A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

The Three Rs of Green Building

This month LEEDs standards will be published for residential buildings, and the National Association of Home Builders along with the International Code Council are working hard to have their green standards in place. Studies have shown that the terms “organic” or “eco-friendly” or just plain “energy efficient” have become the buzz words to sell products to consumers. There are in fact many standards dealing with having an environmentally sound home, but what makes a home qualify for such a term is debated. Environmentalists argue amongst themselves about what is the best approach for creating an eco-friendly place to live. The details of all these programs may be summed up, I think, to basic principles, which may make it easier for us average homeowners to understand and comply with.

Reduce, reuse, rethink are the catch phrases for making a more green building. I believe that these principles can be adhered to by any homeowner, and that when wisely applied, you do not need to build a new green building to meet the demands of being environmentally conscious.

As products become readily available and affordable, we stuff our homes with the latest gadgets. I read an article the other day that suggested that we should get rid of something every time we buy something to be green. I do not think that we can give up many of our modern conviences without feeling that our life is becoming harsh. This feeling may cause us to overindulge. We should not deprive ourselves of some of the luxuries that make us feel comfort, but we should reduce our impact on our surroundings by using these luxuries wisely. Many household appliances and systems are using electricity when we do not need them to be working for us. Unplug these items when not in use. Water is cheap, but it is harder to come by, so think of how water is being used in your home. Stop constantly dripping faucets and running toilets. Use the water from boiling vegetables as a soup stock or base for a sauce rather than pouring down the drain. Do not buy specialty products when something that you already have in your home will do. I make garden ornaments from items around the house. I do not buy a tool that performs only one job, when I do not perform that task often, or when another tool will suffice. Being frugal is being green.

Our land fills are spilling over their bounds. I see no reason why an existing home should be destroyed when it is habitable to build a green home. All of the parts for the old home are now heading to the landfill. Preventing an item from taking up space in the dump is an environmentally sound move. Recycle what products that you can. Garden waste becomes compost. Plastics, glass, and paper products into your communities recycling bins. Old clothes to become rags. If you think about it, creative solutions will come to you. However, I suggest that you also consider repairing a home part, instead of buying a new one as the proper thing to do. The fewer items in the trash can indicate your aid to our Earth.

Changing how we think about products and their uses is our greatest tool in being environmentally concerned.

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