New Home Tips, Trends, and Ideas - Raleigh Custom Home Builders

Green Home Building - How to Create a Green Kitchen

Posted by Penny Hull on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 @ 11:09 AM

How to Build a Sustainably Green Kitchen

Green Ideas for your Raleigh New Home

The following article is a guest column, courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Agency, supplying premium Brooklyn Apartments.

Everyone is jumping on the environmental bandwagon, wanting to find ways to reduce his or her carbon footprint and help make the planet healthy for future generations. If you own a home it can be difficult to decide where to begin.

Most families live in the kitchen, and most of your energy costs are generated there, too. It only makes sense to begin “greening” your home in the most popular room in the house.


The refrigerator is the biggest energy consumer in your home. It runs and cycles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When it’s time to replace your refrigerator, consider downsizing. Many of us have much larger refrigerator/freezers than we really need. A smaller unit will save you money.

Also look into energy-rated appliances. They may cost more initially, but the energy savings will pay for them in the long run.

Energy Efficient Gas Stove

While you’re at it, get rid of the extra machine in the garage.

Make sure your fridge is in good working order. If you notice unusual ice buildup in the freezer or you have to crank the dial to keep it cold, have it looked at and repaired or replaced.

Improperly working machines must work harder to cool, increasing energy usage and costs.

Gas stoves and ovens are efficient, easy to use and less expensive to operate than electric. If you love the clean look of an electric cook top, make sure to buy an energy efficient induction model.

Cabinets, Countertops and Floors

If your home has been around a few years, you may have solid wood cabinetry in the kitchen that has been obscured by years of varnish or paint. Instead of gutting the entire kitchen, consider refinishing your cabinets. Sanding and re-staining your cabinet doors and adding new hardware can modernize your kitchen with minimal waste.

If you really hate the look of your cabinets, conTimberlake Cabinetrysider replacing only the doors and facings.

Incorporating dedicated bins for composting and recycling into your new cabinets will make it convenient to reduce waste.

Environmentally friendly composite countertops are available that mimic the look of stone – for a fraction of the price.

Sustainable woods like bamboo, high-quality laminates and recycled brick, tile or hardwoods are all earth-friendly choices when replacing floors.

Finally, if your current cabinets must go, consider purchasing certified green products (through the National Green Building Program), such as Timberlake Cabinetry


Low Flow Faucet

The easiest thing you can do to conserve water is to install a low-flow faucet in your kitchen sink. It may take a little getting used to, but in time it will more than pay for itself.

Investing in a new dishwasher is another way to “green” your kitchen. Modern dishwashers heat the water instead of relying on water from the household heater, reducing energy loss through the pipes.

Manufacturer’s tests have shown that even the most frugal hand washers can’t beat new energy-rated appliances, which typically use less than ten gallons of water per cycle.

A few tips: Don’t rinse dishes before loading, only run the machine when it’s fully loaded and skip the dry cycle whenever possible. The water is heated to a high enough temperature to dry the dishes through evaporation if the door is left open after running.


Replacing incandescent bulbs can reduce energy costs. The problem is that many older kitchens are equipped with tube fluorescents in large fixtures.

You may have to spend a little money to save money.

Can Lights

Have an electrician remove old fixtures and replace them with recessed lighting and LED lamps.

While that work is being done, you can also have your kitchen rewired into lighting “zones” with spotlights over work areas including the sink, the stove and the table.

You can reduce energy usage by only lighting the areas where you are working instead of the entire kitchen.

By incorporating these types of “green” features and fixtures into a sustainable kitchen design, you can do something nice for the planet and save money at the same time.


ecoSelect Third Party Energy Certification –

The ecoSelect certification in your new home indicates that the construction is designed to provide higher levels of energy efficiency, per the national HERS index, with better indoor air quality and water efficiency than standard new homes.  We're not afraid to have third party inspectors check our homes carefully, for your piece of mind and long term value.  Learn more about new homes with lower energy costs, here.

Tags: raleigh green homes, green home builders, green home building, green builders raleigh, green home builders triangle, green home builders raleigh, green homes raleigh

How Your Lot Can Make Your New Home Greener | Raleigh Green Homes

Posted by Penny Hull on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 @ 09:12 AM

How Lot Design and Development Can Make Your New Home Greener

Tips for Certified Raleigh Green Homes

If you're considering building or buying a new green certified home in the Raleigh area, you'll want to know what, exactly,Raleigh Green Homes | NC Green Home Builders a "certified green home" means!

To make the grade, your new Raleigh green home must be evaluated in six different aspects of construction: Lot Design, Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Operation/Maintanence. 

How Does Lot Design, Preparation and Development work?

Every lot is just a little different.  The "points" earned by your Raleigh green home builder will vary, depending on the type of site, location, type of home, budget, and your own priorities.  Here are some factors that may be considered.

Lot Selection - Is your new home lot within 5 miles of a mass transit station with parking?  Is it an infill lot?  Are community resources within walking distance?

