Monthly Archives: June 2011

An Introduction to Sustainable Building

Sustainable Building - Green Home Construction

A couple weeks ago we introduced you to net-zero energy homes (NZEH) by explaining what these homes are and what the benefits of building/owning a NZEH are. If you haven’t yet had the chance to check this article out, you can do so here: An Introduction to Net-Zero Energy Homes. Now, here’s a look at green building, which can also be referred to as green construction or sustainable building.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Patrick Reardon, a sustainability advocate and owner of Botan Construction Inc., which specializes in green construction methods.

Martell Home Builders (MHB): What is sustainable building?

Patrick Reardon (PR): Building sustainably is considering the materials and methods used in order to build a building that is durable, reduces our requirements on energy and water, and is healthy for its occupants. It does not use materials that are laden with chemicals and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). It considers the lifecycle of the building from cradle to grave. It considers the overall energy requirements for construction including transportation, manipulation of materials. It’s enhanced with natural lighting, and using the sun for solar heat gain and learning how to harness this energy passively.

MHB: Are there any financial benefits to green building?

PR: The long term benefits of green building are undeniable. The payback period for green building can be anywhere between ten to twenty years but people are starting to realize that these enhancements add value to these buildings and people are willing to pay for it. Savings over the lifetime of a home could be sixty to ninety percent compared to the average home. Implementing solar panels can even be a source of income. Homes that have LEED or Pasive Haus designation rely on less energy than the typical home and that could result in substantial savings for the home owner over the ownership period of their home.

MHB: What is LEED?

PR: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification system that considers all aspects of green building and provides a quantifiable rating platform for sustainable constructions.

MHB: What kind of support is out there for those wishing to implement green building?

PR: As awareness increases people are seeing the value of green building. They realize the benefits many are looking exclusively for builders who are well-versed in sustainable building practice. With time we’ll see that this will no longer be a niche market but the norm as municipalities implement changes in their building codes to reflect these required changes.

MHB: What is the latest and greatest in green construction technology?

PR: Some of the best technologies are technologies that have existed for hundreds of years. Green roofs, for example, have been around for centuries in northern Scandinavia but have only really gained momentum here in North America as recently as the mid to late nineties. On the modern technological side, we’re making great advances in capturing solar and wind energies with products that are more efficient and less costly than ever before.

MHB: Patrick, thank you for taking the time to discuss sustainable building with us.

You can learn more about Patrick and Botan Construction by visiting

More on Green Construction

Hey MHB fans, do you have questions about green home construction? Is there a topic you’d like to see us cover on the blog? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Win a Night Out at Dooly’s for You and 39 Friends!



We have three house plans that need awesome names but we’re unable to come up with anything that we can all agree on, so we’re asking for your help. In return for your creative juices, we’re giving away three awesome Dooly’s prizes. Oh, hell yeah!

What We Want From You

Okay, so here’s the deal: we’ve got three house plans that need a name. We’ve posted images and details of each of these plans on our Facebook page. Several people have voted already, and we’ve created polls of the top answers for each house plan. BUT (and there’s always a but, ‘cept this is a good but!) the contest is still open to new ideas, so just because we’ve created a poll doesn’t mean that we’re closed off from hearing your ideas! If you think you’ve got a better name for one of these house plans, leave a comment below to let us know and we will totally consider it!

What You’ll Get From Us

Oh yeah, you probably want to know what you’ll get if you win. The winner will receive a night out at Dooly’s in a semi-private room for themselves and 39 of their closest friends. You’ll have access to pool tables, Nintendo Wii, a stereo … everything you need for an awesome night will be provided (except the friends, you’ll need to get those yourself).

As we need three names, we’ll be providing three of these kick-ass prizes. The winners will be announced at the end of next week (probably on Thursday, June.16th).

The Details to Get Started

Here are the deets on each of the house plans, including links to more pictures.

Two-Storey Semi-Detached Model

2-Storey Semi-Detached Home

Pictures of this home, including floor plans, are posted here.

Check out our Facebook poll with the top names here (don’t forget to vote!).

Single Family Model

Single Family Home

Additional photos and floor plans can be viewed here.

Here’s a link to the poll with the top names.

Raised Ranch Semi-Detached Model

Raised Ranch Semi-Detached Home

To see photos and floor plans of this home, check out our Facebook album.

To vote for the best name, check out the poll of the top names.

Give Us the Best Name to Win

Don’t forget, we’re still open to hearing your ideas! Just leave a comment below, letting us know your ideas and for which house plan. You can also participate by clicking on any of the links above. Good luck and thanks for lending us your brain!

Eco-Friendly Homes with Uber-Cool Designs

Green Home(Image Credit)

There are some green homes out there that are … well, way “out there” in terms of design. On the other hand, there are eco-friendly homes that look really cool, which proves that you don’t need to sacrifice style for sustainability.

Home for Life

Home for Life by AART

AART Home for Life

The above home is a zero-energy home; it was created by Danish architects AART and has been dubbed Home for Life. Here’s what they have to say about this awesome green architecture:

Home for Life is a self-sufficient and CO2-neutral demonstration project and thanks to 7m2 solar collectors, 50m2 solar cells and a solar heat pump the house produces more energy than it consumes. With an energy surplus of 9kWh/m2/year it takes approximately 40 years for the house to generate the same amount of energy that was used to produce its building materials and at that point the house will have returned more to nature than it consumed.

To read more about Home for Life and to see more photos, visit the Dagens Design website.

Low-Impact Home Design

Case Design Home

Case Design Home Interior

This green home was developed by Case Design & Project Management. Here’s how the architects describe this home:

Situated on a generous, flat, in-city lot, the home features Solar Pre-heating, Radiant Floor Heat, Advanced Framing, Rainwater Harvesting, Cellulose Insulation, Rainscreen siding, and is Close to Public Transit.

To see more stylish green architecture by Case Design, check out their website.

Cliff House

Cliff House by Altius Architecture

Cliff House Interior by Altius Architecture

This breathtaking off-grid home was designed by Altius Architecture. To fully appreciate the beauty of this home – without actually visiting the property and seeing it with your own eyes – check out the full description and several photos the Altius Architecture website provides. Here’s a snippet of what they say:

Designed for an off-grid property, this cottage will feature a hybrid wood/solar radiant heating system with propane backup. Evacuated tube solar arrays will fill mass store tanks that feed a hydronic radiant floor system. This system will supplement a passive gain and solar mass strategy. Summer cooling is through solar shading and passive stack effect ventilation. A series of photovoltaic panels provides the buildings on the property with electricity. Large overhangs control the solar gain while green roofs mediate temperatures and control runoff.

Modular Homes

Pre-fab (prefabricated) or modular homes are eco-friendly and cost-effective. To see several photographs of some amazing modular homes, check out our blog post called Coolest Modular Homes from Around the World.

Container Homes

These eco-friendly homes are becoming more and more popular as housing costs rapidly increase and people become increasingly aware of the environmental footprint they’re leaving. Container homes have several benefits, including affordability, durability, sustainability, the ease of expanding and relocating, and the speed of construction. Additionally, container homes don’t need to look scrappy and unattractive; on the contrary, these homes can be impressively designed. Check out our blog post called The Benefits of Container Homes to see some photos and learn more.

More Green Architecture

Have you come across an architect’s website or seen some really cool-looking green homes? Leave a comment to share your findings!