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12/18/2014

Transforming this suburban property has been one of the most satisfying and creative adventures in my life. No need to go anywhere. Making big changes was the plan from the beginning, 15 years ago, when I bought this quarter acre property with a modest 1,100 square foot mid fifties suburban house. If I reincarnated as a house and suburban property, this would be it.

The previous blog provides an informative overview about re purposing suburbia - turning a land use liability into a social and economic tool for a greener way of life. Suburbia has much to offer for taking care of more needs closer to home – food, energy, water, culture, creativity. There are already many pioneers on the suburban frontier and future blogs will include profiles describing some of them. Not all suburbia is created equal but just about every property and neighborhood has surprising assets to work with. This blog will describe some of the projects here at my place, more or less in the order they took place. The reader will easily find many photos on my website, that show what these projects actually look like – look under the “On Site Features” tab.

This property, two miles northwest of downtown Eugene, Oregon is flat. Its a rectangle with its long dimension north to south. The house is longer east - west and the back yard is on the south side of the house. The quarter acre has great solar access and the soil is good.

First Major Project

A friend and I turned the one car garage into a living space. This was a simple remodel. The open north end was closed in by an insulated wall with a door. The south end was cut open to install an eight foot slider for solar gain. Surprise to me, cutting through the painted wooden siding, I found immaculate red wood. Fifty years old and beautiful straight grain. Perfect condition. We built a wooden deck elevated several inches above the concrete floor in the garage and laid rigid foam insulation over the concrete. The west wall has several windows, was insulated and the ceiling was insulated.

Reclaiming automobile space made this a three bedroom house so I could rent both the other two bedrooms. Since then, the remodel has been paid back many times. Now I live in a passive solar detached structure I built behind the main house so the garage remodel is now rented which will eventually pay for the detached structure. More on the newer passive solar structure in a future blog but safe to say, a house can be a very useful working asset for making income.

garage remodel

Another early project was trading grass for garden. Grass is one of the most iconic symbols of suburbia. Some say the suburban landscape of grass and scattered trees is a sub conscious re creation of the primeval savanna of our distant ancestors. Regardless, the millions of of acres taken up by suburban grass can produce an enormous amount of food.

There are a variety of ways to get rid of the grass. Scalp it with a machine, dig it up. I laid out large pieces of cardboard and covered it with eight inches [the more the better] of compost and leaves from October to March. Over that time, the leaves mostly broke down, the cardboard rotted and the grass and weeds underneath became a dead slimy black mass. Perfect. Caution, roto tilling the grass not recommended. I did dig out the dead sod. It was really thick even when dead. I identified best places for garden paths and left them alone. No need to dig them up. The dead sod was composted and the remains were later added to the garden. I had a garden my first spring in residence while other part of the former lawn became water features and planted to raspberries and blueberries.

sheet mulch

Notes From The Suburban Frontier

One image I came upon was a graphic comparison of the surface area of Atlanta, Georgia and Barcelona, Spain. Both cities are about equal in population. What absolutely shocked me was the difference in area the two cities occupy. Atlanta, with its design for automobiles takes up almost 30 times as much space as Barcelona - for the same population. For public transportation, Atlanta is a challenge because of the low population density. For urban agriculture, there is enormous opportunity. The graphic can be found within a blog on my website that explains more about highways, dispersed land use and transportation.

Fence Lines Are Readily Available in Suburbia

They are a great place for long and narrow use. Nearly all my fence lines have been put into food production. Some of these design features were planted early on, others were added over the years. One fifty foot section of fence line is bamboo. At this moment, I will limit the blog to describing early work. Along the east side in the back yard, I planted a fig, four apples and two pears. Other than the fig, the apples and pears are semi dwarf. I wanted to manage the shape and size of the trees so I constructed a wire and wood frame parallel and partly supported by the fence. It looks something like a power line.

This built structure is in the shape of a loosely manicured hedge. The trees have been pruned and branches tied to the wire to create a food hedge. There is no space between trees. Branches from the neighboring trees mingle and overlap within the hedge form. Note: there is need to prune and shape the hedge every year. This is a great use of a fence line. Future blogs will describe other approaches to elevated and edible landscaping.

fenceline

Again, photos of all these projects with more detailed description are on my website. Future blogs will touch on taking out a driveway, water features, front yard gardens, rain water catchment and solar features. Social aspects of the suburban frontier will also be described. Please comment, share what you know. Ask questions. Check out my website.


