Yet again, other opportunities and commitments have kept me from the blog. As much as I’d love to be a full time blogger, there is too much more to life for me to spend several hours (or even several hours a week) on the blog.
Yesterday, my wife and I were able to participate as docents on the annual Salt Lake City green homes tour. Sponsored by the Green Building Center, the tour highlights homes around the valley which are making use of recycled, natural, or less hazardous building materials, energy efficient features, and alternative energy sources. It was a lot of fun. My wife, an aspiring architect, met several professionals who specialize in “green” architecture. It was nice to see several features we have read about applied in real world situations. We loved the bamboo counters and flooring, cork floors, “paperstone” countertops, tiled wool carpet, reclaimed hardwood flooring, the creative use of windows to enhance natural lighting, and various ingenious methods to passively heat water and house. The owners of the house at which I was stationed had built an ingeniously simple “solar closet.” Twenty fifty-gallon drums of water were used to collect and retain heat over the course of the summer behind a plexiglass solar collector, which would heat the air in the insulated “closet” and passively filter through the house during the winter when the shutters were opened. There is obviously more to it than that, but I’m a graphic designer/librarian not an engineer. Suffice it to say that it is entirely low-tech and effective.
Its great to see these technologies become more widely accepted and accessible to the average citizen. While the initial investment is typically a little higher than the conventional options, they typically pay off through reduced energy consumption and replacement costs. They also reduce the health risks of the many potentially hazardous chemicals used in mainstream products (you know that nasty new-carpet smell? That ain’t good for anybody). The more we take advantage of these options, the better off we and our families will be.
Want to find out more about local “green” housing products, building materials, and designs? Check out the Redirect Guide, which lists all sorts of local progressive product suppliers (such as the Green Building Center and Underfoot Floors) and architects (such as CRSA and AMD—a firm owned and operated by women, a nice thing to see in a very male dominated industry). Another great resource for general green building ideas is the Green Home Guide.
If you’re building a home or considering a remodel, see if you can give green a chance.