April 11, 2009
It should be a great discussion with input from varied professional perspectives. Looking forward to it!
March 25, 2009
One of my fondest memories of living in Chicago was ‘shopping’ in the alleys. My quickest walk to the train was down our 3 block alley: on one side were condo buildings and the on the other were single-family homes. It worked this way – if you didn’t want something anymore, you left it in the alley, NEXT to the garbage, sometimes with a note, and it was usually gone in a few hours. Through the years I collected a great variety of treasures. Among them: lamps, a desk, many many chairs, my now favorite cookbook. My goal wasn’t to be green, but it really was an efficient (cheap!) and practical system.
Now I use www.freecycle.org. If you haven’t checked them out, give them a try – it is basically a local list-serve where members post items they want to give away or items they’d like to receive. It works similarly to shopping in the Chicago alley, but is a bit more civilized.
In construction, the act of restoring or remodeling a home is a form of reuse and salvage. Preservation instead of demolition and new construction saves in energy and materials consumption and reduces demolition landfill. There is a great opportunity in salvaging and reusing materials for remodeling and even new construction projects, if you are aware and know where to look. I was at a friend’s home the other day who found an incredible farmer’s sink in the basement at an open house, asked about it, and got it for a steal.
In addition to the somewhat familiar architectural salvage companies, who generally offer antique architectural elements (light fixtures, mantels, doors, decorative windows, hardware) there are also deconstruction stores that offer even basic construction items (flooring, plumbing, cabinetry). Both types of companies also offer an alternative to demolition and waste of unwanted but usable items, either by donation or in some cases buying the item. See below for some local architectural salvage and deconstruction stores. Many have searchable websites that make browsing easier.
Restoration Resources: 1946 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118 617.542.3033 www.restorationresources.com
Old House Parts: 1 Trackside Drive, Kennebunk, ME 04043 207.985.1999 www.oldhouseparts.com
Architectural Salvage Warehouse: 11 Maple St, Fiver Corners, Essex Junction, VT 05452 802.879.4221 www.architecturalsalvagevt.com
Nor’east Architectural Antiques: 16 Exeter Road, South Hampton, NH 03827 603.394.0006 www.noreast1.com
Vermont Salvage: Gates Street, White River Junction, VT 05001 802.295.7616 www.vermontsalvage.com
ReStore: 250 Albany Street, Springfield, MA 01105 413.788.6900 www.restoreonline.com
March 9, 2009
NEXUS, located at 38 Chauncy Street, 7th Floor in Boston, is offering free seminars for homeowners as part of the “Second Saturdays for Homeowners at Nexus” series : “Green Your Home. Green Your Life.”
NEXUS, exhibiting an extensive sample library of green products and materials for residential and commercial products, is a valuable resource for designers, builders, and the general public. In a market where ‘green-washing’ is a growing concern, their diligence in screening the products is refreshing. It is also a big help to be able to see, touch and smell products the products, a big step from reviewing data on a web site or browsing ‘green’ products at a retail store.
The NEXUS Second Saturday program offers an introduction to the free green building resources NEXUS offers and to green building strategies you can implement in your home. The seminars are from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm and are free and open to the public.
March 14: Low Impact Landscaping for the Home
Who should come: Homeowners, community groups and others interested in minimizing impact of landscape maintenance routines and design choices; this may include residential landscaping contractors, landscape architects and managers of small residential facilities.
April 11: The Green Remodel
Who should come: Homeowners, builders, designers and community members interested in understanding the opportunity an existing home’s remodeling presents to minimize the home’s energy use and negative environmental impact while maximizing healthful environments for occupants.
RSVPs are appreciated but walk-ins are welcome. RSVP by the Friday before the even to Aaron Desatnik at email@example.com with “NEXUS Second Saturday “ in the subject line or call 617-374-3740 x127.
For more information, see the NEXUS website:
February 16, 2009
Since launching GreenBridge two years ago, I’ve enjoyed building relationships with local talented carpenters and builders. Having good relationships with the best builders, which leads to smoother and better projects, is one way I can serve my clients well.
NOW I am so excited to be able to refer another builder, one whose work I have appreciated and learned from over the course of thirteen years….
Owned and operated by my husband, Steven MacDonald, Riverview Builders offers the topmost in remodeling, restoration and custom cabinetry. Steven is dedicated to serving his clients by always exceeding expectations. He brings 25 years of experience and knowledge in the craft of building to each project, and is always learning more. As Steven says, he is honored to play his part in extending the life of some of our region’s historic structures. I’m so excited to see Riverview Builders in action in the Newburyport area!
You can find out more about Steven and Riverview by visiting www.riverview-builders.com
February 6, 2009
Newburyport is getting a farmer’s market!!!! Can’t wait for summer?!
From their site www.thenewburyportfarmersmarket.org:
“Beginning in June and held every Sunday, the farmers’ market will take place in the Tannery Parking lot, along Water Street, come rain or shine! When the market opens this Spring, enjoy fresh produce grown by our local farmers and come see what artisans in the community have been creating!