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12/16/2014

Energy Efficient Cooking

While cooking is not among the top five of your home's 'energy-hungry routines,' if it's something you do every day then there are many small steps, and a few big ones you can take to decrease its impact on your energy use. Your method of cooking is the root of how much energy you use, so to help you cook wisely, here is a rundown of some of the best options for sautéing sustainably:

Cook with Electricity

Whenever you read about options for energy efficient cooking, the question of gas versus electricity always comes up. The difference in energy use is actually pretty negligible, especially now that induction cooking is bringing electricity up to par with the speed of gas. This shift really does put electricity in front in the "green" stakes for the following reasons:

• Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and while most electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, you can source sustainable electricity via solar panels.
• Gas introduces air pollution in the form of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide into your home.
• Cooking with gas produces a lot of ambient heat, often requiring the use of air conditioners, a huge energy user.

The best option for cooking with electricity is definitely induction, which is 84-percent efficient, compared to the 40-percent efficiency of gas. A ceramic glass cooktop, which uses halogen elements as a heat source, is a close second as both options deliver heat almost instantaneously, cutting back on wasted energy.

Choose Convection over Conventional

Convection ovens are more energy efficient than conventional ovens because the heated air is continuously circulated, so you can reduce cooking temperatures and times. It's estimated that a convection oven uses about 20 percent less energy than its conventional counterparts. Throw in a self-cleaning model, which has significantly more insulation, and you have a pretty efficient cooking machine—just don't use the self-cleaning feature too often.

Smaller Can Be Better

Using microwaves and toaster ovens, which are basically miniature regular ovens, can reduce energy use by as much as 80 percent. These are great options for reheating and cooking small portions. While microwaves and toaster ovens do use a lot of energy when working, because they slice cooking times to smithereens they are definitely the energy-efficient option when you can opt for one over firing up the oven. Slow cooking with crockpots is a great way to cook energy-efficiently. Once the crockpot is brought to temperature, its insulation can keep it hot for up to 6 hours while drawing only minimal additional energy. On the other end of the spectrum, pressure cookers cook faster courtesy of steam pressure and a sealed pot, meaning you can cook your beans in less than half the time you would in a standard pot.

Full Steam Ahead

Whether electric powered or stove top, a two- or three-tier steamer is a highly efficient, incredibly healthy method of cooking, as you are cooking two or three dishes for the "price" of one and eliminating the need for oils and fats in the cooking process while retaining all the nutrients.

Once you have your eco-friendly cooking equipment, make sure you get the most out of it by following these five guidelines, sourced from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy:

• Match the cooking method to the meal: use a toaster oven for one slice of pizza and the whole oven for the whole pizza.
• Match the pan size to the element; a small pan on a big burner will waste energy.
• Buy flat-bottomed, good quality cookware. Warped pan bottoms loose energy because they do not have good contact with the element.
• Choose high-conductivity materials, such as copper-bottom pans on the stove and glass or ceramic in the oven, for faster cooking times.
• Reduce cooking times by defrosting food in the fridge (which has the bonus of helping your fridge use less energy), putting dishes in the oven while it's preheating, and turning the oven off a few minutes before the time is up.

Jennifer Tuohy writes about green-home technologies for Home Depot. Jennifer provides tips to homeowners on how they can cut back on energy usage for large appliances, including gas and induction ranges. To view Home Depot's selection of induction ranges, including styles discussed by Jennifer, check the Home Depot website.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



12/15/2014

White Birch Bed Frame 

Hi, my name is Adam D. Bearup, a.k.a. The Hybrid Home Guy. I have been a ‘green’ builder for most of my life and I live in Michigan, which, as a whole, has never really been a hotbed for green construction — until recently.

Like other pioneers, I did not have the luxury of working from a pool of money or savings; I had to figure everything else out as I went. I wasn’t the builder with the brand new truck because I would have to spend what money I was making on fixing things on the cutting edge houses that we built or on specialty tools. I always thought, “Well, if the people don’t like me because of the truck I drive, then I don’t want to work for them anyway.” 

