Kimberly Bonin of Bonin Architects named BNI Member of the Year for Second Year - October 14, 2011
October 14, 2011 New London NH- For the second year in a row, Kimberly Bonin was voted Member of the Year of the Lake Sunapee Region Chapter BNI (Business Networking International). Over 200 members from BNI Chapters throughout New Hampshire attended the awards dinner October 6th at the Castleton in Windham, New Hampshire where Mike Roberts, BNI New Hampshire Executive Director, presented Kim with her award. The Member of the Year Award recognizes a BNI member for their exceptional leadership skills, attitude, attendance, quality of referrals, and contribution to the growth of the chapter.
Bonin Architects wins 2nd National Dream Home Award - July 2011
Bonin Architects is pleased to announce our Cottage Renovation on The Point, Pleasant Lake, New London, NH, won a Silver Award in the 2011 Dream Home Awards. The property, part of an area on Pleasant Lake known as “The Point”, has been a popular family vacation spot since the 1950’s. Our clients bought one of the properties containing two cottages, one with a beautiful natural beach and one on the stone wall point. The later was taken down in order to open the lake view and some of the materials salvaged for reuse in the beach cottage renovation. The renovated cottage now serves as a three-season gathering space for visiting family and friends with lakeside access and wonderful views.
Master Planning of the lot for a future primary residence was also completed, accounting for CSPA lot coverage, setbacks and storm water management.
The Awards honor trend-setting products and technology from the past year, and are given to professionals who have helped take the home building industry to a new level. (Click here to view this project)
Bonin Architects Wins NH Home Builder Association Cornerstone Award - April 7, 2011
Bonin Architects was presented with a Bronze award at the Annual Cornerstone Awards sponsored by the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of New Hampshire’s (HBRANH) Sales & Marketing Council for our cottage renovation project on Pleasant Lake in New London, NH.
The awards ceremony was held at the Center of NH / Radisson Hotel in Manchester. Over 103 awards in 51 categories were presented. For more information on the awards and a full list of the winners, visit the association’s website or their Facebook page.
(Click here to view this project)
Jeremy Bonin Named to New Hampshire's 40 Under Forty - February 4, 2011
Jeremy Bonin, Lead Architect and Principal Partner of Bonin Architects & Associates, is included in New Hampshire Union Leader's "40 Under Forty", an annual honors program that highlights some of the state's best, brightest, and youngest individuals.
The 40 honorees were recognized March 8th by the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Union Leader in a reception sponsored by Citizens Bank.
ABOUT JEREMY BONIN, by Nancy Bean Foster: Creating homes that enhance the lifestyles of his clients while keeping a keen eye on energy efficiency is a challenge architect Jeremy Bonin is happy to face. But when the work day is through, he directs his energies to helping kids find ways to help others. Bonin, is the owner and lead architect for Bonin Architects and Associates in New London, which he runs with his wife and business partner, Kimberly. While growing up in Newport, R.I., Bonin discovered his love for architecture in high school. “I took some drawing courses in high school and found that I was always drawn toward buildings,” Bonin said. “I could envision things in 3D and could see how a building could come together from the inside out.” Bonin followed his vision to Wentworth Institute of Technology where he studied architecture, then went on to secure practical experience at several firms in New England. Bonin also incorporated his respect for the environment into his work by becoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified through the U.S. Green Building Council. Bonin said his LEED training helps him design homes that are energy efficient and sensitive to the environment. He tries to incorporate a common-sense approach to efficiency while designing homes that meet each family’s specific lifestyle. “Working in New Hampshire, I get to know my clients on a personal level,” he said. “I want to design a home based on their needs and how they live.”
Bonin Architects wins multiple Awards for Cottage Renovation
AIANH Excellence in Architecture Awards & NH Home Builders Association Cornerstone Award
AIANH Juror's comments: "Understated, simple, cost effective renovation. Excellent use of limited space. Restrained and authentic in use of materials and details. In some ways, this is the most appealing project.... maybe it speaks to the desire for simplicity in all of us."
