Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LEED Gold!

We recently received our LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council, becoming one of only a few LEED certified custom homes in the state of South Carolina. Here is our letter from the USGBC and a picture of the award etched into the glass next to our front door. Thanks to everybody involved, especially our architect, Bob Bourguignon of Sustainable Architecture, for all of their assistance in helping to make this momentous occasion a reality!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Our Green Home Materials

Many of you have asked for a list of the materials in our Green Home: Here they are:

#1 and most important, without whom none of this would have been possible, our architect Bob Bourguignon with Sustainable Architecture in Moore, SC: (864) 486-0898 www.sustainablearchitecturellc.com

Now the materials and other services:

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS: Fischer SIPS www.fischersips.com

Doors and Windows: Peachtree Zo-e-shield 7. Contains multiple layers of Low-E coatings that filter out the light's spectrum's heat transmissions to optimize the sun's heat and a home's heating/cooling systems. www.peachtreedoor.com

Low-Flow Faucets: We used Peerless but you should choose whichever brand you like best because they all offer low-flow versions these days. Just look for 1.5 GPM or the "WaterSense" label.

Low-Flow Shower Heads: We used Hansgrohe but once again, choose what suits you. For shower heads, look for 1.75 GPM or the Watersense label.

Floors: Morningstar Bamboo from Lumber Liquidators: www.morningstarbamboo.com and www.lumberliquidators.com Bamboo is green because it is a grass, so does not need to be replanted and can be harvested every five years. We used carpet in only three rooms and it was made from recycled plastic bottles, offered by various manufacturers at Home Depot.

Countertops: Zodiac Mossy Green by DuPont. Zodiac is quartz, which is impermeable. Unlike granite which has to be sealed often. LEED (and the FDA) do not accept granite because it's porous surface can harbor bacteria. The color we chose, Mossy Green, also contains 50% consumer recycled glass. http://www2.dupont.com/Surfaces/en_US/products/zodiaq/index.html?src=zodiac_countertops_g_Exact|mkwid_sggush133_4913365490_4320em1513

Paint: Our paint came from the Sherwin Williams Harmony line, either low or no VOC's. With no or low volatile organic compound content, you can breathe easier. Literally. http://www.sherwin-williams.com/do_it_yourself/green/

Roof: We chose an Energy Star reflective cream color metal roof from Lowes. This makes even our attic over the garage, which has no insulation, tolerable during the extreme summer heat.

Solar Water Heater: Our solar water contractor is Energy Solutions Division of Comfort Services

Siding: We chose Certainteed for our cement fiberboard siding because the quality was comparable with Hardie, but less expensive. Certainteed also uses 50% fly ash, which is recycled waste from coal-fired electric generating plants. There's another LEED point! www.certainteed.com/buildingresponsibly/products/fibercementsiding/

Pest Control: We chose Gregory Pest Control in Columbia, SC because they use the Sentricon termite bait system which is environmentally friendly: www.gregorypestcontrol.com/why-green/targeted-solutions.html

Rainwater Harvesting: The underground tank is simply 1000-gallon septic tank. Our irrigation system is hooked up to it using a Rainbird 4-zone control, driplines, four valves, and a Gould Irri-Gator self priming pump model GT-10. www.goulds.com/pdf/7305.pdf

Appliances: All Energy Star GE Profile appliances, including a front-load washer which saves over 10,000 gallons of water per year: www.geappliances.com/products/brands/profile.htm?omni_key=sitelink_GEProfile&cid=sitelink5

Fireplaces: We chose the Heat & Glo direct vent model 750 TRS with the electronic pilot. Direct vent models use the outside air for combustion and exhaust which is much healthier for the indoor environment. The electronic pilot means the pilot light is on only when the fireplace is being used, saving gas and $10 - $12 per month. www.heatnglo.com

Landscaping: For the landscaping plan, we needed someone who specialized in working with a LEED architect to assure we had the right native and drought tolerant plants for our land and who knew how to do a rain garden. Bob, our architect, recommended Richard Powers with SM&E in Spartanburg, SC and we were very happy. www.smeinc.com

