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Episode Info: The Basics of Environmentally Sustainable Homes. In this post we will be discussing these questions: What makes homes or the materials used in them damaging to the environment? How you can know if materials used in your home are environmentally friendly? How can you reduce energy use in your home? How can you make your home more environmentally friendly? How Can Your Home be Damaging to the Environment? There are many ways that your home can be damaging to the environment and I will discuss a few of the major ones here: Energy Use Depletion of Natural Resources Damage to Natural Habitats 1. Energy Use One of the main ways (and sometimes the largest contributor) to your home being damaging to the environment is through energy consumption. In many parts of North America... or the world for that matter, energy is produced by burning fossil fuels which create emissions and deplete nonrenewable resources. If we are able to use less energy than we reduce the amount of pollution going into the atmosphere from producing that electricity. When you are thinking about how much energy you are using or trying to save in your home it is useful to know that saving a little bit of energy in your home results in saving a lot of energy at the production source. This comparison is known as source vs. site energy. Source vs. Site Energy Source Energy = Energy going into electricity production at power plants or whatever source is putting it onto the power grid. Energy is then lost through: Heat losses in combustion (For sources such as coal or natural gas) Traveling long distances through power lines. Every time the voltage gets stepped up or down through a transformer. Site Energy = Energy consumed at your home that you pay for and use. Having a knowledge of source vs. site energy can help you feel a little bit better about the small wins you are making in reducing your electricity usage. Electricity used to light up a room or brew your coffee isn't the only way that energy is used in your home though. Your home's energy use actually starts long before you move in. How does your home use energy? Energy is used and carbon emissions result from harvesting/manufacturing materials used in your home Energy from gas, electricity, or other sources is used during the life of your home to heat your home, your water, and power appliances Finally, energy is used to recycle or dispose of old materials when they have reached the end of their useful life. This applies to items and appliances within your home and your home itself. While it is great to save energy, energy use is not the only way that your home can be harmful to the environment. Many natural resources are used in homes and some of these cannot easily be replenished. 2. Depletion of natural resources Think for a minute about what materials are in your home? Are they renewable? The most common materials in your home are: Concrete Wood Glass Metals Plastics Paints Of this list, wood is the only renewable one…. When forests are managed well. The other items take a lot to produce and use a lot of natural resources that cannot be replenished. Glass, Metals, plastics, and concrete (to an extent) have a bit of a saving grace in that they can be recycled to help reduce further natural resource depletion. Depletion of natural resources is also one of the ways that your home can be damaging to natural habitats. 3. Damage to natural habitats Habitats are affected in several ways through the construction and use of your home: The destruction of habitats where you build your home. Habitats destroyed by construction materials being harvested Emission pollution from material and product manufacturing processes can be bad for habitats and the world in general. Habits can be damaged and polluted by harmful construction waste. Whether it be through energy use,Read more »

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