Archive for Building Green

Congratulations CCGT!

On Saturday Sue and I headed to the Chicago Center for Green Technology to celebrate their tenth anniversary. This building was the first LEED Platinum public building in the United States. It’s an excellent example of revitalizing a brownfield into a sustainable property. In its ten years, CCGT has been home to sustainable businesses, GreenCorps Chicago, and countless educational events and workshops.

We were thrilled to see their energetic staff and volunteers showing off the building: passive solar lighting, non-toxic finishes of all kinds, furniture from reclaimed wood, smart energy controls, a green roof and more. If you haven’t been to CCGT in a while or–gasp–if you’ve never been there, make sure to do so this summer. Learn about their class schedule, self tours and more here. And make sure to check out our favorite spot, the resource library on the second floor!


















On the rooftop of CCGT with Sue. What a view!

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Bungalow Kitchen Goes from Blue to New

Disclaimer: I love these clients. Lindsey and Adam are wonderful people who throw a great holiday party, have hilarious friends, an adorable dog and an amazing bungalow in the western suburbs. They are customers and friends and I’m honored to have worked on their kitchen remodel.

A few years back Lindsey and Adam moved into their charming bungalow. Up until this summer, everything was pristinely finished (What do you expect, they’re both architects!) except for the kitchen. You might call it charming. Adam and Lindsey had different, unpublishable words for it. Here’s a look:






































Over the summer months they tackled this job using Zodiaq countertops and Marmoleum floors from GHE. The colors complement each other and the Ikea cabinetry excellently. Props to the homeowners for assembling the cabinets and installing the floor themselves! Here are the fruits of their labor:






































So as you can see for yourself, even if I didn’t love these clients as much as I do, I’d still have to love their adorable kitchen! Congrats to Lindsey and Adam on a very successful remodel. Hopefully you’re enjoying it as much as I am just from the pictures! Hopefully that whole going-into-labor-early episode I had around your holiday party last year doesn’t axe my chances of seeing the kitchen in person!!

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Bolingbrook Park District Project

Earlier this year we were honored to work with the Bolingbrook Park District on a cork wall installation. They put up this beautiful wall in an area near the preschool, where lots of little ones are bouncing off the wall!

The installation was done by our friends Green Envelope Construction. Click on the photo below for more installation photos. Gorgeous!

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Mother Nature Has Her Own Schedule

What a weird spring we’ve had. April gave us a few promising, warm days and we were even in the 80’s one weekend. Since then it’s been a mix of snow, rain (and rain and rain and rain), sun, clouds, wind and heat. With these past summerlike days behind us, I think we’re in the clear for at least a few more days of spring.
Although the calendar says otherwise, it’s not too late to get moving on spring projects. In your garden, you can still get seedlings in the ground. Veggies, perennials and natives will respond well to this better weather, and you’ll be all caught up in no time. Get your rain barrels hooked up (and make sure the spigots are closed!) to take advantage of the coming rainy days. It’s not too late to start composting. We really haven’t had enough warm weather to get our compost heated up. So get to it!
Now that the thermometer looks a bit more promising, you can get temperature-sensitive projects done like paint stripping, furniture refinishing, and painting. It’s warm enough–but not too warm–for spray foam insulating. This is also a good time to get waterproofing finishes on your fence, outdoor furniture, deck, etc.
Since I have my garden planted and my 5 month-old son has command of the rest of my free time, I’ll be living vicariously through my customers’ home projects this summer. We have one, small insulating & painting job, but aside from that I’m free. So if you have plans for any projects, let me enjoy them from the sidelines!

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Ten Steps Toward a Greener New Year

Ten Steps Toward a Greener New Year

1.  Slay Vampires
“Vampire energy loss” from appliances in passive mode (the clock on your microwave) or standby mode (your DVR scheduled to record something) account for 5-8 percent of your home’s total electricity usage per year.  Slay energy loss by unplugging unused appliances.  Or get a Smart Strip surge protector, which shuts off electricity to dormant appliances.

2.  Detox Your Home
If you’re still not using green cleaning products, what are you waiting for?  If you want to avoid asthma and allergy attacks, carcinogens and toxic chemicals, it’s time to green your cleaners.  Still worried about high prices or the effectiveness of cleaners?  Then you need to stop into GHE, where you’ll get what you need–the right price and a clean home.

3.  Read the Labels
What does green mean?  Are you being “greenwashed” by big box advertisers?  Be sure to read the labels on your food, personal care items, and everything else.  Don’t be fooled by their trickery.  And if you have a question about something, call us!  We’re always happy to help.

4.  Remember Fido…
…and the cat, iguana, etc.  Pet food is often filled with ingredients that animals’ stomachs can’t digest properly.  Skin, behavior and other health problems are often caused by poor diet.  For cat and dog food, we highly recommend our friends at Sirius Cooks in Oak Park.  And we’re happy to provide organic dog shampoo!

5.  Use Pedal Power
We love twofers, and here’s another one: reduce your oil consumption and get fit by opting to use your feet instead of your car.  Map out days that you can walk or bike instead of drive.  Also, you can make life easier for pedestrians with some of our pet-safe ice melt.

6.  Let’s Take This Outside
A green home includes the outdoors too.  Are your fertilizers and herbicides toxic?  Are you composting?  Growing your own food?  Do you leave your sprinkler on and forget to turn it off?  Start planning a greener garden now: non-toxic soil enhancements, composters and rain barrels are all part of a non-toxic home!

