green building/design

Climate change (AKA climate instability/breakdown) is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, “natural” disasters, and emergency events. Unfortunately, many disasters are made even worse by human land use and development practices. In the last few years, many disasters (especially hurricanes/typhoons, floods, wildfires, heat waves, and landslides) around the world have been catastrophic, causing unprecedented amounts of damage and numbers of deaths (and injuries and illness), and creating thousands of climate migrants and refugees. No region is immune to climate-related disruptions and disasters; while some places are at higher risk than others (and some places are even becoming uninhabitable), there’s no truly “safe” place to live. Beyond climate disasters, anyone can also experience manmade disasters (e.g., industrial accidents or explosions), power outages, and severe storms. The more prepared you and your neighbors are, the more resilient you and your family and community can be.

Here’s something that most of us should be doing right now (everyone really, but especially those of us who are in areas that are at risk of flooding, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and/or tsunamis, severe winter weather, or extended power outages): Assemble your emergency supplies, and make evacuation/safety plans (including meeting spots, out-of-area contacts, etc.). You should have emergency supply kits (AKA “go bags”/backpacks) stashed in your home (preferably near an outside door) or in a shed, garage, or another out-building, as well as in at least one of your family’s cars, and ideally also at your place of work. Businesses and schools should also have emergency supplies and evacuation plans in place.

There are many good emergency checklists out there (see the Ready.gov and RedCross.org lists and the other resources that are listed at the end of this post). To get started, below is a basic list of some important things to grab (if you are able to) before exiting or evacuating your home/building in an emergency, followed by a list of some of the items to assemble now and keep in your emergency kits. Print out and start reviewing your checklists ASAP and keep a copy of them in a memorable place (e.g., in or next to your emergency kit/bag or on your refrigerator, and also keep a copy on your phone) so that you can easily refer to them in an emergency, when you may not be able to think very clearly. Start assembling your emergency kits even if you can’t pull everything together at once. Having something ready is better than nothing; you can keep adding to your kits over time or add kits in other locations.

 

GRAB BEFORE YOU GO checklist

The following are some things that probably can’t or won’t be saved in your emergency kits ahead of time, but that you should try to grab before leaving your house (or wherever you may be when an emergency strikes) if time allows:

  • Pets (and any other domesticated animals) — with their collars on (w/ ID tags or microchips that have current contact info, ideally more than 1 phone number); plus leashes, carriers/crates, meds; water, food, bowls, towels; cat litter/box (if applicable)
  • Wallet and Keys; purse / bag (w/ checkbook)
  • Cell phone (and charger cord)
  • Eyeglasses
  • Important meds
  • Sturdy shoes; warm jacket
  • Laptop and charger  (and/or computer back-up drive)
  • Portable safe / small valuables [plus the safe’s key, if applicable]
  • Some photos / photo album(s)

+  Your emergency kits/bags  [see below]

 

Evacuation Tips:

  • If evacuating due to a coming wildfire or flood or hurricane/storm, leave early (ASAP) and try to take all or most of your vehicles with you (if roadways aren’t congested yet and you have enough time and drivers) to get them out of the danger zone, so they won’t get burned or flooded and destroyed. Make sure your evacuation vehicle’s gas tank is full or close to full.
  • If there’s a fire, hurricane, or tornado in the vicinity and/or you need to evacuate your home for any reason, turn off the gas line if you have time. After an earthquake, turn off the gas and water lines to your house until all aftershocks are over and the utility companies have been able to check the lines for breaks or leaks. Note: Keep the right-sized/adjustable wrench near-by the gas shut-off. Try it out before you need to use it.
  • Also see CalFire’s Pre-Evacuation Preparation Steps, as well as these additional wildfire evacuation tips.

During or immediately after an emergency event or on days with extreme high or low temperatures or power outages, check on your neighbors, family, and friends, especially those who are elderly, disabled, ill, homeless, or living alone, and those who have infants or special needs.

