Tulsa duplex goes ultra green with four units on one lot

Architect Shelby Navarro’s home in Tulsa, Okla., has lots of eco-friendly features such as a grass roof, but the greenest one may be its siting. He lives in a duplex, each side with two units, on a small lot in a walkable neighborhood.

The home has a living roof with drought-tolerant buffalo grass that doesn’t need to be mowed. It also has a skylight that brings light into the room below.
By Michael Shopenn Photography

What makes this so special is that his duplex has quadrupled the 7,000 square-foot lot’s housing capacity. Previously, the land held only one small house, which Navarro had moved — in its entirety — to a different area.

This concept of density and walkability is crucial, and too often overlooked, in green development. I’ve added a rentable in-law suite to the efficient home I’m building in a Washington, D.C., suburb that’s filled with restaurants and shops.

Shelby Navarro shares the home with his wife, Rachel, and their Yorkshire Terrior, Doc.
By Michael Shopenn Photography

Navarro and his wife, Rachel, live in one side of the duplex, which he designed, and sold the other. Each side has a comfortable 1,860 square feet with two bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, plus a 450 square-foot studio apartment over the detached garage.

“We continue to downsize as we learn and grow,” says Navarro, 40, who runs the Tulsa-based One Architecture firm. “We also realize the value in not having to mow the lawn.” His living roof and front yard have drought-tolerant buffalo grass, which doesn’t need to be cut.

The living area has formaldehyde-free bamboo floors and rustic wood trusses.
By Michael Shopenn Photography

Navarro’s duplex project — chosen as “This Week’s Green House” — won the top or platinum rating from the private U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program when it was completed in June 2008.

Since then, he says his monthly utility bills have never exceeded $100, due to the duplex’ ultra-efficient exterior and its geothermal heating and cooling system. The exterior walls are made of prefabricated SIPS or structural insulated panels, which are sheets of plywood around high-density foam. They create an airtight envelope. (I’m using them on my home, too.)

Navarro’s kitchen has Energy Star appliances, efficient lighting and Squak Mountain Stone countertops, which are made of recycled paper and recycled glass.
By Michael Shopenn Photography


Also mitigating the home’s energy use are its grass roof, high-performance windows, Energy Star appliances and efficient lighting.

This outdoor shower has wood walls and recycled glass tiles.
By Michael Shopenn Photography

Navarro used green interior finishes as well: reclaimed Wisconsin barn wood; formaldehyde-free bamboo flooring; Sherwin-Williams no-VOC Harmony paint, recycled glass tiles, recycled-content bedroom carpet and Squak Mountain Stone kitchen countertops (made of recycled paper and recycled glass.) He estimates the project cost about $210 a square foot.

He’s no stranger to green living. He was raised by his grandparents on an organic farm in Verdigris, Okla., in a house with solar panels.

“I had a pet goat,” he recalls.

What he loves about his city home is its proximity to restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and other amenities. He also enjoys its natural light.

“You don’t have to turn on the lights during the day,” he said. In a story about their duplex in Natural Home magazine, his wife Rachel also said how much she likes its windows.

The master bedroom has large windows that can bring in plenty of daylight and floor-to-ceiling drapes that can provide extra insulation at night.
By Michael Shopenn Photography

“We have two long windows in the master bedroom, and they are my absolute favorite thing about the house,” she said in the story. “It was so unexpected how I would really enjoy them. I lay and watch the clouds go by. We have some bats that live in the neighborhood, and at dusk they kind of flutter around the window. It’s better than TV.”

We’ve got it folks: an air date for “Rescue Renovation” featuring Squak Mountain Stone (and me.) I wonder if I got edited out of the episode…? Check it out on the DIY Network Tuesday November 16th, 8:30pm

This lovely project in our home state is using Trinity counters in the kitchen, in Absolutely. Pictures are available on their Facebook page.



Check it out!


Meet Amee Quiriconi

Amee Quiriconi is the inventor of Squak Mountain Stone and the founder of Tiger Mountain Innovations. Amee’s inspiration for TMI was sparked in 2003 during a master’s degree assignment about creating healthy, local economies. The challenge for Amee was to create a theoretical product that would strengthen local economies, provide a social benefit to communities and be eco-friendly. Though Amee had submitted the master’s paper and received her degree, she continued to think about how she could make this concept work. So she set out with some lofty, but attainable objectives that became the basis for her product and company philosophy.

