Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going green is making me see red....

Another house blogger recently blogged about "going green" and it got me thinking. Read that blog...here.

Going green is making me see red. "Green" seems to be the new buzz word. Building green, greener automobiles, green, green, green. I'm as environmentally friendly as the next person but I have to believe that a lot of this need to go green is nothing more than a marketing ploy that plays on well meaning concerned citizen's guilt about the environment. In the name of going green, normally sensible people buy big /small and cheap/expensive items that they currently do not need. I would rather people fix, recycle, reconfigure, re everything before they jump on the green bandwagon and throw out a perfectly good working item in the name of going green. If everyone in the world immediately went green, we would be up to our eyeballs in perfectly good debris. Going green should be gradual and on a "as needed" timetable. Not a knee jerk reaction to a long overdue problem.

I'm sure there are some people who when they view my home think....hmmmmm...."why don't they replace those old wooden windows with more energy efficient vinyl windows?" or "why did they spend all that time stripping paint off their house when they could have just put up vinyl siding and saved the environment from all that VOC when they paint?" AND of course "why didn't they just tear it down and build new with green products." "They aren't thinking very green!"

I think we are green, sort of a sagey green not avocado green and here is why...........The wooden windows are drafty because they have not been maintained. Once they are stripped of excess paint, re glazed, and weatherstripped they will be good as new. AND I didn't add anything to a landfill. Plus I will use less energy to heat/cool my home now that the windows function as they were originally designed to do.

The reason I plan to strip the paint off my house and repaint rather than put on vinyl siding is three fold. First, vinyl siding at it's best still looks like plastic, even with the simulated wood grain. Second, vinyl siding doesn't last forever. I see vinyl siding installed in the 80's that needs replacing only after 25 years. On the other hand, my 70 year old cedar siding needs a few shakes replaced and needs a new coat of paint to look as good as it did 70 years ago. Thirdly, (is that a word???) by repainting and not installing vinyl siding I did not add anything to a landfill.
Most older homes would need far less repair if they had not been "improved" upon by previous home owners. That is where the trouble usually begins. Case in point. The back door was originally built without an overhang. No big deal. This is not a door one would use to enter the house during the rain or snow. But somewhere along the line, someone needed to improve upon it, so they built an overhang. First off, it was ugly. Second off, it was useless and not needed. Third off, it collected rain and snow which kept the siding wet, which in turn damaged the plastered wall. I wonder how many times it kept someone dry while using that door? But in the meantime damage was done, that now needs correcting. Cedar siding worked fine until someone decided to improve upon the original design.


Notice the peeling paint above the door in this "after overhang removal" photo.



So far we have had to purchase very little wood to complete our repairs. Whenever we have done any demo, we have been mindful to save usable pieces for later use. Most wood that has gone into the trash was severely splintered and unusable. Cedar siding was removed from the front of the house when the overhang was extended back to it's original design. I am sure that during the 70's they removed that overhang in an attempt to get solar gain and help with heating costs. But I am sure whatever gain they may have gotten was all lost by the solar gain they got during the summer. I prefer to have the extreme evening sun tempered with the overhang the way it was originally designed. But back to the shingles.....I kept all the usable shingles and reused them to replace the rotted shingles around the front door. In true "Yankee" fashion, my father and I scrapped the peeling paint off and just flipped the shingle over. Nothing went into a landfill. Another added bonus besides the fact that it was free and didn't add to a landfill was the fact that the shingles had shrunk all they were going to, so the shingles are still nice and tight up against each other.

Notice the used shingles to the right of the front door. These shingles were removed when the overhang was restored along the front of the house.

Oh and the reason we didn't tear it down and start over is because I like what I like and I like old. New I don't like. So until something is beyond repair I'll continue to use it. If by chance my taste change I'll recycle it. Filling a landfill will be my last resort.