Submitted by Jeff Buster on Tue, 07/24/2007 - 20:03.

Norm and Evelyn are forging ahead in East Cleveland.  Little House on the Prairie has nothing on these guys. 


Since the water meter hasn’t been re-installed (stolen for scrap while the house was vacant) by the City of East Cleveland yet, the younger fellow in the photo treks down the street to his house to bring back 5 gallon buckets of water for the wallpaper steamer. 


See, Norm was wise to hire his neighbor’s – otherwise he’d have no water for steaming yet.  The plaster is entirely intact under the layers of wallpaper and paint in this room.


We met with the roofer Brian Calamita and his helper to discuss the “green roof” which Norm and Evelyn will put on first floor of the south side (rear) of the house.   Brian recommended a pvc product which is superior to EDPM (rubber) roofing when used under “green” (vegetated) conditions.  I liked Brian’s work ethic.


Brian’s helper had the most succinct assessment of the situation: “brass balls”.




Norm and Ev update.jpg81.11 KB

superior PVC product. 

superior PVC product.  haaa..  anyone email me at my home account to discuss this 70+ year old polymer and its enviro baggage vs. an epdm product.

A fair amount of the green roof modular systems sale force will sell you on copper root barriers as well.   Hell... if you dont mind the enviro and social impacts....  have at it  ;-)

Otherwise go watch Judith Helfand and Daniel Golds lil sundance award winning doc blue vinyl.

Come on, ZM, share your knowledge here

Okay ZM, we have a flat roof about 15x20 covering a first floor den - excellent afternoon light - good strong decking and structure - complete tear-off of existing multi-layered roof. We want to cover the flat roof with a new roofing material and put a garden on top of this - I assume in trays - as the roof is seen from the stairwell windows, it would be cool to plant flowers there - herbs as well. But it has wind exposure and Evelyn says that may be a problem - we'll experiment...

...anyways, what is the best material for the roof? A roofer friend is suggesting the PVC product mentioned above. It is very light weight, has a 50 year life, is made in Michigan, requires very little labor and only screws to install, and they say is recyclable. I know you have informed us of the evils of PVC... is it possible that considering life of product, lower mass and weight, shorter shipping distance, etc. this is a good choice or are there better choices?

PS - how about stopping by the job-site for a live consultation?!?! Friday?

Disrupt IT

Live - Consultation!

Norm - Sorry I just viewed your invite to swing by.  A day late and a pro-vinyl advert from Bill short.  Doesnt he work for a chemical company??  Hmmmz.   Go figure.    Personally I find the environmental baggage just to tough to bear when it comes to PVC.    Je adore the ever increasing list of PVC free products.   Its a 70 year old polymer folks.   Sure it works, but so does chlorine gas.   Guess how much chlorine is used to make PVC!!

Ok  roof roof roof. I have not seen your presumably low slope roof.   On the flip side I have heard great things about EPDM membrane roofs.  

Check out these guys...
also, nearly in greek you can see some federal green building epdm specifcations here:

Depending upon where you are at in the HVAC rehab, and depending upon where this membrane roof is, and depending upon how big it is, and how well insulated things are....  one could use a high albedo epdm.... meaning white, or whiter than black.   This helps to decrease or eliminate that urban heat island effect not to mention what it will do for keeping your home cooler in summer.    All those black and dark colored roofs, well we all know what they do in the sun.  But that equates to cooling bills (if applicable).

I still cant believe captain solar shingle posted a pro pvc manifesto.  Grrrrr.     Even the king of PVC windows  Anderson has PVC free products they advertise.   OI! 


Dear Zebra Mussel

Thank you for your kind comments about me:

"pro-vinyl advert from Bill short.  Doesnt he work for a chemical company??  Hmmmz.   Go figure." "I still cant believe captain solar shingle posted a pro pvc manifesto.  Grrrrr."

There are many open-minded people here, so I am sorry that my posting of a viewpoint that you did not agree with bothered you enough that you felt a personal attack was warrented.

Yes, I am guilty!!!  I am a chemist, and I work for a company that manufactures products that are made from chemicals.

Of course, I have also been a certified safety professional for the last 25+ years, and have been teaching people how to work safely with chemicals for longer than that.  ...and, the biochemistry that I learned in collage taught me that we are all walking and talking chemical factories, so maybe knowing some chemistry might not be a bad thing.

Regarding Chlorine use, most of it is used in water putification, so it is in the water that many of us drink. I think the fecal coliform bacteria in the Lake Erie water should be killed off before we drink it, don't you?

Chlorine is also in the common table salt (Sodium Chloride) that we need in our diet to survive. The Chlorine ion separates from the Sodium ion when the salt dissolves in our mouth.

Maybe Chlorine isn't such a bad chemical after all.


Maybe some of us think that we should work more on some of the truly bad chemicals that are in our water, (say pesticides, and herbicides, and mercury for example), and the pollutants in our air (oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulfur, unburnt hydrocarbons, etc) rather than chlorine that is more firmly chemically bonded in a plastic compound than it is in salt.

But then again, this is just my opinion, and you are more than welcome to disagree with it.  I might suggest that you get to know me better, before making more incorrect assumptions about me.

