home energy savingsMany home improvement companies will recommend a whole host of energy efficient options that should be performed on your home, and usually their advice coincides beautifully with the services that they offer.

No one wants to cast aspersions, but many of these companies only inspect the features that they can improve and do not really look at the big picture. For this reason, a savvy homeowner should get an independent energy audit to determine the best course of action. In particular, energy audits will inspect the following three main areas:

  • Windows and Doors – Testing will determine if the house is properly sealed.
  • HVAC System – A cost/benefit analysis will be conducted between the current system and a newer, high efficiency one.
  • Insulation – A whole house survey can determine if insulation is lacking in the walls, attic or subfloor crawlspaces.

With a thorough energy audit in hand, homeowners can now choose the most cost effective way to resolve their home’s problem areas. For more information on energy audits in particular or green home design in general, contact us at Trilogy Partners. We can be found online at TrilogyBuilds.com or you can call us directly at 970-453-2230.

Image: Shutterstock

We wanted to wish everyone Happy Holidays from Breckenridge, Colorado. We are so fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful setting like Breckenridge, where it is always a winter wonderland. For those of you in parts of the country who won’t be having a White Christmas we wanted to share some of our favorite “snow” top moments from Colorado.

We hope you enjoy…

Trilogy Partners


Trilogy Partners


Trilogy Partners

It’s not surprising that today marks the first day of winter. It is after all a cold, snowy day here in Breckenridge, Colorado with a low tonight of -6 degrees. In honor of the first day of winter, we complied a list of ways to help you stay warm this winter season. From radiant flooring to ventless fires, see how you can beat that winter chill!

We love Planika’s remote-controlled, smoke-free, eco-friendly, ventless fires. Since there is no need for any kind of ventilation, this “fireplace” can be installed anywhere. In an existing hearth or even in the middle of your coffee table.

Photo via Planika


Photo via Planika

Radiant floors will help keep your toes nice and toasty this time of year. It can even be used with hardwood floors, but be careful of which type you choose, it could possibly expand from the heat.

Photo via Elle Decor

Tired of stepping out of a hot shower and wrapping yourself in a cold towel. Towel warmers in the bathroom will help solve this problem.

Photo via Trendir

How do you stay warm during the winter months?



Many of you have probably heard that beginning on January 1, 2012, a new law will go into effect “phasing out standard 100-watt incandescent bulbs”. This law was enacted to encourage the use of more energy-efficient lighting and other countries like Switzerland and Australia have already started their planned phase-outs. Some have criticized this new law stating that it puts a imposed cost increase on light bulbs for those who might not be able to afford them, but the new and improved energy-efficient light bulbs will save you the cost of replacing the bulbs earlier.

Yahoo! has put together some myths that have sprung up with this new law, so here’s a link to their story “The Truth About the New Light Bulb Law”.

We’d love to hear what you think about the new law?

Photo via Yahoo!

Google has been making news of late with its opening of Google Plus to all users, but we are more interested in Google’s new investment in solar power systems right here in Colorado. Partnering with Clean Power Finance, Google will invest $75 million to help install 3,000 homes with solar panel systems in Colorado, California and Arizona.

Google writes in their Google Green Blog that “it makes a lot of sense to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology—rooftop solar panels—to generate electricity right where you need it at home. It greens our energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the traditional grid.”

According to Google, “The installer builds the system, the investor owns it (in this case, Google), and homeowners pay a monthly payment for the system, at a price that’s often less than paying for energy from the grid. Maintenance and performance are taken care of by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers.”

With Google already having invested in $850 million in green energy, their new solar panel investment is just another way that Google is branding themselves as “green”.

For more information visit www.cleanpowerfinance.com.

Melissa Rappaport Schifman just wanted to do the right thing. She never imagined it would take a 342-page manual and three years of her life.

It started when Melissa and her husband, Jim Schifman, bought a 1950s rambler “as is” on a corner lot across from Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. They had planned to remodel the modest house using green methods and materials, but when they discovered that it would be costly to solve moisture issues in the basement, they decided to start from scratch.

True to their green desires, they hired Deconstruction Services, a nonprofit affiliated with the Green Institute, to remove and recycle the wood flooring, cabinets, appliances, even the toilets. “We struggled with tearing down a home, so we were glad it was recycled,” Melissa said. Then they set their sights on building a sustainable, energy-efficient, healthy home that would lower their energy consumption (and costs) and offer views of the lake.

