Saratoga Builder, Capital Construction, “Green Homes can be energy-saving and stylish”

Wilton – The phrase “environmentally friendly home” probably doesn’t conjure up an image of a $1.2 million, 3,600-square-foot house in a 22-home Wilton development.

But behind the walls of the classically featured display home in the new Loudon Ridge development, you’ll find loads of recycled newspaper for insulation.

In the basement is a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient furnace.

And in the kitchen – complete with a hickory hardware floor – is a futuristic control panel that, with a fingertip touch, can open all the windows in the house, adjust the lighting and, simultaneously, turn on the 400-CD changer.

“Green” homes, according to Frank Laskey of Capital Construction, can essentially be anything people want them to be – and still be environmentally friendly.

This means that having an environmental conscience won’t result in a niche of consumers having to sacrifice style, design and aesthetic taste when building the abode of their dreams, Laskey said.

Laskey said he helps residents build homes that are healthy for the natural land surrounding the residence and for the residents themselves.

“If products are good for the environment,” he said, “they must be good for the people.”

One of the main objectives Laskey has when approaching a new project is to make the interior of the home feel like the exterior in terms of fostering an architecturally appealing look.

“Part of the design of being green is making the outside seem as if it’s on the inside, by using materials from the outside,” Laskey explained.

As he walked into the environmentally compatible, earth-toned-colored demo house, Laskey pointed out that the front door, its frame and the surrounding paneling are made of wood that doesn’t possess the toxic glue chemical, formaldehyde.

Further helping the transition from front yard to over the threshold is the use of silverish-gray stone, said Laskey.

Though it’s difficult to tell from looking at the surface – some of which are maroon, dark green, or a swirl of beige and brown – Laskey said the home’s wall insulation is made from old newspapers.

In the future, he said, the insulation could even include the beans used for tofu and soy burgers.

“We haven’t used soybeans yet,” he said, “but we use recycled newspaper – it stops the air flow.”

Does the added effort to be “green” pay off? Well, Laskey estimates the monthly utility bill to be only about $120 per month for the entire 3,600-square-foot home.

And even with all of the energy-saving gadgets and gizmos, the idea that style and luxury can’t mix with a “green” theme goes out the window when you gaze at the 110-inch movie screen in the basement’s home entertainment center, with brown leather lounge chairs and blinds that automatically close to keep out excess sunlight.

The house that Laskey had showcased, situated on a 5-acre parcel, has access to a private wooded area of 30 to 35 acres, which residents of the soon-to-be-built Louden Ridge Green housing development will be able to use for horseback riding, biking or simply walking.

According to Ryan Moore, a public relations representative at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, builders like Laskey receive $3,500 for constructing “green” model homes that are open for 60 days.

And homeowners can save 30 percent or so, on their energy bills compared to conventionally built homes.

Since the start of New York State Energy Star, a federal government-administered energy-saving program that approves and certifies “green” houses, there have been 4,392 environmentally friendly homes built across the state, said Moore.

“Each New York Energy Star-labeled home must pass a stringent evaluation, including a computer-based energy analysis, inspections and certification testing,” said Gaye Dougherty, public relations official for Energy Star.

Having met Energy Star “green” and American Lung Association “clean house” standards, Laskey is still waiting to receive fire and safety certificates from the town of Wilton before moving ahead with his plan to turn the whole development green – even in the middle of winter.

Publisher: The Post-Star
Date: Monday, November, 15, 2004
Writer: Jarrett Warshaw
Title of Article: Green House Home can be energy-saving and stylish

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