Driving Sustainable Design in the Luxury Home

By Linsey StonchusThe luxury industry recently has been more conscious of the planet, with sustainability making it into the ethos of numerous  brands.

Luxury homes are no exception – everyone from interior designers to architects, and their respective clients – are demanding a more sustainable way of living.

“Architects and designers are becoming more and more comfortable with [sustainability],” said Duan Tran, partner at  KAA Design Group. “Homes are becoming much more thoughtfully designed and less impactful on the environment and everything else that goes along with it.”

California-based KAA Design Group prioritizes both overall wellness and sustainability as it considers its architecture projects.

“We’ve seen that the government regulations are getting tighter and more thoughtful in terms of ensuring that we’re designing homes that are sustainable and responsible moving forward,” Mr. Tran said.

 

More Than Ethical

In some regions, incorporating eco-friendly design is not just ethical – it is legal. California, for instance, has among the strictest regulations in terms of environmental consciousness.

“We’ve seen that the government regulations are getting tighter and more thoughtful in terms of ensuring that we’re designing homes that are sustainable and responsible moving forward,” Mr. Tran said.

“A lot of this has to do with things that relate to water conservation measures, which relate to the drought issues that we have here in California,” he said. “Also, they’re making sure that these homes are net-zero energy homes.”

Energy conversion is one of the most frequent forms of sustainability, with tactics that include alternative forms of energy and simply, smarter architectural design that organically minimizes the need for heating or cooling.

KAA Design incorporates a handful of these ideas in many of its projects.

In terms of clever design, one practice is to design a home with passive ventilation. Essentially, windows are placed on either side of a room, which creates a natural cross-ventilation and reduces the need for air conditioning.

ETHICAL LIVING IS a no brainer, considering the environmental benefits of sustainable design, renewable energy and native plants, along with the wellness benefits that a natural home provides.

 

Taking Heat

Similarly, deep overhangs from the exterior provide shade and minimize the reach of the sun, further keeping a space cool.

Looking at greener forms of energy, solar is often the go-to in California, which is ideal, of course, because of its abundance of sun, but also because many new homes feature flat roofs, making them perfect for solar panels.

Roofs at a 15-degree angle, specifically, maximize solar energy.

Geothermal, too, is another alternative energy source that uses the Earth itself to both heat and cool, rather than energy-consuming mechanical equipment.

Sustainability, however, goes beyond energy.

Looking at natural materials, using FSC-certified wood ensures that the tree is sustainably grown and harvested.

Also, when planning a garden, including native plants, instead of those not natural to the surroundings. This is better for the local ecology and easier to maintain.

ETHICAL LIVING IS a no brainer, considering the environmental benefits of sustainable design, renewable energy and native plants, along with the wellness benefits that a natural home provides.

Mr. Tran describes the beauty of a project of his, Tower Grove Drive, which featured a vegetated roof made of native succulents and terraces of outdoor living space to match the hillside placement of the home.

“In the case of Tower Grove, the project was uniquely sited because it was along a hillside,” Mr. Tran said.

“When we first started the project, we fundamentally wanted to create a house that was of the site of the hill and not necessarily on top of the hill,” he said. “It allowed us the opportunity to bring the garden from the hill up onto and through the house.

“The idea of having a vegetated roof was an extension of bringing the landscape through the house so that the house felt really connected and contextual to the site – it didn’t feel alien.”

 

Local Farmers Market & Farm Stand Updates

Farmers Markets will look a little different this year, but here are some options to shop safely and support your local farms.

Reservations are strongly encouraged at several of them, and will ensure you get to shop while walking up is not guaranteed. As each opening day approaches your respective market channel will explain how to best interact with markets at this time.

Visit www.bcfm.org for more information on reserving a shopping window and to access social distancing guidelines.

Boulder – Opens May 23: Make your shopping reservation for Boulder  here.  Saturdays, 8am – 2pm. Located off 13th & Canyon.

Longmont – Opens May 30: Make your shopping reservation for Longmont  here.  Saturdays, 8am – 1pm. Located off Hover Road & Boston Ave.

