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Shades of Green Chic

October 7, 2010

I was watching a certain TV show.  The segment I watched involved a couple and their approximately 100-year-old home.

The couple have been renovating the home for a while and the TV segment was discussing one particular room.  An upstairs bedroom with a beautiful, aged wood floor and the typical angular, slanted ceiling.  Fully furnished.  All in all, a very nice looking space.

Naturally, the question in my mind became “Is greening [their term for this exercise] the house more environmentally friendly than leaving the house as is?”

What did they really mean when they said they wanted to make their house more environmentally friendly?

If the object of the renovation is to create efficiencies, then the long run benefits would certainly be reason enough to engage in such a project.

However, the home owner was looking to make the room look “more elegant”.  Personally, I think such long surviving structures are elegant in their own right.  Nevertheless, I really don’t begrudge a person for wanting to create the home they want to live in.  It is part of the nesting process.

What I take exception to is the idea that remodeling with environmentally friendly/sustainable materials and furniture is what people make it out to be.  There was no discussion of creating efficiency (other than cost of the remodel).  It was a pure design project.

Perhaps they let someone else salvage that wood floor.  I would love that wood in my home.  The materials used in the remodel were partially recycled (some wood and tile) and used bamboo and cork.  The renovation certainly had less negative impact than a renovation with no thought for sustainable material.

Still, I wonder how we can truly call this act environmentally friendly.  Short of energy efficiency possibilities that did not seem part of the project, the house didn’t become more environmentally friendly.  There was nothing in this project involving lighting options, insulation/heating/cooling, etc.

Surely, the most positive act for the environment would have been not to renovate at all until necessary, as opposed to solely to fulfill a design aesthetic.

Sadly, I found the end product significantly less elegant than the original room.

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