Preventing Green from Going Brown

I am very excited today to have a guest post on Triple Pundit, one of my favorite web sites. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Triple Pundit provides really great editorial coverage and group discussions on sustainable business in the 21st century. Their goal is to cultivate awareness and understanding of the triple bottom line – how people, profit and the planet interact. I firmly believe that if we don’t take into account the impact of our actions on all three of these dimensions, we won’t be successful and this site is one of my daily must-reads.

My guest post focuses on how easily green buildings can go brown if we aren’t vigilant about what happens after the construction process. This is a subject that may not seem very important or glamorous, but about which I am passionate – just ask anyone who’s discussed it with me (whether they wanted to or not!). The Home Depot Foundation made a long-term commitment in 2007 to invest $400 million to build and rehabilitate 100,000 affordable homes, plant three million trees across the country and help cities incorporate sustainability into their policies and operations. In just three short years, the Foundation has made a great deal of progress, having built over 50,000 homes and planted over 600,000 trees in our communities. While it won’t have been wasted, we certainly won’t accomplish our long-term objectives if what we created green isn’t maintained to stay green.

The point of our investment in affordable housing is to provide working families of modest incomes with the true benefits of living in a green home – significant savings on monthly utility bills and long-term operational and maintenance expenses as well as better health. These benefits won’t be realized or will be diluted if the homes and buildings aren’t maintained properly.  This also can have a dramatic impact on the overall data collection as businesses and governments attempt to track the long-term benefits of green building.  If the data being collected isn’t really from a green building…then the information we derive from that data won’t be accurate.

This is an issue that The Home Depot Foundation will continue to emphasize and work with other organizations to develop solutions and suggestions. To see some great examples of sustainable community develop that we’ve supported, please visit our web site.

If you have made any changes to your own home in hopes of reaping the financial and health benefits of green building, I encourage you to double-check your maintenance and usage of the product. For instance, if you install a high-efficiency HVAC system, but either don’t change the filters regularly or don’t use the right ones, the system won’t perform as promised and you won’t see the savings you had hoped when you open your power bills this summer.  Homeowners can visit The Home Depot Eco Options web site for specific tips on how to make their homes more energy efficient.

I hope you’ll read my Triple Pundit guest post and let me know what you think. Any and all ideas you have about how we can maintain the value of green investments are welcome.

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