Cloverdale Comments by Carol Russell
To paraphrase the old country song: "We were 'Green' when 'Green' wasn't cool!"
That's because our city's argi-focused founding mothers and fathers were smart. Smart enough, even given the limited science and technology of 150 years ago, to grasp the sensitive, mutually dependant inter-relationships among themselves, their land, their enterprises, their community, their environment and their legacy.
Smart enough to know they must be environmental stewards (not that they would have known that term) because if you take care of the land it is far more likely to take care of you and all the generations that follow.
Smart enough to take good care of their animals, tools, barns and homes, too. Smart enough to conserve, recycle and reuse every resource--waste not having any part in their "economic development" planning.
They did all this, and more, down the years not only because it was a good personal ethic, but also because it was a common sense approach to life and work that usually lead to prosperity and protection from unexpected lack. They kept at it even when it was increasingly disregarded in a country becoming preoccupied with excess consumption and growth for growth's sake.
It would take pages to document but, looking around Cloverdale today, it's clear we're fast returning to our "Green" roots; not because it is trendy but because "Greenness" is a good personal ethic and the budding Green Economy good business.
Our long-established businesses are incorporating what I call "Greenology" into their daily routines and winning awards for it, too. To name just two, the family-owned Reuser, Inc., a bulk manufacturer and distributor of organic landscape materials, received the Business Environmental Alliance Award for their innovative reuse of waste wood, as well as for their conversion to biodiesel in all trucks and in-plant equipment; while Asti Cellar 8 at Italian Swiss Colony also received a Business Environmental Alliance Award for their conversion to solar power at the winery as well as their protections to the Russian River watershed.
Then there are the new businesses, like Jane Elias' successful residential energy audit business. Like all her clients around the counties of the North Bay, Cloverdalian property owners of houses apartments and condos' are taking a serious look at their total energy usage; not only it's spiraling costs but also its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. (After vehicles, residential buildings are the major cause of GHGs.)
Generational Energy, Inc. (www.genenergyinc.com) started in the midst of the second-worst economy since FDR's first inauguration but it was also after the institution of new laws like AB32 and at the start of the fast ramp-up of innovative tax credits, rebates, grants and county-wide programs like the "Sonoma County Energy Independence Program" which provides financing for energy efficient audits, retrofits and improvements payable as assessments on property taxes.
I asked Jane about her business, especially the misconceptions some of us may still have about all this. First, she assured me that saving energy "doesn't mean you have to live in a cold, dark house" because you cut back on lights and heat.
However, since 3/4ths of all California homes were built prior to the first energy code in 1978, about 13.5 million homes (160,000 of them in Sonoma County!) need Jane's help. With all the Victorian and 50s-style ranch homes in Cloverdale, not to mention that, since homes here and around the county built post-1978 don't necessarily perform any better than pre-code ones, thanks to a consultative style and a long list of reassuring certifications, Jane gets a lot of calls.
Jane reassured me that, after a thorough interview, top to bottom look-see and audit, her most common recommendations are no where near as costly or complicated to complete as a client might think. They might include sealing the crawl space, insulating the walls and attic (the fastest ROI) and sealing the ducts at connections and seams.
Of course, as Jane says, each house and budget are different.
So, since what we've just covered is for general information purposes only, before you start anything or hire anyone, always get a qualified professional to give you the best unbiased advice.
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