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Barry Katz
Norwalk, CT
Interests: saving the planet; sustainability and green design; architecture; classical music; modern art
Recent Activity
I haven't posted in quite a while as I've been busy working on a new book, but I feel compelled to point out that we are in the third week of February and the temperature in Connecticut, where I live, reached 57 degrees today. I'm just saying . . . Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2012 at The Future is Green
Today, the US House of Representatives defeated a misguided Republican sponsored bill intended to roll back light bulb efficiency standards passed during the Bush administration. (Insert huge sigh of relief here) Predictably, the vote was mostly along party lines, with a few defectors from each side of the aisle; five Democrats voted in favor of the bill and ten Republicans voted against the bill. One Republican voted "present." Why Republicans would want to repeal a bill signed by George Bush that will save Americans $12.5 billion by 2020, cut pollution, and create manufacturing jobs is a complete mystery to me. Right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, and Tea Partiers like Michelle Bachman have recently expended enough hot air to heat all of Buffalo next winter, trying to persuade people that the 2007 energy bill would outlaw incandescent light bulbs entirely. It does no such thing; as I reported... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2011 at The Future is Green
Thomas Friedman's Op-ed piece, "The Earth is Full," in todays New York Times was both deeply sobering and, at the same time, oddly hopeful. Friedman writes, "You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?" The only answer, according to the Austrialian environmentalist, Paul Gilding, author of the new book “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World,” can be denial.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2011 at The Future is Green
Lester Brown's visionary book, “Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization,” has been on my top ten list for several years. Now, a documentary based on the book will be broadcast on PBS on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 10 p.m, hosted by Academy Award winner Matt Damon. I encourage you to watch. Appearing with Lester Brown are Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman, former Governor and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, along with other scholars and scientists. Parts of the film were shot on location in China, Japan, Korea, India, Italy, Turkey, Bangladesh, Zambia, Haiti, and the United States. Describing the film, the LA Times says, “The scope is wide, the photography compelling, the presentation is crisp. Take notice unless you’ve already booked passage to another galaxy.” What makes “Plan B” so fascinating for me is that it provides a slew of hopeful and realistic strategies... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2011 at The Future is Green
Barry Katz will be the featured author at this year’s Green Lifestyle Fair, hosted by The Shoreline League of Democratic Women (SLDW) on Saturday, April 2, 2011. The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 9am to 3:30pm, at the Water’s Edge Resort and Spa, in Westbrook, CT. Barry will be speaking about his book, Practical Green Remodeling, at 11:00 AM, and will be on hand to sign books and answer questions throughout the day. The Green Lifestyle Fair will host a wide variety of Exhibitors featuring energy alternatives, green products and services. Industry experts and environmental advocates will be on hand to discuss energy alternatives, financial incentives, conservation initiatives, and the most pressing challenges affecting our environment today. For more information on the event, visit the SLDW web site at or call 860-399-1147. Also during the event, there will also be a Green Book... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2011 at The Future is Green
Can you think of something fun to do in the dark for one hour? At 8:30 PM on Saturday 26th March 2011, lights will switch off around the globe for Earth Hour. Around the globe, hundreds of millions of people will be turning off their lights for an hour, and committing to actions large and small that help fight climate change. Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2011 at The Future is Green
As a follow-up to my previous post, readers might find this amusing. Last night, Stephen Colbert interviewed Natural Resources Defence Council’s Dale Bryk about the upcoming debate in Congress about light bulbs. In usual fashion, Colbert doesn't add a lot of clarity to the issue, but when was the last time a light bulb made you laugh? Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2011 at The Future is Green
