Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly home’

Green Home Under Construction – Intro

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

sherwood houseWelcome to an opportunity to observe the construction of a unique and highly energy efficient, eco-friendly home at 404 Park Street in Old Town Fort Collins.  Grab our feed or subscribe by email to follow along in the weeks ahead as we post on what goes into creating a green home like this and what sets it apart from standard new homes. 

The Green Team Real Estate is pleased to be listing this home for local green building specialists Sovick Design/Builders.  Dennis Sovick started designing and building green homes in the 1980’s – long before doing so became a trend.  His wealth of knowledge on the topic of green building allows him to create properties that take advantage of active and passive solar, conserve energy and water, minimize resource consumption, and create healthier homes.  We’ll be delving into all of these topics as construction progresses.

This infill project got underway in early September 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in February 2010.  Dennis and his team are using a tested plan, one they recently built several blocks away.  That home is pictured above.  You can take the video tour below to hear Dennis talk about the site and plans for the home, and follow us on a bike ride through the nearby neighborhood.



Click here to see the floorplan and other details of the Park Street home.  Finishes and colors will be up to the future owner.  So follow along to get ideas for your future dream green home, and contact us if you think this one might be it!

Sustainable Home Remodeling Series – Intro

July 24, 2009 1 comment

3000 Phoenix Exterior 2003Is it possible to make a 1970 split level house cool by today’s standards?  Lara and I are foolish enough to try, with a green twist.  After all, doing so puts the walk in two things that we’re doing a lot of talking about – 1) that eco-friendly remodeling of an existing home is a relatively low-impact way to create a green dream home, and 2) that greenlording with a green exit strategy can be a smart approach to real estate investment.

We’ve just moved into the 4 bedroom, 2 bath 1900 square foot home pictured above.  We bought it in 2003 from the original owners as an investment property.  It is quite dated, and a bit tenant-worn after six years as a rental, but it has as they say “great bones”.  And the yard has mature peach, cherry and plum trees, as well as grape vines.  To put all of this fruit to good use, we’ll be calling on our friends Jana and Steve and their wine-making talents for payback for the cork floor labor they got out of me earlier this year :). 

There’s not much about this place that doesn’t need updating – nope, it’s all as dated as this kitchen.  So we’ll have lots of eco-friendly home projects to blog about in this series.  3000 Phoenix Kitchen 2003

Here is a sampling of the projects we have on deck…

  • new bamboo cabinets in the kitchen and vanities in the bathrooms.
  • replacing worn carpet with rapidly renewable flooring throughout.
  • sourcing and installing the most eco-friendly concrete countertops we’ve heard of to date.
  • re-painting the entire inside of the house with low or no VOC paint.
  • energy efficiency improvements guided by a professional energy audit.
  • a sprinkler system audit and corresponding xeriscaping to reduce lawn watering requirements.
  • installing water-conserving fixtures throughout.

We hope you’ll grab our feed, follow along and maybe even learn a bit from our experiences, if not our mistakes!

Oh, one last thought about the timing of things.  We’ll be completing and blogging about these green remodeling projects as quickly as our day jobs permit, but we may take a slower road toward our green exit of this home than originally anticipated.  We’re confident it is going to be a pretty cool and comfortable greened-up home to live in.

Ready…Reclaim…Renovate! (Part 1)

March 20, 2009 3 comments

Larson House @ 6 WeeksWe are fortunate to be able to follow Justin Larson, founder of JCL Architecture Inc., and his wife Sandra as they undertake a very eco-friendly home renovation and expansion project here in Old Town Fort Collins.  Over the next several weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts as we track their progress updating this 100-year-old home.  We hope you’ll follow along.

Sandra and Justin are sustainability-minded folks, so there will be lots of green building elements to their project.  One of the most unique is the extensive use of reclaimed building materials, which they have sourced from careful deconstruction of existing walls in their own home, from salvaged construction materials specialists in the region like Uncle Benny’s and The Lumber Guy, from mis-ordered materials at various construction sites, and yes, even from Craig’s List (actually, quite a bit of their reclaimed building supplies were found via Craig’s List).  You can get an initial sense for the scope of their project and the use of salvaged materials in the video below. 

