Sustainable Choices: Critical to Our Collective Futures

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Part I in a Series on Adaptive Reuse, the basis of an upcoming presentation by Tamara Myers at the 2016 Las Vegas NKBA Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and NAHB International Builders’ Show.

Earlier today, I stopped by one of our job sites to admire this stack of reclaimed lumber peacefully acclimating itself to its new home, waiting to be installed as our new finish flooring. How exciting that this lumber is gaining a new life and that we can bring an older material into the renovation of this older home. Great choices that will give both the material and space a new, long life.

Many of you already know about our passion for reuse and sustainable choices. We have built our business on bringing our brain trust of collective creativity and years of experience and relationships to make solutions that really create a difference in our clients’ lives. Woven into our our approach to renovation is the belief that sustainability issues are vital to our collective futures. It’s exciting stuff! The opportunity to transform our clients’ spaces continually shows us that renovation is a great choice, whether it’s on an older or newer home or a building that was originally built for another purpose. Long-lasting design and material choices are critical to our approach, which nets designs and spaces that our clients retain and enjoy for many years to come.

We can look at the sustainability issue on many levels. I often talk about the larger view of how it is critical to renovate and maintain existing buildings to support our blocks, our neighborhoods, and our communities. We all have seen urban blocks that have what we call a “missing tooth,” that blank space within a block where a building has been torn down. Once torn down, the missing building tooth affects the fabric of the whole block and greater neighborhood, and it typically takes much longer to bring that block back up to wholeness. Paying attention earlier and supporting ongoing renovation can help retain strong communities.

On a smaller scale, we can look at the individual components that make up a building. Essentially, we examine a material’s life from beginning to end, including what it takes to create and transform it into useable form. Analysis of life cycle starts by looking at what resources are needed in order to mine, mill, smelt, or use other processes to turn raw materials into a form that can then be used for manufacturing. Then, you add the manufacturing typically on multiple levels, and between all of these steps, you add in the impact of transporting and final installation of these materials. At the end of its use, we can choose to reuse a material or send it off to the landfill. Ideally, we look to extend the life cycle whenever possible.

There are lots of resources out there showing the impact of keeping an existing building vs. building new, and one of my favorites provides a good blend of research presented in both text and graphics compiled by the Preservation Green Lab and National Trust for Historic Preservation with some other partners. Within the report is a study that compares an existing building to a new building that is 30% more efficient, and it found that it takes between 10 to 80 years for a new construction building to catch up and meet that 30% more efficient metric and counteract the negative climate change impact created by erecting the new building. The 10- to 80-year spread came from the wide range of areas and building types. Specific case studies show that a single family residence in Chicago will take 38 years, and one in Portland will take 50 years to reach the equalizing point. A pretty important picture for us all to keep in mind.

Happy New Year,

tam.sig


1960’s Ranch Update

We recently did a project for a couple with two young children who were looking to downsize from their old, Victorian Chestnut Hill home. They wanted to move to a home that was located in a great public school system and had lower maintenance costs than their old house. But they knew they would miss many of the comforts of their large, old home. So they called our designers in to help come up with a plan that would bring more comfort and style to their serviceable but not very stylish 1960s “new” ranch home.

At the top of the agenda for this couple was a proper master bedroom suite. The existing master bathroom had a small bathroom with a shower, but not much style. The bedroom was not very private from the rest of the bedrooms on the floor, and there was a serious shortage of closet space. In general, the old finishes were very plain and worn out.

Our team claimed the small neighboring room, which was probably originally a nursery or study, to be part of the new, larger master suite space. By putting the new bathroom here, we were able to use the old bathroom space and part of the hall as a walk-in, his-and-hers closet space.

This left the couple a nicely sized bedroom space with room for some family heirloom furnishings, a king-sized bed with night stands, and a spare “off-season” storage closet.

Overall, their new master bedroom suite now has a light, open feeling, even though the footprint is not especially large. This is because our design team planned for the use of each square foot of these rooms, so the spaces “fit” and are very logical.

Special Reasons to Think Windows and Doors!

Winter is right around the corner … now is the time to think windows! In addition to energy tax credits that are currently in place, you can save up to $550 with a mail-in Live Smart Rebate when you replace your old windows or patio doors with select Weather Shield® products with Zo-e-shield® glazing before 12/31/10. And, when you purchase a window-replacement project worth at least $10,000 from Myers Constructs (choose from select brands available), you’ll receive a complimentary home BPI energy-efficiency audit (value: $500). This test will identify areas within your home that may be causing you to spend more than you need to on your monthly utility bills.

Call us at 215.438.6696 for details on how to qualify for these exciting offers.

Earth-Friendly Home Renovations: A Local Perspective

Earth friendly. Eco conscious. Green. What do these terms mean in the context of home improvement? The short answer is being kind to your surroundings — although the meanings can differ slightly depending on where you live.

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We’re in The News!

Discussing modern day marketing and how we do it in :

Remodeling Magazine

We are moving to e marketing because it’s more sustainable than snail mail. E marketing doesn’t require little gas powered trucks driving all over to deliver cards with our contact info on them.

But in order for this to work we need your help. When you share our newsletters and other marketing materials with your friends and neighbors, you are helping all of us be more sustainable!

We’re On Vimeo! Take 2!

Check out this cool, new trailer about our team at Myers Constructs, Inc.

This is just another example of our efforts to market our business without polluting the earth in the process. We’ve found that we don’t have to rely so much on the postal service to deliver printed marketing materials when we get great results from the organic sharing of our messages. So, please share this clip with your circle of contacts … and stay tuned for more fun media soon!

A Stylish DIY Project

Many people think of furnishing their home as a single expedition to a big-name supplier where they can buy a “set” of furniture to fill their rooms. They plop down their credit card and call their room “done.”

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The Heat Wave and Your Home

Temperatures of 100-plus degrees hit the Philadelphia area this week — and they’re only predicted to cool slightly in the days ahead. Not surprising for this region during the dog days of July. Nevertheless, conditions like these test not only our bodies’ ability to regulate temperature, but also our homes’ ability to do the same.

So, just how energy-efficient is your house’s cooling system? Here are some symptoms of poor performance to look for:

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What Can You Learn From a Brick?

The brick is an iconic building element to those of us who live on the East Coast, where old cities are built from millions and millions of red bricks. Therefore, a brick seems like a good place to start when considering what it costs the environment to build a house. In fact, readers may remember an article previously posted on our website, entitled “New Construction Pollutes!” In that post, we asked folks to speculate about the size of the carbon footprint made by the bricks used to build an average-sized Philadelphia rowhome.

We explained that to make just one brick, 1.4 pounds of carbon is burned and released into the atmosphere.

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