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btw Winter 2013




Green Holiday Gifts from the government Cash-saving incentives to upgrade your home

PLUS Eco New Year The tools you need to up your game and lower your footprint

Personal Space From reading nooks to cozy dens

Making a Retreat A vacation home that’s style-wise & environmentally conscious

... and More!

Introducing the new Rheem 90% Gas Furnaces! Rheem Thought of Everything... And Then Some.

inside 4/ editor’s letter

6/ publisher’s letter


10/ c’mon get appy

28/ solid inspiration

In the hands of CustomMade furnituremaker Stephen Muscarella, old wooden objects are new creations once again.

32/ (green) home for the holidays

This season, the state is giving homeowner’s the gift of green—as in, cash in your pocket—through incentive programs designed to encourage energy efficiency.

New Year’s resolutions are looming, and these phone apps can help you be a little greener.

12/ the comfort zone

With just a few key accents, you can remodel the coziest room in your home to be a more sustainable space.


16/ support network

The age of the structural insulated panel has arrived: Here’s what you need to know about the cost-effective technology.

21/ new environment Call Today!! 1-800-628-2157 Ext. 132

Take a dated second home and modernize it, while still creating a relaxing retreat. That was the design challenge in remaking this Energy Star-rated and LEED GOLD-certified vacation house.

last words

40/ non-fition: the frackers

An excerpt from award-winning author Gregory Zuckerman’s just-released book, “The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters.”

42/ starting again

How one woman in a male-dominated industry is changing the crux of how the business of home improvement is being done.

From the severe cold of Antarctica to the brutal heat of Saharan Africa, Vantem Panels have proven themselves, providing comfort and superior energy efficiency, no matter whatclimatic forces are thrown at them. With R-values ranging from R15 to R50, using both Urethane and EPS cores, we will supply you with the very highest quality and energy efficient envelope on the market. Contact us today and find out how we can make your next project Net-Zero-Energy ready.

• • • • • • •

Vantem Panels Feature: Structural Insulated Panels Urethane and EPS Cores No CFCs or HCFCs Panels for timber frames, hybrids and structural 4 x 8 to 8 x 24 Full CAD/CAM pre-cut services Delivery anywhere in the world

For sales or estimates, contact:


from the editor Panasonic’s New Ductless Split System is More Attractive Than Ever

Breakthrough technologies such as the inverter enable the highest energy efficiency* in the industry. Thanks to this exceptional performance, you enjoy even more comfort. Heating is still possible even if the temperature drops as low as 0°F for reliable heating in the middle of the harshest winter. Panasonic’s inverter provides optimum power control and extremely efficient operation by changing the power supply frequency. The result is speedy, flexible operation using less electricity. electricit Panasonic Adding New Air Conditioner Lineup: Setting Another Mile Stone in the US Ductless Split History

**2013 MA Cool Smart Residential Rebate Up To $500 ECONAVI with Intelligent Eco Sensors

A Greener Home this Holiday The modern idea of green at the holidays has often suggested one of two things: A) pine boughs; or B) a cash influx, in the form of gifts thrown our way. Well, we like the idea of both here at B.T.W. And in this issue, we give each their due. Let’s start with the first. I’ve personally always been a fan of a more natural kind of winter decorating; I prefer white lights on evergreen to the type that look more like twinkling Crayolas by way of Vegas. But whatever your preferred aesthetic, there’s also a more general aesthetic that takes over a home during this season— one of coziness. In “The Comfort Zone,” you’ll find great ideas for livening up your personal space in the most environmentally sound way possible. And in “Support Network,” you’ll also find a wealth of information on keeping your house together from the inside out (B.T.W. does stand for “behind the walls,” after all) via the cost-effective technology that is structural insulated panels. And then there’s the second: the cash. This is the perfect time to take advantage of state incentive programs designed to encourage energy efficiency in your home. They’re the perfect excuse to upgrade your home in ways that save money and have less impact on the environment we live in. In “(Green) Home for the Holidays,” we explore and spell out all of those resources for you. And then, as an added incentive to up your eco-consciousness right in time for New Year’s resolutions, we’ve put together a list of our favorite, most helpful smartphone programs in, “C’mon Get Appy.” Consider all of it, plus so much more in this issue, our gift to you this season. Happy holidays, and happy reading!

Call Today For An Installer Near You!!

1-800-628-2157 Ext. 132

Alexandra Hall Editor, B.T.W.

from the publisher

Home Advantage

I used to make my living crawling through people’s attics. Let me assure you it wasn’t for nefarious purposes: I wasn’t a burglar or an international spy (despite the stories I tell my children). I was an energy auditor. Which means that armed with such James-Bond-like devices as an infra-red camera and a smoke pencil, I would examine every nook and cranny of a home looking for holes, cracks, separations and other pathways where cold air could sneak in, and the warm, expensive air you paid to make could sneak out. My job was important because here in New England practically every home was a “leaker.” And we could pretty quickly save the average homeowner anywhere from 10 to 40 percent on heating (or cooling) bills by filling these cracks and plugging up the holes. For that reason, I should have been the most popular guy on the block, with homeowners beating a path to my door. But I wasn’t. And I wasn’t for all the reasons you would expect: no one likes workmen tramping through their home, and while the promised savings sounded good, people didn’t quite believe us. All that changed though when the state started giving away these audits for free, and even made them mandatory before you could take advantage of all the other freebies that were being offered, like CFL bulbs, weather stripping, and insulation. That’s when my popularity began to really peak as I became the guy who knew the guy who could get you a lot of free stuff for your home. Want a $25,000 interest-free loan to replace your old heating system? Or free insulation? Call the energy auditor. I became the guy who knew about programs offering great fixes to your home for free, or nearly free. It was the only time in my life I was ever “the guy” and it was sweet while it lasted. But good things only last so long, I stopped being an energy auditor and I stopped being “the guy.” Until now, and this issue of BTW. In the pages that follow, our friend Bruce Irving fills you in on the little secrets that will make your home more energy efficient, healthier, and sustainable. And those secrets are free money from Federal, state and local government, municipalities and utilities to do things like upgrade your heating and cooling system, tighten up your home, and make your own energy. So do yourself (and your wallet) a favor by reading the article on page 32, and then call the energy auditor and start taking advantage of some these programs and free money. Happy Holidays,

