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Published on Parkland Press (http://parkland.thelehighvalleypress.com)

Guest View
Thursday, April 27, 2017 [1] by The Press [2] in Opinion [3]

Marie A. North, Certified Sustainable Building Advisor

Our Role in Reducing Atmospheric Carbon

Earth Week offered Lehigh Valley residents the opportunity to hear two environmental experts speak, Dr. George Woodwell from the Woods Hole Research Center, and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. I was fortunate to hear both.

Their work, research and message emphasize the same thing: we all need to do something to lessen the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. For so many, that seems like a daunting task. Most of us are everyday people with jobs, families and a multitude of other responsibilities. Isn’t a problem like this better left to the scientists? What can we do? I believe we all have a role to play in reversing the carbon numbers. Here are a few things you can do.

TREES, we’ve all heard this before. Planting trees will help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Do some research before you buy and plant. Is it a native tree? Will it grow too big for the space you have available? When that happens, most people want to have their trees topped. Don’t do it. Why not? You’ve removed the structural branches with the leaves that help clean the air and the tree will struggle to stay alive. It will send out many weak branches quickly to try and compensate for the loss. The tree is weaker and less healthy.

Let’s suppose you’ve chosen the right tree for your space. Will the tree shade the south or west side of your home to help cool it in the summer, and when it’s leaves fall, warm that area of your home in the winter? If so, you now have the benefits of passive cooling and solar heat gain. (You probably thought all solar was too expensive.) Planting evergreen trees near your home can help block the cold northwest winds in winter. Your home will now be warmer and the evergreen will provide coolness in the summer. By planting a tree, you’ve reduced carbon in the air and reduced the amount of fossil fuel you need to heat and cool your home. That’s a win-win.

To be sure, we will all need to do more and this is just one simple example. What else can you come up with? There are 365 days in one year. If we all did one earth friendly action each day, imagine the difference we can all make!

*** Editor’s note: Marie North of South Whitehall Township, is a CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE BUILDING ADVISOR.




Alternative Energy Incentives

Featured Guest: Marie A. North

WDIY-Radio-Program-Marie-North

Listener Comments:

It was very interesting! .....like you were sitting in our kitchen chatting!
Susan R., Allentown, PA

I especially liked your positive approach about doing homework, checking references and becoming knowledgeable because it made the concept of sustainable energy seem like a real possibility rather than a dream some environmentally conscious people can have but the rest of us can't. You did a very good job of bringing the concepts "down to earth". I learned so much about solar panels and especially liked the specific points about lower costs, the federal tax credit, having a site evaluation done as well as the importance of the direction the roof should face and the necessity of a partially unshaded yard. I think these really basic pieces of information brought this topic down to a general consumer's level.
Karen H., Bethlehem, PA 

It was great that the local station presented renewables from the perspective of knowledgeable folks like yourself with so much first-hand experience. Good job!
Martin M., Allentown, PA

Latest Blog....

"It has been a delight working with you.  You are always upbeat and quickly solve issues. God has gifted you with administrative ability and a quick mind to size up what needs to be done. You are not only gifted in management but also in vision.  You see and instinctively know what to do."
~ Joan Gill, Realtor,
Prudential Rittenhouse Realty Group, Harleysville, PA


"I have had the pleasure of working with Marie North on a residential project where sustainability was the basis of most design decisions. Her knowledge, both academic and practical, makes her a valuable resource to anyone involved in the task of living more respectfully with the natural environment. But what I appreciate the most about Marie is her openness and enthusiasm to discuss the big questions about what "sustainability" means and her earnest desire to explore appropriate means to achieve those ends. She is a joy to work with."
~ Kerry Kowalchuk, AIA, LEED AP