When a house is like a car & answers to other frequently asked questions

A chance comment lately made me realize that some of what we take for granted about high-quality home design, especially eco-friendly features, can be daunting for those just starting on that path. Because I want to raise awareness, I’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Isn’t eco-friendly design expensive?

Let’s think about your car for a minute. Upfront, a Tesla might cost you more, but it only needs maintenance once a year, far less than is typical. Because of the energy savings and maintenance savings, in the long run, a Tesla can end up costing you similar to a mid-range luxury car (Lexus) or even less.

tesla model s

Also consider potential savings from a cleaner environment –– anyone with asthma or allergies will relate. If your eco-friendly features also lead to saving energy or conserving water, we’re looking at a higher quality home with better durability.

What are your fees and process?

You will find the best design process is very collaborative. Due to time demands, that can be hard and some flexibility helps. So in my practice, for example, the clients are as involved as they want to be. We prefer more involvement, with feedback and input through multiple meetings and about all selections –– appliances, cabinetry, furniture. This helps make sure we are on track and that you like the choices.

Firms vary in how they structure fees. Mine are completely tailored to your specific situation. This will not be hourly or on a square foot basis, but on project, results and value basis.

Why shouldn’t I just have my architect or builder make selections of finishes and materials?

sesshu designers working with builder

Your architect or builder can certainly help and guide you. Talk over with them what they customarily do. You will find they have a lot of other tasks and responsibilities, so if making finish selections is not routinely part of what they do, you might not feel satisfied.

Often, selecting materials and finishes is not their area of expertise. Sometimes they don’t even want to give this direction, even if they will agree to it. If that is the case, you won’t be getting the best service or ideas because they are not fully engaged in this part of the process.

When you have a full team, including a designer, each person focuses on their strengths and areas of expertise. With more engagement, more personalized service and more personalized results, you will be happier with your choices and your house will feel more like your home.

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles Now Available For Sale

solar roof tiles teslaAfter debuting to the public last October, Tesla’s customizable Solar Roof panels are now available for orders. The company claims that the glass panels, which are embedded with photovoltaic cells, are “affordable, durable, beautiful, and integrated with battery storage.”

Prospective customers can estimate their return on investment using the Solar Roof calculator, to compare the cost of installation with the energy saved. The panels will cost $21.85 per square foot for a 3,000-square-foot roof and are available in four glass finishes. [Cnet]

Different styles of solar tiles are available such as Tuscan glass tile, Slate glass tile, Textured glass tile, and Smooth glass tile.

image: Tesla.com

Healthy Sustainable Design Tips Shared on Sonoran Living

Tanya Shively on Sonoran Living ABC15 Healthy Homes

 

Yesterday our founder and principal designer, Tanya Shively, was featured on Sonoran Living Live. She discussed the ways that your home can be made more healthy with the proper choices of materials, especially flooring and walls.

Growing up in Jackson Hole surrounded by nature, along with her awareness of how building and design products can affect our health, Tanya makes it a priority to source out design products that are made w/o chemicals.  This includes rugs.  Tanya recommends softening hard surfaces w/ area rugs that are handwoven and made w/ natural fibers such as silk and wool.  Not only are they beautiful, they are, “durable and easy to clean.”

For more information on how rugs affect you and your health, follow this link: How Rugs Affect You and Your Health

Tanya Shively on Healthy Homes Sonoran Living Live ABC15

Click here to watch Sesshu Design – Healthy Home Design on Sonoran Living ABC15

Live a Little: Pro Advice on How to Be More Daring in Your Design

I love this advice from designer, Emily Murray, founder of Pink House, on how to implement more color and daring into your designs.home office woman cave

“When it comes to choosing colors, just go with what makes you happy. A good rule of thumb is to start with a base color of the hue you like to wear most — often something fairly neutral. Then look at the rest of your wardrobe — which colors are you naturally drawn to? Chances are you’ll feel happy with those in your home, too.”

If you still feel unsure, find a designer who embraces color and enlist their help. Live colorfully!

Desert Mountain Home Gets a Facelift and Luxury Upgrades

Desert Mountain Living Room DuskThe renovation of this beautiful home was all started by the need for a bigger and better master closet for the wife. This home was originally built in the ‘90s, and the closets were not all that impressive or even large enough for the value of the home. She wanted a drop-dead gorgeous closet with space to showcase her handbag collection.

Desert Mountain Contemporary Closet

We were brought in by the builder to help with the finish selections and space planning, as well as fine tune some interior details beyond what the architect had drawn. This involved updating the ceilings, fireplaces and furnishings throughout the home. They also added some patio space and made the outdoor living more inviting.Desert Mountain custom fireplace

The couple had lived in the home for over a decade, as furnished by the previous owners. However, when they started spending more time here they knew they wanted to change the interiors to meet their needs and style. All new furnishings in the primary living areas included a custom dining room table, gorgeous in rosewood veneer. Comfortable new seating and statement piece side tables were added to the living room. The bedroom and offices got major updates to flooring with mesquite hardwood.

contemporary Dining Room Table

The clients are thrilled with the results that feel so much more like this is their home, rather than just a place they live. Especially the husband with the removal of the etched glass birds that represented the previous owner’s interests! New leaded glass designs were installed in the entry and the office doors. And the wife’s closet is a statement that all her friends drool over.

5 Things You Might Learn About Yourself During a Remodel

I just read this article that really points out some of the things people don’t realize when they start planning a remodel. It can definitely be a learning experience. Here are the top five things I took away from what I read.

Prepare to find out who you really are — the good, the bad and the ugly

  1. You’re more impatient than you thought. Remodeling will — I repeat, will — test your patience.contemporary Powder Room
  2. You’re adaptable. Bathroom remodels and kitchen remodels are notorious for, well, making bathrooms and kitchens unusable while they’re under construction.
  3. You want in on the action. It starts small: At first, you’re just chatting with your contractor about the status of your project — normal stuff. But as time goes on, you can’t help but ask questions about the more technical side of things.Desert Mountain Contemporary Closet
  4. Your relationships can (probably) weather any storm. If the space you’re remodeling is a place that you share with someone else (whether it be your spouse, children or others), it’s likely that you’ll feel a little more stress than if you were just remodeling your own personal space.
  5. You’re fearless. I’ll tell you this much: It takes a lot of inner strength to not freak out when you see someone you’ve never met come through your front door with a hammer.Her office Desert Mountain contemporary remodel

Remodeling is a personal journey, full of personal discoveries and accomplishments and all that good stuff. The only way for you to truly know how it will affect you is for you to experience it yourself.

excerpts from article by Hannah Kasper (via Houzz)

Simply Serene – Scottsdale Contemporary Remodel Soothes the Spirit

When the builder first introduced us to this client, we both had a chuckle over our names – she is Tanya (pronounced like Tonya). Our vendor meetings frequently had him calling us the two T’s. Email’s got a little confusing, too. But we both knew right away it was going to be a great working relationship – and it was.

