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What's the payoff period? How about "as soon as we start"?

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If you don't know that rehabbing the homes and other buildings we already have is going to be one of the most important initiatives of the next 20 years, it's OK. That puts you well in the mainstream.

But that's going to change. Buildings use almost half the energy in America, and there are 110 million homes alone. Even if every new building in America over that time were to be zero net energy, we will have continued to squander energy and affect the climate adversely if we don't redo what we already have.

A few words about hypocrisy

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One of the points of my continuing series, "What We Do At Home," has been its subset, "What We Don't Do At Home." We're trying, but we're far from achieving a perfectly sustainable lifestyle, even within the bounds of what any two suburbanites can do without moving to the tropics and growing/shooting/foraging for everything we eat.

Construction overload

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One subtext this week was overload. First of course, there were the two shows, BuildBoston and GreenBuild. Two three-day shows — one an annual Boston event, the other a one-in-a-generation visit by as big a force as there is in building these days. Somehow, they overlapped on two of their days — the last two days of BuildBoston were the first two days of GreenBuild. From what I could gather — I spoke to some people who might know, but in casual conversation, not in interviews — you could view this as yet another little skirmish between architects and the USGBC.

Inside baseball at GreenBuild

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It's been a hectic morning, made the more so by an unwelcoming welcome by the hosts, the US Green Building Council. Those who like it when the press is unhappy with its treatment will like to hear about it most.

Prior to the show, I was sent an e-mail with a UPC, and asked to print it out. When I arrived, I was told, I would just have to scan it and I'd be in.


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It's Tuesday afternoon and I'm sitting in a seminar on smart building technology (yes, I came willingly) at BuildBoston, the Boston Society of Architects' annual conference.

There are a lot of people in here who clearly know what they're talking about — far more than me, certainly — but I just heard one of them refer to "the LEEDS." This is not uncommon, either. I hear it not seldomly, and among people, like these, who work in the building industries.

The wages of winning

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As you know, Georgie and I bought a Prius last spring, just ahead of my cross-country trip, and we still are very, very happy with our purchase. As a car, it is very effective:
* Better than 40 mph even in winter (when, apparently, the batteries aren't as effective)
* A fabulous turning radius that is easily its most unsung attribute; excellent electronics integration, both for charging multiple handhelds and for channeling both iPod and phone through the car's speakers.

More taxes, please

Obviously, I'm not running for office, ever.

And, I assure you, I'm as money-focused as my fellow Americans. I would like to earn more, while doing less. I would like to win the lottery. Get a huge inheritance from some surprising source. Have an even nicer computer. Build a wicked cool off-the-grid-but-still-warm-and-comfortable house, with a nice view. Further hybridize our Prius to make it even more efficient. Or get one of them Teslas!


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