From Dean Dowd on July 02, 2008 in Green Remodeling
The term eco consultant is relatively new. According to Jim Simcoe, there was only one other eco consultant in the U.S. when he first started. Today, theres a whole lot of green info out there. If you need direction on where to start, youre not alone. Jim says this is the most common reason why hes hired. People need help cutting through the green washing in the media and want real world recommendations based on their specific situation, Jim says.
Whats one of the biggest problem areas in the home? Jim says its wasting water.
The biggest problem area I see in most homes is the use of water, period. Water is a finite resource and the way we use it as a society is akin to ordering a pizza, taking one bite, and throwing the whole thing away.
So what can you do to start saving water easily and immediately? Jim recommends installing low-flow fixures, such as showerheads, sinks, or toilets, and purchasing energy efficient appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers. When using a low-flow showerhead, for instance, you will not notice the difference in pressure but you will use up to 50 percent less water. Jim recommends the Oxygenics showerheads or purchasing a bare bones fixture at Home Depot for $10.
In addition, Jim says that simply being mindful helps conserve a lot of water. Most people arent mindful of the fact that 2 ½ gallons per minute come out of that sink while you brush your teeth.
Jim makes 5 other recommendations to start living more sustainably, starting today. They are:
- Conserve water
- Reduce plastic
- Teach sustainability to your kids/family
- Xeriscape your property
- Buy only green products (or products that support green living)
Another easy fix? Go grocery shopping.
Jim says your fridge drains a huge amount of energy from your home and the absolute easiest way to take care of that is by keeping it filled. Since food and drink are denser than air, when your fridge is filled, it takes less energy to operate it, thus saving you money and energy.
I also asked Jim what he recommends in terms of materials for homeowners getting ready to remodel. He told me about some of his favorite materials for roofing, floors, and walls.
I prefer living roofs or solar on the roof whenever possible. For floors I love cork and marmoleum, because theyre both sustainable, strong, and made from naturally recurring materials. I like bamboo, too, but since most bamboo gets shipped from China, it isnt as sustainable. For walls, anything made from recycled materials is great. Kirei has a great wall board product that I really like as well. What is really exciting is the advances in home insulation. From soy to denim there has been an influx of natural and healthy products to replace fiberglass insulation.
Whether your income is large or small, Jim says living green crosses all incomes, political affiliations, and religious lines.
Anyone can be green with some effort. My advice is always tailored to the individual or company I am speaking with and their unique challenges and budget. In short, there is a green solution for everybody, regardless of your pocketbook. If money isnt the biggest challenge, however, self awareness is. Being aware of your impacts, how you live, how you vote, how you use your spending power are paramount to green living, Jim says. Most people dont realize how powerful they are or how they can directly affect change. One of my goals is to show them. I find once people are aware they not only begin greening up their lives, they start positively affecting those around them.
More about Jim
After working for 8 years as a real estate broker with 70 agents under him, Jim Simcoe realized that real estate is one of the largest contributors to climate crisis. He found the inspiration to begin eco coaching and consulting, selling his company to pursue his goal. An environmentalist since he was a child, Jim considers it his responsibility to positively impact the environment for his daughter and her generation. I have been involved in this arena for a few years and have seen wonderful changes from when I first began. When I first started in this field, I thought living green was all about recycling and buying CFLs. The more I learn, the more I understand that its more about first changing our behaviors so that we start doing less damage. Like the adage says, When youre in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Also, Ive learned that green living is not mutually exclusive - green living directly leads to a healthier life and saving money.