Posts Tagged ‘sustainable homes’

A Tale of Two Green Homes

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Deltec’s Green Building Coordinator, Leigha Dickens, finds that any project that successfully transforms from dream to reality is going to have to accept some compromises between competing environmental concerns. Says Dickens, “Green home projects are often guided by one of two very different general philosophies, each with their separate focus on what it means to be a truly green residence.” And though the means to get there may differ, the common theme in both of these philosophies is low energy use.

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Deltec’s Best of 2013

Friday, February 14th, 2014

It’s official—2014 is off to a gallop here at Deltec, with every indication that this will be our busiest year since 2008. But 2013 was no slacker year either! We’ve gone through our files and selected, for your enjoyment, the projects that took us to places full of fun and beauty, as well as the biggest, the smallest and the most unusual. We’re not your average prefab home builder, and our list reflects the variety and individuality of our homeowners.

Most Eco-Friendly Home: 1st Renew Collection Home
Fall of 2013 saw us celebrating the first home sold from our new line of high performance and net-zero homes, The Renew Collection. This sleek Ridgeline model will be built in Virginia in the spring of 2014. Our homeowner chose our signature double stud wall for maximum R value, the most efficient choice for high performance homes. The Ridgeline was also our most ‘vetted’ home—both the son and the daughter of this homeowner are LEED professionals and, after careful scrutiny of the plans, gave their seal of approval for mom to purchase a Renew Collection home.

The Most DIY / Smallest Residential Structure: 2-Story 300 sq ft Hampton model = 600 sq ft
Located near Appalachian State University in Western North Carolina, this 600 sq ft tiny home is a work in progress. The shell was built almost completely DIY by our newlywed homeowners, with plenty of help from family and friends.  Said newlywed husband Zaak, “The main reason we chose Deltec was the affordability, but the unique design, customization options and the ability to construct it without professional help were all important factors as well.” Zak and a crew of 8 put the walls up without using heavy equipment. Everything else was done by Zaak and his father, with some assistance from their wives.  We say, “What a way to start a marriage!”

Most Extreme Location: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Brrr, what do you choose when you are going to build your home in the city that holds the record of the coldest capital on the planet? Winters are long and harsh in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and last about seven months, with -40°F a common occurrence. The subarctic climate means both day and night time temperatures fluctuate within a wide range even in the arc of a single day—in spring and summer, they can range daily from 23°F at dawn to  86°F in the afternoon! Deltecs proven resistance to temperature extremes played a large part in the decision to build with us. Floor plans will be finalized soon and the homes will ship before summer’s end 2014. You might even say we went back to our roots with these clients, since Deltecs were inspired by yurts! Our Mongolian guests recently visited our plant facilities, as well as several Deltec structures.

Most Exotic Use: Ten Hampton Models for a Resort in Gabon, Africa
Ten Deltec Hampton models will serve as individual bungalows in a resort community. At 300 sq ft each, they are the perfect size for independent, exotic vacation bungalows, each featuring a bedroom, sitting area, bath and kitchenette.

Most Unusual Deltec: Rotating B&B ‘Around the Sea
Intriguing, indeed: Our first rotating Deltec home was built on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Homeowners Steve and Stephanie Arnold had plans to construct a round 5,000-square-foot Deltec home for use as a bed and breakfast. Shortly before the design process began, Steve approached us with the idea of a rotating home and thus began our journey to create the world’s first rotating bed and breakfast. Deltec partnered with E Rotating Structures to adapt their 35-ton steel rotating platform to fit the round Deltec structure. After months of collaboration and design efforts, Steve and Stephanie were ready to take in guests in July 2013. Now, from an app on his iPhone, Steve can rotate his bed and breakfast 360-degrees, giving every suite an opportunity for an ocean view. A full rotation takes about 45 minutes. It’s so smooth and quiet, you can’t even tell it’s moving!

Most Amazing Staircase: Unique Spiral Staircase
The home that shipped to Gabon, Africa is sure to give you a severe case of staircase envy. The beautiful 14 foot diameter Half Turn stair, made of 100% Sapele (sa-PEE-lee) Mahogany, was handcrafted by Unique Spiral Stairs. The process time for this stair was over 14 weeks! It was shipped assembled (with the exception of rails and balusters), fully sanded and ready for installation in an open-to-below Deltec Windsor model, still under construction.

