Crown Point Cabinetry finds a home in the Green Life Smart Life home

The Green Life Smart Life home has chosen custom designed cabinets by Crown Point cabinetry for the kitchen.  A beautiful maple wood with an origina Oyster Milk Paint finish was chosen.  Crown Point Cabinetry is located in Claremont, NH which allowed us to get points for local (within 500 miles), FSC certification, and it counted towards our paints and finishes. 

Milk Paint is a hand-brushed finish that starts off as a powder.  Natural materials such as lime, milk protein, earth pigments and clay fillers are used to make develop the powder.  After the milk paint has been painted onto the cabinets it is then sprayed with a sealer coat with their catalyzed varnish.  It then goes into the oven at 130 degrees.  It is quite an extensive process.  Then the cabinets are sanded and then rubbed down to remove even the smallest piece of dust.  Then lastly a top layer of catalyzed varnish and then back into the oven for 20 minutes. 

The finished look of our cabinetry both kitchen and bath provided a real authentic and elegant detail to our home design.

Posted by: KDL | follow me on Twitter

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

The growth of green building, why ESC’s should care

Even in today’s unstable housing market, demand is growing for green and eco-conscious homes. More than 97,000 homes nationwide have been built and certified by voluntary green building programs since the mid-1990s, according to the National Association of Home Builders, representing a 50 percent increase from NAHB’s 2004 survey. Further, more than half of NAHB’s 235,000 members (representing about 80 percent of homebuilders) reported that they expect to employ at least some green building practices by the end of the year. There are more than 2,000 LEED Certified Projects and 4,000 NAHB Certified projects. With new technologies like energy monitoring and management systems emerging, as well as a growing number of ENERGY STAR and eco-conscious tech solutions available, more installers are going to be faced with installing such systems in green homes. With the February 2009 passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, homeowners are receiving more tax incentives and rebates on both state and federal levels for installing energy saving or green systems in their homes. As these systems become more affordable and homeowners receive more financial incentives to install them, general contractors will look for sub-contractors who possess experience with green homes. Installing a green tech system can garner valuable LEED points for the homeowner. Of specific interest to custom integrators is that, trough the Innovation and Design (ID) category, energy monitoring and management systems can add LEED points to a home’s application.

Many of customers are thinking about the environment and their impact on it.

Today’s technology products can enhance a customer’s lifestyle; decreasing energy and water usage and increasing environmental sustainability. When integrated to function as part of a home control system operating throughout your home’s living and working spaces, product performance, as well as comfort and convenience, can be enhanced; greater gains in savings can be realized.

Home control systems can help reduce impact on our environment by providing you with local and remote access and control, as well as monitoring of major energy systems in your home, such as heating and cooling, lighting, hot water, your water use and even an entire home’s energy consumption.

Benefits include monitoring your home systems while at work or on travel; returning to a house that’s comfortably cool or warm; turning-off lights in empty rooms; and increasing hot water in anticipation of demand, while decreasing it off peak. Monitoring water use might even reveal problems; protecting a customer against a damaging water leak.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster

Reducing and Centralizing Wiring for a LEED Home

When Kimberly and Joe Hageman approached me to work on their Green Life Smart Life project, they told me their goal was to show how green lifestyles and digital lifestyles could happily coexist. Immediately, my mind focused on lighting control and HVAC control, which together account for around 90 percent of the energy consumption in an average home.

Leviton structured wiring boxes

Leviton structured wiring boxes

Traditionally, custom integrators have focused on the ease-of-use and convenience that lighting and HVAC control systems can provide. My thoughts turned to shifting the focus of these subsystems towards enabling energy-efficient operation of lights and climate control.

Kim and Joe agreed, but they wanted to go further: They wanted a green infrastructure, too.

Now here was something I’d never encountered. But it made me realize for the first time that installing a system in a green home isn’t started by making “green” product choices. It starts with the home systems’ design. It requires careful planning and coordination with the homeowner, the architect, the interior designer, and the other trades before a single wire is run.

With full knowledge that a possibly arduous path lay before us, the Hagemans and I set out to devise a green wiring solution.

These were new criteria that I hadn’t worked with before. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the custom business, it’s that you need to be versatile, able to make changes on the fly and, most importantly, be willing to accommodate each project and its unique requirements. This was just another in a long line of curveballs I’d encountered throughout my career, and it’s always rewarding to put the barrel on the ball.

We examined our traditional solution approach, and determined the environmental impacts. This was a highly useful exercise in and of itself, because going forward now I’ll know what impact my most commonly used products and materials would have in a green installation.

We investigated “green” cabling, which uses halogen-free plastic jackets that are still not terribly earth-friendly, but a bit less hostile to the earth all the same. Turns out, the Europeans like it, but you can’t get it in America. Believe me, we looked, and no warehouse we could find carries it.

So our attention turned to another requirement: using as little cable as possible. That meant both fewer cables and the shortest possible runs.