“We have so many choices when building and remodeling,” Melissa said. “Why not be thoughtful and choose products that are better for your health and environment?”

But the Schifmans weren’t just going to just dabble in green features. They wanted to go for the features that make the most difference: a geothermal heating and cooling system, photovoltaic solar panels and wood harvested from sustainably managed forests. They also wanted the ultimate stamp of environmental approval: LEED certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green-building certification program, which promotes the design and construction of green homes. It’s based on a rating system with categories such as site selection, water efficiency, materials and resources, energy and indoor environment quality. To get the certification, a home has to be inspected during and after construction.

“When someone says their home is green, it’s questionable,” Melissa said. “With a LEED home, all the benefits have been verified by a third party.”

Typically, homeowners hire a green building consultant to do the time-consuming task of certification. But Melissa, who had experience in financial analysis and renewable energy, wanted to tackle the job herself.

“This would be a great thing for me to go through,” she said. “I wanted to find out if it was the wave of the future or a big pain in the rear.”

When she received the 342-page LEED reference manual from the U.S. Green Building Council, she decided it was the latter.”I was excited because it was a gold mine of information for building a healthy, energy-efficient home,” she said. “At the same time, my heart sank knowing how much work I would have to put into it.”


Before Melissa even cracked open the manual, the couple had to decide what style of home they wanted to build for themselves and their two young daughters. “We’d always liked contemporary homes,” said Melissa. “They use space well, have open floor plans and lots of windows. That style worked well with our green goals.”

They’d seen Duluth architect David Salmela’s modern designs for the Jackson Meadow community in Marine on St. Croix, Minn., and the book on him, “Salmela Architect.”

“We liked his whimsical touches and his sense of practicality and efficient use of space,” Melissa said. “We knew his designs connected a home to the Earth. That’s why we chose him.”

The Schifmans arranged the first of many meetings, not only with Salmela but also the builder, the mechanical and electrical engineers and the landscaper, to talk about building a home to LEED standards.

Salmela eventually designed a clean-lined, L-shaped home with a wall of windows facing the lake. The home is in two structures, which total 4,800 square feet and are connected by a breezeway. The family living spaces are on the main floor and the three bedrooms are upstairs. Melissa requested a home office above the garage so she could be away from distractions. The finished basement has a playroom for the girls and guest bedroom that doubles as an exercise room.

“We were able to design a beautiful house that wasn’t just about sustainability and energy efficiency,” Salmela said. “It’s enjoyable to live in, connects to the site and fits in the neighborhood.”


Melissa’s number crunching helped them choose the most efficient products and materials. “I figured out what you get the most bang for the buck,” she said. “I like doing cost-benefit analysis. It’s fun.”

Her favorite eco features are the two small green roofs, over the entry hall and the garage. The plants absorb rainwater runoff, help insulate the home and extend the life of the roof. And they’re beautiful to look at. “By July, the sedum will have red and yellow flowers,” Melissa said. “Plus we got LEED points for them.”

In 2009, the house was done, but Melissa was far from completing the LEED certification. In fact, she started a blog to help her get through the process. Although the blog was more work, she felt that a public daily journal would make her more accountable and help her understand the LEED point process. “I went through the checklist and wrote about my experience on the blog,” she said. “It gave me the discipline to get it done.”

Melissa spent hours (200, she estimates) calculating everything from waste diversion rates to how much water flowed from faucets. She tracked down subcontractors to find out where they got their supplies and materials to determine if they were locally sourced. “There were times when I thought if I stop doing this – would anyone care?” she said.

In the end, the work paid off. The family got a sustainable, energy-efficient house that they said they never want to leave. And Melissa got a new career. After passing the LEED exam, she became a LEED Homes Accredited Professional, which means builders and homeowners can hire her to consult on their green projects.

She’s also a partner in Resonance Companies, where she works as a sustainability consultant for small businesses. She’s still blogging (www.green-intention.com) and is working on a book about her experience.

In a few weeks, she should get official confirmation: The Schifman residence will be the 11th LEED certified home in Minneapolis.