The Biggest: Over 6,000 sq ft of Energy Efficient Living
As is often the case with homeowners who build in an isolated area, these homeowners aimed to create a welcoming haven that offered plenty of space for relaxed living, including areas for both their preferred activities and work. A 2-story Vista (5,000 sq ft total) featuring an open-to-below window array on the front of the home blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor, bringing the panorama in.  The east wing will lead directly into the master bedroom on the first floor, which has it’s own deck. The west wing is all about work, with the inclusion of a mudroom with washer and dryer between the garage and the main house. The homeowners have cattle, so also planned for plenty of storage space for tools in this wing, with an office just around the corner.  Another consideration in choosing a Deltec home was their inherent energy efficiency, as well as our sustainable manufacturing methods.
This home also boasts the most coveted feature: the east wing will have a lap pool with a spa connected to it!

Top Foreign Location for Deltec Sales: The Caribbean
Bahamas and the US Virgin islands tied for the top Caribbean locations, and that’s not surprising, considering the climates and severe weather patterns. Our homeowners were sold on Deltec’s proven record of hurricane resistant homes, which is repeatedly put to the test every year in tropical locations such as these. If you were building in a hurricane prone area, wouldn’t you want a home able to stand up to category 5 hurricanes?

Most Recreational: Two Summer Camps
Both Camp Tekawitha, in Alabama, and Upper Missouri Ministries Camp & Retreat Center, in North Dakota, chose to go with Deltec for their design flexibility and energy efficiency. Camp Tekawitha built a Monterey with wing for a chapel and dining hall+meeting room. Upper Missouri Ministries chose the same Monterey, building two with wings for chapel and dorm space.

Most Educational: Francine Delany New School for Children
With the addition of this 2,500 sq ft Vista model, Francine Delany New School for Children brought their campus total up to three Deltec buildings. Buffy Fowler, Principal and one of the founding members of the school, says they chose Deltec for their extreme flexibility and sustainability, while project architect Robert Todd says, “On the market today, in my opinion, a Deltec structure for a school is the most effective solution to provide a quality learning environment for the kids. Our experience has shown we can deliver a stronger, more efficient envelope , with abundant natural light using Deltec. We can build with a shorter construction period and lower costs than any other method.”

Best ‘Rebuild’: Jersey Strong in a Deltec
It only takes losing your home to a hurricane once to know you need to build it better. These homeowners chose to build a Deltec home to replace the traditional home they lost in Hurricane Sandy because of our tried-and-true record of never having lost a single home to high winds of any kind, thanks to our inherently aerodynamic shape, and our special high wind construction package. They also wisely decided to put their Deltec Sierra model on pilings, a safeguard against high water should they find themselves in another storm of such epic proportions. (Not pictured.)

Top banner, clockwise from top left: The Most DIY / Smallest Residential Structure; Most Eco-Friendly Home: 1st Renew Collection Home; The Biggest: Over 6,000 sq ft of Energy Efficient Living; Most Recreational: Two Summer Camps; Most Educational: Francine Delany New School For Children; Most Unusual Deltec: Rotating B&B ‘Around the Sea’;  Most Exotic Use: Ten Hampton Models for a Resort in Gabon, Africa; Most Amazing Staircase: By Unique Spiral Stairs. Footer photos, from the left: Top Foreign Location for Deltec Sales: The Caribbean; Most Extreme Location: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Our Mongolian visitors toured our plant facilities and model home, as well as a local school.

MSN Takes Note of Deltec Homes

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Saving the best for last,, in  a recent article about contemporary yurt-like homes, dedicated space to photos and information about Deltec Homes.

Today’s yurt is generally not the pack-and-carry variety devised thousands of years ago on the Central Asian steppes by Mongolian and Turkic nomads. Rather, today’s yurts in the U.S. and in Canada use modern engineered materials. Indeed, their best features are being incorporated into permanent homes that are not meant to be moved.

Enter Deltec Homes: manufacturer of circular, yurt-like structures, sustainably manufactured, energy efficient for the homeowner, and boasting a not-so-incidental track record against hurricanes. In fact, since Deltec began manufacturing homes in 1968, they’ve never lost a Deltec to a hurricane—a distinct advantage over more tent-like structures and other yurt-like homes.

As points out, round homes are also popular due to their design flexibility. A Deltec has no load-bearing walls, leaving the homeowner complete freedom in designing the floor plans.

Find out more at

Go for the “Real” Green

Friday, October 19th, 2012

by Leigha Dickens, Green Building Coordinator, Deltec Homes
and Brenda Cooke, Communications & Creative Media, Deltec Homes

Greenwashing— v, the act of using green marketing to deceptively promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Whether it is to increase profits or gain political support, greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion to support otherwise questionable aims.

green wash paint canIn 1962 Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring marked a major milestone for the sustainability movement. Over the next thirty years people began embracing the idea of choosing greener living options, and ‘green’ went from a simple color concept to a mainstream lifestyle choice. It didn’t take long for marketers to catch on—and ever since, “greenwashing” in advertising has become a nuisance you practically need a pesticide to fight against.

