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August 2008 – Vol. 1, No. 8

It is an exciting, historical time in our country. A transformative time that represents progress. Presidential candidates are talking about climate change, energy, and environmental policy with an unprecedented confidence and sense of urgency. The roots of a green economy are being planted—an economy that produces renewable energy solutions, cultivates environmentally appropriate products, and utilizes clean transportation. In this economy, it is estimated that up to 5 million new green collar jobs will be created that can’t be shipped overseas, and the training of a new labor force will spur innovation and entrepreneurship, resulting in an financial boom that will equal that of the first industrial revolution.

The development of a green economy creates a broad set of new opportunities that will affect every business in every industry. As the new economy grows, businesses will vie for skilled green collar workers, paying higher wages to people who have training related to renewable energy and environmentally appropriate systems. I believe that we’ll start seeing state-based incentives for green collar workers as well, not to mention the personal satisfaction of working for a company that has regenerative environmental practices that people can feel good about.   

Now is a perfect time to position yourself for the new green economy. At Green Builder Media, we’re honored to have the opportunity to provide building professionals with the educational tools they need to increase their knowledge about sustainable development.

If you haven’t already confirmed your subscription to Green Builder magazine or registered for Green Builder College, please do so now. Don’t miss this unprecedented opportunity to lead your community and our nation in the quest for a new green economy.

Sara Gutterman
CEO & Publisher
Green Builder Media




Watch Ron Jones speak about managing moisture.

This video is designed to be viewed in Windows Media Player. Download the free player here.

Each month Green Builder Media will bring you a video of important information about green building. This month’s video is a brief introduction to the Managing Moisture course at Green Builder College.

Differentite yourself in your market place with a Green Builder Certification from Green Builder College.




Use tips from these industry experts to make sure your kitchens are squeaky green.

IceStone’s Sage Pearl

1. Let the Light In
According the Peter Pfeiffer, a principal with Barley & Pfeiffer in Austin, every choice made in a kitchen has potential impact on indoor air quality, energy use, and durability. So he encourages builders to think about how to use products that reduce the need for artificial light. “Lighting consumes energy and produces heat. In most cases we want to discourage xenon or halogen, where 95% of it comes out as heat. It’s so important that you are prudent with lighting. With LEDs and CFLs you can reduce AC load by as much as a ¼ or ½ ton.”

Finishes impact that energy use as well. Black granite or dark-colored cabinets or flooring, soak up the light and cause users to turn up lighting so they can see the celery they are dicing. Pfeiffer suggests you encourage buyers to stick to lighter colors in the kitchen so light use will remain at a minimum.

Green award-winning Pringle Creek in Salem, Ore., boasts kitchens that use tons of natural light to keep kitchens functional and energy-wise. “Our goal was to maximize light and space,” says Mark Kogut, project architect for Opsis Architecture. “Windows and using patio door with window in it to bring in as much light as possible.”

Kogut also notes that kitchens should have as many operable windows so ventilation can keep the space cool and vent cooking odors. “The lighter and brighter materials we used minimized our need for artificial lighting and our strategic placement of lights over counters to maximize task lighting in the evenings and the winter reduces energy use.”

2. Consider New Counter Materials
A great choice for countertop materials is IceStone. Made from 75 percent recycled glass and shells, bound with cement, this materials performs comparably to granite. The shimmering glass pieces actually brighten a space, especially when colors like Snow Flurry in the company’s new Refined collection or Sage Pearl, which is popular in the Classic collection. The product is the only Cradle to Cradle Certified durable surface by MBDC (see for information on their third-party certification program), and contains no epoxy or petrochemicals, so there is no off-gassing.

There are innumerable other countertop options to chose from, and in places where locally quarried stone is available, the case can be made that stone’s durability and lack of transportation costs make it an appropriate green choice. Other products, like paper-based fiber composite PaperStone ( or the terrazzo product EnviroGLAS (, are also standouts, but you should do your homework to determine whether these products are right for your homes and buyers.

Susan Serra, CKD, owner of Susan Serra Associates, a Northport, N.Y.–based interior designer, agrees that countertops can be a bit tricky because of the wide array of choices. “When you are dealing with manufactured countertops, the best thing to do is to get as big a sample of it as you can—ideally a 12” by 12” piece—and test it. Leave wine, coffee, and vinegar on it for 24 hours, wipe it off the next day and see what you see. That really tells the story.”

