Recycling Construction Materials

Sustainability and green living is becoming more evident in homes and workplaces. It’s one thing to create a green finished product; it’s just as important to make the construction process environmentally friendly. 

Construction & Demolition Materials

Many of the materials used in construction can be recycled. Construction & demolition (C&D) waste comes from building and tearing down houses, buildings, roads, and bridges. C&D materials can be recycled in the following ways:

  • Concrete rubble can be reused in new projects. 
  • Wood can be recycled into mulch, compost, animal bedding, wood pellets, and more.
  • Gypsum drywall can be recycled into new drywall, in the production of cement, and as an additive to composting operations.
  • Asphalt can be recycled an endless number of times, as it never loses quality.
  • Metals can be sent to metal scrap yards and reused.

Additional materials that can be recycled include glass, cardboard, and paper.

Many C&D materials can be reused. During a demolition or remodel, items that can be reused in new projects should be removed carefully before tearing anything down. Items that can be reused include:

  • Doors
  • Hardware
  • Appliances
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Windows
  • Brick and masonry
  • Excess insulation
  • Paint
  • Packaging materials 

Benefits of Recycling C&D Materials

In 2015 alone, 548 million tons of C&D debris was created, with 90% coming from demolition, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling construction materials has both environmental and economic benefits. 

When recycled materials are used, the consumption of natural resources is decreased, saving energy. By reusing materials, less waste goes to landfills. Since landfills are filling quickly, it often costs more money to dispose of materials than it does to recycle them. This can help to reduce the building project expenses. 

Whether recycling of reusing materials, planning is essential to fulfill rules and regulations. Local recycling centers, landfills, and waste departments all work with construction companies to reduce waste and achieve green building practices. 

 

What is daylighting?

“Look at those windows!”

It’s a line people often say when in front of wall-to-wall or floor-to-ceiling windows. When paired with a spectacular view, like at the Residences at 66 High Street, it’s no surprise that people love grand windows. Large windows have more benefits than highlighting beautiful views, however. Continue reading to learn what daylighting can do for your home or office.

When builders use windows and skylights to light up a home or building, it is called daylighting. This process requires careful planning, but when done correctly, it has benefits for both residential and commercial properties. 

How does daylighting work?

For daylighting to work to its full potential, window placement is critical. The correct placement allows the right amount of natural light to enter each room, without excess heat or glare. 

In the United States, windows facing South and North are best. Windows facing South let in ample light during the winter months, and little direct sun in summer, when too much direct sunlight creates too much heat. North facing windows let in an even amount of natural light with little glare. 

East and West facing windows are not ideal for daylighting. East and West facing windows let in plenty of light in the morning and afternoon, but along with that comes glare and excess heat, which is especially cumbersome in summer months. 

Enlarged windows, glass doors, and strategically placed skylights optimize natural lighting from the sun.

Window Technology

With the advancement of window technology, daylighting is becoming more common. 

In the past, a wall of windows meant drafty winters and stuffy summers indoors. Now, windows are insulated, which helps to keep interiors cool in summer and warm in winter while providing loads of natural light. 

Tinted windows can be used to help reduce the glare from the sun. Electrochromic windows, or smart windows, go one step further, changing the darkness of the tint with the brightness of sunlight. Electrochromic windows have a variety of control options, which include an automated system or user control. 

Benefits of Daylighting

In buildings and homes with daylighting, windows and skylights provide most of the light you need, so overhead lights are not often necessary during the day. A light-colored ceiling enhances daylighting even more. 

When electricity is not being used for lighting, utility costs go down. In commercial buildings, where lighting accounts for a significant portion of electrical energy consumption, daylighting saves both energy and money. 

In addition, daylighting creates a more comfortable atmosphere both at home and at work. Sunlight boosts positive moods and increases productivity. This is particularly helpful throughout the winter, when shorter days means people have fewer chances to be outside during daylight hours. 

Daylighting fulfills the needs of some of the top needs in residential and commercial buildings: sustainability and employee health. Where would daylighting benefit you most?

5 Tips to Prepare for a Remodel

You’ve met with your contractor, set a budget, and are excited to see the vision for your updated home come to life. 

Now you have to live through the remodel. 

Remodeling your home is a thrilling venture, especially if it is something you have been working towards. Knowing the changes you want is the first step, and it is exciting when construction gets underway. If you plan on living in the home while renovations are taking place, you need to prepare for life in a work zone.

Here are some tips to make the construction phase as seamless as possible. 

Prepare Emotionally

By preparing mentally to live in a home that is being remodeled, you will ease into the mindset needed. There will be a certain level of mess (after all, things are being ripped up and put back together), noise, and workers entering and exiting. Find a contractor who communicates clearly and plan extra time outside or visiting loved ones. Remind yourself that though things may get hectic, it is just a phase!