There was incredible resistance to the way I was building houses. This resistance was from suppliers, other builders, and even the local home builders association. I smile now when I see one of those builders drive by and they have a green leaf in their logo on the side of their brand new truck.

I am not the only pioneer in green building; there are others who had an impact throughout history. Those pioneers from the 1970s who help us to get jobs now should at least be rewarded with a hand shake and a “thank you.” Most of our clients have always said, “I saw this type of building in the seventies, and it has taken all these years until we could afford to have a house of our own like that.” 

Pioneering Green Building

I heard this one day, “Oh, you are on the bleeding edge of technology,” and that term has always stuck. I have learned that most people are on the ride for the money and not for the science, or the learning, or even the recognition, and that has got to be the reason that I had to pay for most of our subcontractors who would never come back to fix their mistakes. One of the memorable moments on “the bleeding edge” occurred when we learned that you could not acid-stain concrete that had fly ash in it. Fly ash is what is left over after coal is burned in a power plant. The finish peeled off of the concrete floor shortly after the homeowners moved into the house and the concrete subcontractor said, “Oh, who has to pay for that?”  This was a major problem that took several of my house payments to pay for. I got to know my mortgage company really well during that period of time as we learned our way across the bleeding edge. 

It can hurt a pioneer who was on the bleeding edge to see others making money doing what they did for free, but that is not why pioneers do what they do. Those on the bleeding edge of anything understand that there needs to be change and those pioneers are willing to do what it takes to help bring about that change. There is a certain excitement when others start to follow your lead, we see that in everyday life and in what is now called green building.

I am happy to see the change happening, I am happy to see products in the big box stores that we used to have to beg, borrow, and steal to get! Can you imagine what Lewis and Clark would say now if they knew that an Interstate existed which can take a person across the country? I bet they would say what us other pioneers say, “Wow, that would have been nice.”

Photo by Homeowner, The Earth Shelter Project Michigan 

Check out Adam’s green building videos on Vimeo.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



11/24/2014

Little Mud Hut Cob Building 

In 2007, I visited Bill Coperthwaite at his home in northern Maine and fell in love with the only round house I've ever been in that really works. The beauty of it grew directly from the circle itself; Bill didn't try to make it fit a squared-off floorplan: no right angles, and the big spaces (the main living space is about 30 feet in diameter) were simply divided in half or in thirds. People in one portion had privacy but could reach any other part of the building easily via a generous circular "room" that was open all the way around the perimeter.

Bill's designs would make a wonderful book (in addition to his classic, A Handmade Life), but I went home wondering how I could combine his ideas with my own favorite material: mud.

Creating a Structure from Basket-Woven Willow

My first attempt was a hybrid stud frame building with wattle and daub infill. It worked! The mud provided all the necessary stiffening without additional lumber, and even on the wettest, coldest Pacific Northwest winter day, it's comfortable and dry inside. The next year, I invited Bill out to lead a workshop. About 20 of us (many with no prior carpentry experience) built a beautiful 20-foot diameter, two-tier yurt with a living roof on the first tier, and shingles on the cupola. The bays in the framing of the bottom walls were filled with local willow woven by master basket-maker Margaret Mathewson, and backed with an earthen plaster.

Basket Woven Willow Yurt Frame 

Folks were delighted to learn the sophisticated carpentry required to cut all the compound angles with hand saws. Indeed, the framing was tighter than I've seen on many professional stick-built houses, Still, however, I dreamed of a design so simple that anyone could make it with minimal skills, no power tools, and no nearby lumber mill.Build A Mud Hut

I went to the woods and cut an armful of hazel withies about thumb thick. These I lashed with baling twine into a rough, circular lattice, staked to the ground and contained at the top by a tension band made of bamboo and also bound with baling twine. The roof was reciprocal: all the rafters woven into a self-supporting cone, each stick supported by the previous stick, and supporting the next one.

When I scaled up the design to 14-foot diameter, the same Margaret who had hosted Bill and the workshop let me thin out her grove of black basketry bamboo for the wall lattice. For the rafters, my neighbor let me cull some of the young Douglas fir saplings that had been shaded out in his forest.

When the lattice was up, we wove split-bamboo into it.

