Green Building, Recycling, & Housing

by Catherine Haug, May 3, 2011

Are you wondering, as I wonder, what will become of the glut of empty houses in the valley and around the nation? Will they get bought up once the economy recovers? Or will developers just build more new homes with all the latest technological and green advances so that all those empty homes remain empty, and more valuable farm land is lost to green lawns and suburban sprawl?

Len Ford contributed an article titled “Play It Again, Sam” in the April 27, 2011 edition of the Flathead Beacon that discusses the possibility of fixing up – rejuvenating – these older, empty homes with the newer ‘green’ technologies to lure new home buyers.

He makes the following points:

  • Recycling is a good thing to do; re-use is even better. “Re-use almost always pencils out because it does not require too much in the way of energy consumption. Often the only energy required to re-use a material is human creativity and some sweat equity.”
  • Energy is precious: When a home is built, one must consider not only the energy expended to build it, but also the embodied energy associated with all the materials used in its construction. For example, “concrete requires much more energy in its production than framing lumber does; so does fiberglass insulation compared to cellulose.” We can no longer go with the lowest price on materials and construction labor, without considering the cost of the energy used to create those materials, because energy is becoming precious.
  • Re-use/Recycling exisiting homes: “Our existing stock of housing represents a tremendous stockpile of embodied energy that has already been paid for in the marketplace. Reuse (remodeling) should be our first option for structurally sound homes, by updating them with current technologies. Less sound structures could be dismantled and re-purposed for other uses; this option does require more energy, but does recoup some of the embodied energy in these buildings.
  • Obtaining energy audits of re-use candidates, and hiring professionals should be considered. Contact the Flathead Building Association or the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) for more. Check out their page: Houses That Work.

2 Responses to “Green Building, Recycling, & Housing”

  1. Most people want to be eco-friendly but for the most part at least currently sometimes going green technlogoy is not financially a good idea currently.I have looked at eco-friendlyand green technology alternatives like igo green charger and have adapted where it makes financial sense. So far I have also installed solar panels on my home but while looking for a electric car I find the cost doesnt justify it for me. While I am passionate about making green choices and opting for green technology whenever possible it is up to people like you and I to spread awareness and let the companies know there is a demand. Your website looks popular and I think you can help influence society with your insight and green technology tips. By the way I found your site by searching ” Green Building, Recycling, & Housing « The EssentiaList ” and you were the first result. So I think your website is a perfect platform to discuss ideas that are thought provoking to help influence your readers to go green. – Good luck with your site, you deserve all the success! Please continue to talk about more eco-tips/green tech, every idea helps us get closer day by day!

  2. Catherine says:

    Thanks for you comment and well wishes.
    I’m not really into “green” technology (tho others in our group may disagree), because of all the energy expended in producing the technology. Often the energy saved by using the technology is overshadowed by the energy it took to make it.

    I’m more into passive ways to reduce energy consumption, especially in building construction. But it’s through exchanges like this one, that we can enlighten others.