Chapter 9 – How sustainable is your lifestyle?

Chapter 9 – How sustainable is your lifestyle?

The good news is that I have about two weeks before the framing crew begins.  So, we are taking care of minor details on my site:  putting in the well pump, stuccoing the foundation to conceal the foam insulation, grading around the house site and spreading wood chips to make a dry and safe work area for the crew.

House site in the landscape

Although the work has briefly stopped, I haven’t stopped reflecting on what it means to be “green.”  April 22, 2013 was the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. The words from their website echo in my ears:

“For many, climate change can often seem remote and hazy – a vague and complex problem far off in the distance that our grandchildren may have to solve. But that’s only because they’re still fortunate enough to be insulated from its mounting consequences. Climate change has very real effects on people, animals, and the ecosystems and natural resources on which we all depend. Left unchecked, they’ll spread like wildfire.

Luckily, other faces of climate change are also multiplying every day.

Every person who does his or her part to fix the problem is also a Face of Climate Change: the entrepreneurs who see opportunity in creating the new green economy, the activists who organize community action and awareness campaigns, the engineers who design the clean technology of the future, the public servants who fight for climate change laws and for mitigation efforts, the ordinary people who commit to living sustainably…”

Campbell-Wolf Urban Cottage

I am so thankful for everyone who does whatever they can to slow climate change and its negative impacts on the planet.  My activity to celebrate Earth Day actually happened on April 21.  Homeowners Doug Campbell and Bernie Wolf opened their delightful LEED platinum certified urban cottage to the public for education and awareness on behalf of their builder JAG Green Builders and the Western NC Green Building Council (WNCGBC).  I am always excited to see technology and finish details come together so seamlessly in such a warm and inviting way.

At the end of the day, I opened a bottle of Cline Zinfandel to celebrate a most amazing week of progress on my house.  The unexpected label on the bottle added to my celebration:

“As a business, our land is our greatest asset.  As citizens, it’s a vital responsiblity.  And we do everything we can to nurture and protect it.  Since 2000, Cline Cellars has farmed the Green String way, naturally and sustainably.  Cover crops, compost teas, crushed volancic rock, oyster shell and naturally-mined sulfur are all used to keep the vineyards healthy and the harvests chemical free.  Sheep are natural weed removers who simultaneously fertilize the soil.  Two thousand high capacity solar panels power the winery enabling us to be energy-independent, self-reliant, and increasing our financial independence.”  How could you not enjoy this bottle of wine on the eve of Earth Day?!

Moving day into 800 perfect square feet

Since 1998, North Carolina architect and resident Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not So Big House,”  has been an avid proponent of downsizing the American home.  The dialogue has shifted from quantity to quality, making design choices reflect what really makes us feel at home.  Blue Ridge Energy Systems has just completed this 800 square foot home and it lives like a jewel box!  Everything has been designed for maximum efficiency and minimal maintenance, with fabulous handcrafted cabinets and stairs.  Sustainability is all about building what you need, and not a square inch more.


While this other BRES home is in its infancy, the design sends my heart soaring!  The angle of the front porch post will really stand out once the house is stuccoed and finished.  Its view of Mt. Pisgah is simply the icing on the cake!  More photos will come as the project continues, so “like” Blue Ridge Energy Systems on Facebook for more updates.

Another BRES design under construction


I’ll end this short post by simply asking you, “what can you do today to combat global warming?”  It doesn’t have to be on the scale of building a new home, but reducing your water usage, programming your thermostat, making one trip to town instead of two…all of these actions speak volumes about your respect for this one planet we all share.  This anonymous quote sums it up for me:

Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life.  It’s about what you inspire others to do.


Mignon Durham is a retired computer consultant, avid art and craft collector, founder of Toe River Project Access, and founder of Toe River Valley Watch. She has always been fascinated with what makes a place feel like home, and she hopes this blog will enlighten your own personal journey home.