Exploring Green Interiors: Lessons from the Green Home Tour

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Exploring Green Interiors

Lessons from The Green Home Tour

In October, Beth Haley Design was a sponsor of the Green Homes Tour of Middle Tennessee. It was the first year of the event, with plans to become an annual production supported by the Cumberland River Compact and the Middle Tennessee chapter of the U. S. Green Building Council.

The mission of the tour was to inspire homeowners to take action and select green building and landscaping options for their own homes. Through the tour’s motto of seeing, learning, and acting, the goal was to showcase the many benefits of green homes and help tour participants visualize ways they can help the earth while living in a beautiful environment.

The tour was a fabulous success. It showcased the benefits of layering the home with green elements, and also helped to educate participants on how these energy-saving techniques do not have to diminish the attractiveness of a home. The tour consisted of twelve houses spread throughout the area, spanning from Joelton to La Vergne. The style and scale of each home varied as well, from an urban high-rise condo to a modern farm house.

The main features of the tour were ways any homeowner can help reduce a home’s carbon footprint. Environmentally sustainable features included solar energy panels, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and rain barrel irrigation systems.

The farmhouse in Joelton featured integrated solar panels for collecting energy. The sun is an unlimited source of renewable energy. By combining the panels with solar thermal heating for water, the homeowners have managed to collect an $800 credit with their utility company for electricity they are contributing to the grid.

Another neat feature included in several homes was a geothermal heating and cooling system. The geothermal process uses natural warmth from the ground to heat and cool the home. The system pushes or pulls heat into a home depending on the season, creating a stable temperature environment in the residence. The system is installed underground, where the temperature remains about 50 degrees.

Rain barrel irrigation systems are an innovative and simple way to conserve water. The barrels harvest rainwater and then redistribute the water into landscaping. Some houses featured small rain gardens, while others expanded the process to cover all of the landscaping. The rain barrel system prevents excess waste, as the water is pulled from a reserve and used more directly. This can greatly lower the average water bill!

Our office on Linden Avenue recently had a rain barrel tank installed that holds up to 1200 gallons of water. The installation was simple, and the savings have been paramount.
Smaller, less expensive changes can help you start “greening” your home as well. Convert to low-flow toilets, replace light bulbs to more budget-friendly compact fluorescents, and invest in a programmable thermostat system. There are even free ways to reduce your carbon footprint, such as recycling and composting to lessen the amount of waste going to landfills.

There are so many benefits to living in a high-functioning green home. At Beth Haley Design, we strive to take a whole house approach to help our clients make investments for a greener future. The benefits abundantly outweigh the costs. Making small changes over time will help to improve indoor air quality, lower energy and utility bills, and reduce waste.
To learn more about the homes featured on this year’s tour, and to keep up with information and news for next year’s Green Homes Tour, check out www.greenhomestourmidtn.org.
—By Maggie McClure of Beth Haley Design

Editor’s Note: Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes. Maggie McClure is an allied member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). E-mail your questions to her at ngregg@ ngregg.com or visit www.bethhaleydesign.com.

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