Green House Effect

Not always LEEDing the way

Los Angeles will now require all new construction to be LEED certified—the biggest city to make the leap to regulated green building. It’s good news. It really is.

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One man’s trash is another man’s… home

Maybe you thought reinforced steel or structural concrete were the most revolutionary building materials. Not so, according to Michael Reynolds:  architect, recycling hero, designer of the Earthship and now the “Garbage Warrior,” title of a new film by Oliver Hodge. Earthships are sustainable homes crafted from recycled tires, bottles, cans—turns out, fill those things with dirt and they harden into foundation-safe materials. Long-haired, the years of sun etched into lines on his face, Reynolds is feisty as he ever has been in his 35-year career.

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Preventing suburbs from becoming eco slums

One of the suburbs' great promises was green: smog-free, high-rises left behind in the big city, an individual patch of parkland stuck in front of and behind your single-family home. Sixty years after Levittown, American's first true suburb, was plopped down atop 800 acres of potato fields in Long Island, we've learned the truth: suburbs, with their car dependencies, spread out infrastructure, and all that water required to keep those lawns looking pretty, are in fact the least green inhabitable spaces. The sub-prime mortgage meltdown has left thousands of new developments McMansion ghost towns. Suburbs are in danger of becoming eco slums.

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Turning front yards into edible gardens

We have 32 million acres of lawns about to blossom all over America, but most folks still don’t know what to do with the front. What’s it for, anyway, since it provides no privacy, and most folks do their gardening, socializing and recreating in the patch of green behind the house? Is the front lawn just the vestigial cousin of that expanse of land in front of English manors or Chateaus, communicating to the world to keep out?

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Sustainable farming in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, the fifth largest—and second fastest growing—city in America gets a bad rap. On top of its infamous sprawl, there’s the “brown cloud” problem (pollution trapped by the mountains that ring the city), the 193 businesses that produce air pollution, and 2569 that produce hazardous waste. Doesn’t seem like a hospitable environment for living off the land.


But that didn’t stop Greg Peterson from transforming his patch of suburbia into a kind of natural supermarket. Peterson calls his ¾ of an acre an Urban Farm, on which he coaxes to blossom some 44 fruit trees (including Anna apple, apricot, and a desert-friendly variety called the low chill cherry), as well as broccoli, sweet peas, arugula, nasturtium, and many other veggies.

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Issue 25

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