Our mission is to support a viable food system that brings local farmers and the community together where we can enjoy the fruits of the earth and learn from each other. To promote awareness of sustainability practices and how they help preserve and protect the planet.”
Go to www.thenewburyportfarmersmarket.org for more information. They are kicking it off with a dance party February 20th at the Mission Oak Grill and an info meeting on the 22nd at the Tannery.
January 17, 2009
One of the most wonderful aspects of our local architecture is its historic windows with their characteristic divided lite panes and historic glass. They are not only visually appealing, but their design and craftsmanship make them worthy of preservation. Unfortunately, because they are single-glazed and often in disrepair, they are also one of the largest sources of heat loss in winter and a major source of heat gain in the summer. The windows alone can be responsible for 25 to 50 percent of the energy used to heat and cool homes!
First of all, this discussion is about historic windows – unless the windows have historical significance, replace them rather than repair when they are truly worn out. New windows, with insulating and low-e glass, will make your house more comfortable and will lower your energy bills.
The repair of an historic window, with the addition of a storm window, proper sealant and weather-stripping, can result in a window with energy efficiency close to that of a new window. The repair of these windows can be labor intensive and often is not of interest to general contractors or carpenters, who are often happier replacing an old window with a new one. Companies focused on window restoration are dedicated to bringing your windows back to their original beauty and functionality. Starck House Joiners in New Hampton, New Hampshire (www.starckhousejoiners.com) and The Window Woman in Topsfield, Mass. (www.window-woman-ne.com) are two local experts in the repair and reconstruction of historic windows. The following is a description of what you should expect from a window restoration project:
Depending on the condition of your windows, their repair will fall into three categories, increasing in cost and time from 1 to 3.
1)Routine Maintenance Procedures – To upgrade a window to “like new” condition, this category generally includes the some degree of interior and exterior paint removal, the removal and repair of sash (including replacement of the glass, or reglazing, where necessary), repairs to the frame, weather-stripping and reinstallation of the sash and repainting.
2) Structural Stabilization – When the window shows some additional degree of damage or rot, additional steps required to repair the window include drying the wood and treating the decayed areas with a fungicide, filling cracks and holes with putty and painting the surface.
3) Parts Replacement – When parts of the frame or sash (the moveable part of the window) are so badly deteriorated that they cannot be repaired with by stabilizing, there are methods for replacing only damaged parts of the window with matching pieces. A skilled millwork carpenter or window restorer can duplicate window parts that can replace damaged components of the window or can even build a new window sash to match the existing damaged sash.
Once the window has been repaired, it should be made as energy efficient as possible with the use of weather-stripping to reduce air infiltration and repaired sash locks to ensure a tightly closed window.
Many styles of storm windows are available to improve the thermal performance of existing windows. The use of exterior storms is preferable because they are thermally efficient, cost-effective, reversible, and allow the retention and protection of existing windows. Storm windows frames are made of wood, vinyl or plastic, and their visual impact can be minimized by painting them in colors to match the trim color.
Although interior storm windows appear to offer an attractive option for achieving double glazing with minimal visual impact, they often cause condensation problems. The moisture which becomes trapped between the layers of glazign can condense on the colder, outer prime window, leading to its deterioration.
There is a point when the condition of the window clearly indicates that a replacement is necessary. When considering replacement windows, it is important to not only consider their energy efficiency, but also their appearance in terms of the pattern of the proportions of their frame and sash, the configuration of the window panes, muntin profiles, types of wood and characteristics of the glass. Search for a replacement that retains as much of the character of the historic window as possible.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or the listed companies.
Starck House Joiners www.starckhousejoiners.com
The Window Woman www.window-woman-ne.com
January 1, 2009
On December 12th, my family lost my Grandmother, Eleanor Phillips, who lived in Fort Dodge, Iowa. I was lucky enough to be able to spend some precious time with her during her last days in the hospital. During part of that time, my cousins and I poured over Grandma’s various journals, letters and photos, and we got a wonderful sense of the fullness of her life and the way she lived and adapted throughout her 88 years.
In one letter to her sister written in the 5o’s, she talked about ripping down discarded clothing to make braided rugs. Her journals and autobiographies described her huge love of gardening and enjoyment of the harvests. She was a farmer’s daughter, one of 6 children who knew what sharing and making-do meant, and who also knew to not leave the table without asking one sibling or parent to guard her plate. Her fondest memories of her mother included her ability to whip up the most amazing donuts for the family and to make a dress for my grandmother the night before she wore it to a dance.
It was clear that she had a happy childhood – she carried a 80 year old snapshot of a family Sunday picnic in her wallet, and in her writing she often described her many memories of her parents hugging and kissing, and her father’s desolation when her mother died at a very young age. She remembered her and her siblings’ excitement at seeing their single gift and one orange next to their plates Christmas morning.
So, my resolution? To continue to carry my grandma and her lessons with me. Embrace simple and good living, enjoy family and seek happiness in the smallest things. She didn’t live her life with the intent of being ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’, but her way of life was what so many of us strive for today.