Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Green Revolution
. . . .

The Green Revolution

Robert Downes - February 23rd, 2006
“Green building” is where it’s at in the world of new construction and remodeling these days, and if you’re attending home shows in Petoskey and Traverse City this season, you’re sure to hear the good news about eco-friendly living.
Green building means using renewable resources such as bamboo flooring, making your home more energy-efficient, avoiding products which damage the environment, and in general, trying to live lightly on the earth.
That doesn’t mean you have to become a commune-dwelling stereotype or move to an earthberm house, however; most green-built homes blend into their neighborhoods in terms of style, space and comfort. The difference is they’re far ahead when it comes to saving on energy bills and preserving resources.

FOR EXAMPLE
Builders Jennifer and Mark Steinorth have been involved in the green building movement for the past seven years through their company, Steinorth Fine Homes. They build an average of seven homes per year in the 1,500-3,000 square-foot range using green building techniques and materials.
Their own home/office in Chartwell Village southeast of Traverse City is a model of energy efficiency. In fact, the couple were awarded an Energy Star Grant of $8,000 from the Michigan Department of Energy for the high level of innovation in the home as a showcase for other builders.
“This house is 63 percent more energy efficient than the national average home,” says Jennifer, an articulate and well-versed spokesperson for the company. She adds that the home has a 92.7 percent efficiency rating under EPA standards, going far beyond the average.
“We basically have just insulated the heck out of our house which allows us to have a very small furnace,” she says.
That means 2”x8” studs in the walls with 7 1/2” inches of Icynene foam insulation for an R factor of 42. It also means double-pane, argon-filled windows and double-insulated concrete forms for the basement. Plus, the outside of the house is sheathed in a snug fiber-cement siding that looks and lasts like petroleum-based vinyl but without the harsh environmental repercussions.

BREATHE EASY
But isn’t there a hazard in having a home built too snugly?
“The idea is to control the breathing of your home so that instead of letting air waft in from outside you do it in a controlled manner,” Jennifer responds. In the Steinorth’s home a duct system keeps fresh air circulating. Exchanged through a capillary system, 80 percent of the air is captured and electronically filtered. The result is that most of the heat remains in the home, rather than being discharged outside.
The Steinorths take some of their design ideas from the building philosophies of Sarah Susanka, author of the popular “Not So Big House” books. In their own home, this means an open, spacious floor plan with an emphasis on cozy. “She’s into breaking up spaces which gives a house a big feeling,” Jennifer says.
We note that the home seems very feng shui in terms of its flow. “Feng shui is basically just good design,” Mark responds, noting that ancient principles have been rediscovered and enhanced by modern builders.
Mark’s family has been in the building biz going on forever. The company was founded by his parents Paul and Lee Steinorth in Alpena. They moved to TC in 1975 and Mark and his brother Cal grew up with hammers in hand, just like their father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

AN EDUCATION
Mark and Jennifer strive to lead the way in educating other builders on the benefits of green building. Other eco-friendly aspects of their home include bamboo flooring; they note that bamboo is a fast-growing grass that’s ready for harvest and regrowth within 7-15 years, compared to at least 40 years for oak or maple. Then there are their lyptus wood counter-tops made from a fast-growing tree found in South America and Africa; again a renewable resource that spares rare tropical hardwoods.
So, how does green building compare, cost-wise?
“It doesn’t have to cost much -- it’s all about education and making the right choices,” Mark says. That may include using recycled materials, such as a claw-foot bathtub or the window door in their office -- both from Odom’s salvage shop in Grawn.
Jim Carruthers, who handles sales and marketing for the company, notes that there are tax incentives for green building that cut costs, and of course, anyone with a heating bill this winter knows the value of long-term energy planning.
“We really try to fit a building plan as close to the client’s budget as possible,” he says. “And with all of the information on the Internet we have such smart clients who are familiar with green building. They spend their evenings surfing on the ‘net and coming to us with these products.”
Moral of the story? Go green, and save.

Check out www.steinorthfinehomes.com for more on green building.
 
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