What Makes This Home Green?

Suzy and Jeff have worked with three different architects during the past three years to come up the plans for their future home.  We believed our new home should have a smaller environmental footprint then our current 1700 sq. ft. home but look like a typical spanish revival home.  We want the home to be build to the Emerald National Green Building Standard adopted by the National Association of Home Builders  and at least Gold Certified LEED.

A concrete home was chosen to provide better insulation, a quieter living environment and protection from Oklahoma’s severe weather.  All the exterior walls of the home will be built using DOW T-mass Insulated Concrete Forms with a Texturi stucco finish.  The T-Mass product is consists of a 3 inch layer of styrofoam with a layer of concrete on both sides of the styrofoam.  Dow T-Mass Specifications.

The basement walls will be 12” thick and the 1st floor walls will be 10” thick.  The excavation work, foundation work and concrete wall will be completed by Basement Contractors.  We understand Basement Contractors will be promoting this home as their 500th basement project.

Builders Insulation Co. will be using Icynene LD-R-50 Spray Foam Insulation to insulate the roof deck of the home, all the pipes (so you can’t here the toilet water when you flush), and the home theater ceiling (again for sound insulation).  LD-R-50 is a light density, open-celled, flexible, water-blown polyurethane  foam insulation that contains more than 7% renewable castor oil.  Although some other products contain higher amounts of agricultural-based materials (soy), we liked that castor beans can be grown on marginal land and are not useful as food.  Matt Capshaw (Builders Insulation), Mike Cacic (Icynene Manufacturer’s Rep) and Jerry Jennison (Icynene Regional Sales Manager) have been great partners.  The walls are made of two layers of concrete with 2″ of DOW styrofoam in between so no insulation is needed in the walls.

In addition to the high insulation and low air infiltration, the home will incorporate geothermal heating and cooling.  We have selected Climate Master Tranquility 27 units.  The 8000 sq. ft. home will only need 6 tons of cooling.

On behalf of OG&E, Guaranteed Watt Saver Systems has done a preliminary evaluation of the proposed homes energy efficiency.  The home received a HERS rating of 37.  We expect to further improve the rating after the Cree LED lighting package is taken into account and the testing of the envelop is completed.

The plans and proposed budget include a 20,000 rainwater harvesting system to be used for irrigation.  All roof rainwater from the clay tile roof will be directed to this water tank.  We will also attempt to capture the hardscape water runoff.  A gray water system was considered.  All the driveway material except for the pad directly in front of the garage and the area between the street and the sidewalk will be Pavestone permeable pavers.  This will allow much of the rainwater that is normally sent to storm sewers to be returned to the aquifer.  All the toilets in the home will be dual flush toilets.  All faucets and shower heads will be low flow.

We are installing a recycle chute in the kitchen island.  It’s a door in the island that goes to a collection bin located in the mechanical room in the basement.  Hopefully this will serve as a daily reminder to all family members that we need to do our part to protect our planet.

There is 1000 sq ft of flat roof to be used for solar panels.  The current plans will be to use solar panels to heat the pool water.  To keep the drain from freezing during the winter, Exeter Plumbing is attaching small geothermal lines to the drain pipes to circulate excess geothermal water when the temperature falls below 35 degrees.  The process of turning on the geothermal water will be controlled by the Home Automation system.  The geothermal system will also be used to heat the hot water for the home.  In the future, as solar photovoltaic technology advances, we hope to build our own solar farm to power the entire home.  We are also exploring the practicality of a vertical axis wind turbine.  Specifically, we are looking at Urban Green Energy’s 4kw vertical axis wind turbine.

The wood floors (Walnut and Durango Sunset) are reclaimed and were purchased from Elmwood Reclaimed Wood of Smithville, MO.  They are beautiful and we purchased them during a sale so the price was less than new wood flooring.   We also purchased some Elk Ridge Rustic Paneling that we will use in the study, craft room and in the breakfast nook.

We have decided to use recycled glass & concrete countertops from Rivers’ Edge Countertops, Inc.   throughout the entire home.  These counters use up to 80% recycled glass.  Jeremiah Rivers has been great to work with and offers a very large selection of colors, both in glass colors and in cement colors.

