I just finished Getting Green Done, Auden Schendler's new book on "Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution." It was inspiring--mainly because 1. Auden is a super principled guy who works really hard to forward the mission of green building, renewable energy, reduction of carbon in the atmosphere and related tasks; 2. It works out some of the time, but he has a long list of failures to complement his list of successes; 3. He doesn't give up; 4. He's honest about what worked and what didn't; 5. He makes a very strong case for joining him on the front lines, even if those front lines are your own property lines, or your own city limits.
One of my favorite ideas in Auden's book is the no-brainer of drilling for energy within your own home or factory or business, or wherever you may be wasting energy. It's about harvesting energy you're wasting. It costs a whole lot less per unit of energy, according to Auden, to save energy (negawatts) than to make it. He poses the question: "Why would you spend money on generating expensive power when you could find five times as much energy for the same price through efficiency?" Any takers?
One of the reasons has been that people don't know how. Architects, builders, and homeowners don't know how. And in his book he recounts the Apocalypse Now like tales of green gone bad, along with an inspired plea to use the mistakes as learning, not to give up.
I just got the numbers back from the Energy Star audit of my own house. I'm headed out to sea for the rest of the week on a sailpowered, motor-free tall ship, the Schooner Mary Day, and as soon as I return, I'll share those numbers and lay out my plan of action. For background, read The Home Front Parts I and II under Green Scene. In the mean time, pick up a copy of Auden's book. For me, it was an impetus to action.