The Everyday Green Home Podcast helps you GET the value of green: for you, your family and your community. Whether its green homes, green living or the people who make it happen, join Marla Esser Cloos to learn how green and sustainability practices and products work for you.
Helping You and Your Unit Breathe Better with Gay of Green Screen Air Filters
Many different aspects of our homes may impact our health and well-being and the ease with which we can maintain our homes.
Something I learned to take in hand during the pandemic was the filtration in my home. Filtration systems may vary, but they all serve the same purpose: To filter the air moving through the heating and cooling systems, making it cleaner and better to breathe.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! Today, Gay Harris of Superior Air Quality and Green Screen Air Filters joins me to discuss better air quality for our homes.
Taking over the Green Screen Air Filter company
Gay and her husband worked in construction on and off for years until seven years ago when they took over the Green Screen Air Filter company. After that, they continued doing home and garden shows as the original owners had done. They liked the product because it creates better airflow for filtration units and saves electricity.
Green Screen Air Filters
The Green Screen Air Filter is a commercial-grade filter. It has been around since the 1950s, although not in the residential form. The main difference between Green Screen Air Filters and others is that all pleated filters collect dirt particles predominantly on one surface, so they quickly start restricting the airflow. Whereas the Green Screen is a one-inch fabric that layers the dirt according to the size of each particle. The Green Screen has hundreds of surfaces to collect the dirt particles, so it does not restrict the airflow.
Gay and her husband suffered from severe allergies when they first heard about the Green Screen Air Filters. When they started using them in their home, they began getting better and better each year and using fewer and fewer allergy medications. They no longer need to use allergy medications, so they know it works!
Cabin air filters
Most cars have odors, so Superior Air Quality supplies cabin air filters cut to specific sizes for different types of vehicles.
Setting up and replacing air filters
Gay and her husband help their customers figure out all they need to know about setting their air filters up and how often they should get replaced.
Those living in RVs want to make sure that less dust gets inside. Green Screen Air Filters keep the dust out of RVs and ensure the air conditioning units stay clean.
All Green Screen filters, frames, and grids are customized and cut to fit any specific size.
The Green Screen Air Filter technology and design ensures there is no risk of slowing air conditioning systems down or causing them to burn out.
The importance of air quality
Air quality is extremely important because it directly impacts our health and well-being. According to the EPA, indoor air quality could be up to seventy times worse than the outside air. That’s why good filtration is essential to ensure optimum indoor air quality.
Purifiers are an important addition to indoor air filters. Different options are available, many of which are inferior, so Gay is happy to talk to anyone looking to find out more about them.
The home building and home maintenance industries are fraught with variables. So they tend to cling to products that work. Many heating and cooling companies are unfamiliar with Green Screen Air Filters, and that’s why Gay has a MERV rating equivalency on the Green Screen Air Filters.
The ASHRAE Test
The MERV rating helps in general. However, it only shows the number of particles collected and says nothing about the airflow. The ASHRAE Test has taught Gay about airflow, so that's how she knows that the Green Screen Air Filters are amazing and provide way better airflow than any other filter!
Turn the thermostat fan from auto to on between dinner and bedtime and back to automatic again when you go to bed to filter the evening air and keep all the pollens out.
Have a great green day!
Links and resources:
Green Community and Resources at Rate It Green with Allison Friedman
What is the green home industry?
If you’d like to learn more about it, find out how to connect with people within it, and get to know about all the new things coming out in it, you’re in the right place because you will hear all of that today!
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach, and I am excited to have Allison Friedman from Rate It Green with me today to talk about all the wonderful work she is doing! I love what Allison has built by tying her product, company, and service together!
Rate It Green
Rate It Green is an open directory network for the green building industry or anyone interested in green building, from beginners to experts, including trade professionals, consumers, and advanced DIY-ers. They are both residential and commercial and have individual members, as well as organizational and company members. The aim is to get people together to shorten the learning curve by engaging, collaborating, sharing information online, and talking about their experiences building sustainable and healthier places to live.
It’s all connected
People are finally beginning to understand that health, sustainability, and living better lives are all connected. It is a learning process, and we all need to know that we are not alone and can help each other.