Melissa and Jim are very happy with their home, but they do have one regret: “Living green shouldn’t be so hard and inconvenient or cost more,” Melissa said. “We hope in the future it will just be the normal way of living.”

Source: Sunherald.com

A “green remodel” can mean so many different things; there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and every remodel is ultimately as unique as the homeowner who envisioned it. So, what type of green remodeler are you? You might not fit precisely into a single category, and the point isn’t to peg anyone or apply labels, but rather to provide advice and resources specific to your approach.

1. Energy Efficiency Warrior

You’re tired of those high energy bills. Sometimes you might annoy family members by following them around the house and turning off the lights they leave on. So when it’s time to make some upgrades around the house, you will be focusing on ways to make your home operate more efficiently. Consider these projects:

2. Aesthetic Upgrader

Your own is a reflection of your personal tastes, and you want it to look good! Therefore, you focus your efforts on making aesthetic improvements, but you also want to make sure you choose materials that are eco-friendly and contribute to healthy indoor environment, too. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

3. Room-by-room Remodeler

Are you the type of person who eats one item at a time on your plate and doesn’t like anything to touch or mix together? Either way, your remodeling efforts are focused on one specific space, and you need advice that is unique to that particular room:

4. Budget Conscious Remodeler

Who doesn’t want to save money? Just because you don’t have a lot to spend on your home right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a few green improvements. Here are a few ways to save:

Source: About.com


Many homeowners are now leaning towards going green to save energy costs and to create a more comfortable and healthier place to live. There are many ways to go green from switching to energy-saving appliances to repainting your homes with non-toxic paints. These kinds of changes you may feel comfortable doing yourself. But should your project be more complex, you might want to consider getting some help.

Remodeling whether green or not can be a huge undertaking. It’s one thing if you’re going to be turning a bathroom into a mini spa. But many makeovers involve changes to floor plans, electrical and mechanical infrastructure, or structural elements. There may be a significant amount of demolition and even exterior reconstruction if you plan to add windows, doors, and skylights. Any physical change to the exterior envelope of the house is going to be rather complex and will involve careful planning, design, and materials selection.

Why Hire a Remodeling General Contractor?

Professional remodeling contractors have the skills, knowledge and experience to successfully plan and complete a remodel. The pros will save you from major stress and significant time commitments during the course of the project. And because you will avoid costly mistakes, you probably won’t end up paying any more for their expertise than if you had done the project by yourself.

And since you are specifically doing a green remodel, you will need additional expertise. Installing solar panels, adding insulation and eco-friendly home fixtures must be left to your trained tradesmen. Contractors can also identify other things that need upgrading during the process of remodeling such as defects in mechanical systems, wiring problems, mold issues, and structural abnormalities. These can and should be remediated during the course of the remodel.

Tips on Hiring a Contractor

There are many people in this world who call themselves contractors but lack the expertise you will be needing for your project. Putting the project in the hands of the right person is critical to the success of the project. So where to start. The best source of information on a contractor comes from direct referrals. Friends and associates can often recommend someone who did work for them. You can also contact professional organizations such as the National Association of the Remodeling Association (NARI) or the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers. Ask for a project resume, sample budgets and inquire into the method of accounting the contractor will employ. Do check references. Do make a call to the Better Business Bureau. And if possible, ask to see other completed projects in person. The contractor should at least have a portfolio of photographs from completed projects to show you. And certainly, if this is to be a green remodel, the contractor should have a commitment to green practice and procedures as well as expertise in the specific areas of sustainability you wish to employ. And last but not least, be open in discussing a budget and put procedures and policies in place, and in writing, to help control the project costs. It’s better to delay the project and take some time in the beginning to lay everything out with the contractor than it is to rush in and have things spiral quickly out of control.

Source: TreeLiving.com


Going green is all about going with nature as far as possible, not fighting it and trying to control forces that are a whole lot bigger than you are. Think about it this way – who’s going to be the ultimate winner? History shows that you can score over the universe in the short term. But if you really get into ecologically friendly ways of living you’ll know you have to take a wider, longer and more integrated view.

Once we got out of caves, we were concerned about basic protection from the world outside. That’s a basic roof on the basic walls, to keep out the rain, cold and summer heat, as well as nature’s predators. In a way, nothing’s changed. Some human needs are timeless. But also everything’s changed. We have choices like never before.