Bonin Architects' Lakefront Cottage Renovation was awarded both a Merit Award and the People's Choice Award at the 2011 AIANH Excellence in Architecture Awards Ceremony in Manchester, New Hampshire held on January 22, 2011 and a Cornerstone Award from the NH Home Builders Association at their ceremony held April 7, 2011. (Click here to view this project)
Kimberly Bonin of Bonin Architects named BNI Member of the Year - September 16, 2010
September 16, 2010 New London and Portsmouth, NH- Kimberly Bonin, of Bonin Architects & Associates, New London, was named the Member of the Year of the Lake Sunapee Region Business Network International Chapter.
"Kim was selected unanimously by the members for this recognition and we congratulate her on this most deserved honor. By developing meaningful relationships with our local quality business professionals, she has earned the distinction of passing the most referrals which generated much valuable business to chapter members in a stalled economy. These relationships have proven to be a real asset to us all as she has successfully matched the wants and needs of her clients and friends with skilled professional vendors who have excellent reputations in the community,” said Deane Geddes, of Sotheby’s / New London Agency and President of the Lake Sunapee Region BNI Chapter.
The Member of the Year Award recognizes a BNI member for their attitude, attendance, quality of referrals, and contribution to the growth of the chapter. Bonin was presented with the award at the BNI Regional Conference awards dinner in Portsmouth. Almost 200 members were present to honor directors and members from New Hampshire, Maine, and Western Massachusetts at the Regional Conference.
About Kimberly Bonin:
Kimberly Bonin is a Principal Partner and Project Manager of Bonin Architects & Associates, a national architectural firm licensed in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. In addition to the Lake Sunapee Region BNI where she serves as a Visitor Host, Kim is a member of the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce, the Timber Framers Guild, and Parent Links, a support group for parents who have children with Autism or Social Cognitive Issues.
Bonin Architects wins National Dream Home Award - July 12, 2010
This vacation home in Lincoln, New Hampshire recently won a Silver Award in the 2010 Dream Home Awards. The 4800 square foot vacation home was chosen for its creative architectural design elements, creative site solutions, and exterior and interior appeal as well as its quality of design, livability, sustainability and the ability to provide a healthy and nurturing environment for the owners.
The Awards honor trend-setting products and technology from the past year, and are given to professionals who have helped take the home building industry to a new level.
(Click here to view this project)
Jeremy Bonin winner of Timber Frame Guild Design Competition
If you are planning a trip to Montana, be sure to plan a visit to see Missoula's Silver Park, a 14 1/2 acre park along the Clark Fork River (right) in the city district. Missoula engineer Jennifer Anthony, who has a passion for everything related to timber and timber framing, came up with a great idea to have three timber bench shelters built for the park. The Timber Framers Guild, always ready to be involved in community efforts, held a design competition for the shelters. Three winners from the 34 design entries were announced and include a design submitted by Jeremy Bonin. Of the three winning designs, the Guild chose Jeremy's design to be the featured project of a five-day workshop in September 2008 because it gave participants "an excellent opportunity for honing their skills in compound joinery". The other two winning shelter designs were also constructed and brought to the Silver Park site.
What to Expect When You Are Renovating, Kearsarge Magazine April 2012 - by Jeremy Bonin, Bonin Architects & Associates
Renovating or adding to an older home to incorporate amenities such as increased living space, updated kitchens, appliances, bathrooms or even an entire home remodel may seem daunting. Begin by defining your wants and needs, write them down on paper, amend them over time, and take notes on how you live and use the spaces in question.
When you feel you have your ideas and vision well defined, consult a professional. As this may be your first or second renovation project, it most likely would be an architect’s 40th, 60th or more. Let their experience save you both time and money. Here are a few ways architects can help.
Architects know how to work with old homes. The design will not originate on a blank sheet or paper (or blank computer screen); the starting canvas is your existing home. If your home is like many typical New England homes, this won’t be the first addition or remodel either; perhaps there are drawings, so check with the local building department or even the previous owners. If no drawings exist, your architect will properly document the existing spaces affected by the addition or remodel, as both the design and construction will require them. Homes are complicated and this can mean multiple visits to verify dimensions, structure, plumbing, and a myriad of other building components. In older homes, the documentation process may be longer due to walls and floors that are not straight or plumb, or intricate woodwork and moldings to be saved, salvaged or duplicated.
