Cross-posted at The Stinging Nettle Bumped by TG
emo, a frequent conservative commenter on The Stinging Nettle, trying to score a rhetorical point, asks in comments to one of my posts what the carbon footprint of the Edwards's new home in Orange County would be. The question is the latest unoriginal spew coming from the right wing, and it started at the Carolina Journal. It was then linked by Drudge, and awaaaayy we go.
The righties, laboring under their continual impression that being a liberal means one should never be able to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, are simply apopleptic that John Edwards, a massively successful trial lawyer, would dare build his family what can really only be described as an estate.
This is a sign, they claim, that Edwards is a hypocrite. Building a multi-million dollar home is allegedly inconsistent with caring about poverty (a statement they would never accept as true if made about a Republican) and must be environmentally unfriendly to boot.
They fail to realize that by buying a farm and keeping it at its original size - 102 acres, the Edwards have done one thing right away - they have prevented the subdivision and development of a significant piece of wooded property in Orange County - something that doesn't happen every day in that rapidly-developing part of the state.
But enough from me, I'll let Elizabeth Edwards tell you the details. She has tackled the issue (and the freeper commenters) at www.johnedwards.com, and her post is a thing of beauty - as the house is, evidently.
Here's Elizabeth on the Edwards's efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint:
Here is what our family has done and is doing.
We sold the conventional fuel SUV that we used to carry children, strollers, luggage and toys between Washington, DC and North Carolina, and we bought a hybrid, a Ford Escape.
All the water (all of which comes from wells) in our home and some of the flooring is heated with solar energy.
We built a highly energy efficient house. In fact, our home is Energy-Star rated. Energy Star is an EPA regulated designation for homes that are at least 30 percent more efficient than the national Model Energy Code. In building we made sure we had effective insulation in floors, walls, and attics. We chose efficient heating and cooling equipment and high-performance windows. Our builder paid close attention to making sure the construction was tight to seal out drafts and moisture. The day the independent inspector came to evaluate the house, we were on pins and needles while he tested our home's energy performance. As he packed his equipment, he gave us the good news: we are an Energy-Star home!
And as the incandescent light bulbs the electrician installed in our fixtures burn out, we are replacing them with fluorescent bulbs. If you are thinking that we are living now in harsh light, with buzzing sounds and constant flickers, you are thinking of your grandmother's fluorescent bulbs. There are a wide range of shapes and fittings available now; there are even dimmable fluorescents, and honestly I cannot tell without checking which of our bulbs are still incandescent and which are now - and will continue to be -- fluorescent. Switching is a little bit of a bite, because the bulbs are more expensive (although Costco and eBay have some good prices), but replacing a single 60 watt incandescent with a 15 watt fluorescent you use just six hours a day could see an energy savings of more than $40 over the 4 year (4 year!) life of the bulb. And it is not just energy. A single fluorescent bulb "can prevent more than 450 pounds of emissions from a power plant over its lifetime" according to the Energy-Star website. That same site has these incredible statistics: "If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars." One bulb.
Later, in comments, she gives even more detail:
We actually had a foremost name in green architecture (I would want to ask him before using his name, but he is maybe the US's best in this field) visit our site when he happened to be in NC and make suggestions -- one of his ideas was for Belvederes, which look like 3 little cupolas on our roof, and let in light reducing the need for additional lamps but unlike some skylights do not up the need for AC in summer
The house actually has solar panels, and is rigged for a geothermal heat pump when the technology becomes more affordable. Says Elizabeth:
Actually we are "geothermal-ready." The system was built in a manner to allow us to integrate geothermal. And, although we thought we would be talking about it in four or five years, we are already talking about installing it. For those who don't know, geothermal uses the more constant temperature of the earth to keep your house warmer in winter than the air outside and cooler in summer than the air outside. It is tremendously more efficient.
She then issues a call to join in the National One Corps Energy Day of Action. Do something tomorrow to save energy. I'm going to replace some light fixtures in my house and weatherstrip a particularly leaky window. What are you going to do, emo?