Serra notes that the new manufactured countertops go well with the modern kitchens that more consumers are gravitating toward. But old-school clients may still want to stick with marbles and granites. Your best bet is to find local sources for them.

3. Always Offer Green Cabinets
An area of the kitchen that has moved more slowly into the green finishes category in terms of consumer acceptance is cabinetry.

Neil Kelly of Portland, Ore., was the first green certified cabinetmaker in the United States. All the company’s cabinets are made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood manufactured with water-based. “Number one, there is no added urea formaldehyde in our cabinets, which is a huge distinguisher from other cabinet makers, says company CEO Tom Kelly. When the company doesn’t use solid wood, it relies on Columbia Forest Product’s ( PureBond, which Kelly refers to as the Holy Grail of green engineered products. In a nutshell, PureBond uses a soy-based binder and can be used in cabinets or as paneling or in flooring.

Serra got so excited about a collection of high-end furniture grade cabinets she designed with that she became the U.S. rep for the Denmark-based manufacturer of them ( Her argument about the embodied energy of shipping from Denmark? “This is 100 percent eco-friendly furniture—not 20 percent or 50 percent—the adhesives are water based and the factory process produces little waste, which is documented,” she says.

But more important, she thinks, is that because the hardwood cabinets are beautifully designed by an architect, they will be kept forever, unlike cabinets today that are yanked out after just 20 years. “It is a solid wood with natural finishes that you can sandpaper and re-oil. People will collect this like they do furniture,” she predicts.

4. Get in the Green Ground Floor
The floor is another area of the kitchen where green choices abound. While bamboo and cork became big hits quickly, research where the bamboo comes from for each manufacturer you are considering using, and study issues of durability. Not all flooring products are made alike or come from the same sources. And cork, though comfortable on the feet and renewable, needs to be assessed for its durability. Read company literature to ensure it will hold up as long as wood floors or linoleum.

Because so many consumers are fans of wood floors, builders should look for locally reclaimed wood floors. Or, if new wood floors are required, make sure the wood is harvested from a domestic source to reduce embodied energy costs, and make sure the wood is from a FSC-certified forest, which essentially ensures that foresters maintain sustainable growing and culling practices.

Laminate wood flooring, or engineered flooring, uses younger trees in a process that yields a tough floor that has a plywood base and prefinished wood top, so it is also a good choice, provided no- or low-VOC products are used in its manufacture.

And don’t forget good-old laminate flooring. It’s made from linseed oil and other natural materials. A high-design option is Forbo’s Marmoleum, which gives builders many options for modern and even traditional kitchens. “You can do some elegant design with Marmoleum,” says Serra. “It doesn’t always have to be informal and funky.”

5. Be Water Smart
Water conservation is a large part of the kitchen, so be sure to offer low-flow faucets or even the touchless faucets, which are becoming popular with consumers. Nearly every manufacturer has a low-flow option for the kitchen and innovative Web offerings that can help you spec the right products. Kohler, as an example, just launched a web-based resource for trade professionals

The new password-protected Web site serves plumbers, contractors, architect/designers, builders, remodelers, and countertop installers. Users from each trade group receive customized information from Kohler based on their indicated areas of interest. After logging in, site visitors can search for product information, create folders to keep individual projects organized, and store this information on the site for future access.




Advanced Energy’s SystemVision program demonstrates 15% more energy savings over code-built homes and backs program with an energy guarantee.

Advanced Energy a resource for market-based approaches to energy issues, announced its SystemVision program is proven to save 15% more in energy use and costs than standard code-built homes.

The study compared 12 months of energy usage data in central North Carolina homes that were less than five years old. While a typical 1,700-square-foot house used approximately 17,056 kWh of energy with total costs of $1,431 yearly, the homes built to SystemVision standards used approximately 14,579 kWh of energy with total costs of $1,223, a savings of more than $200.

“Our goal is to improve energy efficiency in every home receiving public or charitable funding, at least to Energy Star level, while improving the homes’ safety, durability, comfort, affordability and environmental impact,” says Brian Coble, director of affordable housing programs at Advanced Energy.