Harold Simansky B.T.W. Publisher and CEO of 360Chestnut

FIRST AFFORDABLE NET ZERO ENERGY HOMES The SmartHomze Collection eliminates the second largest cost of owning a home — your electric, heating and cooling costs! This collection of five home designs range in size from 560, 750, 900, 1280 and 1700 square feet and include all material for floors, walls, roof, windows, doors, siding, porch, heating and cooling unit and a fresh air exchanger. The homeowner is responsible for kit construction, interior partitions, and finishes. Total estimated cost of kit, installation, interior partitions and finishes is about $150/ sqft. That is 25% -40% less than most “green homes” being built today! For more information: or call 802-254-3435 to speak with a SmartHomze representative.

The Anderson Family of Companies We have spent the last 60 years helping homeowners make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable through the installation of insulation systems and direct vent gas fireplaces. It is in this spirit that we now offer even more energy focused services, including solar panel installation, heating and cooling equipment, and more.


Proudly serving New England since 1949

At Anderson Insulation, we realize that there are multiple approaches to every job. We have the ability to analyze the situation and suggest not just the right type of insulation but ensure that it is installed correctly. Be it spray foam insulation, blown-in insulation or fiberglass batts, we are going to make sure that it is the right product for you at the right price.

Anderson Fireplace Anderson Fireplace is a full-service company providing installation of direct-vent gas fireplaces to create an environment that is comfortable and energy efficient. To have a better sense of the luxury we offer, visit our beautiful showroom and see our outstanding selection of direct-vent gas fireplaces, gas inserts, gas stoves, wood-burning inserts, fireplace doors, gas logs, surrounds, and more.

Anderson Home energy SolutionS At Anderson Home Energy Solutions, we are now offering a full line of heating and cooling equipment, solar panels, energy efficient hot water tanks and more to make your home not just beautiful but environmentally friendly. Great for the earth but great for your wallet as well.

Anderson Insulation 706 Brockton Avenue (Route 123) Abington, MA 02351 Office: 800-472-1717 Fax: 781-857-1054


C’mon Get AppY

By Caroline Egan

Project Noah Its like Foursquare, but for animals. If you live in a big city, this app may not be for you. But if you are not living in urban sprawl, this app lets you track the biodiversity where you live. See deer in your backyard last night? Post it! Alternatively, if you are hiking you can use this to track all the animals you saw while on your trip. Missions allow you to document sightings with other people, a particularly popular one is tracking bee sightings throughout NYC. Eco Challenge (free) Challenge yourself

New Year’s resolutions are looming, and one of the most commonly aspired to these days is to be a little greener. Maybe you want to make a small step and purchase CFL bulbs or start a small garden; maybe you want to make a bigger impact and really track your carbon footprint in order to minimize it. Smartphone apps are a key way to stay on top of those goals. All of those listed below are available in the Apple App Store and three are available on Android.

in a category that will make you think about your personal material usage. (Take, for example, cotton.) Each topic is accompanied with an info graphic about the impact of that material. The carbon footprint of conventional cotton versus organic cotton is monumental. The challenge associated with cotton is to purchase more organic cotton clothes, set a timetable for yourself, and get going.

Light Bulb Finder (free) Do you want to switch from incandescent lightbulbs to more energy and cost efficient bulbs but aren’t sure what bulb to purchase for your light fixtures and where to purchase those bulbs? Lightbulb finder does all the work for you and tells you how much money you will save in the long run by switching based on the kilowatt usage in your zip code.


Lockwood Construction is a Brookline based full service construction company, specializing in high quality restorations. Working with a team of architects, engineers and building contractors, Lockwood Construction’s approach is to dramatically lower or eliminate the use of fossil fuels currently used in homes. 617-277-6312


The Good Guide (free, available on Android)

Learn about the environmental and social responsibility of all kinds of purchases from cleaning products to toys. Simply scan your items with this app and get detailed information on over 65,000 products. The app will even show you what a competing product’s “goodness” is compared to the one you scanned. It also allows you to select the issues you care about to view products that match your values.

Fooducate Similar to GoodGuide in that you scan items to learn about them. Rather than telling you how good the company that produces the product, Fooducate educates you about what’s in the product itself. Track your eating and workout habits, and you will get a better sense of how healthy your diet really is. InBloom (free) Here’s an easy way to locate

organic, environmental, and sustainable businesses near your current location. Pick your preference (whether that’s gluten-free or vegan0 then press the button to “see goodness nearby” and get lots of businesses with ratings, maps, and more.

where in your area you can recycle. The best part is when you select a material it automatically adds it to a list and creates a local map where you can properly dispose of that material. Particularly great if you’re doing more than a just a usual bi-weekly recycle.