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EMERGENCY KIT / “GO BAG” checklist

(This is a partial list of items to be assembled in advance, before an emergency happens.)

It’s best to put your emergency supplies in backpacks or other durable, water-resistant, and easy-to-carry bags. You can purchase pre-assembled emergency supply kits/bags, but make sure to supplement those with other important items that haven’t been included:

  • Grab Before You Go list (see above), printed out as a quick reference
  • Contacts List (including emergency services numbers, doctors’ names/numbers, and your out-of-area contact, etc.: print this out ahead of time and save copies in key locations and online)
  • Important papers/documents (e.g., copies of IDs, birth certificates, passports, insurance papers, deeds, legal docs, Will, bank and credit card account info., copies of prescriptions)
    [Tip: Take photos of your IDs, debit/credit cards, and other important documents and save those and key contacts on your phone and remotely in “the cloud” so you can retrieve them from your account even if you lose your phone or computer.  For more suggestions on protecting documents and valuables, see this AARP article.]
  • Cash (including some small bills); an extra credit card

[Tip: Consider getting a waterproof and fire-rated safe for your home, or rent a safe deposit box elsewhere, to hold some of your valuables, important papers, jewelry, heirlooms, extra cash, and some family photos, etc. If it’s the type of house safe that’s bolted down, you may have to leave it behind in an emergency but you may be able to recover its contents later. If it’s portable (i.e., light enough to carry and not bolted down), you may be able to take it with you during an emergency/evacuation, but that type is more susceptible to being stolen (if your home is burglarized). If the safe has a key, be sure to keep a key in your emergency kit or on your keychain or somewhere you’re likely to find it in an emergency. If it has a combination lock, make sure you can remember the combination or write it down somewhere secure/in “the cloud.”]

  • WATER to last several days; and water purifier bottle(s) or tablets
  • Toilet paper
  • Spare meds (including any prescription meds)
  • First Aid Kit  (you can buy one off-the-shelf or make your own)

  • Pet/animal kit (if applicable)
    [extra collars and leashes, meds; carriers/crates; water, food, bowls, towels; extra cat litter and portable litter box; spare ID tag with current contact info, ideally more than 1 phone number; if microchipped, make sure your contact info is current in the database]
  • Special items for any infants, elderly, or disabled members of the household (e.g., baby food, formula/bottle, diapers, wipes, critical meds, assistive devices, etc.)

AND:

  • Food / snacks  (non-perishable) [check expiration dates and refresh items every year]
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste (and other essential toiletries)
  • Spare/old set of eyeglasses
  • Spare set of clothes (esp. underwear, socks) and shoes
  • Hats, scarves, gloves
  • Flashlights; lantern; headlamp; candles
  • Lighter / matches
  • Soap and detergent
  • Bags (garbage/grocery, etc.)
  • Towels; rags, paper towels
  • Small radio
  • Batteries
  • Back-up/storage/solar charger
  • Work gloves
  • Utensils; can opener; camp kitchenware set
  • Tools: Wrench and pliers, knife, multi-function tool, etc.
  • Blanket / thermal emergency blankets
  • Tent, sleeping bags / camping supplies (grill or camp stove?)
  • Duct tape
  • N95-rated smoke/dust masks;  safety goggles
  • Fire extinguisher  [Also, watch an online tutorial on how to use one, or ask your fire dep’t. to show you]
  • Whistle
  • Tarp(s)
  • Bucket
  • Gas can
  • Flares
  • Reflective vest or other visibility gear
  • Safety helmet
  • Hydrogen peroxide (for disinfection)
  • Propane canister
  • Crowbar
  • Solar-powered or hand-cranked gadgets (e.g., radio, flashlight, charger)
  • [And ideally, a solar generator, or a solar PV system with battery storage]

Also, make sure you have hoses, buckets, a shovel, and at least one fire extinguisher on your property, for putting out spot fires. And regularly make sure all of your smoke detectors are working and have new batteries in them.  (Earthquakes, downed power lines, broken gas lines, fireplaces, oven/stove use, batteries, and various other things can cause fires in or around your house, so these tips apply even if you are not in wildfire country.)

