The Wonders of Woodworking

Did you know that some trees secrete a toxin that prevents other plants from growing around them? Or that some wood changes color after it has been exposed to oxygen? Or that you can make a cutting board from scrap wood in just two nights with a little bit of help? The FLAT hosted a…

Humble Abode or Glorified Creation?

This NY Times article, Exhausted by a House That Saves Energy: Was It Too Soon to Be Sustainable?, was floating around the FLAT this week featuring a retired couple who escaped to the woods of Vermont in order to build themselves this close to net-zero house. Instead of downsizing after retirement, this couple opted to build a 5,000 sq….

FLAT Winter is Coming!

With winter weather comin’ in hot…or I guess starting to cool off quite a bit, the residents at UM FLAT have been putting some finishing touches on winterizing the house along with some of our projects. At the UM FLAT, changing seasons mean changing focus and sometimes even switching our projects. Spring 2014 had us…

Photo Essay: UM FLAT Year in Review

One year. One full academic year at the FLAT. What a journey it’s been. The ups. The downs. The laughter and the tears. The activities and the quiet, the heat and the blizzards. The UM FLAT, in it’s fifth official year, made moves. It was a year of action, of community-building, and of fun. Lots…

It’s Not Murder If You Kill-a-Watt

One of our dark haired, witty, and charmingly brilliant residents here at the FLAT has been crunching the numbers on our home’s solar output. Though suspected of being member to an underground bagpipe band, our FLATmate has come through to make sense of tricky spreadsheets and kilo-loads of data. Since the James E. Todd building…

FLATmates storm the CASL

This spring break a couple UM FLAT residents left on an adventure for lush, green conditions in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley. At Eugene’s University of Oregon, those two FLATmates encountered a handful of empowered and sustainability-minded students. The University of Oregon’s Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living (CASL), is a house that strives to…

The Art of Resilience: The pitfalls of being a sustainable packrat.

Every children’s song about recycling that I learned always included a phrase like “Reduce, reuse, recycle!” often accompanied by hand motions that look pretty adorable when performed by a group of five-year-olds. The same hand motions, I’ve noticed, look a little more dorky when performed by anyone older than five. But back to the song: reduce comes before reuse…

Ever Wonder How Solar Panels Work Covered In Snow? They don’t!

Fortunately there’s an app for that. If by app you mean a giant, gotta-be-something-like-20-ft-long-squeegee,   Among the criticisms you hear of solar panels not receiving not stop sunshine in our part of the world as they do in sunnier climes, you never hear complaints of them not being feasible in the snow. And that’s because,…

Totally Solar Summer!

Our solar panels keep paying off…we had no net energy use for the months of July, August, and September! What that means is that the solar panels provided enough electricity for all of our energy needs in the front house for the summer…and then some. That’s pretty awesome. (The extra electricity generated goes straight back into…