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      Architecture & Design

      A Rutland Real Estate Empire

      Surprises come in unexpected places.  

      I arrived in Rutland to show a modest ranch a stone's throw from the Giancola Construction's main office on unassuming Granger Street. Mr. Giancola wanted to have a look and the fun started. 

      I had no idea what I was in for. We sat in Joe's office and he spun a web of history, how it all began, humble beginnings, earnest efforts, diligence leading to success upon success. His son Peter joined us, adding to the tale of expansion and discovery. 

      Joe Giancola embodies a wonderful combination of confidence and charm. He is comfortable with a stranger, setting a relaxed table for smiles, exchange and story. The Giancolas are obviously a handsomely equipped clan. They came across an incredible opportunity and jumped. 

      Before we get to the making of an empire, Joe, his son Peter and I strolled up Granger to 88 South to have a look at the possibilities, taking a keen eye and a quick analysis of the pitfalls and strengths. Dealing with thousands of investors, these two stand tall. Nuts to bolts, they know construction and what it takes to buy, flip and hold. Not a word wasted, their combined talents cut to the chase. Even the most modest lodging holds promise in the right hands. 

      Joe found his way early, networking with and securing loans from banks from the time he was in college. Born into a modest home, he learned the value of struggle and legal tender. Ingenuity and brass tacks perseverance. The fruits of his labors began to pour in; his train rolled fast and conquests multiplied. Rutland would never be the same. By twenty, he started his own construction company and purchased a house across the street form his family home. A self proclaimed scavenger, Joe collected machinery and Giancola Construction thrived. He purchased house after run down house, fixed and leased to dozens of commercial, non-profit and manufacturing companies, acquiring valuable skills while marking the Rutland market to the point that many banks have him on their short list.

      Then came the peach. 

      18 acres and over 20 buildings abandoned. Industrial toxic wasteland, Aero Jet strung out. Bidder after bidder fell short. Then Joe entered the scene at once capitalizing on the toxic chemical clean up for his construction company and taking advantage of an historic opportunity. Mammoth undertaking is an understatement. Industrial incubation. The Howe Scale Co briefly employed Joe in 1956, not realizing it's destiny had Giancola written all over it.

       

      Joe extended an invitation to take a drive to tour his paradise. Sensing something special, I thankfully accepted and we took off (Joe is an airplane pilot too). House after house, they were his. Score upon score, Joseph had purchased and reinvigorated, fixed and flipped, bought and held. Single family to duplex, multi-family to commercial exploit including offices and a handsome laundromat, an industrial warehouse with nearly 150 parking spaces for the car owner seeking safe harbor. A popular dog wash business. The Giancolas even installed their own metered gas distribution network at Howe Center, markedly improving their numbers. A diversified and forward thinking renaissance man, Mr. Giancola is an entrepreneur par excellence. 

      It was a hot sunny afternoon, a great tour thanks to an industrial giant, and a pleasure to discover the Giancola empire. 

      Here's a statement from the Giancola Family of Companies website:

      "The Giancola Family operates a variety of companies in Rutland, VT. that provide services in real estate, construction, tool & equipment rental, car washing and laundry services. Our focus on real estate is underscored by our commitment to providing exactly the commercial space you need. 

      We pride ourselves on being innovative in constructing solutions for our customers that meet their current and future needs along with meeting their existing budget constraints. The breadth and depth of solutions we offer assures you that we can accommodate almost any request in some manner. The rental spaces in our inventory range from all types of residences to one-room offices all the way up to larger (up to 20,000 square feet) commercial/industrial spaces. Contact us and we will be glad to show off our capabilities and resources and sit down with you to structure the best possible deal for you." 

      This blog post is based on conversations with Joe & Peter Giancola and their family published "Howe To Book" on revitalizing old commercial industrial facilities, the Giancola family and the Howe Center story. Special thanks to Joe & Peter Giancola for their generous time and information.  

      Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for info on selling or purchasing Vermont commerical properties, homes, condos or land or to get more information on Vermont real estate. 

      See all Maple Sweet Real Estate listings and the newest Vermont listings.

      Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
       
      Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
       
      Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified.
       
      If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency's listing.

      Going Through The Roof

      Things Are Looking Up

      "The sky's the limit if  you have a roof over your head." Sol Hurok.