HVAC: For heating and air conditioning, we wanted a geothermal system, but at $38,000 it was just too expensive to consider. So we went with a high efficiency Tempstar 15 SEER dual-fuel heat pump system utilizing a separate heat pump and gas furnace that work together. Dual fuel, means it will use gas during the coldest times. During the winter, if the heat pump runs continuously for 15 minutes, it will automatically switch to the more efficient gas heat. www.tempstar.com/products/15hp.html and www.tempstar.com/products/vs95.html Our contractor is Will Andrews with Design Air Systems in Columbia, SC.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I can't remember if I gave all the details about our exterior construction (Structural Insulated Panels - SIPS) and since someone asked recently, here is the info:

Apparently, studies have shown that determined R-Values have little correlation with how an insulating material actually performs in a non-SIP home. When taking into account factors such as cavity voids, wiring without compression, and paper facer stapled to studs, the actual R-Value decreases significantly.

SIPS homes avoid these familiar problems by distributing insulation uniformly among the entirety of the panels. Without these negative effects, actual R-Value of insulation within a SIPS panel can actually exceed its determined R-Value

Our exterior walls are 4 1/2" SIPS and the roof is 10 1/4". Here is a table from our SIPS manufacturer, Fischer SIPS:

R-Value Comparison to fiberglass:

Panel Thickness: Actual R-Value Performance Value
4 ½” R-17 R-25
6 ½” R-25 R-38
8 ¼” R-33 R-50
10 ¼” R-41 R-62
12¼” R-48 R-72

Soon, we will post our actual electric bills showing the kw/h per square foot as well.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Island Shutters

The setting sun was driving us crazy coming through the windows on the back of the house and so our architect recommended island shutters, also known as Bahama shutters. We found Willard Shutters in Florida, who helped us with the design and voila! here we are.

This should help with our already low electric bill as well.

We'll keep you posted...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Organic Gardening

After what seemed like a really long winter, spring has arrived and the garden is finally planted.

The first step was to put in the drip lines. We still had two unused zones on our system so we dedicated one to our garden.

We couldn't find organic plants anywhere around here so we ordered from a place in California: www.naturalgardening.com, the oldest certified organic nursery in the US. Later we found that WalMart and Home Depot are carrying organic seeds now so that's what we'll do next year.

Meanwhile, the irises and other plants in the back yard are starting to get green and bloom...

So in the raised beds we planted strawberries, cantaloupe, squash, zucchini, onions, potatoes, green beans, sweet peas, cucumbers, spinach, romaine lettuce, and carrots. Whew! Some from plants and some from seeds.

The original house plan was to include a rooftop garden system but due to budget constraints we decided to cover the whole rooftop terrace with the recycled rubber pavers. But we found something on the internet recently that would allow us to still grow some veggies up there.

It's called a "Grow Box" that is 30”L x 15”W x 12”H with a 4 gal. water well underneath that allows for watering only once a week. You can check them out at: www.agardenpatch.com. So we ordered six and planted them with tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. This also required us to run a pipe up to the roof with a spigot and a hose so we could easily add water when we needed to. The hose and pipe system is attached to our irrigation pump from the underground rainwater cistern. Pretty cool!

Now we just monitor the water needs upstairs and down, and chant "Grow, baby, grow!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thank You Richland County!

Just thought you would want to know that our home recently won the Water Wise award in this year's Appearance Counts contest from Richland County.

Each year Richland County issues awards to attractive yards in the area and this year they added some "Green" categories.

We won for our rainwater collection and irrigation system and rain garden. If you missed those posts, you can see them at:





Our award included a nice certificate, a garden party at the county administration building, a poinsettia plant, and a $25 gift card to Woodley's Garden Center.

So thank you Richland County for recognizing our efforts and for encouraging "green". And thanks to our builder Jay Rogers, our architect Bob Bourguignon, and WP Law irrigation supplies for all your work and assistance.

Happy Holidays!