In a really perfect world, we’d faucet our ruby slippers collectively and our houses can be optimized for energy-efficiency, our gardens can be crammed with native, drought-resistant crops, and our carbon footprints would have shrunk to half their dimension. Change doesn’t occur that approach, in fact. And full-scale overhauls could be daunting. However making small adjustments, one or two upgrades at a time, can get us shifting in the precise path. Even making a telephone name – say to Cape Gentle Compact for a free house vitality evaluation – can open a window of alternative.
Subsequent, we’ve solely to show to our neighbors. On the Winery, we’ve a wealth of educated professionals and skilled volunteers who can reply our burning questions. Armed with some solutions (learn on!), we will head into the Island’s first annual Local weather Motion Week (Might 8-14) with a way of goal – or no less than some minor plans.
Q. When designing a brand new home, what are the 2 or three most necessary areas to deal with for vitality effectivity?
A. Any challenge trying to be environment friendly ought to first think about dimension. Assume smaller and compact. The extra ample and environment friendly the areas are, the extra is saved in supplies and embodied vitality, and in future vitality calls for. After you have shrunk the constructing, then construct a well-insulated home that makes use of the solar to assist warmth the house by passive photo voltaic acquire. A well-insulated home would additionally think about window placement in addition to the insulating worth of the home windows one chooses. — Ben Robinson, chair of the Martha’s Winery Fee Local weather Motion Activity Drive and MVC commissioner
Q. How necessary for vitality effectivity are the kind of home windows I select?
A. What the window body is manufactured from will affect its efficiency within the house. It’s essential in New England to make use of a window that has a thermally damaged body — that’s, a body that doesn’t transmit or conduct the surface temperature to the within of the home. Glass may also have a huge effect on the efficiency of a window. A baseline expectation would come with the usage of double-glazed/insulating glass. We additionally use triple-glazed/insulating glass for shoppers who desire a heightened stage of consolation within the house.
Additionally, the operation or model of window could make a huge impact on vitality effectivity. We construct houses a lot tighter as of late than we did prior to now. A window that minimizes air infiltration is finest on this regard. Whereas all of us love a traditional double-hung window, they have a tendency to have larger air infiltration charges since they’ve extra shifting elements than different window sorts. Awnings, casements, and tilt-turn home windows are all single-sash home windows that solely hinge on one aspect (like a door) and subsequently shut extra tightly as in comparison with a double-hung window.
Location of home windows can be key. We all the time search for alternatives for passive photo voltaic design the place the house will profit from the correct quantity of photo voltaic acquire (or passive shading) over the course of the yr. These concerns turn out to be the premise of design for the remainder of the challenge, and the situation of home windows goes hand in hand with the situation of rooms. We additionally take a look at seasonal adjustments within the solar’s place, since how we make the most of our house adjustments from season to season primarily based on the solar’s orientation. — Greg Ehrman AIA, associate, Hutker Architects
Q. When having my home painted, what are the perfect practices, environmentally talking?
A. Goodbye to the outdated commonplace of oil-based paint. As we speak the overwhelming favourite for a lot of exterior housepainters — in addition to owners — is acrylic latex paint, which is usually thought of to be higher for the surroundings. It really works higher on as we speak’s composite constructing supplies, and the time it takes to dry is way lower than oil-based paint. We can also work longer in cooler temps. Utilizing oil-based paint additionally often requires cleansing up with efficient however doubtlessly poisonous supplies that may find yourself in our waterways, soil and septic programs.
It’s a good suggestion to remember that many paints and primers (together with acrylic latex) comprise risky natural compounds (VOCs) that may evaporate readily at room temperature [potentially causing you to feel ill]. Examples embody some pigments and midewcides. Select a paint with zero to low VOCs and don’t use exterior paint on interiors. — Rick Convery, proprietor, Rick Convery Portray
Q. If I’m shopping for or constructing a brand new house on the Island, what ought to I be fascinated with when it comes to flood safety?
A. Assume exhausting earlier than shopping for a house in or close to a flood zone; flooding is barely going to extend as the ocean rises. New houses and considerably renovated houses in a flood zone need to be raised above the flood elevation. This protects the home; however keep in mind it doesn’t defend your entry to and from the home when the roads flood, together with in an emergency. Ideally, houses can be faraway from the flood zone to guard public well being and security and to permit the land to soak up and comprise the floodwater.
