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Tips on Green Design for Your Home: An Interview with Sean Sullivan of Living Stone Construction, Inc

Published July 14th in NorthCarolinaHome

Living Stone is a Green builder of fine custom, and semi-custom, homes. We offer turn-key services to bring complete value to the client and make the building process enjoyable. Much like sustainability in building, our “Living Stone Difference” process is sustainable. When you work with us, we can help you find land, design your home, build your home (or renovation), prescribe finishes, provide financing, and deliver a home warranty.

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

“Green” building differentiates itself from traditional building by using a different frame of thought. Green building starts in the planning stages of the project and it never ends, it becomes an extension of philosophy when the clients move in. Green building considers IAQ (Indoor Air Quality), using locally made products/services, and reducing/eliminating unnecessary waste. Statistics show that “Green” homes sell faster and for more money that “Non-green” homes and that people who live in a “Green” home are happier, healthier, and more productive than those that don’t.

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

Sustainability is a word that gets thrown around alot but, in my opinion, isn’t given much thought. Sustainability is essentially the use of systems that work together, in an effort to maintain, support, and endure. For building a home, it signifies using the above three methods to lessen the negative human impact on our environment.

What are some of the misconceptions you’ve come across about green design?

This is a big topic. For awhile, we stopped advertising that we were “Green” builders simply because there was SO much “Green washing” going on. For alot of people, “Green” is a nice thought, but they are not willing to pay for it. It can also represent (to some people) certain products that are not as desirable because they may not have been chemically reinforced (i.e. water based paints/stains vs. oil based). Green is a philosophy and a paradigm through which to make decisions, not just a one time choice on a product.

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

Energy Star is a component of “Green” building. It addresses the energy consumption aspect of the home and therefore has a calculable payback. This is by far the most popular feature of “Green” building. You can build Energy Star without building “Green”, however you cannot build “Green” without building Energy Star. Certain “Green” products that are the most popular are the ones that affect the IAQ. This would include ERV’s (Energy Recovery Ventilators), low VOC(Volatile Organic Compounds)/formaldehyde products, and paints/stains.

What advice would you give a homeowner who wants to use solar or green design in their remodel, but they have a limited budget?

The best “design” advice I would give is to design for Passive/Solar use. This is heavily dictated by existing orientation and scope of the project, however is the most critical component when it comes to energy use. The builder (at a minimum) should use sustainable methods that don’t cost anything, i.e. reducing, reusing, and recycling.

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

We are easy to reach, you can find us on most social networks, googling our name, visiting our website at, or by simply calling us at 828.669.4343!

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