      Architecture dazzles. Architect Frank Gehry knows, his metallic and light geometry in Cambridge, MA here pictured, draws you in and up instantly. It captures our hearts and minds. Design seduces buyers into bidding wars, captures in form the spirit of man and shelter.

      Vermont architecture varies dramatically, from urbanscape to quiet country lane. Roofs, the apogee of our homes, define the interpretation of form and visual appeal, not to mention purpose. Often overlooked as incidental, the roof is the backbone of a home, critical in preserving and protecting. Whether a simple gable sans skylight, a dormered cape, an ornate victorian or flat top rubber membrane, roofs are, second only to foundations, an essential architectural element in function and style.

      What kind of roofs have caught your eye and fancy? Do you prefer simplicity or complex lines and interaction? How important is light and elevation to you?

      Like us, roofs need to breathe. Adequately providing for soffit and peak ventilation can radically affect longevity of both the roofing and substrate. There's nothing as frustrating when you've found a great buyer, are under contract to close and the property inspector opens up the attic to find thick layers of mold covering the attic ceiling due to inadequate venilation and trapped moisture. Mold mediation companies can charge tens of thousands.

      This Maple Sweet Real Estate Mad River Valley listing at 146 Sugarhouse Lane features a half-hipped roof, sloped in four directions with post and beam accents. The hipped roof allows for more room upstairs; less knee wall space means high square footage and better maximization of vertical opportunities.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      It's the materials that count. From adobe out west, grass tops in England, synthetic slate shingles made from baby diapers, roofing elements define the shelter from the storm, our year round umbrellas. Cedar shakes are durable and gorgeous and can last for many decades depending on thickness, length, rating, installation skill and maintenance. Other shingles include ubiquitous ashphalt in standard and architectural form and composite shingles. While rare in Vermont, terra cotta spanish and other ceramic tiles hold immense appeal. With heavy snowfall's vertical line, sheet metal satisfies in corrugated and standing seam. Think green...Solar shingles anyone?

      The real deal, slate shingles can last 100+ years; so durable, they make the others look like rice paper. Just be sure to build a frame and truss system strong enough to support their weight or the whole show will come tumbling down. From dirt cheap to blindingly dear as the labor is dangerous, something I can attest to. I was up refinishing a roof of mine when the ladder gave out. Shotgun descent, broken humurous (thankfully no broken back or neck), titanium plate, surgery and seven screws. This is one job you don't want to DIY.

      Poetry of roofing. Open vs closed valleys, pitch and concealed fasteners. Flashing, skylights and gutters, snow guards, peaks and valleys. Arched, domed and skillion, sheathing, sod and solar. Thermal emittance, ice dams and R factor.

       

      "Tin Roof" by Scottish Poet Nii Ayikwei Parkes

      "Wild harmattan winds whip you but still you stay; they spit dust all over your gleam and twist your sharp cutting edges.

      The rains come zinging mud with their own tapping music. Yet you remain -my pride- my very own roof."

       

       

      Maple Sweet Real Estate adds value and insight to better inform your real estate decisions. Thank you so much for reading the Maple Sweet blog.

      To learn more about roofs, find a roofing contractor, buy land to build, buy or list your own home, call 800-525-7965 or email info@maplesweet.com

       

       

      Text 802-793-1515 or call toll free 800-525-7965 

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       Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.

       

      Warren Pieces, Mad River Valley Incubational Brilliance

      Giant Lumber Slabs in line to Skating Heaven

      Tucked away at the edge of the Freeman Brook and Flat Iron Road in historic Warren Village, an incredible new business is born. You'd never know what was hatching inside without an invitation or some inside information.

      Stacked outside the otherwise innocuous two bay garage converted into an open studio are thick slabs of hardwoods divine. The side room full of wood samples including a palette of mahogany shipped by Gibson for guitar neck experimentation. But music isn't the main focus here in this brilliant and buzzing space.

      Welcome to Warren Pieces.

      The woodstove crackling, fueled by the scraps of progress. Tools across the floor, sawdust, the intoxicating aroma of exotic hardwood.

      Luscious Detailing

      Matt Groom & Whitney Phillips are at work.

