ALL POSTS IN Green

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Residents in Knoxville, home of HGTV.com, may notice an addition to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens — a small house solely made of shipping pallets. A local organization, Knox Pallet House, is behind this repurposed home. Knox Pallet House aims to provide quality, affordable housing to the radically poor and homeless by building homes made of shipping pallets donated from local businesses.

Knox Pallet HousePhoto Credit: R. Bentley Marlow

The model house at the Botanical Gardens aims to bring public attention to temporary housing for the homeless. Residents can interact with the house while listening to music from local artists during the city’s annual Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival this weekend. The ultimate goal — for the city to make building code exceptions to allow for a pallet house subdivision to be built around a community shower, laundry and kitchen facility for the homeless.

Watch More About Knox Pallet House>>

Check out our interview with project leads Bentley Marlow and Prat Singh.

Design Happens: What was your inspiration for this project?

Bentley and Prat: The inspiration came from two architects with I-BEAM Design in 1999. Their mission was to provide housing for Eastern Europe’s refugee population. We felt there was a strong possibility this could be an excellent model for housing Knoxville’s homeless population because it is a fact that housing first is the only proven and effective way to approach homelessness issues in any community.

DH: What is your ultimate goal for the pallet house?

B and P: The ultimate goal for Knox Pallet House is to start a dialogue in our city to explore the possibility of developing a housing community for Knoxville’s homeless population.

DH: How long is the display open?

B and P: From sunrise to sunset through April 14th

DH: How long have you been working on this project, and how many volunteers have contributed?

B and P: The construction took a total of three weeks because we were building outside of our regular schedules. The actual construction moves pretty quickly once it gets going. We had eight volunteers and several community business and organization contributions. This project would not have been possible without the efforts of every single one of them. This is why we think Knoxville is a great place for this project to take off. This city is exceptionally collaborative — it is a really unique place on the map.

What organizations make a difference in your community? Tell us in the comments below.

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Spring is officially here as of last week, but unofficially here according to my local weather report. This means we still have time to prep our homes for the upcoming seasons. I think we can all agree it was a less than enjoyable winter (thank you, polar vortex!), and my energy bill certainly saw the effects of that.

There are simple ways you can make your home more energy efficient both inside and outside to lower your bill. How? By outfitting your home with the proper window treatments. Choosing the right ones can help reduce heat loss from your home in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Here are some top picks and their benefits:

Window Awnings

Window Awnings

© Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman; Photography by Edward Addeo

Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain up to 77 percent. They’re not only beneficial to your outdoor space, but they’re stylish, too. For even more protection, choose a light-colored canvas to reflect more sunlight in the coming months.

Blinds

Shutters

Design by Susan Anthony

Window blinds are better at reducing summer heat than keeping out the cold. When interior blinds are completely closed, they can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent. Not bad!

More Money-Saving Tips

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I’ve been looking for a way to use fewer paper towels at home. I’ll rip off the smallest amount possible to clean up a spill, or I’ll use one towel until it can’t take any more. I started doing this for several reasons, one being the exorbitant amount of money it costs to continuously supply a home with paper products. It really adds up! That’s why I love these reusable cloth “paper” towels. Not only is it a more environmentally-friendly solution, it would also save a ton of money in the long run. All you have to do is wash your towels and snap them back together for a new, clean roll of towels. Plus, there are all kinds of cute prints to choose from. Could it get any better?

reusable paper towels

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For the past three days, I have been dog-sitting four affectionate and slobbery Basset Hounds. It has been three days’ worth of floppy ears, thundering howls and melancholy eyes. For the most part, it has been an enjoyable experience, but when I woke up this morning to find the laundry room floor covered in an unmentionable liquid surprise, I was not as delighted as I had once been. After scouring the house to find something to clean with, the only product I could find was vinegar. Because this mess was a particularly icky one, I just wasn’t sure if vinegar would cut it. Needless to say for any of you who have experience cleaning with this particular agent, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it thoroughly clean up all remnants of the laundry room disaster, it left the floor sparkling and smelling incredibly clean and fresh. No more will I be a slave to harsh chemicals and expensive labels – vinegar has set me free.

MORE: VINEGAR’S MANY USES >>

Basset HoundPawNation’s Cute Pet of the Day: Hank

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I’ve always been a news junkie. I take time out every morning to read the headlines to learn what’s going on in the world. Frankly, I have no patience for anyone who isn’t up-to-date with world events. In my reading this morning, this “Trash Made Into Homes” story from CNN.com caught my eye. It’s a story that captures human ingenuity at its best!

Waste — what to do with it? It’s a worldwide problem that’s mounting. The city of Karachi, Pakistan produces ten thousand tons of waste every day. Much of that is non biodegradable and is burned or goes to landfills. But one local environmentalist thinks she has found the answer.

