A Beacon for the Future

A Beacon for the Future
"We hope the reinvention of our 100-year-old waterfront home as a model of green building will educate and inspire both the building industry and the general public.” - Homeowners Dave and Anna Porter (rendering by Craig Thorpe).

Friday, March 7, 2008

Keeping The Green Faith

Okay, being a "green" champion I can't resist commenting on the disappointing event that took place on Monday of this week. Not only did the torching of 4 of the 5 "Built Green" Seattle Street of Dreams homes do nothing to further the cause for the environment (I dare say it seriously set the cause back quite a bit!) but the short-sighted domestic terrorists clearly do not care about the environment at all! If so, they would have thought first about the effects of their actions on the environment. I can't quote any statistics, but I think its safe to say that at least hundreds of pounds of not only CO2 were released into the already stressed air around our city but most likely lots of other not-so-nice chemicals that might have been in some of the not-so-green construction products and furnishings. The other "duh" moment that missed them is that its safe to say that the homes were insured and that those homes will undoubtedly be rebuilt therefore consuming two times the amount of raw materials that the original homes consumed! And perhaps, because the builders, now not so sure that building green is the prudent thing to do (since the terrorists don't seem to be interested in torching non-green buildings) might rebuild those previously "green" homes in a conventional manner, using materials and processes that do further harm to the environment. Kudos to the "eco"-terrorists! You win the "built-dumb" award for 2008!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Welcome to the Beach Blog

It's here! It's here! The long-awaited blog on how things are going at the beach! Sorry we've taken so long (we know you've been waiting with baited breath!) but it's been crazy times here.

So, as promised, this blog is going to be mostly about how systems and products are performing in this house now that we're living here. Keep in mind that having just moved in in mid-November 2007 we don't have a lot of time under our belts to report everything. But we can share with you what we've experienced so far. I will probably focus more on performance of products while David will want to share about system performance. We'll each post our own comments so you can get both perspectives.

First, of all, in answer to the perennial question: "We love the house and love living here!" Who wouldn't? It's a great house in a great location. And in answer to the other question: "We've thought about it seriously and we wouldn't change a thing!" We love every little square inch of our home.

Secondly, as you read our postings, please keep in mind that how our house performs for us has a lot to do with our family and lifestyle and doesn't necessarily translate directly to how these products might perform for you. There are 3 adults, a small dog, and a cat living here in this 2700 square foot house so we really can't say how things would work for a family with small children and a golden retriever. Understand my meaning?

Now, having said all that...down to the nitty gritty. The first thing I notice about living in this very green house with friendly indoor environment is that it gets dirty fast! Why is this? Because there's no carpet in the house to trap all the sand, dirt, dog and human hair, dust balls, etc.! So yes, it takes more work to keep the floors clean (although the built-in vacuum system and the built-in vac pan in the kitchen help a great deal) but that means the house is cleaner and healthier for all of us. If we had carpeting all those gross things I can now see would be hiding in the carpet. Did you know that statistics show that when old carpet is removed to be replaced it weighs anywhere from 2 to 4 times what it did when it was first installed?! Can you say "ewwwwwww?!"

Since we're on the subject of floors, you're probably wondering about the individual product performance. Keep in mind that we avoid wearing street shoes in the house though our guests frequently do. So here's a rundown:

  • Marmoleum Click: This is throughout most of the main floor. Easy to keep clean, fairly sturdy (especially when you consider how many people we've had through this house!). Does nick or scratch when it comes in contact with sharp implements but don't know of a hard surface flooring that wouldn't! Seems to hold up well to at least our small dog and the sand that we track in from the beach!
  • Ecotimber FSC Australian Chestnut: Doesn't get a lot of traffic (as it's in the office) but so far easy to clean and durable.
  • Toucan Teak: This is the hard wood that gets the most exposure as it is on the stairs and the whole second floor (minus the master bedroom). Easy to keep clean but as with any fine wood floor it does get nicked if you're not careful with it.
  • Teragren Bamboo: This is in the master bedroom. Easy to keep clean and durable as with the other hard floors. Again, keeping sharp objects away is important!
  • Island Stone pebble floors: This is in 3 bathrooms. It's holding up well, relatively easy to keep clean. The grout is more the issue but this is typical of any tile-type application.
  • Irongate Ceramic tile: In the main floor bath. Easy to clean and still looking great!
  • Acid Washed Concrete: in the basement. Concrete is porous so we do have to be careful not to spill things like paint or wine on it but the acid washing hides a lot! Just a vacuum and damp mop keep it looking spiffy!
  • Vida Cork: This is in the guest suite. Seems as sturdy as any of the other hard surface floors. Important note: This floor does not like painter's masking tape so be careful when masking it to paint the walls. The tape can pull off some of the finish! We were able to mitigate that by using a low-VOC stain over the tape marks.