You can find other “Go Bag/Kit” lists at Ready.gov’s Build a Kit page and Red Cross’ Survival Kit Supplies page.

Note: I’ll be creating PDF versions of my checklists above, so they can be downloaded and easily saved and printed. Check back for the PDFs. I will also periodically add to and make improvements to this post and these lists.

————————————————————

For additional and more comprehensive information and other tips on emergency preparedness and disaster response/relief, please go to:

Ready.gov

Red Cross: How to Prepare for Emergencies

Also download the Red Cross’ various mobile apps to your phone (for Emergency, Earthquake, Flood, Hurricane, Tornado, First Aid, Pet First Aid, etc.), and follow your region’s Red Cross branch on social media.

Nixle local alerts (by text/phone)

To sign up for Nixle alerts, text your zip code to 888777.

Also check with your County or City (e.g., emergency management office) and your local electric/gas utility to see if they have local emergency alert/notification systems that you can sign up for. And consider signing up on NextDoor.com to receive neighborhood/community notices (including public safety notifications from your local Sheriff’s department).

Resilient Design strategies

Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies
      Disaster Hotline for the Disabled: 800-626-4959

ASPCA Disaster Preparedness information re. pets/animals

HALTER Project (Horse, Livestock, and other animal emergency response & prep.)

Ready for Wildfire
Fire Safe Council
Fire Adapted Communities Network

CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams)

Team Rubicon

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) disaster response teams

Other disaster response training programs (a listing)

FEMA  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Unfortunately, FEMA is becoming less and less reliable as a source of assistance, due to underfunding and a considerable increase in catastrophic disasters. It is important for towns and states to form their own emergency/disaster response initiatives, so that communities can be more prepared and self-reliant, both during the immediate aftermath of a disaster and the longer-term recovery. If your town or county doesn’t already have an emergency preparedness and/or disaster response team or group, consider organizing one for people and/or for animals, or join one of the disaster response groups listed above. (Here’s a good website that was created by one small town’s emergency response team.) Or you can get involved by: setting up or attending a local CERT training, becoming a Red Cross volunteer, becoming a Search & Rescue volunteer for your county/region, getting certified in CPR and First Aid, or training to become a volunteer firefighter (which is especially helpful if you live in a rural area).

 

Related posts:

Later this year, I hope to publish a post on Sustainable Emergency Shelters (e.g., temporary or permanent dwelling/housing units that can be built quickly and efficiently for refugees, homeless people, and people who have lost their homes in disasters).  For the time being, we have a post on Modular, Prefab, and Compact Options for Green Homes and Structures, which may provide some helpful links for people who are looking to rebuild a home or create a temporary dwelling while they make rebuilding or relocation plans.

I’ll also be creating PDF versions of the checklists in this post, so they can be downloaded and easily saved and printed. Check back soon for the PDFs.

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January 22, 2019
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More than 2,500 businesses around the world (from more than 60 countries and 130 different industries) have now become certified as B Corporations, as of July 2018.  “B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, customers, and internal governance.

A few of the largest or most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Method, Ecover, Earthbound Farm, Eileen Fisher, Danone, Athleta, and Natura. And a few other B Corps that I like to highlight include: Alter Eco, Dr. Bronner’s, Beneficial State Bank, New Resource Bank, and RSF Capital Management.

The annual Best for the World ratings highlight businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall; and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as: Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers, Best for Customers, and/or Best for Governance.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Best for the World honorees (including a link to interactive data sets).

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Any company can take the B Impact Assessment, a free and confidential tool that allows you to “measure what matters” and compare your company’s practices with others.

 

Related posts:

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July 30, 2018
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We have published numerous posts that provide listings of various type of non-profit* groups (related to specific topics and issues), so we thought we’d provide an index of all of them to make them easy to find. Many of the groups that we’ve mentioned in our posts are based in the United States, but some are international organizations and a few are focused on other countries:

In the near future, we will be adding more organization listings, including anti-nuclear groups, wildlife protection/conservation and domestic animal protection groups, population-related groups, green groups/projects in Mexico and Central America, and others.

