Chestnut Hill - Kitchen

When you hear the term "green building," you might think of solar panels on the roof or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Maybe the words bring to mind less well-known concepts, like walls built with straw bales or green roofs. CFLs or LEDs definitely have their place in your home, and straw bale walls are great in certain applications, but before you get around to putting solar panels on the roof there are many small but effective steps you can take.

First, shrink your home's energy use as much as possible, manage your daylight as well as heat gain and loss, make sure you have good air quality and that you have long-lasting, well-maintained surfaces inside and out. Being green isn't always glamorous. It's all about the details.

Why Green?

A green building:

  • is built to last
  • lowers utility bills
  • uses materials that are safer for the environment and ourselves

There are certain green practices that we consider standard at Buckminster Green. We use only Energy Star rated high-efficiency windows, doors and appliances. We install only no-formaldehyde insulation for better indoor air quality. We design each project for limited waste and recycle wood, drywall, shingles, rubble, cardboard and metal. We use caulks, adhesives, paints and primers that do not off-gas harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for years after we leave.

Renovating city homes presents unique challenges and exciting opportunities for incorporating green principles. Below are a few examples of ways to "green" a city home:

Tubular Skylights

A great way to get light into your home without bringing in a lot of unwanted heat is to install a solar light tube. These capture the low-angled winter light using reflective coatings within a roof-top dome, and are much easier to install than a skylight since they require no structural headers. Also, you aren't limited to rooms right below the roof. The reflective tubes can be run down from the second floor to the first floor though closets or thick walls, and they can even make slight turns.


Many city bathrooms and kitchens lack bath fans and hoods, or have noisy, ineffective fans. When we remodel your home, we will take steps to seal the home so outside air is not bringing in moisture or removing heat, but once the house is well sealed, a good fan will remove the moisture and toxins that can build up in baths and kitchens. This will make your house a healthier place and the finishes will last longer.

Reclaimed Wood

Demolition of old buildings often produces old-growth timbers. This wood can be reused for counters, trim, flooring, siding and shelving instead of going to a landfill. If it can't be reused, unpainted wood and drywall can be recycled along with metal and cardboard, reducing the waste on site. It's not just wood that can be reused. Many building materials can be salvaged, and re-purposed for a new life with some imagination.

Low-VOC Alternatives

Many products used in home renovation and elsewhere include volatile organic compounds that continue to release gases into the atmosphere long after the products have been installed. There are low or no-VOC alternatives available for most of these products. Examples include true linoleum flooring and no-VOC paints.

Recycled Content Building Materials

Construction and renovation accounts for a large percentage of the waste produced in this country. By using recycled-content products you take useful materials out of the waste stream. Keep in mind when choosing any product for your home, flooring, doors, etc, that the longer a product's useful life, the longer it will stay out of a landfill. Try to use products that can be re-used or recycled at the end of their useful life. Some examples of recycled content products we have used on recent jobs are: denim batt insulation and imitation slate roof tiles.