Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Green Buildings for a Better World

To address a warming world and an ever-more-erratic climate, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. Even as awareness of the threats of climate change spreads, the world is becoming more and more industrialized, and more urban every day.

Efficiency is one of the most important concepts to embrace as a would-be planet-saver, and one of the best places to scrimp and save on energy use is in our buildings.

Buildings use a whopping 42% of America’s total energy each year, and a mind-boggling 72% of all electricity generated. That’s more than any other single sector of the economy, and according to the research in RMI’s book Reinventing Fire cutting the wasted energy from buildings could save, get this: $1.4 trillion!

So called “green” buildings come in many forms. The US Green Building Council‘s rating system for buildings, called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, is the most common, especially for new and large-scale construction. LEED practices look at every aspect of a building, from how much power it takes to air condition to how much construction waste gets recycled, and whether there are bike racks for conscientious commuters.

But let’s say you’re not a major corporation or government. How can you participate in building green?

If you’re in the market for a new home, you can explore LEED rating for new home construction. You can also look into EnergyStar standards which focus more narrowly on the home’s energy efficiency.

You can also investigate a deeper level of green, and look into natural building techniques. Whereas “green” buildings tends to look and act a lot like “normal” buildings, natural buildings can look as if they grew organically out of the earth itself — which is basically true. From timber framing with whole logs, to thick walls made of straw bales and plaster mixed from site soil, and built-in wood-fired heating systems, a natural home can be a beautiful way to build a better world.

If you already own a house, you can still gain a lot from green building practices. There are countless small ways to increase your house’s overall efficiency, from insulating your refrigerator to building a simple outdoor shower heated by the sun.

But if you’re facing any sort of extensive renovation already, you’ll gain the most through the process of a Deep Energy Retrofit (or DER). This is not for the faint of heart — it involves getting into the guts of your old house and tightening things from the foundation to the rooftop. But if you can afford it, a DER will bear fruit for the entire life of your house.

Coming this summer, we’ve a great book to help you master a deep green renovation of your existing house. The Greened House Effect by Jeff Wilson tells the story of his family’s DER. Even better: the Wilsons documented the whole process on video, and you can watch right here! Below is Episode 1 of The Greened House Effect show, and you can find the others on our book page.


Get Ready, Get Resilient

Are you resilient? How about we put your answer to the test, literally. Now, we know that assessment is always an important, albeit imperfect, subjective, and incomplete tool. In order to understand one’s skill in living a resilient lifestyle, Ben Falk, author of the award-winning The Resilient Farm and Homestead, developed the following assessment tool. […] Read More

Happy Holidays from Chelsea Green Publishing!

Today we kick off our Holiday Sale — with 35% off every purchase at our online bookstore. Simply use the code CGS16 at checkout from now until the end of the year. Along with this great discount, we are offering free shipping on any order over $100*. Are there homesteaders or organic gardeners on your […] Read More

The 5 Rules of Lean Thinking

Are you ready to co-create the future? These 5 Rules of Lean Thinking are a useful tool as we set out to collectively invent a post-market future. Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food. Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive […] Read More

Using Permaculture Principles to Design Resilient Cities

The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures. Author Toby Hemenway (Gaia’s Garden) lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com