For everyone interested in building and improving homes, and for those wanting to improve their environmental quotient, the 6th Annual AltBuild Expo at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was a smorgasbord of materials and ideas.Presented by the City of Santa Monica, the two-day event offered seminars on building and conservation, as well as the products and services of over 150 exhibitors. Name the construction or design problem: there was an exhibitor with a possible solution.If you needed a permeable pavement for your driveway, there was Angelus Paving Stones’ SF-Rima ™, a paving system that allows rainwater to pass through joints in between paving stones and through aggregate layers for temporary storage, filtering and treatment. (angeluspavingstones.com).Or suppose you wanted a water heater that doesn’t waste water? How about a Rinnai Tankless Water Heater? As explained by representative Rebecca Chen, the heating unit takes in water through a copper heat exchanger only when hot water is needed. When not in use, the unit shuts down. (Rinnai’s toll-free number is 1.866.RINNAI.1).Tom McCurry of Downtown Diversion displayed samples of building material debris-chips of concrete, powdered drywall. His program “diverts” discarded construction materials, converting them into products that can be used by farmers: mulch, fuel, and fertilizer. Diversion of materials through this program can earn developers LEED points. (downtowndiversion.com, wm.com).A genuinely “green” exhibit was that of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants. Sustainable plants on display included native sage and wild grape. Representative Lili Singer explained: “Our mission is to study native plants, to educate the public about them, and to make them available.”(theodorepayne. org).Many of the seminars offered at AltBuild drew standing-room only audiences. At “Principles of Sustainable Landscaping,” City of Santa Monica Water Resources Specialist Russell Ackerman spoke of his goal to reduce Santa Monica’s water consumption “to a sustainable level.” “Santa Monica uses 13 million gallons of water a day,” Ackerman continued. “We get most of it from MWD (Metropolitan Water District).” Santa Monica’s urban runoff facility collects and cleans up runoff water but accounts for only two percent of the total water supply. Water supply will continue to be a challenge in a dry climate, but Ackerman noted that “good design” in landscaping helps to conserve water and that locals can learn tips on water conserving methods of plant and lawn care in the workshops offered regularly by the City.In “Civic Projects on the Horizon,” Santa Monica’s Eileen Fogerty, Director of Planning and Community Development, spoke about the City’s projects along what will be the Expo Light Rail corridor. “The goal of the City is ‘No new trips,’ ” she told the audience, describing the urban village concept planned for downtown and the Bergamot Station area.When the bustle of AltBuild seemed too intense, one could always go to the Sustainable Café area, which offered nori rolls and dairy-free (but not sugar-free) cookies. Hint: maybe a little more sustainability in the dessert selections next year?
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