Architects realize design is a process. Considerations of your family’s current and future needs, energy conservation, budget, schedule and many other facets will be reviewed and revisited many times during the design process. The architect will begin sketching out your ideas and bringing to life in drawings the vision of your remodeled home. Traffic patterns, air flow, light and the aesthetic of the home will be explored. For instance an overly large addition could overwhelm your house, detract from its character, or inadvertently make a once bright, sunny room dark and uninviting. Sketches, renderings and 3D computer models will help you visualize these aspects of your project throughout the design process.
Architects will plan on contingencies. Budget for unanticipated problems; older homes commonly have unexpected difficulties “hidden” within the walls. Wiring that doesn’t meet code may require upgrading or dry rot within key structural elements require placement; both may not be seen until walls are torn down. Your design professional will anticipate and account for as many of these issues as possible during the course of the project; however, planning for a 10 to 15 percent cost contingency is a wise choice.
Architects will help build your team. Your project could take as little as a month or as long as a year. You will be working, sometimes on a daily basis, with your architect and contractor; you should feel comfortable and trust them as they will be working in your home. Research, meet and check the references of your selected design professional(s). Do they typically handle this type and size of project; are they local, qualified, properly licensed and insured; and do you find their work appealing? In many instances an architect can assist you in contractor selection, looking for the same qualifications outlined above.
Architects understand the steps. Once you have selected an architect, the design process will begin in earnest. Preliminary pricing may be obtained during the design or, if the contractor is selected, pricing may be established at milestone points during the process. Once the design is complete, final pricing will be determined and a contract prepared. The drawings prepared by the architect become a part of the contract, which should indicate what work will be completed, how long it will take, types of materials that will be used, and the quality and finish of the project.
In most towns a permit is required before you make changes to your home. Each town or jurisdiction may define, differently in many cases, the extent or size of the changes for a permit to be required. The permit process is to assure local building codes and safety regulations are met. If you live in a historic district or a development, a separate application and permit process may be required to ensure exterior modifications meet with neighborhood or historic guidelines. Your general contractors and/or architect will usually take care of the permit and applications- and remember these come with costs as well.
Try to enjoy the process. In many cases this will be your only remodel or renovation and, when it is complete, you should be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your investment. A good team, professionalism in all aspects, honesty and dedication to quality service and product will reward you at every turn. A home is our shelter and escape from the busy world around us; it should feel inviting and meet our needs every day.
Why Build a Timber Frame, Timber Home Living - April 2012 - by Sara Brown
It’s not just the beauty of the wood that makes people fall in love with timber frames. It’s the energy efficiency.
In a world where “efficiency” seems to be nothing more than a building buzz word, timber homes truly embody what it means to be effective when it comes to creating a comfortable and cost-effective home that’s mindful of the environment.
Jeremy Bonin, a principal partner and lead architect at Boston Architects & Associates in New London, New Hampshire, explains this concept further:
“When I meet with new clients, I typically describe a timber frame as the visible skeleton of a building. I ask them to visualize a 12-foot-long wall; with conventional construction that wall has 10 2-by-6 studs, each acting as a small post. The insulation is then incorporated between each of the structural members, allowing for thermal bridging at each stud and lowering the cumulative R-value of the wall,” explains Bonin. “In a timber home, on the other hand, large SIP’s (structural insulated panels) are applied to the exterior of the frame, almost eliminating thermal bridging and providing a more airtight structure.”
(For the entire article, pick up your copy of Timber Home Living)
Bonus Points, Timber Home Living - April 2012 -by Sara Brown
When it comes to buying and building homes, today’s homeowners are not only looking for more living space but also ways to make that space work as efficiently as possible. An easy – and cost-effective – solution: the bonus room.
Often used as a playroom, exercise space, home office or in-law suite, a bonus room can be finished when you first build your home or added on whenever your budget allows. Bonus rooms can be located in any area of the home but are often incorporated over a garage because they can be easily and inexpensively designed into the existing trusses.
“In many cases, we place guest bedrooms or en suites above a garage,” explains Jeremy Bonin, principal partner and lead architect at New London, New Hampshire-based Bonin Architects & Associates. “The space affords guests and homeowners alike a sense of separation for privacy and added comfort for extended visits. In some instances, we even place a kitchenette and other basic amenities within the space for maximum functionality.”
According to Bonin, the biggest challenge when building over a garage is making sure the space is conditioned appropriately. Although you may be able to completely shut down the room’s heating and plumbing when dormant (in many cases, as much as months at a time), you’ll still want to make sure the space is designed to be comfortable and functional when it is in use.