Nargis Latif is devoting her life to protecting the environment in the most over-populated city in Pakistan (Karachi). Her project, Gul Bahao, deals with two major issues — reducing waste and an increasing need for housing.

Gul Bahao works in conjunction with local factories to collect clean waste that they simply don’t need. The waste is then used to fill up large sacks (or bricks), which are then bound together to form structures. The homes are low in cost and put up in a matter of hours.

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Turning your ordinary writing utensils into your favorite pens, the Seven Year Pen greens up your office supplies, writing up to 6.5 feet a day for 7 years (uh, can you say “hand cramp?”). Available in colorful designs and clever graphics, the best part about these pens is that they’re eco-friendly — reducing waste by increasing the barrel size inside each pen up to six times the amount in your everyday BIC.

EXTRA: Eco-Friendly Home Improvement and Building Products >>

Happy Earth Day!

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Did you know the average family spends $2,300 per year on energy costs? Think about what you could do with that $2,300. (I, personally, would nab that Gus sectional I’ve been coveting for the past 6+ months.) Matt McGovren, brand manager for Nexia Home Intelligence, shares a few tips and tricks for saving energy and making your home a bit greener. Some are easy changes you can start today, and you’ll instantly see lower bills and more money in your pocket. Plus, each small change makes a great impact on the environment, too.

Save Money on Your Energy Bill With These Tips From HGTV's Design Happens Blog

Maintain Your Interior — About half of energy costs are spent heating or cooling your home. Installing a programmable thermostat that’s compatible with a home automation system can help reduce energy use and save money on those bills each month.

Hit the Lights — Use motion sensors to control both interior and exterior lighting. Using sensors to control lighting is perfect for busy families or anyone who can’t remember (or can’t be bothered) to turn off the lights when they’re not needed.

Don’t Be a Vampire — Appliances that are plugged in but not in use still generate electricity. In fact, vampire power is estimated to account for one percent of global C02 emissions — but it’s an easy habit to kick: just unplug. Schedule your products to only be on when needed using products that control lights and small appliances when you’re at home and away.

Stop Running — Most Americans use between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day. This Earth Day, make a pledge to conserve water by taking shorter showers and turning the tap off when you’re scrubbing your dishes.

Set Reminders — Get email or text alerts when it’s time to change your HVAC filter. Having a fresh filter keeps your system running efficiently, saving you money.

Looking for more tips and ideas? Green your home this spring with energy efficiency updates from HGTV.com.

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Christmas lights are one of my favorite things about the holiday season. This year especially, I’ve been known to frantically scream out “Christmas!” every time I see a holiday light display – I’m certain everyone I know is asking Santa for an early present in the form of earplugs.

Light displays may be a warm and cozy staple of the holiday season, but there’s no getting around the fact that they cost a lot to run. If it’s been a couple of years since you replaced your light set you might be wasting energy – and therefore money.

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This month, Google lifted the veil off its massive and beautiful data centers. These facilities are typically shrouded in secrecy because they are the brains behind tech companies.

The company has been working on building its data centers for over 10 years. Google’s centers take advantage of renewable energy and are environmentally friendly.

Google

Google

It looks like a child’s playground, doesn’t it?

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Perhaps I’ve been influenced by my very Southern mother, or maybe it’s just from spending too much time glued to Pinterest, but I use vinegar for everything. Ev-er-y-thing.  I keep all types of vinegar – white, apple cider, red wine, tarragon – stocked in my cabinets. It’s handy for cooking, cleaning, and what most of my friends refer to as “weird voodoo home remedies” (a spoonful of vinegar a day keeps the doctor away!).

Vinegar is not just for salads.

One of the best things about keeping vinegar in your home is that it’s so cheap. You can usually get a big bottle of white vinegar for under a dollar, and not too much more for apple cider vinegar. On top of that, it’s edible – no harsh toxins, no lingering chemical smell – making it the perfect cleaning solution if you have children or pets.

Read the List

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You know the drill, you buy a kid a toy and they just want to play with the box. So why not skip a step with Box Play for Kids stickers?

box play sticker kid toy recycling

These ingenious (and frankly adorable) stickers allow you to turn your recycling into dozens of new toys, sparking your child’s creativity and lightening your trash load as well. What’s not to love about that?

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Is your city or town littered with abandoned storefronts (while new ones are being built every day)? I’m not even a “green” person and this kind of thing drives me nuts. Why can’t retailers take over an already-established storefront now and then?

I got on that soapbox to provide insight as to why this story from Slate Magazine thrilled me. An abandoned Walmart storefront in McAllen, Texas has recently been refurbished into an award-winning public library.

McAllen Public Library
See More Library Photos

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On Monday’s episode of Design Star, the three remaining hopefuls were challenged to create a functional home — complete with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area — all in a “tiny house” of less than 100 square feet. (See the designers’ finished homes here.) That got the team here at HGTV.com thinking: What would it be like to live in a house smaller than some people’s closets? After all, it’s a growing trend. Lili wrote a post about the micro-house movement back in February.

