Last Wednesday I was in the little town of Monmouth in western Illinois speaking to a group of faculty and students about food and faith. Monmouth College has a community garden which supplies produce to their food service as well as to the local farmer’s market. They also have a small farm to experiment with crops, and a high school
program sponsored by Lilly every summer on food security and faith. It was a stimulating conversation and I was grateful to get to know them.
Sunday I preached on Genesis 9:8-17 at a small town church about 35 miles from home. I had never preached an environmental sermon at that church before, but was amazed and pleased at the response. Sometimes I underestimate the connections with nature that people in more rural areas have. This afternoon I am speaking in a class called “The Bible and the Environment” at Campbellsville University. Next month I’ll go to Washington D.C. for several speaking events.
The news continues to offer warnings that if we don’t tackle our carbon output in the next dozen years the consequences will be severe. Now that most Americans finally seem to believe that climate change is a threat to us, I hope as a nation we will find a way to agree on an effective and shovel ready solution. Sunday afternoon Don and I attended a start-up meeting of a local Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter. This is a well-organized movement that advocates for a national fee-and-dividend solution. Their bipartisan bill is now in congress, H.R. 763, the “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.” It is intended to drive down carbon pollution while also preserving human health and stimulating the economy.
In the meantime, I said I would describe the net-zero (we hope) house that Don and I are having built. It was designed by Ted Clifton, a builder on the west coast whose zero-energy homes have set standards in building efficiency. I especially like the video at the bottom of his home page that explains “the twelve essential steps to net zero energy.” I’ll supply details of how our house coheres with this plan in upcoming posts, in the meantime, here is our checklist:
· South-facing solar panels
· Simple and efficient design
· South-facing windows with overhangs
· Concrete thermal mass and in-floor radiant heat
· Tight envelope provided by deep insulation and tight windows and doors
· Ground-source heat pump
· Energy star (and better) appliances
· LED lighting and efficient ceiling fans
· Sealed vent fireplace
In this not so beautiful photo taken just before drywall, you can see the casement windows on a southwest-facing window seat, with the spray-foam insulation under and around.
You can also make out the concrete floor, which is now being covered with oak flooring.