Marie A. North, CSBAMy interests and passionate belief in sustainable practices has placed me with other professionals in the forefront of the sustainability movement in the Lehigh Valley. My experiences throughout the development and construction of my sustainably built, energy efficient house, (and the renovation of another), strengthened my beliefs and, ultimately, opened the door to new career opportunities.

As I progressed through the building process and answered questions about sustainable practices and products from our contractors and neighbors, I saw a great need to lessen the confusion and improve the understanding of how we can build and live sustainably. In 2011, I acquired my certification as a Sustainable Building Advisor and continue to expand my knowledge in the important and growing field of sustainability. I now offer this knowledge and expertise to others who want to understand how to live more sustainably. Contact me to learn more.

Upcycling - Creating a New Lifstyle

My epiphany happened in the late 1970’s when I toured a landfill site in suburban Philadelphia and saw the huge amount of household trash, furniture, and other items being covered by a bulldozer. It was a life changing experience to realize how we dispose of what we consider household waste. After that, my husband and I learned about a new recycling collection facility in our area and we began taking our cans and bottles. At that time, what could be recycled was minimal but by participating with others in our community, our actions and commitment were the beginning of recycling as we know it today. Around the same time, solar power and improving energy efficiency in our homes was taking off.

We purchased our first home when interest rates were at an all-time high. It was small, affordable, poorly insulated, lacked storm windows, and had electric heat. Like most new home owners, we were on a tight budget. We quickly realized we could lower our electric bills and be more comfortable by adding attic insulation, installing storm windows or replacing leaky windows. With our second home, we felt the effect of the sun penetrating through the west facing windows in the winter, providing additional warmth. In the summer, we really appreciated the shade from a deciduous tree because the western sun would’ve overheated our main living area. The tree helped cool our home and lower our energy bills. As we worked on our homes, I also noticed my eyes and throat burned after using certain paints and finishes, and after the installation of wall-to-wall carpeting. I wanted to know more about what was in those products.

In the early 2000’s we began to research sustainable construction and the possibility of building our own sustainable, energy efficient, passive solar home. We wondered what it would be like to live in a home where we had evaluated the building site before construction and oriented the house correctly to take advantage of the sun’s power. What if we were actively involved in the design process, choosing the builder, sub-contractors, construction materials, HVAC system, appliances, and other features?

Living the Sustainable Dream

Your Natural Habitat - Importance of your ecosystem.

I now live in a home we helped to design and build on a scenic 2.5 acre wooded site. While the building process was challenging at times, the results have been so worthwhile. Sustainability is part of our everyday life. Our energy bills are less, we use less and recycle a lot more, clean with and use non-toxic products, and have lowered our carbon footprint while living a modern lifestyle. (Our household trash has been reduced to one brown paper bag every week to two weeks, yay!) Women and Their Woods. People continue to ask about our current lifestyle and how we accomplished our sustainable goals. They have questions about what they can do in their homes and neighborhoods to live more sustainably, lower their energy usage and bills, and make a difference in the environment. Their questions have translated to hosting tours of my home and giving presentations.

In 2010, I learned about and enrolled in the Sustainable Building Advisor course, and received my certification in 2011. My goal as a CSBA is to translate sustainable for your everyday life, to help you make sense of the sustainable and renewable opportunities, principles, and products you've heard and read about, and to incorporate what works best for you into your personal or professional life. Let’s talk about your questions and goals.

Education

Sustainable Building Advisor Course
Bucks County Community College
Perkasie, PA   (2011)   (Certification)

EnergyPath 2012 Power Lunch Series
The Sustainable Energy Fund
Allentown, PA   (2012)
Information on current renewable energy choices, energy efficiency, and cutting edge energy research. (Certification)

Women and Their Woods Workshop
Delaware Highland Conservancy & Penn State Natural Resources Extension  (2012)

Food Scraps Composting Workshop
The Rodale Institute
Kutztown, PA   (2011)

PA State Association of Boroughs / PA Municipal Planning Education Institute
Zoning Course - 10hrs   (2011)

Continuing Education

Webinars:
GreenCircle Certified, LLC
Waste Diversion Claims
LEED v4: Fundamentals; Materials and Resource Credits

LEEDuser
LEED Standards, Sustainable and energy efficient product evaluations.

Penn State Natural Resources Extension
Sustainable land and forest initiatives and practices.

Mentoring Wild Kids
Creating Nature Connections for Children

USDA Urban Forest Connections Webinar Series
Let Them Climb Trees! The Decline of Play Outdoors and The Rise of Sensory Issues (TimberNook)

Conferences:
2016 Delaware Valley Green Building Council Tri-State Symposium

2016 Pennsylvania Assoc. of Environmental Educators

2015 Private Forest Landowner Conference:
The Future of Penn's Woods