halifaxearthtech: workmen stand outside Alexander MacKay school in 1918 (fair shares)


Those who follow my blog will have noticed I try to offer productive solutions to the environmental problems we face, no matter how small, personal or trivial they might seem at first. This is not because I disagree with pressuring our elected officials to take stronger actions and leadership toward leading more local, communal and accountable lives, and it is to do so in fact that I write today.

Our houses are designed with several serious flaws, one of which is that without constant supplies of fuel oil and tar paper shingles our houses become moldy death-traps. Gypsum wall board is a most unwise material with which to build our houses; when it gets wet through leaks or condensation they easily breed toxic mold which can be deadly. Gypsum is also a non-renewable resource with a racist name that is often mined from what would otherwise be productive local farmland.

I think we can see bold new feed-in options for home owner beyond solar hot water that would pave the way for strong legislation for new as well as existing buildings. I am in the fortunate position that I will likely be able to build my own house in the next decade: one of a reasonable size which is oriented correctly toward the south for maximum passive solar heating and passive ventilation and made out of breathable materials and non-toxic earth plasters. My house would take care of sewage and gray water on site and produce more energy (and food) than it consumes. We already have the technology.

These thoughts comfort me as I camp out in my in-laws' spare room with a very preventable lung infection. However this will not help the hundreds of thousands of renters in our city, many with uninsulated homes who will still face a plague of unprecedented proportions as soon as the dirty road of heating oil and tar paper shingles sputters out. Will we see leadership in providing housing that works beyond CEDIFs and solutions for well-to-do homeowners, or will we take the ultimately more expensive option of toxic housing?

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