Carpet of environmentally-friendly fibers line a number of the floors, including the main staircase, in the Twin Maples Estate main building.
Caesarstone Countertops and cabinetry fabricated with sustainable woods were two of the green upgrades made to the kitchen in the main building of the Twin Maples Estate.
The remodeled foyer of the carriage house at the Twin Maples Estate.
An exterior view of the carriage house captured during The Fortnightly Club of Summit's Twin Maples Centennial Home Show by renowned photographer Marisa Pellegrini, the event's official photographer.
Ken and Kathy Abbott's home, one of the case studies featured in NJ GREEN HOME REMODELING GUIDELINES, Version 1.0, was further overhauled from its original 1971 construction and 1988 update to include a significant green renovation and addition, while keeping most of the home's existing footprint.
Pictured is a before and after comparison Ken and Kathy Abbott's kitchen in their Chatham home. The kitchen has become the focal and central area of the home, opened up to allow access to the family room, mudroom, dining room and deck. Photos courtesy of Ken and Kathy Abbott and Patricia Gaylor of Eco-Interiors. Ken and Kathy Abbott's home, one of the case studies featured in NJ GREEN HOME REMODELING GUIDELINES, Version 1.0, was further overhauled from its original 1971 construction and 1988 update to include a significant green renovation and addition, while keeping most of the home's existing footprint.
Rutgers Green Home Remodeling Guidelines - A Comprehensive Guide for Remodeling New Jersey Homes to Green Standards; Properties in Chatham and Summit Featured as Case Studies
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 • 12:04pm
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Green is the catchall buzzword in today's world when it comes to products and ways of living that will preserve the environment. One way in which the green revolution has catapulted into the public conscience is in the area of home remodeling. Using materials which are environmentally-friendly and sustainable, and practices in remodeling that are not taxing to the environment, are a few of the goals.
Green upgrades to a building lessen the structure's environmental impact on the earth. This is not just limited to the construction, but to its functionality including conservation of energy after construction, preservation of natural resources by reuse of materials and much more. In essence, it is about remodeling practices which preserve the environment during the process and as a result of the upgrades. It is about using materials which will not cause environmental harm. It also entails reusing existing components wherever possible. These environmentally-conscious steps taken in present remodeling projects will work towards the greater purpose -- to conserve energy and materials to ensure the planet's future.
The Rutgers Center for Green Building recognized the need for Green Guidelines for home refurbishment in New Jersey. Through a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), a team of staff members, grad students and an expert advisory group researched and brainstormed over a two year period.
From the think tank emerged a comprehensive guide for homeowners and professionals on how to remodel homes with green techniques: NJ GREEN HOME REMODELING GUIDELINES, Version 1.0. As the most developed state in the country, these guidelines are critical in New Jersey, a state that may reach full build-out capacity by 2030 or 2050.
Maren Haus, Project Manager, said guidelines existed for California, Washington and Texas, but there were none for New Jersey. "We needed to provide ideas on what to do here, what the policies were for Green Remodeling and the available resources, especially in rural areas," said Haus.
The Rutgers Center for Green Building determined most existing residential structures in New Jersey are single-family dwellings constructed between 1940 and 1979. The Guidelines help homeowners and contractors learn how to properly raise their home to green standards. Typically homes need to be remodeled about 20 to 30 years after construction in order to update them and make them more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly. Another plus: greening one's house not only raises its value but is a bonus for homes anticipated to go on the market. Buyers these days are typically shopping for homes with green amenities already built in. For some residents, rather than move during a challenging economy, it is more affordable to modernize a home and reinvest in it by raising it to green standards.
The guide provides information about the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, Energy Star Guidelines, Educational Resources, green energy legislation and different strategies to tackle various facets of remodeling.
On a national level, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) came up with their REGREEN Residential Strategies in 2008. Rutgers Center for Green Building worked in harmony with the USGBC to align the national strategies with New Jersey's. The all-inclusive guide provides breakdowns for projects in the home including kitchens, baths and other living spaces. Upgrades consist of replacing appliances, improving electrical and plumbing and using renewable materials, such as bamboo, in the process. Finishing basements and building a home addition are also addressed. Weatherizing a home is another topic in the guide, which is important because of the seasonal changes in New Jersey. This includes upgrading the Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning or HVAC and proper insulation. The goal is to increase a home's comfort and efficiency. Upgrades to a home's roof and insulation and air sealing and ventilation are techniques to reach comfort and efficiency targets. Landscaping is the final subject area covered and gives suggestions on how to increase a home's efficiency, sustainability and water usage from the outside.
