Category

Building Green

interior luxury home hall

Indirect Lighting for Direct Impact

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Fireplace design, Kitchen Design, Mod-Mediterranean Design, Uncategorized | No Comments
LED lit coves in the barrel ceiling on this hallway cast a soft glow on the glass tile edges of the travertine barrel drawing focus to key architectural details in this Mod-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

LED lit coves in the barrel ceiling on this hallway cast a soft glow on the glass tile edges of the travertine barrel drawing focus to key architectural details in this Mod-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

LEDs provide new opportunities for lighting small spaces once inaccessible by bulb technology. Because these semiconductor chips are miniscule but pack a lot of light, they are illuminating living spaces in ways we’ve never seen before. Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri is in the final stage of constructing a Mod-Mediterranean home that is the perfect canvas for indirect lighting. “We used LED tape lights to create illuminated silhouettes that draw the eye to architectural details,” explains Ulibarri who designed the 4,800 sq. ft. home as a fusion of Old World and contemporary design.

LED light kitchen in this Mod-Mediterranean Home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

LED light kitchen in this Mod-Mediterranean Home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The home’s elevation is Spanish-Mediterranean but the interiors showcase clean lines, sleek fixtures and finishes such as glass mosaics mixed with rustic beams, travertine floors and other raw natural materials.

“Lighting design plays an important role in creating the Mod-Mediterranean style. It has to be done right, with a modern, edgy allure that melds with more rustic features. LED indirect lighting creates that contemporary vibe in a traditional setting,” says Ulibarri.

LED tape lights illuminate the kitchen cabinets inside, above and below in this Mod-Mediterranea home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

LED tape lights illuminate the kitchen cabinets inside, above and below in this Mod-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

In the kitchen, Ulibarri added LED tape lighting to the interior, top and bottom of the upper cabinets as well as the bottom of the kitchen island for toe kick lighting. When lit from within, the frosted glass cabinet panels cast a soft glow in the kitchen. LED indirect lighting in the open kitchen provides added illumination without casting distracting glare on the flat screen TV in the adjoining living room. “LEDs work well in the kitchen because they provide a powerful light source without giving off a lot of heat. Keeping the temperature down in kitchen is a challenge because you have to balance the need for light with other heat radiant sources such as the oven and range. LEDs give off less heat than other light sources such as halogens and incandescent lights,” explains Ulibarri. Consider that a typical incandescent bulb runs at 200 degrees above room temperature.

LED Tape light

LED Tape light

LED Tape consists of a dot of light spaced approximately every 5/8 inch. The quality of LED chips varies in terms of the light conducting phosphorous coating (a proprietary recipe that differs among each manufacturer). Ulibarri installed high quality LED Tape light with a color temperature of 3000K at an approximate cost of $18 per liner foot for materials and installation. Prices vary depending on the complexity of the project and installation.

Led tape lights illuminate the sides and decorative inset of this Mod-Mediterranean fireplace designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Led tape lights illuminate the sides and decorative inset of this Mod-Mediterranean fireplace designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Ulibarri installed LED tape light to illuminate the sides of the soaring Mod-Mediterranean fireplace, a centerpiece that anchors the aesthetic. LED tape light also illuminates the built-in glass tile mosaic and glass inlay above hearth.

In the hallway, LED tape lights hidden in the barrel ceiling cove cast a soft glow on the travertine tile framed in glass tiles.

LED lit barrel ceiling in the hallway of this Mod-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

LED lit barrel ceiling in the hallway of this Mod-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

No matter what your style, any home has several “sweet spots” for LED lighting, areas where LEDs are practical and economical.  Terry McGowan, DirectorEngineering & Technology
American Lighting Association, offers the following ideas for LED lighting:

–       Portable task lights

–       New or retrofit downlights in ceilings

–       Under and over-cabinet lighting

–       Interior cabinet lighting

–       Indirect lighting – particularly in coves

–       Outline lighting (for example, outlining a door so it can be seen at night for orientation)

LEDs can product light colors in the entire spectrum and come in a color temperature measured in Kelvins (K) in a range of 2700K-6500K. As a general rule when selecting the right LED lighting, remember: the higher the Kelvin number, the bluer the light will appear. The lower the Kelvin number, the warmer the light appears. LED lighting opens up new possibilities in lighting design. These are just a few ideas for  inspiration to show you the potential of this energy-efficient lighting tool.

