Innovative solutions for creating healthy, efficient, eco-friendly homes

March 2004

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Installing Insulation

In the previous installment we reviewed how to determine the optimum amount of insulation, considering the nature of the construction, the fuel type and the climate. In this installment we will consider a building™s thermal envelope, the type of insulation appropriate to each surface, and how to install it properly. The Thermal Envelope Building scientists define a building™s thermal envelope as the collection of building surfaces (walls, floors, ceilings, etc.) that separate the conditioned (heated and/or cooled) spaces from the outdoors.

Fresh Indoor Air

Have you had a lingering cough, headache, nausea or feel fatigued way too frequently? It may not be a cold or a virus it could be your house making you sick. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks poor indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health. Air pollution levels inside a home can be two to five times higher (and occasionally 100 times higher) than outside. And Americans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors.


Some call it sick-building syndrome; some call it environmental illness. And others know it as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS).

Let It Shine

Unlike sunlight that blankets everything in its path, landscape lighting can provide islands of light and shadow that highlight selected areas, including trees, shrubs, flower beds, walkways and other elements of your yard and grounds. In addition to increasing curb appeal, illuminating your home's exterior extends the usability of many areas for you and your family to enjoy safely. A deck or patio that is a terrific place for breakfast or lunch can also be a great place to dine, entertain or just plain relax after sunset, with the appropriate lighting.

Paint Like a Pro

When it comes to painting projects around the house, many Americans become consumed with selecting just the right hue, finding the perfect faux finish, and then starting the masking and taping. But experts say one of the most important ways to ensure a successful paint job is by using the proper brushes and rollers. Knowing what type of bristles to use, the proper brush size, how much nap your roller should have for a specific surface, and what effects varying qualities of brushes and rollers have on the painted surface are all key.

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