Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Article about our builder

We love working with our primary building consultant, Al Rossetto. We feel really lucky to have found someone as philosophically committed to green building and as willing to work with owner-builders as he is. An article was recently published on the Green Building Advisor website profiling an incredibly energy efficient house he built in Waitsfield, Vermont several years back. The article is available here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Christian Brown Design

I am in the mood to highlight some more local wonders today. Christian Brown, a Vermont artisan, builds beautiful and sustainable furniture. His Echo Series and Prana tables are made from materials such as salvaged wood, eco-resin, agricultural fibers, and sunflower seeds. I don't know yet if they're affordable (I'm guessing not!) but we would love to have a Christian Brown Design in our new home.

LEED platinum modern farmhouse

I have always loved this Charlotte, VT farmhouse.

I first heard about it this time last year when it won an award at Efficiency Vermont's annual green building conference. Designed by Pill-Maharam architects, it is a stunning example of reinterpreting the vernacular through a modern lens. In addition to its beauty, this house is smart. According to the architects' website...

"By using state of the art design strategies for the ground source heat pump, in conjunction with high efficiency lighting and appliances, the house has been designed to have a net zero energy use and emit zero carbon emissions. It uses electricity generated on site with its 10KW net-metered wind turbine for all heating, hot water, lighting and appliances. The house maximizes energy efficiency by its orientation and simple massing. It is a super insulated passive solar house with an open plan that allows southern daylight to enter all living spaces. In addition to being 5+ star Energy Star rated and Vermont Builds Greener certified, the house has also received the US Green Building Council’s highest LEED rating of platinum, thefirst one in Vermont."

Read and see more in this December 2008 article in Design New England magazine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bright Built Barn

I first saw this on materialicious and had to add it to our blog because it is so beautiful and so green (on track to receive LEED platinum designation). It has almost made me question our decision to put white siding on our barn-house and go dark instead. Almost.

The Bright Built project is pre-fab and net zero with a continous R-40 envelope. It also features "a large energy meter on the front fa├žade will simultaneously show current levels of energy use and consumption." Read more on the project's blog. There you can see more pictures, too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kohler's Archer tub

The highest form of flattery is imitation, right? Let's hope Chad over at 100k house is flattered and not annoyed that I macked his idea for bathtubs. He posted awhile ago about Kohler's rectangular Archer tub. The lines strike me as quite modern. It's probably the squared corners instead of the typical rounded edges. Anyway, had it not been for reading his blog, I would never have heard of the Archer series. Our Home Depot certainly doesn't carry it in stock and I would not have known to look for it in their special order catalog. But thanks to Chad I did and we ordered two of them last weekend for a decent price of $360 each. The drains were an additional $70 each. They were delivered to the Home Depot a week later and Ryan and I picked them up yesterday. We drive a Toyota Matrix whose backseat storage area (when the middle seat is folded down) is approximately 40"x60". The tub, in its box, was 35"x60". We were able to put it in and tie the back hatch down about one-third of the way...and then drive very carefully over to our storage unit (luckily less than a mile from Home Depot). We did this twice. I had horrible images running through my head of the tub sliding out the back and crashing into a million pieces on the pavement. But we (and the tubs) survived. It was an exhausting and nerve-wracking afternoon that saved us the $65 delivery charge! Totally worth it.

Decision on floors

Sorry for the lack of new material. The holidays were, well, the holidays.

So back to business. If you've read any of our previous posts, you've noticed that we've been deliberating about floors for the first floor of our house for awhile now. We initially wanted polished concrete but since we have a full basement, it seemed unnecessarily complicated and expensive to pour concrete over a suspended floor (extra supports needed to hold the weight, etc.) We then looked into various tiles but had a hard time finding any that met our aesthetic (rustic modern) and our price range. We stumbled across a poured product made by Ecoprocote (see post here) but 100% weren't sure it would give us the look we wanted and no one in this area sold it or had worked with it before. And we wouldn't have a chance to see it in person before making the purchase, which we didn't like. So back to square one.

Then I saw a picture in a magazine of a beautiful home with dark gray slate floors. Perfect! Slate had never occurred to me before but Vermont is famous for it so it would be a locally sourced product...and it's surprisingly affordable. Slate imported from China or Africa at Home Depot runs about $1.87/square foot. Beautiful Vermont slate, in a variety of colors, is available from Poultney Vermont's own Vermont Slate Depot for $2.40/square foot. Our birch floors for the upstairs cost us $4.59/square foot. So slate is decidedly a steal. We ordered a few samples from the Depot (which has been a great company to deal with so far) and fell in love with a richly textured dark gray slate. We think it will hit the rustic modern note we want and to make it even more sleek and streamlined, we plan to buy rectangular tiles (12x18 or 12x24) and lay them in a brick pattern with small grout lines.

Slate will also pair well with our radiant floor heating system. Warm stone floors in the winter...divine. Here are some pictures to illustrate the look we hope to achieve. All pictures are from Beltrami.