Thursday, November 20, 2008

Greenest Home In America!

David was thrilled this week to receive LEED Platinum Certification for our remodeled Rockridge home  at the GreenBuild conference in Boston. We received the highest score of any home in the current LEED-HOMES program.

For the press coverage, check out the media section of our website. I'll write more when my darling husband returns from his rock star Boston trip and watches the kids for a few hours....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Eco-Driveway 101

We're choosing which permeable pavers to use for our driveway and have settled on Basalite

Above is SF Rima at the Sunset Idea House in Palo Alto. Why permeable pavers? They reduce stormwater runoff and increase usable space.  They recharge ground water. More on that when I figure out what that means. They are ADA-compliant, meaning our aging parents are less likely to trip as they walk our driveway. You get LEED credits for them too, although gaming LEED was never our intent.

We are completing a deal for the Italian Renaissance line, shown below. Foxy, no? Comes in lots of colors.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moved In!

Has it really been a month since we moved in? Our construction crew from Canyon just left yesterday, and our landscaping began today. Do you like the new exterior colors, also from Mythic Paint? We're in love....

Who knew I could love my little garage so much. Next we're working on drip irrigation using graywater, and hooking our toilets up to our rainwater catchment -- as mentioned previously our vessels are the fab rainhogs that we recycled from the San Francisco Slow Food Conference two weeks ago. We also hung out with Harold at Ecohome Improvement yesterday, as he waxed poetic on the virtues of various green stains for the deck.  We chose TimberTek in Pinewood. Photos to follow.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Tesla" Home: New Concept in Green Living

David is blessed to have more epiphanies between 8 and 9am than most people have in a lifetime.  While we struggled with our home loan and the appraisal process - David came up with the concept that our home is analogous to a "Tesla" - the super sexy yet green electric car that does 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds yet averages 256 miles per gallon. 

Drive quickly.  Tread lightly.

We were thinking about this as we checked out, smelled and licked Elon Musk's Tesla last Tuesday at a friend's house.

Here's Elon.  He's only 37 yet is the Chairman of Tesla and financially backed the company to the tune of $55 million.

We used New Resource Bank for our construction loan, and we were so sad to witness the disconnect that still remains between a BANK that understands the value of green but is coupled to and hand-cuffed with an APPRAISAL industry that gives you a higher appraisal for more square feet, bedrooms and bathrooms. We feel many of the "green" McMansions popping up everywhere are greenwash - is it really green to have a 5000 square foot home? Seems to miss the point and spirit of green.

David wrote a thoughtful letter to our appraisers who initially valued our soon-to-be LEED Platinum at no higher than market rate for a fossil-fuel guzzling regular Craftsman. He made the case of our home being a "Tesla" prototype - small yet so deep green, and worth the rather high price tag.  When you take our Prius on the road, and accelerate to 60mph, it says "yes." But a Tesla is a sports car, an electric sports car, and it is speedy.

David succeeded: we got a better appraisal for our loan, although still significantly lower than our cost.

We need to overhaul our appraisal system so that it values green homes higher and with different standards than traditional homes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lovin' the Recycled Wood

We got ourselves some front steps, finally.  They are recycled from the Old Sacramento Bridge and are just gorgeous.  I know, the iPhone photo doesn't do them justice. David got so excited when our crew found old lead bullets in the planks. Feels like we're channeling Eric and Amy down at the Wooden Duck in Berkeley with their zany stories of where their wood originated.

That's Maya standing next to our reclaimed fir front door from Liberty Valley.  No bullets.

Did you notice that our move in date came and went? We are rescheduled to move on Aug 21.

Today we met Doris, the woman who sold her house to us.  Her parents bought the house in 1940 from the Davis family, whom we think owned it from 1915 until 1940.  We are hoping to visit her again and get more of the history on the house.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Heat: Myson Radiators & Phoenix Solar Hot Water

David and I decided to go with Myson hydronic radiators, fed by solar hot water using the Phoenix system, with a gas back-up if necessary. The white Myson radiator above is made in France and is the LST style -- that is, low surface temperature of 100 degrees F.  Better for kid's inquiring fingers than the warmer models.  Click here for the distributor we used for both Myson and the Phoenix, Hydronic Specialties Company.

