Ecological Home Ideas: A Review

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We received a press kit for a new green shelter porn mag, Ecological Home Ideas. We are favourably disposed to such magazines- anything that promotes good green design and educates readers is a good thing. We want to like it. We were a bit surprised to find the press kit in a heavy plastic folio that we would not think appropriate for anything, let alone a green magazine, but perhaps they had the wrong PR firm so we will not blame the magazine for this. We opened the magazine and the smell was redolent of glossy magazines that sort of give you a headache and we looked for any indication of recycled paper or vegetable ink and could find none, but again ploughed on. There were things we liked: Julie Gabrielli did a neat comparison of different materials as wood substitutes; there is a wonderful do-it-yourself solar collector that we want to build. There is a good calendar of events that we will milk for posts, many events that we have not heard of.

Unfortunately there were other things that did not impress us.1) Design. We talk often about green design having "no edge, no buzz, no style" - in this mag, even the house by Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co, heroes of this treehugger, is, well, lets just say it is not up to the usual standard. Everything else in the magazine is earnest but does not make the design cut.

2) There is a big article on ICF's (Insulated Concrete Forms) We remain unconvinced that building a house out of concrete and styrofoam is ecologically correct- there is so much excess material that has huge inputs of energy and CO2 output that it is hard to call it a green solution. It is cheap for the owner to operate but the burden on everyone else in its creation makes it an unacceptable solution. In the article a manufacturer says "ICF's make use of locally derived materials and capitalize on the green benefits of concrete" - like give me one- the stuff is not green, it is grey. We think ICF's are questionable for foundations but so is almost every other solution below grade. Above grade it is inexcusable.

There is a lot of great green stuff out there, and a lot of stories to tell; we look forward to a stylish, informative and consistent magazine covering green design and sustainability. This isn't it. ::Ecological Home Ideas

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