The future of sustainable communities
I am seeing the beginning of a movement that is gathering steam. More and more communities in our area are trying to become more sustainable, and part of that progress is due to grass-roots groups of citizens who push the issue with their local community leaders. Together they are able to produce more meaningful results than if people were only able to work toward this goal on their own.
Some examples I am seeing in our local area include monthly meetings in several different neighborhoods of people interested in learning how to green up their existing homes, and make them more energy efficient. They are able to draw in guest speakers who would normally charge a fee, but donate their time for the common good. These more educated homeowners are then more likely to take advantage of the opportunities made available by the community or the utility company that offer rebates and incentives for added energy efficiency, for example.
There are also "community challenge" programs, where neighboring communities challenge each other to se which can make the greatest reduction in water use, or energy use. Americans are very competitive by nature, so sometimes this is all it takes for us to start doing even the littlest things, like turning off lights when we are not in the room, or turning off the water as we brush our teeth.
As new communities are built, or existing communities expand outward, the opportunities are almost unlimited. We think we are doing a good thing by creating homes that will also power the owner's car. Imagine if a whole community were built this way, including the commercial and institutional buildings? Even some factories could be run completely on solar power. We are at the very beginning of this trend. Don't' just wait and watch, get involved!
Ted Clifton Ted L. Clifton is a designer-builder from Coupeville, Wa., with over 45 years of hands-on experience in the construction industry. His two companies, Zero-Energy Plans LLC, and CVH Inc. have won five Energy Value Housing Awards, and two National Green Building Awards for Concept and Research. Ted has been closely involved with the development of both his local Built Green program and Built Green Washington. www