October 25, 2007

Going extreme green!

Green Dog Enterprises

From the moment Daimon Doyle of Doyle Custom Homes signed on to build the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project in Kirkland, he was determined to give the Chapin family a home that met the highest standards of green building possible under the rigorous schedule imposed by the show.

As the project’s green building consultant, I was asked to suggest products and vendors, evaluate choices being made by the show’s designers, and make sure the whole team understood our goals. Piece of cake, right? Ha!

With just a few weeks to prepare, decisions and changes came fast and furious, many with “green” implications. Pat McBride, the architect, allowed for the furnace and most of the ductwork to be in conditioned space? Hooray! Core Design’s team is committed to a lawn-free landscaping plan? Terrific! The TV folks are willing to talk to Toucan Teak about its FSC-certified flooring? Wonderful!

Then came the challenges. Not enough curing time to use pervious concrete for the pool surround? OK, we’ll go with the regular stuff but use Mutual Materials’ pavers everywhere else. Recovery 1 will handle recycling the construction waste, but the debris from the original home will be contaminated with lead-painted siding. Wait! What if we pull together a volunteer crew to hand-demo the siding, and use that time to salvage decking and fence materials, too?

In what seemed like no time at all, Ty Pennington was knocking on the family’s door and we were off and running. To help make sure moisture and air sealing didn’t get compromised in the craziness of night-time, rain-soaked construction, I called on two expert colleagues: Diane Glenn of The Construction Consultants and Dan Wildenhaus of Atmosphere Inc. Little did they suspect they’d be supervising window flashing and foaming can lights at 3 a.m.!

As the dust settles, we’ve still got product lists to review and performance testing to complete before we’ll know just how green the house has turned out to be. Preliminary numbers indicate it will use only about half the energy of a typical home that size. Paying for heat had been a serious challenge in the past for Connie Chapin. With her new Energy Star-certified home, I was able to assure her personally that she won’t have to worry about that any more.

Pam Worner is Top Dog of Green Dog Enterprises; a consulting firm devoted to promoting green building practices and helping businesses succeed in the green building market. In addition to helping builders achieve green certifications, Green Dog specializes in showcasing green practices through educational and demonstration projects.

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