Pictured, from the left, are Jason Kliwinski of Spiezle Architectural Group, Elizabeth Slate of the Alchemical Nursery Project, Anastasia Harrison, an architect with WESKetch, and Tim Razzaq, the founder of Trenton-based BOOST. Razzaq was an excellent moderator and is the subject of a U.S. 1 Newspaper article to be published January 14, but I want to set down a couple of points before I forget them.
Slate, a young mother from Syracuse, New York, is working long-term on an “eco village” that will be self sufficient, but in the short term she tells about a warehouse to showcase all kinds of sustainable ventures, notably a store, run by Habitat for Humanity, that stocks donated building supplies from torn-down houses. What a great idea and why don’t we have it here? It reminds me of Geri La Placa’s recycling of durable medical goods through the Ewing-based organization called Your ReSource. (It has a good web page for all kinds of places to donate stuff, including oddities like unmatched shoes).
Harrison, who worked for a decade in Europe, told of a way to use trees that must be cut down in order to build an addition to your home. She knows of an entrepreneur who drives a wagon of Clydesdales (yes, like the beer ads) to the site, fells the trees, hauls the trees to Pennsylvania, mills them, and returns them to be used on your floors or in cabinets and furniture. She recommends, as a starter book, “Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies.”
Kliwinski, who is working on a “green” addition to the Nassau Inn, among other projects, told how New Jersey (despite protests from builders) has adopted a state-wide energy master plan calling for new construction to be 30% more energy efficient than the current energy code and through Executive Order 54 established a phased plan for reducing its carbon footprint significantly, as much as 80 percent reduction. Homeowners can look for ways to “build green” at the wholebuilding design guide (www.wbdg.org) and be carbon neutral at (www.architecture2030.org or http://www.earthlab.com) websites that aim to achieve a zero carbon footprint by 2030.
All kinds of job opportunities, including “sustainability consultants” are opening up. Contractors who want to better understand how to build “green projects” can take a course and pass a certification at Green Advantage.
The panel discussed solar energy solutions but warned, before you put in solar, do the basic stuff to seal your home. “Stop the bleeding first,” says Kliwinski. That’s what I decided when I talked to architect Bill Wolfe about how he rehabbed his old house to make it energy efficient. Before I tear my own house apart to install geothermal and solar panels, I need to replace the windows. It’s snowing right now, and with my back to those windows, I feel a very cold draft.
Here’s my idea to save greenhouse gas: organize neighborhood “hazmat carpools” to take advantage of the county’s drop off days.Mercer County collects old electronics and chemicals just three or four times a year, usually on a Saturday when I am out of town, and often the line of cars is so long that you wonder whether waiting in line will do more harm than good.
The next collection is March 28. If I’m in town, and if I get organized, I could offer take all my block’s recyclables this time, and maybe somebody else will help me out next time. (Cedar Lane folks, let’s do this!)
We should have a handier alternative, but until the county wises up, neighbors cooperating could save the day — and a few carbon credits.