© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Living Less Unsustainably: Snout Houses

Jonas Jaeken

Housing can have a big impact on the climate even if no one is home, and no energy is being used.

The configuration of a home has a lot to do with how much heat is absorbed, and how much water runs off the property. And a trend away from so-called "Snout Houses" is making things worse.

More homes are being built with the garage behind the house - almost exclusively for aesthetic reasons. People don't want to see a garage door as the main feature on the front of their home.

Putting a driveway past the side of the house and having the garage out back mimics the old detached carriage house. That building was separate so you didn't smell the horse droppings, and then because, when cars first became common, the risk of a gasoline fire made a separate building safer.

Now, putting the garage behind the house means you have a long strip of concrete where no trees or plants can grow. And that slab of cement is only used once or twice a day. The rest of the time it is absorbing summer sun, or sending winter rain into the storm sewer. The two strip driveway is better, but just barely.

Using the area devoted to a long driveway as a place to grow home shading trees, or fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to reduce your home's climate impact- and make it a more pleasant place to live.

The closer your car is to the street, the less impact it has on the planet. With overly wide streets still the required norm in new developments, parking on the street - to use all that required parking area makes the most sense.

I hope we will reduce our need for cars, and reduce the size of the vehicles in the future, but hiding them in the back yard doesn't reduce their impact - it actually makes it worse.