Design / Build for the Post Fossil Fuel Era...
From: Erika Lockhart (
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 15:57:22 -0700 (PDT)
With regard to alternative energy sources, prices will come down with more
demand; however, it will probably fall to those more easily able to afford
the upfront costs during the transition, which will in turn drive a
reduction in price.  Fortunately, those able to do so will realize savings
down the road, and I believe everyone building should take a hard look at
how solar, wind and other technologies can benefit them by reducing monthly
costs over time, which is a large part of what retiring people should be
concerned with.

The bottom line is really how much choice we are given in directing our own
resources.  The burden of government, in terms of regulating how we can live
together and in terms of its ever-growing cost, will continue to negatively
influence choice in these matters.  Plus, one cannot begin to make a large
impact unless he or she has started to make easily available choices like
recycling, composting, using fewer and/or less environmentally hazardous
cleaners and solvents, driving less, etc.

While I'm all for using composting toilets, re-using grey water, solar,
etc., my own particular co-housing partners are less educated and less
willing to invest, so it will all be a compromise.  As someone at work who
is continually re-sorting the garbage, recycling and composting bins at
work, and seeing that the attitudes of most people run towards complete
disregard of these things as a priority, I look at my role as one of "making
a difference where I can".   Still, I was brought up to think this way;
others must come around to it in another manner.

For the most part, I think that most people will be convinced to "tread
lightly on the earth" when it can be shown to them that is economically
beneficial to do so.  People make choices based upon what they can afford,
and on their economic outlook for the future.  I see declining incomes
relative to costs, and a poor economic outlook in terms of rising taxation
and fuel costs, and even I must make choices accordingly.  I may need to go
to Macy's to buy a $400 suit for work, but in my off time, I'm wearing sweat
pants from Costco, Target or WalMart, and I won't apologize for this because
these choices are helping protect my ability to support myself in
retirement, and pay my mortgage in the meantime.  I go to Macy's for the
suit because I can't find a suitable alternative from someone local in the
amount of time I have left after working two jobs to support myself.

Then I see that our governor (California) wants to use state taxes to
subsidize 1 million solar homes by the year 20??, homes that I will never be
able to afford, yet will be paying for in taxes.  The regulations with
regard to "rebates" for solar installations prohibit or reduce reimbursement
for people who (1) live "off the grid", or (2) install systems themselves.
In addition, a sweetheart deal with PG&E, a major utility in California,
allows them to take, without compensation, any power produced by an
individual that is not used by them within a period of a year, and rebates
are limited to installations by companies on an "approved" list.  Pork,
pork, pork.

It's all a trade off. It's fine to say that "I must live in a completely
green community for less than $100,000", but it will never happen unless it
is economically feasible, or the government takes from others to enforce an
arbitrary standard.

In the meantime, kudos to those who do their best to live an environmentally
friendly life, even in small things.  Think globally, act locally - teach
your children - move somewhere unspoiled and do your best not to spoil
it...I'm there, as much as I can afford!


Erika A. Lockhart, CFI
Fire Investigator
Fire Cause Analysis
935 Pardee St.
Berkeley, CA 94710

Ph: 800.726.5939
Fax: 510-649-3099
Cell: 415-640-0749

Reply to e-mail:  Erika.Lockhart [at]

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