Sustainable Living: When Nerds Meet Nature

Love has moved online, and not just for personal relationships. The matchmaking potential for business romances (aka partnerships) is a burgeoning area in which savoy innovators, with a social conscience, are building new platforms.
Nerds for Nature are the superhero-cupids of this new frontier, an eclectic mix of techies, hackers, activists and environmentalists in the San Fransisco Bay area. They noticed that, while the non-profit industry stood the most to gain by harnessing the low-cost and high-impact power of new technologies, they were the most reticent and unsure how to do so.
Victoria Bogdan, a NFN member, recently told The Grist, “We thought, if we could bring together the tech-capable with the environmental professionals, and facilitate an exchange of ideas – just begin that dialogue – that would be something new”. So Nerds for Nature got to work, launching officially one short year ago at the Code for Oakland civic hackathon. And the sparks are flying.
So far, Nerds for Nature is facilitating matches through their widely successful Speed dating events.  They also run a BioBlitz meet-up in McLauren Park where nature Nerds, scientists, and amateur naturalists embark on a scavenger hunt of sorts to identify as many species as possible using the iNaturalist app to record their findings.  This is the new equivalent of dinner and a movie for industry dating.
We will be following closely to see what genius brainchildren Nerds for Nature can take responsibility for in the future!

Green Tech: Unlocking the Power of Play

Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman are on a mission to show the world that the value of play can not only be measured in smiles but in very real economic and social terms.  Both Harvard students had volunteered traveled extensively in Africa and also shared a passion for soccer: the continent’s (and the world’s) most popular game.  In an engineering class they got the chance to marry these two passions, capitalizing on an opportunity to improve living conditions in African through the continent’s love of soccer.
What does such an ambitious project look like?  A sOccket, a small generator cleverly disguised as a soccer ball that charges as you play with it!  Three hours of LED illumination is stored in the sOccket per every half hour of playtime.  It can also charge small electronic devices like a cell phone.

This ingenious solution isn’t just making an economic impact by delivering renewable light energy to many rural areas.  There are important health benefits as well because most of the developing world still relies on on kerosene lamps that pose huge safety hazards: the fumes inhaled by children in kerosene-light homes is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

The sOccett vs. huge public health threats is been a game that’s garnered the attention of an international audience.
Today there are more than 6,000 sOcckets “kicking around”, literally, from Africa to Mexico to Brazil.  Uncharted Play, the organization founded by Matthews and Silverman to distribute their product received overwhelming support from corporate sponsors principally because of how easily and effectively the tool integrates into daily life.  As Matthews explained, “Why don’t we give you something that you already like to do and get what you need.”

And sOccket has yet another a new fan, President Obama.  During his recent trip to Africa his team set to work distributing the item to many African nations and on a tour of a facility that manufacturers the ball he even showed off some of his soccer skills! A huge goal for the two Harvard girls who knew just how powerful play could be.

Sustainable Living: Reuse Finds A Home In Furniture Design

With the concept of up-cycling having taken the world of interiors by storm, an interesting trend is emerging. Increasingly, sustainable living is a byproduct of a larger design intention: storytelling.  Furniture that is merely environmentally sound is taking a backseat to pieces which, endowed by their history-rich materials, provoke questions and challenge our beliefs about design.  Today ExchangeMyPhone features those leading the way in the burgeoning field.

The Historian
Los Angeles based furniture designer Stephen Kenn drew his inspiration for The Inheritance Collection from his grandfather, and the sense of duty and sacrifice of The Golden Generation.  His sofas, stools and loveseats made from one hundred percent reclaimed lumber, are suspended using recreated WW2 army belts and upholstered in fabric sourced from old US military uniforms.  The rusted buttons, embroidered names and the wear of the fabric create a tactical homage to those who have served in the armed forces.

The Inheritance Collection

Beside paying this respect Kenn’s second aim in creating the line is to build a truly local product.  He says that the relationships with the venders, carpenters, welders and seamstresses has evoked in him an even deeper connection to his community – a value literally sewn into his products. If you are interested in learning more about his process you can get a true insiders look here.

Stephen Kenn

The Agitators
Much like Kenn, Canadian lighting designers and founders of Castor Kei Ng and Brian Richer are not simply on a quest for sustainable living. Perhaps most central to their vision is creating household objects with a “sense of irreverence” (if you couldn’t tell from their head shots).  Their fire-extinguisher hanging laps, a staple of their line, are quintessential Castor: the duo are fascinated by the idea of turning the familiar and the mundane into a visual centerpiece.