She asked for a pretty space that reflected their lifestyle and taste in a calm, neutral palette. They wanted to incorporate their art and rugs accumulated on travels, and utilize existing furniture while updating the look to a more modern style.Scottsdale contemporary transitional entry Scottsdale contemporary transitional living room

The floor plan called for being more open and inviting, with a flow that allowed them to entertain family and friends. We worked closely with the builder, RJ Gurley, to create spaces that functioned well for them and incorporated beautiful finishes, materials and special details throughout.

A functional and open kitchen with gorgeous glass mosaics and durable quartzite countertops is the centerpiece of this renovation.Scottsdale contemporary transitional kitchen

The master bath was opened up with a better layout while adding stunning details in the flooring and wainscot backsplash. It is an inviting a soothing space to prepare for the day.Scottsdale contemporary transitional master bath

The powder room is the one space that is a little more dramatic with deeper tones and luscious textures.Scottsdale contemporary transitional powder room

How do You Teach Adults to Save Energy? Through their Children

A new study published in Nature Energy takes a look at the role of children influencing their parents to engage in energy-saving actions.energy saving habits

The results suggested that interventions related to residential energy use were successful in both the Girl Scouts and their parents, and the effects were long-lasting. In their post-test surveys, Girl Scouts reported that their residential energy-saving behaviors were nearly 50 percent higher than they were to begin with — and at follow-up, their behaviors were still 27 percent higher.

Designing a more energy efficient home is great step, but if your habits don’t also change, then it may not be as effective as you hope. Our own behaviors are the easiest, small step we can each take to lower carbon emissions, reduce energy usage, and be responsible for our planet’s survival.

LED Home Lighting: Beautiful Alternative Lighting for the Discerning Home Decorator

Soft ambient lighting is only available from incandescent lighting in a residence many people believe. They are wrong, light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are a great alternative to old-fashioned light bulbs and the newer kind of replacements popular known as compact fluorescent lighting (CFL). LED bulbs offer many types of bulb warmth, are economical to run, and last for up to 25 years. That is equivalent to three years of use with the bulb burning 24 hours each day, seven days a week.

LED bulbs

LED bulbs now come in various colors or warmths

Joseph Rey-Barreau, an architect, lighting designer, and University of Kentucky design professor is considered a lighting guru. Recently he said,

“It’s a new world of lighting, changes are happening so quickly, people have to think about it more than ever.”

One reason for this is that old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs are no longer made or sold (legally) in the United States. That means that the CFL, LED, Halogen incandescent bulb and other new technologies all compete. But, each has its own color, whiteness, brightness, and operating expenses.

Benefits of LED Lighting

For many, the best alternative for keeping their home lit to show in the best way possible is the LED bulb. Some of the features that make the LED bulb so desirable include,

Instant-on Feature

Unlike CFL bulbs that hesitate when switched on and take a little while to reach full lumens, the LED bulbs come on at full light instantly.

Dimmable LED Bulbs

When first introduces, LED bulbs were not dimmable. But, as the technology progressed, manufacturers corrected this and many LED bulbs can now be dimmed. If purchasing LED bulbs and you want them dimmable read the packaging.

LED UV-free Bulbs Do Not Attract Insects

Nothing is more annoying that sitting outside in the evening and being attacked by bugs. Many LED bulbs are free of UV ray emissions, but not all. So, as with dimmable bulbs, read the packaging for UV information. A safe bet all the time for outdoor use are the specialty LED bulbs for non-attraction of insects that feature a yellow coating.

Although LED bulbs are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs were, or CFL bulbs are they last nearly forever and are energy efficient. They can reproduce very closely the light given off by incandescent and halogen bulbs LEDs are made to replace.

 

Sources

http://www.energy.ca.gov/2013publications/CEC-400-2013-001/chapters/06_Residential_Lighting.pdf, http://learn.eartheasy.com/2011/08/led-bulbs-are-ready-to-light-your-home-7-tips-you-should-know/, http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/lighting/room-lighting-design-tips/, https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/picking-the-right-bulb-makes-all-the-difference-with-led-options/2014/12/18/6c0d8bb0-8548-11e4-9534-f79a23c40e6c_story.html

 

How a LEED Certified Home Benefits Owners

Have you heard of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)?  If not, you are in good company. But, if you are working with an architect who is designing your next home, she or he certainly has.

Founded in April 1993, the USGBC is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to promote sustainability in the building and construction industry.”

LEED home sesshu design phoenix

THIS AWARD WINNING HOME IN PHOENIX EXCEEDS LEED PLATINUM STANDARDS

The LEED Program Basics

One program that is a great success of the council is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The LEED program was begun by the council in the year 2000.

The creation of the LEED program helps owners and operators construct and run their structures in an environmentally sound way. The USGBC uses a rating system and provides guidelines and tools developed by the Council for achieving,

  • Water efficiency
  • Lower carbon emissions
  • Energy savings
  • Reduction in waste going to landfills
  • Protection of natural resources
  • Improved air quality

How LEED Certification Benefits Homeowners

If you purchase or build a LEED certified home, the benefits are compelling and include,

  • Energy efficiency that allows for comfortable year-round climate control that uses less energy than similar sized homes without LEED certification.
  • Homes are tested to cut leakage from the home’s envelope and ductwork.
  • Homes are designed to use minimal amounts of water inside and outside the home.
  • Energy savings that are 30 to 60 percent greater than similar homes built to the International Energy Code.

In home construction, there are four levels of LEED certification. The chart below identifies them and the estimated energy savings.

Energy Savings for LEED Certified Homes based on LEED Category Achieved
LEED Category Energy Savings
General LEED Certified Home Up to 30 percent
LEED Silver Homes About 30 percent
LEED Gold Homes 48 percent
LEED Platinum Homes 50-60 percent

Source: USGBC

Another key part of the certification for a LEED certified home is that the home meets the requirements of the United States Department of Energy, EnergyStar™ for Homes criteria. Doing so saves homeowners anywhere between $200 and $400 a year.

Surprisingly, green homes can be built for the same amount of money, or less, than non-green residential construction. They cost less to live in, are always comfortable for families to live in and have a higher resale value.

