(Welcome back Nandita, who's trying out for our Green Architect columnist position. This is her second post. Comment away!)
I won't go on and on about the state of the economy. Let's just say times are tough. Fortunately for the environmentally-minded set, consumption is antithetical to a green lifestyle. Instead of putting those green projects on hold, just tweak them a little. Opportunities for homeowners who don't mind a little sharing abound...
Do you dream of weaning yourself off the grid by producing your own solar energy, but cringe at the cost of solar panels (even with those federal incentives)? Lucky for you, there are independent companies out there, such as Citizenrē, who will install, operate, and maintain solar panels on your home, allowing you to avoid those hard-to-swallow equipment costs. Citizenrē will review your electricity usage and design an array that will produce as close to the amount you need as possible. You pay rent for the service and equipment, but save on your electricity bill. The real prize: you've found a way to stick it to coal-generated electricity without added equipment cost.
You're at the neighborhood big-box grocery store debating which fluorescently-lit mealy tomato is going into your dinner while visions of skipping through your very own abundant garden of organic produce play through your head. The problem? The extent of your green space is that 9-inch pot on your condo "balcony." Not to mention, you don't have the time or money to invest in all that organic fertilizer, plants, seeds, tools, etc. Why not share the work? Programs like Seattle's Urban Gardenshare match up gardens and would-be gardeners. Imagine busy homeowner with lots of neglected land and a garden hoe meets energetic young renter. The two live happily ever after sharing an endless bounty of beautiful vegetables.
What would you do with all that space if you didn't need your garage to store a car? Start your own capoeira studio? Do life-size paintings killer whales? Whatever your dream is that's being hindered by the dirty business that is car ownership, free yourself. I'm getting closer and closer to this in Atlanta - yes, you heard right. With bus, rail, and bike routes, living car-free is quite possible most of the time. For the other times, there's car sharing. In Atlanta, Zipcar is very convenient. Zipcars are parked at designated locations around the city. Once you've joined the service, you can reserve and borrow cars whenever you need to take that occasional car trip. No insurance, no maintenance costs. Non-profit car sharing services are also popping up in other cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver.
Nandita's First Post:
• Green Home Ratings Systems: Your Time To Shine
Photos by Nandita Vyas