      Whitney walks in and though it's first thing in the morning, he's unusually clear as his wife Jesse is in contraction, the waves every twelve minutes.  Any time now....  As if their powerful industrial incubation wasn't enough.

      Stylefully Induced Camber for extra Spring in the Ride

      Witnessing the start of something so clearly loaded with promise and success would be a thrill under any circumstances, but seeing the intense focus on a product so dear to boys across the planet is, for anyone who has ridden or likes to ride, like walking into a candy shop for the first time.

      When I was in my early teens I'd jump the subway in Manhattan and go all the way down to the epicenter of 1970's skateboarding, Paragon Sports. There were hundreds of boards displayed in force with kids riding through the store, wheels and tracks of every shape and color. G&S was big in long boards. But nothing in that store came close, even in the heart of the largest US city, to the ultra-fine craftsmanship on clear display on Flat Iron Road in Warren this week. Local luxury defined.

      Nest of Champions

      Rare Highly Sought After Spalted Maple, Choicest Raw Materials Selection

      Matt shows off one of the new purchases, a radio frequency driven wood welder harnessing dielectric heating: disturbed water molecules cause friction with twenty seven million cycle changes per second translating to heat, vastly accelerating wood curing time, allowing faster production without sacrificing strength. Matt's comes to Warren Pieces from Matt Groom Building & Remodeling, already widely acclaimed for carpentry & design excellence.

      Mahogany Core, Brightens Wet

      Artful Forms, Jagged Foot Grips, Wide Trucks

      Skateboard Wall Hanging Piece with Rear Illumination

      Exquisite Surfaces, Like No Other. Spalted Maple Detailing.

      Camber Master, Hand Made Press

      Whitney Phillips & Matt Groom, Warren Pieces

      Warren Pieces is aiming for a special niche market, with long boards at $350, other price points to follow. Out of the gate, they can't make enough to keep up with the traffic through the shop. One purchase after the next, for a friend or relative here or far away, a real piece of Vermont to show the surfing dudes  you don't need an ocean to rock. It won't be long before the word will get out, the online orders will pour in, and Matt & Whitney will be celebrities on the world skateboarding circuit.

      When you take your board home, it won't just rest in the corner or under you bed. They've designed stunning wall mounts to be illuminated from behind that are works of art themselves and would make any adolescent's room jump.

      QR codes will be etched in copper on board underbellies for an instant link to Warren Pieces, the website evolving now.

      Everything about this entrepreneurial effort sparkles.

      With Whitney's years of sports branding and sales with Mad River Rocket the original extreme sled co., and Matt's discerning eye, stylistic excellence and superior craftsmanship, this is one new business you can bet on. Whether you stay at the Relais & Chateau Pitcher Inn around the corner or more modest digs, don't miss this visit.

      To order your own Warren Pieces skateboard or one as a gift for family or friend, reach Whitney @ 802.371.9020 whitney@warrenpieces.com or Matt @ 802.279.3597 matt@warrenpieces.com

      Stiletto Grace, Pintail.

      Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for more info on Warren Pieces, to arrange for showings,  list your property,  or look into Vermont's real estate market. Skateboard showings an option...

      Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
      Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.

      Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified.

      If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency's listing.

      Irene. A Retrospective by Waitsfield, Vermont Photographer David Garten

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets



      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      Ravaged Pavement

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      After the Flood, Sediment Streets

      David Garten has photographed weddings throughout Vermont and New England, as well as New York, California, and Madrid, Spain for 23 years. From 1994 to 2004 David traveled often to Havana, Cuba where he photographed the worlds of music and dance, as well as daily life. His cuban photos have been published in the New York Times, Latin Beat Magazine, books such as "Cuban Ballet" by Octavio Roca and "My Sax Life" by Paquito D'Rivera, and on Grammy-nominated CD's by Cuban musicians such as Chucho Valdés and Irakere. David has exhibited at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and the Jazz Gallery in New York.

      To reach David Garten for weddings, portraits or other assignments: dgarten@madriver.com

      4412 Main Street #2, PO Box 210, Waitsfield, VT 802.496.5516

      Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont's real estate market or Act 250 reform.

      .....
      Thank you for visiting Maple Sweet Real Estate's blog, Light Amber.
      .....
      Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
      .....
      If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency's listing.

