Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Millwork Construction Photos

The glues, stains, etc. are low VOC, and the MDF is 100% recycled content, each being 1/2 LEED point.  Therefore, the MDF contributes one whole point toward the RainShine LEED certification.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Landscape Innovatives

The first innovative choice we made for the landscape was for a bicycle parking space. Our clients are avid bike riders and purposely only have one car between them. When designing for homeowners, we always have to accommodate for the automobile.  So why not provide the RainShine house with bicycle parking spaces to accommodate our clients’ lifestyle? We are proposing to use recycled granite curbs that the City has stockpiled as posts to support the bikes. The posts will have a hole drilled in them to receive a chain for securing the bike.

The other credits we hope to receive involves using 30% or greater fly ash and slag in our large entry concrete stepping stones. We also are using recycled granite curbs for steps off the deck and locally crushed slate chips as landings between the granite steps and entry stepping stones.

-  Lynn Saussy, Landscape Architect

Energy and Atmosphere

We met the lighting requirement by placing, in the garden entry, four wireless photovoltaic exterior light fixtures.

-  Lynn Saussy, Landscape Architect

Surface Water Management and Water Efficiency

Another new experience for me was designing rain gardens for rain harvesting. This is how we decided to handle storm water runoff from the impervious surfaces we proposed. We have one rain garden in between the recycled brick driveway strips and two larger rain gardens located downhill from the house before the storm water reaches the stream. All are planted with drought tolerant native species. To be water efficient and eliminate an irrigation system, any new tree and shrub plantings will be watered by a hose connected to the rain barrels.

-  Lynn Saussy, Landscape Architect

Shading of Hardscapes

On this site, the only hardscape to shade was the house and the driveway. Our grand Deodora Cedar served to shade the home from the western sun and we are planting two native Parsley Hawthorns to shade the southern sun (we chose these native trees because they will only grow + 20' height which will not shade the solar panels on the roof). We only had 20 linear feet of driveway to shade and we accomplished that with a Native Dogwood.

- Lynn Saussy, Landscape Architect

Sustainable Sites

After reading through the LEED manual, it was apparent we needed to eliminate all turf and use all drought tolerant native grasses and perennials. We could 'build' a meadow! How 'green' is that?

First inspiration was drawn from Oehme van Sweden's 'designed meadow' style and the cost of installing a meadow was researched. When presented at our next team meeting this solution proved to be too expensive. In order to have a successful meadow, you must plant the grasses and perennials quite close to keep the invasive species from germinating and overpowering the native species. Invasives choke out the native species since they grow faster and larger. The quantity of materials needed blew the budget. A disappointment for everyone.

So back to the drawing board.....what would be more cost efficient? Ah ha! What if we let the site go back to its natural state - a woodland/forest? There are plenty of dormant seeds in the soil as well as ones delivered by the wind and birds. This would take patience to develop and constant maintenance to control the invasives that geminated but it is an inexpensive and progressive solution. When presented to the team, everyone agreed it is a perfect solution for this project.

And as it turns out, the woodland/forest is one of the owners' favorite landscapes.

The original plant communities of this area are of two types: Midslope Forest and Mesic Forest.

The species in the first type are dominated by White Oak, Post Oak, Southern Red Oak, Pignut Hickory with understory trees such as Dogwood, Sourwood, Blackgum, and American Holly. The shrubs include low various blueberries, dwarf Paw Paw and Strawberry bush.

The second type, Mesic Forest, has many of the same canopy species but the notable presence of the American Beech, Tulip Poplar and Northern Red Oak dominate. The shrub layer includes Wild Hydrangea, Piedmont Azaleas and Musclewood.

Now how to get there?? Our first step to re-create the woodland/forest is to build a rich organic soil 'floor'. We will accomplish this by simply covering the bare areas with clean wood chips, leave it for a year or two and remove the invasives as they appear. The only plantings we are specifying now are going to cover any of the steep slopes to prevent erosion and use only native shrubs and grasses.

First piece of the puzzle solved! On to the next ones......

- Lynn Saussy, Landscape Architect

Landscape Introduction

To begin this project, I met the team (architect, owners, builder) on site. The footprint of the new home was already determined by the City's setbacks as well as the stream buffer required. The notable plants left on the site were a triple trunked 174" circumference Deodora Cedar and a majestic Sycamore, growing by the stream. Otherwise, the site was bare earth with only invasive English Ivy, Chinese Privet and Bamboo growing along the west property line.

At our meeting we discussed the client's program and budget. It was simple: meet all the LEED specifications for the landscape and the budget was minimal.

This was a first for me. How was I going to create a landscape that meets the specifications for a sustainable site (what does that mean?) with very little money?

Going through the LEED for Homes Program Rating System turned out to be quite an educational experience.

The relevant sections in the LEED work book for landscaping and the program for the project are listed below and I will offer further blog posts how we accomplished them:
• Sustainable Sites-Landscaping,
• Shading of Hardscapes,
• Surface Water Management,
• Water Efficiency and
• Energy and Atmosphere.

- Lynn Saussy, Landscape Architect

Xeriscape landscaping

The following are native plants and trees to be used on the site and in the rain garden.  A xeriscaping strategy will be used in the RainShine landscaping, making the most of the water from the rain-water-collection system.

Pink Muhly Grass

American Holly

Bald Cypress


Native Hydrangea


Wild Indigo - native wildflower

Virginia Sweetspire

Bottlebrush Buckeye