How We’re Green

Click for: Who We Are  History of Thoreau Farm

Green Features at the Henry David Thoreau Birthplace

These are some of the materials, technologies, and practices implemented at the Thoreau birth house. You can try some of these at your home or office!


  • Building is “recycled” for a new use – “embodied energy” is preserved
  • Siting – the house faces south for passive solar heat and light
  • Shade tree on the south lawn cools house in the summer
  • Daylighting – use of windows and skylights for light


  • Low or no VOC paints, sealants, adhesives, carpets and composite woods
  • Locally grown and milled clapboards
  • Soy and cellulose-based insulation
  • Roofing on house made of 95% post consumer recycled material made to look like traditional cedar shingles
  • Fiber cement shingles on ell made from 30% recycled material
  • Clivus Multrum composting toilet system – waste is broken down on site
  • Low temp heat pump for heating and cooling – no oil or natural gas
  • Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood used on addition
  • Native plantings and landscaping that require minimal maintenance (especially minimal water)
  • Participation in Concord’s hydroelectric program (until we can afford solar PV panels)
  • Storm windows
  • Night sky friendly outdoor lighting
  • Use rain water collection barrels for watering
  • Energy Star appliances (rebates available from Concord light) and electronics
  • Use local materials when possible



  • Green cleaning products (toxin, chemical free) and office supplies (refillable pens, staple-less staplers, recycled and chlorine-free paper or “alternative” paper that is “tree-less” – i.e. made of hemp, garbage, recovered cotton)
  • Buy in bulk and concentrate for less packaging and transportation and to save money
  • Use of reusable goods when possible (i.e. real plates/utensils in the kitchen for everyday use, and reusable shopping bags) or recycled/biodegradable supplies (plates, cups, and napkins for events, garbage bags)
  • Local supplies and materials when possible


  • Desks positioned near windows for light; alternatively task lighting rather than overhead lighting
  • Occupancy sensors for bathrooms and hallways
  • Cooling/heating setbacks for nights and weekends
  • CFL light bulbs
  • Strive for a paperless office
  • Recycling and composting plan – our compost will go to our kitchen garden
  • Use of rain water collection barrels for watering the kitchen garden
  • Energy Star appliances and electronics
  • Placement of floor mats near entrance (outdoor and indoor) to keep floors cleaner (less soap and watering for cleaning)