Advances in Green Technology
Whether you’re concerned with climate change on a global level or just trying to do your part to minimize your footprint, there are several things happening locally that help contribute to a greener, healthier world.
The new gold standard in green building is to aim for a “net-zero” home, one that is designed with environmentally friendly materials and sustainably built so that it produces as much energy as it consumes. A major focus is on efficient use of water and energy. Mike Trolle of BPC Green Builders in Wilton says the science of building as evolved tremendously in recent years. “There is now the know-how to build homes that retain heat in the winter and reject heat in the summer,” says Trolle. “They require smaller heating and cooling systems, which consume a fraction of the energy required comparable-sized existing housing. Another trend is homes built using non-toxic materials and that incorporate mechanical ventilation and air filtration systems.”
Electric (and hybrid) cars have become mainstream in the past several years, with companies like Tesla becoming darlings of the media. And with good reason: In 2016, more than 159,000 electric cars were sold in the US, a 38 percent rise over 2016. And prices are dropping too—there are plenty of models available for under $40,000, including vehicles by Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, BMW, and Hyundai. Connecticut is now a “range confident” state, meaning that a car charge is never very far away. In Westport, commuters driving electric cars get special parking privileges at the train station. Here in Wilton, a charging station for public use is available at Wilton Public Library. If you’re building a new home, it’s prudent to include a charging station in the design plans for your garage.
“In today’s world, ‘going green’ has become a very popular trend,” says Devan Chevrolet general manager Brian Kelly. “It seems we’ve turned the corner, and people have realized that being environmentally conscious will pay dividends for all of us, as well as future generations.”
Wilton resident Raphael Davison bought an electric car because he wanted a commuter vehicle to drive to his job in Armonk, a daily 40-mile round trip and “because I wanted to leave as small of a carbon footprint as possible.” Davison shares an important piece of etiquette: “When you’re done, unplug your car and move it. And if you’re an internal combustion engine driver, don’t block the charging stations.”
The promise of a solar powered world has been a dream for decades, but only recently has it become a viable possibility. Prices for solar panels have dropped considerably, and the style quotient has gone way up. Today, there are options for sleeker frameless solar panels, clear solar panels, and solar skins that can be a design statement of their own or be matched in color to your roof materials. Elon Musk has created an array of solar panels that mimic a variety of roofing materials (such as slate, terra cotta, and shingle) for a more custom, unobtrusive look. Not only does solar energy benefit the planet, but installing solar power systems unleashes all sorts of tax credits which provides a very real financial incentive.
But living green doesn’t have to only include items as large or expensive as your home or transportation; there are smaller ways to help stay green. Some of the other popular gaining traction include sustainability in restaurants, locally-grown food (found in farmer’s markets in Wilton and surrounding communities), sustainable fashion, energy-efficient appliances and thermostats, eco-friendly packaging and reusable containers, cups and water bottles. All of those are easily integrated into your everyday life. And there’s one you can give the earth as your parting gift: a biodegradable coffin.