So as the couple anticipated changes, including the addition of a, 400-square-foot master bedroom and bath, Callaway got out her sketch pad and began a series of renderings aimed at incorporating their needs—and a desire for green—into an 80-plus year old framework.
By the time she handed the project off to Michael Strong, a like-minded member of the local green building community, the project had grown to include the remodeling of the kitchen and the complete resealing of the building envelope.
“For this remodel, we followed a performance, rather than prescriptive path, where our primary concern—along with meeting their need for more room—was reducing the overall energy usage in the house,” Strong said.
Strong’s team reinsulated the walls, replaced all the home’s windows, insulated the it’s pier and beam foundation, sealed the attic, replaced the home’s HVAC and water heater, going with a tankless model for the latter, while also replacing all the plumbing features.
“In many respects the Callaways were great clients: they’re young, they’re technical, they’re savvy, they’re smart, and they are green,” he says. “But even in their case they still needed someone with a building background to say, ‘You can’t do this. This is why,’ and, ‘Here’s what we recommend as an alternative and this is why.’’”
Strong notes that on this project, as well as another, there are two elements of green construction he’s particularly taken with: an insulation inspection regime that ensures you’re meeting your performance goals before sheetrock is installed, the ease with which many initiatives can be adopted without having to retrain one’s labor force.
Significantly, the Callaways contributed their own sweat equity, recycling materials themselves for reuse in their home. For instance they took glass that was removed from their own windows, painted one side, and then used it as the sink backsplash in their kitchen.
They also strove to source materials locally—even finding their marble countertop from a local seller on Craigslist.
“That’s a very important consideration on a green project,” Strong says. “While it might not have any impact on the energy performance of your home, it goes a long way toward fulfilling your broader goals in terms of sustainability … because what a lot of people don’t understand is that the embedded energy in a given product doesn’t just come from its manufacture, a tremendous amount of the more or less invisible energy used in a project is in the transportation of the project elements.”
To view this article as it appeared in our September 2010 issue as part of a green remodeling feature, please visit our Magazine Archive.