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European Energy Conservation and American Green Building Design

As new information comes in, the global community becomes more and more concerned about the environment and energy conservation. And while America is focusing more on the environment than it used to (with its newly popular green home building initiatives in particular), the U.S. is still behind the times when it comes to conservation. Many countries, especially European countries, have been the frontrunners in conserving energy and using green home building for decades.
Energy Conservation in Europe
Europe is at the forefront of the green movement, including green home design... and with good reason. Because on the continent, gasoline, natural gases, and energy costs significantly more than it does in America, and it has been that way for many years. Because of this, both individual Europeans and European governments are much more energy conscious than Americans. This instinct for energy conservation is seen in Europe in several key ways.
One of the main ways that Europeans save energy is through a tightly knit and efficient public transport system. In addition to mass transit in essentially every major European city, the continent also boasts a well utilized long distance passenger rail service. And even though there are plenty of individually owned vehicles in European countries, most cities in Europe boast a higher percentage of mass transit users (and bicycle riders) than the United States.
European energy consciousness is also visible in the way Europeans build their homes. In Europe (especially in larger cities), they use green home building in a very practical, widespread, and simplistic way. Most city dwellers live in apartments with far less square footage than American homes. Most homes (and many businesses) in Europe do not have central air conditioning, and use basic green home building concepts for cooling. They use simple ideas, such as rolling black out screens, roll out terrace shades, double paned windows, etc., to cool or heat their homes.
Green Home Building in America
Essentially, Europeans have been remembering to turn the lights out when they leave a room for years. Americans, who are used to thinking of energy as a cheap and limitless commodity, are just starting to adjust to a "more European" mindset... including remembering to turn out the lights. This changing mindset is evidenced by the increasing popularity of green home building.
The green home building concepts being used in America revolve around simple ideas, such as less square footage, improved insulation, and smarter positioning to the sun, as well as the use of alternative energy sources like solar paneling. Green home building also incorporates more complex concepts, such as the use of sustainable materials and less harmful products, to protect the environment and conserve energy in the long run. America is a little behind, but with luck will start catching up to the standard set by Europe.

by: hugatree
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