SUMMARY: We bought the 1930s colonial house in which my wife grew up. Since we had to remodel, we decide to do a “green” remodel with improved energy efficiency, better indoor air quality, and sustainable materials and practices to create a safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly home in which to raise our family. In addition, the move provided us with a “right-sized” home and a more sustainable location, with a greater number of amenities within walking distance to reduce the need to use a car for transportation. With little additional effort, we decide to pursue a LEED for Homes Platinum rating and use the project to help educate and inspire others about sustainable building and remodeling.
When we found out we were expecting, we started to think more about living in, and leaving for our children, a safe and healthy environment. Then the house my wife’s family lived in for nearly 50 years became available. The home is a 1930s colonial, 3BR, 1.5 BA, near a beautiful and active park. We were challenged to think about moving from our wonderful friends in our comfortable upscale suburban/rural neighborhood.
We started to consider the house a great location for raising the children and maintaining our own health. The advantages include the park and its many activities; grocery stores, restaurants, schools, shops, and services within walking distance; proximity to New York City; and greater socio-economic and cultural diversity.
Since the house needed considerable updating anyway, we decided to take the opportunity to do a “green” remodel. The residence was remodeled using many of the latest environmentally responsible methods and materials. The benefits include lower operating costs, lower carbon footprint, a healthier home, and better environmental stewardship. It will serve as a model of how to “green” an older traditional-style house on a modest budget and how traditional builders can adapt to green building techniques. The house is targeted for a LEED for Homes Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
We extended our enthusiasm about their project to our family, friends, neighbors, and township. We have led the formation of a community group to encourage sustainability, with successes already achieved in adoption of green building guidelines into the town’s redevelopment plans, reduction of paper use by the township, sponsorship of a community “green fest”, the town’s interest in alternative fuel vehicles, and articles and profiles in the township newsletter and local press. We led the effort to have our town become one of the first 34 municipalities achieving Sustainable Jersey certification.