Who knows, you might even find that we have some things in common, as I have also been doing EPA compliance work for the last 25+ years too, along with the OSHA.


Compliance vs. Doing no harm.

That pvc thing really touched a nerve. Do ya'll use any vinyl monomer compounds in any your ink products?  (By ya'll I am not referring to Cleveland Solar and Wind). 

I love the table salt reference to chlorine. ROFL.    I hear it all the time from the folks at the Chlorine Institute. They are my second favorite trade group to monitor the external communications of.  First is the Vinyl Institute and third would be the Friends of Coal. 

My favorite use of the 'safe as table salt' was when I spoke to the head of the vector control program for the City of Cleveland.  They put a notice on my door about the Biomist ULV product they planned on fogging my street with in South Euclid (West Nile Paranioa).

The head of the department told me it was "safer than table salt"... so he one upt you actually (pardon my reading between your lines).    Anyhow when I contacted Clark Mosqueto Control in Chicago and requested the full pesticide label (gottal love FIFRA right)...  low and behold it is not for use around crops grown for human consumption.  Sort of contradicted the messaging on the leaflet about safe for gardens.  I also love the restrcited entry interval (gotta love the Worker Protection Act).   

As for chlorine to knock down fecal coliform, sure that was a great and leading edge technology 50 years ago.    Personally, I feel much safer living downwind from a POTW using ozone contact chambers and ozone destruct + U V to disenfect fecal vs. having 4 multi ton rail cars of chlorine gas parked not to far upwind from my family.    Also, I much prefer the byproducts of disinfection via ozone and UV versus the byproducts of chlorine based disinfection in my drinking water.

Anyhow if your trying to talk me into focusing in on "truly bad chemicals" and excluding chlorine, vinyl, etc.... you are starting to sound more like you have been in the field of compliance work for 25 years.   In my humble opinion compliance is old hat my friend.   Our nations time for leadership in the area of environmental regulation started eroding long before the legal def. of navigable waters was called into question.   Not saying we dont need regs, but if your in the field, you have a perspective on how they are enforced, not to mentioned hollowed out and gutted.

I am rarely doing "compliance work".   I work in the field of industrial ecology and pollution prevention.   Also while I am pointing out differences, I do not work for a large quantity generator of hazardous waste and we dont file a Toxic Release Inventory for the nasties we spew 'compliantly' into nature.

The fundimental laws corporations are governed with respect to the environment are hardly able to keep hormones out of my daughters milk, THM's out of her drinking water, perchlorate out of her lettuce, and methyl mercury out of her lake.

Its beyond time to start thinking about compliance.  Companies that comply with current laws can emit tons of neurotoxins via air emissions legally with the right permits, and congressional connections.       Its time to put that in the past..unless of course it directly threatens your business model like one rooted in the take, make, waste business model who's process inputs are extractive and nonrenewable.... and even then there is still hope.

All that being said, I really do dig the solar shingles.  If you want an oppertunity to quote out a job, let me know.   I know someone in the market for a new roof out in portage county with good solar exposure.    PM me.


CHEMICAL is not a bad word.  Unfortunately, we are all so dumb that we have let it become a bad word.  Play nice.

Just another viewpoint/ thought on the "evils" of PVC

Look Out Any Window
by on 03.22.05
Design & Architecture (materials)
Vinyl or PVC, as its also known, has been widely criticised as environmentally 'unfriendly'. Yet vinyl windows are everywhere you look. Which kind of windows should TreeHuggers favor? The entries from today's window competition are: made from all wood; all vinyl; all aluminum; wood or aluminum coated with vinyl (or paint); and, wood and fiberglass composites, variously coated. Clearly, the choice of "best" is hard to make for a commodity like windows.
Theoretical question to prompt insight: is your 65 mpg Toyota Prius suddenly "bad" if you discover it has 20 feet of vinyl-covered wires? Would it trouble you so that you might donate it to a struggling writer?
Throw open the reality window to see past the sweeping generalities. Buildings consume as much energy as vehicles. Much the nation's housing stock is made up of ancient structures with leaky, poorly insulated windows. Eighty year old wooden windows old may look nice, but they are very inefficient and probably have been leaking air like seives for half that time. Same for the early aluminum varieties.
Millions of people with low incomes live with inefficient, uncomfortable windows. Vinyl replacement windows are the most common and easily installed technology for upgrading energy performance affordably. Highly energy efficient wooden windows are made and priced for rich people only. Take away vinyl windows and you remove the most affordable means of dramatically improving the efficiency of older buildings.
Let's loop back to the earlier question. Vinyl coated wires, if they're there (just a guess for making symbolic point), probably constitute only a 100'th of a percent or less of gross vehicle weight. Most would ignore a tiny bit of vinyl in their car to help avert the planetary castastrophe of man-induced climate change and the looming economic tragedy of Peak Oil.
What about your windows? Consider the mass of PVC spread amongst the 60 windows of a 4 story brick flat. As with the Prius, its a very tiny percent of the total weight of the structure. On the other hand, that tiny mass can dramatically up the energy efficiency of the building. Each winyl window, regardless of whether it faces the sun or not, has a design life that greatly exceeds that of top-of-the-line wooden windows. Even if you could afford to replace old windows wth all wooden ones, in 30 years the dry rot and warping could bring the performance right back to where it was.
Short-lived or single use items made of PVC are in a different class and are not covered by this line of reasoning.
Claiming that all vinyl applications are "bad" gives the free-market utopians (on the political right) proof that the new mantra, "environmentalism is dead", is true. Its a checkmate. What must die is absolutism and uncritical thinking on both sides of the debate. A parley with the vinyl industry, a simple acknowledgment, if you will, that some vinyl products are helpful, will take the wind out of the utopian sails. Climate Change and Peak Oil are serious risks from which ideological stalemates distract.

