water use

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How Much Water Does it Take to Turn on a Light Bulb?

A look at the water intensity (or water footprint) of electricity generation

Posted on Apr 17 2014 by Alex Wilson

In last week's blog I took a look at some of the water conservation features in our new house, but I began the blog by addressing the relationship between water and energy. That got me curious, so I’ve been digging deeper into this water-energy nexus, examining the water-intensity of our different electricity sources.


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Image Credits:

  1. Scott Olson - Getty Images
  2. BrightSource Energy
  3. Stirling Energy Systems

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The Uncertain Future of Phoenix and Las Vegas

As the Colorado River dries up, Southwestern cities may be doomed

Posted on Jan 8 2010 by Martin Holladay

The American Southwest is running out of water. For a powerful reminder, if any is needed, of why builders in Western states should integrate water-conservation strategies in all new buildings, check out a new book by James Lawrence Powell, Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming and the Future of Water.

Powell’s message is stark: according to scientists’ best predictions, millions of Americans living in the Southwest will face unprecedented water shortages in the next few decades.


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Image Credits:

  1. Matt Geyer

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In Defense of the Lawn

Lawns can be natural and low-maintenance

Posted on Jul 15 2009 by Martin Holladay

Environmentalists often bad-mouth lawns. The anti-lawn stance was summed up in a recent essay by Kerry Trueman, who wrote, “The typical American lawn is pretty much an unmitigated environmental disaster.”


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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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Can Swimming Pools Be Green?

Calculating the energy and water-use penalties of backyard pools

Posted on May 12 2009 by Martin Holladay

Question: What do the following homes have in common?

  • An 11,000-square-foot home in St. Charles, Ill., touted as “one of the greenest homes in the Chicago area.”
  • A 5,100-square-foot home at Live Oaks Estates in San Rafael, Calif., marketed as green by an Eco-Broker.
  • A 6,100-square-foot home in West Vancouver, British Columbia, aiming for LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Gold certification.
  • A 3,000-square-foot home on Block Island, R.I., aiming for LEED for Homes Silver certification.

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Image Credits:

  1. Aquidneck Properties
  2. Fine Homebuilding

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Rating the Greenness of Gardens

Posted on Jan 28 2009 by Martin Holladay

A proposed point system for rating the sustainability of landscape plans

NEW YORK, NY — Efforts are underway to create a system to rate the sustainability of gardens and landscaping plans. Three organizations — the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the United States Botanic Garden — have joined forces to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable landscape designs.


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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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Green Paint Sets the Scene

Live from the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas

Posted on Jan 20 2009 by Martin Holladay

As the plane descends into the Las Vegas airport, every arriving visitor notices the stark contrast between the desert environment of southern Nevada and the modern city of swimming pools and irrigated shrubbery. After arriving today, I took the shuttle bus to the Bally Hotel, across the street from the Bellagio. The Bellagio overlooks an 8-acre artificial lake — in essence, the largest swimming pool in town, in a town known for its large pools — where a few lonely ducks swim in the chlorinated water.


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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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