It’s Easy To Be Green part two |

It’s Easy To Be Green part two

It’s Easy Being Green, Chapter 2When showing a house to an out-of-state buyer, they usually comment on our wonderful views. “They’re all good, that’s one of the benefits of living here,” I explain. Being surrounded by the natural beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley enhances our appreciation of the natural resources we enjoy. We can camp, hike, fish, ski and ride bikes minutes from our homes and still take pleasure in pristine, undisturbed areas. We need to remind ourselves of the importance of conserving these resources as we build or remodel our homes.The smart-growth movement focuses on conservation of energy and other resources, the quality of air and water and the effects of buildings on our sense of well-being. One of the organizations formed to promote this philosophy is called Built Green Colorado. If you see a home designated “Built Green” you can be assured the home meets the criteria of Built Green. Builders must choose a minimum number of points from a checklist featuring 205 separate green building features in order to register the home in this program. Here is a representative sampling of their viewpoint.• Buy regional or local products: Using local resources reduces transportation costs and energy.• Engineered wood products are better: To avoid using products from old-growth forests, employ engineered wood products that utilize parts of trees previously ignored and come from smaller, younger trees grown on tree farms.• Recycled plastic or composite ‘lumber’: These products are made partially or entirely of recycled plastic and are very low maintenance and durable. By using these products you are also reducing stockpiles of recycled materials in our landfills. Fact: Americans recycle seven times more than they did 10 years ago.• Exterior finish alternatives: Fiber-cement siding is durable, more moisture resistant and holds paint longer than typical hardwood siding. Other options are recycled-content hardboard, stucco and locally produced brick or stone. • Lighting alternatives: Promoting natural light with windows strategically placed to take advantage of the sun.Decorating with light colored walls, ceiling and carpet reduces light absorption.Substituting fluorescent lights for incandescent will decrease electrical consumption four times. • Xeriscape: Water is referred to as “Colorado gold” because it is such a precious resource. Xeriscape is the use of native, drought-tolerant plants which require less watering.We’re lucky we live in Colorado, a state known for its progressive views on sustainable building with lots of knowledgeable professionals who support it. Recently I talked with Jeff Dickinson, an architect and owner of Energy and Sustainable Design in Carbondale, who went to Arizona State University and earned a Master of Environmental Planning with a Solar Energy Specialty. Dickinson became an advocate in 1972 during the Arab Oil Embargo while he was a high school student. He had an energy-conscious teacher who taught his students the importance of controlling energy consumption in light of current and future predicted energy shortages. (Note to teachers – you do make a difference.) Initially Dickinson emphasized active and passive solar energy in order to make an impact on energy conservation. Later he also became interested in the “embodied energy of materials,” defined as the energy that goes into producing materials and getting them to the job site. Similar to “Built Green,” Dickinson promotes using indigenous materials whenever possible. Why import Italian marble when we have a beautiful, high quality marble available here? He also discussed the concept of “cradle to cradle,” planning for the future use of the building materials we are currently using. For example, when purchasing asphalt shingles, an owner should consider how to utilize the shingles in the future. Can they be recycled into road materials? The owner should also understand the advantages of shingles with a life expectancy of 30 rather than 15 years. The roof will last twice as long, thus conserving the petroleum used in the product and saving the expense of replacing the roof. A lot of green building ideas are just common sense, Dickinson believes. They save money, offer superior durability, increase comfort and protect the environment. Dickinson reminds us the building process is rife with choices and compromises. You don’t have to embrace green building concepts 100 percent. Any steps you can take along the way will help. A few recommendations he makes are eliminating west-facing glass and promoting window orientations to the east, utilizing fluorescent bulbs which come in a variety of colors, installing recycled wood and plastic decks instead of wood, and considering straw-bale construction which is more energy efficient, comfortable and better quality than conventional building techniques. By following some of these recommendations, it is possible to build a home or addition and reduce our ecological footprint on this planet. A smaller footprint from us allows more footprints for our heirs. What a nice way to be remembered.You may contact Jeff Dickinson at 963-0114 or biospace@rof.netContact me at 945-6266, e-mail

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