Columnist takes a look back at 2013

Green Living covers a lot of territory. Let’s take a look back with a recap of the topics we covered in 2013.


We started the year with “Liking Las Vegas,” highlighting some great green things that have been happening in the valley. The topic of “Solar-Ready Homes” revealed the logic of building with the sun in mind.

“Shake and Fold” brought some levity and practical advice to help save more than 570 million pounds of paper a year.

“High Performance Real Estate” reviewed green educational opportunities for real estate professionals, a key to accurate home values.

The impact Rob Dorinson had on our community was the topic of “A True Leader.” Dorinson, who died Feb. 25, was founder and president of Evergreen Recycling. His legacy continues to benefit everyone.

“A Sense of Urgency” tied the concept of climate change to an unforgettable visual: 400,000 nuclear bombs of additional greenhouse energy added to our biosphere each day, the effect of fossil fuel carbon we have released. If that didn’t spur you into action, nothing will.


April included a head’s up about Earth Day, celebrated with GREENFest at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, plus other significant events produced by Great Basin Permaculture and the U.S. Green Building Council — Nevada chapter.

Then readers were invited to support DesertSol, UNLV’s first entry in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. That column also mentioned ways to save with solar energy rebates and tax credits.

“Renters Can Do It Too!” revealed how anyone can get involved in the clean energy revolution and make a difference.

“The Importance of Leadership” discussed the necessary acceleration of adopting deep green building codes and practices.

Next up was a new book, “The Greened House Effect” by Jeff Wilson. It is an enjoyable and very informative story about greening his family’s home.

“Finding Our Way With Water” revealed a broad range of techniques, practices and technologies as alternatives to the proposed water grab pipeline.

In June we posed the question “Ancient or Fresh Energy?” Logic favors using fresh, unlimited solar energy (only eight minutes old) rather than stale, ancient and ultimately exhaustible energy exhumed from fossilized graves hundreds of millions of years in the making.


July started with a column urging everyone to “Be a Clean-Energy Leader,” reviewing victories over dirty coal in Nevada and inviting attendance at the National Clean Energy Summit.

The heart-wrenching story of “Plastic and the Albatross” looked at the incredible work of Chris Jordan that’s creating awareness about the global effect of even our simplest choices.

“Greening Our History” celebrated Las Vegas’ past and the green building renovation of the historic Harrison House. It was followed by a piece I called “Empowered Choices.” Using the brilliant “Buycott” app can help us vote for a better world every day.

Daily life was the topic of “Using Solar Around the House,” highlighting the many benefits of living with the sun in Southern Nevada. “Water Works” rounded out the summer by creating awareness about inefficient but all-too-common plumbing practices that contribute to hidden energy costs and even premature equipment failure.


Readers were invited to participate in Solar NV’s ninth annual “Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour” in early October. Then we discussed the incredible, edible landscapes created by Anna Peltier of Aria Landscape Architecture.

“Celebrate Desert Sol” did just that. Team Las Vegas placed second in the international Solar Decathlon competition.

“The Human Race” was the topic in mid-November, a big-picture view of our green living progress. Thanksgiving prompted a column about “Giving Thanks” and how our green choices can help others too.

December’s first column rounded out the year prompting awareness of the winter solstice, something people have done for thousands of years. The brief historic overview of solar energy also invited readers to tune into the annual path of the sun. Observing the solstice aids our understanding of passive solar home design.

We covered a lot of ground in 2013. Topics ranged from the minutiae of drying one’s hands to the big picture of climate change. In the end it is all about learning to live lighter on the planet. Our homes provide a great opportunity to improve comfort, reduce energy costs and make the world a better place for everyone.

If you wish to read any of the columns mentioned above, you’ll find them posted at They are organized by categories and keywords, or you can simply use Search. The post for this column will contain links to all of 2013’s Green Living columns.

Thanks for reading and more importantly, for caring. I wish you a happy and green new year!

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Rypka, visit