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Green Building Blog

From Luxury to LEED

Used to building big houses with big budgets, the Picton brothers earned a platinum rating with their first modest green home — but mastering the learning curve wasn’t always a smooth ride

Jim and Mark Picton are principals of Picton Brothers LLC, in Washington Depot, Connecticut.
Image Credit: Rob Yagid

Like other building contractors, we have enjoyed the challenge of building big, fancy houses, and we are honored by the confidence and trust their owners have placed in us. In the best of those projects, the details were exquisite and demanding. Besides providing a good living, however, the single-minded, spare-no-effort pursuit of quality in big projects should leave us spiritually nourished and enriched.

In recent years, though, we began to feel a numbness as over and over, we saw materials thrown in Dumpsters because of design changes and skilled workers lose their edge as they tore out their own good work to accommodate the whims of busy globe-trotting clients. There also was something troubling when International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) minimum standards were dealt with as stumbling blocks to get around or over rather than as a starting point to improve energy efficiency. There’s something unwholesome, too, about building heating and cooling systems sized to meet the demands of an inefficient envelope, then seeing a fuel truck routinely replenish a 1000-gal. tank and being assured that for this client, fuel costs are “not an issue.” Were all costs being considered? And to whom, besides the clients, might those costs matter? Might they include us? Might they include you?

A new project, a new way

In response to these questions, we set out to build a house that made sense in terms of both the natural and built environment.

Fortunately, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was then field-testing its LEED for Homes program, which defines sensible building. We chose to enroll in the LEED program because it not only codifies, informs, and guides the green-building process, but it also provides tangible recognition for achievements in sustainable building. We thought that by becoming LEED-certified, the home would…

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One Comment

  1. user-349933 | | #1

    Breakdown of 89.5 Leed points
    Could you breakdown what points you were able to earn to get the certification?l

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