Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Green Parenting with EcoParent

Winter 2012 EcoParent Magazine Cover, peapodLife Building EcoSystems and Technology, image
Image: Winter 2012 EcoParent Magazine Cover

"I've seen a dramatic increase in parents taking environmental responsibility for their children in the past 15 years."
~ Alan Greene, a pediatrician and author of Raising Baby Green.

We rarely advertise in print magazines, but when we do, it is because we like what they stand for. We came across Eco Parent Magazine last year at the Live Green Toronto event and we liked their eco education mission for parents to make better and healthier choices for their children.

So, even though our products and services do not automatically jump to mind when thinking about green parenting, we felt that there was a good fit with our PeapodLife concept. What could be better than providing your family with a space where you live and work amongst an eco-system. A space vibrant and alive which also provides you with air up to 10 times cleaner than outside air.

The magazine is full of tips, interesting articles and is of course printed on special recycled paper. We recommend it as a good read.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Green Success: Attendees of Live Green Toronto Festival give indoor ecosystems two green thumbs up! Urban Farming and Peapod Life: Grow Kids’ Connection to Community, Culture and Curriculum Peapod Life: Applications for Better Living Simple Ways to Protect the Earth: Ten Tips for Green Parenting

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Top Five Design Ideas for Kitchens

Kitchen renovation: Wo-Built's top kitchen design ideas
Screenshot: Kitchen Gallery Webpage of Wo-Built Inc: the Vision Builder
From L to R: Kitchen renovation to give the kitchen a new lease on life with a completely new look.
New kitchen integrated into open-concept space matching existing furniture with new kitchen cabinets.
New open plan kitchen designed and built to fit into open-concept space and make the kitchen a focal point.
2013 @

Over the years we have asked ourselves what made some of the kitchen spaces more successful than others. Hence, we have come up with our list of top best design ideas for kitchens:
  • 1. The kitchen is the heart of the house;
  • 2. Make the kitchen bright and light;
  • 3. Make the kitchen a multi-functional social space;
  • 4. Explore natural textures and materials;
  • 5. Bring nature into the space.

1. The kitchen is the heart of the house

The kitchen is the heart of the house; it becomes the center for living and entertaining, a social hub for the family and guests. So we found that by providing a semi or complete open concept between the kitchen and the living area enables a much better interaction and communication.Open concept also gives the illusion of more space and often facilitates having more light in the space, because more windows can contribute to the light level. Neutral light not bold trendy colours also help by having better light reflection, making the space look brighter. Which leads to the second top idea:

2. Make the kitchen bright and light: highlight surfaces and provide focal points

The kitchen designs were most successful if a lot of daylight could be provided and make the kitchen bright and light. This had to be enhanced by energy efficient task lighting and general lighting which highlight surfaces and provide focal points.

3. Make the kitchen a multi-functional social space for the family and guests

Technology such WiFi, homework nook, extra electrical outlets for computers, a place for a TV also contribute in making the kitchen a multi-functional social space.

4. Explore natural textures and materials: environmentally friendly sustainable kitchen

As our emphasis is always about green building and sustainability some of the ideas revolved around the choice of materials. In open concept spaces it is nicer to have the same floor treatment in the living area and the kitchen. Good choices are Bamboo and Cork (good because they grow fast, but have large transportation impacts). Natural materials for countertops are preferable. Unfortunately granite and marble have a large footprint as they have to be transported over large distances, but soapstone and concrete counters are alternatives.

5. Bring nature into the space and provide a stunning effect to your kitchen

And, of course, one design idea we can always recommend. Bringing nature into the space. Our next evolution in kitchen designs. Eco-systems that provide, air, food and well being. Stay tuned for updates.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Home Automation Trending at CES 2013 Interior Design Show 2012 – Wo-Built’s WOW! Moments Kitchen Design Tips: Why to Remodel Kitchen Design Trends: Emerging Trends for Kitchens Kitchen Designs – Are We Missing the Boat? Kitchen Upgrade – Plan Yours Today!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Home Automation Trending at CES 2013

Image Montage by Wo-Built: Home Automation Technology at CES 2013
Images: Top-Left: Lowe’s Iris automation system 
(Source: CES 2013 Shocker: Lowe’s Iris Home Automation Has Legs)
Top-Right: Ivee Sleek voice activation assistant 

(Source: Voice-controlled home assistant is like a nicer HAL 9000)
As CES 2013 kicks into high gear in Las Vegas, it’s clear that our homes are about to become much more interactive, in the digital sense of the word.