 

Sources

http://www.usgbc.org/about/history, http://www.law.utah.edu/the-leed-certification-process-guiding-sustainable-design-construction-and-practices-for-the-new-building/, http://freshome.com/2014/10/09/what-is-a-leed-certified-home/,

http://www.usgbc.org/articles/benefits-green-homebuilding

http://www.trendir.com/house-design/sustainable/

Know What to Look For Before Buying Eco-Friendly Bedding

Consumers like to think that they’re responsible shoppers. They’d like to think that they’re careful and thoughtful shoppers and that they aren’t swept up in marketing hype that urges people to buy things on impulse. On the other hand, furniture and bed linen manufacturers are always competing against one another, hoping to beat out the competition. It’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and to figure out what these companies are offering consumers – besides the popular lingo and advertising strategies that cover up the relevant details about the products they’re advertising.

The Purist line of bedding is made from all natural materials - no chemical dyes, materials,bleaches or finishes.

The Purist line of bedding is made from all natural materials – no chemical dyes, materials,bleaches or finishes.

An important part of being an environmentally conscious shopper involves learning about the products you will buy. When it comes to bedding, nothing could be as apt as the saying “knowledge is power.”

Bedding Made From Natural Textiles Isn’t Necessarily Green

If you want to be sure that your bedding is eco-friendly, you have to delve deep enough to see beyond the raw textiles that are used to make bed linens. To put things into perspective, let’s consider cotton. Cotton is an excellent material for bedding because it’s durable, it breathes well, and it’s comfortable.

What most people don’t realize is that traditional cotton (versus certified organic cotton,) is arguably one of the least green crops grown anywhere in the world. Conventional cotton is far more pesticide laden than any food crop you buy in the grocery store. According to Mother Earth News, conventional cotton farming is responsible for 25 percent of the United States’ pesticide use. The Sustainable Cotton Project explains that it accounts for 10 percent of the rest of the world’s pesticide use. In other words, cotton is one of the biggest sources of soil contamination in the world. The pesticides that contaminate soil also seep into the water supply.

Cotton farmers depend on their yield for their livelihood. They can’t afford to lose their crop to insect infestations or other problems. The cotton that is grown for use in the textile industry is treated with massive amounts of pesticides and other pollutants. The chemical treatment doesn’t stop there, however. The bleach and dyes used in the textile manufacturing industry are added chemical pollutants.

OEKO-TEX STANDARD
The Oeko-Tex Standard was developed by European textile institutes who were committed  to finding a way to reduce our environmental footprint. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a global testing and accreditation program that successfully sets the standards for the  screening of harmful substances in consumer textiles.

Products with the Oeko-Tex label are tested and guaranteed to be free of all harmful substances including toxins and irritants so the fabrics you bring into your home are safe, natural and healthy.

What to Look for When Buying Bedding

Sierra Club Green Home suggests that you look for bedding that specifies that it contains no formaldehyde. You’re likely to find that in cotton flannel and cotton jersey bedding.

Look for other natural and sustainable fabrics like:

  • Organic cotton or any other organic bedding materials
  • Bamboo – which is a renewable resource that is grown for everything from flooring and wooden furniture to fabric for bedding and clothing.
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Hemp
  • Modal, which is a type of rayon that is made from the pulp of beech trees.

What to Look for in Blankets and Comforters

Blankets by Legna are a blend of wood fibers and wool and are certified Oeko Tex.

Blankets by Legna are a blend of wood fibers and wool and are certified Oeko Tex.

When you’re looking for green bedding, think beyond the sheets. Consider the materials that are used to make the blankets or quilts you place on your beds. While price is always a concern, don’t let that be the driving force behind your purchases. When you buy quality bedding made of sustainable fabrics, you’ll be more comfortable in bed, and that can translate into lower utility bills because you use less energy. Organically grown natural materials are always the greenest option. Avoid using electric blankets because most electricity is produced from fossil fuels.

Educate yourself so that you know what to look for and what to avoid. When you become more eco-conscious, you’ll also discover how much better the quality of your sleep is because your bed and bed linen are so much more comfortable.

 

Sources:

http://www.earth911.com/home-garden/8-diy-bedding-alternatives-for-an-eco-friendly-home/

http://www.organictextiles.com/

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-10-best-organic-bedding-so-128267

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/organic-bedding-zb0z1201zkel.aspx

http://www.scgh.com/go-green/bed/eco-friendly-beds-and-bedding/

http://sierraclubgreenhome.com/go-green/bed/sheets/

http://www.sustainablecotton.org/

http://www.sustainablecotton.org/pages/show/cleaner-cotton-tm

http://www.motherearthliving.com/green-homes/goodnightsleepright.aspx

Three Great Looking Alternatives to Porcelain Tiles

Homeowners often want flooring upgrades as they realize that their once gorgeous, high-quality carpeting has become a grimy hideout for dog dander and other allergens, food particles, and other things that bacteria and insects find offer great nutrition. These families cannot wait to replace their flooring. Many, like the convenience and long-life of porcelain tile, but want something a bit more unique.

There are loads of materials to choose from and some are interesting and luxurious tile options that are also eco-friendly. Let’s see what some of these choices are.

Cork Tile

Cork tile is almost the opposite kind of flooring from porcelain tile. Cork flooring does not echo sounds as porcelain tiles do and it is not cold on bare feet. It is made from the bark of the Cork Oak tree. Stripping the bark from the tree does not harm the tree and its bark grows back. These trees can be harvested every nine years making it a great sustainable material for flooring. Also, cork is unabashedly gorgeous.

Glass Tiles

Manufactured from recycled beer and wine bottles makes glass tile another superlative tile material  especially good for bathroom walls and floors as they are impervious to moisture. Recycled glass tiles will not support mold growth and comes in a number of colors and styles. Glass tiles also make small areas seem bigger and brighter as glass tiles reflect light. Glass is generally nout suitable for use on floors, but is great in showers and backsplashes.

Concrete Tiles

Concrete floor tiles are another way to make your home’s appearance stand out. If you love the loft-like industrial look, then plain gray concrete tiles are what you are looking for. Oh, you want something more elegant – no problem as concrete floors are easy to stain and can be made to look like entirely different material such as glazed tiles or wood flooring.

Tile flooring offers many unique and interesting materials that will serve as begets to set off your luxurious home just as diamond begets set off the main and most beautiful diamond in a woman’s engagement ring. Because of the durability of concrete floors – they never need replacing – they are considered a sustainable material. Also the ingredients used to create the concrete may be partly from recycled materials, further improving the green footprint.

There are other materials to use instead of porcelain such as stone tiles, but, they are quite common and found in all types of homes, including rental apartments. Try for something more unique.