Imagine trading in y our new car for an Edsel. In essence, that’s what some in Congress want to do with light bulbs, according to Elizabeth Heyd of the Natural Resources Defense Council. On Thursday March 10, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider a bill (S.395) introduced by Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi that would repeal efforts to expand the use of more energy-efficient light bulbs. Along with companion bills sponsored by House Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the proposals would roll back energy efficiency standards signed into law by President George W. Bush that are designed to increase the efficiency of light bulbs by at least 25 percent. If passed, the bills from Enzi, Barton and Bachmann would derail plans for new job-creating lighting factories and eliminate an estimated $10 billion in annual energy costs savings.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2011 at The Future is Green
This Monday, January 17 at 3:00 PM, I will be discussing my book, Practical Green Remodeling, with host Mario Bosquez on the program "Living Today," on the Martha Stewart Living radio channel on Sirius (channel 112). If you are not a Sirius subscriber you can get a FREE 7-day trial at It will enable you to listen online to all Sirius programs. Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2011 at The Future is Green
Whatever you are doing right now, I encourage you to take a 3-minute break and watch "Big Question: What Is Nature Worth?", an eye-opening animated video that offers a fresh look at global biodiversity loss - not only what it is costing humanity, but also what we can do about it. "Big Question: What Is Nature Worth:?" is part of Momentum magazine's biodiversity issue ( and was inspired by the Natural Capital Project – a partnership between Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Minnesota and the World Wildlife Fund. I thought it was worth passing along. Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2010 at The Future is Green
There was a nice review of my book on The Oregonian's web site yesterday. I thought I would post a copy of it here. More green remodeling tips coming soon! Book review: 'Practical Green Remodeling' makes you think Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010, 7:00 AM Bridget A. Otto, The Oregonian Right off the bat, author Barry Katz says his book, "Practical Green Remodeling: Down-to-Earth Solutions for Everyday Homes," is not a how-to book. It's more a book about ideas and reasons for making sound and wise changes to your home. More importantly, Katz approaches the subject of green and sustainable building by explaining that nothing is clear-cut. For instance, for the question about whether a house can be green without using green materials, the answer is both yes and no. He explains that there are shades of green and no house or building that is absolutely green. "Ironically, the greenest... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2010 at The Future is Green
First of all, a big thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of my book, Practical Green Remodeling. As of a moment ago,'s sales ranking show that it is #1 in Home & Garden > Sustainable Living>Energy Efficiency, and #2 in Home & Garden > How-to & Home Improvements > Remodeling & Renovation Here is another excerpt from the book (with a few new edits): What’s my motivation for going green? Funny you should ask. You have two choices, really. Do you want to be totally hard nosed and practical, and just do things that directly benefit your family? Or do you want to get all environmental and tree huggerish? Save the whales and so forth. If you’re just in it for yourself, you can stick with things that make the house more comfortable and economical to run. Concentrate on cutting your monthly utility bills, and use... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2010 at The Future is Green
Over the next several weeks, I plan to offer a series of green remodeling tips drawn from my book, Practical Green Remodeling: Down-to-Earth Solutions for Everyday Homes. Homes lose most of their heat through air movement. And most houses leak a lot of air. If you do nothing else to your home, the first and most important thing to do is to find air leaks and seal them with caulk, expanding foam or weather-stripping. This is the simplest, most cost-effective thing you can do to improve your home's energy efficiency. Now that the weather is turning colder, you can find air leaks in your home with a simple test. On a day when it is 15 to 20 dregrees cooler outside than inside, close all doors and windows and turn on all exhaust fans (usually in bathrooms & kitchens). Then run a damp hand around your door and window frames.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2010 at The Future is Green
I am pleased to announce that my new book, Practical Green Remodeling: Down-to-Earth Solutions for Everyday Homes, published by Taunton Press, is in bookstores nationwide as of today. You can also find it here on In the coming weeks I will be posting excerpts from the book, as well as tips for making any home healthier, more energy efficient, and easier on the environment - in short, greener. Here is a brief excerpt from the introduction: All across the country Americans are waking up to the realization that our planet is in trouble. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting, and changing weather patterns are starting to affect food production. Communities across the country and around the world are facing serious water shortages. Wildlife habitat and natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate. The scope of the problem seems so vast that we often wonder how anything we... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2010 at The Future is Green
