The Economy of Being Ecofriendly

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“I've always liked granola. But before my children were born, no one would have ever called me the earthy, crunchy type. I'll admit I really didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about the environment. Yet a few months into this mom thing, I was surprised to find myself paying a lot more attention to recycling, organic food and the thermostat,” said Lourdes Ferrero. The green thinking convert says that she put aside capitalistic perspective by just simply looking at the world around her from a different angle. It seemed as if she had an epiphany comparable to a born again Christian which revolutionized her lifestyle to making her and her family more eco-friendly. “Maybe it was seeing An Inconvenient Truth when my twins, Tristan and Nicole were just learning to crawl...or moving from Manhattan to Queens and noticing the environment around me when I took them out for afternoon strolls....or discovering the vast and overwhelming amount of waste we were producing,” said Lourdes. “Whatever it was, I am sure that motherhood switched on an energy saving light bulb in my head. Suddenly, I was much more conscious of my impact on the planet and how my newly purchased house did too.” Across the tri-state region, as in the rest of the country, green homebuilding is growing, but remains a largely uncharted and unregulated morass of guidelines, incentives, programs, products and philosophies that can frustrate even the most intrepid and environmentally aware homeowner. In the absence of federal mandates, it has evolved from the bottom up, with different groups and occasionally states providing direction. While New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have not adopted legislation governing green building for homes, some municipalities are moving ahead. But many a homeowners eager to hop on the "green" bandwagon tend to have reconsidered after seeing the price tag on Earth-friendly renovations. Joking around Mark Esposito said, “It takes a lot of green to be green.” The 28 year old director of Evolve to Green Revolution explained that there are so many stories we can tell ourselves to justify doing nothing, but perhaps the most insidious is that, whatever we do manage to do, it will be too little too late. Mr. Esposito are true idealist at heart seemed disheartened speaking of human nature when he said, “Most people try to convince themselves inaction is the route to take when they cannot be active because they cannot afford it.” But some savvy owners in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx have found ways to save mountains of money by implementing methods to cut down their energy usage and having the government pay for it. Mr. Esposito believes that making a house eco-friendly is becoming the new green craze along with purchasing hybrids. With the rising gas prices people started wanting to buy more hybrid cars to save money on fuel. It’s the same thing with houses people are now finally realizing that making their house eco-friendly or green will pay of big over the long run. Mrs. Ferrerro is one these very people who after years of planning has started work on transforming her home to being more eco-friendly in part because of her endless efforts, time and work filling out EPA paperwork and New York State subsidy forms. She shows the folders of bureaucratic required paperwork she regarded as “frivolous absurdity.” Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star is known to most people by its yellow tags, which indicate energy-efficiency levels on appliances. But it also has a program that encourages voluntary compliance to green homebuilding standards and that typically functions through power companies, like the Long Island Power Authority, or state entities, like the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. In most cases, tax credits, incentives or rebates are available if a home meets Energy Star standards. In the era of $4-a-gallon gas prices, organizations that specialize in tapping federal...
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