Green fever is taking over the nation – and no, it’s not an illness. On the contrary, it’s a positive thing, and means consumers are now recycling and including more eco-friendly choices in their homes. However, there are many other ways to help the environment, and an eco-friendly garage is one of them.
When looking at green products and technology that can be utilized in the home, most people forget about their garage. It doesn’t seem like the space uses much energy or really affects the environment, but the opposite is true. It’s a large space, with the average size being the same as a typical American home in the 1950s.
Garages can utilize electricity and heat, and are attached to the home, which means they can affect indoor air quality. Looking into improving the environment around your garage is an excellent way to lift that carbon footprint and improve the safety of your garage.
Here are a few suggestions:
Protect Indoor Air
Fluids, dust, dirt and exhaust from the garage can easily enter your home if the two areas are connected. It’s important to air seal your garage in order to prevent the transfer of harmful air particles.
Install an Eco-Friendly Garage Door
You can make your garage more sustainable, improve the safety of the mechanism, add some curb appeal, conserve energy, prevent heating and cooling loss, and prevent theft all by installing an updated, environmentally-friendly garage door and mechanism.
Buy an Eco-Friendly Car
What’s inside your garage can be just as harmful as what it’s made of. If you drive a gas guzzling, high-exhaust vehicle, you’re doing more harm to the environment than you may realize. Switch to a fuel-efficient vehicle with a low EPA energy rating. You might also consider installing an electric vehicle charging port, which would enable you to upgrade to an electric vehicle.
Replace Your Light Bulbs
You’ve probably already replaced the light bulbs in your home with energy-efficient CFL or LED light bulbs, so now it’s time to do so in your garage. Even better, allow plenty of natural light to enter by adding windows so you don’t have to turn on lights in the garage during the day.
Use Sustainable Materials
Anytime you construct a garage or remodel it, use as many sustainable materials as possible. Choosing green concrete for your garage floor, for example, won’t harm the environment to install or remove. Recycled materials for the walls, insulation, and garage door are also highly recommended.
Insulate and Seal It from the Elements
If your garage is attached to the home or it has heating and cooling installed, it can cause your utility bills to skyrocket. Prevent this unnecessary cost by insulating the walls efficiently and air sealing them from the elements. The tighter the seal and thicker the insulation, the less the elements will permeate the walls and affect energy consumption.
Be Eco-Safe While Using the Garage
All activities inside the garage should be environmentally safe, as well. Any time you change the oil or deal with other fluids, recycle them in order to prevent build up in landfills. Other items that come from work done inside your garage, like wood scraps or broken tools, can also be recycled to help you reduce your environmental impact.
It doesn’t seem like such a small building could have such a big impact on the environment, but you’ll be amazed to see the good that comes from a green garage.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.