A turning point
By Michael Chojnicki
Alternative energy. Green products. Sustainable Design. These new catch phrases and buzz words evoke alluring, state-of-the-art concepts such as solar photovoltaics, geothermal heating, advanced framing techniques and cellulose insulation. But quite frankly, a good portion of the energy reduction solution is much more down to earth than this, and much more affordable. Of course these new approaches and systems are essential in addressing global warming. It was Einstein who said that we cant solve problems with the same thinking that created them. But a heavy dose of conservation and reduction of energy use is equally as critical. Weatherizing and upgrading the existing housing stock and commercial infrastructure is of utmost importance. Even if every new structure built from today on in the U.S. was a net-zero energy building, we would hardly make a dent in what needs to be done to reduce our countrys voracious energy appetite. It is critical to retrofit existing structures in order to substantially reduce our overall energy consumption. This along with a radical re-education of our society is paramount.
We are now at the apex of a turning point in our civilization. Its both frightening and exciting. Frightening, because if we dont modify our behavior now there will be devastating consequences. Exciting, because it is an opportunity to bring about a new awareness as individuals, a nation and global village. An awareness of how we live, how our actions impact on the earth and an understanding of our needs versus our wants. We each must gain a mindfulness of our own energy use.
So get more involved in this sustainable movement. There are many local people, groups and organizations that are actively assisting to usher in this new awareness. There are also many wonderful green events, seminars, forums and workshops right here in our area. The following is a list of some of these groups. Contact them; itll be a great way to start.
• Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Design (SASD)www.sasdonline.org 845/482-4764
• Sustainable Energy and Education Development Support (SEEDS)www.seeds.blogspot.com, 570/224-0052
• Apple Pond Farmwww.firstname.lastname@example.org, 845/482-4764
• Sullivan County BOCES Adult Education Program845/791-4070
• Community Action Commission to Help the Economy (CACHE)www. sullivancountycache.org/energyservices.htm, 845/292-5821
I believe that most of us are coming to the understanding of how large of a carbon footprint each one of us already has left on our planet. By that, I mean how much fossil fuel we have used, whether knowingly or not, as a result of our lifestyles. There is no judgment here. I am included in this company. But when our grandchildren ask us about how our generations unbridled use of the earths resources had brought on such disruptive global change, the real question to be answered is not, How could you have been so blind to your effect on the planet? but What did you do when you finally became aware of how dire the consequences became? How will you be able to answer?
(Michael Chojnicki is an architect with a practice in the area for 22 years. He is very active in the sustainable design and alternative energy movement, educating himself and passing it along to others. )