Archive for the ‘News & Media Appearances’ Category


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.”


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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

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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.

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Amee Quiriconi, CEO of Tiger Mountain Innovations and founder of Squak Mountain Stone, will be appearing at the Grand Opening of the newest retail location of Ecohaus (http://www.ecohaus.com/) in San Francisco this weekend!  Come by on Saturday to say hello and hear about what makes Squak Mountain Stone and Trinity Glass Products so unique. 

Also taking place this weekend in San Francisco is the Green Festival (http://www.greenfestivals.org/san-francisco-spring/).  Come by the Ecohaus booth and see samples of Squak and Trinity.

We hope to see you there!

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Building Products Top 100 Part 1: 100-76 By Victoria Markovitz and Jenna Lee Source: BUILDING PRODUCTS Magazine Publication date: 2009-05-08 The need for product innovation doesn’t stop in a down economy, and last year building product manufacturers continued to serve customers with plenty of new, valuable introductions for the home and the jobsite. And if Building Products’ annual Top 100 list is any indication, contractors looking to differentiate and innovate welcomed that information. The Top 100 represents those products readers of Building Products and its sister publications Builder, Custom Home, and Remodeling requested more information about by mailing to us the reader service cards found in each issue. As in year’s past, you won’t find run-of-the-mill commodities here: The Top 100 spans a range of categories, but most are less familiar, new, or trendy. Not surprisingly, green products and technologies–including photovoltaics and solar water heating, tankless water heaters, and energy-efficient lighting–dominate this year’s list as pros aim to keep up with the burgeoning sustainable-building movement. Beyond green, the Top 100 contains many unique gems, such as an inventive sliding door hardware option, a hole-enlarger tool, a water carbonator, and an eye-catching waterfall system. Whether you caught them the first go-around or are viewing them for the first time, this year’s top picks could hold the solutions you and your customers have been looking for. Stay with us over the next two weeks as we count down to number one.

87: Tiger Mountain Innovations

Tiger Mountain InnovationsTiger Mountain Innovations

Rustic-looking Squak Mountain Stone slabs are made of recycled paper, cement, fly ash, and recycled glass. They come in five colors, and each piece is unique, the maker says. The product is 11/2 inches thick. 425-486-3417. www.squakmountainstone.com.

To view the entire TOP 100 – click link below


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Case Study: Record-Breaking LEED Home in Eugene, Ore.

Efficient home demonstrates the aesthetic possibilities and energy savings of ultra-green homes.

Small Wonder

With a compact footprint, efficient envelope, and smart product decisions, The Sage soared past LEED-Platinum.

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The modern kitchen features Pioneer Millworks reclaimed flooring, Energy Star-rated refrigerator and dishwasher from KitchenAid, locally sourced wood cabinets, and Squak Mountain recycled-content countertops. Clerestory windows flood the open room with natural light.

When Bill Randall and Arbor South Architecture set out to design their first LEED-certified project, they didn’t just limp in—they broke records. The Sage, a 1,447-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home in Eugene, Ore., earned 110 LEED points, enough to qualify for Platinum status and earn the distinction of the highest-scoring LEED home west of the Rockies.

The house, completed last month and featured on the Eugene Home Builders Tour, is an educational tool for designer and consumer alike. For Arbor South, The Sage and its LEED certification process was an experience-building opportunity for a firm looking to redirect its design mission toward smaller, more efficient homes. With a modern aesthetic uncompromised by an extensive list of green features, the home also serves as an eye-opener for local buyers unaware that sustainable living and pleasing design go hand in hand.

“It’s designed and built in a way that shows how you can be off the charts in terms of efficiency, but still be aesthetically pleasing,” says Randall, AIA, LEED-AP. “It’s very aesthetically pleasing and very livable.”

Like most ultra-green homes, The Sage starts with a tight envelope, featuring double 2×4 stud walls, separate plates to eliminate thermal bridging, Demilec Agribalance spray-foam insulation for R-32 in the walls and R-45 in the vaulted ceilings, and tight sealing. As a result, the house is 12 times tighter than Energy Star requirements.

A heat recovery ventilator is included to ensure fresh-air exchange inside the tight house. A solar hot water system and 2.1-kW solar electric provide 40% to 50% of the home’s energy needs.

Design and product choices contributing to energy savings include south-facing windows with overhangs and a light shelf of clerestories; the Weather Vane vinyl windows carry a U-value of 0.27. The KitchenAid dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine are Energy Star-labeled, and the bathrooms include low-flow faucets from Danze and Kohler dual-flush toilets.

Sustainable and local materials were used throughout, including reclaimed wood flooring from Pioneer Millworks, Sustainable Flooring cork in the bathrooms (including Showercork, made from discs of wine corks, in the master), and recycled-content Squak Mountain Stone kitchen countertops and PaperStone bath countertops. Accent siding on the exterior was crafted with remilled redwood benches that were reclaimed from a local outdoor ampitheater.

Drought-tolerant plants were selected, and a rainchain drains into a 1,000-gallon cistern to be used for watering plants and for the landscape pond in the yard.

With less than 1,500 square feet, The Sage’s size is a departure from Arbor South’s more recent designs. At one time, the firm had been part of a pilot program for a local efficient building program, Super Good Sense Oregon, but gradually drifted with the market toward larger projects. With The Sage, “We felt a desire to get back to our roots and really get back to smaller, sustainable housing,” Randall explains. 

The home’s price tag of $459,000 is about $100,000 to $180,000 more than typical homes of that size in the area (though a hefty cost for the premium infill location contributed), but Randall says the goal was to educate on all the available possibilities. “We wanted to do a demonstration house to show people what can be done,” he says, noting that the average person may not choose to take every step for their own home, but that the project showcases a range of options to choose from, each another step toward making a new home more efficient and eco-friendly.

As part of its efforts to educate consumers, Randall put together a package of video clips describing the eco-friendly selections made in The Sage, placing emphasis on why the products were chosen and demonstrating the relative ease of such decisions.

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome

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