Chris' Green Home Wish List
Dec. 17, 2019
With the holiday season here and many of us getting into the giving spirit, I thought I would share my list of gifts I wish every home could receive this year.
Plant-Based Materials for a Carbon-Neutral Home
My green wish list includes using more plant-based materials in home renovations. Think FSC-certified wood or straw for structural and finish materials, cork flooring, and cellulose, wool, straw and hemp fiber insulation. Plant-based materials help make a home carbon neutral because they are generally lower in embodied carbon than materials like aluminum, steel, concrete and plastic. (Embodied carbon is the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions generated during the manufacturing, transporting and installing of a material or product.) In the scheme of things, embodied carbon is a big deal—it accounts for 28% of the global building sector’s GHG emissions, according to Architecture 2020.
All-Electric Systems and Appliances for Deep GHG Reductions
To achieve deep reductions of 75 percent or more in building-related greenhouse gas emissions, Rocky Mountain Institute and many other experts are urging us to switch space heating and cooling and water heating from natural gas, oil and propane to electricity. My wish list of cost-effective changes for home electrification includes a heat pump for heating and cooling and a heat pump water heater. Also on my list is an induction stove and electric clothes dryer. And don’t forget solar. Here in California, adding photovoltaic panels can lower the net present cost of electrification. Also, as this report by NREL makes clear, insulation, air sealing, and smart thermostats all make sense as part of the move towards home electrification.
An Electric Car in the Garage
Cars and SUVs account for a whopping 28 percent of California’s GHG emissions, according to Next 10’s 2019 report. Compared to driving, of course, telecommuting, walking, biking, and taking public transit are all lower impact means of getting around. But realistically, we’re a car-based society right now and cars need to be part of the climate crisis solution. To round out my wish list, I’d like to see every gas-fueled car or SUV replaced with an electric vehicle. According to the DOE’s eGallon tool, the fuel savings alone would be $500 to $1,000 per year. And without an internal combustion engine, EVs have very low routine maintenance costs.
What gifts would make your home more sustainable? Share your ideas by emailing me or posting them on social media and tagging us.
Happy holidays from everyone at Build It Green!
Interim Executive Director
Build It Green