Home & Garden

Lexington expo shows how, why to be more green

In the middle of Lexington, which was branded earlier this year as having the largest per-capita carbon footprint in the nation, the message this weekend is how to tread lightly.

Along West Main Street in front of Lexington Center are displays of electric cars and solar energy, and a portable sawmill that can turn a big, dead tree into boards instead of the firewood or mulch that usually is their destiny.

Inside Heritage Hall are rows of booths touting green building products, green books and even food that is produced with minimum environmental disturbance.

The fifth annual Bluegrass GreenExpo, which continues Sunday, is filled with the ideas that participants say are the way of the future.

"There are a lot of goods and services here that we need to be moving in that direction for the good of the environment, for the good of the planet," said Rick Metzger, who recently became the Central Kentucky representative for a Florida company called Eco-Smart.

The company sells things such as bamboo and teak flooring from sustainably managed plantations, solar water heaters and insulating foam forms that are used to make concrete walls. There's also a system that cleans and recycles water from the shower and washing machine so it can be used to flush toilets.

Using such green building materials can cost more up front but often pays off in lower utility bills, Metzger said.

Several booths offer foam insulation. Ben Perry, the event coordinator, said that stopping leaks that let cool air out of a house in the summer and warm air to escape in the winter is the No. 1 thing people can do to make their homes more energy-efficient.

Some of the booths at the expo offer ideas and expertise instead of products.

For example, a firm called cdpengineers has displays on several of its projects, including work around a Georgetown fire station that will capture and hold storm runoff so that it filters slowly into the soil.

The project includes rain gardens and permeable concrete, asphalt and paving blocks that allow water to pour through into sunken reservoirs. Although construction still is under way, there was an open house Friday and, in a bit of serendipity, it rained.

"That was timed pretty well," said Sandy Camargo, the firm's stormwater group manager.

The portable sawmill on Main Street was being operated by Brad Morris-Cornelius, an Eastern Kentucky University nursing student four days a week and a sawyer the other three.

If you have a tree — perhaps one of the many large, old pin oaks that are rapidly dying around Lexington — you get it cut down by a tree service, then Morris-Cornelius pulls up with his sawmill and turns it into boards or timbers.

His sales pitch: custom service, lower-than-retail prices and you know where your wood was grown and milled.

A lot of people want trees sawed into boards for flooring, or for outbuildings on farms, he said.

As a demonstration Saturday, he sawed a large ash log into planks that are going to be cabinets in his own home.