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Home Design

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special advertising section Q: What are some trends you are seeing in green home design? A: Downsizing is definitely a trend, especially in regard to the Baby Boomer generation—they want to live more simply. Energy efficiency and low mainte- nance come along with downsizing. The house I am building at the moment is 1,000 square feet. I also see people wanting fewer items of higher quality. Q: What are some tips for homeowners A: For older homes in New England, the first thing a homeowner should do is get the house tested for air leaks. There are a number of companies who do overall poor performance testing to figure out where the air leaks are, and then come up with an insulation and air sealing program to air seal the house. There are subsidies and tax incentives you can take advantage of—the average cost is anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. But once sealed, a house is immediately more comfortable and it's quieter. Sealing and insulating your home can give you a savings of save 30 to 50 percent on heating bills. Q: What are some sustainable moves you can make to your home while on a budget? A: Insulation and air sealing is so important! If there is only one thing you can do, insulation. I can't stress how important this is. Q: What are some things to consider in creating both a greener house as well as a healthy house? A: Choose low-VOC paints. If buying new cabinets, make sure the cabinet- maker is using materials that are formaldehyde free. We can't do the tracking on every piece of hardware and wood, but hiring a professional green consul- tant or an interior designer to source materials is a great idea. Q: What sustainable practices are the Habitat for Humanity affiliates implementing on their projects? A: I started doing stories about Habitat about 20 years ago with "This Old House" and more recently with "Renovation Nation" and have watched them over years. I have seen Habitat come to understand in a very central way that building green is the biggest favor you can do for the community. All of its houses are now built to some green standard, whether it is LEED certified or Energy Star rated or another sustainable rating system. Habitat services fami- lies who would not otherwise get a commercial mortgage. It is able to secure nonprofit loans, and part of that package is to build a house that is extremely Builder's Blitz From June 4 to 10th, 2012 Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country will build 250 homes in the span of one week as part of Habitat's 2012 Home Builder's Blitz. The Merrimack Valley Habitat affiliate is building two houses in Lawrence as part of this nationwide event. The labor and ma- terials for these homes is being donated by local builders and vendors so that the homes can be built by a professional team in one week at little cost. Builders Blitz Leadership Team: Blitz Chairs Steve & Susan Howell, Howell Custom Building Group; Team: Steve Cote & Bill Foster, Cote & Foster; John Rodenhizer & Sara Elmer, JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions; Dave West, Meadowview Con- struction; Ken Kumph, Premier Builders; Marc Simon;Azimuth Construction; Bob Gosselin, Correct Temp. For more information on how you can volunteer, visit

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