Below is their standard color in white, but you can do custom colors and finishes too, as we are presently doing.

Myson also makes this bench (below), which is a great option if you are short on space in your mudroom or entry hall as we are.

Another great way to heat bathrooms is with a Myson hydronic towel warmer.  Comes in many finishes, including the one below.  

We just got the radiator back from the auto body place we used - painted the white radiator a brown/bronzey color that works with our cocoa walls in our bedroom.  We're thrilled with the result.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Looolo Biodegradable Cushions: YUM!

Am blogging covertly today as we are moving in six days, and, well, I really should be packing instead. Meanwhile, I muse about our living and family rooms and think how yummy these organic Looolo pillows would be on our sofa, such as the Janthur above or the Armadillo below.

All are made of certified organic materials and filled with Kapok from Rainforests in Malaysia. Not sure that's the best thing for you or if they buy carbon offsets, but these are just too pretty to get green confusion over it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thorne Our Guy for Landscape

Today David and I met with David Thorne, Principal, and Hillary Curtis, Designer and ex-SF Ballerina, of David Thorne Landscape Architects. We have been working with them for months and are so giggly about our current plan for mostly ultra-local natives plus some cool graywater sculptures and eco-fencing.  Landscape is one place where we need to do what brings a sensual experience without making us feel like slaves to green.  Think we got it, but let's see how it unfolds.

Their office is at 3315 Grand Avenue - who knew such designy and hot spaces existed on tired Grand Avenue?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Renovation Nation Airs Our Segment

Our home and the GreenPod by David Gottfried will be featured again on August 20, 2008, on Discovery Channel's Planet Green, airing 6pm PST. Around our zipcode of 94618 - that is Comcast channel 201 and channel 286 on DIRECTV.

The initial airing of the show was July 31, 2008.

The producers have changed our air date several times, so we'll keep you posted!

GreenPod has 1.4 KW of solar power, plus we have an additional 1.4 on the house and 3 solar hot-water panels.  More on that soon.

New Green Bank Provides Our Home Loan

We are thrilled to finance our eco-remodel with New Resource Bank, the nation's first green bank.  New Resource gave us 0.5% off of our home equity loan for our use of solar and the LEED rating system.  They also offer solar financing, helpful because  you can pay monthly as your utility costs go down, which helps with the slow-ish return on investment with Solar.  Check them out right here.  They also offer personal and business banking services, and they are based in 'cisco.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We obsessed way too long on paint.  Our colorist wanted Benny Moore, but my darling husband was not sufficiently impressed with the green titer.  We chose Mythic - coverage is sweet, coupled with no VOCs and no toxins.  You can practically eat this stuff in your morning smoothie.

Here's my darling husband against the yummy new green powder room walls.

Here's the dining room in progress.

You probably know already that VOCs or Volatile Organic (not the GOOD organic) Compounds are little nasty beasts that you can smell when someone paints with the toxic stuff.  It might make your eyes tear or cause your throat to be scratchy, or give you a headache or dizziness or perhaps kidney failure or sick building syndrome.  Some VOCs act as greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.  One estimate is that 10% of the ozone depletion in the US is due to VOCs.  Not good.  We can do better!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dwell Features Spray Foam Insulation

Thumbing through the June issue, I happen upon Fritz Klaetke's renovation of a South End row house in Boston. Fritz was a friend of my roommate in medical school, Katherine Hein, MD. The home is gorgeous although how can those pics look so good when they have a kid? Do you stage your house and stay in a hotel while the photography is being done?

Fritz and his wife, Susan Battista, set up their businesses on the ground floor: Fritz is a graphic designer; Susan runs a market-research firm, Topic 101.

I miss the South End!