7.  Trash the Trash
Can you go a year without garbage?  These folks did!  Composting, growing your own food, and conscientious consumption are a few tactics to help you trash the trash.  Oh, and are you planning on doing any remodeling?  You have lots of options here.  Before you rent a dumpster, check out The ReBuilding Exchange, Murco Recycling, RSI, Habitat ReStore and ReUse People.

8.  Share the Love
So, you’re a green guru by now.  Ready to do more?  Start a green team at work.  Join the green committee at your child’s school.  Help your neighbors detox their homes by being their green guru.  Remember the words of Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman): “With great power comes great responsibility.”

9.  Give Green
This is the perfect time of year to think about your gift giving.  Does your co-worker really need another pair of fuzzy socks for Christmas?  Does your kid’s teacher want another porcelain apple?  Most of us really don’t need any more stuff.  Consider donating to a charity in someone’s name.   Support a local organization they support.  Or, The Humane Society, Heifer International and Habitat for Humanity make gift-giving with a cause very easy to do.

10.  Do Lunch
This one accomplishes a few goals.  Eat better, save money and reduce what you throw away by bringing your lunch to work and packing your kids’ lunches.  Guess who has lots of waste-free lunch supplies?  That’s right, we’ve got Snack Taxis, Wrap-N-Mats, Klean Kanteens, and much more!

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We hope you enjoy this contribution by our friend Steve Beck.  Steve is CODA, LLC’s Principal of Architecture and licensed architect in Illinois and Michigan. Beck co-founded CODA, LLC, a real estate / architectural/ master builder firm, in 1998, with fellow Illinois Institute of Technology alum, Scott Krone.

Beck was the fourth generation to grow up in Rochester, Illinois, a town of
1,000, East of Springfield. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He will be traveling to Uganda, over the ’10 winter break, with students
from IPRO 333: Building Communities Through Coffee | Uganda. When not
working, Beck enjoys being a father to his four children and Scoutmaster of
Grace Lutheran Church’s Troop 66.

Learn more about CODA, LLC at and on Facebook.

Not so long ago our immediate concern would not likely be how to make a home more energy efficient. Things have changed and some of the important concepts I learned at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology are much more pertinent. Clients are more concerned with solar orientation, efficient planning, technology, and materials that relate to energy efficiency. These client concerns are affecting professional organizations, manufacturers, trades and creating a demand for new businesses.

The CODA, LLC design | build team is encouraged by the number and quality of suppliers, materials and subcontractors, coming on-line, capable of contributing to our EcoBUILD Program. These were all factors in EcoBUILT | 631, a home we designed and built in Wilmette, winning a 2010 Green GOOD DESIGN Award – “Blazing a new path toward a sustainable environment with new buildings”. Even 5 years ago, there are aspects of this home we could not have considered due to cost or availability.

For those who may not be aware, GOOD DESIGN was founded in Chicago in 1950 by renowned architects Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Edgar Kaufmann. The award is administered by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. Members of The European Center’s International Advisory Committee, worldwide leaders in the design industry, served as jury. In 2008, The Green GOOD DESIGN Awards were introduced. In 2010, the Green Good Design Awards received thousands of submissions from more than 40 nations. EcoBUILT | 631, built through our EcoBUILD Program, was one of only two homes awarded in the United States.

The intent of our EcoBUILD Program is to: A) Reduce demand on water, B) Reduce demand on energy resources, C) Rely on recycled materials, D) Create a healthier interior environment, and E) Create positive site stewardship. To that end, for EcoBUILT | 631, low water consumption fixtures and appliances were chosen. Energy Star appliances – including an induction cook top, energy saving light fixtures, high efficiency water heater, sun shades, a photovoltaic array, and geothermal heating and cooling systems were all incorporated. The siding panels, windows, and tiles are all fabricated with recycled materials. In addition to a fireplace that does not emit carbon monoxide, anti-microbial counters and cabinets manufactured to reduce off-gassing of volatile organic compounds have been included to create a healthier interior environment. Finally, with respect to site stewardship, a Fertigator lawn irrigation system was installed to assist with water conservation.

Unlike some of our clients who opt to mask their home’s progressiveness, the client for EcoBUILT | 631 chose to highlight the systems and materials. The second floor exterior is composed of concrete fiber cement panels and a reflective aluminum standing seam roofing. The qualities of pre-engineered wood framing components are utilized to provide large, full-height windows and an open first floor plan. The vaulted bedrooms are insulated with spray foam insulation and the ductwork is exposed in the space which eliminates heat loss into a typical attic.

As we work to reduce demand on energy resources, through our EcoBuild Program, we look for new resources, such as ComEd’s Home Energy Reports program. Unfortunately EcoBUILT | 631 is not part of the program, but another home, EcoBUILT | 1500, is. This home has proven to demand 53% less electricity than its neighbors and 31% less electricity than its most efficient neighbors. This amounts to as much as $759 of savings a year. Considering the steps taken at EcoBUILT | 631 to save and produce electricity on-site, a dramatic savings is likely when ComEd provides its Home Energy Report. We look forward to sharing ComEd’s findings when they become available. We can, meanwhile, report what the owner tells us: “We do not experience the temperature fluctuation we have become familiar with in our past houses.” We contribute that to the tight enclosure and the multi-speed systems incorporated into the design. EcoBUILT | 631 has improved the daily life of the client while decreasing their demand on resources. CODA, LLC could not ask for more than this!

Photo by: Megan Chaffin

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No Furnace, No Problem

From Charles H. Mead’s website, check out this amazing video on our friend and colleague, architect Tom Bassett-Dilley, and his hard at work at a passive house in Oak Park.

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