Where it all started for Allison
It all started in 2006 when Allison decided to renovate her home. It did not start out as a green project, and she made several mistakes along the way. She learned that it is hard to renovate sustainably while learning on the job- particularly back when it was hard to find any information on sustainable building practices.
A learning process
Renovating her home was a learning process for Allison. If she had known when she started the project what she now knows, she would not have done it. However, she hopes all she has done and is still doing make her the best steward for building green homes.
Allison is optimistic about everyone living healthier and more sustainably in the future, but moving the needle has been more difficult than was predicted.
Allison would like to make the experience of sharing information online more human. However, she still prefers to engage with people and share information in person whenever possible.
Sharing her journey
Allison would like to use her resource to share her journey with others. She would like to talk more about improving indoor air quality, reducing the energy load, having clean water, and the things we are unaware of that could endanger us or cause health problems.
Health and energy assessments
The Inflation Reduction Act requires energy audits and assessments for some rebates. Unfortunately, there are very few companies doing those assessments. Free energy audits are available in Massachusetts.
Tighter homes and indoor air quality
People have been getting excited about energy efficiency over the last few decades. Many have been tightening up their homes and learning to make do using less energy. As a result, better indoor air quality management is necessary to avoid any health risks associated with air pollutants getting trapped inside tighter homes.
Advancing indoor air quality systems
Advancing indoor air quality systems happens on a level above the regular kind of energy audit, and Allison is working toward finding that.
Initial energy assessments
For an initial assessment, find someone with either a BPI or a HERS certification. Many utilities also offer some type of energy assessment, but they tend to vary from municipality to municipality or state to state. You can also go to www.energystar.gov and www.energy.gov to learn more and find resources.
Rate It Green has five key types of content:
Discussions Groups Articles News Open Events Calendar Feedback and member content
Rate It Green is a member-driven community that depends on member content and questions to thrive. So they like to know which features, informatio
Everyday Green Home Podcast - Wicked Problems - The Circularity of Plastic with Trent Esser of Printerior Designs
Plastic is a wicked problem! We are finding bits of it everywhere!
Plastic was a great invention. It has become an integral part of our convenience lifestyle, so we can’t seem to do without it. But it is filling our landfills and oceans, and we even find it in our food and water!
It was exciting when plastic soda bottles came out because they were light and did not break. Since then, however, plastic has gone in unanticipated directions.
So what can we do now?
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! Today I am super excited to have my son, Trent, joining me on the podcast to explain how he uses recycled plastic to make filament for 3-D printing and talk about recycling different types of plastic.
Trent is the co-founder of a St. Louis-based company called Printerior Designs. They focus on creating circular solutions for the industry by turning recycled plastics into 3-D printing filaments that can get used for creating new objects. They have developed three types of materials that have impacted the waste created in the industry, and they hope to continue reducing the enormous amount of waste the industry creates.
Plastic lasts for a long time. It does not deteriorate, and it does not biodegrade. We find it everywhere because it is lightweight and convenient. It does not break. It can easily be formed into any shape, and it costs much less than many other materials.
Plastic is versatile and useful. So billion-dollar corporations continue researching and finding innovative ways to create new types of it.
Items like plastic grocery bags, water bottles, and straws are all wasteful because they only get used once before we throw them away. Then they last an extremely long time in a landfill!
There are two main kinds of plastics:
Thermoset Plastics – They never break down Thermoplastics – They break down and can be recycled Thermoset plastics
The use of thermoset plastics has decreased drastically over the last twenty years or so. There is something in them that can get reused, but we still need to figure out how to do it.
Recycling different types of plastic
Five of the seven most commonly-used plastics are easy to recycle. However, there are many different ways that each type of plastic gets formulated for specific applications. That makes it very hard for recyclers because each formulation within the same category of plastic has to be recycled separately.
Polypropylene plastics (PP Plastics)
Hundreds of different types of polypropylene get manufactured because companies require different formulations to fit their specific applications.
A vast array of different plastics
There is a vast array of different plastics. That causes problems for companies like Printerior because their machines can recycle some formulations but not others.
