A Low-Flow Showerhead with Flow

A sleek modern design, the Caroma Flow gives you enough reason install it even before looking at gallons per minute.  At 1.5 GPM, Flow is among the lowest flow showerheads on the market.  (A limited few low-flow heads have been recorded at 1.25, 1, and even .55 GPM.)

Recently having gone through personal trials of the Caroma Flow, the engineering team designed a nozzle which pressurizes the water so you won’t miss a drop.

I was very impressed with the ease and comfort of switching between spray patterns and adjusting the direction of showerhead.  Caroma has manufactured a high quality product in the Flow showerhead, versatile enough for a variety of design settings.  It retails for about $47 but can be found for less online.

[+] More about the Caroma Flow showerhead.

Photo credit: Caroma. 

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USB U-Socket is People’s Choice at KBIS

This is yet another “Must-See” product and the People’s Choice winner at KBIS 2012.  Called U-Socket, the AC wall outlet has two USB 3.0-compatible power ports and can be installed on a 16 cubic inch or larger single gang electrical box, according to Fastmac, the manufacturer.  The listed product meets UL and NEC specifications and carries a 5-star energy-efficient design.  The made in the USA outlet has smart sensor that recognizes when a device is charged and shuts down, cutting back on vampire energy.

[+] Purchase a U-Socket from Fastmac for $24.95.

Credits: Fastmac. 

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Greenest Home, Prefab for the Backyard, Impressive LED Bulb, + Future Sustainable

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for updates, article summaries, newsworthy links, and other site news. Also, check out the latest green jobs in our list.

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See the original post: Greenest Home, Prefab for the Backyard, Impressive LED Bulb, + Future Sustainable

Monolith is a Wall-Mount Efficient Toilet

One of the “Must-See” products of the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry Show was this wall-hung tank and carrier system from Geberit called the Monolith.  Monolith installs in construction or a renovation (if you’re interested in moving the sewer to the wall) and saves bathroom space by tucking the tank and valves behind glass.  The product comes with a couple water-efficient flush options and black or white glass, though I can’t seem to locate Monolith anywhere on the Geberit US website.  Keep your eyes open for availability.

[+] Also, how to install the Geberit Monolith at home.

Credit: Geberit. 

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Bright Line is a New Clean Water System

Another “Must-See” product at the recent KBIS 2012 was the Triflow Bamboo faucet in the Bright Line by Zuvo Water.  Zuvo Water makes smart, cloud-connected, water-filtration products, and Triflow is one of the new products showcased by the company.  Triflow has LED lights and connects with a smartphone app that allows an owner to monitor water consumption, filter status, and access filtering reports about the local water supply.

The filtration system goes through a five-step process — which includes UV light, ozone, and filtration — to clean water and reduce contaminants while preserving the healthy mineral content of water.  When combined with the Triflow faucet, a homeowner gets hot, cold, and filtered water from one faucet.

Bright Line includes a filtration system, faucet, and iPhone or Android-based app that will be available in Fall 2012 from between 399.

[+] More about the Bright Line system by Zuvo Water.

Credits: Zuvo Water.

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Castaway House is a Cool Green Renovation

This is the Castaway House, a renovation in Phoenix, Arizona that’s also the first project to be certified under the Phoenix Green Construction Code. The team* behind this Gold-certified project transformed an existing 1,000 square-foot, abandoned house originally built in 1951 into a cutting-edge, energy-efficient abode with 1,970 square feet, four bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Here’s a little more background.

The name Castaway is a reference to the famous movie with Tom Hanks and the quote: “Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” The movie and quote reference the abandoned five-year history of this property, the relentless sun that bakes Arizona, and a goal of the project team to bring sustainable housing to the urban core of Greater Phoenix.

Thus, other than reusing an existing site, the twin aims of this renovation were to conserve water and save energy by employing a multitude of strategies on a budget of $95 per square foot.

To conserve water, Castaway House has two 550-gallon tanks for rainwater collection, a low-volume irrigation system with evapotranspiration control, an Energy Star water heater, and WaterSense finishes including a 1.5 gpm Kohler faucets, 1.5 gpm Delta tub and shower faucets, 1.28 gpf AquaSource toilets, and a Delta kitchen faucet.

To save energy, the team focused on the design, envelope, and lighting. Castaway House has Solatubes in the bathrooms and master closet, Energy Star ceiling fans in the living room and bedrooms, a 15-SEER high-efficiency Carrier unit, and exposed spiral ducts inside the main living space (with insulated ducts in the addition).

The renovation received a significant upgrade in the form of vented wall and roof designs and extended overhangs. East and west windows were filled with Owens Corning Insulpink, while the addition was built with 2

Upfront Cost of Installing Solar at Home

California-based Sunrun and Harris Interactive recently announced the results of a survey of 2,211 adults (1,475 homeowners) about the cost and desirability of installing a home solar system.  The main sound bite is the one-liner that “97% of Americans overestimate the cost of going solar,” as well as the stat that “nearly 8 out of 10 of those who do not already have solar panels say they would install solar if cost were not a factor.