FarmStand (free) Find farmer’s markets in

your area, with the days and hours of operation of local farm stands. Unfortunately, there aren’t many pictures uploaded by users, but that’s where you come in. Upload photos of the fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market and show other users the beauty of buying local.

Paper Karma (free) Take a picture of your

junk mail and this app will unsubscribe you from further mailings. This actually works--talk about cutting down waste!

Recycle List (free) This app lets you choose a material category for what you want to recycle, from basic recyclables like paper to larger items like automobile parts, and tells you

When it’s time to buy, sell, or renovate your home, take advantage of Bruce Irving’s 25-year experience with houses — 17 of them as producer of This Old House. Find out what he can do for you at

617 719 2196


The Comfort Zone 5 Eco-Friendly Accents for Cozy Spaces Too often eco-friendly home design gets viewed as and major (and majorly expensive) undertaking. But with just a few key accents, you can remodel the coziest room in your home to be a more sustainable space. From organic accessories to living wall art, well-chosen pieces can green your space and stylishly enhance an interior’s theme. Read on for a few nifty ideas.

Wooden Window Blinds Eco-friendly woven treatments come in natural grasses, reeds, paper, and bamboo.


Jute Rugs

By placing a hand-spun, braided jute rug underneath your living room coffee table and furnishings, you’ll provide your hardwood flooring with aesthetic texture. Those sold at Pottery Barn are made of sustainably harvested jute, a fast-growing renewable natural fiber. The handmade rugs also have natural color variations, which enhance the organic look and feel of your green lounging space. Accent your neutralcolored flooring with furniture in a bold hue such as cobalt, ruby, or grass-green.

Organic Throw Pillows

Wooden Window Blinds

Lighting can make all the difference in setting the mood for a room. To easily transition your space from a natural reading nook into a dim, peaceful space for siestas, install wooden shades. Eco-friendly woven wooden window treatments by The Shade Store green your indoor relaxation retreat with sustainable natural grasses, reeds, paper and bamboo. Not only can wooden window blinds transform your lounging space from a sunlit oasis for reading into a darkened grotto, but wood blinds enhance the earthy and organic aesthetics of the room’s interior design as well.

Coffee Table Photo Album

Adorn your rustic, hand-scraped coffee table with a customized sustainable photo album. Using a professional photographer and the services of, you can beautifully collect your wedding day or family photos in a finely handmade, sustainable photo album. Folio Albums are made in Britain and crafted with paper manufactured from 100 percent sustainable sources. You can expect eco-friendly packaging, packaging services designed for minimal waste and carbon-neutral shipping. Match Eco Leather in hues Almond, Lipstick, Grape or London Clay to your sitting or living room’s color scheme. Also known as “follicle grain hide,” Folio Album’s Eco Leather is made using a tanning process, which converts waste products into thermal energy, thus lessening how much is disposed of at landfills.

Coffee Table Photo Album FolioAlbums. com creates finely handmade, sustainable albums from your customized photos.

Accent your couch or lounge chair with a stylish organic throw pillow that can colorfully liven up your space. Bambeco’s Pinwheel Applique Charcoal with Terra Cotta Pillow gives a bare loveseat character with its bold geometric shapes. We love the Bambeco collection, which includes Daisy Organic Pillows in orange and grey, Weave Organic Pillow and Color Wheel Pillow.

Living Wall Art

Want to dramatically transform bare wall space? Install a Living Wall Planter by Gardener’s Supply Company. describes the lush home accent as an “innovative growing system” that “graces penthouse apartments in Paris and chic restaurants in Italy.” It’s freestanding 3-D landscaping art and a Mother Nature masterpiece for your interior-design theme. The frame is crafted with cedar wood and a camouflaged watering system for feeding plants without leaks. Enhance your space with an Indoor Living Wall Planter for a green makeover—quite literally.

Organic Throw Pillows They instantly liven up a space or give a sofa character.


Looking to make your home healthier and more efficient? Want to save money on energy bills? Install a new heating or cooling system? Design a new home that is sustainable? Upgrade an existing home?

360Chestnut’s Partners Network Connect with one of 360Chestnut’s

Trusted Service Providers [in Massachusetts]

Partners who represent the most experienced and trust-worthy builders, contractors, architects, designers, real es-

Lockwood Construction

tate agents, insulation companies, HVAC

Pann Home Services & Remodeling

professionals and more. For a full list of partners:

Resynergy Next Step Living A&A Services

S+H Construction

Anderson Insulation

Bruce Irving Renovation & Real Estate

Sustainable Energy Analytics

GF Rhode Construction

EarthTech Systems

Boehm Architecture

New England Renewable Energy Systems

Flavin Architects

EnergySmart Alternatives ad energy

Meridian Associates Boston Green Realty Eck | MacNeely Architects, Inc. ZeroEnergy Design

Support Structural insulated panels have long been used in buildings, but recent building code changes and the intense focus on energy efficiency have created a new golden age for the cost-effective building technology.


