My children are coming of age in a time when learning how to “help the Earth” is part of the general school curriculum, when messages of reducing and reusing abound, and every room in their school has separate trash and recycling cans. At ages 5 and 7, they are proficient at knowing what goes in each can.
That does not negate the fact that I still believe that the day I had children, I declared war on the Earth, despite all the walking to school, the cycling to the market, and turning the lights out. Nonetheless, my eye was caught by the idea on Realtor.com that Green Homes are de rigueur.
Living green means many things to many people. For my parents, it meant recycling before recycling was made relatively easy (I remember hauling our recyclables to special locations) and installing solar heating back in the Carter-era.
A quick perusal of Realtor.com finds these area “green homes,” if you happen to be in the market – with some of their “green features” highlighted.
Arlington, VA; Bethesda, MD; and Washington, DC
|Arlington, VA||3402 8Th St S||$799,000||Green Certified/Energy Star rated home|
|Bethesda, MD||9600 Page Ave # A||$1,925,410||Features the latest in green technologies & LEED certification; solar heating|
|Washington, DC||1317 Shepherd St Nw # E||$535,000||Energy Star appliances, Pella windows, and high tech green insulation|
So…how does my 1920’s era home add up to the above on a variety of green criteria?
(1) Use green building materials: fail – I have no reason to believe that when my home was built, anyone considered how the wood was harvested, where it was harvested from, or whether the resources being used were renewable or non-renewable.
(2) Low-VOC paint: pass! – although begrudgingly. I wasn’t sure the low-VOC paints would work as well or look as beautiful, particularly the flat paints. My husband and I have now repainted nearly the entire home, and the paints look great three years after application.
(3) High-efficiency water heater: fail – we weren’t convinced it would make much of a difference, so when we replace our old water heater, we went with a standard heater. But…this is something we’ll consider again once the other old water heater in our home needs replacing.
(4) Energy-Conserving Insulation: pass! We had central air conditioning installed, and when we did this, the company advised that we were never going to be able to cool our son’s room with the nearly non-existent insulation we had. We had insulation blown into ceilings, added to eaves, nailed beneath floors. It all sounds disruptive, but it wasn’t. We noticed a drop in our energy bills pretty quickly. And that AC? It cools extremely well.
We were inspired to add much of this insulation after an energy audit we had a couple of years ago. We also had insulation sprayed all over our basement and hidden spaces where we had terrible air leaks.
(5) Rainwater Collection: pass! I adore my rain barrel – and so do my kids! Now, when they want to make “muddy soup”, they turn the spigot on the rain barrel. Not only do I not need to worry about the hose being left on, I don’t feel guilty about using water that isn’t absolutely necessary.
(6) Energy efficient appliances: pass! My high-efficient Bosch dishwasher is so quiet, I’m often started when the water empties at the end of the cycle.
(7) Energy efficient lighting: pass! I’m not even sure you can purchase non-CFL bulbs. Now – to make sure we recycle them, rather than throwing them out!
(8) Solar power: fail. Like I said, I grew up in a solar home. I believe in it. We just didn’t have the cash for it at the time we were having a new boiler installed. Maybe we’ll add this on at some point.
(9) Efficient windows: pass! This is the first home improvement we had done – because the breeze from the old windows just about made my heart stop, as I imagined all that heat seeping outside!
When we went green, we did so for two reasons. First, we really do want to reduce our footprint. Second, we think of larger items like the insulation as part lifestyle, part investment. What’s green in your home?
Elaine walks her children to school each day and rides her bike when she doesn’t have kids in tow. She writes about this and more at Connor and Helen Grow Up! No compensation was received for this post.