The PGH Interview: Jamie Durie on green homes, HGTV, and responsible living

| by John Johnson
The PGH Interview: Jamie Durie on green homes, HGTV, and responsible living

Jamie Durie is the host of "The Outdoor Room" on HGTV, and is an award-winning author of seven best-selling books. Durie has appeared on Oprah, and has completed the Al Gore Climate Project Training course and is now an official Al Gore Climate Project Presenter. In fact, Jamie was busy returning a text to Al Gore until proudgreenhome came along and requested an interview. Then, it was so long Al Gore!

Can you talk about the progress green homes are making in the industry?

"I think 10 years ago this type of a home wasn’t even on the agenda and I’m sure most people would have asked what is a green home? Today, with the enormous amount of press that the environment has been getting the past decade, it’s on the agenda and it’s not going any where until this situation is fixed."

Talk about the HGTV house. Is this a model for green?

"This house is a prime example of the way people should build. Not only is it 40 percent more energy efficient than a conventional home, but when you look at it, you realize you don’t have to live in a spaceship to have it tread lightly on the earth. That’s really what we wanted to show off here."

What considerations went into the design of the HGTV green home?

"We wanted to remain within the style of the area, and pay homage to the village and the surrounding architecture, but also be responsible with the choices that we’re making in terms of recycled timber, solar power, low VOC paints, and allowing the water to be used for irrigation here on the property. Even the garden is a more environmentally conscious garden than most."

Talk about the wild success of HGTV and the green content you are airing.

"I think it’s fabulous that a show like this is now [so popular]. I tried pitching this type of green show five years ago and it was just maybe a little ahead of its time. But I’m really pleased that people aren’t just talking about green, but they are entertained by it. If that’s a vehicle for education on all things green and the environment, then bring it on. And with the HGTV brand behind this, you can’t really go wrong. They have a phenomenal reputation."

Despite the spotlight that HGTV has created for green, there is still more work to be done.

"It does start at the home, and it is about almost force feeding education into today’s media. But there is a long way to go. In some ways if everyone just changed five percent of their lifestyle, we’d fix this, but we just aren’t getting to everyone quick enough."

Can you give an example of one productive way that people can go green?

"I heard a statistic recently which I thought was abominable. In Australia, 40 percent of homes use tank less water heater systems like the one installed here at the HGTV home. That percent in America is only four percent. It’s shocking. And the hot water system is without a doubt the second biggest carbon emitter in your house other than your car. And to be planting 14 to 17 trees per year just to offset the emissions from your car doesn’t make sense. Carbon sequestration is certainly not the cure to this. I’m a landscape architect and a passionate horticulturist, but trees are not going to save this. Renewable energy is what it’s all about, as well as alternative energy resources like wind, solar and geothermal. It’s about making responsible choices in the homes we live in."

What impact will the U.S. oil spill and other negative events have on the green movement?

"There hasn’t been anything in terms of the environment that has had as much press over the last few years, other than Al Gore’s [movie] An Inconvenient Truth. So in a way, while it is horrific to hear what has happened and what is still happening there in the Gulf, it is good that it at least gets people to think twice. It’s amazing to see those images of people cleaning up their beaches. Those are some very strong images."

Is the building community embracing green?

"All builders now are talking about green. Even the ones that don’t believe in it are using it as a marketing tool, which is interesting. If being a green builder helps generate more business for them then so be it -- go get LEED certified and educate yourselves on renewable materials and use responsible work practices, because it’s not just about what you take, but what you leave behind as well."

Topics: Building Green, Heating & Cooling, Landscaping, Solar Power, Water Heaters

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