Monday, March 29, 2010

Scientific American's Take on Eco-Improving Older Homes

My buddies at the National Trust offered this piece from Scientific American on our LinkedIn page this morning--a nice summary not of the top ten things you can do to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.

Instead, the author sits back for a moment and thinks about all the drafty, energy-inefficient older homes that are hard-wired into the American landscape (the New Scientist article he references mentions the fact that in the UK, 85% of existing homes will still be in use in 2050 at current rates of rebuilding--and today, there are more homes built before WWI than homes built since 1980. I did a quick check of census data for 94611--38% of homes were built before 1939; less than 10% were built since 1980).

He's frustrated that his careful insulation work has generated relatively little in the way of reduced energy (although he does mention greater comfort, reduced drafts and so on that are often the unsung benefits of our retrofit efforts). He points out that tearing down the old home and rebuilding it using cutting edge strategies is very energy-consumptive in itself, though I'd be interested in a life cycle analysis on this.

Meanwhile, see this draft of the state's first-in-the-nation green building code, scheduled for implementation 2011. I imagine it adopts much of the analysis and approach of the Build It Green community--two immediate take-aways were the focus on water conservation and construction material recycling.

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