      Solar Vermont, eShine

      Parabolic dish and stirling engine system, concentrating sunlight to solar power.

      Solar orchards?

      That's right, step right up and purchase your little piece of paradise much as you would your own cemetery plot. Bask in hot water from the sun's radiation. Cover your roof with silicon. Shoot for the stars and plant a dozen massive kinetic solar trackers across your meadow and really make a splash. Solar is hitting the big time, a figurative and literal fruition.

      From Hinesburg to Waitsfield, north, south, east and west, the rush to embrace alternative energy is on.

      Wikipedia: "Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave powerhydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available renewable energy on earth. Only a minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is used."

      Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21 photograph.

      Parabolic dish and stirling engine system, concentrating sunlight to solar power.

      Millions of gallons of spilt Deepwater Horizon oil this spring and summer have brought the issue of fossil fuels, global warming and the importance of alternative energy into sharp focus and Vermonters are taking action.

      Here in the Mad River Valley, solarscapes born almost overnight are transforming our scenic byway, our anti-development oasis into a high-tech crucible and a new reality in which local opposition forms against the visual blight of such high-tech colonization in an environment prized for its bucolic, undisturbed beauty. Wind farms, geothermal, hydroelectric and most beloved of all, it seems, from rooftop to tracker, here comes the sun.

      If you've caught the fever or are just plum ready to reduce your carbon footprint, here are two of many Vermont partner companies offering Vermont solar system installation options.

      Alteris Renewables The sun will never announce a rate hike. Experience. Expertise. Results.

      The number one solar and wind energy installer in the Northeast for homes and businesses. Solar Electric. Alteris solar installations provide 1/3 or 1/2 of your electricity needs, though they can be scaled up to provide 100%. They collect energy through photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are made of very pure silicon. These cells are electrically linked into modules which are linked to arrays.

      How Alteris Solar Electric Energy Works

      Parabolic dish and stirling engine system, concentrating sunlight to solar power.

      Electricity is produced as photons of sunlight hit and penetrate the silicon, bumping electrons into a flow, in a process known as the photovoltaic effect, which produces DC (Direct Current) electricity. This DC current is passed through an inverter, which converts the electricity to Alternating Current (AC) to match the American standards of AC frequency and voltage. & No Money Down.

      Parabolic dish and stirling engine system, concentrating sunlight to solar power.

      groSolar. Distributor, installer and integrator of solar energy solutions for residential and commercial installations. Founded in 1998, groSolar is the largest 100 percent U.S.-owned distributor in the solar industry, and is the fourth-larrgest installation company in North America. The company has offices and warehouses across the US, distributing solar electric and solar hot water systems from offices in VT, NJ, NY, CT, MA, MD, DE, PA, and CA. groSolar integrates components from leading solar manufacturers including Canadian Solar, Motech, Heliodyne, SMA, Fronius, and UniRac into simple solar energy solutions for customers that generate clean, reliable energy for decades. groSolar is a mission-driven company dedicated to providing high quality solar energy solutions and whole energy appreciation. groSolar's venture capital investors include NGP Energy Technology Partners, SJF Ventures, and Calvert Social Investment Fund. Sign up for a free evaluation. groSolar's mission: your peace of mind.

      Parabolic dish and stirling engine system, concentrating sunlight to solar power.

      Incentivize. In 2010, $5,275,000 in funding, made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, is available to the Vermont Renewable Energy Incentive Program. This program requires the installer be a partner in the program. Here's a list of the Renewable Energy Incentive Program Solar Hot Water & Photovoltaic Partners. DSIRE, or the Database of Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency includes a detailed summary of Vermont's solar incentives.

      Visit Vermont's 9th Renewable Energy Conference & Expo this Thursday September 30th & Friday October 1st at the Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington, sponsored by such luminaries as NRG Systems and the much more familiar Green Mountain Power.

      For more information on solar power in Vermont, to sell or purchase your own Vermont property, contact Maple Sweet Real Estate at 1.800.525.7965, info@maplesweet.com or visit www.maplesweet.com

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djR7m4jzNfk]

      Tracking Harrison Snapp

      Snapp Geometry

      It all started with a condominium on a renovation quest. Vertical fissure over fireplace, kitchen cabinets having seen better days. In search of the piece de resistance, the missing link, how to spin some magic for spice, add sparkle 2 great bones. Celebrate. Coming down to a barn beam to crown the hearth, missing link. Distressed beauty. The search on.

