Homeowners concerned about the environment are
doing something about it.
By CHRISTINA ABEL, Shorelines
Building green is no longer the dominion of the West Coast. Beaches residents and business owners are doing their part to build environmentally friendly structures.
At their home in Atlantic Beach, Sarah Boren and Geoff Selhorst are building, remodeling and refitting a 1950s home with reused local lumber, a reflective metal roof and skylights to garner the light and warmth of the sun.
Just a few miles south, the Goelzes, who own the Cobalt Moon natural healing center in Neptune Beach, are using similar technology to construct a new two-story commercial building.
While both families are trying to protect the environment and the community, family is also a motivating factor for them.
"If we don't start doing something about this, then there isn't going to be a future for my grandchildren," Donnalea Goelz said. "It's really important to change the way we use energy."
Sarah Boren feels the same way.
"We want to be models for our daughters," Boren said. "Living three blocks from the beach, I feel like I need to take responsibility for climate change."
The pink fiberglass insulation at the Borens' home is gone. So is the plastic PVC piping and the thermostat that runs all the time. Instead, PVC plumbing pipes were replaced with PEX piping, which is less brittle and less prone to freezing, and foam insulation was sprayed on the walls to close the gaps that commonly occur with fiberglass.
In addition, the Borens installed hot water sensors in the bathroom to stop wasting cold water while the water heats up. They also put in a programmable thermostat so the heater and air conditioner operate only during certain hours of the day.
The goal? To add 500 square feet to the house while maintaining or reducing energy use and costs. Sarah Boren said that, by using green materials and wood from Beaches-area stores and other local sources, the home will save water and reduce the family's "carbon footprint" - the amount of carbon dioxide they use in their endeavors.
Homeowners can take other energy-saving steps, too. The Borens bought a dishwasher that only uses 5 gallons of water per wash, which saves a lot compared to traditional models that typically use 20 to 40 gallons per wash.
They also took advantage of solar hot water heater incentives. With their purchase of a $4,300 solar hot water system, they received an $800 rebate from JEA, $500 from the state and a 30-percent tax credit, making the deal a "slam-dunk," Boren said. She said they'll regain the cost of the system in 41/2 years and, from then on, will have free hot water.
Without any electricity, the water reaches 116 degrees from solar power alone, Geoff Selhorst said.
Simple things such as replacing air filters every month, using compact fluorescent bulbs in lamps, washing clothes in cold water and using ceiling fans can all cut down on energy usage and bills, he said.
At her new building in Neptune Beach, Donnalea Goelz wanted to build green, but "reasonable," meaning she's got to stick with a budget. What Goelz deemed as reasonable three years ago has changed as more green products have become available and driven down the price, she said.
The Goelzes have used foam block insulation on the building's foundation. They also plan to install a radiant cooling system, which relies on chilled water pipes to cool the building rather than a conventional chilling system. That building, which will contain rental offices, is slated to for completion this summer, Goelz said.
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