Network You could say it sort of looks like an ice cream sandwich —a 4 -foot or 8 -foot wide, 8 to 24 foot long ice cream sandwich, to be exact. Except that in a structural insulated panel (known as an SIP), the filling is insulation and the crunchy cookie part is a rigid building

material like OSB or plywood. You then simply snap these pieces together to create walls, roofs, and floors. The result is a building shell that goes together in a fraction of the time of stick-built, and at a comparable price when you factor in the labor and the many trades you need to achieve the same result. But where SIPs really excel is in their energy efficiency: They have a high insulation value of for walls and roofs (generally twice the value required for walls by code and in line with the strictest building standards out there including LEED, Passive House, and stretch code). “But that is only a piece of the story,” as Dave Gauthier of Vantem Panels explains it. “SIPs keep you a lot warmer not just because


Manufacturing and storing panels (above) and the process of putting them in place on a home (below).


they insulate well but because [they] allow for the creation of a much tighter house--air leakage, one of the largest causes of heat loss, is greatly reduced by SIPs and how they go together.” That means that all that expensive air you paid to heat or cool actually stays were it is supposed to. And Dave would know. The president of the leading SIP manufacturer, Vantem Panels (formerly Winter Panels), the former timberframer built his own home by hand some 25 years ago using SIPs. And he has been involved in some of the biggest steps forward in this well-established (if somewhat sleepy) industry. Vantem, for example, is one of the few companies that offers a SIP using polyurethane as insulation. This allows for an even higher R-value for the same thickness, important to the many architects they work with who are building highly stylized, but highly efficient, award-winning homes. “We have reached a point whereby

we can create practically any shape using one of our panels,” he adds, noting their use of computer-aided design and computer-guided cutting tools. So where do SIPs go from here? “Getting the word out,” says Vantem’s Certified Sustainable Designer, Brice Hereford. Though SIPs have been used successfully for years, and every architecture student was taught about them in school, most builders and architects need a reintroduction. To that end, Brice has been spending most of his time on the road, teaching courses and informal “lunches and learns” to folks all over New England. “What I mainly do,” says Brice, “is remind professionals about the advantages of SIPs, particularly when they are building energy-efficient buildings from scratch or doing a retrofit project.” I ask them, “Why build a double stud wall that then needs to be insulated or wrapped with rigid board and house wrap not once but


frequently twice, when you can get better results, for less cost, more quickly, using SIPs?” And the future? “While we will always be doing SIPs, what we are most excited about is our new product line, SmartHomze,” says Dave. SmartHomze (featured in the last issue of BTW) is a line of net zero energy capable kit homes that bring all the benefits of SIP construction and an energy efficient and sustainable lifestyle to new homeowners everywhere. Commenting on the recent partnerships between SmartHomze and noted architecture

firms, EckMacneely and Zero Energy Design, Dave adds, “when you combine the technology advantages and ease of construction of SIPs and SmartHomze, with the talents of great architects like Jeremiah Eck and the team at Zero Energy Design, you have a real winner.” And people are starting to agree: A community of SmartHomze in Hudson, MA has been chosen as Boston Magazine’s Design Home 2014, while SmartHomze communities are now the in the planning stages from Nantucket to New York. ✪

Left to Right: A completed home with SIPS; a side view of panels; Dave Gauthier of Vantem Panels.


New Environment

Take a dated second home and modernize it, while still creating a relaxing retreat. That was the design challenge in remaking this Energy Star-rated and LEED GOLD-certified contemporary vacation house. The 2,000-foot construction—from its three bedrooms and roof deck, right down to its outdoor kitchen—is all about creating a new kind of space that brings the outdoors in. Photographs by Michael J Lee


The home’s modern exterior is composed of three forms delineated by both geometry and material. The first floor consists of the Red box, which features the kitchen, living room, breakfast nook, and the Orange Box, which features the first floor bedrooms and full bath. The second floor Cedar Box houses the master suite and study. The Cedar Box’s cantilevered placement over the orange box and its roofline optimally shade southern windows.


The owner’s environmental philosophy is reflected in the design’s commitment to energy efficiency. The building envelope consists of spray foam insulation and rigid insulation, which provides a tight wall free of thermal bridging. The home is designed for passive solar heating: the Cedar Box’s roof overhang shades southern glass from unwanted heat gains from the high summer sun, but admits warming rays from the lower winter sun. The south-facing windows in the Red Box are shaded by mature deciduous trees that provide shade in the summer and sun in the winter when their leaves have fallen.

The relationship between the orange and red forms allows for a front entry that leads directly to the lake front deck. This well-traveled path is delineated in stone for additional durability while the rest of the living spaces feature bamboo flooring. The site’s autumnal color palette inspired the vibrant red and orange façade colors while the Cape Cod location influenced the cedar siding.

The owner loves to sit outdoors in and bird watch in the two outdoor living spaces—a covered patio on the first floor and a second floor roof deck. The patio is an extension of the living room and dining room, both of which connect via large glass sliders. The second floor roof deck features a roof garden built to provide green vegetation at eye level when seated, an outdoor kitchen and grill, and unobstructed views of the surrounding treetops.



The home’s HVAC system provides exceptional performance with a high efficiency condensing boiler and radiant floor heating. Indoor air quality is maintained with an allergen filtration system and a heat recovery ventilator, which provides fresh air but minimizes energy losses by exchanging heat between incoming and outgoing air streams. Finally, the home’s photovoltaic panels offset one-third of the home’s electricity use. These efforts yielded a score of 39 on Energy Star’s HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index, which means the home uses 60% less energy than a code-built equivalent home.


