We didn't set out to build a green house. After Steve finished graduate school, we were planning to find an existing house in our preferred 1960s neighborhood, but when we had an unexpected opportunity to build a new home there, we jumped at it, more concerned at that point about curb appeal than energy-efficiency. As we began researching architects and designers, builders and building materials, we kept finding ways to make our home gentler on our world than the one it was replacing, and virtually every time, we simply didn't see a good reason not to incorporate these products and processes. Geothermal heating and air conditioning, structural insulated sheathing, low-flow toilets, drought-tolerant landscaping.... Some of these things cost more than the traditional version, but we were blessed to be able to afford the additional cost, knowing that they would pay for themselves over time through reduced electricity and water needs -- and through the intrinsic value of using fewer natural resources.
Even solar panels and rainwater collection, two big items whose cost we couldn't justify at the time of construction, kept nagging at us after we moved in thanks to the hot, dry summer of 2011. With local and federal incentives to go solar, it became an easy decision, and our own little power plant started generating electricity in October 2011. The installation of our rainwater collection system is currently in progress. And when that's finished, we'll probably find another green project to undertake.