Arlington Designer Homes is committed to green building for the health benefits, energy savings, and reduced environmental footprint it provides for our buyers and our community. With constantly changing regulations, technologies and products, buidling a new green home from the ground up isn't always easy - but it's always interesting!

Welcome to our behind-the-scenes blog about green building and remodeling, where you can watch a green home go up step-by-step and learn about using green building techniques for your own home. And visit our website at to learn even more about green building and remodeling.

September 21, 2010

Protecting Trees and Reducing Waste

It took months of planning, design and consultation with
city government and arborists before we even got to
this phase of construction!
Welcome to Arlington Designer Homes’ newest GREEN project! I hope that we can use this project to help guide people who might be interested through the green home building process. We have the fortune to be building two unique, new single family homes, side-by-side, in Falls Church City. One of these homes has already been sold; one is FOR SALE.
When you decide to use green building methods to construct a new home, the process should be started as soon as possible. From lot selection to floor finishes, nearly every decision you make will impact the home you are building and could potentially affect green aspects and efficiencies that you want to incorporate into your home. We’ve found that to minimize stress and headaches later on, it’s best to start thinking about green building at the very start of the design and construction process.
Our current green homes are being built in Falls Church, VA. Falls Church City bills itself as "Tree City USA", and the city government has taken some extraordinary measures (which some say far exceed the city’s legal rights), to protect trees.
Also, this area of Virginia is protected by some of the most far-reaching land protection measures in the country. These measures were enacted to protect one of our greatest natural resources, the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (CBPA) governs everything that we are able to do on any lot inside the designated area.  The CBPA  limits clearing and grading, proscribes runoff protection measures, and includes canopy calculations that guide planting trees after construction.
So, as soon as we selected our lots and began looking at home design with our clients and our architect, we had to make sure that we would be able to comply with the strict environmental protection measures mandated by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and by Fall Church City.
After months of discussions with Falls Church, and lots of good  back-and-forth with our arborist, we were able to come up with some solutions to make sure we would comply with all relevant regulations and protect the environment – and trees! - during the construction process. One thing that we are doing to recycle materials and preserve site conditions is to mulch all of the organic material possible into the soil and leave it onsite to act as root protection for existing trees. This green practice not only improves the soil condition, but also reduces the amount of waste that needs to be trucked off site and then either re-purposed or disposed of.
Throughout the construction process we are incorporating a systematic approach to re-using and recycling our construction materials. We sort all materials on-site in different locations in order to re-use smaller pieces of lumber, rather than cutting an existing 8' 2x4 for a 2' block. This not only reduces the amount of waste we produce but it also reduces the overall costs of the project and increases the overall efficiency. Once we have pre-sorted the material, we contract with an offsite company that hauls off the material and recycles up to 90% of all of the waste we produce. Since we started this practice we have cut all waste hauled off site by half!

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