Published by NC Design Online, July 2015
To live in the Asheville area is to love the beauty of nature and to be taken in by quiet strength of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. In our previous feature, we talked to Asheville builder Sean Sullivan, owner of Living Stone Construction, and his wife, Laura Sullivan of ID.ology Interior Design about the couple’s unique “design green, build green, live green” concept. The concept has earned them success and a reputation as one of Asheville’s leading green building teams. Today, we’re focusing on the products and techniques that help them give their clients the homes they’ve always dreamed of, while encouraging them to live greener, fuller, and happier lives in their new spaces.
Product selection for a green home requires careful thought and a commitment to green principles. “Everything you choose has a consequence and a benefit,” observes Sean. “You have to weigh every single decision carefully, because you want your clients to have the best possible products.”
“You have three main types of green products: recycled, natural and recyclable,” notes Laura. “From a green standpoint, it’s most important to focus on recycled and natural products. You also have different levels of healthy and green. For example, the greenest area rugs have water-based backing and no dyes. Then you have options with the healthiest, most natural dyes, and so on and so forth. There are a wide variety of different colors and finishes available – it all depends on the extent you’re willing to go with the green concept.”
Those who want to live green don’t have to settle in any way. There are a wealth of great products currently available, with new ones cropping up all the time. “You have low VOC paints and formaldehyde-free finishes,” says Laura. “You have rugs from made from corn sugar, or even recycled Pepsi bottles. You have plumbing options that have been redesigned to work well with low water usage, and you have prefinished floors that are left to offgass in a warehouse, rather than add toxins to your home.”
Sean uses several innovative green products and techniques during the building process. “Our guys are now using dustless sanders to finish floors,” he notes. “We also us advanced framing techniques, which cut down on wasted wood and allow for improved insulation. Better insulation makes it easier and more affordable for people to heat and cool their homes, with less wasted energy.
“As a builder, our most recent green building product, and the one that I’m most excited about, is a type of drywall that actually absorbs VOCs from the air, traps them and turns them harmless inert gasses. It literally cleans the air for you. It’s incredible.”
Sean and Laura’s green building process has proven a success, and not just with homeowners. Last year one of their homes, the Strittmatter house (pictured immediately above and two pictures below), won the Asheville Parade of Homes both for craftsmanship, and for greenest home.
“It was the icing on the cake,” affirms Sean. “This is a concept we came up with ourselves – to take homeowners full cycle, from concept to move-in and beyond, as they learn to actually live green. It’s so great to see the whole thing come to fruition.” Laura agrees. “It’s very gratifying,” she says. “I feel like we’re not just handing the client a finished product and walking away. We’re educating them, and improving and enriching their lives. It’s a great feeling.”