 

Sources:

http://www.dwell.com/product-reviews/article/7-eco-friendly-tile-designs-spring

http://www.greenbuildingsupply.com/All-Products/Flooring-Cork

http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Eco-friendly_Kitchens

Value and Return on Investment for Homes That are Eco-Friendly

Getting to a sustainable home is easy when you are first building your home. The additional cost for a high-performance home is between five and ten percent. But, your home begins to pay you back immediately in the form of lower utility bills. Within a few years the payback is completed and the continued cost of running your home is permanently less.

energy efficient sustainable house

The U.S. Department of Energy crowned Stevens Institute of Technology and its SURE House as victors of its 2015 Solar Decathlon

Renovations to existing home also make sense, and the state and federal government help with rebates and tax credits that may or may not be available to you. In addition, check the website called DSIRE USA to learn what programs are available to homeowners in your own state.

Quick View of Cost and Payback of Typical Home Sustainability Projects

If you are looking to make you’re new or existing home more eco-friendly view the chart below and learn the return on investment on some typical sustainable home solutions.

Quick View of Cost and Payback of Typical Home Sustainability Projects
Improvement Payback time (years) Improvement Cost Annual Savings 10 year Savings 10 Year ROI
Programmable thermostat 0.6 $115 $180 $1800 156.5 percent
Light Fixtures (LED and CFL) 2.5 $108 $40 $400 37 percent
Hot Water Heater Blanket 0.8 $25 $30 $300 120 percent
Pressure Regulated Shower Heads 0.9 $180 $300 $3,000 111 percent

While the payback period for the above products is short and the improvements relatively low-cost, outfitting your new home, or retrofitting your old home, will see paybacks for most sustainable options between under one year to as long as ten years.

Is Going Green Worth It?

Matthew E. Kahn of UCLA and Nils Kok of Maastricht University in the Netherlands conducted a study in California. One of the study findings was that a green certification for a home brought in, on average, nine percent more than area homes without such certification. The sample size for this study was 1.6 million homes.

Increased home value and lower operating costs for eco-friendly homes is a certainty. It sometimes is an even better investment than the stock market at times with an enviable return on investment.

 

Sources

http://cleanenergystates.bluehousegroup.com/projects/project-information-e-lists/

http://activerain.com/blogsview/4540876/pay-back-on-green-home-improvements-

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/22/business/la-fi-harney-20120722

Tips for Establishing Your Personal Green Building or Remodeling Priorities

As people become more concerned about the impact that climate change is having on the entire world, they realize that we all have a responsibility to slow this process. If you are thinking about the ways that your lifestyle has an impact on the environment, you’re not alone.

Fortunately, thanks to greater awareness about the impact of climate change, new home buyers and current homeowners can find architects, designers, builders, and contractors who are interested in using their research as an alternative to traditional design and construction methods.

The Importance of Your Indoor Environment

According to an article that was published in the Boston Globe Magazine last year, not including sleeping time, people spend at lease of 90 percent of their waking hours indoors. That article cited EPA findings that point to the seriousness of indoor air pollution. They go on to say that indoor air quality can be anywhere between two and five times as polluted as the air we breathe outside. This data points to the importance of proper ventilation.

Kitchen stoves and cooktops should always have a vent hood that sucks vapors, moisture and other pollutants out through an exhaust fan in the hood.

Learn About Hidden Sources of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Think about the materials from which your kitchen components, built-in furniture, and flooring are made. Cabinets, shelving, and especially laminate flooring contain significant amounts of urea formaldehyde, a chemical that produce toxic gasses that are known to be health hazards.

Flooring

The Sunday night television news magazine, 60 Minutes, recently aired a program in which they shared the results of investigations into the laminated flooring that Lumber Liquidators imports from China for sale in the United States.

The laminate was saturated with very high formaldehyde levels, and the chemical is a dangerous carcinogen that contributes to respiratory problems. It has also been linked to cancer. Formaldehyde is just one of many VOCs that are well-known environmental and health hazards.

Carpeting

Carpeting is another furnishing that is loaded with formaldehyde and benzene. Many carpet manufacturers treat carpets with chemical stain, moisture and insect repellents. Worse than that, people track toxic chemicals from grass into their homes, if they wear their shoes when walking on carpeting.

When carpet installers put foam padding on the floor to soften the feel of the carpet underfoot, they are using a product that is made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is the byproduct of polymers that are extracted from petroleum.

Eco-Friendly Carpet Options

If you are working with a builder, and the builder isn’t willing to look to other sources for environmentally friendly carpeting options, there is something you can do to prevent chemical-laden carpeting from releasing toxic gas into your home.

American Formulating and Manufacturing (AFM Safecoat) makes SafeChoice® Carpet Seal. This product coats your carpeting with a protective barrier that traps toxins so they can’t release gasses that pollute your home. One treatment will last for either a year or through five carpet cleaning treatments. If you have your carpet cleaned more than five times in a year, just reapply the treatment.

Another option is to choose carpet made from natural fibers. Natural material typically used for making carpeting or area rugs includes:

  • Jute
  • Seagrass
  • Sisal
  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Blends of natural fibers
Scott Group is Made in the USA wool carpet

Scott Group is Made in the USA wool carpet

Carpeting that is made from recycled synthetic fibers isn’t entirely free of chemicals because backing and adhesives still some (but far less) toxins. Look for carpets or rugs that have a built-in light backing.

The built-in backing may eliminate the need for padding. If padding is necessary, look for sources that make their pads out of recycled materials. Another option is to look for recycled cotton filling. Some companies refer to it as “rag padding.”

Eco-Friendly Wood Flooring

If you are concerned about the impact of deforestation on the environment, look for hardwood flooring that has the Forest Stewardship Council seal. That means that trees bearing that label are grown in FSC-certified forests. They are produced under sustainable conditions.

Be different! Cork floors are becoming popular. Instead of chopping down an entire tree, the cork that is transformed into flooring material comes from the cork oak tree. The bark is as renewable as bamboo, and it regenerates itself within three years.

Cork is quiet and provides great cushioning underfoot.

Cork is quiet and provides great cushioning underfoot.

There are many outstanding reasons to consider cork flooring as an option. If you want to be more energy conscious about heating and cooling your home, the cork has thermal insulating properties. It is the best flooring to use in areas where you need acoustic insulation.

With cork floors, you’ll never have to worry about insect infestations. They’re very dust resistant, too. Cork is a fire resistant material.

Bamboo

Bamboo is one of the coolest natural materials on earth! If the fact that it’s a renewable resource isn’t enough, it resists water and mildew, and it withstands abuse from active kids and adults. Beyond the benefits, we just mentioned bamboo is harder than maple or northern red oak. Bamboo floors are meant to last.