The construction industry is certainly not immune: from window salesmen claiming to bring you 50% energy savings with new windows to building companies claiming to be “industry leading” merely by providing insulation values that are already required by building energy code, “greenwashing” can come at hopeful homebuilders in many forms. Tristan Roberts, editor of the industry-respected Environmental Building News, details nine types of greenwashing common to the green construction industry in a great blog post at Building

Greenwashing misleads customers and that’s wrong in itself, but the bigger problem is that it undermines the real efforts of truly sustainable products. At best it contributes useless noise to a serious conversation, and at worst it allows companies and consumers to continue to dodge responsibilities for environmental externalities. It can also quickly become a bandwagon, but a bandwagon based on marketing and hype in the place of actual substance. Amid all of that noise and hype, even well-intentioned and legitimate green product developments can feel marketed in a greenwashed way.

And consumers are starting to notice. The publication AdAge states in their Sept. 24 issue “While 93% of consumers say they have personally changed their behavior to conserve energy in their household, they’re becoming less willing to pay more for green products.” Greenwashing has become such a wide-spread a phenomenon that The Federal Trade Commission has stepped in with a revised Green Guide, released October 1 2012, which will result in increased regulatory scrutiny of marketers’ environmental benefit claims.

TerraChoice, a division of the Underwriter Laboratories who certifies all types of products for consumer protection, maintains an informative website on how to spot greenwashing, and issues a comprehensive greenwashing report every few years. Encouragingly, what they’ve found in the most recent report is that while greenwashing is a significant problem, it is also a problem that is beginning to decline. Savvy customers are pushing back against false claims, and companies are listening. And many companies who start to wade into “this green stuff” for marketing reasons stumble into real sustainability along the way.

Our response at Deltec to a growing critique of green claims? Bring it! From the homes we build clear down to the method in which we build them, we are green straight through to our core, and have been since our beginnings in 1968. The difference in “genuine green” means looking at the environmental sustainability of practices we follow in our everyday operations. It means evaluating the “greenness” of our products on many environmental fronts, not just picking the one aspect that is green and ignoring other negative environmental implications. It means going above and beyond what building codes and environmental laws require, not touting simple compliance with regulation as something that is praiseworthy. And it means educating our customers about the way construction interacts with environmental issues in all kinds of ways—from ozone-depleting refrigerants and what truly constitutes “industry leading” insulation levels to understanding what it means to be free of volatile organic compounds. The kind of education we do daily with this blog and with our green department consultations with our customers.

Most importantly, a genuine quest for sustainability means being honest, introspective, and humble. It doesn’t mean being 100% free of any environmental impact in everything that you do—because it may be impossible to mitigate environmental harm on every single level—but it does mean asking tough questions and constantly striving to improve upon the sustainable steps you have already succeeded at implementing. In short, learning by doing.

Core Green Design Part 1: the “Pretty Good Home”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Recently over at Green Building Advisor, a great resource for green building knowledge, there’s been a hot discussion around the concept of building a “Pretty Good House.”

Now at first glance, that sounds like a bad deal. Don’t we want to live in a house that’s more than just “pretty good?” Yet the idea behind a “Pretty Good House” is to provide a new type of roadmap for building a green home, one that focuses on cost-effective and common sense energy and durability performance, rather than trying to build to the exact requirements of a green building certification.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that green building certification programs like LEED or Passive House are wonderful, well-thought out ways to create a building with reduced environmental footprint and lasting value for the homeowner, but they aren’t for everyone. Certification means that a widely-recognized green label gets placed on your home—but it also means extra cost in certification fees, and building to a checklist of requirements that may not have the flexibility to match everyone’s budget or design constraints. By contrast, a “Pretty Good Home” is a home that doesn’t certify but that incorporates those green building and energy efficient features that made sense to the project and were cost-effective, enabling homeowners who don’t have the flexibility or funds to go all the way to a Passive House the opportunity to live in a house that functions well and has a reduced impact on the environment.

Since it isn’t a certification, but rather an idea, green building professionals across the country have been given the opportunity to weigh in on what green strategies define a “Pretty Good Home” in their particular climate. Recently, some of my suggestions for a “Pretty Good Home” in a North Carolina climate–what building scientists often refer to as a “mixed-humid” climate–were featured in a follow-up post at Green Building Advisor. Whether you’re building a home that aims to go all the way to Passive House standards or one that merely aims to have some Pretty Darn Green features, these are the most important green strategies that I recommend to customers building in a climate that is cold in winter, warm in summer, and humid for a good portion of the year.

