Posts Tagged ‘climate’

Students build tiny house in M.U.M.’s Sustainable Living Program — Andy Hallman, Fairfield Ledger

May 16, 2013

Students build tiny house

Article and Photos by ANDY HALLMAN | May 16, 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A class at Maharishi University of Management is building a “tiny house,” just 12-feet-by-20-feet, for one of its teaching assistants to live in.

The class is appropriately called “Tiny Houses” and is taught out of the Sustainable Living Department. The teaching assistant and M.U.M. student who will live in the house is Heather Caldwell, who will share the tiny home with her daughter, Ellie, and son, Henry.

Ellie said the house “looks awesome.”

“There’s not excess space, so it’s going to encourage us to go outside more,” she said.

Henry said he thought the house would be bigger than it seemed Wednesday.

“I’m thinking of having a hatch in my room so I can go out onto the roof,” he said. “I think I’ll get used to the size of it.”

Caldwell and her family plan to move into the house in June.

The eight-member class is a little more than two weeks old. Caldwell designed a floor plan for the home. The entire class built walls and a floor according to Caldwell’s specifications. Wednesday afternoon, the class wanted to see the fruits of its labor so it assembled the floor and walls outside the library on the M.U.M. campus.

No heavy machinery was used to install the walls. About 12 people, including the class members and a few stray volunteers, hoisted the walls into place by hand.

Wednesday’s construction project was simply a demonstration to show Caldwell and the class what the tiny house would look like once it’s done. The class will disassemble the house and move it to its more permanent location near Abundance EcoVillage.

Mark Stimson, head of the building track in the M.U.M. Sustainable Living Program, is the professor for the class. He said his class’s project is part of a growing movement of people building small homes. One of the reasons people are turning to such tiny houses is financial.

“You can build your own home for just a few thousand dollars,” he said. “You can live without a mortgage. It’s a lifestyle and priority choice. If your priority is not to be a slave to your house but to live in a nice, tight, comfortable little house, and spend your money on other things, then you might consider building a tiny house.”

Stimson said Caldwell spent about $4,000 on building materials for the home.

Another major reason people choose to build small dwellings is to conserve energy. The small homes are easy to heat and cool. Stimson said many rely on renewable sources of energy such as solar power to heat them in the winter.

“A lot of them have no utility bills,” he said. “They produce all of their own energy.”

Caldwell’s home will feature large glass windows on the south side to take advantage of the sun’s rays in the winter.

Stimson said most of his students had no experience in construction prior to his class.

“We’re only two weeks into the class and they are already working at a clean, professional level,” he said. “It’s gratifying to me to see the change from three Mondays ago when we started the course till today. They’ve really come a long way. I tell my students that when they’re done with this course, they should be able to go anywhere in the country and be under a roof in two weeks.”

The class spends several hours per day in hands-on construction projects and also studies architecture in a traditional classroom setting. All the students in the class create a floor plan for a home they would like to build.

In order for the class to build a tiny house, someone has to pay for the materials. Stimson said that does not present a problem because people in Fairfield are lining up for tiny homes, especially now that students are donating their labor to build them.

Fairfield’s city ordinances do not allow a house of such small size to be built within the city limits, which is part of the reason Caldwell will build hers outside the city limits near Eco Village. Another reason she is building it there is because she wants to start a community of tiny homes.

Caldwell said she got the idea to move into a tiny house in December. She liked the idea of building an inexpensive home, and she was looking for a senior project to complete in order to graduate.

“In the Sustainable Living Program, we’re all about reduce, reuse and recycle,” she said. “We’re all very close here at the university. It’s cool to have classmates, who are people I care about, help build your house.”

Stimson said the course teaches students how to use space efficiently and creatively, which is especially necessary in a tiny house where there is so little of it.

“One thing in the house serves two or more functions,” he said. “[Caldwell’s] reading nook is going to turn into a guest bed. Some people put their dish drainers right above the sink, which is also where they store their dishes, so you don’t have to dry your dishes and put them in a cupboard. You just let them drain down into the sink.”

Caldwell said solar panels will supply electricity to her home. Her septic system will employ a composting toilet. Heat will be supplied by the solar panels and a wood stove. The house will be 12 feet high on one side and 11 feet high on the other. Rain will be collected from the roof for use in the house.

The course on tiny houses premiered earlier this year. Stimson said the class is so popular he has agreed to teach it next year and most likely will for many years.

Published with permission from The Fairfield Ledger, this article covered almost the entire front page, including three large photos down the right side, and another one on the back inside page with the rest of the article.

More news coverage: Tiny House’ offers big benefits to save energy and money — KTVO’s Kate Allt reports from MUM.

‘Tis the Season To Be Jolly … Or SAD? Article for Ageless Living by Helen Foster-Grimmett

December 14, 2012

‘Tis the Season To Be Jolly … Or SAD?
By Helen Foster-Grimmett

Tonight, my husband told me that this article lacked pizzazz. I said: “Sorry, my serotonin is seasonally challenged – no sparkle.” I find myself standing in front of travel agency windows mesmerized by posters of sun-drenched Hawaii, Mexico, Barbados. Mauritius looks delicious.

