Modern Homes With a Green Touch
published on April 18, 2012
Earlier this year, the Modern Home Tour in Austin (which included homes from Northwest Austin to Circle C) showcased functional and innovative homes that would make any environmentalist proud. Architect and design teams behind three of the stunning homes on the tour shared some of the innovative ideas and unexpected materials that went in to their green constructions. If “green” tops your list of needs in your Austin home search, ask your realtor for listings that have innovative designs such as these:
Energy-Saving Appliances and Plumbing
Perhaps the greatest area for environmental benefit is the long-term boon from resourceful use of energy. The team at Cottam Hargrave uses an energy-efficient geothermal system in some of their designs, and White prioritizes tankless and solar water systems. Morgan Penix of Dewitt Architects installed a Big Chill Retropolitan refrigerator in the kitchen of one of his designs. Despite its vintage appearance, the stylish fridge has modern advantages with environmentally friendly paint and efficient energy consumption.
What’s eco-friendly or exciting about concrete? Plenty. “People don’t realize this is a recycled product made with fly ash from power plants,” says Richard White of Adobe Modern Homes. To reduce landfill waste, there are a range of places to utilize concrete throughout exteriors, interiors, and landscaping. Each team employs concrete in different ways, from wall and water features to flooring with no added surface material.
Special Framing and Windows
White constructs his houses with Ecosteel, which means no wood framing. This product comes in a package, is precut at the factory, and is assembled with bolts, reducing waste and construction time. He, as well as the team at Cottam Hargrave, uses spray-foam insulation within the framing, which is better than batt-insulation. For windows, Cottam Hargrave uses low-emission, insulated glass with solar film, while Penix uses Millgard aluminum windows, which are made in the U.S. and contain up to 25 percent pre-consumer recycled content.
Environmentally Friendly Countertops
A stylish countertop can be an essential focal point of any kitchen or bathroom. One material is Silestone’s natural quartz, which White explains is 75 percent recycled with greater density than granite. Penix praises Avonite, a solid surface countertop product that is made in the U.S. and is Greenguard-certified. Richlite countertops, which are made from recycled paper, are another fresh option, according to Cottam Hargrave.
Unique Tiling and Flooring
The choice for flooring surrounding eco-friendly countertops can really finish off the design. Penix has used fireclay tile for a kitchen backsplash, which is made in the U.S. with a sustainable manufacturing process using recycled materials. For flooring, he aims to go carpetless where possible, which can draw the focus to other features. Another choice is a rubber and cork mix that White uses in his construction, which comes in an array of colors from “raisin” to “bay leaf.”
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