Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sustainable Home

This past December, I was lucky enough to have been invited to tour a local sustainable home.

"We don't have to pollute the planet, we can follow nature's model," Etta Kantor commented on why she chose to build a sustainable home.

When people think of green design, they often think of ultra-modern or futuristic. But this home was the ultimate example of how being sustainable can fit any style. Mrs. Kantor's home had a country-theme running through it, with roots in all things sustainable.

She guided our group through her home, showing us all of the inner workings from the stained poured concrete floors on the main level (with radient heat), to the mechanical room that houses the heating systems.

Some of the systems she had in place have been gaining in popularity over the years. For starters, she uses a photovoltaic system that creates electricity which generates almost all of the home's electricity. There is also a 1,000-gallon water tank heated by solar-thermal panels on the roof, which is then transfered to heating the house and providing the heat for the domestic hot water systems (showers, dishwasher, pool, etc.).

However, in the event the sun is not providing the energy that the home requires at any given time, a backup pellet stove will kick in to maintain the heat.

Some of the systems Mrs. Kantor has implemented in the home even her husband was hesitant to install, most notably the composting toilet. The toilet doesn't have an odor, and once you wrap your mind around the process of how it works, it really isn't that bad. They only use one composting toilet, and the other toilets in the home use a gray-water system. The family also uses a cistern in the yard to capture rainwater for landscaping purposes.

Overall, when you walk around the home, if you didn't know it was a platinum-rated LEED certified home. It feels like a traditional country home, with all of the modern conveniences. The Kantor's kitchen is furnished with state-of-the-art energy star appliances, a with beautiful tile details from a local supplier

Some of my favorite details in the home were the many fireplaces:

The wall of fame with all of the awards and certifications the house has earned:

 The spaces flooded with natural light on all levels of the house:

The raw and earthy feel of the exposed timber ceilings:

The colors of the tinted concrete floors:

And the roof tiles that are made of a composite recycled rubber.

The home requires no heating in the winter, although occasionally they take advantage of the warmth of the radient-heat flooring. In the summer months they use conventional methods of central cooling, all of which use energy provided by the sun.

Overall, the Kantor's goal was to make the home as sustainable as possible. While discussing the benefits of sustainability, we discussed that there is a payback in some areas.

But, "I don't want to cut down the trees, so you just feel good knowing you are doing the right thing," Mrs. Kantor stated.

After leaving this lovely home, my passion for sustainability and green design was re-ignited. "You can't be 100 percent but [doing something] is better than not doing anything."

Architect: Edgcomb Design Group
For more information on building green visit the US Green Building Council

How do you feel about the environment, and incorporating a more 'green' lifestyle?


  1. I love it!! We live in the woods in a little cottage that is shaded by trees to stay cooler in the summer, and the back of the house faces east so it has most of the big windows to take in the gentle, morning light. We used to heat primarily with a wood stove, but have been relying on the heat pump too much in the winter, so we're putting in a pellet stove... as soon as the Knight settles on the details (brand, size, etc.)

  2. I think it's great. When we changed our windows we went with the more earth friendly frames. I love them, they are much warmer than the old metal framed windows. g