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Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

A Low Impact Woodland Home

A hobbit's houseSimon Dale and his father in-law decided to build their home as inexpensively as possible. So they used natural material and what they could find to build home for Simon’s family of 4. According to Simon:

This building is one part of a low-impact or permaculture approach to life. This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology. These sort of low cost, natural buildings have a place not only in their own sustainability, but also in their potential to provide affordable housing which allows people access to land and the opportunity to lead more simple, sustainable lives.

I’ve always been a fan of underground homes, and this is the perfect example of how locally sourced materials and ingenuity can make an affordable and livable home. Sadly, in the States, it would almost be impossible to get the necessary building permits and variances to build such a home. It would not meet code standards set in stone here in the Puget Sound. Still, it’s a great idea.

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Zero Energy Homes

One of the interesting booths at the Seattle Home Show was the Zero Energy Idea House, sponsored by Shirley Contracting. The Zero Energy Idea House  is designed to show that smart choices can result in a home that minimizes energy use, while maximizing comfort and style.

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One area that everyone in the West needs to address is water usage. We in the West are profligate wasters of potable water. Beyond the use of potable water to drink and cook with, we use it for washing our cars, washing our clothes, washing our bodies, washing our dirty dishes, flushing away our bodily wastes, watering our lawn, watering our plants and gardens, and many other uses.

greengroupOnly 5% of all potable water is used for food preparation, the rest is used for other purposes in the home. You only need about 8 cups of water per day to stay healthy, and you get a good portion of that from the food you eat. Every time you flush the toilet, you say goodbye to 1.6 to 2.1 gallons of drinking water. Which, if you pardon the pun, is a waste.

Public and domestic usage of freshwater in Washington State represents about 24% of all our freshwater supplies, compared to the national average of 12% of the total freshwater supplies. The biggest use of freshwater nation wide is in thermoelectric generation, primarily for cooling purposes, and it is about 48% of freshwater resources. Because we have a lot of hydroelectric power generation in the Northwest, we only use about 10% of our freshwater for cooling.

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So, if you’re like me and live in an apartment, what can you do to live more sustainably? Well for one thing, as an apartment dweller, you are already living sustainably. By living in an apartment, you are making the best use of our limited supply of land in the Puget Sound.

My apartment is 900 square feet, and I’m at the bottom of a three-story building. So right there those 900 square feet are supporting three times the population that they normally would. So yes, you can feel good about being an apartment dweller because of that.

However, if you live like the average American, well, that’s not so good. The average American produces 4.54 pounds of solid waste everyday. Of this, only 32% – 35% of this waste is recycled. 44% of what goes into our garbage is paper, cardboard and plastics. (Municipal Solid Waste In The United States: 2007 Facts And Figures) Therefore that’s the first thing you can do to reduce your footprint on this world:

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