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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Heroes of Sustainability: James Balog

James Balog

With adventure comes danger, and James Balog been exposed to plenty of that over the years. He knows that one accidental dip in iceberg-filled water, one slip of the hand on a mountain, one mechanical malfunction of a helicopter high above the land would end the exploration. And yet, he presses on.

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

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Heroes of Sustainability: Wangari Maathai

If anyone knows the challenges that come with being a trailblazer, it’s Wangari Maathai. Her continual struggles for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation haven’t always been met with support on her native continent of Africa, where she’s faced…

 

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

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Tim DeChristopher Convicted on Two Felony Charges for Protecting Our Planet

As an environmental activist, I was shocked to learn about the prison sentence facing Tim DeChristopher, a university student who falsely outbid energy producers to block their access to precious Utah Canyonlands. As the President and CEO of Dolphin Blue, a company that strives to preserve our planets most precious resources, I cannot help but ask myself the following question: Should DeChristopher serve prison time for protecting our planet against the hopeless polluters who have little or no regard for it?

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Tim-DeChristopher-Sentenced-to-Prison-for-Protecting-Our-Planet.html

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Leaked Emails Suggest Firmer Oversight Needed by Board of US Chamber of Commerce

There is growing evidence that many American businesses are attempting to become more environmentally responsible. Some of those businesses are represented on the board of directors of the US Chamber of Commerce. This suggests that the Chamber should eventually move toward supporting…

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Heroes of Sustainability: Michael Pollan

 

One hundred years ago, no one spent time thinking about where their food came from. That’s because they all knew. There were no mystery ingredients, meals didn’t by and large travel great distances before getting to the table, and farm animals weren’t injected with growth hormones. Today, you only need to stroll down the inside aisle of any grocery store, pick a package at random, and try to decipher the ingredients listed on the back to see that it’s not that simple anymore.

That unknown is what has driven much of Michael Pollan’s research over the years, including his famous and bestselling 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Bothered by the fact that he really didn’t know the origins of his food…

 

 

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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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