Archive for March 2013
This is the 26th entry to my Green Builders Journal Blog.
I hope anyone that’s reading this one will go back and read all 25 of the previous entries because although I try to make each one stand on its own, they really are a continuous series of thoughts on the whole subject of Green Building. Actually they’re more than just thoughts on Green Building. I’ve tried to make them thoughts from the perspective of a homebuilder on the whole Green concept. As a builder of new homes, we thought it might be interesting for the public to hear that perspective. The term “Green” is so overused in the media today that I think if you asked 500 people what the definition of Green is, you’d get 500 different answers. Homebuilders get the unique opportunity to let the product we produce define our interpretation of the term and concept of “Green”. If I think the concept of Global Warming and/or the conservation of earths natural resources are a made up or overhyped set of idea, the homes I build will reflect that belief. Therefore I’ve chosen this Blog as an avenue to express the beliefs, ideas, and strategies City Ventures has adopted towards the “Green” movement and reflects in the homes and neighborhoods we build. City Ventures strongly believes that the future of homebuilding is Green and the first one to figure it out …wins.
So back to where I left off last time.
I was talking about “net” energy. Net energy is defined as energy supplied minus energy demanded. Anything that requires energy to operate must get that energy from somewhere.
Ironically I just realized that the entire concept behind the term Green could essentially be boiled down to that statement. “Anything that requires energy MUST GET THAT ENERGY FROM SOMEWHERE”. For the last couple hundred years, that somewhere has been the Earth’s natural resources. At some point someone did the math and realized that at the rate we’re using the Earth’s natural resources to provide the energy for “other stuff” to operate, combined with the natural rate of population growth, it’s only a matter of time before we deplete the planet of its ability to provide that energy.
Once that logical math argument was made, “Green” became the defining term to mean methods, ideas, concepts, and alternatives that allowed us to enjoy things that require energy without “shooting ourselves in the foot” and clearly depleting an energy source that has limits.
Let’s say there was a guy that lived on his own property in a cold environment. His property had 100 trees on it and every day he cuts down one tree to supply heat for his home. His home requires heat to operate in a cold environment. Heat requires energy. Burning a tree provides that energy. A stranger comes along and sees what’s happening and informs the guy that if he burns one of his hundred trees per day for heat, he’s going to be in trouble on day 101. Seems like a DUH kind of observation. The stranger recommends a “Green” strategy of replanting a new tree after he chops one down, or suggests he beef up the insulation in his home so it takes only a half a tree to get the heat he needs per day. Maybe he should put a few solar panels on the roof to get the sun to contribute its abundant energy as a contributor. Something. Anything. Basic logic tells you that you will run out of trees at the rate you’re burning them. You have to come up with some alternatives to your current strategy. In my opinion, that’s about as simple a story you can tell to define Green. A logical understanding that at the current rate of depletion, added to the growth rate of the population, it’s evident that we will not be able to forever operate our energy consuming “things” from the energy that Earths natural resources can supply.
Simple logic. Math.
Unfortunately not everyone apparently believes in logic. Or math.
As simple as it sounds, there are forces out there that believe the logic is bad. That the math doesn’t work. This is why Green ends up being a polarizing term. The guy with the 100 trees tells the stranger to mind his own business. It’s his God given right to burn trees on his own property however he sees fit. The stranger has a sit in to protect the trees and it becomes national news. Pretty soon the debate is on. People that believe the logic and shout their support for the Green movement. And people that don’t. Logic starts to get pushed aside by emotion and human nature. Green becomes synonymous to many with losing rights. Being told I can’t burn down trees I own, is socialism or part of a larger liberal agenda that’s aimed at helping the government gain more control over my life.
Wait a second. How’d we get there?? This all started with a logical and simple statement and ended up as a national debate based mostly in emotion.
Not only that but I veered way off my path of talking about net energy as it relates to the homebuilding business. And now I’ve written enough for this month.
I’ll take up net energy and the insanity of bureaucracy next time.