An Eco-Centric Plan

 

Many local builders talk about green construction these days. But few are tackling the movement with the gusto of Gary Nash. The Nash Construction president got hooked after he attended a NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) seminar on the subject. He then put all of his employees through an environmental certification class and has since become one of the area’s foremost environmental building experts. The residence he built for himself in Delaplane, Virginia, last year became the first EarthCraft-certified home in Fauquier County and one of the most energy-efficient homes in the state. (Nash applied for EarthCraft certification because when he started construction in 2007, residential LEED certification was not yet available from the U.S. Green Building Council.)

Though he was already into the schematic design phase with Bill Turnure of Middleburg-based Turnure Architecture, Nash began to see his own home as an ideal environmental showcase and decided to go green. “My challenge was how to implement the elements of green into this house without taking away the character, but rather enhancing it,” he says. Thanks to the English country-style home’s soaring results, he’s currently at work on two like-minded remodeling projects in Washington, DC, and Maryland (one of which is the first LEED-certified, net-zero energy home in the Metropolitan area).

Many of the key criteria for EarthCraft certification—indoor air quality, energy efficiency and environmental/resource conservation—were met early in the building process. Nash installed a foundation-wide drainage system that incorporated two-inch rigid insulation around the foundation to create a tight, thermal building envelope and avoid temperature changes and water infiltration.

To tackle indoor air quality, Nash incorporated low-VOC glues, paints and finishes as well as a HEPA air filtration system. Additionally, the geothermal heating and cooling system exchanges the air in the home 11 times a day. “The old cliché is, ‘Open the windows and let’s get some fresh air.’ In my house it’s more like ‘Shut the windows so we can breathe really fresh air,’ because air from the outside is stripped of all pollens and dust and redistributed through the house,” he says.

But it is at the finishing level where the marriage of form and function makes
its grandest statement, because the environment-friendly elements he’s added augment the beauty of Nash’s country manor-style home. The floors in the kitchen, music room and dining room are reclaimed oak, while salvaged beams detail the great-room ceiling. Eco-friendly Wood-Mode cabinets grace the kitchen and master bath.

But does it cost more to go green? “There’s no question you’re putting more money in upfront,” Nash says. “But you have to look at the savings of what putting in initially can bring.” Monthly operating costs for Nash’s 7,800-square-foot home are about $300, a stark contrast to those of similarly sized conventional homes.

Happily, Nash says, the DC Metro area is embracing environmental construction. “There’s a concerted effort being made here,” he notes, pointing to both Maryland’s and the District’s stimulus plans that encourage green building. (Virginia, he says, “needs to get on the bandwagon.”) And the movement benefits builders who are certified to build green. “One of the LEED requirements,” Nash says, “is to establish the building team prior to design in order to work in harmony rather than independently of each other.”

Writer Catherine Applefeld Olson is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Stacy Zarin Goldberg
is a photographer in Olney, Maryland.


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