dissect front porch

The words “green” and “sustainability” are used when describing aspirations of living lightly on the earth.  But these are new terms that also describe the way our elders once lived. Even with the technological and product advancements, the World War 2 generation would recognize some “green” as their daily habits.

Everything Old Is New Again

Articles on how to live green often read like a thrilling return to yesteryear. How many of these green living tips do you remember your elders doing?

• Air dry laundry on lines indoors and out
• Refrain from using heat-inducing appliances until after sunset
• Use ceiling fans to move indoor air
• Use a whole-house attic fan to remove hot indoor air
• Collect rain water to use in gardens
• Start a vegetable garden
• Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of the property
•Build a screen porch on the north or east side of the home

The Greenest Home Is The One Still Standing

The homes of our elders were built to last forever. Great care was taken with good materials and proper construction because shortcuts could negatively impact your comfort, finances and safety.

Examples of vernacular architecture designed to work with the environment exist all across the Metro St. Louis area. Because they were built for centuries of use, many of them retain their value and are often highly coveted property. Part of their architectural charm is features purposely designed to keep our elders comfortable.

st louis front porch

A front porch is a shaded area that funnels breezes into the home while keeping the summer sun from heating up the interior. It was also a cool place to gather in the evenings after the sun set.

shortgun house
St. Louis’ “shotgun shacks” have windows on opposite walls which creates a cross-breeze for maximum air movement that gives a cooling effect.

st louis breezeway

Breezeways are a semi-enclosed room or passage connecting different parts of a home, and they also funnel cool breezes, creating a comfortable place to lounge in the heat of the summer.

st louis awnings
Awnings are an easy way to block the sun and keep interiors cool, which is why they were installed over the doors and windows that face the strongest, hottest sun on the day.

As American energy consumption changed with the introduction of air conditioning in the 1950s, many of these once-standard home features disappeared. Adding them to a modern home that lacks them can automatically lower your cooling bills because good old fashioned shade always works!

The best form of conservation is to re-use and remodel existing homes to keep them from adding to pressing landfill problems. And for a sustainable remodel or brand new construction, work with designers who understand both modern and traditional forms of energy efficiency, and carpenters trained and experienced in construction best practices. Professionals who take pride in their skills, craft and knowledge are more likely to produce lasting value, and that’s a form of sustainability both our grandparents and ourselves can understand.

St. Louis remodeling firm Mosby Building Arts has certified and trained designers and builders who stand behind their home improvement projects with a 10-year Workmanship Warranty. It’s their assurance to you that it’s built to last a lifetime.  For green lasting value, call the Mosby office at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.