Green Renovations

Green Renovations

Montclair Construction Co. in conjunction with Lela Williams & Associates
Interior Design, L.L.C. has registered the first “down to the studs” green renovation in the Tampa Bay area. The intent of these pages is to educate and to encourage others to build and renovate L.E.E.D. homes that leave a lighter carbon footprint on our delicate planet. The LEED certification can be achieved with minimal additional costs to your renovation, and your home’s sustainability and durability make it more cost effective in the long run. A home or office that is LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council is also much healthier environment for your family or your co-workers!

The first step towards this home’s green certification was to hire a LEED AP, Lela Williams, as a consultant to guide the builder and the subcontractors through the process. One day in the future all architects, builders, and designers will take all of these things for granted, but for now these things that protect our families and the environment are new concepts, and the USGBC requires that a LEED accredited professional guide the team. These are the 8 areas of consideration set by the U.S. Green Building Council for both new builds and renovations. A point system is set up to achieve different levels of “green”.


Innovation and Design Process


  • Here the builder/homeowner puts together a project team and targets the LEED award level they want to attain. One member of the team must be an accredited LEED professional. Lela Williams was hired to manage the action plan on this project. She handled the paperwork and ran regular meetings with the remodeling team. The LEED professional needs to be brought on board from the inception of the project to maximize and integrate green strategies throughout the building design and the renovation process.
  • In this early design stage, plans to minimize the environmental impact on the home and maximize the home’s durability have to be written out and submitted to the US Green Building Council (USGBC). In this particular home, great lengths were taken to seal the building envelope from the humid climate and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Different climates have different considerations and the design team has to be knowledgeable about the regulations in the area.
  • A durability check list is made in the planning stage to address the unique issues for these building and present creative solutions that will assure its longevity.


Location and Linkages


  • We avoided development on an environmentally sensitive site when the homeowner chose an existing older home that is above the FEMA 100 yr. flood plain and further than 100 ft. from any body of water.
  • The USGBC encourages the building of new homes or renovations near or within existing communities. Among the many reasons, this allows for the use of existing water lines, sewer lines, power lines, transit lines, etc.
  • The homeowner received full points because this house is located within a 1/2 mile of every item on the “Basic Community Resources” list. The home is within walking distance (1/4 mile) from many of them. Located in downtown Clearwater, the accessibility to banks, schools, grocery stores, post office, library, restaurants, places of worship, arts and entertainment center, etc. all take little or no gas to get to.
  • A point was gained because this home is within a 1/2 mile from a park. The access to open spaces encourages walking, physical activity and time spent outdoors.

Sustainable Site

  • To minimize long term environmental damage to the building lot during the renovation process, Montclair Builders stockpiled the disturbed topsoil in a protected area to redistribute later and controlled the paths and velocity of runoff water with silt fencing to protect the site from erosion damage. The silt fencing also protects the onsite storm sewers from blocking.
  • To minimize how much of the building site was disturbed, the team developed a preservation plan with “no disturb” zones clearly delineated on drawings and on the lot itself.
  • More than 40% of the buildable lot area, not including areas under roof, and not including hardscape areas such as driveways and pool decks, were left undisturbed.
  • The landscape was designed to avoid invasive plant species and minimize the need for excessive water and chemicals. This was accomplished by using less than 20% of drought resistant turf on the not under roof areas, mulching around plants to reduce erosion and water loss, and by tilling all compacted soil down at least 6 inches to increase water absorption. Trees that were non-invasive and compatible with this climate zone were preserved. These things also regulate the soil temperature and actually keep the yard cooler.
  • 90% of the plants used in the landscape design are drought proof to reduce water usage.
  • For non-toxic pest control, all wood is 12″ above the soil, all external edges, cracks and joints were sealed or calked, and landscaping is put in so that when the plants mature they are 24″ from the house.

