Building a Green Home, a Look Back

When my husband and I embarked on this project I believed green living and a tech lifestyle could co-exist, what I found was that technology helped us be more energy efficient, more connected and smarter in the way we designed, built and live in our home.  Looking back on the 24 months we have invested in this project, I have learned so much and have enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned with you, our daily readers. Today marks the final blog entry on Green Life Smart Life but I will continue to blog on green and energy topics on our Caster Blog and hope you join us there. The site and the blogs will remain intact for your future reference and I wish you well in your green building projects, feel free to email me at info {at} if you have any questions.

Here is my final entry and an overview of what we did.

When we decided to build our new home in April of 2008, we also decided we wanted to build it green. We wanted a home that captured the incredible views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge; integrated sustainable design with durability measures that would handle the harsh weather elements of the Northeast corridor; and incorporated smart home technology to enable us to live in a high-tech, high-touch, entertainment driven environment.

We were dedicated to building the home to achieve LEED for Homes certification, and despite our 4,529 sq/ft of living space, our home achieved 92.5 points. From energy management to water conservation and from high performance building techniques to a systematic waste management plan, our team worked together every step of the way to bring Gold to this project.

The Nantucket style home was stick built and framed using FSC sourced lumber whenever it was available, FSC-certified white cedar shingles flanked the home’s exterior, with Versatex specified for all eaves, trim and moldings for their long life in the salt ridden air. Being built in a 120-mph coastal wind zone, we selected Pella’s Hurricaneshield windows for both their impact resistance and their ENERGY STAR ratings. With spray foam insulation filling the building envelope the home received a HERS rating of 58. The extra steps that we took in building our foundation included french drains and a sump pump really paid off for us when RI encountered the recent historic flooding; as neighbors pumped their basements, our home stayed completely dry through and after the storms!

We are thrilled with our decision to install a five-zone geothermal HVAC system, including a dedicated heat pump for the wine cellar. Our electric bills are coming in just slightly higher than our previous 2,200 sq/ft oil heated home, but we have no monthly oil or gas bill to pay. The system also included dual water tanks for holding hot water, two Environmental Recovery Ventilators, and a water pump for diverting water from the well to the 5,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system should their not be enough rainfall (looks doubtful) and eliminating any exterior municipal water for irrigation. Our water bill to date has been the lowest we’ve had in years, with no excess usage charges.

I really enjoyed working on the interior finished of our home which included 200 year old reclaimed barn wood floors, a wine cellar with racks made from the reclaimed Point Judith County Club deck, recycled countertops, sinks and tile, low-flow plumbing fixtures including 1.0 gpf toilets, 1.75 gpm showerheads and 1.5 gpm faucets; locally-made FSC early-American cabinetry and zero VOC paints and finishes. Wood scraps were used to make the custom closets, shorter floor boards were relegated to closet sections and even the lavette sink was crafted from leftover materials, but you’d never know it to look at the design of our house. Even our furniture and fabrics choices were sustainable!

One of the real unique attributes to the project was the complete integration of smart home technology to monitor and control every subsystem in the home. We really pushed the threshold of innovative technologies with the goal of saving energy while not forgoing our lifestyle. The design included a Control4 system for integrated management of HVAC, irrigation, Lutron lighting control, security and state-of-the art entertainment. It also includes an energy management system that aggregates data and communicates areas of consumption that can be lowered to conserve energy, which was really important when we first got into the house to help determine if we were hitting our energy goals (and budgets).

I know our home is big and we’ve taken our share of flack for that. But honestly, this is an affluent, waterfront community and a small house would have been both out-of-place and a bad investment. I truly feel our home could be anyone’s home, whether it is in whole or in part.  One of the things I learned during this process is you don’t have to do everything but you can do something and that was the point of this project, to inspire everyone to do something that makes a difference for our environment.

I hope you enjoyed reading us because I certainly enjoyed sharing. Happy greening!

posted by Kimberly Lancaster, founder Green Life Smart Life project (Twitter | newscaster)

Green Life Smart Life Founder On Panel At Greener Gadgets Conference

Kimberly Lancaster, Founder of the Green Life Smart Life (GLSL) project, will be a speaker at this year’s Greener Gadget’s Conference on Feb. 25th in New York City.  Speaking on the “Green Living Begins at Home” panel, she and four other industry experts will discuss sustainable design strategies and tips for creating plans for a home that is both high-tech and green.

The GLSL project was designed to demonstrate the implementation of green building techniques and smart home technologies to achieve LEED® for Homes certification. Not only did the project achieve LEED® for Homes certification, but was rated by the US Green Building Council as Gold certified. The Narragansett, RI 4529 sq/ft home scored 92.5 out of 136 points and is the first LEED-H Gold home in RI and only the second completed LEED-H project in the entire state.

“Every day we make choices about what we are going to reuse, recharge and recycle in our home. By being aware of the impact of the choices you make, whether it is the amount of energy a device consumes or where it ends up at end of life, we can all minimize our environmental footprint,” stated Lancaster.

Lancaster is also the founder of Caster Communications, a full service public relations firm specializing in consumer electronics, clean technology and sustainable design. Caster Communications was the development and marketing team for the Green Life Smart Life project.

The Greener Gadgets Conference, sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will cover issues on energy efficiency and sustainable design, along with innovative advances in packaging and product manufacturing to end-of-life recycling solutions. It will emphasize ways in which electronics make a major impact by utilizing renewable energy in developing nations.

Green Life Smart Life Achieves GOLD LEED for Homes Certification

Green Life Smart Life officially achieved GOLD LEED for Homes Certification through the US Green Building Council. Thanks to all our partners and service providers who helped make this dream a reality and to Conservation Services Group for their guidance and final review. Our project scored an impressive 92.5 points out of a possible 136 points. Over the next week we will list our points by category and the points we achieved.

