225 Gun Hill Street- Deep Green Home

February, 2010: National Grid gas bill = $165.00.  At first glance, it doesn't seem unusually high until you know that the:

  • House was unoccupied
  • Thermostat was set to 55 degrees with a brand new digital thermostat
  • Hot water heater was set to vacation mode

And so it is, confirmation of how horribly energy inefficient even a 30 year old home insulated to building code can be.  (Can anyone say "Stretch Code"?)  That and several subsequent heating bills confirmed that our decision to walk down the emerald path to energy efficiency was perhaps a smart one.

Going Green or  "environmentally friendly" can mean many different things including:

  1. energy efficiency
  2. manufactured with minimal environmental impact
  3. reduced toxicity
  4. recycled content
  5. minimal or no artificial materials
  6. re-usability
  7. eco-responsible packaging

Construction Progress

Our approach to Green has been focused primarily with energy efficiency in mind.  However as the scope of what we thought we could accomplish grew, we realized, the other goals were within practical reach also and thus has entered into the equation.  The delicate balancing act we're trying to achieve is between buying green and the practical realities of modern life. After all, we are building a home with 21st century amenities and are building a Garrison/Colonial, not a Yurt. 

Any major renovation project is a labor of love.  It is a test of patience, organization and of your finances.  Making the decision to invest seriously in Green options, either energy efficient or environmentally-friendly, only magnifies each concern and needs to be entered into with either a) cost as no object or b) a return on investment in mind.  Creating a Green home as we've learned is a process littered with difficult financial decisions at every turn:  LED lighting or a year of tuition for your child.

The economics of an 80% efficient water heater vs. a 96% efficient water heater is relatively easy to calculate.  Look at the cost of one vs. the other and see how many years it takes for the estimated savings to pay off the difference in cost.  That's economics 101 and your Retu
rn on Investment.  Start looking at your home as an interdependent system where the level of insulation may affect the size of heating and cooling system required to maintain your home and your head may start to spin
trying to make the calculations.  Did you ever trying to balance cost vs performance vs total energy use in making a decision on Gas vs. Electric for cooking or for your dryer?

Whether it's Tang and Teflon coming from the NASA space program to your kitchens or dual airbags introduced by Porsche now standard on all new cars, there is a trickle down effect to be had in doing something to an extreme.  What we've discovered is that people are still figuring out what works and what doesn't.  There's a reason why our DER is called a Pilot.  There are mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned.  Here is our story on our adventure into the deep end of Green...  About the Project


  • Painting with the Windows Closed Winter painting has historically been an interesting exercise.  Respirator or not, breathing in potential carcinogens in the form of VOCs in an enclosed space, in a super insulated house that ...
    Posted Nov 22, 2010, 1:48 PM by Andrew Koh
  • 5,362 lbs Watching someone trying to deliver 5,362 lbs of flooring to a house situated on a hill is interesting.  Having to move that same 5,362 lbs into your house ...
    Posted Nov 1, 2010, 8:25 PM by Andrew Koh
  • Nonsense and drivel... People, including myself, seemingly want to call my street Gun Hill Road rather than Gun Hill Street.  No matter what I tell them, some will just write down "Street" rather ...
    Posted Nov 1, 2010, 8:33 AM by Andrew Koh
  • And then there was more light! Philips Lighting is committed to supporting our LED lighting needs.  What's the significance of this?  Standard R20 bulb: 40 wattsEquivalent R20 CFL bulb: 14 wattsEquivalent R20 LED ...
    Posted Oct 27, 2010, 2:49 PM by Andrew Koh
  • And then there was light... Philips Lighting is committing to supporting our project.  While it's not 100% clear what the extent of the support will be, they will be helping dramatically with a lot ...
    Posted Oct 26, 2010, 12:07 PM by Andrew Koh
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