Kei Ng and Brian Richer

Castor lighting

They accomplish this without changing the fundamental esthetic of the object but by simply re-framing it; “Keeping things simple and elegant is actually quite hard to do,” Richer admits.  Their burnt-out, industrial florescent fixture shades are a thought-provoking twist on original purpose of the object and ask the sort of philosophical questions Castor is known for provoking in their work. The invisible chandler, one of their best-selling items, is a further iteration of the same theme.

Castor

Castor hanging lights

The Diva of Demolition
In getting to know the stories behind up-cycled interiors it become clear that for most designers, art and their furniture are one in the same – making the leap from studio art to furniture production is a linear journey.  This is certainly true for Brooklyn sculptor-turned-craftsman Ariele Alasko who turns salvaged wood into geometric art.  Her most popular pieces include original headboards, coffee tables, and wall panels.  For Alasko, re-purposing her materials isn’t an eco-imperative, it is simply what makes sense for the warm, true-to-Brooklyn ascetic that defines her work. To see more check out her site!

Ariele Alasko

“I’m a builder, a fixer, and a do-it-myselfer. My favorite things in life are big tools, old wood, good pasta, and finding great materials in a dumpster. I grew up in California, and blindly moved to New York seven years ago when I was accepted into art school for sculpture. I instantly fell in love with the grungy part of Brooklyn, and within a month, we had moved into Bed-Stuy. I have lived in the same apartment for five years now, which has given me plenty of time to slowly “fix” a few things around the house: de-carpet stairways, tile in kitchen… you name it!”

salvaged wood into geometric art

 

Our sustainable travel recommendations – The Art of the Green Escape

Posted on February 18, 2013 | eco-economy, going green, green business, sustainable living

Coming off a long weekend and already craving another?  You’re not alone.  And thankfully, getting away doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg or generate a heavy carbon footprint. This week ExchangeMyPhone is bringing you some local, and sustainable, escape options sure to scratch you travel itch not far from wherever you call home.

Yogi’s Paradise
Fresh & Wyld Farmhouse is all about rejuvenation.  This Colorado farm-to-table bed and breakfast is complete with an organic retreat center, a community supported agriculture program/local food store and a gourmet organic restaurant that is considered a gem by guests and locals alike.  Weather you want to get muddy in the barn, begin a knitting project with Wyld’s home-spun yarn, or indulge in an on-site Swedish massage there is something for everyone in Paonia.  For yogis there is a special treat, a fully-loaded Asana schedule with a variety of teachers and varying approaches.  All this with a beautiful mountain backdrop.

organic Colorado farmhouse travel

Cowboy’s Kickback
Hacienda Corona de Guevavi in Nogales, Arizona is a romantic ranch that overlooks 36 acres of Santa Cruz riverbed.  The facade itself is a piece of art which boasts murals of indigenous Mexican scenes by the famous bullfighter-turned-artist Salvador Corona that has been meticulously preserved.  Daily diversions are sure to reconnect you with simple pleasures and include Western horseback riding, 265 acres of nearby lake water for swimming and fishing, exotic bird watching and 18 hole gulf course.  But the real treat comes after sunset: this particular area of Nogales is said to have some of the best star-gazing in the country and with a fire pit and your choice of dozens of patios, you’ll have the best seat in the house.

Nogales hacienda

The City Mouse’s Compromise

LA farmhouse
The B&B getaway might not be up everyone alley and not to worry because we have something for those folks as well. Located in the greater L.A. area South Pasadena’s Artists’ Inn Bed and Breakfast is an old world farmhouse smack dab in the middle of modern day conveniences.  This once-upon-a-time egg and poultry farm was originally built in 1895 and retains much of the charm of its roots.  Nestled on a quiet residential street, there will be no trouble finding things to do as countless boutiques and locally-sourced restaurants are within walking distance. And the easy commute will be music to the ears of L.A. dwellers sick of being stuck behind the wheel: you can take the Metro Gold Line light rail from downtown L.A. and Old Town Pasadena, a stone’s throw from the inn’s front door.