NJ GREEN HOME REMODELING GUIDELINES, Version 1.0 is user friendly and outlines the steps to accomplish the projects under the covered subjects. There are easy-to-understand and handy features to the guide. Each project is broken down with a scorecard, which will indicate how it will improve a home and whether it will save energy, conserve environmental resources, improve air quality, or save water. The scorecard also rates the initial cost from low to high, and gives an overview of the project's difficulty level. A product directory, services recap, and a glossary of terms are provided. "The guide gives a really good how-to overview of Green Remodeling 101," said Haus.
Each section additionally provides helpful case studies, which can further guide the reader on how the featured projects were executed and the pros and cons of the work performed.
Two buildings in The Alternative Press coverage area were spotlighted in the guide. The first is the home of Ken and Kathy Abbott of Chatham. The second is the Twin Maples Estate owned by the Fortnightly Club of Summit, a 501c3 charity organization.
The Abbott home in Chatham was expanded upon while mostly keeping within the house's existing footprint. The 1971 tract house was fully revamped and updated to include green amenities. The home was remarkably transformed from its dated design typical of the era it was built, when homes were equipped with more walls and lower ceilings. The homeowners approved a redesign which removed the walls and opened up their living space to improve traffic flow and allow more natural light into the home. They implemented energy saving changes such as a solar hot water heater, and used sustainable and toxic-free materials during renovations. The Abbotts repurposed cabinets prior to the remodel and fixtures that had already served previous purposes in their home.
Kathy Abbott was particularly pleased with a bioswale and organic gardens. One of the biggest pluses was their limited construction waste. "Sustainability is important to me, I felt a responsibility not to add to my family's carbon footprint," she said.
On the downside, in 2007 when their renovations began, the Abbotts said LEED certified architects were limited, which they felt put them at a disadvantage. "I wish that my builder had understood about air sealing while the walls were still open. It would have been faster and cheaper," Kathy Abbott said. "I asked him but he said, 'You don't want to tighten up a house too much.'"
The Abbotts followed up with a NJ Clean Energy audit in 2009, taking advantage of available programs and rebates offered to New Jersey homeowners who seal their home. The Abbotts had air sealing in their attic, basement and garage, and felt a nearly immediate reduction in airflow in previously drafty areas. Additionally, the Abbotts learned the recessed lighting used in their ceilings in the family room and upstairs room may not have been the best option because of the impact on conditioned and unconditioned spaces from these cathedral ceilings.
Patricia Gaylor, interior designer of Patricia Gaylor Interior Designs, worked with the Abbott Family. Gaylor has been a featured guest on Good Morning America regarding the subject of green design. Kathy Abbott was a memorable client of Gaylor's. "Kathy's commitment to the environment and should be commended. There aren't too many people who would go to the lengths she did to preserve the ecology. I enjoyed very much working with her on this project, and hope in the future I can have the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals," Gaylor said.
Together they selected local materials and repurposed or reused as many items as possible in the existing home in order to reduce the environmental impact from remodeling. This included kitchen cabinets from Terra Cabinet in nearby Union (shopping locally saves energy from transporting items and helps the local economy to flourish), and U.S. manufactured quartz crystal countertops. These countertops do not require sealing, which helps to maintain optimal air quality in the home. Recycled materials were also featured in the bathroom, which include cement and recycled glass countertops crafted in Brooklyn, and a backsplash from Oceanside Glass (additionally made of 100 percent recycled class). Existing wood floors were saved and paints on the cabinets and stains for the floors had no to low VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds). Energy Star appliances topped off the remodeling efforts to further add to the home's efficiency standards.
The Fortnightly Club of Summit, one of the other local case studies, initiated a totally green renovation of the carriage house at their Twin Maples Estate, and a partial green renovation of the main house. The carriage house was featured as a case study in the NJ GREEN HOME REMODELING GUIDELINES, Version 1.0.
