How Would You Like More Green to Go Green?

Posted on: January 29th, 2009 by Jason Clement 2 Comments

Take our new survey to indicate which green projects – from buying new appliances to repainting – you would most likely complete if stronger tax incentives were in place.

I watch a lot of really dumb stuff on TV.

How dumb? Chances are, if a show involves a) dancing, b) following the life of someone who shouldn't be famous, or c) someone who shouldn't be famous learning how to dance, I can probably give you an episode-by-episode summary.

Apart from CNN (an obsession that I've already fessed up to on this blog), the only other deviations from this formula are the many DIY home improvement programs that I flood my DVR with.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught a show focused on greening a house that was, by all accounts, an energy-consuming monster. Everything had to go, and by the time the seemingly overly-caffeinated crew was ready for the big reveal, the house was - from the roof down to the lawn - a shining portrait of eco-friendly perfection.

Though I don't remember all of the bells and whistles (sometimes I get distracted by my nearby computer and, therefore, blogs about people who shouldn't be famous), these stuck with me: a solar power system, furniture made from reclaimed lumber, cork office flooring, Earth-friendly quartz countertops, toilets that use water recycled from roof runoff, and synthetic turf for the yard.

When it was all over and the owners stopped jumping up and down and crying like Ed McMahon was at the front door, I had two thoughts: 1) a synthetic lawn sounds like a one-way ticket to rug burn, and 2) how much did all of this cost?

As a homeowner, this is a dilemma that I find myself in all the time, usually in the aisles of my neighborhood Home Depot. "Do I spend extra on the fancy light bulbs knowing that I'll save down the road, or do I buy the dinosaurs knowing that I'll have more coins in my pocket when I leave today?"

Sadly, given today's tough economy, I assume that I'm not alone in this boat. This doesn't mean that Mother Nature isn't worth it or cutting my carbon footprint isn't important to me. It's just that I have a bottom line and, when the belt needs to get tightened, things innocently fall by the wayside.

This is precisely why the National Trust for Historic Preservation is on a mission on Capitol Hill. Realizing that it takes some green to actually go green, we have proposed that the federal Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit – which currently allows taxpayers a 10% credit capped at $500 for energy-saving products – be significantly expanded for owners of historic and older homes to 20% with an annual maximum limit of $5,000.

However, as we work our idea through Washington, we need your help in informing the process. Take a minute today to participate in our new survey, How Green Could You Be? And when you're done, leave a comment with your thoughts on becoming more eco-friendly in an anything-but-friendly economy.

And as for me, no more blogs about TV. Promise.

Take the Poll: How Green Could You Be?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.


2 Responses

  1. Kate

    February 5, 2009

    Another question your show raises is…how much usable material did they tear out and throw away? Replacing devices to save energy and actively reduce a carbon footprint is always preferable, but once non-ideal materials are in place and are usable (like counter-tops for instance), you are using more energy and more materials to replace them. Plus what was there is usually thrown out, which means it will end up entombed in a landfill. Living with less-than-sustainable materials that are already installed is often the best choice. (Precisely the reason preservation is a very good “green” option).

  2. Linda Gilbert

    February 13, 2009

    Restoring original wood windows and adding weatherstripping and/or storms is much, much greener than installing new windows. Tax credits should be given for this type of work.