The home features many sustainable materials including bamboo flooring, recycled tile, quartz countertops, fiber-cement and cedar siding, FSC-certified decking, reclaimed decking, and low-VOC paints.

ZeroEnergy Design (ZED) is a full service modern green architecture and mechanical design firm. The firm works on new construction and major renovations of green home projects pursuing exceptional energy performance.

Left to Right: Adam Prince, BPI | LEED Green Rater, Business Development Principal; Stephanie Horowitz, AIA | NCARB | CPHC, Managing Director; Jordan Goldman, LEED AP | CPHC, Engineering Principal



Solid Inspiration 28

In the hands of CustomMade furniture maker Stephen Muscarella, old wooden objects are new creations once again. Photographs by Danny Hoshino/CustomMade

Opposite page: New England native Stephen Muscarella at work. Below: A selection of Muscarella’s raw materials.

Stephen Muscarella

was itching for a change after several years spent in the corporate workforce. Countless days spent staring at a computer screen prompted him to spend his free time devoid of technology, working on his car and making furniture. The monotony of routine eventually wore thin, though, and Muscarella decided to trade in his economics degree and cubicle and go full-time with a hammer and nails. After getting experience working as a carpenter around Boston restoring old homes, the Framingham native (his mother still lives there, and his father resides in Plymouth), he set out to work in Brooklyn, New York. Without much baseline capitol, Muscarella had to be resourceful, so he began walking around the city in search of left-behind wood that he could turn into something new. Growing up, Muscarella worked in carpentry, so he already held a basic knowledge of proper woodworking techniques. The shift to working with reclaimed materials, however, required some degree of letting go of the conventional. When a woodworker goes to a lumberyard, there are pieces of wood ready to be cut to specific dimensions, but when a woodworker scours streets and beaches and a whole array of other wood-riddled areas, there really is no opportunity to be specific or picky. To that end, he rarely completes a project that starts with an exact idea and ends up replicating the original concept. He prefers to get inspiration and several specifics from the people he’s building for, and work with them along the way to make the


decision to stick to the original design, or try something new that will transform the piece. “All of my artistic creativity comes from restraint. So if I have a constraint on the problem, then that’s when my creativity starts flourishing,” said Muscarella. “If you give me a blank slate and say do something, I’m not your guy. But if I have some sort of way of taking the problem and making it better, it’s amazing how the artistic side can flourish.” While reclaimed pieces of furniture give off an artistic and rustic vibe of their own, Muscarella likes to introduce additional elements, like painted lines and torched boards to make the final piece even more interesting and varied. He continually experiments with different techniques, stretching the limits and pushing his own boundaries. And yet, woodworking isn’t the only thing Muscarella has been reshaping in the last few years. He’s also says he’s shifted his own personal perspective toward an appreciation of the simpler, yet higher quality, things in life. “Let’s buy something nice,” he extrapolates. “Maybe support someone that’s making a living off of [creating], and the world will be a better place in some manner.” ✪


Above and Below: Tables made by Muscarella from reclaimed woods.

1 billion

11 billion

25% Of CO2 production

metric tons of CO2

gallons of fuel used per year internationally

in most nations

Industrial pollution is responsible for almost 50% of the pollution present in the United States. Each year, U.S. factories:

➧Why Buy LOCAL? Dispose 275 million metric tons of hazardous waste

Spew 3 million tons of

toxic chemicals into our air, land and water

Why Buying Loc al is Worth

Every Cent

Local business generates 70% more local economic activity per sq. ft than big box retail.



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= $48


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So, what can you do to help? Choose local, independent Makers who cut down on processing, packaging, and transportation waste.

CustomMade is an online marketplace


connecting customers

Impact on Local Economy

generates a net

annual deficit

of $468 per 1,000 sq. ft.

Money spent at a local business generates 3.5x more wealth for the local economy compared to money spent at a chain-owned business.

Impact On Our Environment


who want one-of-akind creations with professional and passionate Makers of those goods. The

Local, independent Makers are much more likely to reuse materials.

59.3% said they 'Occasionally or Usually' use recycled materials and 7% said they 'ALWAYS' do.

If 1 TON

company helps people

1,400 lbs

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iron ore 2,500 lbs of is conserved

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1 billion

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120 lbs

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virgin wood.

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In 2010, 15% of wood waste was salvaged and recycled

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What can YOU do?

traditional retail

If every family in the U.S. spent an

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owned, independent business instead of a national chain,

over $9.3 billion

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between customers and thousands of Makers




who specialize in Consider making your next purchase from a local Maker to put money back into your community and help our environment.

ranging from jewelry to furniture to festive


home dĂŠcor, and Produced By

So, what can you do to help? Choose local, independent Makers who cut down on processing, packaging, and transportation waste.

lumber and wood flooring

takes 11-13 times less energy than

of coal

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hand-crafted goods, toxic chemicals into

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channels, and facilitates The U.S. transports and ships $2.2 trillion worth of products from over 150 countries every year. International shipping and transport results in:

Causes us to lose over 15 million acres of land

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In Partnership With


Produced by CustomMade, in partnership with Ghergich & Co JEWELERS & METAL-SMITHS


This season, the state is giving homeowner’s the gift of green—as in, cash in your pocket—through incentive programs designed to encourage energy efficiency.

