I read an opinion piece earlier today by Columbia University faculty member, Steven Cohen, entitled The Transition to a Sustainable Economy May Happen Without the U.S. Federal Government.  Several strong and sometimes witty points are addressed in the article, all of which are of reasonable importance.  Overall, however, the piece points out the ever-increasing need for further developments in the realm of environmentally conscious change, through not only personal choices of society members, but through official government policies.  The latter of which, we have surprisingly found to be almost entirely lacking in the U.S., despite further research on the matters that may very well affect the future. 

One highlight of the piece that I do consider to be one of the more important elements, is a referenced letter from the co-CEO’s of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), a major global investment firm.  Although working predominantly within the financial industry, even KKR and its leaders strongly believe in higher levels of sustainability practices.  Among other things, they mention that such initiatives will lead to a better use of resources, as well as a more profitable business.  It is essentially a win-win situation, so long as adequate effort is put into it. 

A major distaste for the U.S. government’s lack of response to trending issues on limited resources and needed sustainability is openly expressed by Cohen as well.  To be honest, he is rightfully disappointed.  However, as I continued to read on and hop around the Huffington Post website, I did come across a slideshow list of the Greenest Celebrities.  I usually find such things hard to stomach, but in this case, I was immediately drawn in.  Some of the members of the list came as no surprise, but others I found to be quite the opposite.  I think its worth checking out and reading up on each of the celebs, but no matter how you view the issues, it can give a little more hope to the cause – although government officials seemingly refuse to take steps forward, perhaps with high profile individuals like celebrities pushing for advancement and programs, the green movement has large-scale hope yet. 

Ever since people can remember, they have always seen films and read literature about the future, wherein it always seemed to be envisioned that the distant millennium was to be a period of time which knows no boundaries – the vast landscapes of our world suddenly was completely made over as extravagant, technologically advanced buildings and flying cars dotted society everywhere.

Similarly, in more contemporary times, the homes of tomorrow were once thought to be realistically furnished with technologically advance furnishings from door to door, floor to floor.  As one might imagine, this design could easily amount to a very costly endeavor.

Luckily, the reality check we have come to know as the “Great Recession” has led us to review and rework our views of the future.  Now, the home of tomorrow is more widely viewed as a project of sustainability, as viewed from both economic and environmental standpoints.  Efforts now reside in striding towards eco-friendly design, furnishing homes so that they are green, and in reaping the economic benefits that design brings about.

In fact, one great example is that of the Los Angeles-based firm, KB Home, who has been designing environmentally conscious homes for a while and who now plans to show a model in Waldorf, Maryland.  The building is incredible, as is equipped, because it is actually what is considered to be a “net-zero” home, one which creates more energy than it uses.  (The thought is truly mind-blowing, I know.)

Some features of the home include:

  • 42 solar panels on the roof
  • electric car charging docs in the garage
  • energy reserving windows throughout the home
  • energy star appliances (of course)
  • solar-powered water heater tank
  • buttons on sinks to get instant hot water, so as not to waste water waiting for the temperature to turn
  • compost pit out back, which feeds garden beds of fresh herbs
  • underground sprinkler system running on climate readings, not a timer
  • permeable patio pavers that allow water to flow through into the ground
  • real-time energy usage monitoring system network throughout the home

Although it is understood that this model is extreme in its eco-friendly design, even if only a few of these options were adopted by homeowners, the observed differences would be immense.  It is truly something with which to be astonished, as well as something deserving of a thought or two when considering some home improvement options.