Greenovision Spring 2015 Newsletter: Earth Month Edition!

We recently published our Spring 2015 Newsletter. In this edition, you can view renderings of our latest home design, learn about the environmental impacts of the housing industry, and read our article, “Energy-Efficient Heating Options for the Modern Home,” that was published in Bozeman Magazine.

To view this newsletter, please click here. To read our previous newsletters, click Past Issues on the top left corner of the newsletter. That top bar also has a sign up form to subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

Buying into home ownership debt…No thanks!

In America home ownership debt has become more of a financial trap than a fact of simple dwelling.  Homes have gradually increased in size, ‘amenities’, and costs.  Why is this?  To be put simply, to capture the average American and harness them by the means of debt accrual.  Once in debt its just another payment to be made.  After making so many payments its just another, thus the trap is set of a life in debt.  Work and make payments, and what is the difference between enlisting to make payments for 30 years or 50 years right? Being in debt is being in debt.  A link to an interesting write up with some quotes from Thoreau.

The bigger the home, the more appliances, the more baths, the more, specialized infrastructure the higher the cost.  Homes have become so expensive due to their increased scale that unless one has a benefactor or a trust fund there is pretty much no way it can be bought outright.  So this means to go to the bank and take out a loan.  The larger the home the larger the loan with few exceptions.  When a person or family goes to look at a new home without capital up front they are in the pockets of the banker from the get go.  This is not just because Americans have demanded larger homes it is because home construction is a rigged show. 
On home ownership

Bankers and Realtors know this.  And they know the psychology of a buyer much like a car salesman.  Its all about a seemingly polished product with a whole lot of bells and whistles.  Most people who have bought a ‘lemon’  vehicle that broke down and they still had to make the bank payments know next time to look under the hood and under the vehicle, and to forget about the bells and whistles, they wont get you anywhere.  Home design of today are similar to this in that just because a home looks good today has no reflection on how it will look in 10 years.  All of the space and added extras seem wonderful until one has to pay the electric, heating bills and maintenance.  And bigger yet when one is still paying the interest on a home after 20 years of hard 40 to 50 hour a work weeks with no end in sight at actually paying on the principle.  This is the trap and this is the illusion, I don’t think of it as a ‘dream’  and more as a nightmare. Another link to the 12 reasons its a trap.

So how does one avoid this situation.  There are simple rules like save your money, don’t start living on credit, plan for your home and when you have enough saved  get started.  Sounds impossible right?  Well it is and it isn’t.  For one, you have to divorce yourself from what the ‘Jone’s’ are doing.  Just remember the huge home and the new SUV’s they have are all traps that consumers have sprung on themselves with a little help from the bank.  They are illusive ownerships.  I think most Americans today can relate to how much of an illusion real estate really is with home foreclosures and mortgage debt seizing up all around.  You don’t own it until you own it!  Do you really want your life, in the end, to be epitomized by how hard you worked to own a box?

Asphalt shingles: What’s wrong with them?

Asphalt shingles: the unsustainable roofing choice. Studies show that climate change will cause stronger and more frequent hail storms and other weather patterns. With hail the size of golf balls, asphalt shingles don’t stand a chance. The numbers of homes in Bozeman, MT that have been re-roofed since the devastating Spring 2010 hail storm is a message to local builders and homeowners that this product is not a cost-effective roofing material.

Asphalt shingles are unresistant to hail and dramatic temperature changes. They only last an average of 15 years. When old, nonfunctional shingles are removed from a home, they usually are not recycled and end up in landfill. “The amount of asphalt shingles that goes into landfills on an annual basis is approximately 7-10 million tons.” If asphalt shingles are recycled, the recycling product often is not safe nor environmentally-friendly For example, one recycling company sold tons of mulched asphalt shingles for landscaping. “In 2004, the DEQ determined that the mulch contains toxins such as arsenic arsenic and polyaromatic hydrocarbons in concentrations higher than those considered safe for soils at residential and commercial settings. The agency directed Darold Smith, owner of the Springfield manufacturing site, to stop selling the mulch to homeowners and nonindustrial firms” Read more about that here:


Abbreviation for the Incoterm “Delivered Ex Quay.”
….. Click the link for more information.

Many builders that advertise their company as “Green” frequently install asphalt shingles. I find this to be highly contradictory. The health aspect of asphalt and fiberglass shingles is also questionable. People who install shingles are at serious health risks. “Fiberglass shingles have a base layer of glass fiber reinforcing mat. The mat is made from wet, random-laid fiberglass bonded with ureaformaldehyde resin.Fiberglass reinforcement was devised as the replacement for asbestos paper reinforcement of roofing shingles.” By tearing, cutting, breathing, and handling shingles, workers are exposed to carcinogens. Asphalt itself is a dirty industry based on petroleum and its associated distillates. The off-gassing of such additives occurs when heated. According to the warranty on the shingle packages, the shingles must not be laid in the cold, meaning that they should be installed when its warm. That’s when the shingle heats up and starts to off-gas. Many shingles are now made with a mild algicide and/or fungicide. Usually this is a copper compound, but may be a more complex chemical.The health effects and stats can be found here.
“WARNING: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has concluded that fumes of heated asphalt are a potential occupational carcinogen. Do not burn asphalt roofing products.”
How long do asphalt shingles really last?  The shingle companies claim that asphalt shingles will last 25 years, however, they also explain that this warranty is under ideal application, location, temperature, and installation practice.Studies show that shingles do not last as long as the roofing manufacturers claim. “According to the insurance industry, an asphalt roof that is over 17 years old has zero value in the event that there is a loss. The insurance industry has also stated that there is no reliable testing that has been done on these products. ” Asphalt shingles usually last longer in cooler climates than warmer ones. Thermal shock, when the ambient temperature changes dramatically within a very short period of time, is damaging to the shingles. Read more about longevity here:
Frequently re-roofing your home ultimately causes your roof to leak. When nailing down asphalt shingles, the roof boards or under sheathing are perforated with a nail nail every 8 -12 inches. Rather than protecting your roofs, installs asphalt shingles just adds more holes. When your shingles fail and the roof is leaking, it is very difficult to patch the roof. Usually, a leaky, overly perforated roof must undergo a complete re-roof, which is an expensive project.  This is an example of life-cycle cost, or pay less now and pay more later, and again, repeat.
Your content here.
One other thing to keep in mind if you live in snow country, asphalt shingles really should Not be used on pitches less than 5/12!  Yes the asphalt shingle companies say that they can be used down to a 3/12 pitch but I can assure you the snow build up and freeze thaw cycles will eventually cause problems.  Steeper roof pitches will drain better and snow will not collect  as deeply this is the key to keeping winters destructiveness at bay.  And one last thing, every shingle, and there are a lot of them on the average sized homes roof, is a possible leak, it is very possible due to extreme repetition of laying them that the roofer will make a mistake.  Saving money today on asphalt shingles means spending later on a re-roof because of  water damage, or asphalt shingle failure.
So, what is good roofing? Read my follow-up post that discusses Metal Roofs: the sustainable alternative.