First, think about insulation. “Insulating the floor from the garage below is paramount, as many are not heated,” he explains. By incorporating deep floor joists beneath the bonus room’s floor, you’ll give yourself plenty of room to install a level of insulation in the space between the floor and the garage underneath.
Another important challenge when designing any bonus room or home addition is addressing your local building codes and egress requirements. “In many areas of the country, travel through an open garage, to the upstairs space is not permissible,” says Bonin.
(For the entire article, pick up your copy of Timber Home Living)
Design Details, Timber Home Living - October 2011
While many home-design firms like Bonin Architects in New London, New Hampshire, don’t have a catalog of stock plans to choose from, they do have an arsenal of design elements that work well in any timber home. Principal Partner and Lead Architect Jeremy Bonin shared a few of his favorite spaces to consider incorporating in your home design.
“While not necessarily typical, a wine cellar is an easy way to splurge a little in your space. Quite often they occupy a corner in the basement where we can use two cool exterior concrete foundation walls to assist in keeping the room at the proper temperature. Many wine rooms require little to no thermal conditioning but this, of course, is subject to the clients’ preference for temperature stability, humidity control and the actual location of the room in the basement.”
“The open great room / dining / kitchen area is a common theme in almost every home we design. The kitchen is the hub of activity in every home, whether it’s for a retiring couple who entertain friends and family, or a couple with children. To accommodate this trend, we try to be creative with the structural systems to reduce the amount of interior posts in the home,” says Bonin.
Great rooms with open lofts are a good design idea because they partially separate the living space while still maintaining a connection to the main living areas of the home. “In many cases we place home offices or reading spaces within the loft, as they are remote enough to offer the separation needed for concentration yet not completely isolated from the remainder of the home,” explains Bonin.
“Bath, powder rooms and vanity spaces are becoming smaller, with clean lines, more contemporary finishes, surfaces and cabinetry,” says Bonin. “This aesthetic allows them to be easily maintained, as well as giving the smaller space a larger feel thanks to limited accessories and design distractions.”
Mini Cabin Fits Eight, Small Room Decorating magazine - Fall 2011 - by Barbara Ballinger
When Jeremy Bonin, AIA, was hired by a couple with a 1.6 acre, heavily wooded lot on the shores of Pleasant Lake in New London, New Hampshire, he was given a plum assignment: design a large vacation house for a multi-generational family to move into within the next decade. He also was asked to completely redo one of the two vintage lakefront cottages so the family could use it immediately.
Though the cottage is tiny, Bonin made it suitable for 3 season living by making both exterior and interior changes. He designed and constructed a portico at the front to provide a covered entry, added a 7’ x 20’ screened porch at the back to extend the living space (and provide a place to escape from the area’s black flies) and designed a walkway near the front that winds to the back of the house. In addition, he refurbished windows and turned a lower-level area into covered storage for boats.
The interior of the home required skillful planning, since it consisted of only one big open area and a bathroom. Bonin exposed the 15’-high ceiling, in the process creating space for a sleeping loft. He made most of the first-floor level into a big living room. To provide storage without constructing closets, he designed open units with cubbies for stashing clothing, sheets, towels, and beach gear. For the kitchen area, Bonin efficiently arranged apartment-sized appliances along two walls. Shelves holding necessities were left open to make the work area seem larger and provide decorative appeal. In the living room, a sectional provides ample seating and extra sleeping space, and a movable cart doubles as a dining table. The cottage’s one bathroom fits a luxurious stall shower. Throughout, the original floor was refinished. One advantage of redesigning a small space, Bonin says, is that people can opt for higher-end furnishings and finishes than they might be able to afford if their total space were larger.
Recycling a Lakeside Cabin, Upper Valley Home Improvement Guide - Spring 2011 - by Laura Jean Whitcomb
Cottage owners are masters at making do with what they have. It’s the key to managing two households, one in the city and one on the lake. Gerry and Sheri Weber of Winchester, Mass., are your typical lakeside cottage owners – but they’ve taken the idea of repurposing materials to a new level: their New London, N.H., lakefront cottage looks brand new, but it really isn’t. The Webers reused as many materials as possible in the renovation of their cabin, including resurfacing or painting the existing walls and floors and repurposing all salvageable items.
