Monday, November 30, 2009

Mother Earth Meets Father TIme

This weekend the OC Register (click on title for link) covered a story regarding solar panels on an historic property in South County. Since "the greenest building is the one already built", and historic preservation is the ultimate expression of recycling, it stands to reason that preservationists would be attracted to the concept of eco-friendly energy. Sadly, technology does not as yet allow many of us to be good stewards of energy while being good stewards of our historic homes. Solar panels are, well, they are ugly. I am unlikely to put them on a street-facing roofline of my home, even if permitted. I would consider them for a rear facing roofline of a garage, but ours faces the wrong direction. In the case of the South County property, they managed to drop them below the line of visibility, on a parapet flat roof of a Pueblo-Revival style structure, so they make sense in that location. What I am waiting for is preservation friendly energy products.
At home, we did manage to re-create our garden in an eco-friendly manner that honors the period of our 1908 home. By using underground irrigation systems run by a Smart Timer, and planting California natives that do not require much water, we tripled our landscaping while LOWERING our water bill from the same period last year. I am also considering interior storm windows to "dual pane" the bedroom windows during the neighbors parties, because they do not affect the exterior look of the house, and they are reversible. But there is so much more that could be done. A new roof tile has been developed that doubles as a solar panel, but appears as an "S" curve Spanish tile. So far they only come in black, so it is still jarring on a red tile roof, and there are no other "shingle" type applications that I have found. But somone out there is thinking ahead.
The big debate we see in Anaheim is over artificial turf. I admit I have a strip of driveway we have replanted repeatedly with no success, I cannot get lawn to grow there, and ONLY lawn is appropriate for a mow-strip drive on a period home. Some of the higher end fake turfs look pretty darned good, and I am tempted. I consider artificial turf to be a reversible change that does not affect the historic structure itself, and therefore should be allowable under a Mills Act contract. Others disagree, rather vocally. I would love to hear other viewpoints, with reasons for pro or con. I would also love to hear about how others have handled making their old homes a little friendlier to Mother Earth. And no, this is not a debate for or against global warming, I simply would rather spend our hard earned paychecks on Bradbury wallpaper rather than my energy and water bills.

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