By Michael Stoner
Special To The Standard
As interest in green building has exploded, so have the options available to those who are building or renovating houses and want to make them as energy-efficient as possible. In fact, said Jill Davies, whose house in Woodstock will use solar and geothermal energy, “Making the best decision is complicated by the fact that things are changing so rapidly.”
Bobbi Dagger, a real estate agent who was one of the first realtors in Vermont to earn the Green Designation through the National Association of Realtors, noted that many local builders are incorporating sustainable, recycled, and energy-efficient materials into their new construction and renovations.
For example, she cited Chris Ambrose of Ambrose Custom Builders, Inc., who is building a new house on College Hill Road. Ambrose, a Certified Green Builder, is using a plethora of new materials and techniques to ensure that the house is as green as possible.
“We used a new type of panel for sheathing. It replaces plywood, it’s insulated, and it helps to close up any thermal breaks, helping to keep the building envelope tight and making sure that heat stays inside the house,” Ambrose said. Rather than using traditional forms to pour the house’s basement, Ambrose used ICFs (insulated concrete forms), which provide a seamless foundation with an insulating value of R30.
Improved cellulose and foam insulation and low-E windows will help to make the house tighter. And an energy-efficient heating system will enable the residents to lower their heating bills: “Rather than heating the water in the radiant floors to 180 F., they will heat it to 130.”
Ambrose is utilizing many construction materials made from recycled products. And lumber, beams, and flooring he saved when he razed a 115-year-old house across the road will find their way into the home’s interior.
In Woodstock, Jill Davies and Nigel Holmes are nearing completion of the first part of their renovation and building project on North Street. They gutted the original house on the property and, working with Alfonse Sorrentino (ACS Design/Build, Inc.), they are creating a studio, office, guest room, and garage. Next year, they’ll build a small house on the property.
Both these structures will be heated by geothermal, powered by solar panels. “We won’t be paying anyone for heat,” Davies said. Beams, wood flooring, doors and other materials salvaged from the original structure will be used in the renovation. The roof was replaced with a green roof with high R-value using structural insulated panels.
This article first appeared in the March 10th print edition of the Vermont Standard.