Making a lasting difference with remodeling

By Laura Jackson

According to a recent study completed by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, more than 120 million homes in the U.S. are at least 32 years old, and $233 billion is spent annually on remodeling them. What allof these older homes have in common is that they were built with a different focus. Energy was cheap for one thing. Technology was immensely different, and the key word in the building industry was definitely not “green”. Each of these homes presents an incredible green opportunity to make changes that will affect us not just today, but for many generations to come.

In Park City, we are fortunate to have a variety of professionals who not only understand the importance of building science and sustainability, but also possess the knowledge and expertise to implement the best solutions.


Garrett Strong of Tall Pines Construction explains, “Remodeling with a green perspective is mostly about providing the best products and building practices available. It’s about achieving greater energy efficiency and focusing on the home’s overall systems and performance.”

His company recently worked on a NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) Gold certified home that was also featured in the 2011 Park City Showcase of Homes. Tall Pines Construction was able to maintain all the charm and original character of this Old Town Park City 1920s home, while maximizing its energy efficiency, improving its indoor air quality, making its structure tighter and more durable, and overall orchestrating a sustainable project that its owners and many in the future will enjoy.


“From the beginning of the process, the owners desired to make the project sustainable. They were willing to go beyond a quick economic payback, to what would make good and lasting sense for the community,” said the project’s architect, Bill Mammen of Mammen Associates Architecture, Inc.

This desire translated into three main design concepts, all of which represent the core of green remodeling. Mammen describes, “First: Adapt and reuse the existing structure. Second: Make all new construction energy efficient and use sustainable materials and practices in construction. Third: Design the new structure to passive solar design concepts to the degree allowed by the Historic Design regulations while allowing good incorporation of existing views and natural daylight.”

It’s crucial to find an experienced architect who understands how a home’s design impacts its energy use and its ultimate impact on the environment. Mammen explains, “Architects today need to be familiar with the problems encountered in the field when trying to build or remodel energy efficient, sustainable structures. For example, there needs to be adequate allowance of space for ducts and air- handling equipment among other items. Understanding how and where cracks can occur in construction, the way energy is lost and absorbed by a structure, and the best ways to take advantage of natural daylight are just a few of the ways architects affect the green process.”


Ensuring that all of the pieces add up to produce a sustainable, energy efficient home requires quality craftsmanship across the board. There were so many diverse key players in the Old Town home, each providing their unique green expertise to the project.

“Paying attention to the overall construction of a window, it is important to focus on air infiltration, keep water penetration very low, and provide high structural integrity. It’s the combination of these that gives you a superior performance of the total window unit, not just the glass,” said Cody Crosby of Pella Windows.

The product they used for the Ontario home in Old Town was primarily their Proline Series wood interior, which is an aluminum clad exterior product that uses wood as a natural insulator and has highly insulated double pane glass. Earning the Energy Star Partner of the Year Award five years straight, Crosby explains, “Pella’s philosophy is to provide solutions that will contribute to the overall energy efficiency and long term integrity of the home. We don’t just sell the window and door, we provide installation training and certification as well as the Pella flashing tape, house wrap and foam insulation for a total system.”

Gary Reuter, of Hearth & Home describes just some of the ways choosing the right fireplace products can make a difference to a home’s energy efficiency. “As technology has improved, we’ve seen a tremendous transition from wood to gas in the industry,” said Reuter. Using Heat & Glo fireplace models means the benefits of their direct vent technology. It uses only outside air for combustion and then expels 100% of the combustion exhaust and by-products.

There’s also climate control technology providing homeowners an option to redirect heat output. With Heat-Zone technology, a fan system can draw air from around the firebox and push it to designated rooms through heat ducts. And by heating only the rooms you need, homeowners save money and energy.

With the task of lighting and plumbing, Ferguson found innovative ways to make each area as energy efficient as possible. The lighting design involves a system called Lite Touch. Among its amazing capabilities to control electricity using a centralized system, it is the only residential keypad on the market that dims lights automatically based on the amount of available sunlight, providing the desired level of lighting with as little energy use as possible.

All of the faucets in the house are Water Sense certified using significantly less water to operate. The home also features dual flush toilets as well as insulated hot water lines. The master bedroom showerhead features Delta’s interesting Contemporary H20 Kinetic Technology, a new design that pushes larger water droplets out of four large squares from the spray face, resulting in much less water use, but actually making it feel like more water.


Strategic planning is the name of the energy-efficiency game. Dennis Gray of Nexant Inc. is a professional engineer who works with builders, architects, and owners to provide essential building science expertise. Serving as the home’s energy rater, Gray was able to provide critical third party verification, energy efficiency guidance, and building analysis throughout the project.

“Energy raters understand how a building functions as a set of interconnected systems, and how a building issue or change in one area can impact other areas of the home,” said Gray. Raters are equipped with the latest technology and diagnostic equipment needed to perform unbiased home evaluations.

An energy rater’s assessment is also vital and required to receive certifications such as this home’s prestigious NAHB Gold Certification, as well as others such as LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) and ENERGY STAR. Providing a standardized U.S. energy consumption rating, the HERS index is also a recognized score used to prove the efficiency of a new home, including major remodels such as this one.

“There are many things that we can do to make a structure highly efficient without a high premium. This home is a prime example of good construction techniques and modern innovations that did not significantly impact the budget,” said Strong. He concludes, “The long term paybacks of forward thinking will be substantial in terms of comfort, cost and longevity.”

Special Thanks to:
Gary Reuter, HEARTH & HOME Kirk Morgan, FERGUSON
Dennis Gray, Becky Robbins, NEXANT Jennifer Brassey, ELUME LIGHTING

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