Exterior of Jay Shafer's Home and KitchenThe kitchen and exterior of Jay Shafer’s tiny house.  Photos courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

We asked Jay Shafer, who’s been living in a tiny house since 1997. He’s also the owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which builds several styles of ultra small-scale prefab homes (including the Box Bungalows used on Design Star.)

Want a peek inside his 100-square-foot home?

Continue Reading

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I love the burlap trend that I am seeing grace parties and weddings everywhere. Think beyond potato sacks and get creative! There are so many ways you can use burlap for your next gathering, whether it’s a dinner party, wine tasting, children’s party or wedding. The natural color and texture add charm to any setting. Plus, burlap is biodegradable and inexpensive.

There are a wide range of products now available for home decorating and entertaining made of burlap. Why not use a burlap runner for your dining table. This printed one is gorgeous. A simple, plain one would be great too, because you could use it everyday or for a variety of events. These embellished votive holders are simple and darling. And present your utensils beautifully in a basket dressed up with a burlap liner.

sources :: burlap table runner, votives, basket liner

When I spotted this burlap wine carrier on Etsy, I knew I had to share. I wouldn’t mind carrying this into a party at all. It’s so stylish and functional!

source :: wine carrier

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These recycled (or rather upcycled) tire pots I spotted on a blog dedicated to repurposed goods caught my eye. I love the different tread patterns and the way succulents look in them. When empty, they make light weight, durable storage containers. (And cute hats!)

Pots Made From Recyled Tires by UBeauty, HGTV design blog
Sold by UBeauty, the pots are made in Pakistan from 100% recycled tires in accordance with the “Certified for Compliance of Ethical Trading Initiative.” The small workshop where they are manufactured used to be a leather-crafting shop but had gone out of business. Using traditional methods, the craftsmen now make a living producing these vessels and containers.

How would you use them? For storage? Or for indoor or outdoor container gardens?

Tell us in the comments below.

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While it still looks like a toy race track to me, it seems this week’s What the…? was a bit too easy because everyone else guessed correctly. We’ll give it to Kate for not only answering first, but also using the exact words. (That makes two weeks in a row that our first guesser was right.)

Chaise Lounge

This funky-looking wood chaise longue is the signature piece of UK artist Tom Raffield who’s a master at bending wood using steam. For almost all of his furniture and lighting fixtures, Raffield incorporates the low energy method of manipulating wood known as steam bending, ”a traditional process steeped in history and culture.” If you’d like to learn more about his work and his commitment to sustainability, check out his gallery, online store and blog.

And remember, if you see an odd object, send it on in at designhappens@hgtv.com.

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Around this time last year, I planted several varieties of wildflowers in honor of National Wildflower Week — an annual celebration of the native flowers that pop up all over the country starting this season. My little beauties have wakened from their winter sleep and soon my plot of grass will transform into a colorful meadow. The sad news is that every state has an extensive list of endangered and severely threatened wildflower species. These once-thriving varieties are all endangered here in Tennessee:

Wildflower WeekAutumn Onion

More Wildflowers in Despair

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Every Arbor Day in elementary school, I’d step off the bus with a small potted tree in hand. I didn’t really know why, but I knew that within a few days, our yard would be home to another gorgeous growing tree. Now, I can truly appreciate founder J. Sterling Morton‘s goal that a designated day be set aside to plant trees and celebrate their importance in the community and in our lives.

Arbor Day How to Plant a TreeHGTV.com: Got Two Hours? Plant a Tree

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in 1872 with more than one million trees planted. Now, all 50 states and several countries worldwide recognize the holiday and strive to follow its founder’s original hopes and ideas. Show your commitment to stewardship this Arbor Day by planting a tree in your yard or in a container for your patio. I’ve curated a ton of helpful articles from HGTV.com after the jump.

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For some, doing something “green” on Earth Day feels forced. But what could be more natural, rewarding and eco-friendly for design types like us than repurposing old furniture, fixtures and architectural relics into chic new pieces for our homes. (And you can save money!) I consider myself a pretty creative person, but I would never have thought to turn an old headboard into a coat rack or a salvaged sink into a bird bath. Luckily, there are plenty of experts in the design world coming up with cool step-by-step projects that are good for the planet. Here are my favorite repurposed design ideas, five easy DIYs from HGTV.com that give tired and unused items a stylish new lease on life.

Brian Patrick Flynn Dining Room Eclectic ChairsHGTV.com: Paint Eclectic Chairs for a Cohesive Look

Way too often when I’m scouring Craigslist, I see a random dining room chair for sale and think, “What the heck would I do with one chair?!” Well, Brian Patrick Flynn suggests choosing an eclectic mix of chairs, painting them a unified color and reupholstering them in matching fabric for a fabulous we-belong-together look.

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