Gone are the days of getting up out of your La-Z-Boy to check the thermostat, turn lights on or off, check door locks and much more. You don’t even need to be physically in your home anymore. Interacting with your home is becoming more a matter of remote touch or voice-enabled app via tablet or smartphone.

Lowe’s Iris automation platform works with Zigbee and Z-Wave technologies and sells as a service in the U.S. for $9.99 a month. It offers remote security and home management features, including the ability to monitor cameras, windows and door locks, adjust thermostat, operate compatible devices in real time.

For those within earshot of their house, the Ivee Sleek offers impressive voice-activation capabilities and is compatible with a variety of other devices to give your home that “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Star Trek” feel. One device which it can control is Nest’s “learning thermostat.”

Uploaded by Nest on Oct 2, 2012

The Almond+ router by Securifi offers a 2.8-inch touchscreen with Smart Hub integration with Zigbee and Z-Wave technologies. It appears to offer many of the same features as Lowe’s Iris, but without a monthly fee. Still, currently a project on Kickstarter, it may be some time before you can have one in your home.

Image: Securifi’s Almond+ Router
(Source: CES 2013: Securifi's Almond+ Router Tackles Home Automation)

Want to be able to take command of your interior lighting without waiting for a complete home automation platform? Why not try GreenWave Reality’s WiFi-enabled light bulbs. With available remote controls, dedicated WiFi gateway, and iOS/Android app, you’ll be taking command of your home’s lighting from just about anywhere.

Image: GreenWave Reality’s WiFi-enabled light bulbs with remote control and wireless gateway can be controlled by a custom app running on Apple and Android mobile touch devices.
(Source: CES 2013: Lighting up the smart home)

It looks like the age of the Jetsons may finally be approaching (don’t hold your breath on the flying car, though). Do these gadgets really make a home come alive, though?

In the same way that Las Vegas itself is filled with bells and whistles, but cannot hold a candle to the vitality and vibrancy of a rainforest, home automation technology is no substitute for living organisms.

The technology that gets us more excited is home revitalization: PeapodLife.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Home automation CES 2013: Securifi's Almond+ Router Tackles Home Automation
At CES, Securifi took the wraps off Almond+, a color touch-screen router with an integrated Smart Home hub.
by Samara Lynn CES 2013: Lighting up the smart home
Smartphones. Smart TVs. Smart appliances. Smart ... light bulbs?
by Jon Healey The Gadgets of the Future From the Electrical Shows of Yesterday

The latest and best tweets on #2013CES and #2014ces.
Read what people are saying about the International Consumer Electronics Show or simply CES, and join the conversation.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

When the Rainbow Runs Rampant

Image Collage by Wo-Built: Strange colours in vegetables: 
brown "Kumato" tomatoes, orange and purple cauliflower;
Image Sources: Kumatoes, Orange cauliflower, Purple cauliflower.

We’ve all been told to eat a "rainbow of fruits and vegetables" as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Mixing and matching produce of all different colours ensures we are getting the right mix of vitamins and minerals. It also adds variety to what could otherwise be a ho-hum lifestyle.

But c’mon now…brown tomatoes? Purple cauliflower? At some point, we have to ask ourselves, have we gone too far?

Well, according to Wikipedia, orange cauliflower is a "natural mutation" which originated in a field in Canada. It apparently has 25 times the vitamin A of regular white cauliflower (makes sense: carrots are extremely high in vitamin A).

Was it truly a "natural" mutation, though? We have put so many chemical pesticides and fertilizers on our fields, its hard to imagine anything mutating naturally these days.

As for purple cauliflower, its colour apparently comes from the presence of the antioxidant anthocyanins, also found in red cabbage and red wine (Source: Anthocyanin). That actually sounds healthy.

The real problem arises with the Kumato. "The Kumato is a trade name given to the variety of tomato developed in Spain called "Olmeca", which went by experimental number SX 387." (Source: Kumato). A variety developed, owned and strictly controlled by Syngenta, "a large global Swiss specialized chemicals company which markets seeds and pesticides," (Source: Syngenta).

The strict control and licensing agreements around this greenish-brown tomato (which, I have it on good authority is quite tasty), smacks of Monsanto’s, draconian business practices of strict seed control.

Maybe it’s not by accident that the naturally occurring, good for you vegetables mentioned herein are beautiful colours of the rainbow, whereas the genetically manipulated "frankenfruit" developed to give people senseless pleasure and a multinational more profits is, well, what it is: mud-brown.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build