Fritz used closed-cell spray foam insulation to keep his house non-drafty, which is rather extraordinary for a Boston home, especially one built in 1846. I was never as cold as my five years at Boston in med school, and when I interviewed for residency in January 1994, it was 10 degrees in Boston, and sunny and 70 degrees in San Fran... I ranked UCSF first with lightening speed. In any case, we also used closed-cell spray foam - InsulStar - in our more modest craftsman in Rockridge.

David chose InsulStar because it had the highest R value (6.4) and does not off-gas nor mold (I have terrible mold allergies as do many people, very important). We sprayed in our attic and bathroom.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Curtains for Certain

Can you keep a straight face when people say "window treatments?" There I was last Monday, hanging out with beautiful Kendall Wilkinson, famous interior designer to the San Fran stars, and she said it. Oy, now need to source some pretty eco-curtains and be a grown up about it.

How 'bout these from Drape Source? Made of bamboo and linen. First saw them on the blog Green Your Decor.

I like these patterns. Waiting on swatches -- isn't that what adults do? Check out Drape Style right here. Let me now if you know of other pretty and eco sources as I am finding the options limited.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lush Native Garden: Not an Oxymoron

Tonight we ate oak leaf lettuce harvested from our garden, and we were feeling rather virtuous, as if we were channeling Michael Pollan. We've been slowly waking up to the fact that we need to work on landscaping, and our idea is to be ultra-local about it. Only problem is that the "Native Plant" gardens we've seen seem rather... scruffy, to say the least.

Have no fear, a beloved patient of mine has clued me into the work of noted local master Fourth Dimension, "restoring the Earth, one garden at a time." Check it out.

So we are slowly adjusting to the scene. We are letting go of the lush Mediterrenean garden with boug, fragrant clematis and vibrant color in favor of super local plants. We got turned onto the Native Here Nursery in Tilden Park, where they sell plants that are all started from seed gathered in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. We're just trying to avoid the scruff factor.

Radical Choice: Induction Cooktop

I love to cook. While the roar of the big gas flame on my Mother-in-Law's Viking makes me all warm inside - it's just not that good for the planet and there are other more efficient options. We chose an induction cooktop for two reasons: energy efficiency and safety. We have two kids, and our cooktop is on a peninsula between the kitchen and dining room. Our 3-year-old in particular loves to hang out in the kitchen and we don't want her little exploratory hands to get burned.

Induction cooktops are a revolutionary way of cooking that uses the power of electro-magnetic waves to heat food fast and efficiently. Amazingly, the cooktop remains lukewarm to the touch during the heating process because the electro-magnetic waves turn the bottom of the pot into the active heating surface, rather than the cooktop. This helps them to be much safer than gas or electric cooktops. Plus they deliver unrivalled efficiency by using 30% less energy, and heat food over twice faster than conventional ceramic cooktops. They are used a ton in Europe, but we just don't see them as often here in the States.

We chose Bosch because, well, they offered a generous deal to David. Plus their cooktops are beautiful as are their refrigerators. More on that later....
Now one catch is that your cooking implements might need to shift. It's best to cook with stainless steel. But what girl doesn't want an excuse for a new set of All-Clad?!

For more than you ever wanted to know about induction, check this website. I'm thinking they offer a PhD in induction cooktop science.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Balance Your Dosha While You Sleep

Mary Mulcahy designs and creates these wondrous textiles using the ancient art of Kalamkari, using sun-bleached naturally-dyed cottons, hand-blocked with carved wood dipped in Ayurvedic dyes, derived from plants, roots, earth and rock. I need to know more about what Ayurvedic dyes do to a person, but I'm feeling my dosha getting balanced just lookin'.

We're thinking the brown bed pillows with our outlet Coyugucci.

Check out their online store right here.

Coyugucci Organic Bedding

We bought our duvet and sheets from Coyuchi's outlet store in Point Reyes. They also feature baby bedding and robes. Our youngest daughter, Maya, still uses her Coyuchi sheets to cover her cot in preschool.

Here's our duvet. We'll show it again after we paint our walls nontoxic cocoa in 2 weeks.

Buy their stuff right here.