Building it Green: Energy-Efficient Insulation

IMG_0056Since my last posting, an important stage in the progress of our Texas Tiny House is now complete. The interior walls have just been coated with expanding Isonene Foam, which adds a layer of highly energy-efficient insulation to the interior of our tiny home. This will reduce the necessity for continuous and fossil fuel dependent heating and cooling throughout the year.

The ceiling and floors of our Tiny House have also been insulated between the roof rafters and floor support beams and joists. To further improve our tiny house’s efficiency, we’re also having screens built for the windows to take better advantage of Mother Nature’s generosity in providing fresh air during the spring and early summer.

When our energy-miser tiny house is complete, we anticipate our monthly utility bills (gas and electric) will be around $15-$20. The final touches should be complete any day now. More updates to come.

For more pictures of the energy-efficient stage of our Tiny House, please visit our facebook album.

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Building it Green: Our Tiny Texas House

1tconcept drawing Kemper kitchen end 2tKitchen end framing of Kemper

Recently, Margaret (my wife) and I bought a 1940’s “Austin stone” house in an eastern Dallas neighborhood. Upon buying our home, we immediately decided to remodel, and were faced with the decision to temporarily rent elsewhere, or live in a home filled with dust. Reluctant to disrupt our lives completely, we opted to build a backyard studio where we could temporarily live while our house was being remodeled. Since we had previously discussed building a space where visiting friends, musicians (www.eastdallashouseconcerts.com), and family could stay, the decision was easy.

After researching several options, we soon came across a magazine article featuring builders who were committed to building green, sustainable, small footprint homes. As we read through the article, we were immediately attracted to a company called Tiny Texas Houses in Luling, Texas, owned by builder and artist extraordinaire, Brad Kittel.

My wife and I quickly fell in love with Brad’s exceptional works of art, craftsmanship, and keen sense of design and we made a trip out to Luling. Upon arriving, we knew that we would soon own one of Brad’s amazing creations.

Unlike a typical home, a Tiny Texas House is built from salvaged materials, collected from deconstructed old homes, usually found in the path of economic development and highway projects. These wonderful old homes are typically 100 years or older, and yield thousands of feet in timber, boards, windows, fixtures, hardware, stained glass, and many other one-of-a-kind resources.

3cKemper tiny house ancestor 4stained glass kitchen window

In addition to Brad’s use of reclaimed materials, every Tiny Texas House is energy-efficient, insulated with Isonene Foam, so that heating or cooling is unnecessary, except during extreme temperature conditions. Every salvaged door and window is rebuilt, re-hung, re-weighted, and resealed with silicon stripping, ensuring that the entries are weather tight. The houses are then plumbed and wired to exceed municipal and state codes, as well as federal standards in the U.S.

Brad’s eco-friendly homes average 336 square feet, and house two people comfortably…perhaps more if you’re OK with sharing a small space. Once complete, our tiny home will be 252 square feet, and will house three cats, our cowdog Hank, as well as Margaret and I. We anticipate that we will live in our Texas Tiny House for a total of nine months while our house is being remodeled.  To see the beginning stages of our Texas Tiny House, visit the Dolphin Blue facebook page.

front from kitchen endfront from living end 2

Although it may be small in size, we are excited to live in a unique structure that will allow us to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. I’ll keep you informed over the next several months.

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Straight Talk with Tom: The Soul of Money

The Soul of Money

I just finished reading Lynn Twist’s book, The Soul of Money, and it is one of the most inspirational messages I’ve ever read.  In this book, Lynn talks extensively about our perception of money — individually, in our families, and…

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Straight-Talk-with-Tom-The-Soul-of-Money.html

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Air Pollution: Killing People, Killing Life-Supporting Earth

When any given person dies because of respiratory problems, it is probably not possible to trace the cause of death specifically to smog-producing ozone in the air. Even so, statistical studies show increases in mortality and morbidity are correlated with increases in ozone in the air. There is no doubt that high levels of ozone kill some people and make many others sick.

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Air-PollutionKilling-People-Killing-Life-Supporting-Earth.html

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Ray Anderson, Interface Chairman and Sustainability Leader, Dies at 77

Ray Anderson, the founder of Interface Inc., was perhaps one of the most vocal proponents of environmentalism in business.  He was one of my heroes and mentors, and I’m sure a true inspiration to many others working in the realm of sustainability.   Ray was the relentless force in…

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Ray-Anderson-Interface-Chairman-and-Sustainability-Leader-Dies-at-77.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: Thomas Friedman

                                                   Going Green as an Act of Patriotism

“In a world that’s hot, flat, and crowded, clean tech has to be the next great global industry, and therefore the country that takes the lead in clean power and clean tech is going to, by definition, be an economic and strategic leader in the 21st century, and that’s why there’s absolutely no contradiction between going green and being patriotic, geopolitical, and geostrategic. They actually go together.”


To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-Thomas-Friedman.html

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Challenge to the US Chamber of Commerce: What One Small Business Is Doing


Dolphin Blue, Inc
., is just one small business among millions of small businesses, but it is unique. It is the only online supplier of 100% environmentally responsible office supplies. Supplies that are not environmentally responsible are simply not available from Dolphin Blue.

Dolphin Blue is unique in another way. It has challenged the national US Chamber of Commerce to…

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Petition-Blog.html 

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Heroes of Sustainability: George Washington Carver

                                                                      
In an era long before green, eco-friendly, and environmentalism were buzzwords, George Washington Carver advocated for organic farming and plant-based products.

An early trailblazer in the concept of reducing, reusing, and recycling, Carver was born into slavery, likely in the early to mid-1860s.

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-George-Washington-Carver.html

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Transitioning from a wasteful planet, to a sustainable planet

I recently returned from a Western Caribbean cruise, where I spent one week on a ship weighing 130,000 tons and measuring 1,004 feet in length. I was among 4,500 other human beings, all being fed food requiring refrigeration, powered by petroleum. Each cabin, of which there were approximately 200 on most decks, had furniture, cabinetry, and various other materials including wood, plastics, and metal. Despite having a TV hanging on the wall of most cabins, the uppermost deck had a 40-foot by 20-foot big screen TV. Why? Because cruise lines use such enticements to get people to leave home, so they can experience ALL the comforts of home.

Upon returning from my cruise, I participated in a euronews forum asking, “What would it take to really speed up the transition to a carbon neutral, sustainable planet?” First and foremost…

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Transitioning-from-a-wasteful-planet-to-a-sustainable-planet.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: Andrew Revkin

Making the Earth Front-Page News

Andrew Revkin

There’s a saying in journalism that if you’re getting complaints from both sides, you’re doing your job right. If that’s the case, award-winning environmental journalist Andrew Revkin is certainly doing something right, having weathered plenty of criticism over his 25 years of reporting on everything from Hurricane Katrina to climate change.

To continue reading our Heroes of Sustainability: Andrew Revkin blog, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-Andrew-Revkin.html

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