The survey asked respondents to guess: ** the actual cost to install solar panels with solar power service on an average-sized home.**

You may disagree but I view this as a trick question to see if anyone really knows what a “solar power service” is.  That is to say, only 3% responded with what could be seen as a correct answer of “less than $1,000.

With a solar power service – i.e., third-party owned solar in the form of a solar lease or a power purchase agreement, depending on the state – the purchaser doesn’t own the panels, so the upfront cost to the homeowner is nominal compared to purchase cost of the same system.  With a solar power service, one could “go solar” without buying the panels.

As a side note, it’s hard to tell if the question clarifies whether “actual cost” is viewed from the homeowner’s perspective or from the installer perspective.  Regardless of purchase, lease, or other financing, the actual cost is what it is – someone pays for the solar panels and that someone is probably the homeowner in the form of a lease or power purchase payment over time.

In any event, Sunrun found that nearly eight out of 10 homeowners who do not already have solar panels would install solar if cost were not a factor.  That to me is another way of saying: if the solar panels were free, would you like to have them?  Most likely (unless you’re thinking nothing in this world is free), the answer is yes.

Seems like the real takeaway from the survey is many Americans have no idea how solar panels can be leased or financed under various contractual models that tie into state laws.  And this lack of familiarity means the decision to “go solar” should be made after diligence, investigation, and full understanding.

[+] Americans Overestimate Upfront Cost of Installing Solar.

Credit: Sunrun. 

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Pet Seat Covers

1G is a Water-Wise Tornado of a Toilet

TOTO just introduced a new toilet called 1G and announced that it’s the first manufacturer to break the one-gallon per flush barrier for a gravity-fed toilet, according to a recent statement.  1G is like a tornado in the toilet — less the noise of pressure-assist version — with a Double Cyclone flushing system.

TOTO’s Double Cyclone system propels water through two nozzles for a total flush that “clears the bowl first time, every time.

Plus, 1G’s bowl and rim are coated with SanaGloss, a nanotechnology glaze that seals the porcelain with a barrier to repel matter and bacteria.  This keeps the bowl free of waste and is supposed to help reduce cleaning time and the use of cleaning agents.

I’ve asked for pricing and availability details from TOTO and will update this article when we get that information.  In the mean time, contact a distributor for more information.

[+] Visit TOTO USA for more detail about their toilets.

Credits: TOTO USA.

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A Cautionary Tale re: Prefab Home Kit

A future homeowner inherits a chunk of land in Ulster County, New York and decides to put a dreamy modern prefab on it.  I can understand that.  The owner picks an LVL model home from Rocio Romero, and the kit costs $47,000, including such things as the plans, a construction binder, open wall panels, certain structural materials, and the exterior siding.  The owner budgets just over $120,000 to finish the 1,669 square-foot home and hires a contractor to do the work, but that’s where things go wrong.

Turns out, the contractor didn’t complete at the low-bid price, according to an article in the New York Times.  The prefab kit home was ultimately finished for ~$260,000 (~$90,000 over budget), but the owner had to tap retirement savings, credit cards, and friends/family cash to get a certificate of occupancy.  Ouch!

So, what went wrong?

It’s unfair to speculate, but let’s just keep a few thing in mind, especially for those of you thinking about purchasing prefab in the future.

The Kit of Parts:
First, the prefab kit from Rocio Romero is just that: it’s a kit of parts that still requires labor, transport, the land, windows, insulation, and various other finish items.  Other than perhaps the transport, everything is subject to local pricing.  So it’ll cost a lot more on the coasts than everywhere else.

The Ballpark Cost:
Second, Rocio Romero informs purchasers that a LV home will cost anywhere from about 195 per square foot to finish.  Thus, the LVL model home — which has an open living room and kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms –  should cost anywhere from $200,000 – $325,000 to finish, including the kit.  The owners mentioned in the NY Times finished their home within this range at $260,000, but not for the quoted low-ball from the first contractor.

The Prefab Builder:
Third, all prefab is not in the form of a kit of parts.  Certain companies like Blu Homes and Stillwater Dwellings work the entire process from start to finish.  So their pricing — and this is big a marketing point for these companies — comes with more certainty.  I think prefab from companies with a building division/program will have more pricing certainty.

The Late-Night Homework:
Fourth, don’t be discouraged but also do your homework.  Browse our archives of green prefab and ask lots of questions before you move forward.  Soon we’ll have more resources available for those interested in prefab.

Credits: Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

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Certification Expectation, Efficiency Icons, Financing Prefab, + Light Bulb of the Future

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See the rest here: Certification Expectation, Efficiency Icons, Financing Prefab, + Light Bulb of the Future