Going green: Pros offer tips on environmentally friendly living
Green is officially and unequivocally "in" -- a mere 38 years since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, was celebrated to promote concepts on how we might better care for the environment that sustains us.
While former Vice-President Al Gore's 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," sounded an alarm, most Americans are only now beginning to implement simple ideas to save the Earth. Sure, we put our recyclables out on trash day, but, really, how many of us are toting re-usable, environmentally friendly bags to the grocery store every single trip or embracing fluorescent bulbs with gusto?
Suddenly, though, mainstream outlets are touting green lifestyles, making it easier to understand how we can make a responsible, even stylish, difference in home decor and construction.
HGTV, for instance, is for the first time building a Green Home, located in Tradition Hilton Head, a 5,300-acre master-planned community near the popular beach resort of Hilton Head, S.C. At just over 2,000 square feet, the fully furnished home has three bedrooms and two and a half baths, and features construction and design elements known to contribute to a more healthy living environment. (Follow the construction process and tour the house at HGTV.com/Green
When completed, the Green Home will have achieved a significant LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. LEED for Homes, a voluntary rating system, is a project of the U.S. Green Building Council. Plus, the network is giving away the home and its contents, including a GMC Yukon hybrid, a package valued at approximately $850,000, during a March 21-May 9 Green Home Giveaway.
"We are aware that many of our viewers are interested in hearing more about green lifestyles," says HGTV president Jim Samples. "The giveaway provides an excellent opportunity to showcase examples of affordable, accessible and eco-friendly approaches to living."
The sweepstakes will kick off at 9 p.m. March 23, on the "HGTV Green Home 2008" special, and will be hosted by "Carter Can" handyman Carter Oosterhouse. (For Oosterhouse's energy-saving tips, see the box at lower right.)
How green is the Green Home?
Highlights include pervious pavement (using pavers on the driveway allows rainwater to naturally seep into the ground); limited turf (less time and money invested in maintenance); low-flow toilets; individual room controls for heating and cooling; tankless water heaters; Energy Star appliances; waterproofing; and rapidly renewable wood flooring, such as bamboo.
Better Homes and Gardens is hitting the road for a 15-city, seven-month tour of America to spread its green living message. (Detroit is not a tour stop.) Using bio-diesel to get moving, the tour will feature a 2,500-square-foot Living Green Home and highlight eco-friendly rooms, integrated throughout with green products, materials and appliances to promote energy efficiency and everyday environmental practices.
The goal is to help consumers save money, live healthier and conserve natural resources. Experts such as renovation specialist Steven J. Whittle and interior designer Libby Langdon will be on hand to share how small changes can make a big "green" impact.
"What is so exciting about this project is that, before this, I was aware of the green movement but hadn't incorporated a lot of those elements into my designs," Langdon says. "It's rewarding when people check out what we've done and get tips on how to make the Earth as well as their homes a more beautiful place to live."
The Living Green Home will feature kitchen counters made from recycled glass and bottles, tiles made from old car windshields, cork and bamboo floors, and soy-based couches and surfaces in a resource room made from recycled toilets.
Coastal Living's March issue devotes a section to eco-friendly home improvements. Tips include using paints and finishes that are low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds), which are durable, cost-effective and less harmful to humans; properly insulating walls and ducts to decrease bills by 30 percent; using reclaimed wood flooring; and creating driveways of "grasscrete" -- crushed seashells to allow rain water to seep in the ground.
Finally, "Green Living for Dummies" (Wiley, $19.99) by Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay and Michael Grosvenor is now in bookstores. It is chock-full of ideas and tips, and the authors even suggest that frequent fliers donate to tree-planting programs when buying plane tickets to offset the carbon dioxide produced by jet flights. It sounds far-fetched, but then so did global warming not so long ago.