You could find out if your own home is in a flood zone by checking FEMA maps on-line (msc.fema.gov/portal/house) or at your Island city corridor. For those who’re buying a house, your mortgage firm may also analysis and require flood insurance coverage in case you are in a flood zone. — Liz Durkee, Local weather Change Planner, Martha’s Winery Fee
Q. If I’m constructing a brand new house, how necessary is the siting of my home for vitality effectivity?
A. Siting is of utmost significance in planning, for a lot of causes: views, topography, entry, panorama options, present vegetation, and likewise vitality effectivity. Light south dealing with slopes provide the perfect siting; buildings ought to use the solar to assist offset heating wants by passive photo voltaic and to assist in making a block to colder northern winter winds. Landscaping can additional add to this defend from the north. — Ben Robinson, chair of the Martha’s Winery Fee Local weather Motion Activity Drive and MVC commissioner
Going Inexperienced — and Modular
With the elevated reputation of modular houses on the Winery, we have been interested by how they examine to conventional onsite constructing when it comes to vitality effectivity and environmental affect. We requested Squash Meadow Development president Invoice Potter to provide us some perspective, and we realized that vitality effectivity was a key driver in Invoice’s determination to maneuver in direction of modular constructing within the first place.
Q. What features of modular houses provide a extra environmentally pleasant constructing expertise over typical building?
A. We really feel that modular houses are the way in which of the longer term. We [Squash Meadow] began working with modular houses in 2007 particularly due to vitality effectivity. Shoppers have been coming in with questions on inexperienced constructing. We selected to work with Westchester Modular Properties and constructed our first prototype on East Chop, which gained an Energystar award and acquired LEED (Management in Power and Environmental Design) Gold licensed.
Modular building includes much less waste throughout all factors of the method. It takes 67% much less vitality to construct a modular house than to construct a house on web site. The home could be minimize and made within the manufacturing facility in seven days, in comparison with the six to 9 months it takes to do new, on-site building. That’s quite a bit much less gasoline being consumed by employees driving to and from the job web site day-after-day. On the manufacturing facility, every part is minimize to order and stacked neatly. The supplies keep dry. Not as a lot lumber is being dropped off and thrown away. And no matter waste there’s finally ends up going to recycling. Additionally, modular houses are made tighter so there’s much less air infiltration. The sheetrock is glued and screwed as an alternative of being sheetrocked to a stud.
Q. When a house’s parts are made within the manufacturing facility, are they constructed from supplies which are“inexperienced” or extra environmentally pleasant?
A. The vast majority of the parts in every home are constructed from pre-consumer or post-consumer recycled content material. As usually as doable, we use supplies with no risky natural compounds (VOCs), that are chemical compounds present in solvent-based and water-based paints and coatings. Individuals who have had their homes painted just lately would possibly pay attention to “no VOC” paints like ones out there from Benjamin Moore. We additionally work with supplies that don’t have formaldehyde and those who do have a “Inexperienced Label” stamp. The lumber is sourced from forests which are correctly managed.
Q. If I’m constructing a modular house, what sort of energy-efficient heating system will I doubtless be ?
A. All houses are topic to analysis on the HERS (Dwelling Power Score System) index. Just lately, this has turn out to be a part of the constructing code, however we’ve been following it for 15 years; it has been a part of the LEED for Properties constructing standards. A HERS score takes many components into consideration when developing with a rating: the effectivity of the heating and cooling programs; the tightness of the home; the effectivity of the home equipment and whether or not the home has renewable vitality corresponding to photo voltaic. Every home is “engineered” with the proper heating system. This might be a super-efficient propane gasoline furnace or a warmth pump/mini-split. For decent water, we typically use an on-demand system that’s solely utilizing vitality to warmth the water as wanted.
Looking for Power Effectivity
Q. Ought to we be changing most of our house programs to electrical vitality? If we’ve to start out in just a few key locations, what would they be?
A. Positively. For instance, if a typical Winery home that makes use of propane converts warmth, sizzling water, garments drying, and cooking (and pool heating if that’s a part of the combo) to electrical warmth pumps, warmth pump dryers, and induction cooktops (that are 2 ½ occasions extra environment friendly than gasoline), the carbon emissions will go down 35 to 40%. And that’s with none discount of the load from constructing enclosure upgrades, and with out including photo voltaic electrical. — Marc Rosenbaum, founder, Energysmiths
Q. Are warmth pumps probably the most environment friendly possibility for individuals looking for to realize vitality effectivity?