by Bruce Irving illustrations by Liz Noftle 32


“These are the only people I know who are giving away free money,” says Tracey Litt. She’s talking about the Massachusetts Kris Kringles who are busy making every day like a holiday for anyone in the state willing to improve their home’s energy efficiency.

new bulb that best matches your desired appearance, light quality, and usage, along with the payback period, annual cost savings, bulb-lifetime savings, and annual CO2 emissions. Enter your zip code and it connects you to discounts at retailers nearby or online. If the program takes light bulbs that seriously, see what happens if you want to do more. The process starts by signing up for a free home energy audit—a technician visits your home and, over the course of a couple hours, assesses the three parts of a house’s energy use: the “thermal layer” (building shell, insulation, air-tightness); the mechanical systems that heat and cool the house and water; and lighting and appliances. At the end, you’re given a prioritized, bang-for-the-buck list of improvements and contact information for those who can do them for you. Often the lowest-hanging fruit is air sealing and insulation. Carried out by your choice of a Mass Save-approved contractor, such a job carries a 75% credit, up to $2,000. Better appliances, programmable thermostats, a new water heater? All come with rebates. Install an efficient central


air-conditioning system and get $500 back. Replace a boiler that’s more than 30 years old and, depending on the new model, up to $4,000 can come your way. “I loved the fact that Mass Save called to say that the boiler my plumber had specified wasn’t eligible for a credit,” recalls Litt, “but that a similar one, with a $1,600 rebate, was.” Some individual utilities will help with more ambitious projects. National Grid’s deep energy retrofit program subsidizes the complex process of transforming an existing house into a highperformance one. For those wanting to push the envelope and incorporate renewable energy, a different organization, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, helps underwrite residential solar hot-water, solar electric, geothermal, and even wind projects. The beauty of all these gifts is that they keep on giving. The rebates are but the stockingstuffers—the bigger presents open up to reveal years and years of cost savings. Contact the state’s Kris Kringles at for more details. ✪

See page 36 for a description of state and federal energy effeciency pro grams.


Money to make your home more energy efficent

The Program

The Offer

Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit

• Tax credit up to 10 percent of the cost of energy efficiency measures up to $500

The Federal Tax Credit for Renewable

• Tax credit of 30 percent toward the cost of a geothermal system, solar thermal or photovoltaic system, wind turbines and fuel cells with no maximum cap.

Energy Systems

• Rebates for the purchase of Energy Star certified appliances and other products.

Energy Star Rebates

• Thousands of products proving rebates from tens of dollars to thousands of dollars

Home Energy Assessment

• No-cost home energy audit • Free CFLs, programmable thermostats, faucet and shower head aerators, hot water pipe insulation


• 0% interest financing, up to $25,000 • Insulation; high efficiency heating and domestic hot water systems; window replacement

Energy Efficient Lighting and Appliance Rebates

• Discounts for CFL and LED

Weatherization Incentive

• 75% up to $2,000 for insulation

Early Boiler Replacement Program

• $1,750 -$4,000 incentives available when replacing boilers that are at least 30 years old


• $500 rebate on a central air conditioning and ductless mini-split heat pump systems

Heating Equipment Rebates

• Up to $500 rebates for gas heating and domestic hot water equipment

Commonwealth Small Pellet Boiler Grant Program

• Up to $7,000 grant for residents ad property owners who install high efficiency, low PM wood pellet boilers/furnaces

Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Program

• $3,5000 or 25% of installation costs

Commonwealth Solar II Rebate

• Base rebate: $0.40/watt DC up to 5,000 watts

• Rebates for room A/C ($25), freezers/refrigerators($20-$50), heat pump water heater ($750)

• Additional incentives available for income-eligible households

Commonwealth Wind Incentive Program – Micro Wind Initiative

• $5.20/watt with a maximum of $100,000 for design and construction of private residential use project Updated as of August 2013. Check the program website for most up to date details and eligibility.


Opportunities that can save homeowners money.

Free Home Energy Assessment, CFL Lightbulbs, and More!

Do you know if your home is energy efficient? The state offers a no-cost home energy assessment that help you identify energy efficiency measures to offset rising energy costs identify places to save money and cut back on your utility bills. They even install free lightbulbs for you!

Discounts and rebates on Energy Star® Lighting & Appliances

Save energy and money with special discount pricing on ENERGY STAR® qualified CFL, LED, and light fixtures offered through state and utility programs. Rebates are available when you purchase ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances including refrigerators and freezers.

$500 to $4,000 for Heating & Cooling Upgrades

$2000 Worth of Insulation

• Boiler replacement program offers incentive up to $4,000 when you replace your existing boiler (>30 years old) • Up to $1,500 in rebates available when you purchase high efficiency heating and water heating equipment • COOL SMART program offers $500 rebate on high-efficiency central air conditioning and mini-split heat pump system

The state currently offers an incentive of 75% up to $2,000 for the installation of approved insulation upgrades

0% interest financing available up to $25,000 for

$25,000 Interest Free Loan HEAT LOAN

• Attic, wal l and basement insulation • High efficiency heating and domestic hot water systems • Solar hot water systems • Energy STAR® Windows

We can help you take part in these programs. Contact 888-316-8540


Custom Builders

Miller Boehm Architects Eric Roth Photography

Thoughtful construction since 1972 978.263.6019 38

For readers of this magazine,

Pann Home Services & Remodeling* will give you an additional 10% off the cost of a new Navien hot water tank or boiler — up to $500. *Just tell Michael Pann, “BTW … Behind the Walls” to receive your discount.

