Wood-burning Fireplaces: Not as Green as I’d Hoped

I wanted to reprint the following post by Susan Aiello on her green interior design solutions blog, http://www.idsgreen.com.   She discusses why traditional wood-burning fireplaces are not necessarily green and why.  Something that I had personally been wondering about for some time.

“Even an Expert Can be Wrong (H) An article in The New York Times on February 6, 2009 called “Staying Warm, Staying Green” contained a number of helpful hints, but it also contained a misstatement. Conventional wood-burning fireplaces are not “a green heating system, for the following reasons:

1. Trees are not a rapidly renewable resource.

2. While fireplaces have been used as a source of heat for centuries, using one in a modern, air-tight home can result in poor indoor air quality.

3. Most fireplaces actually drain heat from a home, both while they are burning and when they are not being used.

4. Burning wood does generate CO2 I personally love fireplaces, and delight in a crackling fire on a cold winter day. But their value lies in their beauty and their emotional impact. They are not a sustainable source of heat. The article also suggested using a geothermal system for heating and cooling. Geothermal systems can save a lot of energy, but won’t work properly unless the ground is suitable. So you should get expert advice and a soil test before deciding to use this technology.”

Susan Aiello, ASID, is a LEED Accredited Professional and New York State Certified Interior Designer who is committed to green design. Interior Design Solutions, her New York City based design firm, is a member of the United States Green Building Council.


3 responses to “Wood-burning Fireplaces: Not as Green as I’d Hoped

  1. Check out Alison Arief’s article on same subject for Sunset Magazine. All fireplaces are not created equal, some are very clean, but the striking fact that came out of the article for me is that Wood smoke is 12 times more carcinogenic than Cigarette smoke!!! wow, it makes getting an EPA certified fire place insert very logical.

    • Thank you for the follow up – I agree that it makes sense to look into the epa certified inserts from both an environmental and health standpoint. Thanks also for the link to Alison’s writing – she has some very interesting articles and posts! If you happen to have the link to the article you mentioned, I would love to have it – can’t seem to find it on the net.


  2. Pingback: DIY Projects » Blog Archive » Wood-Burning Fireplaces: Not As Green As I’D Hoped « the View From …

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