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Green and gold: New Life Journal's Green Home Experts Board heads outside the city limits to a modern, green home with great views.


Mitch Gonzalez had a green goal in mind when his company, Target Builders began construction at 158 Pickens Road in Weaverville, NC. In the process of working toward that goal-creating an energy efficient and healthy home--he reached another target: Gold-level Certification from North Carolina's HealthyBuilt Homes program, the highest level of certification possible. Where exactly did he and team member Janice Smith earn their green and gold points? Lots of places.

The home boasts many energy- and resource-efficient features, starting with what might be the most obvious: two roof-mounted solar panels that serve as eco-friendly peaks to the valleys of the home's farmland vistas. The solar panels are used to provide hot water for the house and assist the radiant floor heating throughout the first floor, the tubing of which can also be found throughout the concrete hearth of the wood-burning fireplace. The second floor rooms feature radiators. To make sure all the heat stays in the home, Mitch opted for Icynene insulation, which gets up to nine inches thick in the roof, he says. Additionally, all faucets were fitted with aerators to decrease the flow of water, allowing the homeowners to ultimately use less of the natural resource.

Of course, the insulation will also help ensure that cool air can't escape during the warmer months. To provide the cool air, Mitch installed six mini-split, ductless air conditioning units throughout the house, each with their won thermostats.

The crawl space also has its own temperature control, which will allow future inhabitants to monitor the space's humidity level and be aware of the first sign of any moisture problem. But Mitch is hoping a problem won't arise after sealing the crawl space, also as another energy saving measure, and installing a dehumidifier.


The ability to monitor moisture also means that the future homeowners will be able to better control the quality of their indoor air after they move in. They will also Be able to utilize the whole-house HEPA filtration system, installed during the construction process, to purify the air inside the house as well as the outdoor air entering their home. Measures were also taken to ensure that future homeowners would be inheriting a home with healthy indoor air the minute they walked in. Low-VOC paints were used in the interior, and carpeting was left out of the plans from the beginning; you'll find stained concrete, ceramic tiles and bamboo flooring throughout the home. The adhesives used to secure the flooring were no-VOC products, and the subflooring used under the first floor is 100 percent cork; it also features an antimicrobial underlayment. Kitchen countertops, like the floor, are concrete, but feature a food-grade stain with a citrus oil-based seal. Despite all the green and healthy materials and mechanisms in the home's interior, future homeowners couldn't possibly spend all of their time indoors. So, the Target team was also sure that the outside spaces of the home featured eco-friendly choices, too. The house, sited on part of what was once a 90-acre farm, is situated with southwest exposure so the solar panels can work efficiently. That choice also allows for views of the pastoral landscape and native wildlife. There were minimal trees and brash on the site to worry about during the construction process, but after the house was finished going up, native and/or drought-resistant trees were planted on the property. Pavers were used for the driveway to control stormwater runoff, and Mitch opted for a standingseam metal roof.

All of these green features added up to a Gold-level Certification from the HealthyBuilt Homes program upon completion. The house wilt have its power monitored for one year to determine the average cost. Mitch and his team feel confident that the 5+ stars earned as their Energy Star rating mean only great things for their project: a healthy house they've built to last a lifetime.

158 Pickens Road, Weaverville, NC

Target Builders, Inc.

Mark Gillis

Approximately 2,100 sq. ft.

Price Tag

(includes adjacent lot)


October 2008

Top Green Points


Native and drought-resistant landscaping

Pavers in driveway to control runoff

Standing seam metal roof


Sealed crawlspace with dehumidifier

Whole-house HEPA filtration system

Low-VOC interior paint

No-VOC adhesives

No carpeting

Subfloor of natural cork with Microban underlayment

Mini-split ductless cooling units


Gold-level HealthyBuilt Home Certification

Solar panels for domestic hot water

lcynene insulation

Radiant floor heat with solar assist

Mini-split ductless heating/cooling units with

individual thermostats

Energy Star appliances

Low-flow aerators on faucets

Builder participates in NC Green Power program

New Life Journal's Green Home Experts Say ...

janeAnne Narrin of ECO-Steward Realty: "I'm devoted to the idea of eco-friendly design and development. Green features and their benefits make my clients smile, including native landscaping, green construction and energy-efficient systems. This home, in an equestrian setting, not only is a Gold level-Certified NC Healthy Built home, but also won awards from the 2008 Parade of Homes. It's impressive inside and out. As you enter, the color choices say 'Welcome' while the layout says 'There's room for you here."