Adding a Natural Roof and Building Mud WallsLittle Cob Hut In Forest

A bigger reciprocal roof was more challenging, but beautiful and functional (thanks to Tony Wrench for inspiration — his lovely cob and cordwood round house is another variation on the yurt). The ceiling was canvas drop cloth, and the roof membrane was a piece of heavy-duty vinyl billboard tarp, a waste product that it tough, waterproof, and flexible — perfect!

And when it was time to mud the walls, we invited friends and had a party. Windows (and the door) were easy to cut out of the lattice, and followed that pattern of diamond shapes. The final interior finish was a lime plaster.

Sharing Natural Building Techniques

I took the design down to Aprovecho Institute, in Cottage Grove, Oregon, to offer a week-long workshop as part of their 7-week Natural Building Intensive. In 4-1/2 days, 16 of us gathered and prepped all the materials, assembled the frame, raised the roof, and applied the first layer of mud. (The foundation/base had been completed beforehand.) In following years, we've slowed the pace to spend more time experimenting and addressing important design details around doors, windows, and the roof system. Several students have gone on to build their own yurts, and solved their own problems in new ways, with new materials as they find them. That's appropriate technology!

Designed for the rainy Pacific Northwest, the generous overhanging eave protects the walls and keeps them from growing moss. The thick, insulative earthen walls keep even unheated interiors dry and comfortable. The only time I get to work on this is for a week in the summer, and every summer we have to start a new one! So finish photos haven't yet been taken. So when you finish yours, send photos! And if you know of someone else building an innovative, low-tech yurt, please let us know so we can gather more material for our yurt-book project!

Here's a free booklet with more details.

Natural Building Community Workshop 


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



11/23/2014

Suburban Permaculture Home

Half of all Americans live in suburbia. It’s true that suburbia is on the receiving end of a lot of social, economic and environmental criticism with much of that criticism well deserved. Suburbia requires a lot of resources to keep it going. Just about everyone has a car. Many homes are remarkably over sized.  Suburbia is known as a place lacking in culture where people often don't know their neighbors.

Potential for Suburban Permaculture

While some of these criticisms may be justified, at the same time, suburbia offers enormous potential to become a critical new frontier for deep changes in our culture and economy. “You don't have to move to live in a better neighborhood.”

All over the country, a growing number of people are beginning to recognize the potentials of suburbia as a location for a way of life that is far more friendly to people and planet. Here in my neighborhood, two miles northwest of downtown Eugene, Oregon, we have a small preview of what suburbia can become. There are lots of good stories.

The purpose of this blog is to share practical experience for transforming suburbia. Food, energy, water, culture, economics, human scale technology, social uplift. This blog can also help bring people together who are starting out and others with years of experience, to share what they are learning for creating a very different kind of suburbia. This blog can help add to important conversations relating to the suburban frontier.

Fifteen years ago, I bought this modest 1,100-square-foot house. From the start, the plan was to make best use I could of the assets this quarter-acre provided. The grass is gone front and back. The 350-square-foot patio has become a closed in passive solar space that helps heat the house. There is edible landscaping all over. Automobile space has been reclaimed as the driveway was taken out and the one-car garage turned into a living space.

Surprising to some people, the Pacific Northwest is dry for months in the summertime so I installed a 6,500-gallon rainwater system for garden and landscape. The house has a solar water heater and heat pump, there are two water features landscaped with “urbanite” from my former driveway, and there are a greenhouse and cold frames.

Over the years, well over a thousand people have visited – green bike tours, permaculture classes, school groups, eco bike tours, curious neighbors, well known writers and media. Both the mayor and city manager think the place is great. This quarter-acre has activated many other transformation projects in the neighborhood and elsewhere.

My next-door neighbor has taken out part of his driveway in favor of garden space and replaced decorative plants out front with many food-producing shrubs and trees. We collaborated on a project taking out an expansive hedge on our property line and replaced it with edible landscaping.

Within a fifteen-minute bike ride, dozens of friends and neighbors are transforming where they live. There are front yards turned into gardens, green buildings, food forests, solar projects, fences down between like minded neighbors, shared properties, educational outreach and celebrations. There are mutual assistance networks and a sense of identity, we live in the River Road Permaculture Zone.

