We have a clear choice, we can either continue to accept mediocre energy performance and embarrassing durability, or step up and build homes that provide lasting value. We can either hide behind weak energy codes to justify building "energy hogs", or we can step up and do the right thing. The old excuse that "building green costs more" just doesn't hold up any more.
Meeting tomorrow's energy challenge isn't only about developing sexy new energy sources. Sure, images of wind turbines provide an iconic image of sustainable living. But by using building technologies that are already available, we can make a huge impact on energy consumption and global warming. A successful strategy has to include both new energy sources and more energy-efficient buildings. Saving energy costs less than producing it, and energy-efficiency starts with sustainable design.
Consider this - in the time it takes to read this post, 10 city blocks of forest will be cleared for lumber to build new homes!
According to The National Association of Home Builders, a 2,000 square foot home uses 16,000 board feet of lumber and 6,000 square feet of panels. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are alternative building solutions like RASTRA that reduce timber consumption.
Trees represent our most effective tool at absorbing CO2. A 2,400 s.f. house requires 2.3 acres of forest to build. If left to grow, these same trees would absorb 11,818 lbs of CO2 per year. So when you add this total to the amount we save in reduced energy consumption, a 2,400 s.f. RASTRA home positively contributes by 8-10 tons each and every year! That's 240-300 tons over the life of a 30-year mortgage and alot more over the life of the home itself.
In the U.S., buildings are responsible for 25-35% of CO2 emissions. By making simple changes, starting with more energy-efficient building envelopes, we can turn this thing around. Saving the planet is a big job and the way we build homes makes a tremendous impact, for better or worse, on the land, on air quality, on natural resources, and health of homeowners.
What's so appealing about wood?
Other than being cheap, using wood to build exterior walls is hard to rationalize. Wood rots, it burns, attracts termites, promotes mold, shrinks, warps, and by cutting down trees we reduce the earth’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide. In the event of a fire or natural disaster, wood offers little resistance.
So what's it going to take? Foreign countries have a stranglehold on our economy and global warming threatens the ecological balance of our planet, yet we continue to construct building shells that just don't perform. We do this while better, more cost-effective solutions are readily available.
Whose house is it anyway? It's yours! So don't apologize for demanding better solutions or doing the right thing.
Our disregard for the environment has to change and we know it. So let's start doing the right thing, not because we're being governed to do so, but because we want to. If not you . . . who?
Thanks for visiting.