Hands-on in Vermont
If New York City isn’t delivering on the type of winter charm you were expecting this year its not too late to get it…in Vermont! How does some snowshoeing, warm quilts and Cabot Cheddar sound? With the Green mountain Nation Forest’s winding trails nearby, cozy fireplaces and a full organic breakfast Liberty Hill Farm Inn is perfect for a family getaway.  The Liberty is a true family farm with all the trappings – home-cooked meals and four growing kids sure to make you feel right at home.  Your little ones will also have tons to do, especially with all the farm chores to choose from including: cow-milking, egg-collecting, and bottle-feeding baby caves.  Too cute to resist!

Sustainable Vermont farm

Liberty Hill Farm Inn

Sustainable Living – small homes making a world of difference

The compact housing movement has been a buzz phrase dominating both design and sustainable living literature for years now. There are small house awards, organizations, a documentary, coffee table books and thousands of blog posts. But believe it or not, there is still something different to be said for minimalist structures that doesn’t have to do with hip urbanites on a space diets! Small homes have now moved into the forefront to community rebuilding efforts, most recently in disaster-stricken Haiti.

The types of homes making a mark are known as Earthbags, a name derived from the building blocks of the structures: earth, manure or concrete-filled sandbags that stack securely, essentially like Lego, to make construction an cinch. Though Earthbags have taken on many shapes the original prototype, developed by Iranian-American architect Nader Khalili, has a distinct beehive shape. The houses have become infamous also for their surprising strength. Earthbags are fire, flood and earthquake resistant, they also stand up to violent surroundings (a sad reality common among disaster zones where many struggle to procure bare necessities long after the event itself) and are blast and bullet resistant.

Spearheading the proliferation and production efforts in Barriere Jeudi, Haiti is Konbit Shelter. “A group of artists, builders, architects, and engineers, who, after the January 2010 earthquake, asked ‘how we could use our skills and resources to directly assist another community in a time of crisis?’ Konbit Shelter is a sustainable building project with the objective of sharing knowledge and resources through the creation of homes and community spaces in post earthquake Haiti.”

One of the huge advantages of the project is that it is ongoing and provides secure employment for many locals (as much as a third of the budget goes towards the salaries of the workers) while also equipping them with the construction knowledge to build their own homes at a very low cost yet with quality materials. Thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign (raising over $30,000!) the organization will be back on the ground this spring to break ground another community building. Keep tabs on the progress at Konbit Shelter’s site and blog.

Sustainable Living – body heat makes a comeback

Like many trends in the sustainable living movement it seems that, while we are constantly make new developments, many  draw their inspiration from ancient practices. And what’s a more ancient challenge than keeping warm?

Our ancestors had some pretty creative ways of tackling this issue especially during long, cold nights when space and money were limited. The simple and efficient solution was to harvest body heat. This meant that entire families shared beds, coworkers were often bedfellows and it was even quite common to share a bed with a stranger. Just a century ago the bed was simply not thought of as a private space.

Power of body heat

But don’t worry no one is suggesting that you do the same! Engineers and architects are, however, rediscovering the huge potential of harnessing body heat for an affordable, efficient energy alternative.

Swedes, for example, know all about the high cost of surviving the winter, which is probably why they are so advanced when it comes to body-heat technology. Thanks to savvy engines, they found a way to heat Stockholm’s Central station by intercepting and redirecting the heat released by some 250,000 daily commuters. Not only does this system heat the station but it generates enough excess heat to warm-up a 13 story building 100 meters away.

Stockholm's Central station

Perhaps it comes a no surprise then that the Swede-saturated state of Minnesota is leading the U.S. charge in body-heat harvesting. In Minneapolis, where winter temperatures can reach a soul-crushing five degrees Fahrenheit, the Mall of America astonishingly operates without any kind of central heating system. The mall’s engineers accomplished this by using passive solar heating and eight acres of skylights combined with the extra 100 watts of surplus natural heat emitted by a single body at any given time.

sustainable body heat harvesting - Mall of America

Though the home of haute couture might not often look to the American heartland for style inspiration, when it comes to the power of body heat Paris had a lot to learn from the Mall of America. This year Parisian architects from Paris Habitat revamped an urban metro station with the express purpose of making the structure self-heating. Their efforts were so successful that they were able to also heat a nearby public housing development.