Using reclaimed building materials to this extent requires a great deal of energy, creativity and commitment.  Being an architect doesn’t hurt either.  Perhaps Sandra sums it up best in commenting about the time and effort she put into removing nails from deconstructed studs, verses the alternative of throwing them away and purchasing new pieces for $2 each…

It’s not about the $2 per piece.  What saving the pieces does is let us know that the original roots of the house remain the “bones” of our renovation.  I think it’s extraordinary to realize that “sticks” from 1906 will help our house for another 100 years…

Plus, I am a methodical task junkie.  Justin knows me all too well, and he’s wise to put me on the not-so-skilled part of the labor that nonetheless requires “doing and drive”.  Put my hands to work on repetitive, pretty simple stuff, and it lets my mind wander to how it will all look when it’s finished, or, the project quandary I haven’t been able to solve in my office at work.

So yes, we recover far more than $2 a board!

While most of us don’t have Justin’s expertise, certainly we can take a que from these two to engage more deeply in our own green home projects.  They are bound to be even greener if  we do.


Virtual Tour of a High Performance Green Home

High Peformance Green HomeA great way to get ideas for making your home more eco-friendly, or building your dream green home, is to tour other green homes.  So I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a video tour of a beautiful home that Barry Schram, owner of Lamar Valley Craftsman, just completed for one of my clients (video at bottom of this post). 


Barry’s business is founded on a strong environmental ethic, a passion for creating high performance structures, and a special talent for building homes that satisfy the soul.  Like us, he was and still is inspired by Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big House body of work.  Fortunately for the planet, more and more builders are starting to think and operate like Barry as more and more of us start to demand homes built with sustainability in mind.


My clients were an excellent fit to work with Barry.  They had very specific desires for their dream home’s feel, performance, and environmental footprint.  Some highlights of the home that they collaborated to create include:

  • Concrete floors with in-floor radiant heat and Buderus high efficiency boiler.
  • Heat recovery ventilation system.
  • Passive solar design and Tamarack whole house fan to eliminate the need for air conditioning.
  • Energy efficient appliances and lighting.
  • Sierra Pacific aluminum clad exterior low-e windows.
  • Optimized natural lighting including Solatube Daylighting System.
  • Lots of thoughtful Not So Big details including a special window detail for growing herbs, built in bookshelves and window seats.
  • Other sustainable building materials including locally sourced beetle kill pine for exterior soffits, MDF trim to minimize use of harvested timber, and recycled content decking.


It is also worth noting that this house is an infill project in Old Town Fort Collins on a lot previously occupied by a 1920’s-built cottage that was beyond rehabilitation.  


The home has a great open floor plan, with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, plus an office/away room.  It has about 3,100 total square feet – about 2,100 above ground with another 1,000 at a “garden level”.  It also has a detached 2 car garage with alley entry. 

So I hope you enjoy the video tour and hearing more about this great home from the builder himself.  If it whets your appetite for some in-person touring, the American Solar Energy Society now facilitates a nationwide grass roots solar tour, and the Parade of HomesTM events around the country are getting greener every year (just Google green parade of homes).


Don’t miss your chance to build the green home of your dreams at Midori – a new green neighborhood in Fort Collins.





When it comes to eco-friendly homes, bird by bird is the word

February 23, 2009 Leave a comment

A favorite author, Anne Lamott, offers up some universal wisdom in her book “Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life“.


“Thirty years ago my brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write.  (It) was due the next day.  We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.  Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”


To our reading, this little anecdote from Lamott’s book has two very important things to say about creating more eco-friendly homes. 


First, it speaks to breaking the often powerful grip of procrastination.  Anne Lamott’s brother had chosen a reasonable scope for his report and collected what he needed to write it, but he was frozen by inaction.  Most of us really do want to green up our act and live in a manner that is less wasteful, if not for the sake of the planet, at least for the sake of our own pocketbooks and well-being.  But where to start?  So much information, so little time.  And, of course, old habits are hard to break.  Well, enough with the excuses.  Picture your version of a green home, plan a route to it, and get started.  Don’t hesitate to lean on great resources like GenGreen, or take a class in your area like the one Ariana Friedlander is offering here in Fort Collins.  And make sure your plan includes a Simple Start project or two – they are easy, don’t cost much to implement, and will build your confidence for larger projects down the road. 


