EPISODE 20: How to Keep the Martians out of Your Green Home

In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?


The Truth is out there…so we’re told.



In Episode 19, our Green team of investigators shook up things by calling out our elected officials on their bad ecological “behavior”. As we all continue to look for more ways to “Green up” our lives, William and Patrick discuss something personal this week; our homes!


PATRICK: You should see the HUGE delivery truck down the street at Hannah Solar!


WILLIAM: Solar panels, inverters and racking, oh my!


PATRICK: That’s right, Agent Neal. Hannah Solar, as well as several other companies that specialize in alternative energy throughout the country, are on the move!


WILLIAM: Why do you think we’re seeing so much movement in the Green industry, Patrick? It seems everywhere you turn now you see a push towards what we so faithfully investigate and discuss with our readers: All things Green and sustainable.


PATRICK: Let’s take a step back for just a second and look at one of my theories developed after years of walking the Green walk. Do you remember the economic “housing bubble” of 2006?


WILLIAM: Who could forget it!


PATRICK: In the years leading up to that period of our economic history, the world was becoming more and more environmentally aware. Greenhouse gasses, energy production, pollution—all of these concerns began having an effect on us culturally. The Green movement was empowered, and citizens around the globe were learning and reacting to new information brought forward in the media and at coffee table conversations.


WILLIAM: And then the bubble!


PATRICK: Yes, that’s right. Suddenly the nation’s collective focus was shifted to more pressing matters having to do with the American economy. People were losing jobs and their homes, the stock market was reacting and financial priorities changed almost overnight.


As a result, it’s my theory that a lot of the Green momentum in the United States—and to some degree, the world—was suddenly lost. It wasn’t that average everyday people didn’t care; it just became time to focus on financial survival, and a push toward a Green lifestyle took a back seat.


WILLIAM: It almost seems as though the environment and the household budget suddenly collided. I see where your theory might have some weight there, Agent Cuccaro.


PATRICK: I believe so. And now here we are several years later having come out of a lull in Green thinking. Many parts of the economy have improved, and certain important elements to prosperity—such as consumer confidence and investment—are flowing Green…ecology Green, that is.


WILLIAM: The hospitality and dining business has endured though this rocky patch in our country’s economic history. Not only has our industry survived, but is has prospered.


PATRICK: That is certainly true. The corporate world is entertaining at full speed again, albeit with a discerning focus on the value for their spent dollars. The client’s investment portfolio that was paying for a wedding or mitzvah is not as volatile anymore. The spirit of entertaining is up, and people want to celebrate.


WILLIAM: Along with healthy, sustainable entertaining comes a refocus on one’s home. During improved economic times, we humans tend to do some “nesting” as well as feeding our urges to get out and BE entertained.


But the proclivity to “nest” is what I’m focused on now. I want to live in a “Green home”, and I don’t mean one populated by Martians!


PATRICK: That’s what I love about our collaboration, Agent Neal. No matter the sustainable subject we investigate, you ALWAYS seem to come up with, well, a “different” way of looking at things.


Martians? Seriously? You haven’t met any lately, have you? Don’t nod “yes”…you might scare me.


WILLIAM: What I HAVE run into are several “sleuth-worthy” topics in the area of managing a Green household. For example, are you aware that more than 90% of all household cleaners, air fresheners and maintenance solutions are proven to be highly toxic to humans? And yet we still favor the poisons over good old elbow grease when it comes to cleaning!


PATRICK: My Italian grandmother used wine vinegar to clean everything. She lived into her nineties, too! I wonder if that was due to less exposure to toxins in her lifetime than our generation OR if it was the olive oil and wine she cooked with that aided her long life?


WILLIAM: Probably both! Any hoo, one of the best resources to learn about toxins in the home is the Environmental Working Group website. A treasure trove of info, this organization has created national awareness, empowered civil action and driven consumer choice by its hard look at our polluted world.


