ASK INHABITAT: Your Green ‘Dear Abby’

by , 01/21/07
filed under: Announcements

Ask Inhabitat, Inhabitat Q&A, owl illustration by Jill Fehrenbacher, Owly McOwl, green owl

This weeks marks the launch of a new column here at Inhabitat in which we answer your questions about all things eco-design, in a public forum on our site. While we normally do our best to respond to reader feedback via email, we’d like to extend to readers the specialized expertise of our team of writers, all of whom work within the green design world as architects, interior designers, fashion designers, furniture / product designers and green consultants. Starting this week, ‘Ask Inhabitat’ will become your green ‘Dear Abby’ (or ‘Dear Habby’ as the case may be). So no matter what your question, from green roofs to sustainable fashion to “that green insulation product whose name you just can’t remember,” we’ve got you covered.

Please feel free to start submitting questions to us here – via the comment form – or email us personally at Inhabitat at We look forward to hearing from you!

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    […] Rick Lee’s Night Owl lamp might have something to do with it’s resemblance to our local Inhabitat mascot, Habby, — but you have to admit this 3D printed lamp is pretty charming, even to non-Inhabitants, […]

  3. alex February 13, 2007 at 7:13 am

    hi there, i have found your website very useful and inspiring but was wondering if you could help me further. i am working on a design project involving cork, and would recycle waste cork. can you suggest places that could supply me with cork granules- preferably for minimal cost/free? thanks

  4. George January 27, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I want to switch my home to compact fluorescent bulbs, and in particular, use them in my recently remodeled family room. But much as I like the idea, I don’t like the spiral look of CFL’s, it’s ugly and would detract from the look, especially in the family room with inset spots and so forth. Are there CFL’s that are actually attractive, or covers that I can use to enhance the attractiveness? And where would I find them?

  5. Mary Kayser January 23, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Green Abby,
    Any help would be appreciated with this problem. I am building a new house and would like to incorporate an earth tube. I have read that there are problems with mold. Are there any published specs on how exactly to build one and also how to eliminate the mold?
    Thanks, Mary

  6. andrewkfromaz January 23, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Which computer manufacturer is most green? I’m going to be looking to puchasing another desktop in the next month or so, as well as a laptop sometime this quarter, and I’m not sure if Apple is the way I want to go, due to their low rating by Greenpeace.

  7. Tom Eggert January 23, 2007 at 9:59 am

    A number of months ago, you featured new LED bulbs from Philips. I have tried to search for those on the Philips website, to no avail. do you have any additional information on when these beautiful bulbs might become available, and how much they will cost?


  8. Abdoul'Aziz January 23, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Need information and counsel on building an adobee house the technics applied.I live in a hot dry country where mud is the tradition:would like to use the same mud to build affordable housing and suited for hot weather.Or if i can be put in contact with morocan or new mexican builder for a possible project in Niger republic west Africa

  9. Moe January 23, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Thanks much for the valuable information and linkage, I’m forwading your posts to friends all the time. I feel lucky to be living in San Francisco, where a lot of green products are available, but I must confess sometimes it’s a chore to find the store that’s carrying exactly what I need (not all producers list carriers on their websites ( but thank YOU, gypsy and loic!) –and some too ambushed to resond to requests). I was wondering if you knew of a site that lists local suppliers of green products– for instance, where exactly in SF can I buy hemp jeans? I would love to be able to do an online search for locally available green porducts that’s not a treasure hunt.

    Re: bamboo. Some folks in Berkely are taking it upon themselves to grow the bamboo they require for small projects. If it’s within the scope and need of the artisan, I think it’s a great solution.

  10. JOYce January 22, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Your blog and column is extraordinary in content and style – a real gift in my mailbox each day. Thank you!

    Dear HABby,

    My son’s school Reno Committee, here is Vancouver Canada, is wanting to add a awning to the entrance. I’d like to be able to present to the ommittee a green roof option. Although technically an awning is not a roof so is there some comparabably priced green awning options that you can recommend or steer me to that would be a viable option for the rainy northwest winters and dry summers. I was quite intrigued about the living wall system that you recently posted and was wondering if the wall design could be used in an awning application?

  11. devo January 22, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    i have an 18,000 gallon water tank i will be using for rain water collection. i have been comparing the various filtration systems. what is better, ozonation systems, or uv-charcoal filtations? thanks

  12. William January 22, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Best wishes for your venture into Green Abby. I like your newsletters so far, and the photography has been excellent.
    I guess your success in Green Abby will depend a lot on your network of eco people who can provide expert eco answers. Your role as integrator and news disseminator of eco matters will grow over time I’m sure. By passing on eco info you empower the growing eco generation for the benefit of the world at large. A worthy endeavor!

