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Living Green in the Desert

The United States is an amazingly diverse piece of land, with cold northern climates, the hot and humid south, mild and breezy coasts, and the arid deserts of the southwest. We may not think as much about living green in the desert. Who thinks about anything when it’s sunny 99 percent of the time? The desert is a wonderful retreat for winter-weary tourists and “snowbirds.”

Regardless of how nice the climate seems, a house in the desert can suck just as much energy as a house in northern Michigan. Yet living green in the desert is different, however subtle, than elsewhere in some very fundamental ways. In some ways it is easier too, and in others more difficult. Here are a few tips for living green in the desert:

  • On the Roof. A cool or brightly colored roof can help stop unwanted solar heat gain in any location, but it is essential in the desert, where summertime can be unbearably hot. Simply painting the roof white can make an amazing difference.
  • Go Solar! Where better to utilize solar power than in the desert? With close to a full year’s worth of sunny days, there is simply no better climate. Solar energy can effectively heat your water and power your home, mitigating some of those expensive summer cooling bills.
  • Desert landscaping. A lot of precious water is wasted in the desert because of our societal obsession with green lawns. Unfortunately, many golf courses and homeowners are missing out on the beauty of native desert landscaping. Don’t be afraid of cacti. Remember that Nature says “Do Not Touch” in some very beautiful ways.
  • Walk or Ride. With so many beautiful, sunny days within grasp, we must ask ourselves why we need the car to go grab eggs on a Sunday morning. Take a walk, ride a bike, even ride the bus on longer missions.

These are just a few that are unique or especially suited to desert living. Don’t forget the universal attributes of green living: recycling, buying green products, etc. And of course keep green building in mind as you enter your next remodeling project.

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