Create an edible landscape (cities should be doing this too along roadways, in parks etc) with all plant material to be edible including pear trees, berry bushes, apple trees, walnut, maple, chestnut, Balsam fir (for tea– the needles can be used this way), sweetfern, Wintergreen (chew the leaves for their taste) and so on
When replacing exterior cladding use ridged foam before installing new cladding
Also, place ridged foam under basement slab (if building new or ripping out basement floor)
Foam insulation in headers
Foam insulation in basement
Use baking soda and vinegar to clean instead of store-bought chemical agents
Use ammonia as a de-greaser
Put blinds on south elevation (for structures south of equator, reverse this)
Add awnings on south elevation(for structures south of equator, reverse this)
Install high efficiency fireplace using natural gas
Use only high efficiency wood stove with catalytic converter to capture more heat from more complete combustion
Use low-e glass windows
Add trees canopy on north side to shelter home from wind
Put restrictors in all showers
Soak veggies and dried foods in cold water before cooking then they take less time to cook
Use more off peak power
Clean your home, green/choose non-toxic household, personal care and lawn maintenance products
Eat organic/eat local whenever possible/support local farmers who practice sustainable organic farming methods
Drink tap water, not bottled water/municipal tap water is regularly tested and in a place like Ottawa is rated amongst the safest in the world
Reduce stormwater/use rain barrels, plant trees, avoid paving surfaces and install a “green roof” or sod roof to reduce run-off and heat buildup/provide opportunity for urban agriculture/raised beds
Create bioswales along both urban and rural roads to absorb stormwater, provide green zone in roadways
Properly dispose of batteries, paints, pharmaceuticals and toxic chemicals to prevent unsafe run-off into watercourses
Scoop poop/doggie waste enters rivers untreated/picking up after pets prevents additional bacterial contamination and shoreline pollution
Maintain vehicles/proper car, boat and motorcycle maintenance prevents oil and other leaky fluids from running-off into rivers
When building new, Smith + Gill architects found in a study (Toward Zero Carbon) of Chicago’s Loop, a 50 block area, that if carbon emissions/energy use are counted not only for a structure’s materials but also in its operation then 3-story, stick-built walkups (sans elevators) are best
Note that WHO identified stairs as an important contributor to human health; don’t buy a bungalow until you absolutely have to
If you can’t get your home to be more carbon neutral, try doing what CapitalJunk.ca does–they partnered with Ottawa’s Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation who estimated that their fleet of five, 20-yard trucks produced 54 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013; in order to offset it, RVCF planted 400 Canadian bare-root seedlings on land close to Ottawa/they plan on doing this every year.
It’s always seemed strange that some environmentalists have trouble grasping the concept that nothing is sustainable unless it’s also economically sustainable. The reverse is also true—some business people believe that moving towards using less energy and material as well as producing less waste inevitably leads to higher costs and lower revenue growth. How can being more efficient and more environmentally conscious be in conflict when you save energy, matter and waste?
In 1995, Ray Anderson, founder of Interface (a carpet manufacturer), talked about the toxicity of his industry. His goals included—
1. phasing out use of virgin nylon
2. replacing fossil fuel with renewables
3. aiming for 0 waste within 25 years
Businessweek (Sept 14, 2014) reports that after Ray made his presentation, next day Interface’s stock fell by 50%. Still, their revenues have increased from $595 million to nearly a billion today, their carpet tiles are so prized that fussy clients like Apple use them in their HQ, their factories are 39% more energy efficient than industry average, they use 83% less water, and about half of their inputs are either recycled materials or from natural sources.
It’s possible to be both a business person and environmentalist, you just have to work harder and smarter.
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