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BLUEPRINT FOR
THE NEW GREEN HOME

"What is the use of a House if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"-Henry David Thoreau, 1854

A century and a half since Thoreau built his little cabin on Walden Pond, our poet's ethic of simplicity and harmony with nature has been displaced by the typical American dream house: amulti-thousand-square-foot suburban palace with a three-car garage. If we took Thoreau on atour, he'd be surprised to learn that today's building products and furnishings emit gaseous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as the known carcinogens formaldehyde and benzene, andtrigger respiratory, allergic and neurological reactions. He'd see bulldozers mow down trees to make room for a house - built with scarce hardwoods from far-flung places ­ and construction crews filling dumpsters with enough scrap wood to build another Walden cottage.

Not all homes built today, though, are monuments to waste, sick-building syndrome and pollution. For more and more people, the new dream home is a green home. In this article, you'll find home projects done in ways to save energy, water, materials ­ and doctor's bills. Taking inspiration from traditional "sustainable" dwellings, such as pueblos and yurts, the new green home of the seeks "to repair the ruptured link between us and the rest of nature," write Janet Marinelli and Paul Bierman-Lytle, authors of Your Natural Home.

Whether you're building from scratch or just remodeling one room, "Why not do it the right way? "suggests Diane Cotman, director of the Sustainable Housing Demonstration Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cotman is working with architect Gerard Ives to create a model for a green home"...in a way that anyone could do it, on any budget."

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Written by: Francesca Lyman


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