Sunday, 27 November 2011

Blog Posting Frequency

First of all - thank you very much!  I only initiated this blog yesterday and I have already had 42 hits.  Many have emailed me and wished me well on my journey.  Thank you - this will encourage me and in a sense make me accountable which should help me keep on track.

Like a good heating system, I will regulate my postings so that I provide a steady even flow.  I plan to at first publish monthly and then more frequently as I progress on this project.  I encourage you to take advantage of Google's tools and either sign up for updates by email, set up a feed (bottom left of screen), or become a follower.  All the methods will let you know when a new posting is available so that you do not have to waste time checking back.

I also have turned on the comments so they are available to everyone and not just those with a Google account (thanks to the reader who advised me to make this change).

Now time to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Beginning – well almost!

I was born in the City of Richmond in Feb of 1967.  For the first two years of my life …. Just kidding, we will not go that far back!

I grew up in the 1970’s & 80’s in a small farming community on the east side of Richmond, BC.   Blueberry fields and horse stables surrounded me. 

There were few (none) influences in my neighbourhood that could be identified with the idea of living in a way that reduced ones impact on this planet.  I shudder today at many of the activities of my youth (like many of the neighbours, I disposed used automotive oil down various holes on the property and burned plastic & tires to get yearly rubbish fires going).  I was surrounded by farmers that sprayed chemicals on their fields to ‘cure’ whatever was ailing them.  The spray plane diving beneath the power lines each spring was always an event to be watched.  I also treated most items in my youth as disposable instead of looking after them to make them last.

However, the property I lived on did have a focus on nature and surroundings that encouraged nature (we were not farmers and had 2 acres of which one was undeveloped birch threes and the other was vegetable and flower gardens with waterfalls and a fish pool).  Without realizing it at the time, I was being exposed to great solar design (deciduous Birch trees on the south elevation that kept us cool in the summer yet allowed the light and heat through in the winter).  But the words Carbon Footprint, Eco Design, Sustainable Building were part of a language I would not speak for another 25 + years.

I had always enjoyed construction and from as early an age as 6-8, I could be found on construction sites ‘helping out’.  I also always experienced great satisfaction with creating something out of a few sticks of wood, and my forts growing up were always a marvel - until of course the rats evicted me :-).  At this young age, I was even aware of lapping wall components to be water tight.

In high school, I found myself pulled towards all things construction and geared my curricular activities towards a career in home construction.  It was in high school that I also started to design my ‘dream house’ and worked on the concept from grade 9 thru 12.  I built a scale model in Grade 11 & 12 and frantically worked in drafting to keep my design progress up to my scale model building pace.

It was in grade 11 that I also developed another character trait.  I wanted to do things right and refused to work with other students that were not taking the program seriously (in my view).  SO, I on many projects elected to not take a partner.  The end result was usually that what got down was done very well, but the project often did not get finished because it took me twice as long to complete things with 50% of the manpower.  But that did not matter to me; I knew it was done right and my marks typically reinforced this.  I also often learned even more during the process by solving project hurtles on my own.  The process taught me to be resourceful and efficient.

Best of all, I learned that I would not compromise on doing things the way I felt they needed to be done.

The road to sustainable living?

Here I sit, a short 500 days (or 43,200,000 seconds – sounds better and like I have more time) before I plan to break ground on a renovation that I am hoping will turn a 59 yr old bungalow into a modern, comfortable, and extremely energy efficient & environmentally friendly structure.

As I plan the project I am wondering: What do I want to do?  How am I going to achieve it?  Can I (we) afford it?  Why the heck am I doing this?

I recently met with a colleague in the construction industry who challenged me by saying “What are you trying to achieve?  What is important to you?”  I have to admit, I did not have a good answer at the time.

In order for me to figure out an answer for this, I guess I need to look back to see how I have arrived where I am today and where it is that I have actually arrived.

This blog will chronicle this journey as I figure out my (our) priorities, what makes sense for me (us), what will represent the biggest bang for the buck, and what is the definition, at least for me, of living in a sustainable fashion. 

The blog will also discuss design decisions, material specifications & pricing, pitfalls to avoid, and post construction – operating costs.

It is the hope that this blog will therefore provide guidance to others embarking on this path and encouragement to the public at large - that they too can make a difference to their environmental impact on this planet by making informed choices during their builds and day to day living.

I encourage you to provide comment and critique as I take this journey.  My requirement to continue learning is ongoing and there is much that I still will need to figure out before this goal will be accomplished.