Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Minor Home Renovations, the Green Way

What a week! Mainstream media finally kicks in, letting us all know that the planet is warming. Did you know that? Who would have thought? And Jane and I finally take possession of the house we bought and initiate minor renovations.

While the media writes about what sacrifices North Americans are willing to make in order to save the planet, Jane and I are trying to make eco-friendly choices given the budget we have. This is what we’ve come up with:

The trouble with most paint is the VOC content. VOC is short for ‘Volatile Organic Compounds’. When these compounds evaporate in the atmosphere they damage the ozone layer. Happily most paint shops now offer low VOC paint products thanks to strict regulations now in effect in the USA. However, the darker the colour, the higher the VOC content I’m afraid.

We’ve decided to go with Benjamin and Moore and to use their Ecospec brand as much as we can. For more low VOC paints by other companies, click here.

We seriously considered Farrow Ball, a paint company that sells clay based paint. While the paint has no VOCs, it is very expensive. Milk-based paint is another alternative, something folks used in the good old days before we used harmful chemicals.

Getting low VOC paint is one thing. We are also mindful of minimizing paint waste. We plan to follow the suggestions by Eco Painting, Toronto based painters, to keep as much of the paint out of the water as possible.

I suspect that the old refrigerator in our new home is an energy-consuming monster. By next week we will have exchanged it for an Energy Star approved model. I’m interested in finding out what will happen to the old fridge. Will it be recycled? I’ll keep you posted.

We are buying furniture made of wood from renewable sources. We’ve already bought our lovely maple dining table second hand. Our entertainment armoire and coffee table/chest are from a Toronto-based company called Morning Star Trading Company. The wood is an Indian Rosewood called Sheesham, which is renewably harvested in managed forests.

We will also finish up our shopping at Ikea, which has a policy to use renewable wood and toxic-free furniture.

EnerGuide! (or whatever)
It’s back! The Tories have exhumed the EnerGuide program and are calling it the ecoEnergy Efficiency Initiative. Once the dust has settled (literally), Jane and I will look into getting an EnerGuide… or, I mean the other thing… audit to test the energy efficiency level in our home. We must save of course in preparation for the retrofits that the auditor will advise us to make. Happily the Canadian government is once again prepared to provide a rebate, up to $5000, depending on how well we do in our retrofits.

In the News

Turn off the Electricity Feb 1
The Alliance for the Planet is wants everyone to turn off their lights and electrical appliances of Feb 1 between 1.55 pm and 2.00 pm in New York, 18.55 for London, and 19.55 for Paris, Bruxelles, and Italy. 1.55pm in Ottawa, 10.55am on the Pacific Coast of North America.

World Economic Forum
Climate Change topped the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week which brought together top business and political leaders. For more:

The Latest IPCC Assessment
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its 4th assessment on Friday. The last assessment was in 2001 when more than 2000 scientists concluded that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse-gas concentrations.”

This latest assessment will review progress in the understanding of climate change and observations in atmosphere, oceans and ice as well as sobering projections of future changes. Stay tuned…

Other News
Green Bloggers


Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

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