Tony Lucas, the designer for Palm Harbor Homes and I had a great conversation when we were in Las Vegas for the MHI Congress and Expo. We were talking about the green revolution and what consumers are willing to pay to "do the right thing" and Tony used a great term - Shades of Green. We all want to make a difference, we just do it in different shades.
Living and working in a 1942 factory helps you find out quickly how important energy efficiency is, and amazingly enough there were some ideas that were designed into my home that make a lot of sense today. I always wanted a concrete home, and the Idea Factory is made of cement blocks and stucco. It really helps with sound and it does tend to keep the heat in during the winter and the cool in during the summer. We had no insulation anywhere and with a flat roof it was hard to add but we did.
The Idea Factory came complete with a 1956 Carrier air condition that used water cooled freon - similar to what many commercial buildings still use. the water takes the heat away from the air by the freon, travels outside and is then cooled by traveling across fins that let the air cool off the water. The cooled water is then returned to the system and the process starts over again. This is a very amateur description of the process, but I knew nothing when I bought this place but after the first summer I quickly found this system was worth keeping.
Imagine doing the inspection of your new home and having the inspector see this wood, falling apart structure that is a main component of your air conditioner. Obviously they were not very excited - water and raw wood are not a great combination. I saw it as a Lifestylist® Designed challenge, signed all of the papers and it was mine! Fortunately I have great team members that are used to my ideas, and we came up with a new design sculpted out of concrete and metal that is not only functional but a work of art as well. With hard work, a lot of head scratching and even more creativity today we started it up and it is purring like a new machine!
This is my shade of green - incorporating form, function, elbow grease and paint to come up with a system that has cut my cooling bills by over 60%. Plus it looks great and I love the sound of it outside my kitchen window. I can't wait to do more green projects to my home, but until I can afford more I am very conscious of how shade can help my bills and letting the trees overhang my roof, keeping the cooling up or heat down to save on utility bills when I'm not there, and turning off lights if I'm not in the room.
What is your shade of green?