Sunday, August 22, 2010

How I (Almost) Saved the Earth

From the Wall St. Journal. A particularly funny Dilbert-ish article about the follies of going green. One lesson: you can't get there from here.

"My point is that being green is hard. My wife and I recently built what is arguably the greenest home for miles around. OK, stop. This is a good time to define "green."

The greenest home is the one you don't build. If you really want to save the Earth, move in with another family and share a house that's already built. Better yet, live in the forest and eat whatever the squirrels don't want. Don't brag to me about riding your bicycle to work; a lot of energy went into building that bicycle. Stop being a hypocrite like me.

I prefer a more pragmatic definition of green. I think of it as living the life you want, with as much Earth-wise efficiency as your time and budget reasonably allow."


"...there is no way to model the entire home's energy efficiency before it is built. It's as much guessing as engineering. Every home is unique. You can't be sure if, let's say, a whole house fan in the attic is worth the extra expense, assuming you do everything else right. We opted for the fan, which is designed to efficiently draw in the cool evening air. In practice, we don't use it because it makes a hum that I barely notice but my wife doesn't want to hear. I did not see that coming."

To sum up, you only need to worry about the things you can control: roof materials, window location, amount of insulation, type of grass in the yard (if that's an issue--St. Augustine never needs watering, because it draws moisture from the air), and a properly-sized HVAC unit (call an expert for this one). Appliances didn't even enter into this story, but that's another area you can control.


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