Archive for the 'Green' Category

Week 42.1: then, they stopped and staired

After three weeks of ladder-climbing, we finally have stairs again. Behold—the 13 steps!

The 13 steps.

The 13 steps.

The stringers—white, wooden bands on each side—support the risers (and, soon, the glass handrail), conceal the step profile and draw the eye up to connect with the base of the middle volume structure. Here, the thick, White Dove line transitions to a stain of Enduring Bronze and continues along the bottom edge of the volume toward the opposite end.

Step off…

Step off…

Step on!

Step on!

The risers—steel supports and bamboo treads—are an open design that allow light from the main living area to pass through to the east side hallway. In addition to this very well-thought out functional aspect, the openness also manages to create the illusion that the individual steps are floating.

Step off…

Step off…

Step on!

Step on!

Initially, Will and Matthew had explored the possibility of wrapping the steel supports in some of the remaining bamboo flooring in an effort to avoid pricey treads. Unfortunately, that approach didn’t pan out, so it was off again to Lumber Liquidators for another order of Supreme Bamboo (the kindly folks at Lumber Liquidators folks had them shipped overnight at no additional charge).

The end result, like so much else about 1133, is a perfect balance of form and function.


Week 37.2: counterpoint

Blanco Maple (left) and Yukon Blanco (right).

Blanco Maple (left) and Yukon Blanco (right).

On Saturday, we made another dreaded DirectBuy run to order our countertops.

Maybe we should quit complaining about DB, but we just can’t help but feeling like we’ve been taken for a ride. Maybe it’s because they rarely ever have what we’re looking for. Maybe it’s because we’ve managed to find a number of our pricier purchases for much less on or Amazon. Or maybe it’s the fact that, lately, our every shopping experience is soundtracked by the wistful strains of The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over.

The Dude would not abide.

Still, in this instance, our DB membership did pay off… if only just a little bit. Although we still went over on our countertops budget, we were able to get our top choice for less than we could have anywhere else—Silestone® Quartz by Cosentino in Blanco Maple for the kitchen and Yukon Blanco for the downstairs bathroom.

From the Silestone site:

“Silestone offers the unique combination of built-in Microban® antimicrobial product protection, National Sanitation Foundation certification and Greenguard Indoor Air Quality certification.”

“Unlike granite countertops where microbes can penetrate the countertop surface if not properly sealed, Silestone Quartz countertops are non-porous, keeping microbes from penetrating the surface of your countertop (quartz is an engineered stone). And Silestone countertops are the only quartz countertops with Microban antimicrobial protection, which inhibits the growth of microbes such as odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew.”

“Certifications by the National Sanitation Foundation and the Greenguard Environmental Institute mean Silestone is a Safer Surface for areas where food preparation takes place, while protecting the quality of your indoor air quality because it has low-to-no emission (off gassing) of toxic chemicals into the indoor environment.”

Cosentino N.A. is also a member of the U.S. Green Building Council—a non-profit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation—and has outlined how building teams can benefit from and derive valuable LEED credits when Silestone Quartz surfaces are utilized.

I’m your fan

Cirrus Hugger in white.

Cirrus Hugger in white.

We hadn’t really planned for a ceiling fan initially. But after getting reacquainted with a region where running the AC in the dead of winter is not unheard of (two years later and we’re STILL thawing out from New England’s harsh winters), we started mulling.

But, it’s just so hard to find a simple, unobtrusive ceiling fan that’s also durable and affordable (come on IKEA!). G Squared’s Artemis and just about everything on offer from Ron Rezek’s Modern Fan Co. are quite nice, but… cha-ching!

Hampton Bay’s 60-inch White Industrial Fan had offered a glimmer of hope. It is minimally designed, energy-efficient, and quite affordable at $59.97. But after the guys installed it two weekends ago (sorry Will and Matt), it just looked… well, cheap (and being the proud, card-carrying typography snobs that we are, we were appalled by the design of the wall switch).

About that time, DWR had just started it’s Ten Year Anniversary Sale (15% off and free shipping) making what we’d initially had our eye on ever-so-slightly more affordable (that and Liane’s $50 Christmas Gift Card). So we dismantled the Hampton Bay, took it back to Home Depot, and splurged on Modern Fan Co.’s Cirrus Hugger in white (it also comes in silver/brushed aluminum).

It’s up, though not yet running (I took on the installation duties this time… fingers crossed we’re all good when the juice is turned on)… and looking super-cool (photos forthcoming)!

More about the Cirrus from the Modern Fan Co. site:

“At 13-inches, the Cirrus Hugger is designed specifically for low-ceiling applications. While compact in scale, this hugger is an exceptionally powerful air mover. Although refreshingly simple in appearance, (the Hugger) involves mastery in design, powerful motors, maintenance-free bearings and Ron Rezek’s invention of blades that insert directly into a single-piece rotor.”

“Modern Fans can keep you comfortable while helping to reduce energy consumption in several ways. Like a nice breeze on a warm day, moving air offers recognizable relief from heat and humidity. This effect allows for upward adjustment of your AC thermostat by as much as 8 degrees, resulting in up to 40% reduction in power consumption. In many cases, air conditioning can be turned off entirely, with a Modern Fan using less electricity than a standard light bulb.”

