FlowerKitty---A lady with her head on straight. She cut through a lot of phony-baloney dreaming and scheming with her post. I have seen an awful lot of perfectly good stone counters, kitchen cabinets, ceramic tiles, appliances and bathroom fixtures going to the dump because of changing tastes. We do not build for the future, we build for today and we are fed a lot of nonsence about tomorrow. There is no dip-stick stuck in the deserts of Arabia that can accurately tell how much oil is left. Some say 40 years worth and others say more----who knows, but we sure use up an awful lot of it !!!!!
The people are lead along by the carrot-on-a-string technique of politicians and do-gooders with promises of new technology that will make our homes better and our living easier. But, in the meantime, there are plenty of things that can be done that cost nothing. A formica countertop will last long enough and look great long enough for 2 or three families to get tired of the pattern or color. But today's new homeowner has to have granite, at the cost of building a home that uses very little energy. When one of these new home owners is offered the choice between a geo-thermal HVAC system (the one you describe as prefered in Michigan) or a granite counter the chances are 10 to 1 they will opt for the granite "for resale value". How about the resale value of a house that is comfortable, healthy, safe and inexpensive to run. If, instead of plowing zillions of dollars into wind technology which looks great on paper, but which will never supply enough energy to pay for the initial expense, the government gave a rebate to every new home built with common sense. So many dollars rebate for passive solar, so many dollars for using the 55 degree temperature of the earth with geo-thermal HVAC, so many dollars for room sizes that are in proper proportion to the hours spent in them, and so many more for all the other simple, non-toxic, non-polluting, non-expensive ways we can build. And while we are at it add taxes onto the granite tops and whirlpool tubs and other non-essentials. A few years ago the government mandated the toilet business. I think it is 1.6 gallons of water per flush. But why not regulate showers??? Multi-headed 20 minute showers use more water than the average home needs to operate for a month and that water has to be heated by gas, oil or electricity---and it all goes down the drain. A waste of both water and fossil fuel.
Buildings use 50% of the world's energy. Transportation uses 25%. Just cut the energy used in buildings in half and it would be the same as taking every car, SUV, bus and semi off the road.