Who's Brad Pitt?
The other night Larry King was interviewing Brad Pitt and I turned on the TV and said, "we have to watch this program with Brad Pitt in New Orleans." My dad said "who's Brad Pitt?" I explained to him that Brad Pitt was the actor in the Jesse James film that he recently saw, and he looked hard and said... "so it is!". Well at least that got his attention, so we were able to watch most of the show without too much channel surfing during the commercials.
You have to applaud Brad Pitt for taking on such a monumental project, and getting the ball rolling with a $5 Million contribution. His heart is in the right place, and he is leading by example. I can understand why the former residents of the Lower 9th Ward want to come back to their home. There is no other place quite like New Orleans, from what I hear, though I have never been lucky enough to visit there. Such a vibrant mix of cultures is always a pleasure to experience, much like here in Hawaii.
What's a Green Home?
As proponents of a green lifestyle on Maui, we are already living proof that it can be done. When we bought this vacant land in Haiku, back in 1989, we knew that we would living off the grid, but we were up for the challenge. 18 years later we have it dialed in to some extent, within our budget. Being in Hawaii makes us somewhat spoiled, as we don't have to be concerned with temperature extremes, and therefore we have no heating or cooling systems. We are also not very concerned with lack of water as rainfall is ample. So with that in mind, here are the energy conserving ways that we have learned to live with a small impact on our land.
WATER - why not keep all that wonderful rain that falls and use it to water the landscape, wash the car, wash the windows, and even shower and cook with it? It makes perfect sense, especially in areas that are suffering from water shortages. Here on Maui, parts of the island would be desert without irrigation. Those places use a disproportionate amount of water, to make the resorts lush and the golf courses green. On the north shore, the natural rainfall makes things green without added irrigation. We have 3 water tanks to hold rainfall that lands on the building roofs.
HOT WATER - Solahart brand solar water heater on the roof. This is intuitive - the hot water rises and stores itself in the tank which is the highest part of the system. No pumping needed. Pumping of water uses a lot of power.
COOLING - We have large roof overhang , an 8 foot overhang, with wraparound decks. This provides plenty of shaded space to sit and enjoy the views and the cooling tradewind breezes. The shading effect helps to keep the interior of the home cool, as there is not much sun beating on the walls and windows.
LIGHTING - Lots of windows to let in the natural light, so less lighting is needed during the day. We took it one step further and used some excellent 11' x 5' windows that were recycled glass doors from some Shops at Wailea, and incorporated them into our home design. Great big picture windows that didn't have to go to the landfill. Of course light bulbs have always been the compact flourescent ones.
POWER - Photo Voltaics and Wind Turbines. We have 3 buildings that each have their own self contained power system which includes solar panels, a wind generator, storage batteries, and inverters. It's not easy being your own power company. Right now one of the wind turbines is "down" and we are waiting for the parts to arrive. And wouldn't you know, it's been the windiest week in months! Sometimes it can be frustrating. When everything hums and whirrs perfectly it's a beautiful thing though. We have an electric SunFrost fridge which we prefer over the propane ones, and the stove uses propane.
What else would I do?
OK so if money were absolutely no object we could have done things differently and here's what I would put on my wish list for the future:
WATER - a wonderful natural shaped swimming pool with dark stones, and solar heating - and an old fashioned Japanese furo tub, heated from underneath with locally harvested firewood - water features like koi ponds and aquaculture ponds
COOLING - more extensive covered lanais - being out of the sun is important, and exterior spaces can be used for living space a lot of the time, as long as you can keep the rain off
LIGHTING - I'll have some solar tubes and skylights - we ran out of money before we ran out of ideas - and lots more solar yard lights, I love my tiki torches that I never have to refill
POWER - more PV panels - all over the roof - more batteries - the best that money can buy! Solar is the greatest - no moving parts
You know what else?
If money is no object I'd even have a 24 HR TECHNICIAN to be on call to maintain the system and install new stuff. And while I'm dreaming, let's make him look like Brad Pitt, and he can walk around with his shirt off and fix things that need fixing. Yeah that's it... if money were no object..... hmmmm.
This post was a challenge - thanks to JaneAnne Green-O-lina. for the idea. Thanks for listening. I hope this will encourage some of you to make a change in your lifestyle. Where there's a will, there's a way.
Aloha - The Hunter - Georgina M. Hunter R(S) - Paia, Maui HI 96779 - your agent on Maui - 808 283-0635
(PS - I do have a 24 hour technician, my husband is what makes this all work)