Fort Collins – Opens May 24: Sundays, 10am – 2pm. Located at 1001 E. Harmony Road.

Louisville – Opens May 23: Saturdays, 9am – 1pm. Located at 824 Front Street.

Erie – Opens May 21: Thursday’s, 5pm – 8pm. Located on Briggs Street.

Denver  Several Locations Available! Reservations coming soon! Visit denver.org/farmers-markets-denver/ for details on each market.

Broomfield – Opens June 9: Tuesdays, 4pm – 7pm Located at the Holy Comforter Episcopal Church at 1700 W. 10th Ave.

Arvada – Opens June 7: Sundays, 9am – 1:30pm. Located off 57th & Old Wadsworth.

Golden – Opens June 6: Saturdays, 8am – 1pm. Located at the Golden Public Library Parking Lot at 1019 10th Street.

Local farm stands will also be selling fresh produce, while following social distancing guidelines. Check out who is gearing up for the season below!

Cure Organic Farm – Open daily from 12pm – 5pm (weather permitting). Located at 7416 Valmont Road, Boulder.

Sunbeam Farm – Open daily until Mid June. Located at 1005 Cerryvale Road, Boulder.

Black Cat Farm – Open daily from 11am – 6:30pm. Located at 4975 Jay Road, Boulder. Offering items for pickup or delivery via an online store. 

Isabelle Farm – Opens with limited hours beginning at the end of May. Taking special orders in the meantime, via an online store. Located at 1640 W. Baseline Road, Lafayette.

Eco-Friendly Habits To Practice In The Home

Recycling is a great way to be eco-friendly in the home, but not the only way! There are so many other fabulous ways to GO GREEN and keep our planet healthy. Check out a few of the simple tips and tricks listed below that you can practice daily to be more eco-wise in your home and beyond.

  • Use reusable bags when you shop and say goodbye to disposable bags!
  • Consider using a reusable water bottle from now on, and begin to eliminate plastic water bottles. 
  • Be more vigilant when it comes to turning on/off lights. When you leave the room, turn off the light right away. Are you at home during the day? Keep the lights off and let natural light illuminate your home!
  • Combine all your errands for one week into one day to reduce your driving and maximize your time!
  • Walk or ride a bike for errands that are closer. No need to start up your engines for anything that is a mile or two away.
  • Shop local at farmer’s markets (… The BOULDER FARMER’S MARKET is absolutely fantastic!)
  • Pay Bills online and switch to paperless statements if possible.
  • Line dry your laundry rather than using the dryer. Not only will you be greener for doing so, but your linens will smell unbelievable!
  • Donate and shop at thrift stores.
  • Unplug any chargers or appliances that aren’t being heavily used.
  • Collect rain water to use later for watering your gardens and plants.
  • Don’t throw away glass jars and containers. Rather, repurpose them for other uses in the home.
  • Try to use cloth napkins daily rather than paper napkins/towels.
  • Need to print something? Use old scrap paper or consider printing double-sided if you plan to print multiple pages.
  • Switch to cloth diapers or begin doing a combination with disposable diapers. One cloth diaper a day means 365 fewer disposable diapers in the landfill each year.

REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE 

Eco Tree with environment symbols

 

 

What you need to know about SmartRegs in Boulder

If you live in the City of Boulder, you have probably heard at least something about the SmartRegs Program for residential rental property.

SmartRegs was passed by Boulder City Council Members and Voters in 2006 to help decrease greenhouse gas emissions.  This mandatory program requires that all properties built after June of 2001 meet at least one of two standards for energy efficiency:

HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score of 120 or less; or

“Prescriptive Pathway” Score of 100 points or more.

All residential rental properties in the City of Boulder are required to be in compliance by January 2, 2019.

Obtaining a HERS rating is a fairly costly and involved process, it can take several hours and the cost is usually in the range of $700 for a single family home.  If you happen to already have a HERS rating for your property, great.  If not, the Prescriptive Pathway system may be a more suitable option.