TerraCycle is a company that has been researching hard-to-recycle materials. It is one of the few companies in the US that tries to recycle 3-D print filament. You can pay them to send you recycling boxes for specific categories of materials, like candy wrappers or lipstick tubes. Some vendors may even sponsor recycling boxes for their products!
We need to pay attention when recycling. If we put all our plastics together in one bag before putting them in a recycling bin, those items will likely end up in a landfill since the plastic, a film rather than a solid, cannot get processed by most single stream recyclers.
Making it easier for recyclers
Only about 9% of all the items intended for recycling get recycled. Certain municipalities still allow items for recycling to get sorted and separated. That makes things a lot easier for recyclers and increases the amount of recycling!
In the future, recycling may get done chemically rather than mechanically.
Some recycling plants use high-end robotics to do their sorting. But many still
The House That She Built with Natalie Miles
We are facing so many challenges in the labor and workforce and the construction industry right now, and people want to know why there aren’t more women employed in construction, the home-building industry, and the skilled trades.
I am a huge advocate for workforce development, women in construction, and women in the skilled trades, and I have come up with a solution! It’s a phenomenal project called The House That She Built.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! I have Natalie Miles joining me today to discuss The House That She Built project and why it is so important, and explain how you can learn more about it.
Professional Women in Building
Natalie is a member of Professional Women in Building (PWB) and part of the council in Utah. She jumped on board after being invited to a kick-off event and meeting all the amazing women who worked in different areas of construction.
Natalie grew up in construction. After having her kids, she started a home staging company. Her customers often asked for her advice on various aspects of their homes. That motivated her to become a new construction designer. So she sold her home staging business about ten years ago and went into designing new construction full-time. Now, she works exclusively for a builder, doing their designs and managing their projects. Last spring, she became a general contractor.
Natalie did not learn anything about the work she does at school. She took it upon herself to learn everything while she was working on-site.
The House That She Built
The goal of Utah Professional Women in Building was to get more women into construction. So they decided to start a scholarship fund to encourage girls to get into construction work. As a fundraiser, they decided to have a house built entirely by girls. That was how the concept for The House That She Built was born.
Natalie went all-in, volunteered to be the materials coordinator, and managed to get almost all the materials for the project donated! They operated as a non-profit, and the money they made from The House That She Built project got used to create their scholarship fund.
An incredible experience
It was an incredible experience for all the Utah members of PWB to be involved in the House That She Built project and learn all the new skills that the project required! About 100 women worked on the house. They had skilled women from all over the US joining them. By the end of the project, they had all formed a lasting bond as a sisterhood!
It took about two years to coordinate the project before they started breaking ground. Then it took them less than a year to complete the construction. It was a challenging project, but they were successful!
Many designers were working on the house, so they divided the home into various spaces and allocated each area to a different designer. In the end, all the design aspects flowed together beautifully!
They built the house using many practices required for healthier and better homes!
In the garage, they created a collage of all the photos of the women working on the house. That impressed the younger generation who came to see the house after the construction had been completed!
A children’s book
Mollie Elkman was so impressed after seeing the house that she wrote a children’s picture book called The House That She Built!
Natalie and another designer went to a Girl Scouts troop meeting to read The House That She Built picture book, speak about construction, and help the girls build some birdhouses. Afterward, the girls posted pictures on social media, and the next day, Natalie had about 30 Girl Scout troops asking her to do the same thing!
Girl Scouts can now earn a patch for The House That She Built!
Changing the face of construction
The Utah PWB successfully created a significant scholarship fund that will expose many women to
2 Ways of Addressing the Labor Shortage with Will Blake
Wicked problems have been a huge part of our lives!
Most of us know that the housing market has been a little crazy for the past few years. Some of that has been due to wicked problems like labor shortages, supply chain issues, and even land shortages in many parts of the country.
The labor shortage has been of interest to many people, me and my guest co-host for today included. So, we decided to do something about it!
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! Today I am joined by Will Blake, of Vesta Foundation Solutions in Oklahoma City. Will and I have worked together on several projects.
Today, we are talking about workforce development, particularly in the building industry and skilled trades.
Lately, it could take weeks or even months to get a plumber to come out unless it’s an emergency, and you are willing to pay double.