* NOTE: Not all of the organizations mentioned in the above posts are 501(c)(3) non-profits. If you want to know whether you would be eligible to get a tax deduction for your donation to an organization, please check with each organization.

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November 21, 2017
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Listed below are some of the posts on The Green Spotlight that include information related to sustainable land use (urban, suburban, and rural),  e.g., land conservation and stewardship, sustainable agriculture and permaculture, regenerative and restorative land use, sustainable home/homestead and neighborhood planning and development, and resilience. Links to other resources (organizations and websites) on these topics are also provided, at the bottom of this post.

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Also see our selection of Quotations for Gardeners, Farmers, and Others on Mother Earth News.

 

Other relevant resources:

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May 30, 2017
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Almost 2,000 businesses around the world have now gone through the B Impact Assessment and have become certified as B Corporations (by B Lab), as of late 2016. “The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.”

cover-art-221x300-1The annual Best for the World ratings “highlight the businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall, and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers and Best for Customers.” This year, 515 companies have qualified for at least one of these Best for the World categories, and 140 companies are considered Best for the World Overall. Below we’ve listed a subset of those companies: companies that were deemed Best for the World Overall, and also qualified for one or two (of the four) specific “Best for” categories. (No companies have yet qualified for all of the “Best for” categories.)

The following are 20 companies that achieved the 2016 Overall “Best for the World” designation, as well as two specific category ratings, including the Best for the Environment category (and their second category would either be Best for Community, Best for Customers, or Best for Workers):

  • Eco2Librium (business consulting on energy and forestry enterprises)
  • Mobisol (solar energy for developing nations)brand
  • Revivn (electronic recycling for businesses)
  • Squiz (reusable food pouches; Switzerland)
  • Telesis Corp. (urban community regeneration, planning, finance)
  • Triciclos (recycling, waste management company; Brazil & Chile)
  • Wholly Hemp (skin care products)
  • X-Runner (dry-toilets/sanitation product & service for low-income households in Peru)
  • YouGreen (recycling and waste cooperative; Brazil)

These companies achieved the Best for the World Overall rating plus the Best for the Environment rating:

  • Accion Verde
  • Atayne
  • Comet Skateboards
  • Cuento de Luz
  • Dolphin Blue
  • Fazenda de Toca Organicos
  • Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods
  • Jibu
  • Northeast Green Building Consulting
  • One Earth Designs
  • RainGrid
  • Revive  (Belgium)
  • Seeds Printing
  • Sistema Biobolsa
  • The Arnold Development Group
  • W.S. Badger Co.

And these companies achieved the Best for the World Overall rating plus two of the other sub-categories (but not the Best for the Environment category):

  • Abacus Wealth Partners
  • Abramar
  • Australian Ethical Investment
  • Beneficial State Bank
  • Bridges Ventures
  • Build With Prospect
  • Clean Yield Asset Management
  • Eudaimonia
  • Farmland
  • HCA
  • Imajine That
  • Juhudi Kilimo
  • Roshan
  • RSF Capital Management
  • Saber Es Poder
  • Trillium Asset Management

 

Click here to read stories about some of these B Corporations, as featured in B Magazine.

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.) A few of the largest and most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Sungevity, Seventh Generation, the Honest Company, Method, and Natura.

