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

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • 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...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • 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...

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

  • Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese

    2014.09.24
     @ Meli-Melo

    Meet Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese & Take Home a Signed Copy of His New Book! Kevin is a holistic health practitioner,...

  • Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.25
     @ Milbrook Club

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon will be held at Milbrook Club. Registration 11:30am; start at...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Aaron Henry Trunk Show & Personal Appearance

    2014.09.26
     @ Richards


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