Pann Home Services is a family-owned and operated business providing homeowners reliable service — 24/7 — for over fifty years.

Take advantage of current rebates and tax credits, and then get an additional $500 off!

Rebates and Tax Credits

Get money to replace your old hot water tank or boiler! Tankless Gas Water Heater

Gas Combination Boiler

FEDERAL Federal Tax Credit





$1,000 – $1,500

Old Heating System? You may qualify through MassSave for up to $4,000 if you replace it! Sometimes procrastination pays. If your heating equipment is more than 30 years old, the state will reimburse you up to $4,000 to replace it with a new high efficiency system. But don’t procrastinate too long, as this incentive ends October 31, 2013!

Find out how Pann Home Services can improve your home 617 864 2625 | 781 393 0300 | 800 286 5959 |


non-fiction / the frackers Award-winning author Gregory Zuckerman, Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal, has just released his new book, “The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters” (Portfolio/Penguin)—a look from all sides at the controversial drilling practice. Here’s an excerpt from the brand new book.

The wildcatters, entrepreneurs, and hopeless dreamers who took a chance on drilling in shale and other challenging U.S. rock formations have brought clear benefits to the country and possibly the world. U.S. natural gas prices, as of the summer of 2013, were about a third of those in Asia and less than half of those in Europe, thanks to surging American shale-gas production. As a result, U.S. consumers and companies are paying less to heat and cool their homes and businesses. Chemical, plastic, fertilizer, and other companies relying on natural gas to manufacture their products also are benefitting, a key reason some foreign companies are moving to the United States or building factories in the country. Expanding energy production and related activities could lead to more than two million jobs by 2020. They also could add more than one percentage point to annual economic growth over the next ten to fifteen years, while the nation’s trade deficit is expected to drop by 85 percent by 2015, helping the value of the U.S. dollar. But how much damage have the pioneers created in their pursuit of oil and gas? Is fracking as bad as activists say, and what will its impact be as drillers continue to pursue energy from shale and other rock forma­tions? The short answer: Fracking has created less harm than the most vociferous critics claim, but more damage than the energy industry contends. And it may be years before the full consequences of the drilling and fracking are clear.

One of the most dramatic accusations leveled by those campaigning against fracking is that methane—the main component of natural gas—has invaded various water systems as a result of nearby drilling, jeopar­dizing the health of local residents. One of the most frightening moments in Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary, Gasland, is when a Colorado homeowner opens a kitchen faucet, strikes a match to his tap water, and sees it explode in a fireball. The scene seems like clear-cut evidence that methane has leaked from nearby gas wells.


Zuckerman’s latest work explores the world of fracking from the inside out.

This accusation likely is overstated, however. Methane— a colorless gas that’s generally considered nontoxic un­less it’s in super high quantities—occurs in shallow bedrock. It’s been known to naturally seep into water wells and springs and has done so throughout history in various regions, whether or not there’s been any nearby gas production. In fact, three states—New York, Kentucky, and West Virginia— have towns with the name Burning Springs, a testament to this age-old phenomenon. There are times when poorly sealed wells, rather than hydraulic frac­turing, can lead to methane-filled drinking water. But that has occurred in a minority of wells, according to a 2013 study by Duke University ex­amining drilling in the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania. Critics also contend that the toxic chemicals used for fracking can enter nearby water systems, making people and animals sick and putting public health at risk. But there have been virtually no proven cases of any fracking chemicals traveling up and into water tables, and there are reasons to doubt it will happen. “I’ll take my chances on winning the lottery over the chances of frack fluid in the groundwater,” environmental engineer Radisav Vidic of the University of Pittsburgh told Scientific American magazine in May 2013. That’s not to say water quality is great in the drilling areas. It’s just hard to determine how it got that way. A 2011 Penn State study found that about 40 percent of water wells tested before drilling began failed at least one federal drinking water standard, usually for coliform bacteria, tur­bidity, or manganese. Hand wringing about earthquakes caused by fracking also seems overblown. For one thing, it isn’t the fracking process itself that may be lubricating preexisting fault lines; rather, it seems to be the disposal of wastewater by those reinjecting it into adjacent rock. To date, only small, locally produced tremors have been detected—much like with other min­ing activities—rather than huge quakes. And seismic events likely can be avoided by conducting seismic surveys or adjusting injection pressures. Still, industry members are too quick to gloss over concerns about their activities, an insouciance that has created a public relations nightmare for their business. Leaks and surface spills of dangerous chemicals used in fracking fluids have been documented, and wells that aren’t properly sealed have allowed gas and chemicals to migrate through the wellbore. Another lingering concern: Operators aren’t always required to disclose every component of the frack fluid they use, because they say such disclosure would reveal trade secrets. Since 2011, more than twenty states have begun to require the disclosure of the bulk of the components of the fluid, but the rules provide exceptions. Since the fracking cocktail can include acids, detergents, and poisonous chemicals, along with more in­nocuous materials, there’s ample reason for unease. Drilling is an industrial activity that brings intense noise, traffic, and disturbance to towns near active wells. Because so much water is used for fracking, this drilling requires even more truck trips than usual. And shale production impacts air quality, just as any oil-and-gas drilling does. Dust and engine exhaust from truck traffic is a health hazard, as are emissions from diesel-powered pumps. Silica sand, which is used in the fracking