A reminder, GLSL will be open to the public on Saturday, December 12, 2009 from 10 am to 5 pm for people to tour and learn about all of the products and technologies installed in the home. The homeowner, builders and numerous subcontractors including John Carter & Co and Newport Geothermal will be on hand to guide and answer questions.


Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

Green Life Smart Life Opens – Our Launch Week Begins!

We submitted our LEED-H application one week ago today. The box we shipped to Conservation Services Group compiled our application and all of the supporting documentation. At the time of submission, we had 77.5 points in our preliminary rating and an additional 36 points available in our maybe section, for a total of 113.5 possible points on the table. With our thresholds we need 89.5 points for Gold and 104.5 points of Platinum.  With ID (Innovation & Design), EA (Energy & Atmosphere) and EQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) still the available points on the table, I am cautiously optimistic that we will achieve certification. But without a solar renewable energy system, I do not think we can lower our energy score enough to score enough points in EA beyond our projected 21 points in the category out of the possible 38 to reach Platinum.

Just to show you the reference chart we are working from this is the LEED breakdown before our additional point threshold:

Certification Level
LEED for Homes Certification Levels Number of LEED for Homes Points Required
Certified 45 – 59
Silver 60 – 74
Gold 75 – 89
Platinum 90 – 136
Total Available Points 136

We are excited to announce the official opening of our house for others to visit and see. Located in Narragansett, RI, the project features the state’s first smart meter with a home energy management and monitoring system, geothermal HVAC system, lighting control, whole-home entertainment technology, and other smart home innovations. GLSL will open its doors to the public on December 12, 2009 from 10 am to 5 pm for people to tour and learn about all of the products and technologies installed in the home.

We will announce our LEED-H rating on Thursday, December 10th and then blog for the next seven days about our points in each of the seven categories. So, come back tomorrow at 3 PM eastern time for our announcement about our rating!

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

RI Green Home Showcase Opens for Public Tours

The Green Life Smart Life home will be open to the public on December 12 to educate local homeowners on how attainable modern green living can be.

Narragansett, RI –– December 4, 2009 –– Green Life Smart Life (GLSL) is excited to announce the official launch of their sustainable local home showcase, created to educate Rhode Islanders on how to create a smart, eco-friendly, modern dwelling. Located on the beautiful  in Narragansett, the project features a smart meter with home energy management and monitoring, geothermal HVAC system, lighting control, connected entertainment, and other smart home innovations. GLSL will open its doors to the public on December 12, 2009 from 10 am to 5 pm to announce its LEED-H rating and present all of the eco-friendly products and technologies used in the project.

 “Homeowners want to make socially responsible buying decisions when it comes to building or remodeling their house, but there are so many resources and so much misinformation,” homeowner Kimberly Lancaster Hageman said. “This is a real home for a real family. It shows how fun and easy it is to make smart decisions and operate a home efficiently without sacrificing comfort, convenience, or original style. Our goal is to show other families how you can make your home high-tech, high-design, and high-efficiency all while being environmentally conscious.”

Additionally, in keeping with the holiday spirit, Green Life Smart Life requests that each entrant to the home bring one canned good (or a $3 donation) to be donated to the Johnnycake Center in Peacedale, Rhode Island. The home is located off of Rte 1A in Anawan Cliffs at 1 South Cliff Drive, Narragansett, RI.  For questions or directions, please email

For more information, please visit To learn more about our sponsors visit

A Look at Green Roofs: DaVinci Roofscapes

DaVinci Roofscapes is famous for their slate and shake tile.  DaVinci Roofscapes began in 1999; they are located in Kansas City, KS.  DaVinci prides itself on being the lead provider of authentic looking and durable synthetic slate and shake tile roofing.  They are maintenance free and backed by a 50 year limited warranty.

The DaVinci products resist curling, cracking, mold, fading, algae, insects and fungus.  Because DaVinci tiles resist water it allows the tiles to be installed in all weather conditions.  Also their shake and slate synthetic tiles resist fire, high wind and high impact. DaVinci Roofscapes slate and shake synthetic roof tiles are contributing to the LEED certification process (LEED-NC Standard 2.2).  They are aiding us in our continued effort to gain our LEED certification for our Green Life Smart Life home.

The Green life Smart Life house has chose to use the slate roofing for its exceptional appeal and durability.  Although it is a synthetic slate it comes with the same look and durability as its natural counterpart.  It allows the Green Life Smart Life home to gain the look of slate without using up natures resources.  It is also much more cost effective than using real slate.  In addition the instillation process is also remarkably easier than installing natural slate with the changing of size and texture.

The DaVinci roofs are easy to install and require no special tools or instructions.  They are embedded with state of the art UV stabilizers.  The product was developed with contractors in mind, they are packaged by size and color making them easier to use.  They are also made in 5 different shapes and sizes allowing for a more authentic look and easier installation.

The DaVinci tiles are also all 100% recyclable making them even more appealing to the consumer, rather than the traditional roofing which takes up enormous space in the local landfill.  To save on transportations costs DaVinci compounds, molds and finishes all the lightweight tiles in their Kansas facility to save energy and also transportation costs.

By Kate Kiselka. Follow me on Twitter

Top 10 Green Tweeters?

Huffington Post’s Waylon Lewis reminds us why Twitter (and TweetDeck) is so powerful and cool, and then proceeds to list his Top 10 green tweeters. Honestly, it’s a lot more than 10, but hey, who’s counting? He claims to be all jacked up on caffeine and adrenaline, so cut the man some slack.

Check them all out and don’t forget the GLSL feed!

Posted by: Joe P