1. Passive Solar design
2.Insulation values exceeding minimum code requirements
3. A “right-sized” home that incorporates outdoor living space
4. Solid heating and cooling system design
5. Smart water management

In follow-up posts on this blog, I’ll go into each of these design principles in more detail.

Deltec Homes Appears On Planet Green TV

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Build Green. Live Green. Deltec Homes builds innovative, sustainable homes that work with nature not against it.  Every prefabricated round home that Deltec custom builds is inherently green, saving not only energy, materials and labor costs but the planet as well.  Deltec is committed to a greener world. In line with this philosophy, Deltec has started a new campaign on Planet Green beginning Monday August 29,2011.  To see a preview of the campaign, watch the video below and look for us on Planet Green TV on your local cable network.

Why Save Water, and How

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Water is one of Earth’s most precious and basic of all resources; utterly essential for life. As the population increases so does our use of water, and natural freshwater sources such as lakes, rivers, and aquifers, are increasingly being depleted faster than nature can refill them. According to the UN, inefficient use of water is one four factors contributing to current and projected water stresses throughout the world.

Thankfully, it is also the most fixable. When building a sustainable home with Deltec, it is easy, and yet essential, to keep good water-saving practices in mind.

The colors on the map above indicate daily domestic water use per person, while the numbers in each state represent projected population change. A finite water supply combined with a growing population and with high domestic water use means water conservation will become more and more essential in assuring sustainable water resources and equitable access to water.  Source: US EPA, WaterSense

When outfitting your new Deltec with faucets, toilets, and showerheads, the Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier than ever to make water-efficient choices with its new WaterSense program. Similar to the Energy Star label on energy-efficient appliances, products earning the WaterSense label use significantly less water than average fixtures of the same year and type, and compared to water fixtures of old, can save each person thousands of gallons a year.

Selecting appliances can also be done with water-use in mind, as many are not aware that the Energy Star label for dishwashers and clothes washers also takes into account the water use of the appliance. Frontloading washers are a popular and especially sustainable idea, using much less water and wringing more water out during the washing process–making the energy-hogging dryer’s work that much less.

Powerful water saving strategies can be incorporated into the design of your Deltec as well. Locating your hot water storage tank on the same side of your house as common locations of hot water use, such as kitchen sinks and showers, reduces the distance that hot water must travel and thus the amount of time one must wait, after turning on a faucet, until hot water arrives.

Clustering bathrooms near each other helps makes proximity to your hot water source easier. Since even extremely efficient fixtures can waste as many as 7 gallons while waiting for hot water, thinking ahead about your home design can equate to considerable yearly water savings.

Water down the drain also equals energy down the drain, as long pipe distances allow hot water to cool off before it reaches you. Of course, if you really want to save the on energy costs of heating water, you could install a solar hot water heater from Deltec, and provide most of your hot water needs with free energy from the sun.

Many Deltec owners find additional opportunities to incorporate water efficiency into their daily lives with systems like rain barrels or even “gray water” recycling. Rain barrels allow you to store the rainwater coming from your gutters, and gray water systems collect the drain water from kitchen and bathroom sinks, all saved for applications where water need not come from our precious drinkable supply.

Up to 56% of summertime residential water use in the United States goes to lawn and landscaping irrigation, so using saved water for this purpose is a winning idea. Doubly sustainable is landscaping with native plant species, already adapted to the rain conditions in your area. Reducing your need for irrigation plus honoring and enjoying the plants which already thrive around you helps to you tread especially lightly on the earth.

Want to know more? Here’s some helpful links: Water Sense, UN Water Facts

It’s Always Sunny at Deltec

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

In 2007, Deltec Homes installed the largest privately-owned solar electric array in North Carolina on the roof of our manufacturing facility, helping us achieve the goal of building all our homes with 100% renewable energy.  While the honor of the largest system has since changed hands, we are proud as our system continues to make electrons flow day in and day out.

How many electrons is that, you ask?  Simply click here to see our power production live.  You can explore how much electricity is produced each hour or each day here at our plant.  And perhaps you can even imagine whether the skies are cloudy or clear.

Whether you’re new to Deltec or your home is being built next week, we invite you learn more about how sustainability is at the core of our company.  As always, Deltec’s green building department is available for any questions you have about the sustainable attributes of the Deltec Home and beyond.  Feel free to call us at 1-800-642-2508 or email us.