long ago a friend from europe was here as an exchange student. her parents came over and commented that *many* American houses were, in their opinion, "made of sticks" instead of the "riches of stone." even the old houses, they concluded seemed thin. we said nothing, agreeing to some of it, and concluded that lumber is readily available here and is renewable, so that one builds with what one can find. perhaps that is how a tradition of house building starts in a nation. yes, we build from sticks.
atlanta has some really old walking neighborhoods, and we live in one. a dominant style here is the bungalow set on small urban plots. the historical styles range from early victorian 4-square cottages to 1940 brick tudors. our home is very small, creaky and crooked. we have to keep up with it...never ending, it seems. yet despite it's age - 83 years old - we have a small carbon footprint even while living in a car dependent city. most of the surfaces of our city lot are porous. we do not drive that much. our house is a federal style craftsman. not too fancy, but each room is a square with ten foot ceilings, beautiful doors and molding and i like that.
typically old houses here are made of a wood structure, with virgin-forest pine siding, brick veneer and granite veneer (about 4" thick), but not necessarily solid stone. yet, the old wood rafters and wall studs are so hard that they are almost as solid as stone. it is amazing to me that our old house has a structure that is petrified, yet seems so delicate and thin, like a web of sticks. ironically, if we want to hammer a nail somewhere on the exterior of the house we have to drill a small starter hole first or else the wood will split, just like stone. i think re-using a house is vital to our environment and future.
historic houses were built to last. re-use a house.
The Nature Consevancy has a great carbon calculator. see how you live.
we score 33 in C02 emissions for a household of 4. the average 4 person american household scores 110. worldwide, the average is 22.