We live in a time of change and challenge. Things around us seem overwhelming and beyond our control. Between an unseen virus, long and simmering societal tensions, and global climate change, we seem buffeted at all sides. But there are things each of us can do to take some control of things and feel like we are able to make a positive impact, even if in just a small way. The positive impact of sustainable architecture works alongside technological advancements to make our homes healthier and more energy efficient. Doing an energy audit of our homes and a deep energy insulation retrofit gives us the opportunity to not only save money in the long run but to also give us the satisfaction of knowing we have reduced our carbon footprint. This is the amount of environmental impact each of us has in the production of carbon dioxide, which has been shown to be a major cause of global warming. Global warming in turn has an impact not just on the increase in extreme weather events but also on the spread of insects and disease.
Some amazing advances have been made in the area of insulation and wall design. Rather than using loose batts of fiberglass insulation, there are now self-expanding spray foams which seal the exterior of a building and provide greater insulative value per inch than previously used products could. Every home and building renovation should include an insulation upgrade as they pay for themselves quickly through lower heating and cooling costs and less drafty environments.
Solar panels have gotten much more efficient and much less expensive in the last several years. The implementation of “net metering” means that you can sell electricity back to the utility in many places at the same rate you buy it so not only does the building owner save money, but the production of electricity becomes more decentralized which helps during the times of social unrest or other blackout situations.
There have been similar advances in HVAC technology that allow much more efficient production of heating and cooling, using both air and geothermal heat exchange units. These new units can also help regulate humidity ad filter the air within a building making it healthier and more comfortable.
Our homes and buildings have always been our castles. But these days, more and more, they have become our fortresses against climate change, societal unrest, and pandemic. Good design can not only make them more comfortable and cost efficient but also help address the broader issues that are impacting the world around us.
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