by: Beth Duckett, Arizona Business Gazette
Long before it was cool to be green, Scottsdale residents Laura and Randy Shell set out to build their dream home using energy-efficient appliances and natural materials.
The result was a 5,280-square-foot hacienda in DC Ranch. Built about 10 years ago, it was one of the first houses to be certified under Scottsdale’s Green Building Program.
“We wanted a good-quality home,” said Laura Shell, a mom and former land planner. “The opportunity was there.”
The Shells’ home, a mix of new age design and old world furnishings, took a year to plan and 15 months to build under the direction of Phoenix-based Kitchell Custom Homes.
Nancy Pfeiffer, Kitchell senior project manager, guided the Shells through the green-building process.
“They didn’t have to change their thinking or way of life to do this,” said Pfeiffer, who was an early member of Scottsdale’s Green Building Committee. “It wasn’t a battle. The process was fun and enjoyable.”
Since its debut in 1998, Scottsdale’s Green Building Program has certified 1,250 homes based on elements of green design, building and energy savings, said Anthony Floyd, who manages the program for the city.
The percentage of permits issued for green building has jumped since the program’s formative years.
Of 121 permits for single-family homes issued last year in the city, 30 were for green homes. In 1998, only 29 of 2,100 permits were for green building, Floyd said.
“Green building was such a smaller number back then,” he said. “Now, there is a much greater percentage of green-building projects.”
The program, which is going through an update process, consists of a checklist with certain requirements, such as low-water landscapes, ceiling fans and energy-efficient interior lighting.
“You get to pick and choose from 135 green-building checklist programs, so you have a lot of flexibility,” Floyd said.
The Shells opted for inset windows, which avoid sunlight and minimize cooling costs. Appliances use low amounts of water and energy.
An outside patio has shades that lower during the day, shielding it from the sun.
“They have tons of reclaimed materials,” Pfeiffer said. “There is lower water usage outside and low VOC paints inside.”
As an added benefit, Laura Shell incorporated antiques into the home’s interior design. The antiques were not a part of the Green Building Program but help the environment by reducing the demand for newly built furniture, she said.
An element found in many green homes these days – but not at the Shell home – is solar power.
Scottsdale is updating the Green Building Program’s checklist to require an on-site renewable-energy power system or solar water-heating system, Floyd said.
“We feel that if you’re green and in the desert, you should be doing solar,” Floyd said. “The market has moved toward green building. We are trying to adjust to the market and make the building checklist more meaningful.”