“Fewer cables”, of course, runs counter to the time-honored custom integration strategy of installing more wire than is necessary in order to ostensibly future-proof a system (and to cover your bases in case an unexpected change in the installation arises after the cabling has already been installed). I was lucky in this instance; unlike many clients, Kim and Joe, not only no strangers to tech but also passionate about it, knew pretty well before construction started what they wanted in each room and location. We just ran whatever the expected hardware in each location would require, and nothing more.

Centralized wire runs

Centralized wire runs

We also had another trick up our sleeve: conduit. We ran Carlon® Resi-Gard® to our critical locations and just enough cable through the conduit as we thought we needed. And if we needed to run more cable later, we wouldn’t need to tear open the walls. We could just snake it through the conduit. Essentially, the conduit makes the system inherently future-proof and cuts down on unnecessary use of cable. Additionally, you’re not going to be in a position where you need to cut into drywall later to add wiring. An empty (or semi-empty) pipe is as good as it gets.

Which brings me to my next point about green wiring (and, in fact, any wiring job): Establish your cabling pathways as far ahead of actual construction as you can. In a green home, chances are your client will be thinking about these things further out, since every amount and type of material used in the home can positively or negatively impact its LEED® for Homes (or competitive equivalent) rating. The other tradespeople will appreciate it as well, and you can build more solid relationships and channels of communication with them.

This was especially key in the Green Life Smart Life house in terms of assuring the shortest possible cable runs. Because we were involved so early in the process, we got preferential treatment for locating the head-end of the system. After evaluating the placement of the entertainment systems, we figured out a spot in the basement that would be the shortest distance from all points. As a result, our racks are located directly below the main entertainment area, which is directly below the master bedroom and adjacent to the main utility room where all of the electrical boxes and lighting control system would be housed. Everything shares a common wall.

Usually, we’re the last ones in, we run our cables after all the other trades’ wiring, venting and pipes are installed, and we have to take what we can get in terms of placing our gear. In this case, however: paradise. Because we are professionals and try to be as courteous to the other trades as possible, we made sure our impact was manageable for the other trades.

Another happy circumstance from both a green and an interior design perspective is that we don’t have any local entertainment equipment aside from displays. We centralized content and control in our head-end equipment room. This cuts down on the cabling required and eliminates excess heat generated from typical AV equipment into a finished room (which has dual benefits since we are directing the heat into the generally cool, unfinished utility space and the living spaces do not have to compensate with cooling for the equipment heat).

Lutron lighting control panels, centralized to hub

Lutron lighting control panels, centralized to hub

I was intrigued to find that the most significant impact we were able to make on this project in its course toward a more sustainable guide, was in the planning.  I was truly amazed that when we tallied the completed wire runs, and compared it to both similarly sized homes and similarly sized projects with home control and entertainment systems, we reduced the amount of wire installed on the project by 52%. By thinking about how we could take the most conservative approach, the application of a well thought plan was the most powerful thing we could do.  I was inspired to learn more about the principles of “green” design.  The project itself exposed me to the application process for LEED® accreditation, and through it, the instrumentation and measurement of the gains realized by good design.  Myself, I’ve taken an interest in the process, and l am beginning to appreciate the value that could be held as a building and energy analyst. 

My involvement in the Green Life Smart Life project was a terrific experience because it allowed me to reexamine the way in which we make decisions and re-value the criteria on which our projects and process are based. It’s certainly affected our typical project. Going forward, what I learned on this project will inform all of my future installations—and not just the green ones. This was a highly rewarding exercise and I’m happy to share what I learned with the custom integration community. Our last step, we are going to submit this plan for a LEED-H Innovation and Design point. This has no precedent so it has to be evaluated, but we will let you know the findings.

By Jeff Mitchell, Robert Saglio Audio Video and Lead Integrator for Green Life Smart Life. Jeff is a CEDIA certified installer and a member of the CEA TechHome. He has been with Robert Saglio AV for more than ten years.  Follow Jeff on Twitter : @audiojeff

 

Selecting the best appliances for energy and water savings

Our appliances were delivered and as much care went into their selection as every other product in our Narragansett LEED house. In addition to considerations for style and performance, all of our appliances (with the exception of our stove because stoves are not rated) are top performing ENERGY STAR appliances.

As available appliances for the project will bear the ENERGY STAR label and assist us in maintaining the highest level of energy efficiency throughout the home. Additionally, the new Whirlpool Duet washer, which uses 74 percent less water and 80 percent less energy than traditional top load washers manufactured before 2004 and you can watch how it works in this video, will aid the project in its LEED-H for Gold certification quest by providing a point in the Innovation & Design category. And yes, we did pick the cranberry.

Our selections include:

Whirlpool Brand Resource Saver Dishwasher – Features the eco-friendly Resource Saver wash system and CEE Tier II recognition from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency ratings. We chose to have the custom cabinet panel installed to match.