Pack Up

Pack up your belongings as if you are moving. This helps the workers, as they will not need to work around any of your things. This step will also be beneficial to you because the space you are living in will not be overcrowded. Keep your essential items, and put the rest in storage.  

Establish Living Zones

Where will you be spending your time when you are in the house? Decide how you can repurpose the rooms that are not being worked on to help you live as comfortably as possible. Perhaps the master bedroom becomes more like a studio apartment, with an area for sleeping and a space for a living room. If your kitchen is being remodeled, set up a countertop with a coffee maker, small fridge, microwave, and toaster oven for use at home. You will need to be creative when creating living zones, but it will help make the transition easier. 

Seal the Work Zone

Work zones are full of dust, construction materials, and tools. If possible, make a separate entryway for construction workers, and tape off the work site from your living space. 

Prepare to be Flexible

During a remodel, unforeseen issues may arise. Your contractor works to make sure everything runs smoothly. Plan to communicate with your contractor regularly, so you understand the progress of the project. This way, if a surprise does pop up, you can calmly decide what your next step is. 

Renovations do not have to be extremely stressful, but they do require preparation, communication, and flexibility. Are you ready to complete a remodel?

Drop Ceiling vs. Open Ceiling

Ceilings can change the look, feel, and even energy costs for a space. In commercial buildings, drop and exposed ceilings are the most common ceiling types. Keep reading to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

Drop Ceilings

 

A drop ceiling, also called a suspended ceiling, is what typically comes to mind when you think of ceilings in an office space, retail store, or school classroom. The drop ceiling is not a part of the structural foundation of the building. Instead, it is made up of panels or tiles that hang below the roof. 

Drop ceilings have been used for many years due to these benefits:

  • The panels conceal all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) installations. 
  • Panels can be easily removed when the maintenance of an MEP system is required.
  • Suspended ceilings provide an extra layer to block exterior sounds, which is especially beneficial in multi-floor buildings.
  • The drop ceiling creates a smaller space to be heated or cooled, reducing energy costs and making it easier to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

Of course, the design of drop ceilings doesn’t come without disadvantages. Here are some things to consider with drop ceilings:

  • Drop ceilings lower the ceiling, making the room feel smaller. 
  • Panels can sag over time and will show stains from water damage or discoloration.
  • While suspended ceilings conceal MEP systems, they also hide any issues that may arise.

Even with the disadvantages, drop ceilings remain a popular option because they cover MEP installations while providing easy access, and help keep energy costs low. 

Open Ceilings

The industrial look is gaining more popularity in both residential and commercial spaces. One way to easily attain this style is with exposed, or open, ceilings. With exposed ceilings, all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing installations are exposed. 

Here are some of the advantages that come with exposed ceilings:

  • The additional space of the exposed ceiling creates a vast and open feel in the office or retail area.
  • Exposed ceilings have a modern aesthetic appeal. MEP systems can be painted or customized to become design elements, and there is more room for creativity with lighting fixtures. 
  • There is also the option for more natural light with exposed ceilings, either with skylights or large windows. 
  • With exposed systems, MEP maintenance is easily attended to.

The industrial look is no doubt an appealing design, but open ceilings have disadvantages as well. These include:

  • Without the barrier of panels, sound travels and echoes with exposed ceilings. There are options to create a sound barrier in spaces with open ceilings, though this requires additional planning and labor. 
  • The additional space means there is a larger area to heat and cool, raising energy expenses. 
  • There is more work involved to make MEP systems attractive enough to be aesthetically pleasing. 

Although exposed ceilings can raise monthly costs, the modern design is eye-catching and creates a spacious feel. 

Which ceiling do you prefer: drop or open?

Inside the Residences at 66 High Street with Designer Maryellen Sullivan

It was an easy decision.

Four years ago, Interior Designer Maryellen Sullivan was asked to help design units at The Residences at 66 High Street. The development would break ground around the corner from her own home, and she immediately knew she wanted to assist in creating a community as distinct as the town of Guilford. 

“When I got involved, I felt it was important to help make it the best that it can be. I want the level and quality of it to be something that can be maintained throughout the years,” Maryellen explained. 

During those initial stages, Maryellen worked with us at The Horton Group to select materials and elements to attract people and remain timeless over the years. 

She continues to move forward with this vision in every unit she completes.

The Old and The New

The Residences at 66 High Street masterfully blend historical features of the town with brand new luxury design. The Mill Building was the first to be renovated. Initially built in 1884, the Mill once made everything from lollipops to torpedo switches. 