Reclaimed or Remanufactured Wood

If you want a softer, more time-worn look that is still an eco-friendly option for flooring, look at reclaimed wood. It typically comes from old buildings, barns or even railroad cars that are being torn down and it already has that great patina of wear that creates a very warm, inviting feeling.

Remanufactured or reclaimed wood flooring is also a nice choice for sustainability

Remanufactured or reclaimed wood flooring is also a nice choice for sustainability

You can have a warm, comfortable, functional and beautiful home if you know about products that are Eco-friendly and how to avoid products that are harmful to the environment and worse for your home.

The Low Down on What Mattress Manufacturers Don’t Disclose About Their Products

The quality of your mattress has a significant impact on the restfulness of your sleep. With the broad range of technologies used in manufacturing today’s mattresses, it is hard for anyone to separate the hype from the truth.

organic luxury mattress

The federal government doesn’t have strict guidelines regarding the language that manufacturers use in marketing to make claims about the eco-friendliness of their products.

Not surprisingly, when marketers use trendy buzz words to describe everything from the eco-friendly quality of the products themselves, to the green practices the company uses in producing them, they are engaging in “greenwashing.”

TerraChoice, a leading environmental marketing company in North America, and a subsidiary of UL (Underwriters Laboratories,) coined the term “greenwash.”

It describes how manufacturers use flashy language in their marketing strategies to fool consumers. They do so by not disclosing how products are made, what they contain, or how consumers ultimately benefit from using the products.

We understand the confusion you feel when you take the time to do research on different mattress brands, the materials from which they are made — or if they’re made from recycled products.

Types of Mattresses   

Innerspring Mattress  

An innerspring mattress always has steel coils between the layers of foam or fabric that cover the top of the mattress and the base. The springs are typically made from steel or other types of coils, including continuous, independent Bonnell, pocketed, and offset coils.

Innerspring mattresses typically have a top layer of padding made from wool, cotton or polyester fibers.

Innerspring mattresses typically have a top layer of padding made from wool, cotton or polyester fibers.

Polyurethane Foam 
The mattress portion of an innerspring mattress is made of a combination of polyurethane and rebonded foam. Polyurethane is a polymer byproduct of petroleum-based substances. Mattresses that are made from polyurethane have a permanent smell from chemical residue.

Innerspring mattresses may also contain rebonded foam. Rebonded foam is made from scraps of foam with the foam backing that is sometimes used under carpeting. The scraps are pressed together to create a bond – either with glue or some adhesive. Adhesives are made with many potentially toxic chemicals. Unless you can find a mattress that uses secures the pieces of rebonded foam together with a water-based adhesive, you may want to avoid these beds.

Pillow-top mattresses are made with a polyester batting. Polyester comes from polymers that are extracted from petroleum. Polyester batting is almost always full of residue from the toxic chemicals that are used to produce it.

Important points about polyester batting:

  • It doesn’t breathe well
  • It is extremely flammable.

Foam Materials Used for  Mattresses  

Foam mattresses are made of polyurethane, latex or visco-elastic memory foam. Polyurethane is typically made with a petroleum base that is known to contain harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds.)

There is a newer type of memory foam that is filled with gel. These mattresses are made from the same polyurethane that is used in many types of mattresses and a liquid gel or gel beads. The manufacturers don’t have to disclose the ingredients of their gel or how the gel is made.

If you want to purchase a memory foam mattress, look for mattresses that are labeled as plant or soy-based. That means the polyurethane foam is made of plant-based materials instead of petroleum.

Latex Mattresses 

There are two types of latex mattresses: one is 100 percent natural, and the other is a synthetic product. Latex that is 100 percent natural comes from tapping rubber trees for their liquid. Synthetic latex is made from chemical processes.

Organic natural latex is breathable and hypoallegenic.

Organic natural latex is breathable and hypoallegenic.

Just like polyurethane foam, there is a solid core latex foam or a mattress can contain bonded layers of latex. All latex beds are free of adhesives.

Other Fiber Fillers for Mattresses 
Wool 

Wool comes from sheep. Unless the wool is labeled as organic, it is very likely that it was treated with chemical insecticides to prevent moths from eating it. Wool breathes well. It is also moisture absorbent, which is good for people who tend to get hot at night. Most of all, however, it is a naturally flame-retardant material.

Organic wool keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter

Organic wool keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter

Cotton 

People tend to think that cotton is an okay fabric because it’s a natural fiber. It is often used on mattress covers. Surprisingly, this natural material is one of the dirtiest plant crops that farmers grow. Unless the cotton has an organic label, the plants from which it was harvested were treated with copious amounts of insecticides and pesticides. During processing,  non-organic cotton is bleached, and it may be treated with other chemical additives.

The Specialty Sleep Association and Their Commitment to Full Disclosure  

The Specialty Sleep Association created the Bedfax program to encourage mattress manufacturers to disclose the ingredients the manufacturer gives them is true. Beds that successfully comply with the process can earn the Bedfax Registered Seal.

The SSA didn’t stop there, however. They designed another ranking to reward manufacturers who show the greatest commitment sustainability in manufacturing and to their concern about indoor environmental health. The system awards seals of approval for four levels.

The seals disclose the percentage of quilt and fabric material that is made of sustainable products. The higher the percentage, the higher the level. You can use this information to guide you in choosing the bed you prefer.

Look for disclosure labels because manufacturers who aren’t willing to tell you exactly what materials they use to make their beds, may be deliberately concealing relevant information.

 

Sustainable Home Furnishings – What to Look for and How To Buy

What do the following words have in common?

  • Green;
  • Sustainable;
  • Eco-friendly; and
  • Environmentally friendly

For purposes of this blog post they all describe high-quality home furnishings that are made following the 3 Rs of sustainable practices,

  1. Reuse;
  2. Reduce; and
  3. Recycle

Today, many people are unhappy buying home furnishings that are not sustainable. Concerns over climate change, cutting down forests, ruining animal habitats and other reasons brought them to the point where if it is not sustainable furnishings it does not belong in their home. Nevertheless, these forward thinkers enjoy home furnishings that are of great quality and highly attractive. Fortunately, sustainable furnishings easily meet those criteria. So, following are some tips for making sure your home furnishing purchases are for sustainable items.

Tips for Buying Sustainable Home Furnishings

These five tips for buying home furnishings offered below help you insure that your home furnishing purchases are for products that use environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. Also, included is a tip about where to buy and not what to buy.

Tip 1. Buy Home Furnishings Locally

The damage to the environment does not end with wood harvested in an unsustainable way or furniture made in factories that pollute the environment before being shipped across the country or the globe.

