The idea of living in an eco-friendly house is no longer just the stuff of tree-hugger dreams. As environmental concerns and utility costs continue to rise, green building is quickly becoming a universal imperative. Our living and work spaces consume enormous quantities of the earth’s resources in their construction and daily operation. Almost a quarter of our nation’s total annual energy usage can be attributed to our households, a staggering statistic that comes with a sizeable and pricey carbon footprint. Beyond environmental and economic concerns, many of the places in which we dwell are built with materials that harbor nasty toxins and pollutants that can take a serious toll on our health.
The good news is that setting up shop in an off-the-grid, hemp-wrapped yurt is not the only option when it comes to creating an ecologically sound and healthy home. Whether you are constructing a new building, renovating an existing one, or looking to make a few changes in your living habits, you can incorporate features that support the conservation of the environment and improve your quality of life. Not sure where to start? Head over to this weekend’s first annual Built Green Expo, Conference & Tour at Santa Barbara City College and hear from the experts about everything from installing solar panels to obtaining sustainable and toxin-free materials to putting the kibosh on those vampire electronics that suck energy even while turned off.
Over the course of two days, you can take your pick from a variety of free talks and workshops geared toward architects, builders, homeÂ-owners, and anyone looking to make some simple improvements. You can also explore a wide variety of green building materials, products, techniques, and enterprises by visiting some of the 60 exhibitors set up on the West Campus lawn. On Saturday, head off campus to tour five of Santa Barbara’s very own green homes (and one commercial space) that will be opening up their doors so the public can see some of today’s most innovative green materials and practices in action. Stroll through any of the featured houses to discover how stylish design and environmental responsibility are no longer mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary, these homes demonstrate how sustainability has inspired a new kind of innovative elegance in home design.
Karin Perissinotto, executive director of Built Green and the Santa Barbara Contractor’s Association, is particularly excited about the green home tours and case study presentations being offered. “These case studies really demonstrate that it’s not just about putting up four walls :” said Perissinotto, “It’s about creating a whole integrated system that enables you to be environmentally efficient.” For anyone seeking a little inspiration, Perissinotto suggests attending Friday night’s keynote address by nationally acclaimed architects Michelle Kaufmann and John Picard-two green building gurus working to revolutionize the way we live.
A Prefab-ulous Innovator