"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending."
— C.S. Lewis
Humans have progressed through the years and the construction of dwellings has evolved and adapted through identifying a problem and finding new, innovative solutions. With an increasing population, diminishing global resources and the effects of climate change staring us right between the eyes, we're standing at a critical crossroads. One very important step is to green up our homes and make them more resource efficient.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that buildings, both residential and commercial, account for a whopping 73% of electricity consumption and 39% of total carbon dioxide emissions. Buildings are also responsible for 24% of all municipal solid waste, 25% of wood and raw materials use and 25% of water consumption. If buildings continue to be constructed in a similar manner, with familiar products, the result will be...well, the same. The building process must improve with renewed, more efficient techniques that are really simple and achievable. Using energy efficient appliances, fixtures and systems will result in less energy consumption. Swapping standardized construction materials for renewable materials will shrink our dependence on resources.
Right now in Bend there are large-scale commercial projects and smaller grassroots efforts pursuing this mission and taking strides toward the goal of making sustainable building practices the standard. This Saturday, Sept. 28, is the 19th annual Green Homes Tour, presented by the Environmental Center, which highlights green buildings and the local hometown heroes who are choosing a brighter, greener, solar energy fueled future. This tour is a great opportunity to visit these properties and physically experience the possibilities, while hearing the stories of lessons learned along the pathway to sustainable building. The 10 properties on the tour vary from a new affordable housing apartment building, a highly efficient cottage cluster community, an all-electric Net Zero home and an older home retrofitted to meet green standards.
Going green isn't just for the wealthy or newly constructed homes; it's something every household has the ability to achieve. Simple steps can create big change, and green practices can be as easy as changing out incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. There are many low-cost, high-impact alterations possible for small budgets. If cost is a concern there are numerous incentives and organizations that offer financial assistance. Two fantastic resources are the Environmental Center's website, envirocenter.org and the Energy Trust of Oregon's website, energytrust.org. We can't change the past, we just need to acknowledge, learn, adapt and build a better future.
Authors Note: We'll be hosting at one of the properties on the Green Homes Tour! Stop by and see us Saturday afternoon at the Monterey Mews Cottage, a Platinum Earth Advantage Certified Home.