by Carol Venolia and Kelly Lerner
Many people start a home remodeling project by designing an addition and selecting finish materials. But if your goal is to live in harmony with nature, you need to begin with something more basic: a personal strategy for weaving your needs together with the natural elements available at your site.
Your strategy will describe what you want to accomplish and how you plan to do it. It sums up the basic systems and relationships that will help you make the best of nature's gifts in your unique location, while creating a nurturing environment for you. Your thermal comfort, for instance, may be satisfied to a large extent by renewable energy no farther away than your windows.
Defining your strategy will give you a touchstone for making good decisions as you design, select systems, and choose materials for your remodeling project. It increases the likelihood that the parts of your home will be well integrated. Not having a strategy is risky; you could overlook opportunities, end up with different aspects of your project at odds with each other, or unwittingly damage yourself or the earth.
Set Your Course
The first step is to establish broad goals for your remodeling project. Natural remodeling projects have four core goals: Make the most of nature's renewable resources; use nonrenewable resources with great care; restore your personal relationship with the living world; and increase vitality — the planet's and your own.
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This article is adapted from Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing Your Home into Harmony with Nature by Carol Venolia and Kelly Lerner, published by Lark Books, with permission of the authors.
This northern California house integrates photovoltaic panels with a ridge skylight.
Photo: Dave Deppen
A quiet, enclosed, private garden right outside French doors invites relaxation.
Photo: Kelly Lerner
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