Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

Finally have to make some decisions June 8, 2008

Filed under: General Green 2.0 — budint @ 4:28 am

As you can see by the flickr pics, things are SLOWLY moving along. Some days it rains, others days there are other delays.  I’ve learned that you should count on only about 2-3 days of completed work per week.

That being said, some decisions are on the horizon that the wife and I must make.

1. Wood flooring – some of the wood flooring needs to be replaced because it was exposed to the elements while the roof was off. This needs to be done for a couple rooms.  With this new decision, we’re torn btwn choosing FSC nearly locally harvested oak or going w/ bamboo floors. The oak would keep true to the age of the house (1920’s bungalow), but the bamboo would definitely represent the modern aspect.   Unfortunately, it appears that much of the bamboo is being imported so Oak may be the way to go. Unless someone knows of some locally sourced bamboo.

2. Hot water heater – there’s a good chance the hot-water heater needs to be replaced. I’ve searched all over and can’t decide on what to do.  I had been leaning toward the Stiebel Eltron Tempra electric tankless, until i really understood the power requirements: 100-120amps for our needs. That’s over half the panel.  My other thought was the solar hot water system that the guys at 100khouse were looking to use.  However, the upfront cost was pretty steep and I don’t like the idea of possibly having to winterize the system; plus you’d need an auxiliary system.

I may end up w/ a gas tankless, though I’m not thrilled about a pilot light always being on. Or may see what it’d take to upgrade my panel to over 200. Anyhow, i’ve been doing tons of research to find the best fit for us and would be interested to know anyone’s experience w/ tankless.

3. Faucets – Wow, faucets are expensive. At least the ones we like are.  Why does modern design = expensive?  These decisions are mostly budgetary and only the dual flush toilets and low-flow spouts we’re requesting really have a green impact.  Suppose i could go as far as finding out where they’re shipped from, but faucets are pretty small.

Other decisions include:

Vanities – expensive and not sustainable. How to choose?

Exhaust fans in the bathroom – looking for efficient and budget. The best i’ve seen so far will actually turn on when it senses humidity. Good for the shower area, not so good for toilet area.
I’ll post some more pics soon. Since they shld be putting the roof on this monday.


3 Responses to “Finally have to make some decisions”

  1. chad Says:

    The Stiebel tankless units are sexy but they do suck amperage. When we had them in our HERS calculation they destroyed it and we immediately agreed a shift to gas was necessary. Without knowing more, I would say a nice high-efficiency gas tankless unit like the Takagi units is the way to go for your application.

  2. Sara Says:

    Since I used to sell hardwood floors I always like to point out to people that Bamboo floors can not be sanded and refinished. This means they are really only best for low traffic areas, such as bedrooms. An oak floor should last the life of the house and if you can find it locally it seems like a much greener option.

  3. MWANZI Says:

    I’m not sure if Sara has sold bamboo floors, but to say that bamboo floors can’t be sanded is 200% wrong. I own a bamboo distribution company and have pesonally sanded over 10,000 sq.ft of bamboo flooring over a 6 year period with belt and drum sander then a buffing machine. In fact bamboo floors can be sanded up to 3 times before you hit the tongue. At it’s installed in countless commercial and residential projects. Just goes to show that when buying a floor, you should do your homework because everyone has an opinion.

    Also, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” answer for what is green, though many of the following definitions of green will likely resonate with you:

    Healthier living
    Conserving natural resources
    Choosing non-toxic products
    Choosing products made from renewable materials
    Reducing your carbon footprint
    Recycling and reusing materials
    Buying local products
    Being socially responsible
    Reducing energy costs
    Being gentle to the Earth
    Investing in a better future

    I say this to address the issue of locally sourced hardwood floors and if they are in fact “green”. Most hardwood flooring is shipped hundreds of miles by truck from the east or west coast to all across the country, as opposed to bamboo that is shipped by ships from China. While giant container ships certainly burn tons of fuel, they are also fairly efficient due to their massive quantity capacities. One environmental organization estimates that a single cargo ship emits 2,000 times the pollutants of a diesel truck. But since they carry between 3,000 and 15,000 times as much cargo, their pollutant load is actually less in spite of the fuel being considerably dirtier. Their fuel efficiency is such that the carbon footprint is less than 1/50th that of the equivalent trucking capacity. The shipping company Maersk Line, citing Sweden’s Network for Transport and the Environment, contends that its ships are actually cleaner than trains, trucks, or cargo planes. As a result, your specific geographic location will play a role in your flooring’s transportation-related impact. If you live in the US, shipping bamboo from China may result in less fossil-fuel consumption and less carbon footprint than, say, trucking in maple flooring from the Northeast. According to my own calculations, a container, moved 50 miles by truck in China to a port, then 7000 miles by sea to the US, then 300 miles by rail to a warehouse, then 50 miles by truck to a job site is equivalent to 950 miles moved by truck alone. Please visit Maersk Line’s website for information:

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