Green building that’s low in greenbacks |

Green building that’s low in greenbacks

Adam Jensen
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily TribuneSteve Hodgkins of B.C. Masonry uses Deerhill flagstone around a fireplace in a home being rebuilt in the Angora burn area.

“Sustainable” and “affordable” are two words that people looking to build a green home usually don’t hear in the same sentence, but a local builder hopes to change that during a presentation this week.

“The biggest thing that I kept hearing was that it was too expensive,” said Geoff Clarke, a certified green builder and owner of South Shore’s Natural Energy Designs Inc.

Clarke plans to present five floor plans using insulated concrete forms (ICFs) at an “environmental open house” Thursday, each with construction costs starting at $198 per square foot.

ICFs are rigid plastic-foam forms that hold concrete in place during curing and remain in place afterward to serve as thermal insulation for the walls, according to ToolBase Services, an online housing-industry information service.

The forms have attracted interest as an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional construction methods for several reasons, including energy efficiency and construction-waste reduction.

Price per square foot will increase if modifications to the five plans or a custom home is desired, Clarke said, but he hopes the plans will show people that building green doesn’t need to be overly expensive.

“I think once they see we can make it affordable, there will be a lot more people interested,” Clarke said.

The idea of an open house to promote green building was developed with El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago.

“Supervisor Santiago envisions this event as a comprehensive look at opportunities for sustainable landscaping, reconstruction and recovery, primarily in the Angora area, but hopefully for everyone who is considering creating a fire-safe and environmentally friendly community,” according to a news release from Santiago’s office.

During the open house, Susie Kocher from the University of California Cooperative Extension also will outline an effective revegetation plan for property burned by the Angora fire.

Representatives from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Lahontan Water Quality Control Board, Radon at Tahoe, South Tahoe Public Utility District, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, California Tahoe Conservancy, Community Disaster Resource Center, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, and the Angora Reconstruction and Restoration Center also are scheduled to be on hand to answer questions at the event.

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