PATRICK: Yes, they are certainly rock stars in my book.


WILLIAM: Agent Cuccaro, are you aware that each and every home we live in has its own fingerprint? More precisely, a very specific carbon footprint?


PATRICK: Yes. Every drop of fuel used to build, transport materials or even the daily energy expenditures of our home create that footprint.


WILLIAM: The good news is that all over the world folks are getting into reclaiming or recycling materials used to build homes, furniture and, of course, art. In Sanpatragano, Italy there is a career mentoring program that uses wine barrels “upcycled” into furniture and art. There was an exhibit of the work at The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) called Barrique: Wine, Design & Social Change that featured the fruits of their “Green labor”.


Right in our own back yard is a company called Lifecycle Building Center that has made a thriving business by selling recycled building materials. Their business model dictates putting some of their profit back into the community by funding various inner-city projects. Great stuff!


Lifecycle Building Center

Lifecycle Building Center (Photo: Travis S. Taylor)


PATRICK: Those are two excellent examples of how man can create something from virtually nothing–by putting people to work, re-using items that would become landfill and helping to “Green up” the economy. There are also exciting things happening with sustainability in manufactured goods.


WILLIAM: You are so right! It’s a natural extension of life to want a healthy, efficient and stylish place to live. Homebuilders around the country have seen huge shifts in consumer choice toward homes built with environmental sensitivity.


For example, after investigating The Top 10 Advances in Green Residential Building, I was blown away by how far we’ve come in a short period of time. My favorite advancement is the technology of intelligent window design. The sciences of liquid crystal, suspended particle (spd) and electrochromic technologies incorporated into how a window is made can actually save tremendous energy and even eliminate having to dust blinds or buy curtains.


Think of window panes that change appearance from frosted to light to dark automatically as temperature and weather conditions change.


PATRICK: I want sunglasses like that. As a Special Agent, I feel entitled to them.


WILLIAM: Yes! Other advances in areas such as solar technology, Green flooring, natural paint products and even recycled building products like mycoform building blocks have changed not only how we build homes but how we live in them.


PATRICK: The consumer who is proud of the sustainable nature and style of their home is a happy consumer. A happy consumer wants to entertain or be entertained, so that’s where we as Green party makers come in!


WILLIAM: Green style is “in”. Saving energy is top of mind. Sustainable food sources are no longer a trend but a demand. The Green shift is taking on momentum again at a cultural level, and the ways that we design and enjoy our living spaces are experiencing renewed focus.


PATRICK: Part of living a Green and sustainable life—and at the same time being happy—is dictated by our living environment, and we create that for ourselves. Have a party. Have a BIG party! Celebrate friends and family. Celebrate the resources that provide you with healthy, natural ingredients that gifted hands can turn into culinary masterpieces. Celebrate your household solar panels–they’ve done their part to save precious energy so generations to come will thrive. And never, ever forget, “Una cena senza vino e come un giorno senza sole“.


WILLIAM: There you go speaking that crazy Martian gibberish again!


PATRICK: That’s not Martian, you silly sleuth. That.s Italian! What I said in Italian was “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine!


WILLIAM: Words to live by! And believe me when I tell you, THEY know how to live!


To be continued…



How aware are you of your home’s carbon footprint? Have you incorporated “Green” features into your home? Have you plateaued or are you continually “Greening” your home? Please share with us in the comments section below what you’d done to Green your home and what’s still on your Green wishlist. When hiring a caterer for a special event, do you always ask about their sustainability practices?


Join us next week when your agents look at various products and sustainable decisions that are rapidly influencing our culture as a nation. The agents take a look at some items used by the food industry and how certain hospitality organizations are ramping up daily on the “Green revolution”!



This week’s 3Rs…


What is Revealed?


REVEALED: Design for Healthy Living | MODA





What is Revered?







What is Reviled?


REVILED: Toxic Cleaners in Our Homes






Agent Cuccaro

Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Agent Neal

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]


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