Second is the important reminder that any plan is ultimately realized one piece at a time.  In recent years, mortgage lenders and “reality TV” home makeover shows have created the illusion that achieving a “dream home” is a snap.  Until the recent banking meltdown, it was way too easy for folks to overextend themselves by letting these shows shape the scope for do-it-all-now dream home projects that were then financed with loans that were too big, too easily granted, and in many cases just too good to be true.  Well, for most of us, it is now time to retrench to a truer reality more in line with the pay-as-you-go, bird by bird approach of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.


So as you travel toward Destination Green, think bird by bird.  It is a great way to be realistic about, and truly engaged in, your journey to a more eco-friendly home. It may also help us teach some lost lessons to the generations that follow us and leave them with a healthier planet than we inherited.  We owe them that.

Not So Big Living = Green Living

February 8, 2009 2 comments

One of the simplest strategies for living a greener life in a more eco-friendly home is to subscribe to the teachings of architect Sarah Susanka.  Susanka is the author of the bestselling “The Not So Big House” series, in which she makes the compelling case for choosing quality and efficiency of space over square footage.  Her upshot – a smaller, carefully planned home will always feel more comfortable and cozy than the vacuous expanses of your typical McMansion or Starter Castle.  From an environmental perspective, the benefits of not so big are obvious…a smaller home requires fewer resources and less embodied energy to build, and generally consumes less energy to heat, cool and illuminate. 


Dave and I live in a 1,200 square foot house built in 1952.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, it is quite energy-inefficient (we’ll be working on that, one project at a time) and we do have a long-range plan to expand our livable square footage to approximately 1,900.  We have lots of family and friends visiting us in Colorado, and putting visitors up in my office with an inflatable mattress on the floor and sharing a single bathroom with all of them is a true test of family and friendship bonds.  Of course, we’ll be blogging about our energy efficiency improvements and sustainable remodeling project efforts along the way.


So if you are thinking about a new home, think about how not so big principles could help you buy or build less house than you might otherwise have done.  Better still, think about how you might implement not so big to stay in your current home and make it work for you.  In particular, Susanka’s books “Not So Big Remodeling…” and “Not So Big Solutions for Your Home” can help you be happy staying put.  Your soul and your wallet will thank you. 


What?  You say need room for all of your stuff?  Re-think that too.   We’ve all fallen into the trap of filling up space with stuff we rarely (if ever) use.  A move to a new home can be a great time to sort and shed stuff (be sure to google “donate used your city” to locate organizations who can put everything from eyeglasses to clothes to sports gear to vehicles to productive re-use).  It is also an excellent opportunity to start a new habit of buying and accumulating less.   Look to George Carlin for humorous inspiration .  On the serious side, consider Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff”


So, get inspired to live larger by living not so big – dig into Sarah Susanka’s great work, and check out the quick video below which shows an example of not so big put into practice in our home.


The journey to a more eco-friendly home…

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

…a quest to help save the planet by providing a practical, useful and hopefully even inspirational forum for more sustainable living in homes that are built green, or improved via green makeovers and green remodeling projects.  We’ll be blogging about: 

  • Simple Starts – energy conservation, energy efficient lighting, water conservation and purity, toxic free living, reuse and recycling, indoor air quality, and not-so-big living;
  • Rewarding Refreshes – green home updates and green remodeling using healthier, sustainable materials; 
  • Interesting Investments – rental property investments with a green exit strategy; 
  • Green Gigs – relevant fairs, festivals and gatherings focused on sustainable living, and 
  • Beautiful Builds – eco-friendly and built green home construction. 

We hope that you will follow our blog, comment freely and even contribute to it by sharing how you are working, like we are, toward a planet of eco-friendly homes, one project at a time.

Sincerely, Lara and Dave