Week 37.1: hit the deck

Plan Master Terrace ©Green Bottle Workshop, LLC

Plan Master Terrace ©Green Bottle Workshop, LLC

With the paint drying on the inside volume structures (photos soon, once we’re up and running again after yesterday’s unfortunate C-Lux tragedy!), and the subfloor enjoying it’s last hours of light before bamboo-ing begins on Wednesday, the Green Bottle Gang—once again ably assisted by the Hardie Boys—turned their attention outward and upward to the master terrace deck.

More or less gathering pollen (and, fleetingly, a bit of snow) since it’s weather-proofing back around week 25, Monday saw most of its bare spots covered in the remainder of the Hardie Board fiber cement siding used to great effect on the rest of 1133 (again, photos forthcoming).

After this, only the decking and the glass handrail remain before the master terrace is in full service. Heck, we’re even wired for sound!

As for the decking, we’re going with composite over wood. Composites, which blend ground-up wood and plastic, can last two to three times longer than conventional decking material and don’t require painting or staining. We’ve narrowed the field to two: Weyerhaeuser’s ChoiceDek® available exclusively from Lowe’s and Home Depot‘s reputable Veranda™ line.

According to their site, ChoiceDek is composed of 100% recycled content—recycled wood fiber encapsulated in recycled polyethylene. Not much info on the Veranda site regarding it’s Green-liness, but Consumer Reports has given it top marks in its category, beating ChoiceDek in its resistance to mildew and sagging (woo hoo!).

Either way, we’re probably going with the gray.

It’s not easy being green (the no-blues blues)

It was around week 29 that we received the bad news: no jeans for 1133. With the receipt of one fateful estimate, our denim dreams died… and died hard. Reality bites… and at an estimated $12K for Bonded Logic’s Ultratouch Recycled Cotton Insulation, it was a bloody, vicious bite (our budget for insulation was around $2K). Crestfallen and incredulous, we reluctantly agreed to fiberglass.

But, as they always do, the Green Bottle Gang came through, managing to find something in our price range that was still respectful of our desire to stay clean and green—Guardian Building Products.

According to the Guardian site:

“Guardian Fiberglass meets the highest possible product certification for indoor air quality standards—Greenguard Certification. As part of an on-going certification progress with Greenguard, batt, roll and loose-fill insulation products are tested each year to ensure that Guardian products continue to be in compliance with the strictest of air quality standards. Guardian Fiberglass helps a quality home environment.”

A little Sol

“As architects, we have a responsibility to take a longer term view of development and conceptualize more holistic, sustainable models.” — Chris Krager, KRDB

I'm a Sol plan. ©KRDB

I'm a Sol plan. ©KRDB

Architect Chris Krager and his firm KRDB are one of the country’s leading Design/Build practices. We first learned of Chris and KRDB’s noble and ongoing mission to create “extraordinary buildings that are financially accessible” through an episode of Dwell on the Fine Living channel in July of last year. In fact, prior to our discovering Manhattan and Green Bottle Workshop, we’d even considered (and hotly pursued) purchasing the plans for one of their amazing Cedar Avenue homes to build right here in Birmingham (we soooooo owe Chris for his helpfulness and patience).

Recently, KRDB launched a site for its latest project—a green Austin, Texas neighborhood development called Sol.

An acronym for Solutions Oriented Living, Sol is “the first net-zero energy neighborhood of its kind… representing the intersection of affordability, quality design, and environmental responsibility.”

To learn more on this pioneering project, go here (there’s also a Sol blog). And for more of KRDB’s work, you can check out their site here.

Pretty Persuasion

Kohler Persuade

The Kohler Persuade Two-piece Comfort Height Toilet with Dual Flush.

If you ever told us that we’d be excited about buying a toilet… I mean, who gets excited about buying a toilet?

But we did!

Kohler’s new Persuade toilet not only looks quite nice, its dual flush mechanism will enable us to save water (up to 6,000 gallons annually!) and money.

From Kohler: “The Persuade toilet with Dual Flush technology provides significant water conservation while maintaining exceptional flushing performance. A two-button actuator offers .8- or 1.6-gallon flush options for light or bulk waste, saving as much as 6,000–25,000 gallons of water over traditional 1.6- or 3.5-gallon toilets. The concealed trapway and flush-to-wall installation enhance ease of cleaning. With its clean, simple lines, the elongated compact design offers an ideal solution for the contemporary bath or powder room.”

And because of its high-efficiency, the Persuade carries the WaterSense label. WaterSense is a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures consumers receive a product that reduces water usage, while still meeting strict performance guidelines. In some states, buying the Persuade qualifies customers for a tax rebate (paying up to a third of the total purchase price), because it reduces demand for municipal water, and preserves precious groundwater supplies. But alas, not here in the Yellowhammer state. And as much as we love Alabama, we really think the powers that be ought to start doing a bit more for water conservation on the home front than they have been.

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