      Valley to mountain peak, wretched wood frame to historic agricultural storehouse. Kerney Brown on site. Dan Eckstein at Yestermorrow and an upcoming deconstruction class slated to bring down the long-standing barn across from the Fayston Elementary School. Matt Groom on the challenges of finding a beam 11 inches deep, plank alternatives. And the returned email and disconnected phone for the Weather Hill Company.

      Snapp Geometry

      Weather Hill work stands tall, testament to tradition and integrity. The email bounced back, line no longer in service... Had they gone under? Morphed to snow birds? Curious given the caliber and performance.

      Today the break. Pulling onto the highway dividing the Mad River Valley, seasoned green pick up cruising the Mad River Scenic ByWay emblazoned with Weather Hill's logo, two cars out. A chase worthwhile. Mile and a half later the driver must think me out of my mind or be exceedingly worried something is horribly wrong with his rig.

      Out steps Harrison Snapp.

      A kind smile, beard of the ages, talking story. "An 11 inch deep beam you say..."

      Snapp Geometry

      Creating award-winning museum quality combinations of old and new, unforgettable residential & commercial spaces from top to bottom. Condemned, exhausted 200-year-old buildings on the verge of collapse find salvation at the hands of Weather Hill, aka Weather Hill Design Associates; Weather Hill Building Co.; Heritage Joinery Ltd. Homes saved from fire departments on the verge of a practice burn or a bulldozer clearing the way for commercial expansion.

      Design & architectural consultants, balance, proportion and scale. Quiet, radiant spaces of unmatched warmth, serenity & power. Owner Gregory & Carolyn Schipa, with Snapp, harking from Fayston, have been at it well over 30 years erecting and renovating landmarks across the eastern seaboard from here in the Green Mountains to Nantucket, Boston, the Carolinas, Virginia, DC, and beyond. Snapp's been with Weather Hill since 1974 and Greg started out on Nantucket. Val. Snapp's wife, works in color, painting & staining.

      Snapp Geometry

      Endeavoring to bring buildings to their former glory when most if not all  original detailing has been buried or eliminated during one facelift after the next. Using archival tools and techniques from hundreds of years ago, painstakingly bring history to the fore. Jack plane hand planing after removing modern mill roller marks in search of the 18th century.  Wooden Mallets & the Stanley No. 55, out of production since the early '50s, incorporating dozens of planes  for all Greek profiles: beads, curves, beak moldings, ogees, reverse ogees.

      Snapp Geometry

      Clients can select dismantled and stored structure elements from the Weather Hill collection or find their own. Existing footprints expanded with ells or carriage houses to encompass added bedrooms, a library or great room while upholding the Greek tenets of  fascia, soffit & frieze board proportions.

      Back to the disconnected phone line. Right, "we've moved" says Snapp, from Charlotte to Warren. New digs and direction, part of the Mad River Valley's nascent renaissance. Bloody good fortune for our Scenic Byway. And that barn beam... Snapp's checking for the appropriate element.

      If you'd like to receive an estimate from the Weather Hill Company for renovation or new construction, or learn more about this wonderful Vermont asset, email or call Maple Sweet Real Estate toll-free at 800.525.7965, or visit maplesweet.com for other options.

      William Maclay on Net Zero Energy Buildings: Providing Stable Returns In An Unstable World

      Maple Sweet Real Estate is proud to present the following blog submission on Net Zero Energy Buildings from esteemed and highly accomplished Vermont architect, William Maclay. William Maclay Architects and Planners mission is to enhance the world we inhabit through making places for people and nature to live and to flourish with dignity, spirit, and beauty.

      Green design has taken on increasing importance and relevance for Vermont real estate purchasers, investors and home builders.  Bill Maclay's team is particularly well equipped to design homes and projects on the cutting edge of the carbon footprint revolution.

      Net Zero Energy Buildings: Providing Stable Returns In An Unstable World, by William Maclay

      Faced with multiple challenges from environmental pressures due to climate change, energy price volatility and the economic downturn, there has never been a better time to build.

