Sustainabilize in place. That is a term we have crafted to capture the essence of the evergreen process for remodeling, retrofitting, and rethinking your existing dwelling to decrease its collective impact on the environment. In Eco House Book, author Terence Conran gets right to the heart of that point in the second paragraph when he writes: ”Just as we are urged to change our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint and consumption of water, there is a great deal we can do to convert our existing homes into greener, healthier places to live.”
Just as we are urged to change our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint and consumption of water, there is a great deal we can do to convert our existing homes into greener, healthier places to live. — Terence Conran
Certainly, there is much in this prescriptive book that can be directly applied to a new residential construction project where sustainability and high performance are among the desired results.
But for those looking to sustainabilize in place, Conran offers advice tailored to making an extremely broad range of eco-centric tweaks and changes, ranging from the incremental to the monumental. For example, in the Servicing chapter, he discusses the merits of lowering the temperature on a thermostat by a single degree in order to conserve resources, while in the chapter entitled Design, he delves into guidance on approaching loft conversions and home extensions to ensure they are optimized for healthy living and long-term energy efficiency.
Much of the advice provided is exceedingly practical and sustainably rooted in good green sense. In the Design Fabric chapter, which focuses on the many materials that go into the construction and decoration of our dwellings, Conran helps simplify the question of choice. “In many cases, it is a question of straightforward substitution,” writes Conran. “Flooring made of bamboo or palmwood, both of which come from plentiful and renewable resources, make highly practical alternatives to hardwood and are surprisingly close in appearance.”
What Conran refers to as the classic mantra of sustainability—the 3 Rs of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—is the focus of the Maintenance chapter, but again, that posture smacks strongly of the essence of this book. We can’t imagine anyone coming away from this eminently sustainable read without bookmarking at least a handful of practical tips to decrease their dwelling’s environmental impact.
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