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Interview with Steve Thomas, Host of ‘Renovation Nation’

After hosting This Old House for more than a decade, Steve Thomas is now your green building guide on Planet Green TV’s Renovation Nation. Steve shares with us some of the crazier things he’s done on the show, talks about greenwashing in the industry, and elucidates his “five rings” of green building wisdom. He also lets us in on his plans for two exciting personal projects he’s got in the works (don’t tell his wife!).

TreeHugger: You’ve done some pretty wild stuff on your show. You climbed up the inside of a wind turbine into this tiny little parapet and smashed solar panels with rocks. You built a solar ventilator for a doghouse. What do you think is the weirdest thing you’ve done on Renovation Nation?

Steve Thomas: I think the solar ventilator for the doghouse was pretty out there.

TreeHugger: How did it turn out?

Thomas: I think it worked out all right! This was a couple who was kind of new to all things green, and they were trying to think of something to do. They had just done their house, this was in Austin, Texas, and so they wanted to keep their doghouse cool. So they ended up rigging it up with a little solar panel that ran a little electronic fan.

In terms of serious green it’s not that serious, but it’s fun. It gets people thinking. The wind turbine that you were talking about is a full-on 212 ft. Vestus machine with 59-foot-long blades, and it powers a whole condominium complex in Chelsea, Massachusetts, right across the harbor from Boston. I mean that’s serious.

So you go from something like that to something silly, like the doghouse. But you know, it just helps you to think outside the box a little bit. It can’t all be serious.

TreeHugger: You’ve got what you call a “bubble system,” these five bubbles of green building. If somebody’s trying to build a home that’s green, or make their home greener, is this something of a road map?

Thomas: Yeah. I mean, you mentioned that I was on This Old House. I was on This Old House for 14 years, and then I did some interesting stuff on the History Channel on historic houses. Over my career, I’ve covered historic residences, personal residences, but I’ve also done a number of films about historic public buildings, like Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Madison’s Montpelier, and the Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

And these projects give you a chance to see how heirloom houses fare over time. And then, of course, on Renovation Nation we’ve been all over the country for the last two seasons doing everything from rammed earth to straw bale to conventional construction with foam insulation, and so on. Everything.

So I have developed, as a way of explaining what green building is, the five bubbles, or five rings of green. And some of these are old, and some of these are relatively new. So imaging a nice picture of five rings, interlocked, you know, twinkling.

Read the full interview here