Letter: Seeing red in green building

Graphic by Lori Deaton

An Asheville company known for building high-end, “ecologically sensitive” homes recently completed a house next to our property in a quiet, semirural area. The construction site was a noxious mobile industrial factory during the years of the project, the chief problems being noise pollution and soil erosion.

The most disturbing aspect of the company’s noise pollution wasn’t so much the ordinary sounds of nail guns, power saws, grinders and actual construction processes, but of earthmoving equipment on a large site — the continuous roaring of engines and the incessant OSHA-mandated beeping of vehicles in reverse. Day after day after day for months on end, so that my wife and I often had to shout at each other just to talk outside. This noise obliterated our accustomed natural sounds of wind in the trees and the many species of birds in song.

Soil erosion: The building company installed erosion fences, but they were inadequate, and in heavy rainfall, soil-laden runoff would flow down to our community’s private gravel road and flood into the creek. This happened over and over. After several complaints, direct and through a soil conservation agency, the company tried to remedy the situation, but even now there is still runoff and silt. The problem arises from allowing large expanses of bare soil to be exposed for months.

In considering the costs of homebuilding, environmental concerns must go beyond the conventional “green” issues of energy efficiency and ethics of material sources. Beyond an indefinite, restful attitude of synthesis with nature. The uncompensated, unrecognized environmental costs include the impact of construction on the neighbors. Builders and those who hire them, especially those who wish to augment the quality of life for humans in harmony with the natural world, should extend their awareness deeper than the universal cosmos of the planet and their own property boundaries.

— Mickey Hunt


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