by: John Laumer


Choosing Earth friendly products is not alway easy

One of my most difficult decorating decisions is what kind of paint to use. For quality and beauty Benjamin Moore has always been my favorite, but I would like to use something more environmentally friendly this time. I have found soy paints and milk paints, but few places that sell them near Cleveland. More discouraging, I have never met anyone who has used them. I get lots of emails from HGTV and other decorating companies, but don't remember hearing anything about safer paints. Somethings I am concerned about: what will it look like? Will it cover evenly? Will it last? Is it easy to clean? Is there enough of a variety of color choices and can I do faux finished with it?

Cleveland Restoration Society

Although they have lost some credibility for rolling over on the Breuer building and some local preservation conflicts, Cleveland Restoration Society staff have been extremely helpful to me, recommending reliable and knowledgeable contractors and reviewing my ideas and suggesting options.  CRS is a well-structured and much needed resource for our City.  I only wish that like so many local institutions, it was not beholden to our pathetic political machine.  Evelyn, I am so glad you and Norm are committed to a preservation project.  Keep us inspired :)

Heritage Home Project?

I don't know much about the CRS here, but when I was doing similar work in New Orleans the very effective Preservation Resource Center there was very helpful. I contacted our CRS here about their Heritage Home Program but haven't heard back - I'll let you know what we experience along the way!

Disrupt IT


Sarah Beimers has been very very helpful on the ODOT Innerbelt Project -- she's a keeper! Let's hope we can keep her.


Ditto for CRS's Rich Stanovich.  Evelyn--Rich is a good resource for product information.  Am I allowed to put in a plug here for my favorite contrator Mike Foster Contracting?

Evelyn - Cover The Earth!

Dont you just love to hate SW's slogan?      I have heard good things about milk based paints, and clays as well. Auro Paints is from the UK and get good ratings (factoring out embodied energy).

I have had good luck with Harmony from SW.  EEEiiikkks!  Pb free!!   low to no VOC's, zero silica, and it covers great.  Go in an tell them you are a swagelok employee but you forgot your card... for like 10-20 percent off.       Its durable, it covers well, and no odor or more accurately its like 90% less odor.   Latex based.     I sure as hell would not go as far as saying it is as "safe as table salt" or "safer than table salt" but I bet there is some salt in it some how.   Its widely available, unlike just about all other eco-surface coatings outside of pvc wall paper (which is 'recyclable').  That was another joke.  its late and I am still on my toes!

Go PVC free on that remodel...... come on.   Its safer than table salt!

ps - when can i drop by?   holla at my home email.  I am in the city thursday afternoon.

Green consumers

Caught a WVIZ  news program last night that made me reconsider purchasing the compact florescent bulbs that are so touted as GREEN.  Do regular incandescent bulbs contain mercury?  Well, the compact florescents do, and although the program stated that 90% of Ohio's electrical demand is satsified by coal production plants, which release mercury into the atmosphere, I am still troubled by the long-term landfill implications of mercury laden compacts leaching into our water supply.  The other solution for me is to go to bed earlier, rise earlier and take advantage of natural daylight as much as possible.  Sounds silly, but why can't architects go back to the future to use natural light???

Hg Danja!

incandescent bulbs dont contained mercury vapor.   regular bulbs usually contain a gas like argon as an insulator.  these gasses vary with bulb type.  Xenon lights, halogen lights, etc.

I would also be troubled by the HUGE uptick in sales of CF tubes and bulbs.   They are energy mizers but way HIGHER on the toxic sort of end of use legacy issues.   Like many enviro procurment decisions.. its a judgement call.      They are selling the crap out of CF bulbs with little or no big push to keep them from the landfill (YET).   The main thing being done is new labels being required by some retailers like home cheapo.     Do you think the label will keep em out of the landfill?  I dont.  I watched the garbage truck operators pick up 6 foot tubes and smash them into their truck just last week.   I am sure this is happening more and more.    But the bulbs are selling like hot cakes.

Natural light is a great choice.   Solar tubes that reflect light down a shaft via a collector on your roof to a lens in your ceiling.  stunning natural light.   See solatube      I suggested that  Sudhir Kade use these in the Garden of Edin II project to bring light down into the lava lattice beams supported sub surface areas.   They sell solatubes at home depot.    Norm check these pups out also!


some are I really like the idea, of light tubes.