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Tips on Green Design for Your Home: An Interview with Mike Murphy of Carpenters On the Level

By Mike Murphy

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

I am Mike Murphy, owner of Carpenters on the Level out of Tyngsboro, Ma. We are a residential remodeling company whose projects range from straight forward repairs to multi-room additions and pretty much anything in between. I personally enjoy a kitchen remodel which both adds to the value of the home and brings a lot of pleasure to those having their kitchen remodeled for many years to come.

What are the main differences between the process of green building and a regular building project?

I would say the main differences in traditional building verse green building is the materials used not only in the construction process but those chosen that will perform within the dwelling such as light fixtures, solar panels, appliances, etc. Where I primarily remodel and the home is existing, I try to offer solutions that will make the home perform better such as programmable thermostats, better (sometimes means more) insulation, tighter air loss measures such as around outlets, and plumbing chases and better performing windows.

Can you explain a little about what sustainability means for green builders and homeowners?

Simply put, sustainability is the practice of protecting our planet and resources. Any practice or measure that can be done to conserve water, wood, metals, etc plus promote air quality and energy conservation will extend the planets resources. Some simple things that can be done is draft control (better insulation), change incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs, use Energy Star rated appliances, and upgrade/change out old heating systems.

What are some of the misconceptions you've come across about green design?

Probably the biggest misconception is that green design is costly. Although some of the initial costs in a green design project might be more than traditional designs, the long term payoff is usually worth it. For example the installation of solar panels might have some added upfront costs but there is almost no maintenance associated with solar panels and it may be possible to have a home with no energy bill or at least a reduced energy bill.

What are some of the most popular green design features for homes in your state?

I live in New England and we have warm summers and cold winters so some of the features that would fall under a green design category that works well here are energy efficient windows, programmable thermostats, increased insulation, solar panel installation, energy star rated appliances, compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow toilets and also low flow shower heads.

What advice would you give a homeowner who wants to use solar or green design in their remodel, but they have a limited budget?

For solar I would contact a few companies and find out the cost. The costs have been coming down plus there are a number of incentives that can help defray the costs such as solar renewable energy certificates, available rebates, income tax credit, sales tax exemption, and a 30% federal tax credit. Other low cost measures can be a programmable thermostat, use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, water conservation methods as outlined above, and also contact Mass Save for a free home energy audit. Not only is the audit free but they provide recommendations as well as rebates.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

If you would like additional information I would be glad to provide and share any knowledge I have both in remodeling as well as green remodeling. We can be contacted through our website, or by phone at (978) 808-3159.

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