Lot Design: Natural Resources - Does the on site supervisor have training in natural resource protection? 

Lot Design: Slope Disturbance - Is slope disturbance minimized?  Are steep slopes avoided?  Are driveways aligned with natural topography? 

Lot Design: Soil Disturbance and Erosion - Are construction activities scheduled to minimize length of time soils are exposed?  Are clearing and grading limits clearly marked on the site plan?

Lot Design: Storm Water Management - Are permeable materials considered for driveways, walkways and patios?  Is a rain garden a possibility? Are natural water and drainage features preserved?

Lot Design: Landscape Plan - Are grasses and plants chosen that are native or regionally appropriate?  Is the amount of grass (turf) limited?  Are plants with similar watering needs grouped together?  Are tree trimmings used to provide mulch, and cleared trees recycled as sawn lumber or mulch?

Lot Construction - Are limits of clearing and grading staked out?  Is topsoil stockpiled and stabilized for later use?  Is on-site supervision present during clearing, grading, trenching, etc to ensure green development practices are implemented?

Innovative Practices - Are driveways or parking areas shared between homes?  Is a light colored hardscape used?

Certified green homes must meet specific guidelines, and must be inspected by third party verifiers.  However, the attributes for each green home will vary, due to site conditions, budget, and level of green certification desired.

There are four basic levels of certification through the NAHB Green Building program: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald.

Buying a Raleigh Green Home?

Ask the seller or builder to provide you with the green home certificate.  This certificate is issued upon completion of the home, and will specify the level of the certification.

Building a Raleigh Green Home?

Discuss your green building priorities with your NC green home builder.  They will help you determine which level of green building certification best meets your budget and desires.  If you opt for a certified green home, you'll receive an official certificate from a third party verifier like the NAHB upon completion of your new Raleigh NC green home.

Learn More About Raleigh Green Home Building:

Building a Green Home in Raleigh | Green Building Certification | What Points Are Required for Green HomesBuilding a Green Home - Top Requested Features

Video - How Rainwater Collection Systems Work

Energy Wise - Find Out How to Save 50 to 70% on Heating and Cooling Costs! 

WaterSense Toilets - How Much Water Do They Save, and How do They Work?

Energy Star Homes - What is Energy Star?

Tankless Water Heaters

Solar Water Heaters - How Do They Work, and How Much Do They Cost?

Virtual Tours - See This Week's Most Exceptional Homes

Tags: raleigh green homes, green home builders raleigh, green homes raleigh, certified green homes

How Much Does it Cost to Add Solar Power? | Raleigh Green Home Tips

Posted by Penny Hull on Fri, Dec 03, 2010 @ 08:12 AM

How much does Solar Energy cost in Raleigh?

Tips from Raleigh Green Home Builders

What’s it cost to include solar power in a new green built home in the Raleigh area?  

Like everything you build into a Raleigh green home, it depends on how much you’re asking it to accomplish.

The total cost of the residential solar panel system will vary depending on things like:

  • where is the home located?
  • how big is the home?
  • what kind of design does the home have?
  • what are the site conditions?

This solar calculator can give you an idea of what to expect, pending a residential solar panel evaluation.*

Residential Solar Panels | Raleigh Green Home Builders

These examples are from the online solar calculator at

Does Raleigh have Residential Solar Energy incentives?

The Raleigh area has some of the nation's most acclaimed solar providers, like Southern Energy Management.  Check with a solar energy provider for information specific to your project.

Some of the solar energy incentives available right now include:

  • Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit (30%)
  • NC Renewable Energy Tax Credit (35%, cap of $10,500)
  • NC GreenPower Production Initiative ($0.13/kWh)

Your energy provider can walk you through the structure of these credits.

Solar energy is typically seen as a long-term investment, for a home you intend to live in for quite a while. But even though the amount paid upfront is still significant, these incentives reduce the overall cost for residential solar power systems to the lowest it's ever been. 

Planning ahead for Residential Solar Power Systems

When you’re building a new green home in Raleigh, you can make sure it is prepped for future solar power capabilities during the construction stage.

Your Raleigh green home builder can pre-wire and pre-plumb the home for a solar electric (PV) system or solar water heaters. It won’t cost very much at the time, and the pre-planning will save you a lot of money when you’re ready to install a solar PV system or solar water heater.

*All figures provided by solar calculator at, for Raleigh 27613, $200/month electric costs, Progress Energy.  Consult with a solar provider for specific estimate for your project, and consult with a tax advisor for more information on tax credits.


Raleigh Green Home Builders | New Homes with Solar

ecoSelect Third Party Energy Certification –

The ecoSelect certification in your new home indicates that the construction is designed to provide higher levels of energy efficiency, per the national HERS index, with better indoor air quality and water efficiency than standard new homes.  We're not afraid to have third party inspectors check our homes carefully, for your piece of mind and long term value.  Learn more about new homes with lower energy costs, here.


Tags: raleigh green homes, residential solar panels, Raleigh green home builders