By Christmas – the season to be jolly – some people have been feeling sad, down, or downright depressed since the onset of autumn. And they’ll motor on through to the first buds of spring feeling the same way. If you are one of those people, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about five million Canadians experience the “winter blues,” a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. At least two to three percent have symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed as “SAD” – an apt acronym. People with SAD often feel a sense of happiness on a cloudy day when the sun peeks through the clouds, then deflated when the clouds cover the sky again. It’s as if the clouds are a manifestation of their minds. For people with SAD, those inner clouds can be dark, and they sometimes don’t lift until the spring flowers bloom and sunshine is more constant. The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that women are more at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder than men: eight times as many women as men report having SAD. Although the reasons for this are not defined, one suggestion is that women may spend more time indoors with their children than men and, therefore, less time in sunlight.

Sunless and SAD
Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they generally link it to lack of sunlight. SAD is rare in those living within 30 degrees of the equator, where daylight hours are consistently long and bright. It is more common in northern countries, including Canada, where bright winter sunlight is sparse. Lack of light may upset our cycles and other rhythms. It may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin, which affects mood. People with mild winter blues manage to cope throughout the season. However, those diagnosed with SAD could feel more severe symptoms, including:
• Depression, apathy, negative thoughts, loss of self-esteem
• Sleep problems
• Lethargy, fatigue
• Overeating or little appetite
• Difficulty with concentration and memory
• Withdrawn – finding it hard to be around people
• Anxiety
• Inability to deal with stress
If you are affected by any of these symptoms, take heart: there are remedies that work wonders for SAD.

Relief for SAD Symptoms
Millions of people with SAD have been helped by the work of Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a world-renowned psychiatrist. Rosenthal and his team at the National Institute of Mental Health pioneered research that first led to describing Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the use of light therapy to treat it.

According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association in the UK, “light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of diagnosed cases.” Light therapy is now routinely prescribed for SAD in northern countries, but at the time Rosenthal and his team first used it, the results were dramatic. In his New York Times best-selling book Transcendence, Dr. Rosenthal recalls a comment from one of his colleagues. He had noticed a remarkable change in a patient who had been having light therapy for SAD for just one week: “I don’t know what treatment she is receiving, but she’s blooming like a rose!” A vivid metaphor for our need for light from the life-giving sun.

Dr. Rosenthal’s other guide for readers who suffer from SAD is called Winter Blues. This book provides a self-test that readers can use to evaluate their own seasonal mood changes, presents remedies for SAD, research on the use of medication, and new recipes to counterbalance unhealthy winter food cravings. A cautionary caveat: if you or someone you know is seriously depressed, it is imperative to seek professional advice, as depression can be debilitating or even life-threatening.

The good news? The incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder decreases with age. So for all you seniors out there, as we approach the holiday season, ‘tis truly the season for you to be jolly!

Helen Foster-Grimmett writes on issues of health, education, and stress management. These days you may find her outside travel agency windows, looking wistful. Article references available upon request.

This is Helen’s 2nd article for the Canadian magazine, Ageless Living. You can read her first article there: The Answer To Cancer.

For more information on Dr. Norman Rosenthal, his work and books: Winter Blues, and Transcendence, visit: http://normanrosenthal.com.

Breaking Down Net Zero Building: Reality or Wishful Thinking? by Ashley Halligan

July 4, 2012

In a recent article “Breaking Down Net Zero Building: Reality or Wishful Thinking?” Ashley Halligan, analyst for Software Advice, interviewed several experts to gather insight about the growing trend of net zero building. She took the time to speak with experts Brian Anderson, Founding Partner of Anderson Porter Design; Dru B. Crawley, former Commercial Buildings Team Lead for the Department of Energy and current Director of Building Performance at Bentley Systems; Jeff Blankman, McCormick’s Sustainable Manufacturing Manager; and Blake Bisson, VP of Sales & Marketing at Ekotrope.

Her article uses a case study of McCormick’s recent achievement of net zero following retrofits and energy efficiency efforts at its 363,000 square foot food distribution.

The experts weigh in with suggestions for both current facility retrofits and recommendations for projects intended to achieve net zero in its design phase, and ends with whether they think this is an achievable status on a wide-scale basis. With the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, all commercial buildings will, after all, be required to achieve net zero by 2050.

Pike Research Zero Energy GraphThis chart, provided by Pike Research, demonstrates how a reduction in consumption paired with alternative energy resources like PV panels can create an energy equilibrium–resulting in net zero usage.

Read the complete story here.

Here are a few clearly explained reviews of the article posted at enerdynamics, green lodging news, ecocloud, and other energy conscious design and building blogs referencing it.

Here is a related article, BIM + Project Management Software: The Next Generation of LEED Credit Tracking, by , ERP Analyst for Software Advice.

See these related reports of a university building and a business in Iowa to reach net zero: Maharishi University of Management to open new Sustainable Living Center, a net-zero energy bldg. (see additional coverage listed at the end of this article) and The Sky Factory meets ‘net zero’ goal with huge solar array | Sky Factory goes solar | Bloomberg Business Week: The Sky Factory meets ‘net zero’ goal with huge solar array [The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa]. Video reports: KTVO: Heartland business becomes first entirely solar-powered company in Iowa | The Sky Factory Goes Solar and KTVO News: Groundbreaking Sustainable Living Center a source of pride in Fairfield | WHO TV: BEYOND GREEN: Building Produces Extra Energy


%d bloggers like this: