Green Mansions



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When the word green pops up at cocktail parties in Fairfield County, it’s more likely to be in the context of a lawn or trousers embroidered with blue whales than home design.

“In this part of the county, the homes are so expensive and lavish that a lot of people don’t give a hoot about energy costs,” says Steven Winter of Steven Winter Associates, Inc., an architectural and engineering firm in South Norwalk that consults on green design and construction.

“I think there’s a perception that new materials that haven’t been around for a long time are more expensive and riskier,” says John Rountree, a Westport architect involved in solar home design.

But the situation appears to be changing. This last winter, heating bills for homes and offices nearly doubled — and that was after a mild winter. Even Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was moved to lash out at state utilities and call the electricity prices “out of control.” With local concern rising, architects and builders are seeing a newly heightened crop of ecology-conscious homeowners.

Then there are the kids. “What may be driving the change is children coming home from school saying, ‘We’ve got to treat the earth better,’ ” Winter observes. “But there are opportunities to be good to the planet and have good housing. Frankly, a green, energy-efficient house isn’t just environmentally friendly. It’s also healthier and more comfortable.”

Adds Rountree, “Green materials are becoming much more mainstream today, with many more resources available for locating and purchasing them.”

When it comes to building the better “eco” house, however, there seems to be no one school of thought, nor any central office for wise design. Talk to ten architects and you will hear ten different theories.

So where should a person turn if suddenly stricken by a greened conscience? It’s not like the late 1970s, when the whole country, shaken by the Arab oil embargoes, plowed a lot of attention into solving the nation’s energy crisis. With plentiful tax breaks offered, innovation soared and so did interest in actually applying it. When the tax breaks were rolled back in the 1980s, and the oil supply returned to normal, the country stopped paying attention to the need.

“You’ve just got to look around to find the new technology that suits your designs,” says Rowayton architect Robert Everett. He is now employing a variety of measures to boost climate-control efficiency, such as capturing warmth in the upper floors and moving it back to the basement. “No, I didn’t go back to college to learn these things,” he says with a smile. “You just have to investigate to find out what’s out there. We’re all searching.”

For existing homes, green renovation might best begin with an energy performance audit, which is conducted by firms like Steven Winter Associates and ranges in cost from $400 to $800. For new homes, it’s wise to talk to a green architect or builder.

Totaling up the actual dollar savings of any given energy-saving design is often difficult. Most methods require an up-front investment that realizes savings only in the long run. But what about listening to your children and saving the earth? Here is a sample of the latest technologies being adapted by some of the smartest architects in Fairfield County.


Darien. The natural beauty of this stretch of the Gold Coast is now being preserved in part by, of all things, synthetics. On Bluff Island, the South Norwalk firm of Robert Cardello Architects is designing an environmentally friendly, 7,200-square-foot house with radiant heating, argon-filled windows that reflect light off the water and a synthetic slate roof. As stocks of old-growth, large-dimension lumber thin, a broad selection of synthetic and recycled products is coming to market and providing attractive alternatives: engineered lumber using smaller-dimension trees and composite material; products made from salvaged and recycled materials; and synthetic building materials such as polymer slate and shakes from companies like DaVinci, and vinyl polymer exterior trimboards from companies like Azek.

Cardello has also designed an 8,000-square-foot shingle-style house, currently under construction, that uses paperless sheetrock. “Mold is the new asbestos,” he says, “and this is a new product in response to it.” Because mildew and mold can form in traditional drywall, green builders and architects are turning to products like Georgia Pacific’s DensGlass — a paperless, all-gypsum board for use in garages, basements and bathrooms.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...

  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
     @ Belle Haven Club

    Join us as Interior Designer Markham Roberts shares coveted design insights, key to creating the perfect home. The program will include...


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