A. We discuss two forms of effectivity — working effectivity and monetary effectivity. Working effectivity is about how a system performs. Relating to efficiency, warmth pumps are a lot better than any system utilizing fossil fuels. Usually, it’s 4 occasions extra environment friendly to maneuver warmth moderately than to generate it, and it’s extra sustainable to make electrical energy. Even with an electrical baseboard, you place a kilowatt of vitality in and a kilowatt comes out, however with the warmth pumps, we will get two, three or 4 watts of vitality out as a result of we’re getting the vitality from exterior.
At our workplace [Nelson Mechanical Design on State Road], we’ve mixed photo voltaic panels with warmth pumps. Our constructing is web zero over this yr: We produce extra electrical energy than we’re utilizing. That’s sustainability.
Warmth pumps are additionally value efficient as a result of, in the long term, the programs function at a price financial savings in comparison with propane and oil. There’s a calculator on the Mass Save web site (masssave.com) the place you may punch in your zip code and it generates an informed guess on the estimated prices for oil and propane versus a warmth pump.
It’s important to take a look at the prices when it comes to the lifetime of a system. Nearly something can pay for itself over 5 years. At this level, warmth pumps are nonetheless thought of “disposable” programs, however they’ve a life expectancy of 12 to fifteen years. Mass Save is supporting owners by serving to to make the preliminary value of putting in a warmth pump cheaper. They’re giving a ton of cash in rebates to owners who change over to warmth pumps. They’re additionally making loans, or serving to owners discover loans. You could find methods to make the change budget-neutral.
Total, my suggestions for individuals looking for vitality effectivity are: Weatherize, get higher home windows, set up chilly local weather warmth pumps, and set up photo voltaic. For those who can afford to put in each a warmth pump system and photo voltaic panels, it is best to do it. — David Sprague, co-owner, Nelson Mechanical Design
Q. Does it make sense so as to add photo voltaic panels to a house for those who haven’t upgraded different vitality programs?
A. For most individuals, a photo voltaic electrical system is an effective monetary determination that may stand by itself with out different decarbonization/vitality saving measures. In the perfect case, an general evaluation is completed to see what different upgrades could make sense both on the identical time or as a part of a transparent grasp plan. For instance, if the roof is sufficiently old to get replaced, and the home is leaky and under-insulated, including an air barrier and insulation as a part of the roof substitute would make sense. – Marc Rosenbaum, founder, Energysmiths The Dish on Washing and Drying As a practising architect, a member of the Martha’s Winery Fee, and chair of the Martha’s Winery Fee’s Local weather Motion Activity Drive, Ben Robinson is consistently fascinated with sustainable options to the methods we stay and construct our houses on the Island. However Ben and his household additionally embrace sustainable practices at house, which is why we posed to him just a few primary questions on house home equipment.
Q. What’s higher – a front-loading or top-loading washer? And what’s the most energy-efficient garments dryer?
A. There may be not a lot distinction with trendy washing machines, front- or top-loading. It’s best to think about how usually you wash and what you wash. Don’t use plastic or artificial clothes, since this can be a major approach that micro-plastics and related chemical compounds discover their approach into our groundwater. Additionally think about the cleaning soap you employ with regard to chemical compounds and antibacterial components.
By way of dryers, the solar is the perfect, most energy-efficient dryer you should utilize. And direct daylight additionally acts as a disinfectant. So simply dangle your garments exterior, even within the winter, and if it’s too moist out or beneath freezing with out sufficient wind to evaporate and dry, dangle your garments inside. As an additional benefit, you humidify the air with drying garments. Additionally air-dried garments last more, because the dryer wears down the materials extra shortly. So simply attempt to keep away from utilizing the dryer as a lot as doable. In case you have a dryer, go electrical and get rid of the necessity for propane.
Q. Ought to we be handwashing our dishes or utilizing our dishwashers extra?
A. Relying on how properly you hand wash — Do you let the water simply run? Are you environment friendly with the usage of cleaning soap? Do you might have a system that limits the water you employ? — you can be extra environment friendly than a dishwasher. However for those who don’t have an excellent system, you might be doubtless utilizing extra water and extra cleaning soap than an excellent dishwasher would, and you’ll be much less environment friendly.
