Aside from his gas-guzzling Jeep and some heavy-duty construction equipment, Dan French’s carbon footprint is almost negligible.
“I think of it in terms of just the carbon footprint I’m creating, it’s probably a little bit lighter than some of the mini mansions around here,” he said.
Aside from his gas-guzzling Jeep and some heavy-duty construction equipment, Dan French’s carbon footprint is almost negligible. “I think of it in terms of just the carbon footprint I’m creating, it’s probably a little bit lighter than some of the mini mansions around here,” he said. Since he received his building permit from the town in April 2006, French, with only the company of his cat, Earl Gray, has been building a virtually 100-percent clean energy home. It’s a challenge he relishes and feels is important to the town and the world. “Green energy is a popular term now,” he said. “You have to do what’s good for the town overall. I’m going to have a nice home, and, when I’m done, it’s going to be energy-efficient.” French has used raw material from the land to build his home. He chose cordwood construction with mortar, which is not only cost efficient, but holds in heat while allowing the house to breathe. His plans for the home include a metal roof, radiant flooring and a wood gasification system to supplement heating from his Rumford fireplace. “It should be an inexpensive house to run,” he said. French said he decided to leave his job at Sikorsky several years ago to pursue his dream, as well as end what he considered to be a cycle of making money and putting it back into the spinning wheel of consumerism. “Every time you earn a dollar it gets watered down,” he said. “You morph into what your paycheck will allow you to do.” French’s fiscal planning has allowed him to pay the high, up-front costs of purchasing solar panels and construction equipment. He said it is a personal choice, but anyone can make a change -- no matter how small it may be. “It doesn’t seem too expensive when you think of the unknown cost the utility companies might be charging in the future,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can incorporate it into your lifestyle.” Now that Woodstock has become one of 60 towns in the state to adopt a clean energy bill. The measure puts the town on track to use 20 percent clean energy by 2010, with the idea for residents to become more aware of their energy consumption. “It’s beginning to become a technology that, while expensive, is a good option,” French said. “It’s just a good way to get away from the fossil fuels.” And French, like the town, still has a long way to go before energy-efficient goals are met. He hopes to have the house complete by fall of next year. “I can’t wait till I’m inside reading a book without guilt,” he said. “That’s when I’ll know I’m done.” Reach Dustin Racioppi at 334-2497 or e-mail email@example.com. THE LIST A list of Eastern Connecticut municipalities committed to using 20-percent clean energy by 2010: Lebanon, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Windham and Woodstock. To see the complete list of Connecticut communities, visit www.smartpower.org.