      But we're not talking about any ordinary buildings--we are talking about the design and construction of buildings that minimize the use of natural resources and energy. Such buildings protect the environment, pay for themselves through improved efficiency, lower operating costs through stable energy costs and avoid the need for outside (fossil-fuel based) energy sources.

      We call these buildings Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB). There are very few standing in the United States today--many more are on the drawing boards. But simply put, Net Zero energy buildings should become the new standard in "green" building as they can provide the best long-term solution to the environmental, energy and economic problems we face.

      Net zero energy buildings (NZEBs) generate as much energy as they consume on an annual basis. The energy used is usually produced on-site and comes from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal or biomass. Typically, the net zero building is connected to the electricity grid, using the grid as a balancing mechanism to accommodate the fluctuation of renewable energy sources.  Often, people will ask whether it's possible to achieve NZEB in the cold climates of New England. While it's certainly easier to achieve in warmer, southern climates, the net zero goal is very reachable, albeit more challenging, here in New England and other similar climates.

      How to Get from Here to There: Efficiency First, Renewables Second

      Because renewable energy sources are usually more expensive than non-renewable energy sources, the goal in any Net Zero energy building is to first reduce the energy needs of that building. Typically energy usage must be reduced by 50% or more (over current building efficiency codes). We call buildings that meet this greatly improved energy standard micro-load buildings.  After that renewables can be added cost effectively to make net-zero buildings.

      Net Zero in New Construction versus Existing Buildings

      Certainly, achieving micro load energy efficiency standards is easier and typically more cost-effective to do with a brand new building--essentially building it into the design plans from the outset. But it's also possible to do when renovating existing buildings. With 300 billion square feet of existing buildings out there, bringing energy use down and improving building performance in the already built environment offers tremendous opportunities for savings.

      Conclusion

      Clearly, net zero energy buildings offer a tremendous opportunity for countering the environmental, energy and economic pressures we face today. But they will not become the standard for how we develop our buildings and communities overnight. It will take a concerted effort to educate business owners (and the public) about the potential these buildings offer and change the way we think. By taking a longer term view and seeing our buildings as the investments they truly are--investments into our energy future, the well-being of our planet and the health of our businesses--we will be moving toward a more stable, productive and sustainable way of life.

      Some examples of Net Zero projects by Maclay Architects:

      River House, Moretown, VT

      The River House is a Net-Zero residence set on a stone dam abutment above the Mad River. It directly connects to the location through the use of site-harvested stone in both the building and the landscape. The house uses a super-insulated envelope, a 15 kW on-site photovoltaic array, and a ground source heat pump to achieve its Net-Zero energy goals. The linear structure is accented with three daylight monitors rising through a sedum-covered extensive green roof.

      Dartt House, Waitsfield, VT

      Renovations to this 1800's era farmhouse, located in the historic village of Waitsfield, balanced concerns for preserving historic character and reducing energy demands. Insulating within the existing walls and roof preserved the historic quality of the building exterior, while improving efficiency. Similarly, high-performance, triple glazed windows were installed within existing frames. Energy reducing appliances, an air source heat pump, and heat recovery ventilation further reduced building loads.  These measures improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality to a micro-load building that is ready for an 8.5kW photovoltaic system to be installed in 2010 or 2011. This house is next to Maclay Architects offices which will be net-zero in 2010 with the addition of a 17.5 kW photovoltaic installation.

      Putney School Field House, Putney, VT

      The Putney School desired a new field house to meet their growing needs for high quality sports, wellness and social spaces, while seeking to create a model for the future that could be used as a tool for learning about the school's core values of environmental based learning, sustainability and social consciousness.

      The school also asked the design team to provide a building well-integrated into the existing campus and character of the local Putney community. With its 36.8 kW array, it is projected to be a net-zero building in 2010.

      Learn more about these projects at  www.maclayarchitects.com

      Special thanks to William Maclay for writing this, and to Lisa Sawin, Kevin Dennis & Eileen Hee of William Maclay Architects & Planners for their support in bringing this piece to press.

      To list or look for central or northern Vermont real estate, email info@maplesweet.com,  call toll free 1-800-525-7965 or visit www.maplesweet.com