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I don't have the words or even the space to summarize this year, so I won't begin to try. Although the pandemic dominated the headlines (rightfully so) there were still some great articles about environmental solutions this year. Here are the articles that blew me away, and will stick with me through 2021.
Electrify everything at home
Electrify Everything: Stop using fossil fuels and make money for every American household by Saul Griffith and Sam Calisch – I was blown away by a presentation by Saul at the Verge circular economy virtual conference earlier this year. He put numbers to ideas and thoughts I've been pondering about the future of home electrification for a while. In the link above he provides a simple outline of how we can all decarbonize our homes, how much it would cost if we did it today, and how instead it could save homeowners $1,200 per year if the right policies, building code changes, and financing options were available. It sounds like a big IF. But with big cities like San Jose and Oakland having banned natural gas in new buildings and Biden coming into office soon, the ideas presented in the article are starting to sound more and more realistic.
So in 2021, I'll be writing a lot more about how to make every home improvement a step in the direction of decarbonizing your home and the economy. Because if there's one thing I've learned through years and years of remodeling old homes, there's nothing more frustrating than realizing that you spent a lot of time and money to do something that doesn't turn out the way you want it to. And if you're reading this, I'll assume you want every home improvement to make your house a little greener, smarter, and healthier. And it's totally possible.
Preventing the next pandemic
How to stop the next pandemic confirmed what I've always believed. Solving environmental problems is not only better for the planet and all the critters on it, but it's also better for our health and our wealth. This video is about where Covid-19 came from, and what we need to do to prevent future viruses. Spoiler alert: we need to stop destroying Nature.
The importance of proper ventilation
Why Ventilation is Key to Battling Covid – You may be wondering why I included this as an article about environmental solutions. Poor indoor air quality is already an environmental problem that impacts people all over the world. In a year that brought a highly infectious respiratory disease and the worst wildfires we've seen in years, I believe improving our ventilation systems will be a topic that comes up more often in 2021.
This article explains why properly ventilating buildings is so important in the time of Covid-19, but also why this is not an easy problem to solve. Most schools and buildings need major improvements to their ventilation systems in order to use the kinds of HEPA filters that will filter viruses and wildfire smoke, both issues that we'll most likely be dealing with for the next decade. So although there are temporary fixes like portable home air filters, most homeowners and property managers will most likely need to start thinking about their ventilation systems in 2021.