Building An Eco Home 

An Important Lesson about Urban Homesteading

We learned another important lesson: Almost any neighborhood and town has many assets and allies that can be helpful in transforming where we live. A surprising variety of organizations — ad hoc groups, schools, communities of faith, even city and county programs have agendas that fit perfectly with greening our communities. Taking the time, one can recognize many surprising opportunities for common cause, to help create a more peaceful and healthy world.

This blog will share practical information for home-scale property transformation. It will also describe collaborations in the neighborhood and great stories about tools, assets and allies in the community. Making these changes is simply about people taking the time to re define their priorities, recognize the benefits for taking action then, doing the work. Each positive story can be a platform to inspire others to action.

The ideal is to re purpose suburbia to use as a platform for creating a very different economy and culture that will be far more friendly to people and planet.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


11/4/2014

Earlier this spring we started excavating a big hole next to our house to serve as a root cellar. We live without electricity and with about 3/4 of the year here in the High Desert having cool, refrigeratory nights a root cellar seemed like a great idea.Root Cellar 1.JPG

Digging a Root Cellar

We are also a fossil-fuel-free urban homestead so digging our roughly 11-by 9-foot hole was done completely by hand. About half of the wonderful clay in the hole was used for our “One-Day Cob House” workshop in May and harvested by workshop participants during that weekend (we’re especially proud of that stacking of functions). The rest we dug piecemeal over several months. While I enjoy digging I never do it for more than an hour at a time unless we’ve created some sort of deadline. We also had an intern with us for a few months this past summer and she got to develop her digging skills in the root cellar quite regularly. In fact, she also dug most of our driveway Hugelkultur beds and several holes in our backyard for tree guilds. Lucky girl!

When we got to about 3 and a half feet deep I called it quits. I’m optimistic that will be deep enough to make good use of the constant coolness of the Earth. We went with earthbags for the walls until above grade and then used Balecob to the roof. Earthbags seemed the perfect fit for several reasons:

• I like working with them
• We had a ton of clay, stone, sand from our recently dug up driveway beds. Really an ideal mix for earthbags. We also added about 48 oz. of Portland cement to each bag to harden them up.
• They are inexpensive. I bought 200 of the 14-inch by 26-inch variety for about $80 and used them all.
• They partner nicely with cob and strawbales 

root cellarI laid several inches of gravel on the bottom (including under the bags) and went round and round and up and up filling and tamping until reaching grade. In total we laid 9 rows of these bags. From there I added one more row of big bags (leftover feed bags from Feed World in Reno). These were heavy, but they got me about 8 inches above grade in most spots and are wide enough to hold a bale set on edge nicely. A bale is about 17 inches wide at its narrowest dimension (on edge) - the one I’ll be using above the bags. From what I recollect a strawbale set this way has an R-value of about 30. In addition to its insulative value, we chose to use bales because we want to cover their exteriors with luscious earthen plaster which we’ll get to put on and look at every day. 

Other Root Cellar Features

I also set in "deadmen" of leftover redwood 4-inch by 4-inch scraps so I can attach shelving and tie in the roof beams with the shelves and walls.  You'll also notice some vent pipes (black 4-inch ABS pipe) that stand up outside the wall and enter between the earthbags towards the floor on the inside. These will be cut shorter above grade and serve to improve air flow in conjunction with a high 6-inch vent on the door side of the cellar. Two low and one high on opposite sides of the cellar will bring cool air down and flush warm air out and provide needed ventilation for our future crops. Root cellars need three components to function well:  cool temps, high humidity, and good ventilation.

More to come as we finish and use our earthbag root cellar.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



11/2/2014

If you spend enough time in the environmental movement, you'll undoubtedly get wrapped up in the philosophical discussions of what is the most “green.” Paper, or plastic? Off-grid, or grid-tied? Such debates are naturally going to arise in a movement whose goal is to improve the way people live on this planet, because the act of living affects our natural world many varied ways. Sometimes, improvement in one aspect of environmental impact has unintended consequences in another.

Green building is not without its own debates of this ilk. Should a new insulation product capable of drastically dropping energy consumption be used, even if it is manufactured with chemicals whose toxicity is not well studied? Should I stay in my existing energy hog of a home here in town, or build a new green home in a location that requires me to drive many miles each day to work and the nearest grocery store? Any project that successfully transforms from dream to reality is going to have to accept some compromises between competing environmental concerns. I work with customers every day who must contemplate these trade-offs, and have observed that green home projects are often guided by one of two very different general philsophies, each with their separate focus on what it means to be a truly green residence.