In the early 1900’s vacationers would travel to New London to stay at “The Point” – 11 private waterfront cottages with a gorgeous view of Pleasant Lake.
“We have a house in Elkins,” says Sheri. “As long-time weekend residents, we realize how important it is to maintain the character of the lake. The Point Cottages have been part of the fabric of Pleasant Lake for a hundred years.
For the year or two the land was on the market, all of us in the area wondered what it was going to become.
” It’s easier to design something new, but Bonin Architects was ready for the challenge of reusing materials.
“Designing something with new materials is relatively linear and clean,” says Jeremy Bonin, lead architect and principal partner of Bonin Architects & Associates in New London. “The process of working with a site and building as they exist always presents unique challenges and opportunities for creativity dictated by necessity.”
Although preservation, restoration, adaptive reuse and repurposing all had a hand in the process, the first step is “the design itself – the investigation of existing conditions; the collaborative creative process of design professionals and owners; and the continued partnership of owner, builder, and architect throughout the construction,” says Bonin. “All bring about exceptional results, even in a small project such as this.
” The design removed interior partition walls to open up the view to the lake, and removed a portion of the ceiling to create a cathedral ceiling. “A sleeping loft was created from the remaining portion of the ceiling,” Bonin says. The result is a wide view “over the new entertaining kitchen, bath and entry.
” With such a small footprint – and the possibility of many family members using the cabin at once – Bonin knew that “storage was essential. Built-ins and open shelves were incorporated into as many locations as possible,” he says. Shelves in the kitchen are tucked over, and between, appliances. One wall in the great room is made up of cubbies and closets, with additional storage room under a bench.
The renovation used mostly salvaged framing lumber, T&G boards, flooring, doors and windows. “Many of the original casements were salvaged, repaired and repainted prior to placement in new locations, and a few were rotated 90 degrees to become ‘new’ awning windows. Several of the original indoor doors were reused for the basement storage as well as the door to the outdoor shower. Floors were resurfaced and finished as were the interior walls and exposed exterior framing and horizontal siding,” says Jay Tucker of Old Hampshire Designs in New London.
The Webers used a found woodstove and other accent pieces, such as the kitchen sink base, to compliment the project’s intent. “Whether we build or sell to someone who would eventually build their dream home, we wanted to be able to take/re-use as much of the furnishings and fixtures as possible,” says Sheri. She uses the sink as an example. “The base can be repurposed as a table with different top. The farmers sink could be re-installed in any home. The island, which was formerly an industrial cart, is not built in, neither is the bench near the cubbies. All can be used at another location.”
“The care and thought invested into this project by the Webers was astounding,” says Kimberly Bonin, principal partner. “They considered future use in site planning, historic precedent and were considerate of the delicate nature of a lakefront property.
” Although the building is seasonal – it is un-insulated and there’s only the wood-burning stove for colder mornings – the Webers are pleased that the cottage gives them an extension to their house down the street. “It allows us to have all of our family, friends and extended family around without feeling crowded,” says Sheri.
But don’t expect to see them sitting in the cabin, enjoying the lakeside views and calm breezes drifting through the reused and repositioned windows and doors. “Our main reason for getting the property was for the dock space,” she says. “We absolutely love the flexibility to take the boats and kayaks out whenever we like. We love our evening ‘chardonnay cruise’ around the lake when it is quiet and we are the only boat on the lake.
” They also love that they’ve preserved a part of history. “We are hoping what we did is exactly what the community would have wished for,” Sheri says.
Selecting an Architect to Design Your Home - September 9, 2009 - by Jeremy Bonin
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Green Home Guide
Picking the right person to design your green home is an important first step. A successful green project begins with the relationship between the homeowner and the architect. Understanding what an architect is capable of bringing to a specific project helps to define the relationship.
The role of the architect is not just that of a designer. The architect is often the owner’s representative and primary point of contact, providing services such as project administration and management, bidding and contract negotiation, and construction administration. Building codes, life safety codes, zoning and environmental impact issues are researched and interpreted for your specific project. An architect can even offer assistance and representation at public hearings when required. Add the tasks of coordinating other consultants (landscape architects, engineers, and interior designers, for example); managing the project budget, bidding, and cost analysis; coordinating materials selection; and ensuring documentation, and you can see there is an obvious need for a strong, trusting relationship between owner and architect.