Water Efficiency

  • In this location a municipal recycled water system was available for outdoor irrigation.
  • The irrigation system was designed with head-to-head coverage (no overlapping) and with central cut-off valves
  • The irrigation system was installed by an EPA Water Sense certified professional.
  • Drip irrigation is used over 50% of the landscaping.
  • Separate zones were created for each type of bedding depending on watering needs
  • Pressure regulating devices and high efficiency nozzles were installed.
  • The irrigation system is more than 2 ft. from the house and the water does not hit the house.
  • Low flow faucets, shower heads and toilets were installed throughout the house. The low flow will reduce demand for hot water and add to the energy efficiency as well as water usage.

Energy and Atmosphere

  • Energy Star rated heat, dehumidifying, and cooling systems and appliances were installed.
  • Icynene insulation with special installation was used in the attic and used to seal all openings to the outside of the home. This renovation was down to the studs, so that the structure was revealed. The hot water pipes and the air ducts were also insulated so that there is no leakage in the cooling or heating systems
  • Energy Star rated lighting fixtures and compact florescent light bulbs were used throughout the home.

Materials and Resources

  • By carefully planning and having a detailed cut List, the framing waste was less than 10%.
  • Only FSC Certified tropical woods were used and the building materials including the glues, sealers, shellacs, varnishes, paints, etc. were low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). This helps the planet as well as the health of the occupants of the home.
  • Local construction materials and products were used whenever possible to reduce the use of fossil fuel in transportation and the large double front doors are reclaimed (salvaged from another building).
  • A lot of consideration was put into reducing and recycling waste from this construction site. Records had to be turned in to the USGBC to show the diversion of waste from landfills and incineration.

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • All indoor air regulators are Energy Star rated.
  • Exposure to indoors pollutants are reduced by controlled ventilation with outdoor air especially in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • A dehumidifier included in the HVAC system was installed to keep the home at less than 60% humidity to reduce mold and to increase the general durability of the home.
  • Air filters with equal or more than MERV 8 (minimum efficiency reporting values) were installed and air filter housing was made air tight.
  • Air ducts were sealed off during construction to reduce indoor pollution.
  • Contaminate control was managed during and after construction with 4 ft. walk-off mats at each entry and a shoe removal station with a bench at the main entrance.
  • To prevent exposure to garage air pollutants, all penetration spots, ceiling joint bays, and connecting floors were sealed, the connecting door weather stripped and the garage walls are painted, as carbon monoxide will penetrate dry wall.
  • Carbon monoxide sensors are installed in all rooms adjacent to the garage.
  • A ph. level water management system allows the homeowner to bypass chemical cleaning products and get excellent cleaning results from water alone that has been rendered high acidic.

Awareness and Education

  • For the homeowner and occupants, operations and maintenance manuals (binders) are assembled that contain the completed LEED check list, a copy of each signed accountability form (the form that the subcontractors such as plumbers and electricians sign as an affidavit that they followed the USGBC guidelines for their specific work), a copy of each LEED inspection, the product and installation manuals for all installed fixtures, appliances, HVAC systems, and any other equipment.
  • The LEED professional also makes a binder with a collection of educational information about efficient use of water, energy and natural resources, information about cleaning products and cleaning tips with no harmful chemicals, information about water efficient landscaping and chemical free fertilizers and pesticides, and information on how to select new things for their home that are environmentally sound such as lighting, new appliances, etc.
  • An extensive walkthrough is done with the family before they move in featuring identification of all equipment installed and a run through the binders so that they are familiar with them and are comfortable looking up something in them.
  • It is also important at the beginning, during and at the end of the project, to educate the public as much as possible. To this end, a sign was installed measuring 6 ft. square during the construction that displayed that this home was “Going Green” and furnished a phone number if anyone had any questions.
  • Another way to promote public awareness is to create these pages on our website. The USBC encourages any public forum such as giving educational tours of the home or getting a newspaper story or press release and rewards the project with points towards certification.

Help us spread the word about “Green” building and the beauty of environmentally sound renovations. For minimal additional cost, you too can have a home or work place that is more durable, energy efficient, all around healthier for your family or co-workers. Often times we think of green building as having a very contemporary or “California Organic” design. A LEED certified home or building can have any design style as we see here in our classically European designed Italian home. Please call us with any Green Design questions or comments at Montclair Construction 510-547-2457

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