Resilient Off Grid Home Colorado

The Resilient, Self-Sufficient Approach

This school of thought is the older of the two. The goal is to disconnect the home altogether from the environmentally problematic systems that modern homes depend upon, supporting its own needs in a more sustainable manner.

This kind of green home has a plan for everything. Not connected to the electrical grid at all, a solar array, wind turbine, micro-hydro generator, or any combination of the above will charge batteries to power the electrical essentials of this house—although a propane generator is in place when even these systems fail. Heating for this home also often comes from propane, (it is generally too far away from town to have natural gas service) in combination with a trusty wood stove. Water comes from wells, greywater, and rain barrels; much of the food comes from the site. This home likely features strong passive solar design, and will be well insulated—although preferably with natural insulation materials such as cotton or sheep’s wool. Some modern conveniences, such as air-conditioning, are likely foregone, although enough will remain to satisfy the particular wants and hobbies of the homeowner.

This home in Colorado exemplifies the philosophy of resilient green design. It uses natural materials (adobe, wood-framed construction, interior tile and brick for thermal mass) and off-grid systems (solar electric system, solar hot water system for domestic hot water and assistance with hydronic radiant floor heating, all with propane backup) to remain resilient in an very remote area with common snowstorms and power outages.

The High-Tech Approach

This philosophy embraces technology to improve connections to the existing infrastructure. This home may look on the outside very similar to a standard home—minus the solar array--and it will use whatever technology is available toward the goal of ultra-low resource consumption. It likely uses mass-produced building products like spray foam insulation or structurally insulated panels (SIPS), to achieve exceptional levels of insulation. It will be extremely air-tight with the help of caulks, gaskets, and tapes, and will incorporate a mechanical fresh air system to keep the occupants healthy. It will likely be both heated and cooled, using ultra-efficient technology like a ductless mini-split heat pump or a ground source heat pump with variable speed blower and desuperheater for water heating assistance. It will likely be all-electric---the better to be powered by an on-site solar array—and hooked up to the existing electrical grid so as to allow the homeowner to use her solar when the sun shines, pull electricityNational Institute of Standards and Technology Test House from the grid when it is not, and send any excess generation from the solar back out to the grid as a credit against later grid use. It will use passive solar design whenever it can, with special coatings on south-windows to allow more heat transfer, and triple pane windows on other sides of the home.

The National Institute of Standards Net Zero Test Facility, pictured here, is one example of such a home. Using thick walls, air-tight construction, and high efficiency systems, the it was built to use 60% less energy than standard construction before the addition of the 10 kilowatt solar array and separate solar water heating system. It was also designed fit in with the look of the regular suburban homes around it.

Low-Loads Is What They Have in Common

Though the means to get there may differ, the common theme in both of these philosophies is low energy use--the first philosophy because of necessity, as the on-site systems must be able to supply all the home’s needs--and the second because of the cost benefits of negating electric bills. This means houses insulated above and beyond code levels. This means passive solar design principles used to their fullest extent whenever possible. And in either case, there is some portion of modern living that demands electricity: whether for an array of consumer electronics or just for a well pump. That means on-site renewable energy will always have a role to play, at least until the utilities start getting serious about deploying renewables for widespread grid generation.

All Of the Above!

As a green building consultant, I can usually tell which philosophy my clients are more likely to identify with after a few conversations—although of course, in real life, many projects take on aspects of both. My preference is for neither. Every attempt at green building can teach us something new about how to reduce our environmental impact. Every new green building advances the goal of a less impactful building stock in some capacity. A project really wins when it can find ways to accommodate multiple environmental goals. Low energy loads, and healthy, non-toxic materials. Resilience against what may come, without requiring the sacrifice of all modern luxury. Arriving at a product or process that benefits the environment, benefits people, and remains economical can sometimes be a long, iterative process. As an environmentalist, I believe it is a process that is essential to undertake.

Which philosophy do you identify with more strongly?

photo 1 credit: John Janus
photo 2 credit:
NIST









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