Friday, October 09, 2009

Green Building

Recently, a famous celebrity (yes, you know this person) moved into our neighborhood. Their new house appears to be a "green" home with geothermal heating and cooling and recycled antique timbers. That got us to wondering, what exactly is green? Are some building practices more green than others? And is it greener to build new or retrofit existing buildings?

For instance, this celebrity's home, while certainly friendlier to the environment than most, was built in 2006. Do the recycled building materials and renewable energy offset the impact of building a house where there was none? And since we are so remote here (even in New Jersey), does building a green house where you need to rely on a car make sense? I remember watching an episode of House Hunters where a couple concerned with green building was looking at newer homes along the Oregon Coast. How green is it to build a house in the middle of nowhere? Maybe they should live in Portland. On the subway line.

Our house is 150 to 250 years old. Is that greener than a new "green" house? Or is it so inefficient that its better to tear it down and build purely green? Or is moving into the city our only true option?

We'd love to get solar panels, if the US could get its act together and provide better subsidies, like they do in parts of the the world. New Jersey actually does have the best (or second best) solar program in America but its still expensive. And even if we do go solar, we're still driving all over tarnation to buy groceries and do other errands. Okay, we've raised a lot of questions here and answered none of them!--the calculations are starting to make our heads hurt. And we're not moving to the city any time soon. But maybe we'll see what we can do to make our lives a little greener.

US Green Building Council

Greening the Not So New House - Article from the US Green Building Council

Environmental Protection Agency

This Old House - Green building and living ideas. The house pictured above is one of their project houses, remodeled with green elements.

Danny Seo and his blog Daily Danny

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