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Imagining the Healthy World of Alternative Home Building
Books for People Interested In Alternative Home Building
Let us journey into an alternative world for a moment. Let us imagine what it would be like to live a cool, earth-friendly, healthy life in a dry, hot environment.
Let’s say that you are visiting a friend in the desert of the Southwestern United States. You embark on this journey during the late summer months, when the heat is almost unbearable. You nearly burned your hands on the steering wheel of the rental car that brought you to your friend’s home. You are finally starting to feel refreshed from the car’s cool air conditioning when you arrive at your friend’s home and must step out of the car. You are excited about seeing her, but you have to admit that your first thought is that you hope she has the air conditioning in her home on high. “How does anyone live like this?” you think to yourself. But you are determined to put on a pleasant face for your friend since her last e-mail to you was filled with exclamations and smiley faces as she told you how much she loves her new home in the desert.
You step out of the car. Your friend arrives at the door, having heard the car approaching. It has been years since you have seen her, and you cannot help but think that she looks considerably younger than the last time you saw her. You cannot quite pinpoint what it is — she just looks … healthier. She is practically glowing with a kind of wholesome earthiness, and you can see that, despite what you might feel about the desert heat, the new surroundings have obviously done her some good.
You begin to walk away from the car, and your friend excitedly rushes over to greet you. Before she reaches you, you have a brief chance to look around at the landscaping of her new home. You must admit that it is quite beautiful, despite being so different from where you are coming from. There are numerous lush plants that seem to flourish in the heat.
Your friend reaches you halfway between her home and your car. You almost withdraw from her embrace because it is so awfully warm outside that you cannot bear human touch. She sees your discomfort and invites you inside. As soon as you walk in, you are struck by a blast of cool air. It is almost chilly in the home. “Wow, your electric bills must be sky high,” you exclaim. Your friend looks at you quizzically, so you add, “It’s so cold in here.” She laughs a charming laugh, a laugh that emanates a sense of peacefulness that you have never seen her embody before. You are about to comment on this when you are stopped mid-thought by her response to your exclamation. She tells you that there is no air conditioning unit in the home at all. The home is a well-built, energy-efficient home that has natural cooling properties. Even though it is over one hundred degrees outside, the rooms of this house remain cool.
You have no idea what to say. You can hardly believe that this is true. And you want to know all of the details. Your friend offers you some water, and you sit down in her living room to catch up on all that has happened in the intervening years since you last saw one another. Upon sipping the first wonderful taste of the water she has handed you, you think that the desert water must be significantly better than the quality in your own urban area. It tastes clean and clear. You make a mental note to ask her how she gets such great water, but let her speak first. She is thrilled to tell you all about her new home.
As you talk, you get a chance to look at the home decor. They are beautiful. Everything looks like it “goes together” and, although you cannot quite pinpoint why, the home just feels really good. As the conversation continues, you learn about your friend’s discovery of alternative home building. When she explains about how the indoor air quality of her natural home is superior to that of standard construction, you realize that this contributes significantly to her overall healthy appearance. And when you get a chance to ask about the water, you discover that she used natural building to create a home in which tap water tastes like liquid sunshine. In the desert, she became aware of the importance of having good, clean water without compromising the surrounding earth. You are impressed. You also learn that the natural landscaping supports the beautiful native plant life that you saw outside.
You can tell that living in an energy-efficient, healthy, environmentally-conscious home has helped to create significant changes throughout your friend’s life. She is relaxed, feels good, and is content in her home. The last time you saw her, she was high-strung and always tired. Now, she lives a life that she can say she is proud of, and it shows in everything she does. You think that perhaps this is because she is getting more rest in her desert home, but further discussion lets you in on the fact that she is as busy now as she ever was, working towards environmental conservation and sustainability with her community. She tells you that she feels capable of going out in the world and making big changes because she knows the immense benefit that small changes have made in her own life. By the time you leave your wonderful visit, you are interested in building an alternative home of your own.
But where do you begin? There is so much to be learned about alternative home building. You want to know it all. You want to know the history of how alternative home building has developed. You want to know what materials are available as options for alternative home building, where to find those materials, and how to build with them. The products and methods that worked in the desert for your friend probably are not the right ones to use in your own geographic area, but she has assured you that there are alternative home building options for people living everywhere across the nation. You want to know about this. You want to know who the right people are to turn to for advice throughout the alternative home building process and which books to read to get better insight into the work. And those are all things that you can learn because alternative home building is something that’s gotten increasingly accessible to the average person.
But it all starts with a little bit of imagination!