The philanthropic organization was started in 1893 with the Junior Club established in 1932. The club acquired the estate in 1949 and has used it for their own events. It invites other non-profit groups to utilize the facilities, and rents it out for weddings and other occasions.
The Twin Maples Estate is on both the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. One of the goals was to preserve the historic integrity of the estate and carriage house while increasing the building's sustainability with green amenities. The non-profit group literally rescued the cherished home and property from the dangers of being razed and facing subdivision for modern redevelopment.
The Fortnightly and Junior Fortnightly Clubs of Summit were committed to preserving the grandeur of the stately building and reached out for help with the costly undertaking. They successfully devised fundraising efforts to save the Twin Maples Estate. First, they received more than $65,000 in grants from Union County and The Manley Winser Foundation. Secondly, they conceptualized the Twin Maples Centennial Show House in which top contractors, architects, designers and landscapers worked to renovate both the home and carriage house.
The Twin Maples Centennial Show House event enabled The Fortnightly Club to complete their refurbishments and spotlight the talents of the participating experts. The public had the opportunity to view the home on exhibit and enjoy the design of the themed rooms, while learning about the application of green techniques in an historic building. It gave the individuals touring the home the opportunity to preview the services of the various professionals on display. In return for the showcase spaces in the buildings, the businesses donated time and materials to help update them. The show house concept generated $1.4 million worth of free work on the home, according to Heidi Evenson, Co-Chairman of the Twin Maples Centennial Home Show.
The refurbishment in the main home included the use of low VOC paints in the restorative interior and exterior painting process, green cabinetry (Christopher Peacock Cabinetry participates in forest management through the use of SmartWood, a type of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance), Caesarstone Countertops (sustainable countertops comprised of 93 percent natural quartz), flooring from reclaimed barn wood and natural fiber carpeting (Shehadi Flooring of Chatham helped with the flooring aspect).
For the heating they made a switch to electric geothermal heating, which reaps a savings of $200 monthly on heating bills. Perfection Contracting in Newton installed the equipment, which included three systems and ductwork, and worked with the group on the costs. Energy is extracted from the ground in geothermal systems to provide efficient heating and cooling which, in turn, reaps energy and money savings. Evenson has been told the group will expect a $32,000 payback on the geothermal system over a period of 5 to 7 years.
One of the lessons learned for the main building pertained to the use of solar panels on their roof. These were not as efficient as the group had hoped for because of limited access to sunlight.
Although there were some green updates to the main estate building, the carriage house aimed for complete sustainable building practices. The carriage home has an apartment unit on the second floor. Hiland Hill Turner was the architect, Roger Polo of Polo Master Builders the general contractor, and a team of interior designers completed the finishing decorative green touches. These professionals donated their time, services and some supplies. Perfection Contracting once again was the supplier of the heating and cooling system.
Through the experience remodeling the carriage house, the design team realized careful research of green products was crucial because of the cost and availability of particular items. The green additions included a hybrid heating system, air sealing through the use of proper insulation techniques, Energy Star appliances, low-flow fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom, low VOC paints, reclaimed barn wood floors finished with a green product and the use of numerous sustainable and recycled materials (glass, natural carpeting, bamboo flooring and leather tiles). DaVinci Roofing donated $11,000 worth of special tiles for the carriage house made of recycled plastic. These tiles are anticipated to last at least 50 years, and, at the end of their life cycle, can be recycled themselves. The Fortnightly Club of Summit is seeking a roofer to help with the installation of the roof tiles.
Overall, the group is pleased with the result of the green upgrades to the main building and carriage house, and how the existing building was not compromised, but only complemented and enhanced by the refurbishments. "We hope to inspire architects, builders and homeowners to take action to make historic buildings more sustainable by installing history-friendly and eco-friendly building materials, as well as state-of-the-art efficient energy systems," said Evenson.
Currently the guide is online and available to the public to use whether a homeowner or a professional. Haus said over time it will evolve into an interactive program on the website, providing more technical information and how-to's. To access the guide and read more about the case studies highlighted in this article as well as the other featured case studies, click on the website: http://policy.rutgers.edu/news/NJGHRG.pdf