Blog Post

Have You Hugged a House Today? Top 5 Stories This Week

Public facilities don’t have to be ugly, we can now hear air pollution, and the sports industry is going for the gold with green initiatives.

What made the Katrina Cottages so popular? It's the Teddy Bear Principle, says Steve Mouzon, and it's useless to resist it.Photo Credit: Kent Griswold

Want greener homes? Embrace the cute

Wake up, architects! It’s time to give up on sleek and chic and get big-eyed and fuzzy. Like it or not, people like precious, adorable little cottages, and Steve Mouzon at Original Green has a theory about why: he calls it the Teddy Bear Principle.

It’s all about proportion, he says, and he suggests that we stop fighting it—because it can help us design greener houses. “The great thing about the Teddy Bear Principle is that if you know about it, you don't have to sell the idea of building smaller and smarter on cost savings alone,” Mouzon writes.

Power plants can look nice too

Your local water treatment plant is probably the last thing you want to hug, but Lloyd Alter at Treehugger thinks that’s a shame.

Europeans have “a willingness to do what it takes to put the most banal functions into beautiful buildings,” says Alter, contrasting a “stunning” power plant in Italy with a “horrible barn with a mansard roof” near his summer digs in Ontario. Alter shares some great examples of public projects in North America that are also stunning—but are, sadly, historic.

Show me what pollution sounds like!

What if air pollution were audible? From what I can tell, it would be a bit like Close Encounters of the Carcinogenic Kind. Gabriel Isaacman and fellow grad students in the UC–Berkeley department of environmental science mapped pollutants to different tones and produced soundtracks based on air samples from different areas in California.


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I can’t decide if it’s pretty or creepy, but it’s definitely a cool way to see how air quality differs between the city and the natural world. Break out your ear buds and give them a listen over at The Atlantic Cities.

Bringing down the hammer on thorium

We all know the problems with nuclear reactors: the fuel is extremely rare and dangerous; it can be stolen by ne’er-do-wells who want to turn it into nuclear bombs; and, once it’s used up, it remains dangerous virtually forever.

Also Read

Meltdown in Japan and Our Energy Future

Light Pollution May Worsen Air Pollution

The Greening of Meetings: Event Venues Get Sustainable

For a while now, I’ve been hearing people say that if we could just replace uranium with thorium (another radioactive chemical, named for the Norse god Thor) in our nuclear reactors, all these problems would magically disappear.

Sadly, two scientists have brought down a massive Mjölnir of reality on the myth of thorium, as detailed by Zachary Shahan at CleanTechnica. Get a grip, says Shahan. “There’s a good reason…why wind turbines and solar panels are in place all over the world, but there isn’t a single commercial thorium reactor in operation.”

Bummer. If you have thorium stars in your eyes, the whole thing is worth a read.

Buy me some peanuts and compost bins

Does your favorite sports team wear green jerseys? Chances are your neighborhood stadium is green, even if your team colors aren’t. Kaid Benfield looks at this trend, starting with a new NRDC report on how the professional sports industry is finally changing its ways on energy, water, and waste issues at stadiums and ball parks around the country.

Regarding a somewhat more leading-edge sports trend, Benfield goes beyond the scope of the report to talk about how some sports facilities are also creating more sustainable neighborhoods.

Published September 14, 2012

(2012, September 14). Have You Hugged a House Today? Top 5 Stories This Week. Retrieved from

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