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.