Asheville’s lush, green forests and stunning mountain landscapes have long been a draw for nature lovers seeking to build a home in an unspoiled natural paradise. Sean Sullivan, owner of Living Stone Construction and his wife, Laura Sullivan, owner of ID.ology Interior Design team up to not only help their clients build their dream home, but to ensure that Asheville stays unspoiled for future generations through their green building and design process. North Carolina Design talked to them to hear more about what true green building really entails, and the surprising ways it enriches and enhances the lives of their clients.
Sean and Laura have quickly become the go-to experts for green building in the Asheville area. Sean notes that, while many people associate green building with energy conservation, there is much more to it than that. “Being Energy Star compliant alone doesn’t make you green,” he explains. “Energy Star is just one subset of green building. There are nine categories to the green checklist, including local sourcing, indoor air quality, water conservation, landscape and draining, and energy conservation. We are fully Energy Star and NC Greenbuild compliant.”
Laura tells us that building green also goes far beyond construction. “There are a lot of interior design elements and selections that play a part in creating a green home,” she says. “We consider the materials that go into the cabinetry and the furnishings, the type of paints and finishes used, and the lighting selections. We also focus on the healthy value of the fabrics and fillings in the rugs, pillows, drapes and cushions.”
Sean and Laura are committed to sourcing products locally, from vendors they can trust. “We focus on building relationships with local craftsmen who provide green, healthy products,” Laura offers. Sean adds “We strive to find people who are directly in our area. Green standards require that products are sourced from within 500 miles, but we try to keep it within 200 miles.”
Laura and Sean are also dedicated to educating homeowners about the benefits of green building. “When you ask people what green means to them, they don’t always have a clear answer,” says Sean. “They do understand lower energy consumption and how it can help them get a return on their investment. But they aren’t always aware of all the ways a green home can impact their lives. When we explain to them that statistically people are happier, healthier and more productive in green homes, they really love the concept.”
Homeowners often don’t realize that building green is as much about individual health as it is about the environment. “Indoor air quality is the primary reason that we build green,” notes Sean. “A lot of homes don’t ‘breathe’ the way they should. Then homeowners make poor product selections, which give off toxic elements. Those elements get trapped in the air, and are continuously breathed in. We make sure that our clients’ homes are properly ventilated, and that they choose products that promote air quality.”
Homeowners sometimes struggle to fully trust Sean and Laura’s green building process. “It’s really important for our clients have faith in the value that building green will add to their homes, and their lives,” stresses Laura. “The more they embrace the process, the more benefits they will receive. Those clients who have let us lead them have seen that they got the exact house they wanted – plus they feel healthier and happier. They tell us they wouldn’t change a thing.”
“We go so much further than just using a few eco-friendly materials,” affirms Sean. “We design green, build green, and teach our clients to live green, so they can have healthier, happier lives. It’s rewarding to know that we go above and beyond to help them meet this underlying, important, and often unfulfilled need.”