April 22nd is Earth Day. The holiday was first celebrated in 1970 and billed as a “national teach-in on the environment.” It also led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the eventual passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Today, tree huggers and business tycoons are both involved in the greening of America. The green movement encourages people to clean up their litter; to use less water; to recycle paper, glass and plastic; and to drive environmentally friendly vehicles, like hybrids and electric-powered cars.
But what can the average home-owner do to decrease their carbon footprint at home?
1. There are many things you can change to make your yard and landscape more eco-sound, and in tune with nature. Landscape architect Michael Fleischacker explains one way green landscaping is evolving is with a focus on using locally grown plants and buying local to save on fossil fuels.
Listen to the interview with Michael Fleischacker on landscaping:
2. Another way to introduce native plants, flowers and even animals to your yard, no matter how small, is to create a wildlife sanctuary. Creating habitats for native animals like bats and owls, birds and even rodents.
Listen to the interview with Michael Fleischacker on creating a wildlife refuge in your yard:
3. If you want to cut down on chemical pesticides, just do it. That’s the advice of landscape architect Michael Fleischacker. He also says companion plantings help reduce pests by putting plants together that repel insects. Some plants, like irises, naturally recharge the water. Another option for saving water for garden reuse is installing a rain barrel.
Listen to the interview with Michael Fleischacker on cutting back on pesticides:
QuercusStudio LLC’s Michael Fleischacker, is a registered landscape architect and a LEED-accredited professional with the United States Green Building Council.
527 County Road 579
Ringoes, NJ 08551
What are some of the ways you can make your existing home energy tight and efficient? Experts in the field say the best way to start is with an energy audit of an existing home. If you are building new, it’s best to contact architects and builders who are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) accredited through the US Green Building Council.
James DelGrosso is the president of Residential Energy Professionals in Moorestown.
When a homeowner gets an energy audit on the home, a master plan is drawn up which can be put in place by the homeowner and/or professional contractors. That can include changes as drastic as installing photo-voltaic cells to reduce energy bills and maybe even take that homeowner off the grid. It could also be as easy as putting more insulation in the attic.
Listen to the interview with James DelGrosso on energy audits:
DelGrosso says if you think replacing your inefficient windows is the best thing you can do to decrease your energy bills, think again. He says drafty windows can be improved relatively cheaply, without being replaced.
Listen to the interview with James DelGrosso on inefficient windows:
Solar Remedies for the Home
Is solar the way to go to improve energy efficiency in your home? Delgrosso says it depends on whether you are considering photo-voltaics on the roof, which could make a huge difference in electric bills. And he says the cost of installing photo-voltaics could pay for itself in seven years in some cases.
Listen to the interview with James DelGrosso on solar remedies:
Residential Energy Professionals
601 S. Saratoga Drive
Moorestown, NJ 80857
Home Energy Options
If you are planning on upgrading your home, the number of alternative materials available today is far beyond what was available 20-years ago. That includes materials like bamboo, which is renewable and easy to grow, and is being used in flooring and wood products today. Years ago, bamboo was not even an option. In addition, higher efficiency equipment and materials are can seal a home tightly, which will improve energy efficiency and make the home more comfortable.
Listen to the interview with James DelGrosso on energy options:
Putting a green, living roof on a building is an idea that is starting to gain popularity. The idea first started with putting a light color on the roof, instead of something like black asphalt, because it would reflect the sun and keep the home cooler. Now, that has evolved into putting an actual garden on the building: topsoil, planting materials that will work with that environment, even ornamental trees in the soil or in pots. Irrigation then keeps the roof cooler, instead of creating a heat island on top of a building (like the asphalt does). One caveat though: this can only be applied to new buildings, unless older buildings are retrofitted to handle the extra weight.
Listen to the interview with James DelGrosso on green roofs:
Reported by Kim Glovas, KYW Newsradio