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Ellen Lynch's Blog

By Ellen Lynch | Agent in Oakland, CA
  • The first order of green is

    Posted Under: Going Green in Oakland  |  March 28, 2009 8:32 PM  |  1,468 views  |  1 comment
    I love much of what is happening in the green movement.. As a realtor, Oakland homeowner and former contractor I advocate using non-toxic and eco-friendly materials and utilizing green practices.

    What I would love to see more of is the preservation of our wonderful old homes, as they are for the most part solidly built with wood that is hundreds of years old.  Oakland has a wonderful old housing stock and many of these homes, built in the early 1900s have gorgeous tongue and groove vertical grain fir subflooring, beneath layers of carpeting, oak flooring, vinyl, etc.. Often these floors appear to be beyond help, but once professionally sanded and coated with polyurethane (non-toxic brands of course!) this flooring is beautiful, and durable.  Why cover this flooring up with new materials, green or not? The average cost of removing carpet and linoleum throughout a typical  two bedroom house in Oakland and refinishing the floors is around $2,200.00    You can't put new flooring in for that!

    I've seen some green remodels where all the plaster was removed from walls unneccesarily, just because there was some spotty damage or uneven surfaces.  Most of these plaster walls can be saved, and plaster is a good surface which can be smoothed or textured over.  A house can be re-wired without ripping all the walls out. Why gut these walls and add to the landfills as well as cost of producing more materials (sheetrock etc)?

    Old wood windows that are in decent shape can be repaired and maintained.  A spot of rot in the corner of a window can be cut out and patched without replacing the entire window. Thicker glass can be installed when needed. 

    In general, why "gut" when something can be saved, restored, and re-used? 

    I advocate for keeping the "soul" of a house intact, which also saves money and resources..

    Related: In Oakland and Berkeley, preservation of the exterior architecture of many old homes can potentially save you tax money via The Mills Act, A State Act adopted by some municipalities. www.oaklandnet.com/government/ceda/revised/planningzoning/Historicpreservation/

    Also, for Oakland: City of Oakland Green Building Resources:
    http://www.Oaklandpw.com
 
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