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Eco-friendly Living in Mississippi with Bill Lilly

Bill Lilly Builds a Green House from Thad Lee on Vimeo.

Imagine paying $15 on your power bill every month. That’s a pretty thought, and possible with eco-friendly housing that is becoming a trend in United States.

Photos by Erik Solberg
Photo by Erik Solberg

Bill Lilly, an Oxonian contractor who owns Village Green Builders, is one of the testaments that Oxford is participating in the national movement. Since 2009 when the documentary Bill Lilly Builds a Green House aired, Lilly has been known for his specialty in building greener homes. Recently he just finished helping work on a home in Timberlake subdivision off Highway 30.

“They had just connected the water and got more design to do,” said Lilly, “but we’re going to take rainwater and use that for the drinking water through a multi-stage filtration process.”

The Environmental Protection Agency states that rainwater reuse can help relieve the strain on local municipal water supply. Rainwater can be useful for laundry and toilet, and with proper filtration and sanitation processes the rainwater can be drinkable.

He explains his ideal eco-friendly home: good use of space, house operations for long-term and level of maintenance and ultimately de-centralized.

“I want to build a system to make off-grid (living) affordable,” said Lilly. “I’ve been working for years learning to reuse waste water, energy and how to build quickly without fumes and affordably.”

Photo by Erik Solberg
Photo by Erik Solberg

Lilly said his clients are interested in going green when they understand the monetary benefits along with the positive environmental impact. He gives an example: “If you’re spending x amount of dollars in insulation instead of using a dollar on square feet you’ll spend $1.50 which you make back in three years.”

He sees one benefit in grid-living: solar power.

“The price of solar has come down a lot more, and neighboring states are either number two or three behind California, and Georgia is taking off,” said Lilly. “It’s about framework and good incentives. The system costs $10,000 but you get $7,000 in tax credits. I think eventually it’ll take off, but we have plenty of resources to be off the grid here.”

Lilly has been an eco-friendly contractor for a long while, but he sees environmental practices are becoming more common. “There’s a lot of builders that do good work,” said Lilly, “I think more and more we’ll see energy come into the picture.”

He names water preservation as a more common practice, providing low-flow toilets and the decrease of super strong showerheads as examples.

Photo by Erik Solberg
Photo by Erik Solberg

“There’s an efficiency rating called S.E.E.R. (seasonal energy efficiency rating) where you can’t get anything less than a nine or maybe 13 on that system,” Lilly said.

For those who cannot build an eco-friendly house from ground-up can still consider getting energy star appliances, and carefully choosing an HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) contractor. Lilly advises that when it comes to cooling houses, keeping trees in the yard is a good investment since their shading can save “thousands of dollars.”

Lilly is a believer that houses “need to breathe.” He warns against volatile organic compound (VOC) that can make the air toxic especially in a house that doesn’t have fresh air circulated from outside. To Lilly, it is important that houses have clean air, and he advises that the HVAC system be updated within Energy Star standards (which can be checked online at www.energystar.gov.) The most up to date HVAC systems rank a 13 on the S.E.E.R. rankings, greatly outweighing the older systems that rank five or six.

For those with considerable interest in Village Green Building services can visit Village Green Builders website.

Callie Daniels is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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