Planning an Eco-Pleasant Panorama
In case you are about to embark on a good-sized landscaping challenge – whether or not for a brand new house or an outdated one — you’ll need to rise up to hurry about finest practices for making that panorama environmentally pleasant, from welcoming wildlife to controlling erosion to avoiding gentle air pollution. We talked with Dan Ok. Gordon, Principal of Dan Gordon Panorama Architects, who stated that sustainability is more and more a priority with the agency’s tasks. To wit, he supplied us his high ten checklist of concerns when beginning a challenge.
Q. When planning a landscaping challenge – whether or not for a brand new house or as a part of a renovation – how can I make my challenge as environmentally pleasant as doable?
A. There are various issues you are able to do. Listed below are our high ten concerns:
1. Make sure that to guard your present useful resource areas and wildlife habitat areas and incorporate them as a central a part of your design.
2. Maximize gentle and scale back vitality prices by contemplating web site situations corresponding to photo voltaic orientation, prevailing winds, topography and vegetation.
3. Use present know-how, together with good programs for irrigation, to enhance effectivity and scale back waste.
4. Develop a panorama design which includes and fosters native crops. Native crops can scale back the necessity for irrigation, pesticides and upkeep.
5. Handle stormwater to get rid of erosion and sluggish runoff; use rainwater for irrigation and wildlife.
6. Reuse and recycle present web site constructions and sources; supply plant and stone supplies regionally.
7. Scale back impervious surfaces and when essential, use paving with diminished warmth absorption; think about inexperienced roofs when doable.
8. Use LED and Darkish Sky-compliant lighting programs to cut back vitality wants and lightweight air pollution.
9. Incorporate eco-friendly upkeep practices, from electrical upkeep tools to built-in pest administration to pure and natural fertilizers.
10. Construct a panorama that may stand the check of time, that may endure and improve the surroundings.
About That Garden and These Leaves
Q. Is it doable to have an eco-friendly garden?
A. Sure, that is doable for those who handle your expectations. Your garden gained’t be as lush with out conventional pesticides and fertilizers, and environmentally pleasant merchandise could take longer or be extra expensive to implement. However we will begin lowering our dependence on conventional chemical functions by choosing the proper grass blends that may do higher on their very own. Subsequent we needs to be utilizing a deep layer of high-quality soil in order that grass roots can develop deep and draw vitamins from the bottom, and face up to bouts of drought and illness higher. Lastly, the mowing — in a really perfect scenario you wouldn’t choose up the grass clippings however would mulch them and depart them on the garden to behave as pure fertilizer as they decay.
An eco-friendly garden is definitely higher for the surroundings than mulch, wooden chips, or any sort of hardscape ingredient. Grass is a dwelling plant so it is going to assist with air air pollution, stormwater runoff, carbon dioxide, and different pollution and produce clear oxygen like every other plant. A 50’ x 50’ foot garden will produce sufficient oxygen for a household of 4 individuals. It’s a preferred false impression that lawns are unhealthy for the surroundings. It’s not the lawns that hurt the surroundings, solely a few of the strategies wherein they’re maintained. — Jesse Fuller, proprietor, The Fullers Firm
Q. What are methods to maintain my eco-friendly garden wholesome?
A. A very powerful problem with lawns is the soil. It’s all the time finest to do a soil check to see what natural vitamins could also be missing. The outcomes will inform you of what’s wanted to get your soil wholesome. The check may also suggest the ratio mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium wanted. Including the right ratio of natural materials to your garden will promote wholesome progress. Natural fertilizers feed the foundation system, making a thick wholesome garden. Protecting the peak of the grass at three inches or above is the easiest way to maintain weeds from germinating and pests invading. — Jude Villa, proprietor operator at Working Earth Natural Gardening and Landscaping
Q. What are some environmentally pleasant options to lawns?
A. Rising meals by yourself property is without doubt one of the key issues you are able to do to assist mitigate local weather change. The extra meals we buy from different locations, the extra carbon we’re utilizing. For those who develop your personal, you don’t have to go away your yard (or possibly your entrance yard)! For those who’re a renter, see in case your landlord would permit a container backyard. Nurseries and backyard facilities usually have additional plant containers round within the spring; some will give them away without spending a dime.