Paris Habitat self-heating urban metro station

If the idea of body heat makes you a little squeamish, you’ll be glad to know that the heat generated is not actual body heat. The building’s ventilation systems traps the body heat which then heats a network of underground water tanks. Hot water then fills the heating pipes.

At ExchangeMyPhone we love the idea that simple, ancient technology can be redesigned to use existing energy that would otherwise be lost. Do you think we will be seeing more of body heat technology? Give us your two cents, or perhaps better said your 100 watts, in the comment section below.

Sustainable Living: How Chicago Streets Just Got Sweeter

Chicago is discovering that an apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away. It turns out that more fruit, of all kinds, keeps other societal ills at bay, like unemployment and obesity. This month the city is beginning to see the fruits of a partnership between Neighbor Capital (a grass-roots organization which aims to facilitate sustainable solutions to the challenges of health, jobs, and green spaces in marginalized communities) and StreetWise (a social program that offers “a hand up, not a handout” to the homeless and at risk population, traditionally though the sale of StreetWise Magazine). The organizations have teamed-up to create Neighbor Cards, mobile fruit stands that simultaneously fight unemployment and promote access to healthy, fresh produce.

The Neighbor Carts are stainless steel, very well designed and the leases are affordable. But it doesn’t stop there: StreetWise has also set up a training program for those looking to create job opportunities for themselves. Upon completing the fruit stand training, graduates receive tax ID numbers, their own licenses and even private bank accounts to manage their funds and revenue. Furthermore, with increased financial literacy education, the hope is that this will lay the groundwork for such individuals to find other business opportunities in the future. According to Treehugger, it is estimated that each fruit stand will create three jobs.

This fruit revolution was made possible by changes at the governmental level when summer legislation approved fruit stands (yes, they were formally illegal, if you can believe it). This came about as part of an effort to better serve the 450,000 city residents living in “food deserts”, where fresh fruit and vegetables are not available within walking distance. The ordnance mandates that no limit be placed on the number of licenses given to aspiring, entrepreneurial, fruit stand operators.

For the time being, those working with The Neighbor Carts are partnered with Chicago wholesalers as their produce source, but hopefully as the program expands venders can establish their own relationships with independent, local food sources like roof-top farms or community gardens.

At ExchangeMyPhone we couldn’t be happier to see the social-impact business model taking root in Chicago streets: the more the business grows, the greater the social good, and everybody benefits.

Tech innovation: The creative, creepy, crazy-cool world of 3D printing

Posted on October 08, 2012 | eco-economy, green business, innovation, makers, Start-up

By now, most of us have heard of what some people are calling the next big tech innovation, akin to the personal computer: rapid prototyping, aka 3D printing. When explaining the usefulness of this new advancement in plastics, one often hears about the “parts” scenario.  For instance, if you lose a screw for your glasses, a head for your screwdriver or your kid throws our their retainer out with their lunch, rather than going through the hassle of getting a replacement you can simply print one from a 3D printing template.

But practicality is only one of the advantages that 3D printing has to offer. As the medium proliferates, the ideas of what can be printed become more innovate, wacky and sometimes ridiculous. Here is ExchangeMyPhone’s round-up of the top 5 wildest 3D printing creations:

Bones & Organs
Though Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein might be the first thing that comes to mind when you picture someone printing a pancreas, the intersection of 3D printing and the medial world is anything but Haloween-ish; it is vastly improving the quality and longevity of lives. German scientists are already implementing the new technology into their pedagogy and have had great success printing artificial blood vessels and synthetic capillaries. The technique has also been implemented in the U.S. to create “bionic arms” for children with paralysis that are easily extended as the child grows.  Scientists liken it to a Lego approach: adjustable and easy to assemble so that the parents can even make the adjustments from home. Bone grafts have also been successfully printed and put to use. Looking forward, scientists are getting closer to perfecting the printable replacement organ.

Mummy Cloning
No, it is not the next movie franchise out to replace Twilight, its simply one of many ‘out-there’ application of 3D printing. Why is this necessary you ask? Well if you remember back to your Ancient Civ class, and King Tut’s mummy, you’ll recall how unique and well preserved it was: a tremendous resource for archeologists and just an awesome thing to gawk at. But, because King Tut is getting seriously old now, he can’t travel very much and stays mostly in Egypt. Now, thanks to 3D Printing however, there are two identical Tut mummies and the clone version is currently on display in New York. This was created using a Belgian 3D printer, and then freshened up by a makeup artist for increased authenticity. Our verdict: creepy AND cool.