mixture to prop open fractures in rock, can lodge in lungs, po­tentially causing silicosis. Sometimes the impact of the drilling is startling. In 2011, residents of Pinedale, Wyoming, a bucolic town of two thousand that’s near gas fields, began complaining of watery eyes, shortness of breath, and bloody noses because of ozone levels exceeding those in Los Angeles and other major cities on their worst days. “I never would have guessed in a million years you would have that kind of danger here,” said Debbee Miller, a manager of a Pinedale snow­mobile dealership. Despite these ills, and the awful image many have of the frackers, there’s actually reason to think their activity has in some ways been good for the environment. The glut of gas has sent prices falling. This has encouraged the United States to shift much of its energy consumption from coal to gas. That’s likely healthy for the environment because burning natural gas releases about half as much carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming—as coal when producing the same amount of energy. And natural gas emits far less nitrogen oxide, which causes smog; it also spews no mercury or particulate pollution, unlike coal.

In some ways, the debate about fracking is a lot of misdirected energy (no pun intended). It’s just not realistic to expect a nation still suffering from the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression to ig­nore some of the largest energy fields in the world, forgo the substantial savings that result from drilling in those domestic spots, and keep fun­neling money to Russia, Iran, Qatar, and other energy powers. A better tack is to put pressure on oil and gas producers to improve their behavior. There’s been tremendous progress already. Drillers are recycling more frack water, for example. Meanwhile, reports of contam­ination cases dropped by two-thirds between 2011 and 2012, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. But more regulation of fracking activity is needed, such as rules ensuring that well casings are set at proper depths and have tight seals, to be sure chemicals never leak into aquifers. Ohio and Texas have agreed to extensive rules regulating and testing well casings, but other rules are inadequate, even according to some major drillers. More federal rules to control air pollution from drilling are also needed. “It’s all totally fixable, but just because the problems are manageable doesn’t mean they will be managed,” says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “It’s going to take action by state regulators, industry, and citizens to make it happen.” Award-winning author Gregory Zuckerman


profile / Starting Again How one woman in a male-dominated industry is changing the crux of how the business of home improvement is being done.

By Alexandra Hall

When Stephanie Vanderbilt began her career, she was already a master rehabilitator. But not of houses—of the human ear. “For twelve years I worked with people with hearing problems,” says the petite brunette. “Students would come to me about missing certain parts of language like slang and idioms, and I would help and teach them how to interpret things more easily.” Then in February of 2011, Vanderbilt and her husband, David, started a personal project together: Coastal Windows & Exteriors, Inc. Homeowners themselves, they wanted to help other people who were struggling to understand the process of home improvement, as they had. At first, their work wasn’t particularly outside the box. “When we started, we wanted to be honest and


have integrity in all that we do,” she recalls. That work quickly started taking on the same sort of qualities and approaches that Vanderbilt was using in her one-on-one therapeutic work. “I was always taking that extra step as a teacher to really listen to what my students needs were, so I could help them, and make sure they really understood what they needed to know,” she says. “So I found myself also always taking that extra step in the business,’ too.” The results saw her working overtime to take the time to educate clients, and walk them through everything from restructuring financing and warrantees with third parties to simply making the process of repairs and replacements as seamless as possible. That level of hands-on help (“I always think of Nordstrom when I think of customer service,” she says. “If something breaks, they replace anything.) attracted enough clients that eventually Vanderbilt had to choose between her two career paths. She went with her new business, but significantly upped the ante by focusing her education and service efforts on women clientele. “That’s my passion project: to educate woman on home exterior projects,” she enthuses. She knew how and why education was important to her and many other women homeowners, but knew also knew they didn’t always have the information or background to make the best decisions for redoing their home. Whether it’s a topic like making sure your windows have proper insulated glass that meets Energy Star compliance ratings.”(“Drafty windows can cost you as much as 20% more on your energy bills”, she says) or walking through a realistic timeline of what to expect from a project, her primary goal is to help educate on products and arm women homeowners with what they need to know. Which means, largely, that her goals are as much about education and communication as they once were. “It’s about building a community where people trust you to help them,” she says. “Either you have empathy or you don’t. My mom always told me I have a gift, and that mine is giving.” Coastal Windows & Exteriors, Inc. 100 Cummings Center, Suite 236 H, Beverly, MA 01915 978-304-0495,

Eck MacNeely Architects inc. 560 Harrison Avenue Suite 403 Boston MA 02118

617 367 9696


There’s nothing like being home for the holidays.

Let us help make your home warm and cozy all winter long. Happy Holidays!

Did you know that drafty windows can cost you as much as 20% more on your energy bill? Call for your FREE home assessment on how we can help lower your energy bills and help keep your family warm this holiday season. All of our roofing, siding, windows, and entry doors are installed by licensed/ bonded experts and come with a lifetime warranty. We offer affordable payment solutions, such as 0% financing. Please contact us for more information.

May your winter be merry, warm and bright!

Contact us today to receive your

$250 gift

to be used toward any of our products.

888.812.2783 |

Profile for Harold Simansky

BTW: Behind the Walls - Winter 2013  

BTW: Behind the Walls, a magazine devoted to helping you make your home more healthy, sustainable and energy efficient.

BTW: Behind the Walls - Winter 2013  

BTW: Behind the Walls, a magazine devoted to helping you make your home more healthy, sustainable and energy efficient.

Profile for btwboston