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Tips on Green Building and Design for Your Home: An Interview with Phil Bowman of Pinnacle Land Development

By Phil Bowman

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Pinnacle Land Development is a full-service development company working primarily in Connecticut with past work in Massachusetts. We specialize in new land development and building custom residential homes while also having experience in multi-family and small commercial construction.

What are the main differences between the process of sustainable building and a "regular" building project?

I think that with sustainable building you look for an integrated systems approach using the principles of building science. The NHAB offers a wide range of courses to educate builders on the sustainable building process. Many changes in design, building materials, mechanical systems, appliances, consumer lifestyles and expectations make houses more complex than ever before.

Can you explain a little about what sustainability means for green builders/designers and homeowners?

Everyone will have a different answer to this question but I think generally people associate sustainability with an energy efficient, environmentally sensitive home that is more connected to the outdoors. Minimal use of nonrenewable resources, superior indoor air quality and moisture control seem to be topics that 90% of my buyers mention as major concerns.

What are some of the misconceptions you've come across about green (or sustainable) home design?

People tend to associate green home design with significant increase in cost, which is not true. There are inexpensive ways to make a home more environmentally friendly with advanced framing techniques, HVAC systems, windows and exterior doors, and insulation/air sealing. You want a house to be airtight but vapor permeable and there are inexpensive ways to achieve this.

What are some of the most popular green design features for homes in Connecticut?

I am finding a lot of buyers using foam insulation, either full cavity or 2" on exterior walls with fiberglass batt behind it. This gives a tight air seal and approximate R-value of 26 on exterior walls. I think this is especially important because more and more glass is being added to houses to connect people to the outdoors so tight exterior wall applications are necessary. Geothermal systems are very popular these days and solar is rapidly catching on now that prices are starting to drop a bit. Buyers also inquire a lot about low VOC paints, cabinetry with no "off gassing" and insulating slabs and concrete walls as roughly 4,000 BTU is lost through the basement slab alone.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

We can be reached via our office at 203-271-1115.

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