This is the day. Today is the day to think a different thought. Today is the day to take a new action. Today is a day for a change.
What are the different thoughts that you can have today? You can think about how to save water (no surprise coming from me). You can think about how to conserve energy. You can think about where you are putting your trash. I ask that you don’t think about all of them today, pick just one.
When you start your new thought, decide that it is going to lead to actions that can be linked to your new thoughts.
Thought: Water your plants with unused drinking water.
Thought: Turn off the light when you leave the room.
Thought: Rinse out all glass containers before recycling.
Thought: Give your old tennis to Nike for recycling.
Thought: Give your old stuff to Goodwill after you buy new stuff.
Why today? Why not today? When will you start thinking a new thought, if not today?
So, have you heard? The current administration is not supporting the production of clean energy. Let me say that again. The current administration of our federal government is not supporting the production of clean energy.
Why? They give their reasons, but to me, there is no acceptable reason for not supporting the production of clean energy.
Here are my reasons for supporting clean energy:
Clean Energy is produced locally. Solar panels are used to produce energy for their regions. Wind farms produce energy for the communities near them. Hydroelectric plants are placed in proximity to the homes and businesses that they serve. Geothermal is usually immediately below or beside the building that will use the energy.
Clean Energy means jobs.
It is a national security imperative. If we are, as a nation, in a state of crisis it weakens us to be reliant on sources outside of ourselves, on our sovereign soil. As stated in number 1, Clean Energy is produced locally making it more secure.
It helps us Save the Planet. Instead of focussing on how to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, let’s balance then with Clean Energy.
Clean Energy is resilient. In the event of a catastrophic event, it is easier and faster t reinstate a solar farm than a coal-powered plant.
So why would you not support the production of Clean Energy? We must all show our support for Clean Energy any time and every time the opportunity arises.
This is the time of year that everyone is making New Year’s Resolutions. We promise ourselves that we will lose weight. We promise ourselves that we will save more money. We even promise ourselves that we will exercise more. What if we make resolutions that we will do something to Save the Planet?
Here are some possible resolutions that will help Save the Planet:
Don’t run the dishwasher until it is full.
Bike more, drive less – Grab your helmet and get out and ride.
Use energy efficient light bulbs – Save the Planet and save some money. Use LED light bulbs to replace all of your other light bulbs, they use 85% less energy than an incandescent bulb.
Do not throw away old medications (including over the counter) – flushing or pouring medications down the sink puts those chemicals in our waterways and impacts our fishes. Call your local hospital to learn where to properly dispose of medications.
Of course, my all-time favorite – Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
Each little thing that each of us does, gets us closer to our goal of reducing the effect of Climate Change and Saving the Planet.
We are always looking for ways to be better. We are always looking fo the next best thing. We are always trying to exceed our most recent goal. I believe this and it is a part of my life, but sometimes I wonder.
I wonder if I am doing everything that I can to save the planet. I wonder if I am doing everything that I can to build and grow my passion. I wonder if I will ever accomplish my mission. Saving the plant is such a daunting mission that I often wonder, how are we going to get this done.
Lately, I been inspired by learning about what happened to the hole in the ozone layer of our earth. Remember that? Remember in the 70’s when scientist found that the ozone layer had been depleted? A “hole” was forming in the stratosphere over Antarctica. The entire planet was alarmed and we started doing something about it.
We were taught that a variety of chlorine-containing chemicals were the cause, and we decided to start eliminating the use of those chemicals. We banned the use of certain refrigerants in our air conditioning systems and aerosols in our hair sprays and shaving creams. There was an international agreement signed in 1987.
Today, the ozone is repairing itself and the hole is shrinking. It is predicted that there may be a full recovery by 2050. So we did it for the ozone, not it is time to do it for climate change.
The battle for the ozone taught us that each small step moves us closer to the goal and that each of us has to play our part in getting it done. I am doing my part in focusing on the impacts of construction on this planet.
When I talk about sustainability or green construction, I often get the questions:
“What’s in it for me?”, “Why would I do that?” or “Who cares?”.
Well, the best response that I can give is that green construction saves MONEY! So, what’s in t for you, is MONEY in your pocket. Why would you do it? Because it increases your retained earnings. Who cares, I think you and anyone associated with you should care.
We all know that money is a limited resource, just as fresh water, oil, lumber are limited. When you decide to design a project to ensure that the operations will reduce energy consumption, therefore reducing your energy bills. This enables you to retain earnings for profit or other operational functions. When you design a project to use less fresh water, it reduces the need for supply and treatment of that water, which reduces your cost. Therefore enabling you to retain earnings for increased profits or other operational functions.
When a project is designed to improve air quality, it reduces the amount of time-off taken by employees as a result of respiratory related sicknesses. Time-off reduces productivity and in return reduces earnings. Earnings that could be used for other things.
Decisions about green construction are decision about green dollars. As I say “Green is Green”.
Or as Benjamin Franklin said, a penny saved is a penny earned.
How do I “think green”? This is a very common question. Well, it starts with what is the goal of “thinking green”? The goal is to save the planet.
