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

November 2001

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Houses That Really Work

Thirty years ago I was teaching physics at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and living in an old farmhouse. In winter, the best that could be said of my 1809 farmhouse's uninsulated walls was that they slowed the wind to a moderate breeze. Many were the nights my wife and I couldn't keep a candle lit and took to our bed for survival. Some sympathetic soul lent me a copy of Rex Roberts' Your Engineered House. In it, Roberts, an MIT-trained engineer, dissected the structures we call home into their major components and subjected each to two questions: 1.

Engineered Wood: The Best of New & Old

Since its earliest days, America's relationship with wood has been marked by determination and innovation. Faced with thick forests, the first settlers cleared the land, used the logs for building and launched the American timber industry. It's not surprising that wood was the first export from the Jamestown settlement in 1607.

Saving with Shade

A site plan showing the best places for windbreaks and shade trees in much of the U.S.We all know that trees improve our lives. They make our homes look better, clean the air and make outdoor activities more pleasant. Yet not everyone knows that trees also provide financial benefits.

Letting Nature Clean the Pool

The problem with swimming pools is what goes into them. To keep them safe, you have to add chemicals like chlorine, which not only detract from the swimming experience but cost serious money as well. Europeans, however, are increasingly turning to nature for an alternative. "Natural pools" aren't kept clean with chemicals. Instead, about half of the pool (or pond, as some call it) is set aside for plants that cleanse water naturally, such as lotus and water lilies.

A Fan With Filters

Ceiling fans move a lot of air, but they also move dust, smoke, pollen and other less-than-desired elements in the air. The Clairion 2 in 1 air cleaner/ceiling fan helps filter all those elements. The fan's blades hold snap-in filters that can trap airborne particles and odors. To make the collection process more efficient, the fan's hub emits ions that make it easier for dust and particles to attach themselves to the positively charged filters. The fans come in a variety of models and sizes.

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