Sustainable mission: Northampton man fully dives into home…

Rick Colson’s life took an unexpected turn more than a decade ago when he left a long career as a businessman to care for his sick wife.

When he died of environmentally related cancer in 2010, Colson embraced sustainability. He launched a sustainable photo lab business and later explored sustainability in the building trades.

Then last fall, while he was looking for a new project to showcase sustainable ways of building, the Northampton resident noticed a house for sale near his home.

He bought the 1,000 square foot home at 7 Rust Ave. and embarked on a mission: “My main goal was to produce the most sustainable rehabilitation possible and let people know what is possible,” he said.

Colson, the developer and project manager, began renovations last fall and hopes to finish this spring.

The home was heated by oil and now has solar panels and heat pump systems. He also added layers of insulation and added a second floor to the house, making it about 1,600 square feet.

There might be a small electric bill, but “ultimately, hopefully, the house will use no net energy,” Colson said.

Some materials, including doors and two bathtubs, came from EcoBuilding Bargains, a Springfield store that sells old and unwanted building materials and is run by the Florence-based Center for EcoTechnology.

“We also have, on the second floor, 150-year-old Douglas fir floors,” Colson said. “Those were taken from a hotel that was torn down in Bernardston, Massachusetts.”

Mark Newey, senior building scientist at the EcoTechnology Centre, will make an energy rating of the house, which will be used to secure financial incentives through the Mass Save programme.

“He does several things that are very unusual,” Newey said. “One of them is to put minerals on the outside of the house before putting siding on, which creates a layer of continuous insulation like a blanket.”

Colson chose the mineral wool insulation over foam board insulation, Newey sad. Foam board insulation, he says, “can potentially save greenhouse gas emissions over time by saving energy, but you take a hit when you first manufacture it. It’s not as big a win as it should be,” he explained.

As for renovating a home rather than demolishing it, Newey said, “I think that’s a great step from an environmental standpoint. A lot of energy and materials went into that original home – if you can still use those materials … it greatly reduced the overall impact on the environment.”

Colson, in his late 60s, worked in business for most of his career. Then, in 2007, his wife was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. “She grew up with this huge exposure to DDT and as a result she developed breast cancer,” he said. Studies have linked DDT, a pesticide, to breast and other cancers.

He left work to become her main carer, and died in 2010.

Colson was a hobbyist photographer and had worked in the business side of Polaroid, but after his wife’s battle with cancer, he didn’t want to go into a darkroom. “I couldn’t do anything that was toxic,” he said.

He started Eco Visual Lab, a printing business that focuses on sustainability and does not use volatile organic compounds.

“I still run that business, but over the years, I became interested in building and construction as well,” he said.

He remarried and moved to western Massachusetts about five years ago.

“I came across this house around the corner. I was looking for a project,” he said.

Before that, he built a home in Wayland and rehabbed a home in Watertown, complete with solar panels. But, he said, “this is the first project I’ve done that the purpose of this was to do it in as sustainable a way as possible.”

When it’s done, he hopes to sell the house and at least break even on the project. “It is highly unlikely that any builder who was interested in this for profit would build something like this,” he said.

When asked how much he put into the house, he said, “I’m not sure I want to go there, but it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was not a cheap restoration.” He bought the house for $135,000, according to property records, and Colson plans to sell it for about $400,000.

Colson wants to take what he’s learned and turn it into a business, Eco Visual LLC, that would provide “a much more affordable way for people to get sustainable information and find sustainable materials.”

“My goal is to create a sustainable consulting business that can serve consumers, small builders, architects and small businesses,” he said.

Greta Jochem can be reached at

What are 3 examples of living sustainably or being sustainable?

Life under water: Avoid using plastic bags to keep the oceans clean. Life on the land: Plant trees to help protect the environment. Responsible use and production: Recycle items such as paper, plastic, glass and aluminium.

  • These are some of the examples of sustainable living.
  • Stop using plastics. …
  • Reducing the use of energy in the home and the use of renewable energy. …
  • Find creative ways to reuse everything. …
  • Cooking food on your own and eating locally. …
  • Save water. …

Rely less on your car, drive green.

What are sustainability values?

What is a sustainable lifestyle? Living sustainably means understanding how our lifestyle choices affect the world around us and finding ways for everyone to live better and lighter. Applying a ‘people lens’ to sustainability is new, timely and the opportunities are great.

What is sustainability and human values? Sustainability is about social justice, human rights, community involvement, health and safety in the workplace, ethics, racism, and governance; which all affect sustainability and sustainable development outcomes.

What are the 3 main principles of sustainability? The principles of sustainability are the foundation of what this concept represents. Therefore, sustainability includes three pillars: the economy, society, and the environment. These principles are also used informally as profit, people and the planet.

Is sustainability a core value?

What are the 5 elements of sustainability? Sustainable development is development based on five dimensions, which are expressed through the â5 P’sâ, or five pillars of sustainable development: people, planet, prosperity, as well as peace and partnerships.

In the wider context, sustainability is embedded in all our core values. For us, it is so essential that it is part of our name. That’s because sustainable energy encompasses the entire spectrum of environmental, social and economic issues facing modern civilization and our ability to survive and thrive.

Why is sustainability an important value?

What does sustainability mean in core values? Sustainability has multiple meanings and can refer to environmental, social and economic sustainability among other things. Environmental sustainability means reducing our impact on the environment for the benefit of a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Sustainability is an increasingly important issue for many people, especially in the business world. Climate change continues to affect our lives as well as the fate of every other species around the planet. For business owners, leaders and administrators, sustainable business practices are becoming essential.

Is sustainability a value?

What is sustainability and why is it important? Sustainability is the ability to exist and develop without depleting natural resources for the future. The United Nations defined sustainable development in the Brundtland Report as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability is big business If sustainability is one of your core values, you’re in good company. Businesses around the world have embraced the environmental and financial benefits that sustainable practices bring.

What is sustainability explain it with one example?

Is sustainable development worth it? The value of sustainable development is a set of basic values ​​that guide the attitude and behavior of individuals in a way that enables sustainability for the current and future generations. The idea of ​​sustainable development value (SDV) started after the Second World War.

Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As well as natural resources, we also need social and economic resources. Sustainability is not just environmental.

What is sustainability and why is it important? Sustainability is important for many reasons including: Environmental Quality – In order to have healthy communities, we need clean air, natural resources and a non-toxic environment. Growth – UNTHSC’s enrollment continues to grow, so we need more resources such as energy, water, and space.

What is sustainability and examples? The foundations of environmental sustainability are as follows: protect water, save energy, reduce waste, use recyclable packaging, limit or eliminate the use of plastics, use sustainable transport, reuse paper and protect flora and fauna.

What does sustainability mean?

What is an example of something that is sustainable? Zero Waste As An Example Of Sustainability For this, people must reject what they don’t need, reduce what they get, reuse and recycle or compost it.

Sustainability includes meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being.

What does sustainability mean why is it important? Sustainability is the ability to exist and develop without depleting natural resources for the future. The United Nations defined sustainable development in the Brundtland Report as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

What is the main priority in sustainable development?

What are the 3 types of sustainability? The figure at the top of this page suggests that there are three pillars of sustainability – economic viability, environmental protection and social equity.

1. Accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals: Keeping the world on track to achieve poverty reduction targets focusing on inequalities, making specific efforts in countries with special needs and in those that have not achieved enough progress.