The appliances will be KitchenAid Architect Series II Energy Star and Whirlpool Duet Energy Star Washer and Dryer

We will use the new CR6 Cree LED lights throughout the home.  We saw this product at the 2010 International Builders Show earlier this year.  My wife fell in love with the lights color.  According to a consumer reports article, “By reducing the number of LEDs used in the 6-inch CR6, Cree has limited its energy consumption to 12 watts, but the company claims the CR6 has a light output equivalent to that of an 18- to 26-watt CFL. Priced at $50 to $60 per bulb, the CR6 has a claimed 35,000- to 50,000-hour life span, several times that of typical CFLs and incandescents.”

We are pestering Jeff Stewart, owner of O’Connell’s in Norman, to procure the back bar and front bar from the Lindsey Ave location when that bar is closed.  The entire bar would be moved to the basement of the home.

The first two rows of the theater chairs were salvaged from Jeff’s hometown theater in Orrville, OH.

The roof of the home will be clay tile.  We have chosen from the MCA Superior Clay Tile cool color collection.

40% Brick Red (DS01 2F43)

Brick Red – 2F43

CRRC Product ID # 0882-0027

Solar Reflectance – 0.42

Thermal Emittance – 0.84

Brick Red 2F43

60% Canyon Red (DS01 2F23)

Canyon Red – 2F23
CRRC Product ID # 0882-0031

Solar Reflectance – 0.36

Thermal Emittance – 0.88

Brick Red 2F23

Why this is a good product.


We’ve chosen drought tolerant Riviera Bermuda Grass from Johnson Seed Co in Enid for yard.  This grass was developed by OSU for the PGA.  Most of the plants will be drought tolerant as well.

Low or no voc glues and paints will be used throughout the home.

All wood will be FSC certified.

Finally, we will be reducing our construction waste.  We are recycling all the aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, metal and copper wiring.  All scrap wood and plasterboard are being collected and will be be ground up and used as part of the final grading.  All sawdust and dirt is being dumped in the bottom of the raised planter beds.


Joan Snyder February 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Reading about the details involved in creating your Green home emphasizes what Kermit the Frog says, “It ain’t easy being green.”

Shoshana March 12, 2010 at 11:43 pm

We are thinking about choosing Mike Hancock as our builder.
So, I am really appreciate your journal.

send me all your experience with Mike Hancock.

Jeff April 29, 2010 at 5:52 pm

We really enjoy working with Mike. If you look closely at the ground breaking pictures, you can see Mike with our daughters in the cab of the big backhoe. He takes great pride in his work and his crew is very knowledgable. They’ve answered all my questions. They may be a little overscheduled and you need to be patient with your schedule but their overscheduled because they produce a quality product. Next week they will start setting the forms for the main level of the home. Feel free to stop by the project.

Chad Neathery, CSP May 4, 2010 at 2:22 am

Jeff and Suzy,

I have been privileged to be involved in your new home construction. I was at your construction site today and saw the framers getting ready for the “sticks” of your construction. I appreciate your involvement in the construction process and would love to utilize your knowledge and research to help Mike Gilles and Savannah Builders become more “cutting edge” in the “Green Building” movement. Savannah Builders is already the leader in homebuilding in Oklahoma, but we are always looking for more energy efficient and new techniques to make our construction unique! Thank you for all you do and for choosing Mike Gilles as your builder. I look forward to working with you!

Also, anyone that is looking to build with the EPA guidelines or geothermal and energy efficient construction science techniques should contact me about their project.

Chad Neathery, CSP
Savannah Builders, Community Manager
Savannah Realty, Broker

Sam Sikes June 3, 2010 at 11:20 am

Great Looking project. I bought a mixed hardwoods reclaimed wood floor on sale from Old Barn Reclaimed Wood and I am extremely happy with it as well. http://www.reclaimedwoodco.com

Best wishes on the rest of your project.

Anthony June 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

I am a roofing contractor with more than 20 years experience, and I recommend for this house the green tile selection from Santafe clay roof tiles. They have high solar reflectance and the glazed tiles in particular have zero water absorption. Green roof tiles keep roofs cooler and help save on electricity bills.
Also, clay roof tiles have a great duration (centruties!) and that’s why I believe they are an excellent option when we think about quality roofs and green alternatives…