Sometimes the most difficult step is not selecting an architect, but finding several appropriate ones to choose from. The architecture firm you select should reflect your vision, understand your goals, and be familiar with the type of project you are building. The American Institute of Architects offers search options online to find local architects by criteria such as distance from a selected zip code, services offered, and building type. LEED Accredited Professionals can be located through the LEED Professional Directory. The Internet is a valuable resource that allows you to research the history of a firm, read its mission statement, and learn more about the qualifications of principal firm members. Word of mouth from builders, contractors, and other industry professionals can also steer you in the direction of a firm that will meet your needs for a green home.
Before you select an architect, carefully consider your project idea. As the homeowner, you bring the desires, aspirations, and resources to see the project to fruition. The architect provides the vehicle to develop and manage the project from idea to paper and from paper to reality. Take your vision of the project, define it, and evaluate it; then discuss it with prospective firms to gauge their level of interest in your specific project type. Visit prospective architects’ offices or have them visit your site if possible. Speak to the architect about your budget and construction time frame. Ask to see a portfolio of completed projects and to visit projects both completed and under construction. Finally, ask for names of previous clients you may contact for testimonials, as they will describe not only the end result (your green home) but the firm's quality of service during the design and construction process.
Another item to consider is the size of the architectural firm—some are sole proprietorships while others have upwards of 100 employees. (The average firm has close to 10 employees.) Residential projects may be handled by any size firm, but more often it is the sole proprietor or the average-sized small firm that works to the client's advantage in this type of project. The size of the architectural firm does not ensure success. Be sure to meet the people with whom you will have day-to-day contact and who will be directly responsible for your project.
Speaking with the architect and project team will ensure that the chemistry is good for what sometimes can be a project spanning a year or longer. If the architect has preferred consultants, ask for a list of those firms as well. Confirm that sufficient staffing will be available to meet your anticipated schedule. The more research you conduct and the more professionals you meet, the better.
A successful project is the homeowner's and architect’s end goal. Choose an architect in whom you have confidence and who you feel will ask the right questions to bring your priorities and vision to light. The result will be an efficient home that will limit negative impact on the environment, and that your family can enjoy for years to come.
Why you should hire an architect - by Jeremy Bonin
Designing and building a home is a new experience for the majority of homeowners. Simply defining the project can be a daunting task. Hiring an architect to work with you is one of the best first steps to take. The architect is the owner’s representative, always keeping the owner’s vision, needs and desires in mind. Both the architect’s and the owner’s primary goal is a successful project. The foundation for a successful project is one where the client’s vision of the home and the anticipated budget are met in a timely manner with as few problems as possible.
Architects and architectural firms offer a wide array of services. Most common are the design of the home, preparation of the bid documents for pricing of the project, and preparation of the construction drawings and specifications for the contractor(s) to build the home. In addition to these services, architects offer site analysis & studies, assistance in zoning & planning, environmental impact studies (wetlands & shore lands), project administration, construction management, bidding & contract negotiation, consultant coordination (engineers, landscape architects, etc.), sustainable or ‘green’ design integration or other specialty design services.
‘Green’ or ‘sustainable’ design is an increasingly important design practice. In general terms it can be considered a way to reduce, negate or even reverse the negative impacts that the construction of buildings and their use and maintenance have on the environment. Strategies for doing so can be as simple as selecting more locally available materials and using materials high in recycled content. Other methods may address the construction type itself: for example, building a tighter, better insulated home using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) or higher performing alternative insulation methods. Technology offers options for heating domestic hot water, space heating and power generation with the use of solar collectors and photovoltaics. No matter the degree or methods selected, any choice that improves the impact that the building will have is an improvement worth pursuing.
Bonin Architects & Associates offers all of the above mentioned services plus the additional specialty design services and knowledge of Timber Frame, Structural Insulated Panels and Green Design. With over eighteen years combined experience between BA&A’s partners, designing, bidding and managing the construction of your home is our specialty, no matter what construction method is used. In some cases, our clients start with us prior to the selection of their property and most continue with us through-out the construction process. We believe in building more energy- and resource-conscious homes with a focus on efficient design and integrating economical green solutions whenever appropriate.