The Mill at the Residences at 66 High Street

Many of the original features, including antique brick, steel, exposed beams, mill trusses, and refurbished factory lighting remain in the units. These unique features allowed Maryellen to be creative when designing each residence, pairing the industrial elements of the building with luxury finishes to create functional living spaces.

“As a designer, I’m seeing things years ahead,” Maryellen stated. “No matter the style, there is still a range of what will be relevant in five years.” 

In every unit she completes, Maryellen selects home finishes that have staying power. With the rustic elements inside the Mill Building, it was essential to highlight the uniqueness of each living space, while ensuring the finished product would outlast a trend. 

The Leete, The Whitfield, and The Chittenden (currently being constructed) are new buildings with an entirely different style than The Mill. These modern luxury units feature thoughtfully laid-out open floor plans, high ceilings, crown molding, and high-end finishes. 

The Leete at the Residences at 66 High Street

The beautiful architectural features and an abundance of windows allow the incredible views of the marsh and Long Island Sound to be a central feature. In these units, Maryellen works to ensure the living space is laid out seamlessly, so residents feel like they are part of the exquisite landscape. 

Up next: Unit 27

As one of the two residences left in The Whitfield Building, Unit 27 is Maryellen’s current project. With each new space, her goal is to create a unique unit that fits with the rest of the building.  

How is Whitfield unit 27 going to stand out among the already completed units?

It begins with the floor plan. All residences have the highly desired open floor plan in the main living areas. In unit 27, Maryellen is working to create more defined spaces that naturally flow from one area to the next.

“I wanted to design a floor plan that is unique to itself yet as dynamic as the other units,” explained Maryellen.

Inspiration for Unit 27

For materials, Maryellen is mixing elements to create a fresh look. Classic mahogany instead of rustic wood used in The Mill, brass and gold fixtures, and the contrast in flooring and cabinet colors are creating a unique kitchen. 

The unit also has incredible geometric fixtures that give it great style. 

“In my mind’s eye, it looks awesome,” Maryellen says. “I hope when people walk in, they will see the qualities that highlight it as fresh.”

Working at 66 High Street

While Maryellen is continually inspired by the features and views at 66 High Street, she is most impressed with the community. 

Having lived in Guilford for more than 20 years, Maryellen feels a deep connection to the town. As new residents move into 66 High Street, she watches at how fascinated they become – not just of the luxury development, but of how special the shoreline town is. 

In turn, the people who live in the Residences are uplifting downtown Guilford in new ways. 

“66 has built a community that is changing the town. It is breathing a new energy: it’s a refreshing outcome to see how it is branching out into the community and the town center,” she said. 

What is an HVAC Zoning System ?

Have you ever been so cold in one room of your house that you jack the heat up, only to realize the rest of the rooms are now too hot? Or is one person in your family continually turning the AC on high and freezing out everyone else?

HVAC systems heat and cool an entire house, but a single thermostat can make it challenging to maintain a comfortable temperature for every room in the house.  HVAC systems controlled by one thermostat have just that – one thermostat. This means that it only reads the temperature in the room it is located. If the thermostat is in the main living areas, it can lead to the upstairs being too warm, or a room next to the garage too cold. 

In a home with varying degrees throughout the house, a zoning system may help to solve the heating and cooling issues. 

How an HVAC Zoning System Works

An HVAC zoning system uses multiple thermostats, a control panel, and dampers in the ductwork to regulate airflow. The thermostats read the temperature for different areas of the house, and the control panel takes those temperatures and signals the dampers. From there, the dampers either open or close, depending on if that room needs heating or cooling. 

Comfort at Home

In the heat of the summer and during winter’s freezing temperatures, it can be difficult to find a temperature where everyone in the household is comfortable from all areas of the house. Some people like it warm, while others prefer cooler temperatures. With a zoning system, each person’s preferences can be accommodated for different areas of the house. 

For houses with multiple levels, large windows, or rooms that you prefer to be cooler (like a workshop or home gym), zoning reads and maintains the appropriate temperature for each area. 

Sustainable Energy

There are usually areas in the house that are used less frequently than in other areas. With three to four different zones, you can avoid overheating or overcooling rooms that are not in use. The efficiency of zoned HVAC helps to lower your monthly bills, lengthen the life of your system, and decrease the amount of energy used in your home. 

The added comfort and energy savings you can achieve by installing a zoning system is worth considering, especially if you have already taken care of any air leaks and insulation issues. To determine if HVAC zoning is a good fit for your home, work with a certified HVAC contractor. 

 

Advantages to Finishing a Basement

Basements are excellent for storage. But that doesn’t mean basements need to remain dark and dingy. Remodeling the lower level of your home increases living space, can add value to your property, and is energy efficient. 

