Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Serious Materials

There are some exciting innovators in the construction material business. These are business leaders that not only manufacture products that are Green for the end-user (contributing to energy efficiency, durability, health and sustainability) but are also committed to greening the manufacturing process.
They wonder:
"How can we continue to make our products and lower or eliminate the environmental impact?"
"How can our products be utilized or recycled at the end of it's usefulness?"

Ray Anderson from interface is probably the best known of these pioneers. Please follow the previous links to learn more.
Another Company that has come to my attention is Serious Materials. They manufacture sheet drywall, windows, doors and coatings. I'd like to focus on two of their offerings.

EcoRock , which will be available in the spring of 2009 (western US), is the better drywall.
  • It uses 80% less energy to produce than standard drywall.
  • It doesn't contain gypsum. In fact, it's made with 80% post industrial recycled waste.
  • It doesn't generate any mercury during the manufacturing process.
  • It resists mold, up to 50% better than even mold resistant drywall.
  • It is less dusty which cuts down on airborne contaminants.
  • Application and installation process is like standard drywall so additional installer training is not needed.
ThermaProof 1125 Windows
These are fiberglass frame windows that come in picture, casement and awning styles. They also have a sliding door. The frames are insulated with soy based foam and along with the enhanced AlpenGlass+ (TM) glass, these are high performance, low maintenance and amazing. They achieve a R11 and a U factor of 0.09.

Here's a comparison chart from the ThermaProof site:

Both of these product lines are really exciting. With the Energy Tax Credits coming back online in 2009, these would qualify for a 10% tax credit (up to $200.00) for the cost of these windows and doors.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Caroma Profile Smart Toilet

As I mentioned in a previous post, we installed a Caroma Sydney dual-flush toilet in our green bath remodel. We really like it.

 Caroma has now gone 1-step further with this dual flush/sink addition to their line of bath products. This Profile Smart toilet has won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough award for 2008.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Green Building Design Principles

A really interesting video on the principles that should guide all Green building designs. Part of a series given by author Dan Chiras. Excerpts are from a Residential Renewable Energy workshop offered through CU Boulder's Sustainable Practices Certificate Program. This and many others can be seen at sustainablepractices

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quick Draw

One element of remodeling and building that I love is the designing and presentation of projects to clients.  We discuss their vision, needs and budget. If they didn't hire a designer or architect, I would draw up the usual floor plans (mostly for permit purposes) for their approval. 2-D drawings aren't the most inspirational at times and aren't a great way to show the client what the finished project will look or feel like. 
For the last year, I've been using SketchUp and what a blast! It is so much fun! It's a Google 3D modeling program that is fairly easy to master. They keep pushing the envelope and have just come out with version 7. It is a fine tool for designing and presenting to my clients their vision. It's sophisticated enough to show where shadows and sunlight might play in a design. (ie. Is the overhang right for the summer sun at 4:00 in the afternoon?) There are walk-throughs, scenes you can create to "fly" around the exterior, sectional capabilities that show the "guts" of an addition-endless possibilities. 
There are hundreds of Ruby scripts that can add functionality and enhance SketchUp. Wow!
Google is doing many things that help the user, no matter the skill level. Tutorials by them and others are awesome. 
These are just a few of the individuals and companies that are contributing to the education of SketchUp users everywhere.
Google holds a annual "Bootcamp" for training and just to show off what some designers and architects are doing with it.
They have the 3D Warehouse that holds thousands of models (from houses to soccer stadiums) and components (furniture, windows, doors etc.) that can be brought into your model. Major manufacturers, such as Pella and Whirlpool have their product lines there for download. 
My favorite page is their Green section. This page highlights Green projects by among others, Michelle Kaufman of MKD, a designer of prefab homes.
It has become an essential part of my business.

New Remodel for the Holidays

Hammontree Builders is close to completing a new kitchen/living room remodel. We're just waiting for the countertops to be installed and then, we can celebrate. The clients closed on the house on October 1st and it should be complete in time for Christmas. It was a very nice project with some tasty Green elements.


  • First thing, removed drywall/light eyesore from ceiling (seen above in picture) and patched ceiling. The gaping hole in ceiling did afford electrician access for wiring new lights.
  • Removed old carpet, pad, vinyl and luaun from the kitchen, dining room and living room.
  • Replaced with prefinished Maple floors that came from responsibly managed wood lots in Canada. Instead of 15# asphalt impregnated felt for underlayment, we used Kodak paper. Absolutely no off-gassing.
  • Repainted all rooms mentioned above with low or no-VOC paints.
  • Old cabinets and tops removed. Cabinets donated to ReStore to be sold and used by others. Old kneewalls torn out and all 2 x 4 material salvaged for backer/incidental framing.
  • New Kraftmaid cabinets.
  • Island hood installed for better ventilation.
  • Appliances are Frigidaire and all are EnergyStar rated.