If you’re really dedicated to green remodeling you can’t go wrong by looking at the past. Not just what our ancestors did right. We can now take that to the next level. We can also use technology to solve problems that were way beyond our forebear’s capacity. We can take traditional building methods, building on the bonuses and use modern knowledge, science and technology to go one better.

Here’s a simple example. Windows were once small, because glass was expensive and windows lose heat in a big way. If you’re planning an extension, you can design your windows to make maximum use of available light. You can double-glaze or coat them to let the light in without the UV rays coming and the interior warmth escaping.

You can make use of skylights, so you don’t have to turn on the electric light. You can pitch your roof at the right angle to admit light and to mount solar panels that will harvest the free sunlight that can power your home – naturally, economically and without excessive environmental impact.

Good architectural design today incorporates green ideas wherever that can be done. This doesn’t just apply to new builds. Whatever changes you are making to your home, you can build in green ideas, from the past and from the forward-thinking green designers and architects of today.

Green remodeling is an attitude. Lateral thinking plus sensitivity to place, space and the living world all come together. If you are extending or altering your home, check out the hundreds of solutions that work with the environment instead of trying to keep the world out.

Hopefully, everyone was aware that this past Friday was Earth Day. Much of the annual event’s focus was to increase public awareness of ways to reduce pollution. There were also a number of community clean-ups, including one in Perry Hall, as well as public gatherings to promote more sustainable policy decisions with regard to environmental protection.

I would like to offer, however, some thoughts on what could really turn the tide in support of saving our planet. As is widely known, skyrocketing fossil fuel costs have increased the necessity for all sectors of the economy, leading industry leaders to consider ways to control their energy costs. One area with a great deal of promise is the comprehensive integration of energy efficient and environmentally-friendly practices into the maintenance and development of various structures, from business facilities to residential communities.

In 2007, as part of the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act, federal government officials expressed their desire to advance this process. It involved the construction of new, energy-efficient buildings and the targeted retrofitting of energy efficient devices into existing facilities.

All levels of government have since begun to promote environmentally sustainable practices. These efforts will certainly promote energy efficiency and also stimulate the growth of a broad green jobs industry. Baltimore County, for example, has devised a sustainability strategy for government operations and is now working to create a community-wide sustainability plan. As a result of this and related state initiatives, there will be a substantial need for a green labor pool capable of meeting the workforce needs of this emerging industry.

But what exactly are green jobs? Green collar jobs are ones that focus on the conservation of natural resources, the restoration of the environment or the mitigation of pollution. Thus, green collar jobs include the installation of green roofs, the auditing of energy use for an office building, brownfields restoration, installing energy efficient retrofits in existing industrial facilities or dismantling and recycling computers. Jobs that help to promote the more efficient use of commodities (such as fuel and lumber), or help to clean up previously unusable industrial sites, certainly help to benefit both our economy and our natural surroundings.

The promotion of green jobs can simultaneously help our environment and economic viability and also create new job opportunities for unemployed or underemployed Baltimore County residents. The emerging cadre of green or environmentally-driven employment opportunities could offer many area job seekers the chance to be productively engaged in the workforce, helping them support themselves and their families financially. Additionally, as more employers integrate new energy efficient practices into their businesses, many existing jobs will become more “green” and incumbent workers will need to upgrade their skills in order to stay qualified for their jobs and retain their employment.

Policymakers and citizens at-large have made it a priority to promote a sustainable, environmentally-responsible future. Not surprisingly, there has been heightened interest on what impact these efforts may have on the job market. A 2007 study conducted by the Cleantech Network, an organization which tracks green investment, indicated that for every $100 million in venture capital targeted to green industries, approximately 250,000 new jobs could be created.  Thus, if our nation accelerated the emerging transition to a cleaner economy, millions of jobs associated with the construction of green buildings and alternative energy could be created.

As exciting as these projections may be, they will only become a reality if individual consumers change their lifestyles to include sustainable practices. New jobs—green collar, blue collar or some other color—don’t just grow on trees. Our willingness to reduce, reuse and recycle will help create the demand, which is the only sure-fire way to guarantee the creation of green jobs. These jobs could offer many area residents the chance to support themselves and their families, all while helping us to preserve our planet.

Source: PerryHallPatch.com

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