 

 

 

 

 

thermostat

Saving Money with Smarter Thermostats

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | No Comments
The Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat

As a custom homebuilder, I’m always eager to pass on money-saving tips and products to my clients. I recently discovered a Smart Thermostat that can save you up to 20 percent on your annual energy bill and it’s affordable. It’s called Nest Learning Thermostat, an intuitive system that learns your temperature preferences and thermostat habits and then tweaks them for energy savings. Based on your usage, Nest devises a schedule and programs itself to run your home’s heating and cooling more efficiently.

I’m installing Nest Learning Thermostats for a client who sees both their monetary and design value. The home is Mod-Mediterranean, a fusion of traditional and contemporary style, so the sleek design of Nest fits right in and looks great on the walls.

Custom home in the gated community of Magnolia Plantation  under construction that will feature the Nest Learning Thermostats

Custom home in the gated community of Magnolia Plantation under construction that will feature the Nest Learning Thermostats

According to the manufacturer, 89 percent of programmable thermostats waste energy, costing homeowners an extra $173 a year. Why? Because many homeowners find thermostats difficult to program or they simply don’t bother. It’s a known fact that the thermostat can be the biggest energy hog in a home. Replacing old, inefficient ones with Smart Thermostats can add up to significant savings.

Nest Learning Thermostat with leaf icon

Nest Learning Thermostat with leaf icon

The Nest also encourages energy-saving habits with a “leaf” reward system. A leaf icon on the thermostat appears when the user does something that saves energy. The homeowner can earn a leaf by adjusting the temperature for energy savings throughout the day. The Nest also comes with a mobile app for remote control of the thermostat from a smart device. There’s also an “Auto-Away” mode that turns to an energy-savings temperature, when the homeowner is gone.

For homeowners, Nest offers an affordable, easy-to-install option for upgrading thermostat intelligence in the home. The Nest retails for $249 a unit and $199 for the first installation and $25 for each additional installation. For more design ideas and money-saving tips, subscribe to my blog and video series.

exterior luxury home Modern Homes

4 Home Design Trends Changing the Way We Live in 2013

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design | No Comments
Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Clean Simple Curb Appeal is driving design trends for 2013, custom home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Although the housing market is slowly rebounding, Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri says the tough economy is driving several trends in the new home market: the elimination of formal living spaces; unified interior and exterior space; clean, simple design and pools for entertainment and exercise, going green for energy savings.

Clean, Simple Design

_MG_6047 flat

 

As a result of more cost-conscious design and construction, Jorge says consumers are moving away from ornate styles preferring a more eclectic look that showcases simple lines and clean design. “Clients want exterior design that has interesting movement and lines but without all the twists, turns and unusual spaces that overdone design creates,” says Jorge. Inside, clients want sleek fixtures, furniture and finishes that don’t overpower the architecture and bones of the home. Jorge says a style very popular with his clients is Mod-Mediterranean, a blend of Old World and contemporary elements.

Elimination of Formal Living Spaces:

The kitchen and Grand room   seamlessly blend together replacing a formal living room in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The kitchen and Grand room seamlessly blend together replacing a formal living room in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Clients want practical, functional space as opposed to the voluminous showy square footage of the past. As a result, the formal living room is disappearing from floorplans replaced by a grand family room. Jorge says some of his clients also are eliminating the formal dining room opting instead for a dining/breakfast nook area.

Unified Interior and Exterior Living Spaces:

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

Jorge says clients want every inch of their living space to count. They are asking for floorplans that seamlessly integrate the interior and exterior living space. Indoor-outdoor living spaces are designed so that it’s hard to detect the boundaries between the two.  “I’m talking about a new breed of outdoor living where the finishes, fixtures and décor match the interior. Designs of the past were not in sync with the interiors but completely distinct with defined themes.”

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

Swimming Pools for Exercise and Entertainment

OutDoor Pool Living by Ann Rue Interiors

OutDoor Pool Living by Ann Rue Interiors

For years, there were two popular choices for the pool: the Mediterranean theme defined by a quatrefoil design, water pots and pergolas or a lagoon-style pool with a kidney-shaped design, boulders and cascading waterfalls. Jorge says today’s pools are built for entertaining and exercise with clean lines and a stylishly sleek look.

Rectangle pool in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Rectangle pool in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The pools are elongated so people can swim laps and have new social features such as swim up seating and water platforms for sunbathing. Some new pool designs flow into covered areas for shady relaxation.