When you buy furnishings made locally, you eliminate a great deal of the huge carbon footprint found by buying a product made far from your home. Eliminating long travel distances is a great start in furnishing your home in an eco-friendly way.

Tip 2. Buy Antique or Used Furniture

This is reuse at its best. Second-hand furniture is a fantastic way to inexpensively furnish your home with well-built, good-looking furniture that will not break the bank. Think of garage sales and for higher quality, including antiques estate sales. When you buy antique or used furniture, finding it is an exciting experience.

Tip 3. Look for the Logo of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

The FSC Logo is your assurance that any piece of wooden furniture is manufactured or crafted using only wood from a forest that is sustainably managed. The logo also is a consumer’s assurance that the wood was treated in a place that does not lead to a decline in the biodiversity of the natural habitat for local fauna and flora.

Tip 4. Choose Materials that Are Sustainable

Bamboo is a fast-growing wood that is often used in furniture and flooring. Bamboo grows more quickly than most other trees including oak and maple. It is durable, attractive and of high quality. Wood of any kind is biodegradable and that alone makes it a clear choice over synthetic materials that do not breakdown (plastic is one example). If from a sustainably managed forest, environmental damage is far less than by lumber companies stripping the Amazon of its rain forests.

Fabrics should be all natural

Tip 5. Spend More for the Quality You Want

If you spend a little more for high quality sustainable furniture than it is a good bet you will keep it – maybe for a life-time. So, try to buy every piece of furniture just once. It is one of the best ways to keep your personal environmental impact low.

Maximizing for home sustainability allows homeowners and renters to maintain a low carbon footprint without giving up quality or appearance.

 

Image: Houzz

 

Homebuilders look to create more high-performance homes for people

As an advocate of creating homes for people that are healthy, energy efficient and sustainable, I read this article from Builder Magazine with great interest.  The house needs to be considered as a whole, and not just designed with green features as an afterthought. Using a holistic approach that includes the interiors as well as the construction, siting and landscaping is the only way forward in this changing climate.

GETTING SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION DOWN TO A SCIENCE

More than ever, homebuilders are looking for innovative ways to meet the growing demand for more sustainable, energy efficient homes. As homebuyers’ desires for “greener” solutions continue to grow, merely building to code is no longer sufficient. Today’s progressive builders are looking beyond code to create true high-performance structures for their homebuyers—along the way, building real opportunity for their businesses.

 

sustainable builders

Onsite consultation on advanced framing techniques.

Employing a holistic, strategic approach to construction that leverages the tenets of applied building science can result in a home that operates at a 50% higher efficiency than standard construction methods. Incorporating renewable energy technologies, like a photovoltaic system, another 30% of the energy used in the home can be offset. The final 20% of energy savings should come from smart use and occupant behavior that can be realized by educating homeowners on simple, every-day READ MORE…

 

Why is green design important?

As consumers learn about harmful chemicals and unethical labor practices common in conventional product development, many make the choice to purchase sustainable products and work with green interior design firms when redesigning their home. If you are considering choosing a green interior designer, first learn what makes sustainable design important.

Why is sustainable design important?

The average individual spends anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors. Whether at home or at work, you are surrounded by furnishings, finishes and materials like flooring, wall coverings, and cabinetry. If these are not sustainable, they may off-gas toxic substances or emit chemical compounds that compromise your health.

Conventional design makes use of low-quality materials that often contain known toxins and pollute the environment during the manufacturing process. Not only can these environments make you feel bad, but they are bad for the earth. In the workplace, you might be breathing in a chemical rug cleaner or fumes from wall paint, developing a headache from the fluorescent lights above you, and sitting on a chair covered a with flame-retardant chemical coating.

Now, imagine that you go home. You relax on a recycled fabric sofa set on sustainable bamboo wood flooring. The paint on the walls is low-VOC and the LED lighting is soft and pleasing. You aren’t breathing in any toxins and you are surrounded by furnishings that are just as beautiful as they are meaningful and low-impact. Your rugs are all natural and easy maintenance. There are no finishes that contain formaldehyde or other toxic compounds.

Sustainable Design Sesshu Design Scottsdale
How a green interior designer can help you

Green interior design does not have to mean crunchy or hippie. A sophisticated interior designer with a solid grasp of sustainable products can help you redesign your space to remove design elements that are not sustainable and replace them with earth-friendly options that match your design aesthetic and fit your budget. Better yet, if you are building a new home, you can start with the best materials from the outset and know that you will never have harmful toxins in your home. The cost to use green products in the beginning is negligible over traditional options.

If you are considering working with a green interior designer, ask to see a portfolio of their residential design work. This can give you an idea of the designer’s aesthetic and talent, and help you select a skilled professional who can bring your home redecorating vision to life with products that minimize your environmental impact and contain no known health hazards. To feel happier and healthier in your home, adopt sustainable design ideas.

To learn more about green interior design, and see how it can transform your interior, speak with a qualified green designer at Sesshu Design Associates. You can contact the studio at 480-275-2968.

Source:
http://www.usgbc.org/articles/healthy-sustainable-interior-design-conversation-asid

Hiring a Green Design Interior Designer – 5 Questions to Ask

Any interior designer can call themselves an eco-friendly or green interior designer. Yet if you are really committed to making smart, sustainable home renovations, ask these 5 questions to make sure that you’ve investing in a green design professional who really understands the issues.

1. What green certifications do you have?

From being a LEED-certified green interior designer to having a sustainable design certificate, there are many credentials out there that an eco-friendly interior designer can pursue. A designer who has, or is obtaining, green certification demonstrates commitment to sustainability. That’s a person you want to hire.

2. What is your background?

It is important to ask about the full background of any interior designer, not just their green experience. Be sure to ask about the education, work experience, and professional affiliations of a designer to get insight into what the designer does, who they are, and if they are a good candidate to meet the vision you have for your home improvements.

3. Can you show me example projects that you’ve done?

Some interior designers specialize in historic house remodels, while others focus on commercial spaces or modern structures. Ask to see a design portfolio that shows high-quality images of similar projects. Viewing these images can give you better insight into the design aesthetic of the interior designer, and instill confidence in the working relationship.

4. What materials do you recommend?

Any green interior designer should be able to speak clearly about different materials, articulate what makes them sustainable, and tell you what they might replace in your home. If a designer can speak knowledgeable about everything from low-VOC paints to sustainably-farmed wood furniture, you can trust them to make good recommendations.

5. Can you work with my budget?

Finally, it is critical to make sure that any interior designer can work with your budget or implement the project in phases as your budget allows. Before you formalize a working relationship, ask a designer if they can work with you (and your project’s budget) to create a sustainable and elegant solution.

Do you have any more questions about working with sustainable interior designers? If so, please leave your questions in the comments below and we will do our best to answer them.

