Conservation and Efficiency Before Renewables

The concept of “Conservation and Efficiency Before Renewables” is an important green building practice.

Lets break it down.

The greenest building is to NOT build in the first place. In any green building it is important to constantly ask, “Is this building step necessary? Do we really need to buy this product? Does it really require is to do that? Can we not do it? What previous step make it so that we had to do this next step and can we eliminate both steps…?”

In terms of Brooklyn brownstones, the first green question is, does the brownstone need to be gutted or simply spruced up? There is not right answer but gutting always consumes more.

And if you have to build then the next question is, “How can we use as little materials as possible? How can we build for maximum building life so we don’t have to build again for a very long time (100 years min for a Brooklyn Brownstone)…”

This applies to energy efficiency. How can you make the existing structure are efficient as possible? Fill holes, file holes and then fill holes. Use spray foam, tape, insulation, caulk, molding, splashing, paint, goop, bubble gum and spit to fill absolutely every hole in the building envelope.

Insulate the hell out of the house. Insulate like you are obsessive compulsive. Insulation is cheap. A couple years of energy bills are not.

Make sure all your toilets and faucets are water smart and low flow.

Then attack the larger things: get energy efficient appliances and heating. Get low E triple pane gas filled windows. Become more intelligent with how you use water, heat, cooling and electricity.

Once you have done all the above THEN, and only then, can you start thinking about renewables, i.e. solar PV, solar hot water, wind, water turbnines etc.



About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

Has one comment to “Conservation and Efficiency Before Renewables”

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  1. Dan Barry - May 15, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Excellent gotta throw this url at the next one who asks about PV panels.
    I am in central Texas and still trying to figure out how to hang onto the cool. Been getting lectures on vented and unvented attics and Delta T. Looks like the first things will be a porch all around the house just to shade things. This will be the break from filling holes in the attic, the walls, and replacing all the doors an jambs. After I find and protect the soffet vents I getta play in the fiberglass. Got letters off to Thomasen and Hays for more info but no response yet. need to give the black-roof guy in New Mexico a call before he kicks off. I can live without much heat but too much is pretty strange. IF you ever get to Houston Texas lookup Randy Yost, one of akind copyrighted parquet floors. His sisters house next door is well done also.
    (did you know you can repair/recarve scratches in soapstone with a good pocket knife and steel wool?)

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