Sept 4, 2008
JEFF ROGERS welcomes visitors at the door of his newly renovated house, atop a sandy ridge on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From outside the two-storey building seems unremarkable: its neat white trim, pale-yellow clapboard siding and shingle roof have been the local style for centuries.
But the house that Mr Rogers finished last year is anything but traditional. It uses no fossil fuel and generates its own electricity. It contains few toxic materials—adhesives, paints and insulation are all free of formaldehyde and contain low levels of volatile organic compounds, and nothing in the house produces carbon monoxide.
Despite housing a family of four, the house uses less than a third of the typical amount of water, thanks to modern appliances, dual-flush toilets and low-flow taps and showers. A geothermal heat pump heats and cools the house using groundwater; even though it has no air conditioning, the house is cool in the Cape’s muggy summer heat. On the roof, photovoltaic solar panels sit next to arrays of water-heating tubes. Inside, the bright, warm lights recessed into the ceilings are low-energy light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Even the most traditional-looking elements are unusual: the roof shingles are made of recycled plastic and sawdust. This innocuous house on a quiet lane is, in fact, one of the greenest homes in America.