Long before the environment had become an issue tied to development and home structures, J.T. Turner Construction Co., Inc. was established.
That was back in 1976. Fast forwarding to today, the company is now building a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) home in Richmond Hill, at the Ford Plantation.
The project broke ground in October and project manager Clara Welsh said things are on schedule for the home’s completion by the end of the year.
This eco-friendly home is the first of its kind on the plantation, and could very well be the first in Bryan County, said Director of Operations Tom Draffin. It is the company’s pilot LEED for Homes Silver project.
Matt West, who handles LEED education for J.T. Turner, said a greener home simply ‘makes sense.’
"It saves operating costs by a 10 to 15 percent reduction and is only slightly more expensive to build – about 3 to 5 percent higher on construction costs," he said. "The efficiency achieved is relative to the steps taken by the design team, including the homeowners in the LEED design process."
At the LEED construction site on the plantation, Welsh said every possible aspect of building the home is done in a way that attempts to stay green. Around the job site’s perimeter, a silt fence has been implanted into the ground to provide erosion and sedimentation control, which is one of the LEED requirements. Instead of dumping extra materials that would be considered waste, such as wood, sheetrock, metal, etc., the materials are stored for recycling. Extra masonry from building will even be reused as the base material for the home’s driveway.
"Subcontractors are not familiar with these practices. I think that during the construction process and after they do one job, it’s going to be a lot easier for everybody, including myself," Welsh said. "I think this is a good thing. When I explained to everyone how we would have to manage the waste, I thought I would find a lot more resistance than what I found. But everybody seemed proud to do it this way."
Welsh said with the LEED for Homes construction process, most materials need to be extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site. This helps save energy in transportation by not moving trucks for unnecessarily long distances.
"In addition to taking care of the environment, this project will be a high energy efficient home by improving energy performance in a way the home will function as a whole lowering energy consumption," Welsh said. "In addition to that, the homeowners, for example, will reuse rainwater and grey water – from appliances like the clothes washer – for landscape irrigation. This will be a home with a higher quality indoor air, better use of natural light, higher durability, etc. It’s a healthier way to live in your own home."
David and Ann Cloeppel of Nashville, Tenn., are the couple who decided they wanted to have a LEED certified home here in Richmond Hill. They went to the Dawson Wissmach architectural firm in Savannah and the firm asked J.T. Turner to meet with the couple, who worked with them to create the home’s design.
"We looked at this as an opportunity to build something green. You come down to looking at your options and making decisions between them, and we decided, ‘why not choose the green option?’" Ann Kloeppel said. "The big decision maker was that, by choosing to be certified, we can help raise awareness in the community."
The accreditations for building a green home start with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), who created the rating system for a LEED building. The system is based on five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
In addition to LEED for Homes there is also LEED for Existing Buildings, LEED for Schools, and many other LEED options. USGBC is currently working on its pilot projects with LEED for Neighborhood Development, which will create eco-friendly subdivisions and neighborhoods.
On the USBGC’s recently launched green home web site, www.greenhomeguide.org, you can learn more about the system and even find out how "green" your lifestyle is by using their EPA Carbon Calculator.