Feb. 27, 2014. When Marianne Pantin took an online course to learn if she could make her house in Miami-Dade County, Fla., more energy efficient, little did she know that within two years she would be taking on a project to build a house in the Blue Ridge Mountains from the ground up for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U. S. Green Building Council.
What started with an education to determine if installing solar energy panels, known as photovoltaic cells, would make economic sense in South Florida ended up resulting in design and construction of a clean and green house in western North Carolina.
With the notion of building a small and very efficient home for her family, she and her husband, Rich Parrish, reviewed the builders who had experience with LEED in the Boone area. With the capable leadership of Matt Vincent and Gary Smith of VPC Builders from Blowing Rock and Quint David at IONCON, an engineering consulting firm in Boone, the design process began 18 months ago and construction started in November 2012.
“We are definitely going for Gold, but realize this is a very high standard in design and construction,” said Rich. “We spent hours meeting with the ‘Green Plumber,’ Andy Krause of Thunder Hill Plumbing & Service, to make sure that we were selecting the most efficient faucets, shower heads and toilets.”
According to Marianne, who assembled a catalog of every light fixture, appliance, and material used, they spent nearly every weekend online or in Home Depot or Lowe’s researching the most environmentally friendly materials.
“Our goal was to select every material from within a 500 mile radius of Boone, if possible,” Marianne said.
From the use of engineered Appalachian hickory flooring from 100-percent certified Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sources to recycled glass for a countertop in the master bathroom to recycled paper that has been compressed into a hard granite like material for the kitchen counters, everything had to fit within the LEED requirements.
The main source of the heating and cooling will come from a geothermal system that takes advantage of the available energy that is already in the ground. Ironically the use of solar powered energy that saved Marianne and Rich nearly 50 percent on their electrical bills in South Florida didn’t make economic year-round sense in the mountains.
Marianne and Rich believe that this will be the first LEED certified home in the Blue Ridge Mountain Club and hope other that prospective home owners to consider this option to create a new standard in mountain building.
For more information on LEED construction go to http://www.usgbc.org/leed.
To view another picture of the project, click here: http://www.vpcbuilders.com/