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The concept of being “green” can be misrepresented and overwhelming. But in reality, embracing a sustainable philosophy is not about overhauling your life. Small steps can be taken to reduce environmental impact. Effective green philosophy outlines ways to promote a sustainable means for everyday life by breaking down the concept of “being green” into its most essential parts. These parts intertwine – by adhering to one the others will fall into place. Although some of these measures may require more initial cost than their counterparts, they ultimately serve as core investments in our environment and our future that often lead to valuable returns both for you and the planet.
The fundamentals of green design can be broken down into the simplest of terms. Stay put, use less, use what nature provides, use things twice, don’t waste and finally let nature in. If you follow these basic tenets, you can over time improve your environment and keep more money in your pocketbook.
Stay put. Americans possess an unyielding need to expand, building on top of undeveloped spaces and places as we tire of the old. However neglected and underutilized, land proves to be our ultimate resource. A change of scenery does not need to equate to constructing a huge building on unused property. Instead we need a change of perspective that comes with looking at what surrounds us, as useful.
Use less, one of the simplest practices. Reduce your consumption of water, energy, fuel and any other non-renewable resources. Walk instead of driving, shave five minutes off of your shower, buy fluorescent or LED bulbs – these are all easy measures that are also cost-effective.
Use what nature provides to the fullest extent. This does not mean you should start taking down stands of trees or removing sides of mountains. Instead use rapidly renewable resources, such as bamboo, cotton, wool, cork and palm in lieu of trees or other materials that tap our dwindling natural resources. Consider the lifecycle of each item you use. On another level, if you are willing to invest in a more complex solution, solar, geothermal and wind, use the sun, and earth, to generate energy without consuming fossil fuels. State and federal rebates accompany many of these sources, resulting in shorter payback periods.
Use things twice (or more). Our landfills are already clogged, so why contribute? Use recycled and reclaimed products. There is a world of recycled products out on the market today from roof shingles to ceramic tile. As consumers, we are very sensitive to the ingredients in our food, we should pay as much attention to what we put in our homes and workspaces from desk chair to sink, it can all come from recycled materials.
Don’t waste. If you are employing the items outlined above, this item has already started to fall into place. However there is more you can do. Get an energy audit, and see if you need to reinsulated your home, or if your heating/cooling system or appliances are working efficiently, making upgrades can have a considerable affect on your monthly expenses.
Let nature in. 90% of our time is spent indoors and these spaces are full of unnatural elements – VOCs from paint, carpet and furniture surround us and poison our homes and workplaces. Structures that embrace light and air not only promote fresh air and brighter spaces, but also let us use less energy & contribute beneficially to health and overall well-being.
By adopting a few of these tenets, you can expand your ability to save and, over time, create a healthier interior environment and a better world. Not only do “green” spaces use resources more effectively, but they allow natural light and better air quality, which can improve the health and comfort of your employees and families. These qualities ultimately increase a business’s most important cost savings measure: productivity. Not to mention that healthy, comfortable buildings and spaces make everyone happier, and shouldn’t we all enjoy a little happiness with the savings we achieve, by greening our world, businesses and homes.
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