Earth Day, Everyday

It's Earth Day! As an architect, it makes me think about sustainability and how much building our dream homes affect our environment. I mean, how many people choose to build with healthy, eco-friendly materials versus those thinking "it's not worth the extra expense"? I think a lot of people fall into the latter. So here's my take on it...

Sustainability, in terms of construction, is all about conserving energy and resources, meaning "to protect the planet and ensure the needs of the present are met without compromising the needs of the future."

If you think about sustainability in a broader sense though, it's really all about love. Loving our planet, loving future generations, and loving ourselves. Humans are capable of so much love, even though, it may not always seem that way. Love is what actually sustains us.

So what can we do to live in harmony with nature and in turn, ourselves, and also build a future in the 21st century, without thrusting ourselves into extinction? Because what’s the point in building or rebuilding if there’s no one left to enjoy it. Below are ten ways, we as humans can be more responsible, to better align ourselves with Mother Nature, to lead by example and prepare future generations to do the same.

  1. Love and appreciate yourself. We need to fill our own buckets and nourish ourselves, so we're not lashing out on social media or ranting at the store clerk for not taking our coupon... go for a walk, say NO, sleep in, whatever you need, give it to yourself. If we ever intend to live in harmony with nature, we must first live in harmony with each other, and loving ourselves is the first step.
  2. Shop local & purchase recycled and reused items as much as possible. Whether you're building a home or not, buying products and materials sourced locally or regionally is better for the environment. Don’t buy stuff from China, simply because it's cheaper. Many materials that are made in the USA are held to higher standards, plus it supports local jobs and the local economy.
  3. Reduce waste. In nature, when a tree or animal dies or creates waste, it breaks down and becomes nutrients for another process. Unfortunately, many of the products we use, like styrofoam or vinyl siding, will never breakdown or have any other use. Recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, and glass and compost food waste. Buying less also reduces waste. It reduces the demand of certain useless items (think cheap plastic kids toys), so maybe one day, they'll never be manufactured in the first place.
  4. You are water and so is 70% of the Earth. Conserve water in your home with low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets. Use native plants in your landscaping to avoid long term sprinkler use. Install a filtration system in your home, so you can nurture your body with clean water.
  5. Immerse yourself in nature. Nature is our connection to creation; we are it and it is us. Go on hikes, have picnics, bask in the sunlight. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Grow a garden, it not only provides food, but also creates a natural eco-system in your backyard. Pollinators like bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowering plants, and other animals will be attracted to the harvest.
  6. Make the switch to solar (or renewable) energy. Just as trees and plants rely on the sun for their needs, humanity can do the same. Design your home to take advantage of natural light. Use advanced framing techniques to better insulate your home. Install EnergyStar appliances. Use LED light fixtures.
  7. Build smaller homes. Be mindful of our possessions and simply own less stuff. A smaller house means less energy usage and less to maintain. I'm not saying we should all live in tiny homes, I just think house sizes have started to get a little out of control.
  8. Be flexible, like the water and the trees, whatever is flexible and flowing tends to grow. Create a home design that represents your future needs as well as the present. Incorporate multi-use spaces that are utilized differently, depending on your stage of life. Moving and/or building a new home every 5 or so years, is rough on the environment & it's also rough on your wallet.
  9. Breathe. Air in our lungs is one of easiest ways to regulate the health of our body. Through deep breathing, we can relax away pain, anger, tension, and fear. Make sure the air in your home is clean. Create better indoor air quality by growing house plants, they help purify the air. Use paints and stains free of VOCs. Install hard surfaces, like hardwood or tile. Avoid carpet, it harbors dust and allergens and is typically manufactured with hazardous chemicals (ever heard of the new home smell). 
  10. Take the best and leave the rest. Conserve your own energy and resources. Conserve your own time and money. Do this by controlling what influences you allow into your life. That means people, businesses, products,  government and media. If it doesn't align with you and your highest good and purpose; if it doesn't align with the life you want to create for yourself and your future grandchildren; Just keep moving!

Now that were moving into post-pandemic days, remember it's up to us to create, for ourselves and the planet, a new, better normal, and that includes your future dream home too!


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