Protecting our Environment, Protecting our Investments

by : Alan Olson

Pollution and real estate values.

What can you, as a home owner, do to protect your property from contamination, and why would you want to? Well, without a doubt, healthy land is valuable land, and although it is cities that are largely associated with pollution, it can be a big problem in rural areas too. While every area needs green spaces to act as filters for air and water, not to mention our eyes, the green spaces in rural areas are obviously larger, and can often include areas used for multiple, sometimes contrasting, purposes. In other words, beyond designated parks, our local green spaces are working environments, and used for logging, farming and other industry as well as recreation and natural habitat.

This means that your farm's field is not only a source of hay or corn for feed, it's a home for birds and an asset to your property if you should decide to sell. Same goes for your woodlot. It's a source of income, but it also offers privacy and a place for your kids to play, not to mention fresh air and a home for deer and squirrels. All of these are good reasons to keep your property clean and well managed.

In the case of areas used for agriculture, choosing your fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides carefully, and exercising restraint with them, could benefit your property's value in the long-run. Remember that your field is a part of an ecosystem and less chemicals in the run-off means healthier nearby wetlands and lakes-and considering that Minnesota is home to more than 15,000 bodies of water, chances are good there is one near you.

If your property is forested, consider selectively logging it. This allows you to access its value without completely compromising the integrity of your property. Buyers will be far more attracted to a well-managed piece of forest than to a clear-cut.

Remember that plants native to your area will require less watering, and apply this knowledge to your landscaping plans. Remember that whatever spills on the ground will eventually seep into it and contaminate ground water, so take care when doing vehicle repairs, and have old vehicles taken to a professional auto recycler.

If you want to take your environmentally-minded approach a step further, consider green renovations for your home. Any home renovation that achieves a greater degree of energy and water efficiency, and creates less waste than conventional building can be considered green. These can be achieved by installing energy-efficient appliances, thermal windows and using recycled materials for parts of the home. Passive solar designs maximize usage of natural lighting by carefully considering where windows are placed. A few strategic skylights can dramatically reduce how many lights need to be turned on during the daytime hours. And think of the warmth radiating off of ceramic tiles in front of a south-facing bathroom window or around your living room fire-place. If those tiles are re-used, salvaged from a nearby demolition, then that's double the "green points". To increase air quality, use one of the modern low-emission interior paints and avoid using woods or other materials treated with formaldehyde, such as pressed board and wood laminate.

Active wildlife makes your area appealing to almost anyone considering buying a home there, and polluted land can be very hard to sell. So maintaining the environment of your rural Minnesota property makes it a better investment for you and your family.