In honor of Earth Week 2012, we are dedicating a number of this week’s blog posts to actions that can be taken by homeowners in an effort to make our homes more eco-friendly.
I’m always looking for inspiration to make my home improvement projects more environmentally sustainable. I’ve come across a number of “extreme green” homes along the way and thought I’d share two of my favorites with you in honor of Earth Day. While we may not all be able to live in “Earthships”, I always find it interesting to see what people are doing to live more sustainably. I may not be able to incorporate all of these concepts into my next home improvement but a few of them could make their way into the plans.
Tiny House Footprint
How small is too small? How much space do you really need? In our modern days of excess, some people are making conscious choices to have a smaller environmental impact by living in homes with tiny footprints. These small homes are easier to maintain, use much less energy to heat and cool, are less expensive to build, and many are portable. Check out this video of Jay Shafer from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company as he gives us a tout of his tiny 89 square foot home. That is one TINY house!
Using Recycled, Reclaimed and Salvaged Materials
Using reclaimed or salvaged materials for finishing is pretty common; think barn boards as flooring, reclaimed brick on the front of the house, bathroom tile made of recycled glass, kitchen counters made of concrete and recycled wine bottles.
Some folks will take this to a whole other level and repurpose old materials like tires and pop bottles as their main building materials. Earthships are a great example of this, creating beautiful homes out of natural and recycled materials. Earthships are built using a method coined as Biotechture which involves using salvaged building materials in addition to using solar and wind energy for electricity, snow and rain for water, and energy from the sun and earth for heating and cooling.
While we may not all be ready to live in houses the size of a walk-in closet or listen to our wind turbines all night, these extreme green ways of living certainly have some valuable lessons to teach us.
If you are considering environmentally sustainable home improvements, talk to your local home remodeling contractor. You may have to interview a few before you find an expert of truly sustainable renovations or building methods, but it will be worth it in the long run.