Infographic Friday: Buzzing Off, How Dying Bees Affects You

Honey bees are super pollinators and have an enormous impact on the environment.  Since the mid 2000′s their numbers have been declining rapidly. Scientist are unable to explain their disappearance but one thing is for certain, the absence of bees would leave much of the world’s food supply in question. Without pollinating insect life, fruits, vegetables, and field crops would be obsolete causing extreme hardship for the farm and food industry and leaving their future, and our survival, in question.

See the infographic below to find out more about why honey bees are so important to us and what you can do to save them.

How the disappearance of bees will affect you.

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Heroes of Sustainability: Philippe Cousteau Jr.

Philippe Cousteau Jr. once told Elle magazine that “it takes more than a birth certificate to be a Cousteau.” The 30-something certainly isn’t resting on his famous name, but he is living up to it, carrying on the work of his father, Philippe Cousteau, and grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

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

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Building it Green: Shelving & Rainwater Collection

The Kemper Tiny House almost done!

The hand-built shelfing system, where we’ll plug in our laptops, store our books, and house our music and audio, has just been completed.  Brad’s team has done an exceptional job with the detail finish work and trim, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the craftsmanship of our shelving system.

1center of bookshelf system 2kitchen cabinets3shelf system living room

In addition to the shelving, a recovered metal V-roof has just been put on our Tiny House.  It will be nice to hear the rain fall on the 80 to 100-year-old roof, and collecting the rainwater in our collection barrel.

One of the final touches on our home will be the front porch, which is almost finished as well.  Our Tiny House arrives this month, and we cannot wait to start the New Year in such as environmentally friendly, sacred structure.

To view more pictures of our Tiny House, please see our Facebook album.

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Building it Green: Wood from Deconstructed Homes

1front door and kitchen

It’s simply wonderful, and a total joy to watch our tiny house as it approaches completion.

The wood being used to build the cabinetry, window trim, the ship ladder to the loft space,  countertops, shelves and all other interior and exterior details is longleaf pine, reclaimed  from a tear-down, slated for demolition due to highway expansion through Luling, Texas.  Estimated age of the wood is approximately 100 years.

2Kemper tiny house ancestor 43lofts over kitchen in progress

Most satisfying is knowing that every last bit of wood, windows, doors, fixtures, and flooring comes from very old houses gently deconstructed, rather than being sent to a landfill or waste incinerator.

The beauty, richness, and character of this energy-filled wood will absolutely jump to life once rubbed with Tung Oil, the final step prior to our taking delivery, around January 15.

Brad Kittel and his crew at Tiny Texas Houses (www.tinytexashouses.com) is doing an amazing service for us, and for our planet. 

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.

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Building it Green: The Richness of Ancestral Wood

1ceiling view to gable on bathroom-kitchen end

As we anticipate with glee, the receipt of our tiny house, it is exciting to see the progress being made day-by-day.

The richness of the ancestral wood has given new life in the birthing of our new tiny house is becoming so obvious, as the milk paint emphasizes the wood’s energy and character.

The bathroom and kitchen walls are being erected, and both gable ends are now at the point of completion, with
the beautiful wall boards, ceiling boards and wainscot being finished or nearly finished.

To bring forth the final finish of this deeply rich wood, the surface will be lightly sanded, then finished with
Tung Oil.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.  Thanks for following our progress.

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Building it Green: Wainscot Bead Board

interrior walls 2

Our tiny house is taking on its character, a character with the energy of its ancestors.

The ceiling boards are reclaimed from a home built in the 1860’s, the wainscot bead board from another home constructed in the 1880’s, the door from a home welcoming those who entered through during the 1850’s to 1860’s.

The “bubble gum” bead board in our tiny house is covered with old milk paint, in very light hues of blue, lavender, pink, yellow and green, kind of like old-fashioned Easter egg colors, or, the colors of bubble gum. Once paneled along the base of the walls in wainscot fashion, the bead boards will be lightly sanded and treated with Tung Oil, natural oil derived from the Chinese Tung Tree.

The striping look of the bead board comes from letting the natural unpainted board show up, providing contrast and showing the beautiful rich Long Leaf Pine with 140 years or more of natural patina. Both the bead board and the ship-lap boards (oriented horizontally above the wainscot) are at least 100-years old, and originate from materials salvaged from once stately homes, deconstructed to make room for new development. There is a fair number of cheesecloth tacks still present in the ship-lap boards, which once held the wallpaper in place for a century. Wallpaper was used in part to be fashionable, but mostly to stop the wind from penetrating the walls into the living areas of the former home.

We’re ecstatic as we joyously anticipate receiving delivery of the Kemper Tiny House in mid-January. The most wonderful things about the creation of our tiny house are the history, living memory, and embodied spirit of those who have resided among the beautiful wood and glass that now make this little house the sanctuary it will be. Perhaps what is most meaningful is that our Tiny House embodies the resurrection of the former homes that otherwise may have ended their lives in a landfill or incinerator.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas 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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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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Straight Talk with Tom

Is the US Chamber serious? Or, is this just their attempt at wanting to be perceived as being green?  

As I read ”3 Takeaways from the US Chamber’s Sustainability Conference“ published by GreenBiz, it made me feel like the US Chamber, an organization that is continually trying to appease its biggest polluting members, speaking out and lobbying against any attempts to regulate environmental degradation of Planet Earth, is now trying to gain goodwill and positive PR by appearing to align with the vast community of sustainability proponents, who DO believe we humans, our processes and consumption, ARE having dramatically-negative effects on our planet’s climate and its sustainability. Kinda looks to me like the US Chamber and its corporate citizenship affiliate the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) are speaking two distinctly different conversations! So, which is the truth here?


To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Straight-Talk-with-Tom-Is-the-US-Chamber-serious.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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