What a lofty goal? SAVE THE PLANET! And why are we saving the planet? Easy, because we want a safe, productive, inspirational place for our children’s, children’s, children to live.
It is each generations responsibility to take care of the environment for future generations.
Every family wants their family to be great. Many think about leaving a legacy. As humans, we often contemplate immortality. Well, death will come to us all, but your reputation will live forever. Thinking green is about ensuring that our reputation is a legacy of managing our resources better than anyone in the history of the world.
The economy is a subset of the environment. How can that be, you say? It is because the basic elements of the economy are raw materials supplied by the earth. In the construction industry alone we use resources like iron ore for steel, oil for fuel, water for manufacturing, wood for construction, sand for glass production, etc., etc., etc. The list just goes on and on. So when you add other industries it is evident that our economy would not exist without our environment. It even takes trees, silk, and oil to make the all mighty dollar bill.
Therefore it is in our own best interest to “think green” and protect our environmental resources. Doing this means:
Reducing energy consumption, because it reduces the use of fossil fuels like gas, oil, and coal. This leaves more available for future generations.
Reducing water consumption, because it leaves more fresh water available for drinking and growing food for us to eat.
Reducing carbon dioxide production, because it enables each of us to live healthier lives. Allowing us strength and longevity to be more productive.
Thinking green means paying attention to the fuel that I use. Paying attention to the water that I consume. Paying attention to the quality of the air that I breathe. Paying attention to what is it that each of us does or does not do that has an adverse affect o our environment.
It’s not about 100% perfection. It’s not about living off the grid. It’s not about having a zero carbon footprint, or zero waste, or zero energy. Those goals are great, but we must remember that it is about doing something every day. Each small thing builds into a great mountain when done by everyone.
I had a meeting today with two concerned parents who wanted to know what they could do to ensure that the construction of their child’s new school was “Green”. They are concerned about energy consumption and indoor air quality. They used terms like “Net Zero” and they wanted everyone to understand the impact of daylighting on well-being.
We talked about the LEED rating systems and what the pros and cons were. We also talked about strategy and how to determine if this is important to other parents or students and even the staff, faculty and the community at large. I was in heaven.
It was a little bit of nirvana for me to talk with fellow advocates. People who are as excited about green construction as I am. Some might say that these are “my people”.
Why does talking with my people excite me so much? Because it is through people that we will save the planet.
All of the money in the world alone, will not do it.
All of the information or knowledge alone, will not do it.
All of the the plans or rating systems alone, will not do it.
What will do it is people taking action. People taking each step to make a difference. People deciding that they want the change needed to save our planet.
When this directs the money, knowledge, and plans then we will have the change that we desire. The change that will save us all.
Green construction will save the planet. Do you believe it? I believe it.
Let me share some facts about construction with you.
70% of all electricity used in the United States is used for the construction and operation of buildings and built environments.
30% of all CO2 emissions come from the construction and operation of our built environment.
30% of all raw materials harvested are used for construction.
All of this appears to be some sort of secret because most people do not know this. I want everyone to know this. It is important to know this.
This is why I am a champion for green construction. I believe that if we do not improve the impact of construction on our environment, we will not see the desired improvements in Climate Change. To me, it’s that simple.
One of the easiest ways to improve the impact is to select a green rating system for every construction project. The focus of the green rating systems are:
Reduce energy consumption, which reduces CO2 emissions.
Reduce water consumption, which reduces CO2 emissions.
Reduce the consumption of virgin materials, which leaves more trees (and other natural materials) to offset the CO2 emissions.
The use of a green rating system engages focus on the impact of construction on our environment and gives options on how the impact can be improved.
Here are some of the most popular green rating systems for construction:
For my first blog, I want to talk about water. Why water? Because water is one of the essentials of life.
One of the important elements of green construction is water conservation. You and I need fresh water to live. Only 3% of all the water on the planet is fresh water (this includes glaciers that have-not melted). So, the ability to conserve fresh water makes more available.
Let’s start with how much water do we use?
Taking a bath – 40 gallons
Taking a shower – 15 gallons
Brushing your teeth – 2 gallons
Flushing the toilet – 3 gallons
Washing a load of laundry – 40 gallons
Using the dishwasher – 10 gallons
Using the sprinkler for one hour – 140 gallons
So in one day, you could use more than 250 gallons of water. This could be nearly 5 swimming pools of water every year.
How do we conserve fresh water? Let’s start at home because 95% of the water that comes out of your faucet goes down the drain.
Start with not leaving your tap running … wet … turn off … rinse … turn off.
You could fill a bowl and use that water to wash your vegetables. You could then use that water for your plants.
Check for leaks. A leaky faucet can be up to 7 gallons of water per day.
When brushing your teeth, use a cup of water to rinse. This saves 5 bathtubs of water per year.
Use a nozzle on your garden hose to water your plants. it prevents wasting water. Also, water your plants early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler. You will use less water. Mulch helps prevent evaporation and therefore you have to water less.
As you can see, we each can do many things to reduce our use of fresh water. Every drop we save increases the opportunity for this life-giving source to be available throughout the world.