A special thanks to Jeremy Bonin for this insightful and informative article. Building a log home is a huge undertaking and getting expert advice such as this can save time and money. ~ Tom, Editor
Mapping the path to an environmentally friendly home - by Peter Lobred
Timber Homes Illustrated - September 2008
Just getting started down the path to sustainable design is half the battle. Jeremy Bonin can help. With his wife Kim, they are the principal partners of New London, New Hampshire-based Bonin Architects & Associates, an architectural firm not only focusing on post and beam homes, but on green and sustainable design as well.
For Jeremy and for consumers, perhaps it’s not surprising that timber frame and sustainable design are often intertwined. Timber home owners seem to possess an inherent desire to showcase nature, and to do their part in giving back and living responsibly. Jeremy has witnessed this firsthand. Here, he discusses the different terms associated with his specialty, the starting points for consumers, and the long-term environmental benefits of designing small.
Timber Homes Illustrated: What’s the distinction between the terms “sustainable”, “green”, and “energy efficient”?
Jeremy Bonin: I find “sustainable” to be one of the most interesting terms to discuss. In its everyday usage, it most commonly means to design in an ecologically conscious manner. Yet “sustainable design” or “sustainable construction” is only a milestone in the design and construction process for our future; sustainable only means that we cease to damage our environment and that we may continue on our current path without negative effect. The ultimate goal is to restore damages that have been done; to being a regenerative process in our building efforts.
“Green”, “energy efficient” and “sustainable” all imply some decision to incorporate an effort in the design and construction process to improve the negative impact construction and a building’s life have on the environment. “Green” and “sustainable” are blanket terms commonly used to address issues ranging from sensitive site design, materials selections from local sources, alternative energy-efficient construction types, and alternative energy, heating and cooling options. All of the previously mentioned items, plus many more, address topics such as water usage, energy or power consumption, indoor air quality and rapidly renewable material and construction resources.
“Energy efficient” may more specifically refer to the home’s energy consumption. A home’s energy usage is primarily heating and cooling. Appliances tend to be the second largest draw now that incandescent lighting is giving way to compact fluorescents, LEDs and other lighting options.
THI: What is the first thing you tell customers who are seeking to learn more about sustainable design and energy-efficient or green building?
JB: The simple solutions are generally the most effective and cost efficient. This applies to so many aspects of the design of a home; the first, quality of space over quantity of space truly does have a great impact on the livability of a home. A well-designed, efficiently planned home will address all of the same programmatic requirements as a larger home, yet will cost less to heat and maintain over its lifespan, as well as offer more to the family in terms of comfort, warmth and shelter.
Second, building a sustainable or energy-efficient home should start with keeping whatever energy is expended in heating and cooling in the home. The shell or envelope of the home is where to address this.
The third aspect, no matter what you choose to do in terms of sustainable options, is to remember to start with the simple solutions. For example, while photovoltaic panels (PVs) are great and the allure of producing your own electricity is strong, if you haven’t situated the home properly on the site to maximize solar gain for both day-lighting and passive solar heating, you are spending a substantial amount of money to produce electricity while you are wasting electricity or a fossil fuel to light and heat the home. Daylighting and passive solar heat are free - they need only to be considered while designing the home.
THI: What elements of sustainable design are surprises to consumers?
JB: Perhaps the duality of the choices available. So many sustainable options seem simple and uncomplicated, while others do not. The concept of day-lighting for example is ancient, yet it can be done incorrectly and is climate specific, so the designer must account for many variables. Another example is the use of certain materials: though you might use a rapidly renewable resource such as bamboo, the use of that material in the U.S. can be questioned due to the enormous amount of fuel used to transport it to our continent. Researching, comparing and selecting the differing options can be quite time-consuming and challenging.
THI: What are some basic considerations— or the most crucial elements— that consumers/architects can incorporate into their plans for sustainable design?
JB: Always start with the simple solutions; they have the highest return on investment. If you can build less square footage than originally intended without sacrifice to the program, then less future costs will be required in maintenance or energy usage. Passive solar design, regional materials and a more efficient building envelope are the best places to start as well.
THI: What resources do you suggest for readers who want to learn more?
JB: The web contains so many resources for materials, technologies and manufacturers. It’s amazing! Start with web sites such as the United States Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org), AIA (www.aia.org), BuildingGreen.com, and the EPA’s green building site (www.epa.gov/greenbuilding). From any of these, you can find links to a limitless amount of information. If you prefer books, there are countless options.