Building a house can be a major stress-inducer. There are almost always setbacks, cost overruns and other unexpected angina producers. Stir in the prospect of building green, and those setbacks can become lengthy delays, cost overruns can become major budget busters, and the angina—well, let’s not even think about that.
Despite the dangers, Kimberly Lancaster and Joe Hageman have bravely waded into green home building—even incorporating home technologies to make their soon-to-be completed coastal Rhode Island home as energy-efficient and sustainable as possible (click here to view slideshow).
The 4,400-square-foot residence will be managed by a home control system that uses an innovative energy monitor to enable the homeowners to see how much power they’re using. A lighting control system, meanwhile, will be in charge of dimming the home’s energy-efficient and long-lasting LEDs (light emitting diodes). Vampire or standby power used by appliances and electronics when they are “off” will be curbed automatically. Various sensors will cut the juice to other devices whenever a room is unoccupied.
So far, at least, the implementation of those green technology has gone smoothly. (At press time the home’s walls were being plastered, so many of the electronic systems had only been planned for and wired.) But careful coordination and communication with the home’s custom electronics professional, Jeff Mitchell of Carolina, R.I.-based Robert Saglio Audio Video Design, made the process much less stressful.
Let the Games Begin
After buying the property in 2005, Lancaster and Hageman looked to retrofit an existing structure, but encountered lots of those angina-inducing moments—in this case 2-by-3-inch wall construction and mold in the insulation. A retrofit wasn’t worth it, so the couple opted to demolish the structure and build new. That’s when they decided to go green. “We were working on our design plans, and I have a personal interest in sustainability,” says Lancaster, who is the president and founder of Caster Communications, a public relations firm. “As a family we had become more conscious of materials and organic eating. Plus, Caster has a growing interest to see where green building was going.”
The decision was made not only to build a home green and use green technology, but to apply for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-Home certification. As of August, the home had been under construction for 12 months, including the drilling of a 1,000-foot-deep well for the house’s geothermal system, which will provide all of the home’s heat, cooling, and heat for hot water.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates