EBI Consulting is excited to award our first ever Green Star Award to Ed Colaprete! The Green Star Award is awarded to employees who are committed to reducing their impact on the environment. Being sustainable at EBI isn't limited to just office-based efforts, it's an integral part of day to day life.
Ed has been kind enough to share his sustainability efforts with us in the blog post below:
First and foremost, our family of four lives in a small, three bedroom, one bath home, about 1,400 square feet, that we bought 11 years ago. It was constructed in the 1940's with locally milled lumber and reused barn beams and other materials locally sourced. The small house creates a small footprint on the land which is just a few hundred feet from the Chesapeake Bay and makes for very efficient use of the space we have (we use it all in other words). The house, a couple small sheds and patios are the only impervious surfaces on our lot which helps reduce storm water runoff. We do have a gravel driveway which the county views as impervious but it's mostly grass and weeds and we reduced the overall area of it a few years ago.
We have eight raised bed gardens where we grow vegetables and herbs. Which:
- Raises tomatoes, white, red and sweet potatoes, beets, peppers, pole beans, spinach, kale, edamame, cucumbers, cabbage, cantaloupe, watermelons, peanuts, etc.
- Includes a single, ancient grape plant that is a great producer of Concord grapes and we made over 30 jars of grape jelly this year.
- Allows us to can and freeze for winter use.
- Reduces the need to buy vegetables from the grocery store. If we need other fresh items we go to one of several local stands or to our nearby weekly farmers market.
- Has extended the gardening season through the use of cold frames (from repurposed storm windows bought at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore).
Raised bed vegetable garden for growing local, sustainable produce; soil is mixed with homemade compost
Our gardens are irrigated with water from our rainwater harvesting system that we installed five years ago. The system includes a 1,000-gallon, below ground water tank, pump, and network of micro-irrigation heads and drippers. This system is very efficient in that the water is delivered exactly where it needs to go; it eliminates the need to use clean drinking water for irrigation, saves electricity and wear and tear on our well pump and helps prevent water runoff. In addition, we have three 60-gallon rain barrels.
Since we are located in the Critical Areas of the Chesapeake Bay, we practice Bay Wise Landscaping and had our property Bay Wise Certified in 2011. The program focuses on water quality and best management practices for homeowner landscaping, land use and operations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
When it was necessary to replace our septic system, we installed a Norweco Singulair Bio-kinetic Wastewater Treatment System which is the best available technology for nitrogen reduction in homeowner septic systems and one of the systems required to be installed when located within the Critical Areas of the Chesapeake Bay.
We installed a solar-thermal hot water system for domestic hot water. This system utilizes two 32-sf solar-thermal collectors with an 80-gallon water heater and internal heat exchanger. The circulation pump is operated by a small 20-watt PV solar panel. This system saves about 30% on household electric by eliminating the need to run the water heater (we are an all electric house). The water heater has one back-up heating element for extended periods of cloudy days. The PV panel assures that the solar thermal systems operation does not add to our electrical footprint.
Solar hot water heater system installed on Ed's roof
- We had an energy audit performed on the house and then air-sealed and reinsulated in the attic and elsewhere.
- We compost and recycle year round, significantly reducing our garbage output.
- We replaced all the incandescent lights in the house with CFL's about 11 years ago and are in the process of swapping the CFL's for LED's.
- We can cool the entire house with just over 1-ton of AC aided by six ceiling fans.
- We heat with terribly expensive (but 100% efficient!) electric baseboard heaters. Some of their use is offset by a wood stove that on all but the coldest of days, will heat most of the house.
- We installed a dual flush (1-gpf / 1.6-gpf) toilet to save clean water and cut down on waste water.
- We have and use a clothesline saving electricity.
- We let cooking water cool and dump it in the gardens.
- Our appliances, including our printer and monitors, are Energy Star rated units.
- In the office, when I must print, it is black and white, two pages per side, both sides, draft mode.