 

Sources

http://careersoutthere.com/how-to-be-a-green-interior-designer/

http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2015/06/five_questions_to_ask_before_y.html

Creating a High-End, Green Kitchen

By Jane Blanchard

Creating a more energy-efficient home can go way beyond the conventional ideas like light bulbs, Energy Star appliances, and tankless water heaters. Needless to say, you’ve already mastered going green in these aspects, and you’re ready to take it to the next level by also achieving an ambiance of luxury and taste. Delight yourself with our super-green, energy-efficient ideas for your kitchen and step up for the challenge.

Induction Ranges

modern kitchen interior design Scottsdale

Bamboo floors and induction cooking make this a nicely green kitchen.

Via: Houzz

You can hear your money going down the drain as you cut onions waiting for the pan to heat up. Energy-efficient minded people are quickly catching induction fever. This new technology allows for electrical currents to create a sort of magnetic field that gets iron molecules all excited to heat up in an instant. Induction is super fast, has a modern and contemporary look, easy to clean, and you’ll save some serious cash since you’re shaving off tons of cooking time. For the green eye: note the fabulous, renewable bamboo flooring.

 

Energy-efficient Water-saving Options

1contemporary kitchen interior design scottsdale

Cabinets are bamboo with low-VOC finish in a matte grey.

Via: Houzz

Install a smart water monitor that alerts you when it detects a leak. Why? If you want to conserve water and money, you’ll know that most of the time, leaks go unnoticed, and you’re left with a huge bill and repairs. Secondly, energy-efficient faucets are the remote controls for the kitchen. With pull-out wands, pause buttons, and multi-flow features, all you should be seeing in that overnight-soaking pot is a pool of cash. By the way, those are green, bamboo cabinets with no harmful VOC’s in the stain and matte finish.

 

Smart Switches

modern gadgets interior design Scottsdale

The latest gadgets help you save energy and money.

Via: Houzz

The kitchen is a polyglot of appliances that need either gas or electricity to run. This can dramatically increase the energy bill because they’re always on, and 75 percent of appliance energy-use is generated while they’re not being used. Not to mention that 1.3 billion dollars is wasted on unused electrical appliances a year. With a smart standby device, you can automatically have appliances taken off stand-by status with the flip of a switch, touch of a button, or even with your smart phone. No more accidentally leaving the oven on which is akin to burning your George Washingtons, blasphemy.

 

Additional Eco-friendly Elements

modern kitchen design interior design Scottsdale

Live plants add color with their greenery, clean the air and bring a sense of life to a room.

Via: Houzz

Non-formaldehyde bamboo and cork are the crème de la crème for natural, green flooring. Easily renewable, anti-microbial, insulating, bio-based, and non-toxic, it makes for a beautiful, luxurious, green floor. Painting walls can be done the green way too. To give your kitchen some state-of-the-art color, natural paints made with milk or casein decrease the risks of dizziness, nerve damage, and toxic emissions produced with conventional paint. You’ll also find that adding some real, live plants doesn’t have to be a “hippy” thing. You can still pull off a high-end look with adding some splashes of green here-and-there to improve air quality, neutralize odors with natural scents, and to filter out toxins.

 

Outside of the Cooking-Box

solar eco-friendly interior design Scottsdale

Solar panels have come a long way – these are integrated roofing shingles.

Via: Houzz

Although not part of the kitchen, this was too cool to not mention. Spray-on solar cells can be applied to any flexible surface, and it’s going to change the way the world looks at solar power. On-going studies are proving that they’re no less energy-efficient than the conventional solar panels. Also solar roofing shingles are another step towards being green without compromising on durability, functionality, and aesthetics.

 

Eco-friendly Kitchen Design

contemporary kitchen eco-friendly interior design Scottsdale

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so don’t skimp on design here. Make a statement and save energy at the same time.

Via: Houzz

The workhorse of the house sets the trend. If you can succeed in creating a green, energy-efficient kitchen, the rest of your home will catch on. Because it’s contagious, we say, “get afflicted.”

For more kitchen ideas as well as other home inspiration visit Modernize.

Eco-friendly Furnishings: Combine Function and Quality with Style

We’re the first to acknowledge that sustainability has different meaning for different people. To some, it’s a forward-thinking mind-set with a focus on adaptability and modern solutions. Others feel more comfortable with efforts to preserve the familiar, relying on renewable resources and popular directives to reuse, repurpose and recycle. Environmentally-friendly home decor and furnishings are not an impossible dream, and quality meets function and style in many of today’s stunning designs.

Wood and Wood Options

Traditional furniture of beautiful wood is a lasting investment, but new options of bamboo, reclaimed timbers, cork and even recycled cardboard may become the classics of the future. Specialty woods from old rubber trees or fast-growing mango are also newly popular with green consumers. Both were previously destroyed when cut; using the wood for modern furniture production is both aesthetically and economically sensible. Many ecologically-sensitive companies routinely plant new seedlings for every tree that is harvested.

vervano sesshu design

This dresser is made in the USA from sustainable woods.

Upholstery and Fabric Advances

Natural is chic. Organic, unbleached cotton has a personality that many find very appealing. Bamboo and hemp, both fast-growing and sustainable, are used for everything from clothing to bath towels and sofa upholstery. Wool, of course, is a renewable resource and, with humane farming practices, it has regained favor for home interiors, including for carpeting, drapery and bedding. Investigate fabrics produced from soy protein, recycled polyester or natural cellulose (Tencel).

wool fabric sesshu design

Wool is a durable and stain-resistant fabric for upholstery, pillows and draperies.

Toxicity, Social Responsibility and Craftsmanship

Being serious about sustainability requires an awareness not only of raw materials, but also of the ways in which they are used. In shopping for quality furnishings, it is important to consider the underpinnings of construction: the glues, finishes, paints, stuffing and padding, and the origin of each component. You might also want to consider the transportation involved, manufacturing efficiency, and final packaging and shipping practices.

Companies like Seattle-based EcoBalanza are dedicated to the principles of craftsmanship, lasting quality and environmental responsibility. Cisco Home produces trendy, funky and unique products across a spectrum of styles and genres. Environment Furniture achieves sophistication and sustainability by relying heavily on reusing old woods in innovative ways.

sustainable bed sesshu design

This bed reuses salvaged wood from a Brazilian coffee factory.

