Being green

I mentioned that at the PAII conference in April, the Pine Hurst Inn did a presentation on green building principles. In fact, their mission statement is:

To be the best bed & breakfast in the Chequamegan Bay area, providing the highest level of hospitality and guest experience while preserving and promoting the unique historical and environmentally sensitive nature of our property and the area. We are committed to sustainability in all practices.

I’ve always tried to be cognizant of the long-term consequences of my actions, and like to consider myself environmentally benign, and the restoration work was really weighing on me. In my defense, I had talked to a company that installed solar electric in Lancaster, but he told me it wasn’t worth it. Lancaster is one of the few places that doesn’t subsidize solar, and to meet the peak demands of a B&B would require such a large installation that we’d never recoup our investment. (Incidentally, he said most of his work was installing solar panels for Amish families.) We also looked at aerobic treatment units, which treat the septic on-site (rather than having it pumped and taken away). Again, the salesman talked me out of it – too expensive, and since we don’t have any restrictions (small lot, buried system, etc.) it wasn’t worthwhile. I tried to find a contractor who had experience with “green” building, but of the two or three I found, none of them had much experience with historic buildings and, unfortunately, in our situation historic had to take precedence. Finally, I looked into geothermal heating/cooling systems. These work by drilling wells, and tapping into the constant temperatures underground. Alas, I’ve gotten very mixed reviews – some love them, some hate them – but the first bid came in at an astronomical amount, so it may not even be an option. We’re in the process of getting a second bid. Of course, when we open, I’ll try to use non-toxic and organic products (I’ve found a line of “organic mattresses” that look pretty good, as well as organic cotton towels and sheets) and we’ll buy Energy efficient appliances, gardening, composting, etc. But in terms of a meaningful commitment in the home restoration, my failure has been complete.