A cascading labor shortage
The labor shortage in the new build and remodeling industry is cascading! That’s because there aren’t enough people in the trades, especially the licensed trades.
We are greying out in the licensed trades. That means that those who have been trained to become the backbone of the industry are retiring. So, why are there no people behind them as they choose to move on with their lives?
A shrinking workforce
Will’s construction company specializes in an unlicenced trade, and even so, they are still experiencing issues with supplies, rising costs, and a shrinking workforce.
Most people we converse with fit into one of three categories:
Nobody wants to work in this category. (This is the largest category.) People in this category are trying to identify generational workplace inequalities or issues with safety, diversity, and inclusion. People in this category want to know what we are going to do about the situation. (This is the smallest category. Will and I fit in here.) 2025
Almost 20% of our workforce will be aging out by 2025. Many of them will be taking all their knowledge, wisdom, hard skills, operational knowledge, and understanding of vendor relationships with them. Nearly 12% will come in to replace them, but that will be spread across all industries.
We did not get the population increase we were hoping for after Covid. Closing the borders and slowing down the movement of migrant workers into the country has also added to the problem of not being able to build enough houses.
Technology can provide some innovative new housing solutions, but there are still many missing pieces, and technology will not solve the hands-on labor problem.
A difficult business
Construction is a difficult business. 50% of businesses go out of business in the first five years. But in construction, it happens with 75% of businesses.
Will’s company does foundation repair, concrete lifting, wood floor system repair, crawl spaces, and drainage. As a company, they tie its purpose back to the concept of the broken window theory, which is all about caring for infrastructure. So even if their efforts do not directly help the company, they are meant to indirectly support the industry and fix the problem with staffing, supply chain issues, etc.
No one to do repairs
If no people are available to do the necessary repairs to our homes and businesses, it means that either they won’t get done, or the homeowner will have to DIY them.
What is the problem?
The message for getting people into the construction trade has either been lost or skewed dramatically. Schoolchildren are encouraged to go to college rather than explore careers in the trades even though many people in the trades are earning a lot more than their college counterparts.
Build My Future
Build My Future OKC is an event put on by the Central OKlahoma Association of Home Builders and it’s Professional Women in Building Council. It is a one-day hands-on interactive construction career fair. When I moved back to O
3 Spaces to EcoRenovate with Sheridan of Elemental Green
Eco-renovate is a term a business friend coined while doing a project on a historical building in Chicago, Illinois.
We all have the opportunity to up-level our home, a home we are buying, or homes we are selling. There is so much we can do to improve our health and that of the world while we make our homes a whole lot better!
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! I’m thrilled to have Sheridan Foster joining me today to talk about the cool eco-renovation project she and her team did in the historic Chicago building!
Starting EcoRenovate was a big deal for Elemental Green because it was the first renovation they ever took on from start to finish. It involved a lot of learning and many interesting insights. It allowed them to expand their focus and look beyond the materials used for the building and the furnishings they brought in.
The historical Chicago building
The striking historic modernist building is near the Chicago University campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood. I.M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta designed it, and it was built in 1961. It was built as apartments and is now condominiums. The building has curtain walls and big, beautiful windows with delicate arches. It has been registered on the national register of historic places.
During Covid, Sheridan saw an opportunity to renovate one of the top-floor corner units in the building. So she decided to jump in with EcoRenovate and see what she could do with the space.
Staying true to the design
Sheridan wanted to stay true to the original design. So she and her team decided to keep existing architectural elements and update and modernize the condominium.
They decided to start with the tiny, closed-off kitchen and tie it in with the rest of the condo. They took down part of two of the walls to connect the kitchen with the main living area.
The bathroom still had all the original quirky and charming fixtures. They had to change the wall tiles because they were plain and not very nice. But the floor tiles were lovely, so they retained them.
Color affects our moods and energy levels, so Sheridan and her team deliberately added pops of color to the space. The view of Lake Michigan inspired them, so they brought lots of blue into the interior space.
Eco-friendly building practices
To ensure they were not compromising the eco-friendly building practices, they judged everything they brought in, from building materials to furnishings, against the standards of what makes a good and sustainable product.
