We are the Lewandowski family and we're building a new house from the ground up. Our goal is to build a comfortable and efficient green home that works for our family. We want to prove that building green is the right choice for the environment, our lives and our pocketbook.

We invite you to come follow us during our adventure and learn along with us, how to build and live green.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting Ready to Move

We spend the weekend installing the appliances and cleaning the house. 

Providing everything goes well at tomorrows inspection, Wednesday we move out of the rental house and Thursday the rest of our stuff comes from the storage facility. Keep your fingers crossed it all goes smoothly!



The Dining Room Light Fixture
The lighting is up and I'm thrilled at how it turned out! The style throughout the house is contemporary.  We like a clean line and timeless look.  All the bulbs are either CFLs or LEDs to meet the green criteria.  This time choosing lighting proved to be a little more difficult then it's been in the past. I really thought through not only the look for each room, but how to light each space properly for how it's used.  Of course I went over budget, but in the long run I think we will be happy because lighting is very important in any space.  It sets the mood of the entire room and it makes you feel relaxed in your home. 

Kitchen Island Fixture
There are four different types of lighting: Ambient lighting which provides illumination for the whole room. Task lighting is just that, intended to help in completing a task.  Accent lighting focuses on illuminating an object like wall art or an element of your space. Natural lighting comes through windows depending on the time or weather and varies in intensity and brightness. I took a lot of time to make sure I addressed all these levels of lighting.  Tony designed the majority of our windows to be on the south side of the house allowing for the most natural light possible.  We have overhead recessed lighting spaced throughout each room as well as overhead lighting washing down the walls, sconces at eye level, task lighting under cabinets and accent lighting for artwork.  Each room seems to be bright and well lit when you want it to be and soft and subtle when you want to relax. 
To help gather options for each room I spent a lot of time on line shopping and reading as well as working with a lighting specialist at Ferguson Enterprises.  Dawn, the rep at Ferguson, was very helpful (and patient) when it came to finding me what I wanted style wise, while staying true to function and our budget. Well, close to budget anyway.   I highly recommend getting help from a pro when taking on a whole house.  In past houses we've built, I just picked our fixtures based on what we liked, not so much how it functioned.  With a little research and much thought, I feel like we have created spaces that fit the way we live and look amazing!

Sconce in the Dining Room

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Come on in!


Today the carpenters hung the front door.  I thought about trying to find a salvaged door and I looked at quite a few made from sustainable woods but couldn't find anything I liked as well as this.  There is nothing green about this door but I love it!

Evan's Gift

A few posts back I mentioned that the kids are a big part of this house.  They have been good sports about living in the rental and helping with all the stuff we need to do.  Tony decided to "reward" Evan by giving her a gift.  It's her very own, personal, handy-dandy, hand held, 1.75hp shop vac.  She's thrilled... NOT!  It's been her job to vacuum out the vents every couple of days.  They get so filled with sawdust and now that the inside of the house is being painted we don't want that stuff sticking to the walls when the heat kicks on.  She's not to happy about her job but she's been very good about it.  I'm sure that after we move in she won't miss her weekly vent clean up but at least she will have her shop vac as a souvenir!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Harwood Flooring

Look how PHENOMENAL this floor is... I'm so excited about it! 

When Tony first brought up this idea of building green, I was really nervous because I didn't think we could afford to do what we wanted inside the house.  For me, the flooring was a big concern because we really like hardwood but I wanted to do something other than traditional red oak, and bamboo or cork just wasn't the right choice for us.  We found a flooring manufacturer called Eco Timber Flooring that is devoted to forest protection and healthy homes.  I fell in love with this floor right from the 12X12 sample! It's a blend of poplar (a fast growing wood) and reclaimed woods of all types.  It's such a mix of colors!  We have an eclectic mix of wood furniture and with this floor, it marries everything together.  The cost was a bit more than a traditional oak flooring, about $2 more per square foot.  I think it was well worth it.

When researching bamboo, cork, recycled wood, etc., I learned that certification from hardwood floor suppliers can be deceptive. The following is from Eco Timber's web site.  They sum it up nicely.

"Wood suppliers often make claims that their products come from 'managed' or 'sustainable' forests, but without independent certification, there is no way to really know. Increasingly, such claims are used as a marketing ploy to "greenwash" material that came from destructive forestry practices. That's why its important to buy certified wood, BUT. . .
The fact that a wood product is 'certified' does not mean that it comes from an ecologically-well managed forest. There are now various types of forest certification and most do not have meaningful environmental standards, enforcement mechanisms, or methods of tracking the wood through the supply chain to keep out illegally-logged material and prevent misrepresentation...
The only forest certification system that enjoys the support of environmental groups worldwide is that of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is independent, non-profit, and has a mechanism for tracking wood from the forest to the consumer. The U.S. Green Building Council only recognizes FSC certification as evidence of the sustainability of a wood product. If you want verification that the wood you are purchasing came from a truly well-managed forest, demand FSC-certified material, and demand proper documentation.
PLEASE NOTE: the fact that a company has FSC certification does not mean that what is being sold is FSC-certified. Many companies that have FSC 'Chain of Custody' (COC) certification, which gives them the right to buy and sell FSC-certified wood, don't sell much FSC-certified wood at all. This is particularly the case in the wood flooring industry.
Most FSC-certified wood products have on-product FSC labels. If you are purchasing what you believe is FSC-certified wood but there are no FSC logos on the product packaging, it most likely is not certified, no matter what the rest of the information provided by the manufacturer or supplier might indicate. Some companies will even use the FSC logo on product samples, but ship uncertified material to fill your order. To verify the FSC-certified status of a wood product that does not bare the FSC logo, demand not only the supplier's COC certificate, but also an invoice or receipt detailing the FSC-certified status of each product on an individual line-item basis. If the invoice's line-item doesn't say 'FSC-certified,' the material is not certified."

Go Green La Grange

Tony has become involved with an organization called Go Green La Grange. They are a group people who live in and around La Grange who care about the environment and sustainable living.  Their mission is to provide residents with information they need to do just that.  They hold open meetings the first Wednesday of each month at 7:15pm at the La Grange Public Library.  If your interested in what they have to say, check out their web site at http://www.gogreenlagrange.org/ or go to their next meeting on February 1st.