Going Green Can Be Smart To Help The Environment

Going Green Can Be Smart To Help The Environment
Going Green Can Be Smart To Help The Environment

Occasionally, we tire of furniture and want to replace it even though there it still has plenty of life left. Or we may move to a smaller or larger home and the existing pieces are no longer useful or needed. Rather than adding to already overpopulated landfills, consider local charities.

For those of you within the Toronto area, there is The Furniture Bank. Started in 1998, its mission is to “facilitate the transfer of household furnishings from donors to families in need. These families are referred by community agencies, such as shelters and refugee centres.” Families are not charged for the furniture they receive, though there is a nominal fee for delivery services, should they be required.

Items must be in good shape and be suitable for The Furniture Bank’s clients. They are always looking for dressers and beds, as well as kitchen and dining tables. Seating, casegoods, lamps, small appliances, linens, and area rugs are also greatly appreciated.

The Furniture Bank cannot accept all types of beds – hospital beds or futon mattresses without a frame are unacceptable – so it is best to first check the website or call to confirm prior to scheduling a drop off or pick-up. Books, computers, broadloom, and plastic lawn furniture are also on the unacceptable list. However, the Resources page on their website has a list of other local agencies which may be able to find a home for your items. “In kind” charity receipts can be given for the fair market value of the donated items and are issued for donations of $100 or greater. If you believe this standard value does not accurately reflect the value of your donation and you would like a tax receipt for a higher amount, you must provide a certificate of evaluation from an independent professional appraiser. For all individual items valued at $1,000 or more, Revenue Canada requires two independent appraisals (paid for by the donor) before an “in-kind” tax receipt can be issued.

There are many great reasons to be green in your life and lifestyle. The benefits of being green are also well known. You can save money over time, use less energy, have a more comfortable lifestyle, and its good for the environment. What is now happening is that many people are seeing the benefits of being green and wonder why things are not happening faster or do not believe that the changes to date and the planned ones are real.

We are seeing these green issues in the building industry now. One of the ways this is happening are the various programs and materials that are being touted as improved building practices; which are mostly coming from other countries. It is a great thing to have new ideas, but some of these proposed programs and materials do not even meet our current building codes! The Canadian residential building industry met our Kyoto goals and since that time we have continued to improve our green requirements and will continue to do so. We have always held out our R2000 program as the best in the world and we have continued to improve it. Our minimum building code now is what R2000 used to be in years past.

If you want to see a major impact on the environment and greening, you need to look at our existing housing and building stock. With the majority of these building built in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s you can do a lot of simple things to greatly improve the performance of these buildings. Bring back the federal incentives to improve the efficiency of our homes and add the commercial stock to the program; and you will see a major improvement in the greening of our buildings.

We are also seeing in some jurisdictions, green changes being imposed onto all new projects. This is happening because the industry sometimes says – wait, let’s see what the costs are; what are the benefits; and what is the science of this proposed change. This method has built a world class building code over time. But because this takes time – some are saying these changes must be imposed.

What we are seeing coming at us is that some of these changes do not have enough benefit for the cost and/or the building science of the change will have a negative impact on the home and owner. These negative impacts can include mould growth, moisture damage, and excessive cost increases to install. Some of the building scientists have been questioning the data presented to back up various claims for a while. The legal community has also started to look at the claims. Lawsuits have been filed in the state of New York against a green building organization.

The building codes changes are on a five year cycle where proposed changes are presented. They are then reviewed by industry representatives, scientists at NRC, and other interested parties. By 2012, the code will be equal to today’s Energy Star 80 rating. So the code is changing without additional “help” and no unintended consequences of them.

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