A New Affair with Unsexy Sustainability

Darn it all, but I can’t keep ignoring reality.  My dirty little secret is that I live in a 1920’s brick on brick home built by a Mormon pioneer who’s last name apparently started with “S”.  (I am assuming this because of the large iron “S” that was built into the front of the home.)  This little home has a rounded front door, sloping Northern roof face, high pitched roof made of cement tiles, a 14 SEER 93% efficiency furnace, insulation wherever we could add it, cork floors in the basement, some cob wall in the basement, reused materials, a small garden/vineyard/orchard in the back and caulk and weatherstripping galore.  I challenge anyone to look it in the eyes and say it’s ugly.  Honest, it’s a cute home, but…

Sexy, it ain’t.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that Mormon pioneers didn’t know sexy when they saw it, or didn’t have sex in mind when they built this house.  I’m sure they did.  But when it comes to sustainability my eyes have long wandered to blond bimbo prefabs and seductively experienced earthen homes.  Alas, I must confess these lurid affairs and return my gaze and my faithfulness to my own four walls and a roof.

Thus I rekindle my affair with unsexy sustainability.  A gander at NAHB’s (Nation Association of Home Builders) 2009 New American Home was what woke me to my senses.  I had gone one click too far, and my mouse had led me to a place of unsustainable sustainability (take a peek at it’s ludicrous 7,200 sq. ft. and you will know what I mean).  But, back from the brink I now realize that the unsexy remodel of pioneer homes across the U.S. must be looked at with new love and affection.

My home is brick on brick!  It has terrible air flow with damns all over the place.  The downstairs is almost completely cutoff from the upstairs.  The front door and living room face the West while the South is blocked by my neighbor’s house and a couple of tall trees.  Old wiring, and lath and plaster lurk below more recent sheetrock.  I even found a paper bag of mushrooms and reefer stashed in a lime green painted wall during some remodeling. (If you used to live here, sorry, I threw it out.)craftsman-home

It is not sexily sustainable, but it is a quality built home that has been sealed and updated well and affordably.  Without a major earthquake it will likely last another 80 years and provide sustainable living to whoever resides within it.  It is not sexy, but it is sturdy and practical.  And when else do people desire sturdy and practical more than in a recession?  So here’s to the remodel, the bungalow, the shotgun shack, the ranchstyle and the craftsman.  They may yet be the leading edge in sustainability.

Leave a Comment