If you’re in the market for some place to put down roots and you have a little scratch to toss around, you have a couple of choices. For example, you can buy an existing house or buy a plot of land and have someone build a fresh house to your specs. When you want to make sure you’re as abso-posi-lutely eco-friendly as possible, it’s time to take a pause. After all, it’s not about living in a geodesic dome or digging out an earth house anymore! Today’s “green” homes — the ones that use less energy, are built using fewer resources, and contain a lower volume of nasty chemicals — look just like their neighbors.
Well, most of the time. This eco-house in the Cambridgeshire countryside is pretty unique, inside and out.
But back to the topic at hand! I know I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s better for the environment to drive a well-maintained used car than to buy a new hybrid, though I don’t know how valid that is. I’ve been trying to figure out whether that same maxim applies to houses as well. Is it better for the environment to buy an older house that’s already been built and then do what you can to retrofit it for eco-friendliness, or is it better to start from zero (either knocking down an extant house or buying a piece of land) with a new house that meets every criteria for greenitude right from the start?
On one hand, there are plenty of things you can do to greenify your home without having to build a new one. On the other hand, there are plenty of sustainable building materials you might use to create a home that is unobtrusive within its environment. The overall expense aside, how does using a previously untouched piece of land fit into the equation?
I’d love to hear your take on this because I haven’t come to any real conclusion yet and my (admittedly spotty) research hasn’t gotten me very far!