Jody Guokas of JAG Construction: "This was an excellent build that really went over the top as far as efficiency and durability was concerned. I was most impressed with the use of a standing seam metal roof on the entire house. From a green building perspective, this is a great feature. Not only is this a roof that will last for an extremely long time, but when it does finally need to be replaced, it can be recycled. The pervasive use of 'disposable' asphalt roofs is a reality that any green builder needs to consider. I was also very impressed with their active solar system. I've never seen the type of wall-mounted radiators used in this home. They were sleek and unobtrusive and seemed to be a great way of getting the solar radiant heat into the upper level of the home. The use of pervious surface for the drive was also very impressive."

Clarke Snell of Think Green Building: "I liked the nice cohesive aesthetic, standing seam metal roof (they spent more money for a much better roof), the pavers for the driveway, the heating and cooling system (hydronics in-floor and wall radiators with solar input and the mini-split AC are improvements over the norm), that it's fairly small for a high-end custom home, and, though I don't like crawl spaces, they sealed and insulated this one."

Erika Schneider of Sundance Solar: "I was impressed with the HVAC systems in the home; they provide for comfort and efficiency. As solar energy is utilized to support the hydronic radiant heating zones along with a high-efficiency boiler, the environmental impacts of fossil fuel combustion are greatly reduced through clean, on-site energy systems and efficiency. The Runtal baseboard radiators and the Mitsubishi mini-splits are sleek in their design and are quite nice looking. Also, the finished concrete hearth is aesthetically pleasing, and the thermal mass that it provides will contribute to increasing the thermal comfort of the fireplace by absorbing much of the heat and evenly radiating it into the space, minimizing large and sudden changes in indoor temperature."


One step further.

While the Board was impressed with the many eco-friendly features of this home, they discuss here a few areas that could have been further addressed in the greening process and that are ideas to consider implementing with your own project.

Think Passive Solar

"If you showed anyone who knows solar a picture of this house, they would assume that it was a passive solar design ... until you told them that what they assumed was south was actually north," says Clarke Snell. "The house is long and thin on the east/west, which is good, with nice shading east and west porches, but the north side is mostly glass with almost no glass on the south. This is the exact opposite of the configuration needed for winter solar gain." Erika Schneider agrees, noting that different siting on the acreage, with less obstruction to the southern exposure, could have reduced the home's heating demand anywhere from 30 to 70 percent. She also notes that future homeowners could add window treatments to the northern windows, offering thermal insulation and reducing heat loss in the winter, and to the western-facing windows to minimize heat gain during the summer.

Jody Guokas also commented on the lack of passive solar design, but expressed that this home brings to light the fact that only a portion of home sites are suitable for passive solar. In this case, he notes the home was built to provide views to the north of the house, rather than of the neighbors on the house's southern side.

Think Housing Market

"I think price tag is often overlooked by a portion of the green movement. How green is a technology or a home when it is only affordable to a small fraction of the population?" asks Jody Guokas. Jody also notes the housing market right now. "How green is a home that is going to sit unoccupied for months?"

Think Water Conservation

"Water conservation and management systems that optimize the value of every drop of water that falls on site deserve much greater attention in this and every construction, especially as we face continuing drought and unknown climate patterns in this region," notes Erika Schneider. "The inclusion of greywater systems would be optimum, but even adding a few rain barrels to collect water for your landscape plantings could have great impact."

Rethink Materials

"I always try to avoid decks," says Clarke Snell. "In this case, they chose an imported Brazilian hardwood for the decking material." Clarke also notes the bamboo flooring, a material becoming prolific in green building and one that he questions. "We live in a hardwood forest with ample wood for hardwood flooring, while bamboo is unsustainably factory farmed in China. I don't know what happened. Somebody claimed that bamboo was 'greener' and it seems to me that everyone just jumped on the bandwagon!"
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Title Annotation:new life journal's GREEN HOME RESOURCE: GREEN HOME SHOWCASE
Author:Cramer, Maggie
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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