Building Green is More About Energy Efficiency Than the Environment

When it comes to building green, consumers have changed their view and priorities. They are more concerned with energy efficiency rather than the environment. Jorge says green building remains a popular concept with clients in theory but in practice is often cost-prohibitive. “Clients are building with tighter budgets these days because they don’t want to invest all of their net worth into their home after experiencing the housing bust. A lot of green features cost extra upfront. Clients still want energy-efficient appliances, windows, and heating and air systems. These green features are affordable but other green features are considered upgrades in most budgets and not essential.”

For more money-saving design ideas and new construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube.

exterior luxury home Modern Homes

What’s Under the Roof?

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | No Comments

3 Questions to Ask Your Builder Before the Tile Roof Goes Up:

home designed and built by Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri

Determining the aesthetic details is the fun part of building your dream home but the “nuts and bolts” are just as important, particularly when it comes to what’s under the roof.

Orlando Custom homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri recommends that homeowners get involved in selecting the roofing company. “Just as homeowners do their homework when selecting the builder, they need to thoroughly research the roofing contractor. Roofs typically leak in the first year but deficiencies can surface years later. Anyone building a new home should make sure that the roofing company is reputable with a business track record that indicates it will be around for the long term to repair any problems with the roof,” says Jorge.

In addition to asking the homebuilder for recommendations, homeowners can research roofing companies by consulting the National Roofing Contractors Association or The Tile Roofing Institute.

Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri suggests three important questions homeowners should ask before their roof goes up.

What Type of Warranty Comes with the Roof?

According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, most roofs, whether tile or asphalt-shingle, have a life span of 20 to 25 years. A builder’s warranty typically lasts two to 10 years. During that time, coverage varies on different components of the home including structural, mechanical and electrical warranty guarantees. Once the builder’s warranty expires, the homeowner will have to deal directly with the roofing manufacturer or installation company to remedy any roof deficiencies.

What Type of Underlayment Will Be Used?

Underneath the roof tile or shingles is a membrane known as the underlayment. This membrane helps weatherproof the roof and prevents water intrusion. There are two types of underlayments available and both vary in price and quality.

The Peel-and-Stick Self Adhesive-

Peel-and-Stick Underlayment on roof of home under construction by Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri

This underlayment is made of synthetic material and has an adhesive backing that sticks to the roof’s plywood (roof decking). Unlike felt paper underlayment that is nailed to the plywood, Peel-and-Stick adheres to every inch of the roof decking and creates a secondary line of defense against water intrusion and wind damage.

Peel-and-Stick underlayment with black adhesive in view. This adhesive sticks to the roof decking to attach to every square inch of the roof decking evenly for a better seal.

Peel-and-Stick underlayment is more expensive (about 30 percent more than felt paper underlayment) but many homebuilders prefer to use Peel-and-Stick because it is more resistant to moisture, tears and UV rays.

Felt Paper Underlayment-

felt paper underlayment nailed to the roof decking

This underlayment, made of asphalt coated felt paper, is commonly referred to as tar paper. It is less expensive than Peel-and-Stick and less durable. One of felt paper’s limitations is that it is nailed to the roof decking so it doesn’t adhere uniformly. Installation requires layering of the felt paper to build a sufficient barrier.

Are There Energy Efficient Colors for Roof Material?

Cool roof color palette for tile roofs. Check with your roofing contractor and manufacturer for cool roof options.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighter-colored roofing surfaces or special coatings can reduce energy usage by 10 to 15 percent. Lighter colors reflect more of the sun’s heat and reduce cooling costs by as much as 15 percent according to the Cool Roof Rating Council.

Cool roof tile in grey. Image courtesy of Collins Roofing. Lighter colors for roofing material and cut energy costs up to 15 percent.

Most roof tile manufacturers have a color palette that is Energy Star and CRRC approved as cool roof materials. Ask if the roofing product is available in a “cool roof” version.

The EPA has a Cool Roof Calculator at http://www.roofcalc.com  that quantifies the benefits of a cool roof. Some cool roofs also qualify for rebates, for more information, go to http://www.coolroofs.org/codes_and_programs.html#rebate

For more money-saving design ideas and new construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube.

karen vision house

Save Some Green by Going Green at Home

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | 4 Comments

Blogger Karen LeBlanc hosting VIP Tours of the Vision House at Epcot, photo by HowieSpace Photography

Recently, I had the opportunity to host VIP tours of Green Builder Media’s VISION House® at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. The idea behind this exhibit, created in collaboration with Disney Imagineers, is to showcase the latest innovations in green design and sustainable living. I discovered a few money-saving and environmentally friendly features that anyone can add affordably to Save Some Green by Living Green.

