The calendar says it is summer, but today looks like fall, with all shades of green giving way to blazing reds and oranges. It is an enchanting time of year to open our home to visitors for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s Green Building Tour – this Saturday from 10am – 3 pm.
To prepare we have been scrutinizing the past year’s electric bills. Thanks to the thick blanket of insulation and a 5kW solar system, our all electric home has sipped about 1200 kW of electricity from the grid over twelve months. That is a one-month supply for many homes of the same size.
There is still much to clean to make the place presentable, but I have been distracted by the story of Malala Yousafzai, a fourteen-year old Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban on Tuesday in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Her life is inspirational. In fourteen short years she has won Pakistan’s first National Peace Award, authored the Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language Web site, and became such a potent symbol of freedom of expression that the Taliban tried to kill her.
Whether the floors are clean is inconsequential in light of Malala’s heroics and green building will not change the Taliban’s extreme violence. Yet I see her desire for social justice echoed in NESEA’s mission to support crucial connections between the generation and use of energy and the whole systems that sustain planetary health. Participants on the tour share this perspective. Many have cut their energy use by 50-90% through structural retrofits of existing homes or the construction of high performance new buildings. Some have achieved Net Positive – their buildings generate more energy than required to operate. Each one of them is an educational, nonviolent, grass roots rebuttal to lawmakers and lobbyists pushing to reduce funding for energy efficiency while promoting increases in carbon rich domestic oil production and natural gas (think fracking) extraction.
Come join the free NESEA Green Buildings Open House tour this Saturday and be inspired.