Mindful and eco-friendly building practices
Refusing to compromise enabled them to identify some great companies to work with that used eco-friendly products, treated their employees fairly, and used mindful and eco-friendly building practices.
They evaluated everything they did against the concept of circularity and focused on assessing the impact of all the materials used to ensure that they were making things better rather than worse for the planet.
Making the connection
People are starting to make the connection between their personal health and the health of the world at large.
Sheridan repainted everything in the condo using paint from a company called Recolor. Recolor is a woman-led company looking to solve the problem of waste paint because paint is toxic, so it cannot get thrown away in the garbage. Recolor filters and reprocesses leftover paint so that it can be reused. As a result of the reprocessing, Recolor’s paint is lower in VOCs than regular paint. It is available from Amazon or through Habitat for Humanity stores in a range of colors.
Sheridan’s favorite part
The part of the renovation Sheridan enjoyed most was re-doing the kitchen with hand-made and hand-painted tiles from Fireclay Tile! They also put in bamboo plywood fronted cabinets and a large island workspace.
To improve indoor air quality, they put filters over all
PRAGMATIC, THOUGHTFUL, EMPOWERING
A free education in all things green that unites people with the pragmatism of visionary Marla Esser Cloos, author of the Benjamin Franklin Award winning reference book "Living Green Effortlessly", and her incredible guests. Marla Esser Cloos decodes the idea of "Living Green" when it can seem indecipherable, daunting, and even exhaustingly patriarchal (not unlike Shakespeare). This podcast addresses and faces existential questions, specifically in moments masked in jocularity, about sustainability and home. Creating better, healthier, thriving stories through our actions (or inactions) can happen each and everyday. Why can't our world be automated and normalized to that effect??
"YES, AND-" ON WICKED PROBLEMS & TP
Everyday Green Home Podcast at it's best feels like Ask This Old House (I love Ask This Old House) and This Old House, and the podcast seems similarly seeking of inclusion and diversity. Marla (greenhomecoach.com) distinguishes Everyday Green Home Podcast by stressing the importance of expertise in the planning stages in efforts to prevent what Ask This Old House and This Old House address. Tony is at his best when he is critically thinking and using his experience and knowledge to add to the conversation. (If I ran into him now, I'm not sure I wouldn't want to hit him with a 2 X 6. He is best when he is convincing the listeners NOT to do that because they would miss him). Speaking of 2 x6s, I found an example of what I'm trying to say. There was a podcast episode where Tony was talking about how a contractor or someone had changed to 2 X 6s instead of 2 X 4s and there had been increases in costs. Marla suggested talking lumber prices which was interesting (see NPR's "What the Rise and Fall of Lumber Prices Tells Us About the Pandemic Economy"), but instead of saying, "Yes, and-", Tony said it wasn't that at all. He said it was because the builders had to carry more upstairs or something?!?! For the longest time, I thought that whoever suggested that to him was likely non- union, messed up, and having a "joke" on "Harvard". I felt for him, aside from his not actively listening to Marla or taking her generous cue for him to go on a happy tangent into economics or the shortages in the building trades. (There was a great podcast episode about it, too! But I think, unlike Tony, that there is more than enough time to make experts but not enough accessibility. If an 18 yo kid wanted to learn and work in the carpentry union in St. Louis, is it free and easy for them to find resources or to apply themselves to that gainful career path? Or, is it easier to find work in restaurant or retail or carrying 2 x6s upstairs for minimum but immediate pay?) ANYWAY, I recently saw an episode of Ask This Old House and found out that I might have been wrong (I know, shocking... <facetious) about the "joke" on "Harvard" (see the very appropos titled Drilling into Studs for Electrical Wiring/ Tool Lab episode). Could the 2 X 6s (and their increased costs) have been more about the contractor/ builders claiming the need for the ease of winging it while drilling and still likely being up to code in any state?? I love Ask This House because they ask questions, try to help problem- solve, and don't judge people's consumer spending, socio- econnomic status, houses, problems, family, or friends. I think Everyday Green Home Podcast is WICKED BEST when it is trying to be the kind of rising tide that lifts all boats, while also warning of the rising tides.
Inspiring and educating podcast. The two hosts have great knowledge and great guests!