farms in San Mateo and beyond with a mission to deliver ecologically regenerative outdoor-indoor living solutions. Driven by the Vision of human being living lightly and in balance on our planet, Diego and his company collaborate with their clients to create not only regenerative living spaces but also promotes more just and ecologically regenerative economy. Diego shares the back story of his professional development and his Vision for future. https://circlefoot.com/
Energy Efficiency Upgrades with Rich DeCicco
“Discussion about energy efficiency, net positive and locking your energy cost by installing solar power. They’re privileged conversations. But I want to deliver energy efficiency and the promise of being a part of clean energy future to bigger groups of people that don’t necessarily have access and make it a much more equitable thing.” Realty Energy Partners work with Realtors and their communities to build a solar-powered net-zero future and regenerate neighborhoods. Licensed in all 50 states Providing energy solutions that are more effective and financially sound than what "big solar" is trying to sell. Changing how solar and alternative energy is sold and financed. They are a trusted name in understanding, selecting, coordinating and implementing solutions that meet a building's needs and its budget. Licensed in all 50 states ☀️Providing energy solutions that are more effective and financially sound than what "big solar" is trying to sell. ☀️Changing how solar and alternative energy is sold and financed. ☀️They are a trusted name in understanding, selecting, coordinating and implementing solutions that meet a building's needs and its budget. They work with commercial, residential, and institutional Realtors to help their clients find the best path to fiscally responsible eco-development and renovation. Right now, only 4% of buildings in the US have solar power. But with their help, that number is going to increase dramatically. To learn more, visit our website: RealtyEnergyPartners.com
Low Carbon Design & Construction with Greg Roth
We are not looking to be orthodox about our ability to create low carbon footprint and green homes. We’re looking to educate people and let people know that this is possible, and you can do it beautifully, economically and have impact. Greg Roth is the senior designer for CarbonShackDesign (https://www.carbonshack.com/), a branch of Home Front Build (https://www.homefrontbuild.com/), an architectural firm. CarbonSharkDesign offers a holistic approach to green building design, integrating high performance, low impact materials with refined aesthetics, to create homes that respond to the way we live today. As a soup-to-nuts sustainable design-build company, they view every aspect of design and construction as an opportunity to shift the way homes are built today, towards minimizing our impact on the natural environment. From simple moves, like selecting touchless faucets or installing window shades, to more systemic applications, like upgrading insulation or installing solar panels – every decision you make about your home construction project can be viewed through the lens of its carbon footprint. And CasaZero is the case study house they designed and built to expand the definition of “green” to include the entire life cycle of a building and also one that examines the interconnectedness of our choices with the environment. See what else they have to offer at: CarbonShackShowroom (https://www.carbonshackshowroom.com/), and SustainableBuild (https://www.sustainablebuild.org/).
DIY Rainwater Catchment with Jesse Savou
“Capturing rainwater and letting it make its way back into earth is really the most sustainable thing you can do with the water on the property, and a good way to guarantee water supply in a more sustainable way.” Do you know that an inch of rain on a 1,000 sq/ft roof topcan collect 600 gallons of water? Jesse Froehlich Savou, a native of Davis, CA native, thinks everyone should be able to harvest rainwater, so she set out to make that possible, founding BlueBarrel in 2012. Jesse developed her first catchment system in 2010 as an AmeriCorps project with Conservation Corps North Bay at the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden located in Novato, CA. Her assignment was to build a 1,500 gallon rainwater catchment system with a budget of only $1,000. She and project partner John came up with what ended up being the prototype for the BlueBarrel System, using 22 food-grade plastic barrels and associated hardware in a narrow corridor next to the farm’s greenhouse. nThe system immediately proved workable, and Jesse decided to install one at her home… And then another… And then a third! With a few tweaks each time, Jesse refined what became known as the BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™—now available nationwide as BlueBarrel’s DIY RainKit™ for you to install at your own place. BlueBarrel (https://www.bluebarrelsystems.com/) now offers the tools and resources for successful home-installation experiences for rainwater harvesters everywhere! bluebarrelsystems.com/
Rainwater Only Landscape with Dane Shota
"...soil without biology is geology. It's supposed to have life in there. So by telling people to use harsh chemical fertilizers I was part of the problem. I heard this saying, 'Be the solution, not the problem." Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day. As climate destabilization leads to intensifying heat waves, fires, and droughts, we are witnessing already burdened watersheds getting stretched to their limit. It's been estimated that California only has enough water supply to last one year, a state in which declared water shortage emergencies and restrictions to outdoor usage have become the norm. Approximately one-half of residential water consumption is used on our lawns. What if we could reduce water usage, sink carbon, increase biodiversity, and beautify our landscapes all at the same time? This is precisely what Dane Shota has sought out to do. As a bio-nutritionist, permaculturist, consulting arborist, and real estate broker, Dane consults with landscape architects and homeowners alike on using “rainwater only landscaping.” In this conversation, Dane will share with us his landscaping techniques for using only what falls from the sky to create beautiful, drought tolerant landscapes for his clients in arid climates. *At 20:19, Dane mentions the nutrients of the product lasts for 6 years, but he later corrected to mean 6 months.
Building Healthier Homes with Jen & Rusty Stout
“I’d like to describe what we do as wellness integrated living. That is actually the foundation and inspiration behind our book. Since it is so difficult to disseminate this information. A lot of people shot at Whole Foods, but they don’t even know or think about the house, “Is my house healthy?” like it’s just not something that’s on top of people’s mind yet. So I think that’s really going to be hopefully pivotal as far as educating people, which is part of our mission.” With so many building materials out on the market, it's hard to know what's going into your family's home. JS2 Partners Healthy Home Builder is doing something no other builder is doing. They are creating better living through healthier building, using exclusively non-toxic construction materials and design methods in our custom homes. Jen and Rusty Stout share their story about how they came to recognize that each homeowner has their own needs and unique sense of style, how they came to specializes in healthy home building & design in the Austin, TX area and surrounding Central Texas Hill Country region, and how they ended up writing a book, Heal