Whirlpool Brand Duet Dryer–Uses up to 40% less energy with Eco Normal cycle when paired with a Duet washer.  A more precise set of heat and moisture detection sensors allows clothes to dry more efficiently. The Quick Refresh steam cycle tumbles 2 to 5 items, helping break down odors and relax wrinkles. Combined with the Duet washer, it is the brands most efficient laundry pair to date, providing $837 in energy and water savings over the first five years of use. Though dryer’s do not yet earn ENERGY STAR ratings, this dryer is top energy saver and when managed on the Control4 appliance module will only be allowed to run during non peak pricing hours to manage our cost per kwh budget.

KitchenAid Architect Series II Double Drawer Dishwasher – This ENERGY STAR dishwasher is able to wash 2 different loads independently or simultaneously and features 5 cycles for flexible washing options. We installed it right across from our kitchen wine bar which will be great when entertaining and keeping the glasses plentiful.

KitchenAid Architect Series II Refrigerator – The 48” main refrigerator provides the elegant aesthetics and functionality that my gourmet cook’s kitchen deserves.  This ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator will be monitored on the Control4 appliance module for real time monitoring of energy consumption and load shedding from 1 – 4 AM daily for a projected annual energy savings of 12 percent of running costs. A second ENERGY STAR labeled Whirlpool French Door refrigerator, located in the home’s pantry, will also be monitored on the Control4 system.

As I watch our appliances get installed and I think about the months of planning and meetings we had, the product reviews I read, the color swatches I compared and the immense time I spent designing the kitchen and laundry room, I cannot tell you how muchI look froward to doing a load of wash adn running the dishwasher. Seriously.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster

Blue is the New Green: Water Conservation in a LEED Home, Part 2 Outside

Continuing my post from yesterday, we put together a very agressive exterior water collection and conservation plan in an effort to conserve what we consider a very precious and diminishing resource.

6. Landscape Irrigation: Our irrigation was designed from the ground up according to the specifications of the LEED-H program. From determining how much grass we would have in relation to our overall permeability to specifying a custom local URI blended grass that is both drought and disease tolerant to designing beds that have grouped native, drought tolerant plants, trees and bushes, we have been working on this landscaping plan for nearly a year. The irrigation system is critical in the overall success of the design because we still want use as little water as possible. Right now, we think we have absolutely maximized what we can do here. From measuring our evapotranspiration rate  to measuring how much water we are using in our control system, we left nothing out. With measure nozzles and heads for accurate spray, rain sensors, and even humidity sensors, our irrigation system is a complex tool deigned to work with our land.  Our system is not even connected to the municipal water supply. We achieved such as high GPM water flow from our geothermal well, that our system is designed to call to the well for water when we haven’t collected enough water in our rainwater harvesting system. All our water is our own, that which we take out, filter and put back just keeps circulating from our well for the ultimate in blue…I mean green building.

7. Rainwater Harvesting: As mentioned, our rainwater harvesting system collects the rain from more than 80% of our roof and disperses it through an interconnected gutter system that directs all of the water to our 5000 gallon underground storage tank. We collect more than 3500 gallons from a 1 inch rainfall and here the water sits until we need to irrigate our grass, plantings or even our garden. Fitted with two floats that measure how much water is in the tank and one communication device that calls to the well when water is needed, the system, works in

8. Outdoor shower: We live by the beach and I love the days we spend sitting in the sun, riding the waves and building sandcastle-like structures. But I’m a sand-a-phobic. After living the past five years without an outdoor shower, it’s like the dark ages for me. Sand belongs outside, not tracked in to multiply on the floor, clog our indoor showers and then ultimately find its way into our beds.  My plan?  A hot/cold outdoor shower for everyone to get clean before coming in. Brilliant! Using a 1.75 gpm Kohler showerhead attached to removable outdoor shower system that is filtered and sent to our collection well for distribution into our grass and beds, it’s just another way for our family to conserved and reuse the water we use.

I realize that our approach to water conservation was aggressive. I would not expect most families to unilaterally attack each section in order to conserve water. But, everyone can do something. You can easily add an aerator to existing faucets at a cost of about $1.59 each. You can upgrade an old 2.2 gpf toilet that is leaking and past its day to a 1.28 or even 1.1 gpf toilet for a cost of approximately $550 – $750 per toilet. Rainwater harvesting system installation? All told based on size, you’re looking at about $12k for the gutters, tank, excavation, piping, communicating devices and landscaping. The irrigation system for an acre of land will run you another $10k.

 posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter :  newscaster

Project Drywall: Gypsum and Plaster for Sustainable Walls and Ceilings

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

We are currently finishing our plaster portion of the job. We had decided to go with gypsum board because it meets all of our requirements for a sustainable product.

Gypsum forms naturally like salt or limestone and is an abundant mineral. Its paper backing is made from old newspapers, phone books, and cardboard, and it is a zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) product. It is then finished with USG’s Imperial plaster for a hard, durable zero-VOC surface that easily takes paint.

Under Materials & Resources, gypsum board achieves us ½ of a point in the Environmentally Preferable product category for material and possible another ½ point for local production.

Upstairs Hall and Foyer
Upstairs Hall and Foyer

It looks fabulous!

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter :  newscaster