The Prescriptive Pathway system is intended to be a more simple and less costly energy audit.  For $120 you can have an Initial SmartRegs Inspection done on your property (must be through an approved inspector, call 303-544-1000 to schedule).  This inspection will help you determine what energy improvements (if any) you will need to make by the deadline in order to increase your property’s score.

Points are earned d on items such as: Attic and Wall Insulation, Windows, Air Infiltration/Duct Leakage, Floors/Foundations, Heating/Cooling/Hot Water, Lighting, Refrigeration, Solar Power, Occupant Behavior, and Water Conservation.  Categories are weighted differently, so be sure to have a clear picture from the inspector about what the smartest improvements would be.

There are some great incentives to get your City rental property in compliance NOW.  Rebates are being offered by Xcel Energy (20% of the project cost, up to $300) and the Energy Smart Program (Up to 50% of the project cost, up to $500 – this incentive ends May of 2013).  You are required to use an approved contractor for this work.

Once you have completed the work and achieved the correct score, complete the SmartRegs Energy Efficiency Application through the City of Boulder and you will be awarded a Proof of Compliance Certificate.  You only need to do this once and it does transfer with the property.

** Note:  You do NOT have to have a rental property or live in the City to have the $120 EnergySmart inspection done – anyone in Boulder County can do it.  This is a great opportunity to find out how you can make your home more energy efficient!

For more information, visit www.EnergySmartYES.com or call 303-544-1000

 

Recycle Your Christmas Tree in Boulder County

If you haven’t already, chances are you will be ready to get rid of your Christmas Tree in the next few days.  Before you throw it in the trash can or haul it to the dump, check out the link below for some of the great options for recycling your Christmas Tree in the Boulder Area.

From Nederland to Erie, and everywhere in between, there are tons of great, easy options for Christmas Tree Recycling.

 

 

Colorado Landmark, Realtors

(303) 443-3377

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Energy Efficient Homes and the SAVE Act, by Liz Benson

With permission from the author Colorado Landmark associate Liz Benson please enjoy Liz’s recent article/blog post on the Elephant Journal on the SAVE Act and energy efficient homes.

We all know that energy efficient homes save money for their owners – money they can use to more easily pay their mortgage and maintenance costs. Current mortgage underwriting guidelines, developed in the 1940′s, don’t take this into account. They ignore the potential hundreds of dollars in savings that an energy efficient home can provide, compared to an inefficient home. Better information about the full costs of home ownership should include not only the principal, interest, taxes and insurance, (known as PITI) but also the energy cost. The idea is to revise these outdated credit policy decisions by the federal mortgage programs (Fannie and Freddie Mac) which guarantee more than 90% of all new mortgages. This will allow home buyers to more easily qualify to purchase an energy efficient home, set rules for appraisers to value energy efficient improvements, thereby encouraging builders to include them because they will get paid for any additional up-front costs.


The SAVE Act (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) is championed by Senator Michael Bennett (D – CO) and supported by home builders as well as energy efficiency advocates. For more


And while you are at it, check out a zero energy home in Frazer Colorado, designed by a friend of elephant, Bryan Bowen.

This article authored by:

Liz Benson, Broker Associate
Colorado Landmark, Realtors
http://www.boulderliz.com/

Studio Shed … Finally, an alternative to traditional “barn-style” sheds and costly remodels.

Studio Shed is a prefabricated space that embraces the emerging lifestyle of smaller but smarter living. An inspired room with a variety of uses: a home office, an art studio, a kid’s playroom, or simply a place to store a mountain bike. Manufactured in Boulder and engineered for maximum snow and wind loads, Studio Sheds are a durable, eco-friendly and attractive solution to conventional back yard storage.

The ultimate goal at Studio Shed was to prefabricate the easiest to assemble, best looking, and most durable product on the market. Thanks to smart design partners, they’ve turned an original idea into a completely modular building. Studio-Shed offers installed buildings or a DIY flat packed kit. Installation by the Studio Shed team takes about 8 hours (one-day install video here).

Save the date. Studio Shed Launch Party, Boulder. June 6th. RSVP – answers@studio-shed.com.
More info at http://www.studio-shed.com/.

This post contributed by …
Botsy Phillips
Broker Associate
720.629.5100 (cell)