¡Dios Mio, 3D Burritos!
Burrit0bot is 3D printing’s first Tex-Mex creation and it is getting hype as hot as its flavor. The brainchild, and consequent thesis project, of NYU Interactive Telecommunications grad, Marko Manriquez, Burrit0bot is still in revisions and doesn’t actually produce a burrito from scratch (you must supply the tortilla). It does, however, allow you to personalize your burrito preferences such as the critical guacamole salsa ratio from a mobile app.

And just in case you’re thinking that the Burrit0bot idea doesn’t have the same meat as the medical application of 3D printing, Manriquez begs to differ. “Burritob0t invites critical questions about the food we regularly consume, particularly in regards to fast food (labor practices, environmental consequences, nutritional value),” the Burritob0t website explains. “Mexican fast food is emblematic of the assembly line: it is mass-produced in an era of modern consumables, appropriating a false authenticity. Burritob0t, in turn, aims to encourage dialogue about how and where our food is grown, methods of production, environmental impact, cultural appropriation, and, perhaps most importantly: what our food means to us.”

Chocolate for Dessert
Brits might be known more for their tea habit than their sweet tooth but the biggest advancements in chocolate technology are coming out of England. The first chocolate printer was developed by Dr. Liang Hao at the University of Exeter who is now also the founder of Choc Edge, the company that distributes the printers, after the prototype sparked so much commercial interest. “We’ve improved and simplified the machine, so now it is really easy to use,” said Dr Hao, “You just need to melt some chocolate, fill a syringe that is stored in the printer, and get creative printing your chocolate.” So essentially, the technique remains unchanged the ink is merely replaced by yummy chocolate. We have a feeling Willy Wonka would approve!

There’s No Place like…Wiki
If you already depend on Wikipedia for most of your information, maybe its time you just give in, or better yet, move into the Wiki house. Design firm 00:/ has just unveiled their WikiHouse, 3D- printable house at the Milan Furniture Fair. The house gets its name from its open-source platform so anyone with a 3D printer can download and share the home’s templates.

What else makes this the coolest house on the block?
- Its a no-bolt construction
- Emphasizes locally-sourced materials
- Easy DIY construction
- NO POWER TOOLS NEEDED. Instead, the house is pieced together like a puzzle or an IKEA bed
The WikiHouse operates under the creative commons license which facilitates the sharing of new solutions among users and promotes a global dialogue between developers and the public.

Sustainable Living – Doing the wash? Throw the planet in too.

Posted on October 01, 2012 | eco-economy, green business, makers

Fashionistas and nanoscientists don’t sound like they’d run in the same sustainable living circles. But things are changing in London where researchers from University of Sheffield and the London College of Fashion have put their heads together to develop a liquid laundry additive called CatClo (short for Catalytic Clothing). The idea behind their product is to turn your everyday clothing into a pollutant magnet, one that you simply wash off your threads during your next rinse cycle.

Without getting into molecular compounds, the layman’s explanation of this soap science is that the additive binds tiny particles of titanium dioxide to fabric. This element, when exposed to sunshine, then attracts nitrogen oxides (otherwise known as one of the largest sources of air pollution) and sucks them out of the air we breath. But wait, there’s more! These little titanium dioxide guys are so tough that you only need to give your clothes one treatment per item.

How effective is this method? According to University of Sheffield’s Tony Ryan, CatClo can remove five grams of nitrogen dioxide for the air a day. No small potatoes when you consider that is actually the same amount emitted daily by an average family car! And what’s the price of fighting air contamination through fashion? Well the product is not yet on shelves (CatClo is set to be released within the next two years), but the inventors say we can expect to spend a whopping $0.16 per load.

If you are a little wary of turning your body into a pollution magnet (for the heath of your clothes or yourself), researchers reassure us that you need not be. When oxidized, the nitrogen becomes “completely orderless and colorless” with no health risks. But the effects of adding some nitrogen to your look are not just neutral, they could even be positive! Ryan says there are significant benefits for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions — they’ll be walking around with their own pollution vacuum.

Its safe to say that cleaning up the air never looked this good.

