Just when my parents thought they were safe, the Green Home Auditor strikes again ...

Over the summer, the parentals spend a fair amount of time at their 1,900-square foot "beach house" on several wooded acres in Grapeview, Washington. The building of the home (replacing a smaller summer cabin) was my father's pet project over the last couple of years: an architect friend designed the 3-bed/2-bath structure and, to save money, my father did the contracting (and much of the interior design) work himself. He's fiercely proud of the home and sat down me to go over all of the building specs from the super-tight insulation (+2) to the septic system. 

From rain barrels to antique furnishings, there was a whole lot of green to be found during my informal, unscientific audit of the house. There was also ample room for improvement. Let's see how my parents fared. 

This rain barrel in the back of the house hasn't seen much action over the very dry Washington summer. During the rest of the year, predictably, it's at full capacity. Rainwater harvesting is technically illegal in Washington state since rainwater is considered a state-owned natural resource. However, the issue is tricky and rain barrels are advocated by most communities and cities. (+6 ... bonus point for the breakin' the law aspect). 

There were a jumbo-sized couple of boxes of this chemical slug and snail poisoning around the house. Love the kitschy box but there are plenty of earth-safe slug control alternatives (including many deterrents) out there (-3)

An aerosol can of insect repellant containing the effective but controversial chemical pesticide, DEET (-2)
Native plants surround the property (+2).
A gas grill, eco-preferable over old-school lump charcoal or briquette arrangements (+2).
This arsenal of disposable plastic cups was the the biggest environmental eyesore in the house (-3)

A gas-guzzling, fume-spewing lawnmower. With plenty of emission-free models out there, these highly polluting lawn and garden staples are a green no-no. This particular model has a mulching feature (-3 +1 for mulching feature)

A horseshoe pit: hours of fun, old fashioned, electricity-free entertainment (+1).
Messages of water conservation abound in the outdoor shower (+1)

I'm head over heels with this antique cooler (there were a couple similar pieces around the house) that's found a second life as furniture in house's main room (+2).

Firewood comes from fallen trees on the property, not new lumber (+2)
Not a single appliance in the house, including the washing machine, boasted EnergyStar certification. Note that this is a washer/dryer combo unit; dryers are not included in the EnergyStar rating system (-4)
 
Total Score (+ 2 bonus points cus they're my parents) = +6
 
All and all, not too shabby. I just hope they invite me back now. 
 
Want more? Check out these past installments:
 
The green home audit v.1 (The childhood home)
The green home audit v.2 (the friends' apartment)
• The green home audit v.3 (the summer share house)
 
 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.