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Green Building Curmudgeon

Let’s kick the “easy” habit

Don't touch the red button Cheap and easy is usually expensive and difficult in the long run.

Practically everyone has seen the Staples advertisements on TV featuring the “easy button.” Few people question the idea that things should be easier, but maybe more of us should. “Easy” may appear to be a good thing in the short term, but most things that are easy are actually conspiring to cost us our future in terms of excessive waste, overconsumption of resources, environmental damage from energy generation and vehicle pollution, financial suffering, and declines our health.

Question the value of “easy” in daily life

We buy things that are cheap but that lead to frequent replacements rather than repairs. This is easy, for individuals as well as the businesses that sell the products. We shop at big box stores, effectively killing off locally owned businesses. This is easy—we drive to a shopping center or discount superstore, push a huge cart around, fill up our cars with cheap stuff, and drive home. We take the easy road in day to day life—driving instead of walking or taking transit. We don’t need to plan in advance if we can just jump in our car and run out at a moment’s notice. We use electricity to dry our clothes instead of using clotheslines in good weather. Some subdivisions even have regulations against clotheslines, considering them unattractive! We eat out instead of cooking cheaper and more healthful meals at home. We buy our all our food instead of growing (at least) some of it. We discard our food instead of composting it. “Easy” is costing us our future, our money, and our health.

Green building isn’t necessarily “easy,” but it is important

Building and remodeling inefficient and unhealthy buildings is easy; going green is hard. That is, of course, until you actually do it and realize that it isn’t. In fact, it is probably easier than most if the lifestyle changes I listed above.

Building professionals need to take the time to learn how to do things better. Once we all make it through the learning curve, it becomes “easy.” Almost everyone who has made this change from easy understands the value of green building and renovation. Improved customer satisfaction and comfort, lower energy bills and maintenance costs, the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing the right thing—these are just a few of the long-term benefits.

Moving past “easy” in construction has long term benefits for everyone and is necessary to move us toward a sustainable future.

One Comment

  1. Daniel Morrison | | #1

    I'm not giving up my biscuit joiner
    That single tool has made my life easier in many, many ways. But I DO use it less now that I have a pocket hole jig, which is pretty darned easy too!

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