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A green home that saves the green

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This article will also be the first of several that will appear once a month in the weekly Monitor. Blog postings twice a week at will document not only the physical transformation of Sheep Dog Hollow, but also the practical and moral challenges involved.

You see, we’d like to restore this abandoned old home into a model of sustainability while maintaining its essential historic character and, most important, not go bankrupt in the process.

I’ll be talking with energy experts about the merits of different technologies for heating, insulating, and lighting the house, comparing their costs and looking at how each fits into our defined budget.

Our goal is to renovate as greenly as possible within that budget, so we know from the start that trade-offs will have to be made. As much as we’d like to have a house that’s 100 percent green, economic practicality dictates otherwise.

In our attempt to retain Sheep Dog’s historic nature, we’ve hired a builder who has a passion for old houses and shares our goal of preserving as much of the original structure as possible.

I’ll also document and share the story of Sheep Dog Hollow. It was built in 1902 and was the center of a family farm for most of the 20th century. The property was later turned into a summer camp. I’m already collecting family memories of the place as well as reaching out to people who spent their summers there.

This is an ongoing story.

The moral component of this venture can best be summed up by recounting a story I once heard about the prophet Muhammad and an intellectual.

“So, Prophet,” this intellectual reportedly said, “when I leave my camel outside an inn while I’m doing business, should I tie it up or just trust God that it will be there when I get back?”

Muhammad reportedly replied, “I’d highly recommend you do both.”

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