Green building, using locally harvested materials.

by Kerry on June 18, 2009

LEED house local harvest Martha's Vineyard

I have gotten an incredible education over the past while in all manners of construction and the LEED building process. My saturated brain continues to marvel at how simple it can be to make a major difference and how far we can take sustainable living.

Every day new ideas on green construction and efficiency in building become mainstream, bringing awareness to the public and innumerable benefits to the consumer. This has been an exciting learning curve and far more than just a way to build houses.  The concepts of energy efficiency and sustainability are part of my everyday vocabulary and the values are reflected in my lifestyle.

This week the floors are being installed at the first LEED certified single family residence being built on Martha’s Vineyard. As a member of the team involved in the design, I was originally interested in aesthetics and beauty rather than the full green factor. I knew I didn’t want bamboo floors, despite my enthusiasm for renewable materials. There are renewable options (grows back quickly) or local options, harvested within a 500 mile radius.

The amount of planning and coordination involved in building a green LEED certified house cannot be measured at the construction site or by logging hours on time sheets. Every aspect of construction has to be evaluated and decided before any nail is struck. The design aspect of LEED accounts for a percentage of the points earned on a project. By incorporating certain design and innovation features in a structure, your points will increase.

The  merits of using of locally harvested materials can be summed up with one word. Transportation. Transportation is a huge environmental problem as it creates a chain of carbon waste and emissions that can span the globe. The goal of green building is not only to build a better quality house, but to focus on a local and global environmental impact.eastern white pine LEED house vineyard

I read somewhere that biking to work one day a week would reduce the average commuter’s greenhouse gases by 1,000 pounds of carbon per year. That would be based on an average 20 mile round trip commute. If the average car emits around  7 tons of carbon dioxide per year, imagine the effect of shipping lumber thousands of miles with huge transportation vehicles, be it planes, trains and automobiles, has on the environment. By using locally harvested wood and materials, we are participating in a global intervention of carbon emissions, as well as meeting our LEED criteria for points on flooring and trim.

Environmentally friendly, socially responsible. Works for me.

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