More Living Space

If you love your house but feel cramped, or you want another area where you can get some privacy, a remodeled basement provides more living space. The best part of refinishing a basement is that you can be as creative as you want. Since the essential rooms are already on the upper levels of the home, you can utilize this extra space to create a dream room.

A dream basement might be a playroom for children, so you don’t have to look at toys in the main living room. It could include a fitness area, game room, home theater, or a home office that is secluded from the rest of the house. Whatever you wish you had the room for upstairs can become part of a finished basement. 

Potential to Add Value to Your Property

You may already know that kitchen and bathroom renovations generally have the best return on investment. But a finished basement can also add value to your property. By setting a budget, and working with a contractor who knows zoning laws and regulations for your area, you can create a space that adds value to your house. 

A finished basement may add value if it includes:

  • An additional bedroom. In smaller homes, a third or fourth bedroom in the basement may attract more buyers.
  • Additional bathroom. If your house has just one bathroom, adding another one can be a good return on investment. If the basement provides the space for an additional bathroom, it is a good idea to include in your renovations.
  • Income unit. An in-law suite or rental unit could also be designed for a basement remodel. This would need to follow zoning and safety regulations, so check with your contractor to ensure it is possible for your home. 

Energy Efficiency

Cold air can leak in through the basement, making a house feel drafty. Energy Star recommends sealing air leaks in both the basement and the attic in order to decrease this cold airflow and save on energy bills. When renovating a basement, check to make sure there are no gaps around pipes or electrical lines. This is also the time to make sure the basement is insulated properly. 

When thoughtfully designed, remodeling a basement has many benefits. What does your dream basement include?

 

Signs your Commercial Space is ready for a Remodel

Your office sets the tone for your business. The physical space you work in each day can either add to productivity and climate or detract from it. Just like your home, an office needs to be well-maintained and updated throughout the years. Below are five signs that it’s time to remodel your commercial space. 

Employees are Distracted

Employees spend a large portion of their day inside the office. The work environment should cater to their comfort and productivity. Elements like green space, collaborative meeting areas, and an efficient floor plan can help set the tone for a dynamic office.

If employees are dealing with issues such as poor lighting or a leaky faucet in the bathroom, they will become distracted from the tasks at hand.  In short, the office should assist, rather than get in the way of employees’ work. Even seemingly small issues are a signal to consider remodeling. 

Outdated Technology

If the technology in the office is outdated, chances are everything is obsolete. Any technology being used by employees should keep up with the demands of their work. Determine what is proficient and upgrade the rest. 

No Space

Are you squeezing in more people and furniture into the same space your business started in? Businesses grow over the years. It can get quite uncomfortable working if you feel crowded. Take a look at the current floor plan to determine if you need to rearrange the space, expand, or move into a new office. 

Deterioration of Furniture

Depending on how many people use the furniture in the office will signal how long it will last. From couches to desks to chairs, make a note of the condition of the furniture. 

Meetings take place Outside of the Office

When you schedule meetings with prospective clients or employees, do you invite them to meet you in the office or a nearby coffee shop? If you are not proud to welcome people into your office, it’s time for some upgrades. 

Once you decide it is time for a remodel, the possibilities for a modern and productive work environment are endless. 

 

Steel: A Sustainable Construction Choice

Steel is one of the greenest materials in construction. With a high recycling content and an industry committed to reducing emissions, steel surpasses other construction materials in regards to sustainability. 

Steel in Construction

Steel has always been a popular choice of material. Steel framing is used in Type II-B construction because of its strength and durability. When framing out a building, steel is lighter than a structurally sound wood frame, and because steel is pre-engineered, it cuts down on time needed to build.

In addition, steel is flexible and can be molded into almost any shape. The non-combustible material has a long lifespan, combined with the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any construction material. This gives steel the ability to withstand all types of inclement weather.

Steel Manufacturing

Steel is made of iron, one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Even though iron is plentiful, the steel industry continues to work toward sustainable practices. Manufacturing plants use steel scrap to make new steel, which helps to conserve energy and resources. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, the industry has reduced energy intensity by 31% per ton of steel shipped, and emissions by 36% per ton of steel produced since 1990. 

Recycling Steel

Steel is one of the most widely recycled materials on the planet, with 80 million tons of steel recycled in North America every year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. All steel can be recycled, and because it is magnetic, it is quickly sorted from waste at recycling plants.

Recycling steel does not affect the strength and durability that is crucial to building with the material. This allows steel to be recycled an unlimited number of times without compromising the product. 

Due to its strength and sustainability, steel is a natural choice in our building developments, where we utilize Type II-B construction. 

 

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