Very interesting article in the NY Times this morning about a small town in Italy that now gets all of its electricity from renewable sources. And they're making money on it - enough to renovate the local school and fix the roads. And they're not alone. According to the article, "More than 800 Italian communities now make more energy than they use because of the recent addition of renewable energy plants. . ." Does anyone know how many US towns can make that claim? I don't, but I bet the answer is nowhere near 800. My guess would be closer to eight, though I'd love to be proven wrong. Now, quick, choose one: a) Clean, green electricity from wind, solar, and other renewable resources, or b) exploding oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Tough choice, right? That $20 billion from BP would sure buy a lot of wind turbines... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2010 at The Future is Green
As I have stated elsewhere, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs for short), those spiral tubes that have become familiar, energy efficient substitutes for standard incandescent bulbs, represent a valuable, but transitory, step on the road to a cleaner, greener future. CFLs will be around for years to come and, for many, offer substantial energy cost savings with quick payback periods. I still recommend them. But with a word of caution. CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, which means they must be recycled properly at the end of their useful life. But I have a hard time imagining that the majority of CFLs will actually find their way to appropriate recycling facilities, and worry that when large numbers of them start turning up in landfills mercury seeping into the ground will cause a major environmental headache. The good news is that there is something better on the horizon. And that horizon... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2010 at The Future is Green
Annie Leonard wants to redirect the flow of water. In her new Youtube video (which you can watch below) she takes aim at he bottled water companies, who, she insists, are "scaring us, seducing us, misleading us" into buying their products. Americans buy more than 500 million bottles of water each week. Much of it is not as good as tap water, and 80% of the supposedly recyclable plastic bottles end up in landfills. Some brands are nothing more than bottled tap water, which you can get for free, but when sold in plastic bottles it costs 2,000 times as much as you pay for the water that comes out of your kitchen faucet. It even costs more than gasoline. Maybe it's time, as Annie urges, to "take back the tap." Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2010 at The Future is Green
I've been thinking about how to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day tomorrow. After considering a dozen topics I concluded that I could do no better than to direct your attention to a recent NY Times column by Paul Krugman, called Building a Green Economy. If you do nothing else to observe Earth Day, please read Krugman's article. Addressing the arguments of scientists and skeptics, alike, Krugman's piece offers the clearest and most comprehensive explanation of the causes and effects of climate change, possible remedies, likely costs of mitigation - as well as likely costs of inaction, and rationale for action that I have read in a long time. After citing the most current scientific evidence, Krugman writes "models based on [this] research indicate that if we continue adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as we have, we will eventually face drastic changes in the climate. Let’s be clear.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2010 at The Future is Green
Can you believe it? Good news from Washington! The Obama administration announced on Thursday that the US Department of Transportation and the EPA have set new fuel efficiency standards that will cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by about 30% by the year 2016. The new combined fuel economy average of 35.5 miles per gallon will not only reduce emissions by nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gases over the lives of all regulated vehicles, but will save owners of an average 2016 car about $3,000 in fuel over the life of the vehicle. An editorial in today's NY Times summed it up nicely: The new automobile fuel economy standards formally adopted by the Obama administration on Thursday will yield a trifecta of benefits: reduced dependence on foreign oil, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and consumer savings at the pump. Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2010 at The Future is Green
In a 2008 debate, President Obama refuted John McCain's call for more offshore drilling (drill, baby, drill) as a solution to our energy problems. "We can't simply drill our way out of the problem," Obama said. "And we're not going to be able to deal with the climate crisis if our only solution is to use more fossil fuels that create global warming." (see video clip, below) Yet this week, President Obama announced that he plans to open vast coastal areas to offshore oil drilling. This was a great disappointment to me and to millions of concerned Americans. Drilling won't create nearly as many jobs as clean energy, it won't make us energy independent, it won't help solve the climate crisis, and it won't help the economy. A major commitment to clean energy will be the engine that revitalizes the American economy. Congress needs to pass comprehensive clean energy and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2010 at The Future is Green
