Michael and Jennifer Monteiro, a Boston-area couple with two children, bought a 1980s Massachusetts beachside property as a vacation home and tore it down to convert it into a sustainable living space.
The state of Massachusetts offers incentives and rebates for homeowners to pursue greener paths of homesteading, so it’s not unheard of for its property owners to integrate sustainability into their homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 62.4% of residents in the state are homeowners.
However, what is undebatable is that many of those homeowners did not purchase homes for more than $1 million — but the Monteiros did.
While many property owners veer toward the sustainability path for environmental progress, they are probably not lost on the value of the state’s rebates and incentives. Michael and Jennifer decided to renovate because they wanted a home that would withstand and work with environmental changes — for their children and future generations.
“We wanted a house that would be around for a hundred years or more,” Michael said, per the New York Times. “But that’s daunting when you think about how the world is changing.”
To keep things as green as possible, the couple consulted and hired a sustainable salvage company and an architectural firm that specializes in sustainability. Michael went over every decision and process with a fine-toothed comb, ensuring that every step was true to Jennifer’s and his vision of a truly sustainable home.
Some of those choices incorporated organic and recycled materials, like cotton, hemp, and other natural resources. For instance, the Monteiros refused to use synthetic materials and plastics, instead applying insulation made from hemp.
“It’s hemp hurd … you use those little pieces mixed with a lime-based binder and then add water,” he said.
The construction process continued, but there were hiccups along the way. The initial onset of COVID-19 put a damper on the plans, delaying what ended up being a two-year process.
By July 2022, the dream was realized, and the Monteiros achieved their goal. While the journey was challenging at points, Michael acknowledged that part of the struggle was due to a lack of knowledge of the process.
“Most people don’t know what’s possible,” he said. Fortunately, for the Monteiros, they found a way. Further, they hope that their decision has a greater impact on others. “I hope it causes people to think.”
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