Related posts:

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November 28, 2016
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. But if you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. You are welcome to comment on the posts and we hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last few months:

  • Native American movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL
  • New federal emissions rules for heavy-duty trucks
  • CoolEffect.org
  • VerifiedVoting.org and ElectionProtection.org
  • GoodGuide.com app
  • CivilEats.com
  • Climate Ride
  • Organizations: The Greening of Detroit, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, Grid Alternatives, Honor the Earth, Animal Legal Defense Fund, WildEarth Guardians
  • Books: Beyond Words; Frackopoly
  • Films: A Dangerous Game;  You’ve Been Trumped Too (coming soon)
  • Quotations, graphics, photos, videos, etc.
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August 31, 2016
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. But if you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. You are welcome to comment on the posts and we hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last few months:

  • Costa Rica now uses almost 100% renewable energy
  • Uruguay uses almost 95% clean energy
  • Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT, and Greensburg, KS use 100% renewables
  • San Diego plans to shift to 100% renewable energy
  • The island of Bonaire is switching to 100% renewables
  • Community solar for groups and neighborhoods
  • Ireland rules out fracking
  • COP21 Paris Climate Summit Commitments
  • CatalogChoice free junk-mail opt-out service
  • Organizations and Initiatives: Earthworks, Center for Environmental Health, Story of Stuff Project, Politifact, FactCheck.org, Solar Ready Vets, Troops to Solar
  • Books: Voices of the Wild, The Heart of Sustainability
  • New films: Time to Choose, Racing Extinction, Medicine of the Wolf, Last Days of Ivory
  • Quotations, photos, graphics, cartoons, etc.
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December 28, 2015
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10pFlower1The organization Bioregional works with communities (as well as businesses, governments, and other entities) to create better places where people can “live happy, healthy lives within the natural limits of the planet.”

They base their work around the following 10 principles of the One Planet Living framework:

Health and Happiness
Encouraging active, sociable, meaningful lives to promote good health and well-being

Equity and Local Economy
Creating bioregional economies that support equity and diverse local employment and international fair trade

Culture and Community
Respecting and reviving local identity, wisdom and culture; encouraging the involvement of people in shaping their community and creating a new culture of sustainability

Land Use and Wildlife
Protecting and restoring biodiversity and creating natural habitats through good land use

Sustainable Water
Using water efficiently in buildings, farming, and manufacturing. Designing to avoid local issues such as flooding, drought, and water course pollution

Local and Sustainable Food
Supporting sustainable and humane farming; promoting access to healthy, low-impact, local, seasonal, and organic diets; and reducing food waste

Sustainable Materials
Using safe and sustainable products, including those with low embodied energy, sourced locally, made from renewable or waste resources

Sustainable Transport
Reducing the need to travel, and encouraging low- and zero-carbon modes of transport to reduce emissions

Zero Waste
Reducing waste, reusing where possible, and ultimately sending zero waste to landfill

Zero Carbon
Making buildings energy efficient and delivering all energy with renewable technologies

The following are the most established One Planet Communities that Bioregional has been working with around the world:

  • BedZED, Hackbridge, Sutton (south London), UKBioregional-BedZED

And these One Planet Communities are currently being developed:

  • Zibi, Ottawa, Canada

One Planet Communities is a voluntary program, and it is not a certification program. Similar frameworks that do offer certification include the: Living Community Challenge, and LEED for Neighborhood Development, and STAR Communities. (Check back soon for a new post about those rating and certification programs.)

Related post:

Sustainable Neighborhoods and Communities

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July 30, 2015
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We post morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page every day. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. But if you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” the page).

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the wide variety of topics that it covers. You are welcome to comment on the posts and we hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last couple of months:

  • Tesla’s Powerwall battery for home energy storage
  • Climate Rides (and Hikes)
  • Hawaii commits to 100% renewable electricity
  • Toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are really biocides
  • Goldman Prize winner videos
  • RoundUp’s links to cancer and other health and environmental harms
  • Environmental education, curriculum resources
  • Fossil-fuel-free funds have outperformed conventional stock-market funds
  • Community Choice local renewable power programs
  • Mother Earth News Fairs
  • Portland generating electricity via turbines in city water pipes
  • Wind turbines installed on the Eiffel Tower
  • New films: Inhabit, Oil and Water, Dryden, Merchants of Doubt, Mother, Revolution, Planetary
  • Quotations, photos, graphics, cartoons, etc.
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May 19, 2015
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