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What is Green Architecture?

Trillium architects is a green architecture firm. We have been involved in building green buildings since 1992. Since that time, we have been steadily learning and growing our knowledge of how to build energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings. We have been directly exposed to and have hands on experience with the plethora of green products and practices that have been evolving during this green movement.

Over the years we have seen interest in green building grow from almost non-existent in this part if the country to very popular -if not at least politically correct. In 1994 ago approximately 10% of our clients asked for a ‘green home’. By 2007, 98% of our clients come to us requesting their project be at least some shade of green. Now we are known as one of the most experienced green architecture frims in Farifield County.

What do we mean by ‘shade of green’? Well, some things are greener than others. ‘Shades of green’ is a term often used in the green movement to designate the level of energy efficiency or environmental friendliness that a product or building method represents. Many factors go into this designation: Is a product recyclable? If put in a land fill will it deteriorate quickly and with out adding harmful chemicals to the soil? How much energy did it require for production? How much energy does it require during its life time? How much energy does it require to demolish or remove? Can it have a ‘second life’ (be re-used as something else later?) How far was it shipped from factory to site? Is it made of something endangered? Will some animal habitat be ruined because it has been removed? All of these things are considered in determining the ‘green-ness’ of a product.

Building green can be a complicated endeavor. The products and methods are constantly changing as we become more and more aware of how the environment is affected by each of our actions. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming- as if every thing one does has a negative affect on the earth. Also it is often difficult to find people who have the knowledge of green building to design and build your project in the ‘right way’. At Trillium we have years of experience as well as knowledge of recourses, suppliers, and builders that are necessary to get your project built in a quality, efficient and environmentally efficient way.

We are confident that the green building practices that seem extreme or untried today will soon become normal building practices. Already most building departments are adapting their codes to accept or – in many cases- demand the energy efficient alternative building practices.

I Don't Know if I Want a Green House...

Not sure? That's fine. We do not 'ram green down your throat' nor do we only do super green houses. We design in what we call 'shades of green'.  We will take green to what ever shade you are interested in. Please do not feel intimidated or put off by 'green'. I will explain the shades below:

SHADES of GREEN:

Pale Green: This is our basic house and we don't design anything 'less than' this simply because we think it is irresponsible to build less. At it's base, we believe that 'green building' is simply 'quality building'. This simply means that the houses is framed, insulated and weather proofed for good solid energy efficiency and long life. We usually specify windows that are also basically efficient and the same for appliances and HVAC equipment. We suggest natural and sustainable, long lasting materials. Many of our clients don't even know they got a (Pale) Green house when we are done. They think they just got a nice house!

Spring Pea green: These houses usually concentrate on adding extra insulation and getting a high efficiency HVAC system installed. These are very common in our Renovations and Additions where half of the house is already built and the client does not want to put a lot of money into reworking the whole house but does want to make it better where ever reasonably possible. This is also common in new homes on a budget or in which the client simply does not want to focus on Green. (Please see our portfolio under New Homes/ Asheville and Renovations/ Wesport, Stamford, Norwalk and Under Construction/ Old Greenwich for some examples)

Kelly green: These houses are just about the same as the Deep Sea Green houses below but maybe one notch less meticulously and aggressively green. They are usually not certified (thought they probably could be.) Tiny corners are cut to save money. Like maybe the insulation and windows are 'very energy efficient' but not 'amazingly energy efficient'. Maybe they are 85-90% of the way to the Deep Sea Green home. (please see New Homes/ Westport and Old Greenwich...Renovations/ Westport and Ridgefield...or any 'Deep Energy Retrofits' for examples.)

Deep Sea green: This house is probably in a mainstream location and is probably LEED certified (or equal other). It will be super insulated and built from sustainable materials. It will have a very high efficiency HVAC system, an ERV and PV/ Hot water solar as well. It will make use of water collection for plant irrigation or possibly household grey water. It will use all sustainable, natural, beautiful materials (usually designer quality). It will function at a very high level and utilize the latest technologies for making it do so. Most people would not know this is a 'green home'. (See our 'New Homes/ LEED Homes' in Rowayton and Darien to have a look at some examples.)

Forest green: 100% off the grid. It can be in a rural distant location or right in the middle of suburbia. This house operates on it's own indefinitely. Usually it is incredibly well insulated, oriented for passive solar orientation, probably has a high efficiency wood or pellet stove and solar panels (electric, hot water or both) and maybe a gas generator. It may not have any other HVAC system except perhaps an ERV or fan. It is sustainable and natural and works with the weather and seasons. It usually is designed to incorporate water recapture and re-use as well as a garden and greenhouse. The goal being a fully functional house that works either on or off the grid equally well. (Please see any of our 'Conceptual Homes' or  'Under Construction' / San Diego to have a look at some examples)

 

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