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U.S. Recycling Efforts Stumble as Chinese Trade Rules Sink In

Bales of recycled paper and cardboard at the Fort Hood recycle center, the largest recycling facility in the U.S. Army. Paper and plastic that once went to China for processing is now barred for importation. [Image credit: U.S. Army Environmental Command] Many U.S. households continue to recycle cardboard, paper, and plastic, but a change in China’s import rules is sending more of this material to landfills and incinerators as recycling programs in many communities falter. Once a major importer of U.S. recycled plastics and paper, China imposed strict new rules on what could be imported in early 2018. The decision effectively…

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Made in California: A Curated Collection of Handmade Furniture from Honeyed Figs

We first got to know Tamar Barnoon, a set designer and stylist, when she sent us photos of one of her interiors projects, a 1920s Spanish-style house in the Los Feliz hills for a creative couple (see Kitchen of the Week: In Los Feliz, A Moody, Romantic Spanish Modern Update). Now Barnoon has launched a line of furniture and home goods called Honeyed Figs, collaborating with a select group of LA artists and furniture makers. “I’m selling what I consider to be furniture ‘basics’ akin to the little black dress or a good suit in a wardrobe,” Tamar says. “All of the…

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2019 Is the Year of Energy Codes

If there’s a defining theme for the building sector in 2019, it’s energy codes. Actions to update the rules that cities and states set to determine how effectively new residential and commercial buildings use energy are progressing on several fronts across the U.S. These regulations define the next generation of building design and construction in terms of energy performance, and because those projects will be in operation for decades, performance matters a great deal — now more than ever. You see, 2018 culminated with a preponderance of evidence that climate change is real and the time for action is immediate.…

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Frugal Happy: We Have a Floor on Our Ceiling

Editor’s Note: This post is one of a series by Chris Stratton and Wen Lee, a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are turning their 1963 suburban house into an all-electric, zero-net energy home. They chronicle their attempts at a low-carbon, low-cost, and joyful lifestyle on their blog Frugal Happy. This post was written by Chris. When considering what materials to use for the interior of the common area, we wanted at least one surface to have some character. Drywall is great in many ways. It’s durable, inexpensive, fire-resistant, versatile, and you can cover walls and ceilings…

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High Humidity in the Attic

Jason Advani thought he was on the right track when he insulated the bottom of the roof deck in his walk-up attic with closed-cell spray foam. As planned, the R-40 worth of insulation has drastically reduced his heating bill, but now he faces another, unexpected problem. “Since then, the space has been plagued with very high humidity,” he writes in a Q&A post. “It’s at 60% to 70%, maybe higher. I’m forced to run a dehumidifier up there. I’m spending more money on running the dehumidifier year-round than I previously was to heat the house!” With outside temperatures ranging between…

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Is the Green New Deal Just a Pipe Dream?

Denmark now gets 42% of its electricity from wind. The share of electricity generated from wind, solar and other renewable sources has shot up in Europe over the last two decades. Portugal, Germany, and Ireland are other renewable leaders. [Image credit: CGP Grey / CC BY] The Green New Deal that Democratic lawmakers recently proposed would confront climate change by eliminating America’s net carbon emissions within a decade. If enacted, it would transform America’s energy industries and slash pollution, improving public health. This proposal is a non-binding resolution, not an actual bill, and many of the proposed measures are long…

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