Blogger Karen LeBlanc points out energy-saving brick, a sustainable material on the exterior of Vision House, HowieSpace Photography

Brick on the Exterior Saves Energy Bucks

Brick is a sustainable material that helps lower the utility bill because it holds in temperatures. Brick is made of clay and water so it’s environmentally safe, free of chemicals and pollutants. It’s durable, can carry heavy weight loads, fire resistant, and recyclable. As a bonus, old bricks make great architectural features when they are salvaged and reused in structures to add character.

Blogger Karen LeBlanc points out smog-eating tile and Hanwha Solar panels on the roof of Vision House, HowieSpace Photography

Smog Eating Tiles Keep Us Healthy

I was surprised to discover that roof tile can actually cut down on air pollution. Boral manufactures the BoralPure Smog Eating Tile that reduces the formation of smog. According to Boral, the roof tiles “eat” smog when exposed to sunlight by oxidizing pollutants and converting them into inert calcium nitrates that wash away with the next rainfall.

LED fixtures in the Dining Room of the Vision House, HowieSpace Photography

LED fixtures Use 75 Percent Less Energy

According to U.S. Energy Department, ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs (light-emitting diodes) use 75 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than other light bulbs. The movement of electrons through a semiconductor material illuminates LEDs. They can be integrated into all sorts of products to provide white and colored light, such as flashlights, light bulbs, and integrated light fixtures. Unlike incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LEDs emit light in a specific direction, reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light; they are ideal for recessed downlights and task lighting. Another cost-saving advantage, LEDs emit almost no heat whereas incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. The Vision House features LED lighting by Sylvania.

Low VOC cabinets by Armstrong Worldwide in the ktichen of the Vision House, photo by HowieSpace Photography

Low-VOC Household Features Improve Air Quality

VOC” stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, which are chemical fumes released into the air. A common carrier of VOCs is the kitchen cabinet, which can contain formaldehyde used to bind the particleboard in cabinet’s interior boxes. The toxic chemical also shows up  in cabinet stains and finishes. No or Low-VOC cabinets improve indoor air quality and reduce toxins because they don’t contain formaldehyde and other chemicals.The Vision House kitchen features Low-VOC cabinets from Armstrong World Industries.

Home insulation made of cotton natural fiber for Low VOCs, photo by HowieSpace Photography

Home insulation is another potential source of VOCs. The insulation in Vision House is made of natural cotton fiber including denim clothing. The natural cotton fiber insulation has no VOCs, it’s mold and mildew resistant as well as fire retardant and completely safe to touch. A picture window into the wall in the family area provides a close up view of the insulation.

Three-layer windows with argon gas between the layers for greater energy efficiency in the masterbedroom of the Vision House, photo by HowieSpace Photography

Energy efficient Windows Shave 15 Percent off Heating and Cooling Costs

Energy Star Qualified windows filter out damaging ultraviolet light and save on heating and cooling costs. The U.S. Energy Department estimates that upgrading to Energy Star Qualified windows can save approximately seven to 15 percent on a home’s energy bill. The windows in Vision House are by Pella and have three layers of glass with argon gas between the layers. Argon gas is denser than air and enhances insulation.

Grow a Wall Garden

Blogger Karen LeBlanc points out the Green Wall Garden in the backyard of the Vision House. A wall garden improves air quality and energy efficiency, photo by HowieSpace Photography

Another creative idea that adds ambiance and enhances air quality and energy efficiency in a home is a green wall made of living, breathing plants. The Vision House features a green wall in the backyard that helps to regulate temperature, clean the air, and filter the water. It’s also a lush focal point in this backyard retreat.

Vision House by Green Builder Media and Disney at Epcot’s Innoventions Exhibit, photo by HowieSpace Photography

The entire Vision House is powered by Hanwha Solar photovoltaic modules on the house’s rooftop and a whole-home automation system (The Home Intelligence system) that can adjust the lighting and temperature in each separate zone throughout the house. If you would like to check it out, Vision House is located in Epcot’s Innoventions Exhibit area. What are your money-saving and environmentally safe ideas for going green at home? Share your comments with our readers. I would love to hear from you.