Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Technology & Products Should Make Mold in Homes Old News

With More Storms and Flooding, Mold Proof Building and Renovation Is a No Brainer

by Paul E. McGinniss

Hyde Park, New York. Picture of Flooding in 2011 Caused by Hurricane Irene. Photo By Abbe Romer Via YNN

I live north of NYC in the Hudson Valley/Catskills in the excellent, country cool Ulster County, NY. There's been a great deal of rain and precipitation lately. We're the source of New York City drinking water. Having lots of water is a seriously good thing as opposed to dealing with droughts common in other areas. But, too much water can also be a serious problem, not just because it results in flooding, but also because too much water and persistent humidity can create mold problems and serious Indoor Air Quality issues for homes.

As a real estate broker and green building and renovation consultant, I see too many homes that have serious water and indoor humidity issues resulting from: wet basements, leaky roofs, skylights and windows as well poorly vented bathrooms and laundry rooms. I dare to say the majority of houses we see for sale have some kind of water infiltration issue, too much humidity, bad indoor air quality, or mold somewhere in the house.

Luckily, new technology and clever products now exist which prevent mold growth. Thus, with smart planning, protecting oneself from mold and creating healthy indoor air quality is readily achievable.

Obviously, the first step in preventing mold growth is stopping water and moisture from coming into your house so that mold can not grow in the first place. A new structure needs to be protected from top to bottom to stop water or moisture from seeping in. When building a new house, make very certain that the foundation is done properly. This is especially important if you have a basement or crawl space where water or moisture can seep in from walls, the earth or the slab floor. When renovating, don't necessarily start with a new kitchen or new floors. Begin with looking at the basement, the roof and the exterior to make sure no moisture is getting in. And, if you are going to renovate the bathroom, use totally mold resistant or mold proof products, including the paint.

Here are a few cool mold-proof products which help make homes more healthy and resilient:


CertainTeed AirRenew gypsum board

I spotted CertainTeed's AirRenew gypsum board on BEC Green. It's totally awesome because it not only inhibits mold growth, but it also sucks VOCs from the air. We shouldn't have interior furnishings or products that off gas
chemicals like VOCs in the first place. But, having wall board that won't let mold grow and might suck up some extra toxicity can't be a bad thing. Now, if they would only combine this mold proof, air purifying product with phase change material (PCM) drywall which acts as a heat mass. PCM absorbs heat in summer keeping the air cool. In winter PCM absorbs heat from passive solar heat and releases it when the sun goes down which keeps you warm on winter nights. A drywall that prevents mold, helps to heat and cool your house and also acts as an air filter. What's next? Well, making those walls interactive and Internet ready might not be such a bad thing now that I think of it.


Eco Red Shield™ Protected Lumber

There's an increasing amount of mold proof wood options, as well mold proof insulation options too. So, there is no need to worry about mold growing inside the frame of a house or behind interior walls. Eco Red Shield™ Protected Lumber is coated with non toxic chemical solids which protects the wood from mold, termites, wood-rot and even has added protection from fire. Anyone who has had water issues and needs to renovate should definitely opt for a wood product like this, especially if redoing a bathroom or undertaking a basement renovation. And, a new structure framed with this type of smart building material will add future value to a resale. Treated wood is not prohibitively expensive either in terms of added cost to an overall budget. It's stupid to be penny-wise and pound foolish, especially in this day and age when freaky storms and turbulent weather keeps popping up everywhere. You might just have water getting into your house no matter how much you plan for keeping it out.


EcoloBlu Atmospheric Water Generator

I wrote about this cute little bugger a few years back in New York House magazine after I met him at an X Prize Conference at the United Nations in NYC. You can get just any old dehumidifier to suck moisture out of the air, but the EcoloBlu not only does that, but also filters the water, purifies and stores it so you can drink it. You can even get a version of EcoloBlu that has its own solar panel so that if the grid goes down you can still generate purified drinking water. And, no more need to worry about storing bottled water for emergencies. With EcoloBlu you can also fill up your BPA free reusable water bottles with pure water and give up the insanity of buying bottled water. Plus, if you are worried about the quality of your tap water and don't have a point of use or whole house water filtration system, amazingly, EcoloBlu can actually also be used as a whole house filtration system as well.

Copyright Paul E. McGinniss 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

EcoWatch: Uniting the Grassroots of the Environmental Movement

When Almost One Million Internet Users Sign a Petition to Say No to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, You Know Something is Afoot!

by Paul E. McGinniss

This past week of environmental activism kind of blew me away.

After I read a post by on EcoWatch, "More than 800,000 Americans Tell the Senate: Stop the Keystone XL", I felt like we were indeed at a watershed moment. More like an eco-Tsunami.

How can one not feel something major has happened when you see Bill McKibben, founder, write: 
”The last 24 hours were the most concentrated blitz of environmental organizing since the start of the digital age." Wow.

This groundbreaking digital petition drive was organized by a group of more than 30 organizations and businesses with the goal of sending the Senate half a million messages in under 24 hours. Well, they surpassed their goal by hundreds of thousands of emails. Incredible.

And, you know this kind of organized, passionate response is going to grow even more. Next time it's going to be more than a million emails. AIDS activists said correctly: Silence=Death. I guess the environmental movement is far from dead.

As Josh Fox of Gasland fame wrote on Ecowatch this week: "We Won't be Silenced".

The braniac frackers on Capitol Hill made a huge mistake arresting you, Josh. Not just because it was unconstitutional, but because now there are many more of us supporting you!

When you see a coalition of grassroots environmental groups getting together and gathering so many email signatures so fast to tell our elected officials their opinion about anything, it shows all the power of our combined voices. I was one of those emails.

This all makes me think. Just because a herd sticks together or can be corralled does not mean it is a passive herd! It's a big loud "heard". Watch out world because those of us active in the environmental space, in many ways, feel like we are just getting started. You ain't seen nothing yet.

And, FYI: Ecowatch is the most amazing, must read information source about environmental issues. The founder/editor of EcoWatch, Stefanie Penn Spear, is one of my favorite people of all times. (And, we're both fans of NYC's Bubby's!)

EcoWatch is now partnered with Waterkeeper Alliance too. (Shout out to Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance).

Marc Yaggi of Waterkeeper Alliance and Stefanie Penn Spear of EcoWatch.

Copyright Paul E. McGinniss 2012