In Amee’s Own Words:

“Starting my company wasn’t just about making a product that had some recycled stuff in it. It was about building a business that would be able to leverage its success to not only create a better environmental state for us all but also be a means to help people as well. I don’t think it makes sense that we can care so passionately about recycling our trash and yet be willing to throw people away and not give them second chances. So we think about where we get our raw ingredients, like getting our paper from AtWork! and I’ve even taken some risks on hiring some of my employees who other companies overlook due to criminal backgrounds. I believe that in the right environment, doing the right work, a young man with a troubled past can really change his future for the better. I’m not just inspired every day to make beautiful countertops from seemingly useless materials but I actually hope when all is said and done, my company made a difference for at least one person who has worked for me.”

Ameé continued to grow her business, moving from her garage in early 2004 to the first of several industrial shops in Woodinville, Washington. Squak Mountain Stone continued to grow in its use and recognition, being mentioned consistently in national publications as one of the top “green” countertops in the country and Ameé was being recognized as a forward-thinker in product design as well as an innovator in business development.

In November of 2008, Ameé was approached by a Seattle-based company that had spent the last year and a half developing an alternative slab material and had set-up a top of the line facility, ready for full-scale production. It was found that the new partners shared many ideas with Ameé ranging from the futures they saw for their respective companies to a deep dedication to being a part of a values-driven company with products and services that match mutual commitments of environmental and social responsibility. The new partners had a well developed product and a production facility ready for the next step and Ameé had demonstrated her ability to grow a product from a “garage idea” to market over the last 5 years. It was decided that the two companies would combine and Ameé would continue to preside over the new venture, which also decided to keep the Tiger Mountain Innovations name.

Squak Mountain Stone and Trinity are both manufactured in the Seattle neighborhood of Georgetown and can be found in showrooms and installations around the United States and Canada.

If you are inspired by the women being profiled this month, then make sure you attend FEMnominal Women in Business on Saturday, October 30th in Chandler, AZ.

Justin and Amee had the pleasure today of visiting a Habitat for Humanity project in Everett, Washington. The entire project is a small cluster development with four homes total when finished. The pictures here of the first home that the new homeowner will be moving into on Saturday. The color seen here is “Natural” and the fabrication work was done by Fineline/Pacific.

Travis Hansen, 4Evergreen Fabricators in Washington, contacted us with some information about a discovery he made while fabricating Trinity recently.  Their shop uses a CNC during fabrication which relies on vacuum suction cups to hold the slabs in place in during cutting. The vacuum pulls extensive amounts of moisture from the slab where the cups are in contact with the slabs while the rest of the slab is immersed in water.  After the slabs are fabricated and wiped down, the difference in moisture may not be that obvious. The danger then is that when the slabs are sealed, if the moisture has not balanced out, the drier areas soak up more sealer making those spots darker than the remainder of the slab and accentuating the moisture difference. And once its sealed, unlike pure water on an un-sealed slab, the moisture difference does not lighten or evaporate.

Travis found that saturating the slab with water – in his case, lying the slab down flat on a saw table or deck and puddling clean water on to the face of the slab until the entire slab was of the same uniform saturation and then letting it dry out completely eliminated the potential for moisture shadows.

How can you tell if the slab is “evenly saturated”? The drier areas will soak in the water faster than the other spots on the slab so keep applying water until the water is puddled evenly on the face or appears to be soaking in at the same rate everywhere.

This technique will also help if there is an “opposite” condition where a slab has absorbed moisture from a wet object (like laying a slab on top of another slab during drying) and has some shadowing or discoloration.

It is important that if a Fabricator notices any uneven absorption of water on the stone after Fabrication and that it matches equipment or template placements that they do NOT seal the slabs as this will likely enhance those shadows. They should soak the slabs first to balance the moisture and then let them dry before applying the sealer.

**PLEASE NOTE**  Due to the similarities between Trinity and Squak Mountain Stone, please follow the same saturation steps for Squak to prevent shadowing during fabrication.

Houseboat keeps a piece of Seattle history

A returnee to Seattle finds a dilapidated houseboat to love and revive. The remodeled home keeps peace with the city’s waterfront history by using part of the original float in the bathroom and by creating a window in the floor so all can see one of the old float’s logs. A wall of windows keeps light coming in, red cabinets warm up the main living space and remilled fir from the old houseboat’s substructure lines walls. Above it all on the roof, a new deck is just the right space for taking in the marine view.

The slate gray of the Marmoleum floor (in “Lava”) and the Squak Mountain Stone Counters (in “Thunder”) are reflected in the cladding on the ceiling — fir reused from the substructure of the old houseboat, wiped with a bluish oil-based paint to tone down its naturally orange color. The built-in cabinets are by Baywood Cabinets, in “Amber” Plyboo vertical grain bamboo

TO VIEW FULL ARTICLE – CLICK THE LINK:  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2011728337_pacificpmankoski09.html