 

Sources

http://www.greenington.com/products/occasional-tables/http://ecowatch.com/2013/11/15/eco-friendly-fabrics/http://ecobalanza.com/ecobalanza-environment/http://www.ciscohome.net/about, http://www.altfield.com/media/67158/fabric_brochier.jpg

Going Green with Heirloom Furniture

Although green furnishing often bring to mind highly contemporary or unusual pieces, your home may already boast several green furniture pieces without you even realizing it. Heirloom furniture that has been passed down for generations counts as eco-friendly interior design, as do new heirloom-quality pieces you may bring into your home.

timeless dining furnture

Combine timeless style with quality craftsmanship and this dining room furniture will be around for many generations.

Why Heirloom Quality is Eco-Friendly

In the most basic sense, eco-friendly interior design consists of furnishings that don’t harm the environment. Heirloom-quality pieces are right on target.

Durability: Pieces that stand up to use and abuse for decades don’t require replacement and, therefore, depletion of natural resources.

Open to repairs and alterations: Furniture starting with a solid foundation can withstand minor repairs, refinishing or other updates as needed, again avoiding replacement.

heirloom quality furniture

A combination of antiques and reproduction furniture, along with an heirloom quality wool rug, was used to create this beautiful living room.

How to Choose Pieces that Will Last for Generations

You may already have several heirloom-quality pieces that have been successfully passed down the family line, and you can keep the trend going. Whether you’re perusing your favorite antique shop or commissioning a custom-made heirloom-quality piece, keeping an eye on a few basics can help ensure your choice continues to contribute to eco-friendly interior design for years to come.

reclaimed wood coffee table

This stunning coffee table made from reclaimed wood will be passed down for generations.

  • Opt for solid hardwood, such as cedar or oak, which is readily available. Skip pieces constructed with fiberboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or tough-to-get woods that deplete natural resources, such as Brazilian mahogany.
  • Ensure the color and wood grain make a close match. A high quality finish is also important to ensure the beauty lasts for years.
  • Look for furniture joints that are free of gaps, glued together and use wood-to-wood construction.
  • Avoid pieces with metal fasteners that can corrode.
  • Look for tabletop and drawer bottom construction that uses sliding dovetails or another method that lets wood swell and shrink with the seasons to avoid splitting.
sustainable wood chest

This contemporary style chest is made from only sustainably forested wood, with beautiful natural finishes.

A long-lasting, gorgeous piece of heirloom-quality furniture can add to your home’s high-end style while it serves as the green furnishings every home deserves.

 

Sensible Green – Eco-Friendly Contruction from a Builder’s Viewpoint

I received this article from a local builder, Cullum Homes, and just really appreciated the sensible ideas and approach they take, so I thought I would share it with you.  I hope you will let me know what you think.

Sensible Green

green builders

Cullum Homes creates green homes that exceed their clients expectations

Sustainable construction is nothing mysterious. Its most important aspects are some of the same things that define a quality builder.

Green homes, also called “sustainable homes”, are more affordable than ever. Last year, for instance, a nationwide McGraw Hill study of builders and remodelers found that going green adds an average of just 7% in cost to a project, compared to 11% six years previously.

Part of the reason for this growing affordability is that there’s more widespread agreement on what makes a home truly sustainable. It turns out that you don’t need an organic concrete foundation or a $40,000 solar electric roof array. The most important qualities of a green home — those that offer the most positive environmental impact — are the same qualities most people look for in a new car: low maintenance and maximum efficiency.

Achieving this isn’t brain surgery; instead, it’s a matter of good, basic design and construction. The areas that provide the biggest bang for the buck are design, materials choice, durability, and the efficient use of water and energy.

Thoughtful Design: Even a large, complex home can be sustainable, if it uses the floor plan in a very efficient way, with elements such as cleverly designed spaces that serve multiple purposes. The floor plan should be efficient to heat and cool. For example, south-facing glass helps reduce heating and lighting bills by bringing ample daylight and solar energy into the home.

Wise Materials Choice: Virtually every manufacturer wants to label its products as green, but look for third party verification from a reputable organization – GreenGuard, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or ENERGY STAR, for example. Also consider maintenance; for instance a decking product that has to be refinished every year may use materials over time that are potentially harmful to the environment and require time, energy and dollars to maintain.

Minimal Waste: In some parts of the country, 40% of landfill volume is from construction debris. Much of this can be avoided. A well-managed project minimizes the amount of waste sent to the landfill, and saves you money in the process.

Long-Term Durability: This is a huge part of sustainability: a home that doesn’t need rebuilding or repairing will use fewer resources over time. When it comes to durability, Job #1 is keeping water out of the structure. That’s why, as a professional builder, we make sure our crews understand proper flashing details, use quality building wrap and carefully seal penetrations like plumbing vents.

Attention to Detail: Good exterior details go a long way toward reducing long-term maintenance costs. This would include such things as adequate roof overhangs and properly sized gutters that keep water from running down the wall. Sloping the surrounding ground away from the house helps keep slabs and basements dry.

Water Efficiency: Reducing water bills is easier than ever. Today’s WaterSense rated plumbing fixtures are rated for water savings as well as performance. That means a quality low-flow showerhead can now deliver the same experience as the old full-flow models.

Energy Efficiency: The most oft-cited benefit of green construction is the promise of energy savings (the equivalent of higher gas mileage). But while homes have gotten more efficient on paper, many aren’t performing better than the average home built a decade ago.

The key to getting high performance is to hire a builder who pays attention to detail. For instance, thicker insulation will only deliver its benefits if properly installed. The builder has to make sure that there are no gaps in the insulation, that it fills the entire cavity and the surrounding structure is properly sealed against drafts.

None of these systems and strategies is very complicated, but good design and detailing have a big payoff: a home that’s more efficient, more durable, and less costly to run. And of course it’s also a more pleasant place to live.

Zen Powder Room is also Eco-friendly


We recently completed this powder room in one of our projects- a remodel in Scottsdale of an early 90’s semi-custom home. The owner wanted aspects of a Zen aesthetic, with the quiet, soothing sounds of water running to be incorporated into the home somewhere. The powder room was a logical choice for both. We worked with Concrete Interior Design here in Scottsdale to create this unique vanity and water-feature combination.
The entire vanity is designed and constructed of colored concrete, which is made from recycled and eco-friendly materials. Incorporated into the upper shelf is a hidden motion-sensitive eye that operates the “faucet” – a row of individual water streams trickling down into a pebble filled basin. The effect is a unique blend of fountain and function. The design of the faucet feature conserves water with its low-pressure streams and automatic shut-off. Behind the flowing water, a mosaic blend of glass and man-made tiles provides a bit of color and sparkle.
The pebble-like texture of the glass sconces harmonizes with the Zen theme, and repeats the texture of the actual stones in the sink basin. Soft, glowing faux finished walls are the perfect backdrop for pops of bright red accents and tie into the rest of the home.