If not a meals backyard, we will flip our lawns into eco-lawns by planting grass seed that doesn’t require fertilizer and mowing. We simply want to vary our mindset about what a pleasant garden seems to be like. You may also take a part of your garden and convert it into an space for native crops and pollinator crops that may entice helpful bugs. Use a wide range of totally different flower shapes, colours, and sizes; some favorites are coneflowers, butterfly weed, Mexican sunflowers and anise hyssop. Or you may convert a few of your garden to shrub borders that may assist convey numerous wildlife into your yard. Cranberrybush viburnum, shadbush (or serviceberry), clethra (pepperbush), and highbush blueberry are high decisions for attracting birds and bees. — Roxanne Kapitan, panorama designer with Oakleaf Landscaping and regenerative gardening educator
Q. How can we entice extra wildlife and variety to our properties?
A. A lot of the actions are easy and simply require thoughtfulness. They embody rethinking and limiting your garden area so there’s extra dwelling area for crops, probably changing some to meadow; eradicating invasive species as a result of they’ve larger CO2 situations that negatively have an effect on our ecosystems; offering animals with a water supply like a birdbath or fountain in your property; and creating brush piles of branches, twigs and leaves in order that animals have locations to nest and to take cowl from predators.
I encourage individuals to plant extra bushes and particularly to plant extra native species. Oaks as a species are a keystone to how our ecosystem capabilities. They supply houses to butterflies, moths, and birds; their leaves and bark are utilized by animals as meals and supply important vitamins; and oaks struggle local weather change by sequestering carbon for important quantities of time. — Angela Luckey, program director Nationwide Neighbors Program, Biodiversity Works
Q. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are an enormous supply of sound air pollution and they’re gasoline guzzlers, too. Is there an alternate?
A. You have got three choices. In fact, you may permit leaves to stay in your garden and surfaces; you’d need to be comfy with that look. You may manually rake. Or you should utilize an electrical blower as an alternative of a gas-powered one. We a lot favor utilizing electrical blowers as they’re quieter, simpler to make use of, more cost effective to function, and require much less upkeep. However they at the moment have some limits. As a result of they function at considerably decrease speeds and may solely push an air quantity of as much as about 60 % of what a gas-powered blower can, a clean-up job can take longer. For a small yard on a reasonably dry day, it won’t matter, however for a bigger yard or if the leaves are damp, it makes an enormous distinction. Many householders could also be okay with an extended clean-up time (and better value if hiring landscapers), however others won’t.
As battery know-how improves and prices go down, there can be electrical blowers that may compete higher with gasoline ones. Proper now the dimensions of the battery and electrical motor you’d have to equal a gasoline blower can be too heavy for an individual to comfortably function. However quickly the batteries can be smaller. — Jesse Fuller, proprietor, The Fullers Firm
Slicing Again on Meals Waste
Noli Taylor, meals fairness advocate and senior director of applications of Island Grown Initiative, shortly acquired us up to the mark on the state of meals waste on this nation: Forty % of the meals produced in America is rarely eaten and the typical American family of 4 loses $120 every month to wasted meals. As soon as discarded, Noli defined, that wasted meals has a severe local weather affect and greenhouse gasoline footprint. The manufacturing, packaging, and delivery of meals is a significant driver of greenhouse gasoline emissions, and when meals is wasted, the methane launched by decomposing meals in landfills will increase the local weather affect. Six to eight % of all greenhouse gasoline emissions are attributable to wasted meals. In the US, the Environmental Safety Company (EPA) estimates that the emissions from our wasted meals are equal to 42 coal-fired energy crops, not even counting the methane emissions from landfills.
Figuring out that meals waste is one space the place we will make an affect with small adjustments, we requested Noli for some suggestions.
Q. What are a few of the finest methods to deal with our meals waste?
Initially, I like to recommend arming your self with the Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders. Then attempt to incorporate some new habits into your meals planning and preparation routines:
• Plan forward previous to buying journeys.
• Freeze what you gained’t use in just a few days.
• Use less-than-perfect fruits or greens in smoothies, soup shares, or sauces as an alternative of throwing them out.
• Purchase frozen meals when native contemporary meals isn’t out there — frozen meals waste much less all alongside the provision chain.
• Put a field in your fridge that claims “Use Me First!” to recollect the place to start out when making a meal.
• Typically “use by” or “finest by” dates could be deceptive and could be instruments for meals corporations to promote much more when the meals is completely good previous these dates. Use your sense of sight and odor to double-check these “finest by” dates.
• Whenever you do have meals scraps to get rid of, as an alternative of sending them to the landfill or the incinerator by placing them in your trash, compost them at house or convey them to your native switch station or to Island Grown Initiative (IGI) to be was compost. IGI will use that compost to develop extra meals for the Island.
All illustrations by Chris Burrell.