Launched in 2001, SystemVision, Advanced Energy’s Affordable Housing Program, provides the training and technical support that leads to improved health, safety, durability, comfort, and energy efficiency of affordable homes. Nonprofits developing low and moderate-income housing within North Carolina are eligible to start building with SystemVision and, through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, funding is available to these non-profit organizations to help defray the costs often associated with building high performance homes.

To date, Advanced Energy has built 1,200 homes in its SystemVision program.

Advanced Energy provides ongoing support throughout the design, construction and marketing processes, and all homes in North Carolina’s SystemVision program carry a heating and cooling energy guarantee. These house plan-specific guarantees generally range from $16 to $40 per month, with most falling between $25 and $30.

If a home exceeds its guaranteed usage at the end of the year, Advanced Energy pays the difference to the homeowner. SystemVision homes also carry an Advanced Energy comfort guarantee to ensure that these homes are not only financially affordable to purchase and live in, but comfortable and enjoyable too.




The clock is ticking! Enter your green house in our first annual awards contest by September 12.

Green Builder magazine has launched a brand-new design competition that has a twist for you overworked green professionals: Unlike other contests with their niche categories, special entry requirements, and time-consuming formats, we’ve stripped things down to make this contest a snap to enter.

We are asking all green building professionals to enter the best green projects they have—any price point, any market, any construction material, any style. A seasoned panel of judges will pick the best projects from the entrants to get full-blown coverage in our December issue (and even those who don’t win will get consideration for coverage in other parts of our magazine.)

Don’t wait! Submissions are due Sept. 12. E-mail [email protected] today for information on how to enter and download the entry form here.




Alside introduces Revolution Composite Siding, which offers durability and a natural look.

Alside’s Revolution composite siding blends natural wood ingredients with structural polymers to give new homes and remodeling projects a durable finish. The siding line is environmentally friendly, feels like wood, and requires no time-consuming painting, staining, and caulking. The company’s formulation of high-quality wood fibers and strong polymers is moisture resistant. And its advanced co-polymer properties resist cracking and breaking, even in the coldest climates.

Made of 50% virgin material and 50% recycled content, Revolution satisfies growing homeowner demand for green products. The wood core of the siding carries Alside’s EnviroSmart designation for its renewable resources and for not contributing to environmental degradation or long-term depletion of natural resources. Revolution is also silica free and meets guidelines established by green building certification programs.




EEBA’s 2008 Excellence in Building Conference & Expo is set for October 22-24 in Phoenix.

The focus of this year’s conference is “Green Building Performance” and includes seminars on high-performance homes, energy performance and quality, how to shop for green programs, water management, ventilation strategies, zero energy homes, and much more. To register, go to or call 952-881-1098




Take a page out of this green designer’s book by studying her show house of green ideas.


Designer Jennifer Pippen has been designing homes for more than 20 years with an eco-sensitive lifestyle in mind. With her latest project, she has turned a 1,200 square foot lake cottage into a showcase that details all the tried-and-true green details she has espoused through her career.

The home’s transformation has been documented in photos and commentary at and is worth a look: More than 60 green, environmentally friendly or sustainably relevant features have been identified in the home, including solar hot water, rainwater collection, PV roof panels, and special site considerations. The house, which has received its Energy Star certification, is expected to achieve a HealthyBuilt Homes certificate.




Make room on your professional library shelf for this recently released book.

“If every home in America changed just one of its old-fashioned light bulbs from an energy-conserving one, after one year, that would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes, save $600 million in annual energy costs, and save more carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere than had 800,000 cars been taken off the road … “

Green: Your Place in the New Energy Revolution is all about specifics, offering information that people need to make informed decisions about their lifestyles and their political stance.

Environmental experts Jane and Michael Hoffman (she the organizer of the first presidential debate on global warming and he the manager of the world’s largest renewable energy fund) use entertaining anecdotes and their wealth of experience to illustrate energy issues from political and economic factors, to scientific advances, to the simple changes that need to be made in daily lifestyles to bring the environmental changes needed to push the energy revolution.




September 17, 2008 Charlotte, NC

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