Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Where We Live: A quiet, energy-saving home near Jamestown

Having spent several years in Washington, Mary Rogers and Ron Shafer were looking for a change. They wanted a quieter lifestyle — one with less traffic, less politics and a lower cost of living. They also wanted the opportunity to build a home that jibed with their “green” lifestyle.

They settled in Williamsburg eight years ago, building an environmentally friendly and eco-conscious home in the Landfall at Jamestown subdivision.

Their home, built by Joe Terrell in 2010, received a Gold Level Green certification by EarthCraft, meaning that it met a series of “green” building and construction requirements.

“They are a really neat couple and it was a great opportunity to work with them,” said Terrell. “They had a motive to be environmentally friendly and to build a progressive, cost-efficient house using intelligent construction.”

During the build process, an EarthCraft worksheet identifies items that need to be addressed, including: proper site planning, the inclusion of energy-efficient appliances and lighting, the use of resource-efficient building materials, indoor air quality, water conservation, and homebuyer education. EarthCraft-certified homes must also pass diagnostic tests for air infiltration and duct leakage standards.

“It was an interesting process,” said Rogers. “Inspectors came out in all stages of the building process to make sure it was meeting the green building standards. Everything from the insulation to the Energy Star appliances and flooring. We really enjoyed the experience.”

So, what does a Certified Gold Level EarthCraft house look like? From the exterior, just like any other house. It’s what in the inside that counts.

The couple’s home includes the following: an encapsulated crawl space, which keeps the moisture out, prevents energy loss and improves indoor air quality; Energy Saver windows; Energy Star appliances; geothermal heat and cooling; sustainable bamboo wood flooring; carpets made from recyclable materials (water bottles!); and an air quality circulation system that ensures fresh-air exchange every three hours, among many others.

Mary and Ron are constantly in awe of the quietness of their home — no loud air handler noises or creaky windows or doors when there’s heavy wind or rain. It’s as tight as a clam. They also love that the large windows in their living room let in plenty of natural light but no excess heat.

“You can stand right next to them when the sun is out and not feel any heat,” said Rogers.

The building process was equally eco-conscious. Cardboard material was recycled instead of dumped at a landfill, construction waste was taken to sorting facilities, and in some cases excess drywall was recycled so the gypsum could be reused.

Terrell didn’t consider the green-building process difficult or tedious, and built several EarthCraft certified homes in Williamsburg some nine to 10 years ago.

“It’s also a planning situation,” Terrell explained. “You put your plan in place and indicate the measures you’re going to do to build an energy efficient, sustainable home.”

For Rogers and Shafer, the end result was a beautiful, quiet home backing up to Powhatan Creek that is also environmentally friendly.

“As people, we have an obligation to treat the environment well,” said Rogers.


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