Sustainable Living: Local govs making the good life easy and free

Posted on September 24, 2012 | going green, green business, sustainable living, Waste less

New York: Putting Natural Back in the Big Apple
What is the most valuable commodity in New York? Space. So it’s a wonder that property owners are only now, in the past ten years, really starting to utilize the space right above their heads: their roof-tops. Now a rooftop patio is great, but it won’t give you a return on your investment anywhere near the potential money saved by installing a rooftop garden.

How New Yorkers win: The main economic advantages to converting blacktop roofs into vegetation-topped ones is the savings on cooling. Cities are, on average, 7 degrees hotter than the surrounding areas because of the abundance of dark paved surfaces that absorb heat. This results is a heavier reliance on air conditioning which drives up energy costs, something that could be avoided by greening the roof. There’s another reason that it pays to be green in NYC: the City will pay you. The pilot program currently offers a $4.50-per-square-foot tax abatement for green roofs that cover more than half the rooftop area.

Increased green area throughout the city not only takes some strain off the environment by filtering air pollution (which, in NYC, is vital), but green roofs also absorb rainfall which allows New Yorkers to tread lighter on an infamously delicate sewer system. Finally, these green spaces would act as micro habitats for the animal and insect populations that we so often forget about in the Big Apple.

Los Angeles: The Guardian Angel of Rainwater
Sorry to burst your bubble but, contrary to what the rest of the country believes, it does in fact rain in Los Angeles. And, when it does, most of that water runs off concrete, picks up pollutants like car fluids and pesticides and drags the whole icky mixture down the storm drain. This urban runoff water is the biggest source of pollution in rivers and ocean and almost all the urban runoff comes from the first inch of rainfall during any shower. So what’s the solution? Rain gardens. They are designed to capture the first inch of a rain, filtering those pollutants and diverting them from the oceans and rivers.

So what is a rain garden? According to L.A. rain gardens’ website, it is a shallow depression planted with climate appropriate flowering plants and grasses. It is designed to hold rainwater runoff and prevent it from reaching the street.
What are the advantages of rain gardens?
- They save money, time and water. Homeowners have less grass to water and, after 1-2 years, a rain garden requires no supplemental water.
-They support native wildlife and biodiversity, attracting birds, butterflies and beneficial insects.
-They do not require a permit, and the maintenance is cheaper and easier than a traditional lawn.

How do I get one? All you have to do is ask! Thanks to a partnership between Tree People and the L.A. Department of Water and Power, if you live in the San Fernando Valley you can now have a rain garden installed at your residence free of change. This is just a pilot program and we hope they will be expanding city-wide after trials. There’s also flexibility regarding installation: DIYers can rely on a reimbursement of up to $5,000/garden or $1,000/household. Not feeling so motivated? Not a problem, just register yourself in the L.A. Rain Gardens Program and the city will do it for you.

Chicago: Paving a Better Way
Anyone who lives in a big city knows the frustration of cars talking up too much space; cities were, after all, built for people but have been hijacked by our four-wheeled friends. But now the city government of Chicago is at work, reclaiming the central urban space for pedestrians.  Not only will the city be less congested and polluted but the hope is that pedestrian fatalities will become extinct and pedestrian injuries greatly reduced. They plan to achieve this through cutting edge urban planning and the implementation of an intricate system of revamped crosswalks, islands and tighter traffic restrictions. The Chicago Department of Transportation will make these improvements beginning at the city’s most dangerous intersections and moving outwards, paying particular attention to facilitating pedestrian access to public transit. Safety meets livability, we can’t wait to take a stroll in the new Chicago.

Baltimore: The Good Neighbor
It can be a bit depressing to think of the hours of life squandered commuting to and from work, not to mention the toll it takes on the environment. Suburbs have become a symbol of how the typical American lifestyle is out of step with sustainability and, as a result, we have seen a reverse exodus back to urban areas. The city government of Baltimore knows that both their citizens and the planet are happier when you live near your work, and they’re doing something about it.

The initiative is not yet directed towards renters, but home buyers stand to collect a minimum $2,000 grant (or conditional grant for settlement and closing costs) to purchase homes in targeted neighborhoods near their employers. Baltimore City will contribute up to $1,000 per employee, which will be matched by the participating employer. We are so pleased to see Johns Hopkins University, ever the leader, has gotten involved in a big way with customized benefits up to $18,500 for their employees.

Is your hometown doing something to make going green effortless? We’d love to hear about it!