  13. David Eubank January 22, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Green or vouge? I like your new column, and wanted to respond to green products. Bamboo what a great material until you look at the road well traveled. The CO2 issue is just one concern. How is it manufactured also should be looked into. The bottom line is region goods, this may take reiventing the wheel but may be the future. Recycled materials harvested from everywhere around us can get us a long way down the road to a cleaner more sastainable planet, but don’t be to qwick to dance for joy because when ever a product is mass produced there is a down side, waste and polution. The key is to keep process and materials to a minimum use vs waste factor. Where I live in Montana we manufacture MDF High Denstiy Fiber Board, used in the maunfacture of furniture, cabinets, shelving, counter tops, flooring and evreything that solid wood could be used for in the past. It is made from Forest Product Waste, saw dust. However the process to make the material is a major source of polution to the air and water, not to mention the transportation of product and material to make and market the product. So is it a good solution. You could say it is green friendly just as much as Bamboo. It uses what was once waste, waste that clog streams and rivers and over burdened forest floors now is a highly valued forest product that saves trees and the forest. It is a product made and sold regoinally, through out Northe America and has wide applications for its use. You will find it on the base layer of your lament flooring also. So is it better that Bamboo or worse. I am sure that to compress and stick that Bamboo flooring together is at best an enviromental nightmare just like MDF. An new company is starting up
    Below fron an article in High Counrty News Oregon that will use old news paper the same way as saw dust is used in MDF. Heres the article that appeared in the High Country News.

    (Earth Partners, a company in Baker City, Ore., wants to turn old newspapers into new furniture. The company plans to break ground in eastern Nevada this spring for a plant that will produce high-quality fiberboard out of newspapers recycled from Reno and Sacramento. Company president Ron Pratt says the smooth gray panels can be used for siding, doors, dressers, desks, cabinets and more. The Nevada plant, which Pratt hopes will be the first of many, will consume the daily newspaper leavings of a city of 300,000 to manufacture more than 2 million four-by-eight-foot sheets a year. The equipment was designed by Compak Systems, a British company that is building similar plants in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. There the panels will be made of wheat straw and sugar cane wastes)

    The botton line is consume less and use what you have recycle, redesign, buy for life. Don’t waste your money on junk, buy the highest quality you can afford,, Antique furniture? It was made well and to last for generations not like the quick and ready to assemble junk offered by the giant furniture manufactures to day.


  14. Frank T January 22, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Greetings Green Abby,

    Love your site. Great to see all the new ideas, and technologies designed to save energy, the environment etc.

    Loved your article on the LIVING HOME. Great stuff. BUT the asking prices for the home were over $600K. We need to bring such designs down to affordable limit.

    I think far too many architects design for the wealthy rather than for middle income groups, and lower income groups, who could benefit the most from their expertise, and who by far make up the largest market!

  15. Sean January 22, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Dear Inhabitat,

    I am an Industrial Designer, currently in Cleveland, OH. I am looking to find a product design job that is eco-conscious. Can you point me in the right direction?


  16. Colleen January 22, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Greetings Green Abby,

    Really enjoying your site and learning about ‘green’ innovations. In my work as a designer (primarily kitchen, bath, offices, etc.) I am noticing that many clients are having reactions to the ‘die off’ from new products. Do green products offer alternative finishes / fabrication? Or does the term ‘green’ primarily refer to sustainability and renewability?

    Thanks in advance for any enlightenment,


  17. Michelle January 22, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Can you direct me to green building/remodeling resouces in the Kansas City area?

  18. Chris Rothery January 21, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Inhabitat,

    I’m a regular reader and make my living as a furniture designer/builder. I confess I’m in love with bamboo, Particularly the varieties produces by Smith and Fong and Teragren. I use it as often as I can and would love to spout to every client about it’s sustainability, renewability and ecologically friendly properties but there is one thing that bothers me about this product. It seems perfect in every way except for the fact that it was brought to me via a massive trans oceanic co2 belching contianer ship.

    Do I just suck it up and say “it’s a step in the right direction” or is there some other way to get around the co2 issue?

    Chris Rothery
    Onlyhuman Modern Furniture
    Victoria BC

  19. Peggy Farabaugh January 21, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Greetings from Vermont!
    …and thanks for your outstanding website. We’re refinishing the basement and creating a game room for the kids. We are using green building materials and FSC certified furniture but are unsure about how to best design for and purchase green electronics. We want to select our HDTV and associated stereo equipment first and then custom build any necessary built ins to house them. Can you steer us in the right direction to find sytlish green electronics for our new family room? Thanks,

    Peggy and Ken Farabaugh

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