Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Best Eco-Investments

Posted on March 30th, 2010 by

Colorado Homes & Lifestyles (the sister publication of Kansas City Homes & Gardens) has a great article in their April 2010 issue on “The 6 Best Eco-Friendly Investments For Your Home.”

Sure, there are a few pointers we’ve all been beat over the head with by now–buying compact fluorescent light bulbs, for instance, can save your family upwards of $180 per year, according to the EPA–but the list also contains eco-investments that spell big payoffs for homeowners.

Also of interest, on the list:

* Hiring a Certified Energy Auditor to use the appropriate technologies to determine where you can make energy-saving upgrades. (Visit for a list of auditors near you.)

* Tankless Water Heaters. These can save homeowners up to 40 percent on energy costs. That’s a high number!

* How’s this for a statistic: “If you have two identical, 20-year-old homes, the one that has new windows will sell for $5,000 to $10,000 more,” according to Mauri Tamborra, a certified Eco-Broker with Re/Max Southeast. You can also expect about a 75 percent return on investment for replacing leaky windows, according to a survey in Remodeling magazine.

Here are 4 other online resources perfect for homeowners looking to green their home:

*Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Part 1 “What is Good Design and How Do I Get It?”

Posted on March 29th, 2010 by


By David Dussair, AIA – (Design Build Team, Inc.

The saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a good way to prevent disputes, but the trouble is, it just isn’t true. Relativism is popular currently and absolutes are out of fashion but there is such a thing as good and bad design. In architecture there are determined proportions and relationships that result in good design.

Architecture may be the least appreciated of all the arts as we need it to live and see it around us all the time.  However brilliantly painters, sculptors, and furnishers might embellish the architect’s work after completion, the beauty that they create is essentially decorative.  The architect’s basic structure is being used as a canvas or frame.  Yet true architectural beauty is something quite different and more abstract.  It must be inherent in the lines, proportions and perspectives of the building itself. It must reveal to the responsive mind, an inner logic in which every individual feature has its own specific relationship with every other and with the whole. (Great Architecture by Norwich)

The inner logic – proportion – speaks of math, and 90% of people in this country feel uncomfortable with their math abilities.  Yet math is the common thread which runs through all design and construction work.  (Math to Build On, by Hamilton)

To equate good design with math seems an oxymoron yet there is one equation constant in good design from the beginning of time – the Golden Section or “phi”. “Phi” as the Greeks called it, is considered the constant of design, “the world’s most astonishing number”.  As cited by Werstien’s Golden Ratio, the pervasive appearance of “phi” in all we experience creates a sense of balance, harmony and beauty in the world around us and it is no surprise that man would use this same proportion to achieve balance, harmony and beauty in architecture, design, composition, space and even music.  This ratio is also known from centuries past as the Golden Mean, the Divine Proportion, and the Signature of God.

The golden section is expressed mathematically as 1:1.618.  The number 1.618 is actually the rounded-off value of an irrational number that mathematicians named “phi”, so as not to confuse it with “pi”.  To see how the golden section works, consider a simple line C:  Divide the length by 1.618.  The resulting shorter section A relates to the longer section B by the same proportion that the longer leg B relates to the whole C.  In other words, A/B= B/C.  That means that C/1.618=B and B/1.618=A.  (Fine Homebuilding, 11/04)  (Drawing below)

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Bringing In the Great Outdoors

Posted on March 27th, 2010 by

At Design Build Team, we consider ourselves sustainable design geeks, but mostly for practical applications in the design-build field (think energy-efficiencies, insulation and R-Values), so we love it when local publications indulge us in some of green design’s more glamorous and gorgeous byproducts.

As the editors of Kansas City Homes & Gardens wrote in a recent blog post,”wood is strong and durable, can be used inside and out, and is easy to maintain. Best of all, it’s versatile, sustainable and eco-friendly as seen in these furniture pieces below, which can go with just about any style.”

Check out some of the gorgoeous products their well-trained eyes have sourced below:

“Contemporary designer Scott Dworkin creates functional pieces of art that are environmentally friendly. Known for his dining room tables, coffee tables (shown here) and art pieces, he uses exotic maple, redwood and buckeye burl wood.”

“Another eco-friendly furniture line is Barn Wood Classics Furniture Gallery. Creating armoires, beds, chairs, kitchen islands, hutches (shown here), etc., each piece is made from antique tobacco barns that are around 250 years old and combines a colonial classical style with modern flair.”

“Tile flooring that looks like wood — what a great idea! Hastings Tile & Bath features the PLI Distressed Wood Series, with a porcelain tile ‘wood’ collection that provides finishes to give the look of wood without the possible maintenance problems. This non-slip flooring comes in white (shown here), black and brown.”