Alternative Builders Search for Solutions in Southern California

AltBuild Exposition Santa Monica Photo

The 6th annual Alternative Building and Design Expo took place in Santa Monica, California on May 8th and 9th. They had free valet bicycle parking, but non-valet car parking cost eight dollars, just another fine example of how going green saves you money. The expo had over 150 exhibits and ongoing lectures by leaders in green building and design.
Rain Barrels in Southern California
One of the biggest environmental concerns in California is water. We're simply running out of it. Rain barrels are a smart way to conserve water. It is doubtful, however, that you'd need a rain barrel this size if you live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, unless you have a really clever collection system.
Rainwater Collector Photo

LA gets less than 15 inches of rainfall per year. Santa Monica gets less than 13 inches. Seattle, ranked the 44th rainiest US city, gets over 36 inches annually.
Rain Barrel Photo

Wash Your Car With Rainwater
This barrel recommends that you use its rainwater to wash your car. It's a good idea, but remember to use biodegradable soap. Professional car washes are zoned to deal with soap. Your driveway is not.

Lesson: Some barrels do not give you the whole story.

Fake Plastic Lawns

Fake Grass Photo

In places like Las Vegas--four inches of rain annually--keeping a green lawn can be quite problematic. You might think, "Maybe grass just isn't supposed to live in a place like Las Vegas."

Why think that when you can have fake plastic grass?

Is Fake Plastic Grass a Waste or a Blessing?
By providing homeowners who have green-grass fetishes fake grass, it will undoubtedly save water, but fake grass is made out of petroleum products.Which is worse for the environment? Is that a moot point? Is fake grass necessary? I mean, what's wrong with some decorative rocks and a cactus in arid climes?

To be somewhat fair, this fake grass felt a lot like grass, and SynLawn makes this claim:

from the SynLawn brochure:

...The second component is the secondary backing which incorporates BioCel technology. BioCel uses an environmentally-sensitive polyurethane that replaces a large portion of the petroleum-based polymers with soybean oil (renewable resources) and adds Celceram (recycled product of coal combustion) for further strength and stability.

Searching for Solar Solutions
There was a lecture called "Powering the Future: Solar Applications and Products." The speakers were Stuart Cooley of the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment; Dan Beattie, President and CEO of Enviro Pro Tech and Kim Craft of IBEW Local 11.

Mr. Cooley shows us that solar power is not for everyone:

Solar Solutions Photo

Solar Power is Twice as Important in California
The city of Santa Monica is looking for solar solutions. California generates a lot of its power with hydroelectric plants. These plants are more efficient than standard electric plants, but hydroelectric plants use water. And we're running out.

The good news is that the Electrical Training Institute of Southern California is educating a bevy of seasoned electricians in the art of solar panel installation. Mr. Craft made the point that installing a solar panel is very similar to installing a light fixture but in reverse.

A light fixture takes electricity and makes light. A solar panel takes light and makes electricity.

Mr. Craft went on to say that no matter where you live in North America, you'll be able to find a contractor who has been trained in solar and other forms of alternative energy.

Photoluminescent Exit Sign

Glow in the dark exit sign photo

"No power usage, no hazardous materials, recycled, minimal maintenance, long life"

More on Water Conservation
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9 Ways to Save Water in the Garden
Take a Cold Shower for Your Health

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