Now that Congress has completed the health care bill there is a unique, but limited, window of opportunity to achieve meaningful action on climate change. Below is a short video of Dave Boundy, campaign manager for Repower America, explaining the organization's campaign strategy, and how you can help. Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, any contribution you make to The Climate Protection Action Fund by midnight, March 31 (TOMORROW) will be matched dollar for dollar. Even if you can only afford a small donation, this matching grant will double it, making your gift twice as effective. The Climate Protection Action Fund supports the vision that by repowering our planet with clean, renewable energy sources we can create millions of new jobs, hasten a global economic recovery, strengthen world security, and preserve our planet for future generations. Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2010 at The Future is Green
You can't make this stuff up. On Valentines Day the Center for Biological Diversity began distributing 100,000 free condoms in all 50 states using a volunteer army of some 3,000 dedicated souls. Their effort, called Endangered Species Condoms, is designed to educate people about the ways unsustainable human population growth is driving many species to extinction at a cataclysmic rate. The condoms come in a variety of colorful wrappers featuring pictures of endangered critters, with slogans like, "Wrap with care . . . save the polar bear," and "Hump smarter . . . save the snail darter." Honest to god, I swear I'm not making this up. According to the organization, their volunteers range from "ministers to grandmothers to healthcare providers to college students and biologists." Each package contains two condoms packaged with original artwork, facts about overpopulation and the extinction crisis, and suggestions on how the human population can... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2010 at The Future is Green
I have a splendid view of snowy treetops outside my living room windows. It is lovely to sit here in my nice warm apartment and watch the sweep of easy wind and downy flake falling lazily from the sky. But it is becoming harder to enjoy the view. Every time it snows I can just hear climate change skeptics licking their chops, smug in their certainty that we are dumb enough to believe the continued existence of winter disputes overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming. Must we continue, every time it snows, to ask if there is some mistake in the consensus among 97% of the world's climate scientists? No one who has read any of the literature believes that a warming planet means the end of winter. As Thomas Friedman, writes in today's NY Times, "The fact that it has snowed like crazy in Washington — while it... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2010 at The Future is Green
First of all, dear readers, I must apologize for the long silence. I needed to put the blog on hold while finishing up the manuscript for my book, Practical Green Remodeling, due out this summer. It's nearly done (my editor will be relieved to hear) and I hope to resume regular blogging shortly. But I couldn't resist sharing this piece from The Onion that my son alerted me to. A local resident discards a plastic bottle—just as he has done his whole life—with no perceivable effect on the environment. WASHINGTON—Wishing to dispose of the empty plastic container, and failing to spot a recycling bin nearby, an estimated 30 million Americans asked themselves Monday how bad throwing away a single bottle of water could really be. "It's fine, it's fine," thought Maine native Sheila Hodge, echoing the exact sentiments of Chicago-area resident Phillip Ragowski, recent Florida transplant Margaret Lowery, and Kansas... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2010 at The Future is Green
Dateline: 20,000 feet, somewhere over Michigan At the outset, let me confess that I am, as I write this, doing just about the least green thing a person can do – flying. Yes, I did buy carbon offsets to ameliorate some of the environmental harm wrought by my round-trip flight to Denver. But it is increasingly hard to fly without anxiety over the outsize greenhouse gas emissions resulting from air travel. The fact that I am flying there to speak about energy efficiency at the Energy & Environmental Buildings Association conference does very little to relieve my sense of unease. But that’s not really what I want to write about today. Instead, I would direct your attention to Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed piece in today’s NY Times. China, he argues in it, as he often has, is gearing up to make renewable energy technology the growth engine of its economy. In... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2009 at The Future is Green