We went for an eco friendly house tour of my Environmental Studies professor, Kristin Sullivan, in Capitola, CA. I had been to her house before, just not with a camera! It was a great reminder of how many things we can implement to make our homes sustainable, safe and environmentally friendly on a budget, while saving money.
Some of the eco and green things in her home are that the house is made of straw (she even has a "truth" window that shows the straws), and it was built with 171 bales. Straw is an amazing insulator and it's a waste product, leftover from the harvesting of rice, it does not have nutrient value so it's perfect to make a home. Another cool fact about straw homes is that, believe it or not, it's fire resistant and earthquake resistant. How is it fire resistant? The bales are so well packed that no oxygen can get in, and with no oxygen you can't start a fire. How is it earthquake resistant? The material is very flexible and acts just as a tree in a wind storm!
The paint that she used is a non-toxic, VOC free alternative to paint, it's ferrous sulfate which is a benign agriculture fertilizer that you can get at any major home improvement store. All you need to do is add water and brush it on. The color is just amazing! The doors and all the wood in the house are salvaged, the concrete has fly ash which is a waste product from burning coal. They also have cellulose, recycled cardboard, newspaper, recycled glass all around the house. Their solar panel is used to heat and cool the house, and to produce electricity. Her solar electricity bill is on average 46 cents.
Lastly, the post bean construction wood is FSC Certified (Forest Stewardship Council). The house only has drought tolerant, drought resistant, native landscaping. They have their own garden with some fruit and vegetables and they catch their own water via their water catching system.
So far she has had almost 7,000 people tour their eco-friendly house. Imagine how many people's lives and how much she has helped our environment just by having these tours!
Mrs. Sullivan's top 3 green home tips are:
1- Make sure that your home is efficiently closed in order to be energy efficient. Weatherizing around windows and doors is very important in order to avoid letting the heat out through holes, and other things.
2- Always think of an alternative to what you're thinking of buying. For example in terms of water usage, you can get a low flush toilet and a low flow shower head that would help you save money as well as save several gallons of water from being wasted unnecessarily.
3- Also, in terms of energy use, get double pane windows and Ecostar or Energy Star appliances (they can use up to 75% less energy compared to other conventional appliances).
She also gets her food from local farmers, which is a community supported agriculture where the food isn't traveling long distances, their workers are being paid a fair wage and it's all organic, safer for our health and our environment.
When I visited her, she was teaching nothing less than 9 classes, that's right, nine! And when I asked why, she said "We have to save our planet". We need more of you Mrs. Sullivan, and I'm glad to know we're not alone on our end.
- Solar power
- Salvaged door
- Recycled glass
- Non toxic paint
- Made out of straw
- FSC Certified Wood
- Double pane windows
- Water catching system
- Energy star appliances
- Drought tolerant landscape