Sustainable Lake Living

"Ventanas al Cielo" - Windows to Heaven

Sustainable Features Incorporated into Ventanas al Cielo


I always wanted to build a home, but as you are about to see not just any type of home.  On October 23, 2006, Leslie and I committed to making that dream a reality and bought a 0.34 acre lot on Lake Lanier. I am sure you heard about the drought on Lake Lanier, but we have plenty of water. Finally after SIX years, and volumes of concepts and design drawings, we are finished. OK we were a little slow to start; let's just say that we were deliberate!

So what is so special about this home? To start lake living is quite special, but as you will see this not just any home. Our goal from the outset was to build an EarthCraft Certified Home ( Developed in 1999 by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and Southface, EarthCraft is the Southeast's standard for green building. Since 1978, Southface ( has worked with the construction industry to promote sustainble homes, workplaces and communities.

The result as we hope you will agree is an exquisitely designed "Staycation" home (yep there is such a definition - that is on the cutting edge for green home development.

So here are some of the features of our home, Ventanas al Cielo (Windows to the Heaven):

♦ Advanced Framing Techniques including 2 by 6 inch exterior stud walls

♦ 9 Kwh of photovoltaic power on the roof (yes we do face south!) for "net metering" - Based on the Manual J Load Calculations our MAXIMUM electric energy costs will be NO MORE than $70 per month (Actually so much depends on your lifestyle habits - our goal is to be NET ZERO:

According to the Southface Team, nearly two out of every three gallons of fresh water withdrawn in the Southeast are sent to electric power plants to meet cooling water demands, and about a gallon of water is consumed for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced.

♦ Solar Domestic Hot Water (SDHW) - yep let the sun shine on  you - and produce FREE hot water

♦75% LED and 25% CFL lighting (only 10% of electricity produces light using incadescent bulbs the rest produces heat - and in the summer that is bad) 

♦ State-of-the-art insulation techniques including a sealed attic and open cell spray foam, 50% more depth in exterior walls using blown fill insulation 

♦ Argon filled energy efficient Climatech windows all with Low-E glass from PPG

♦ Zip Systems roof and wall sheathing (structural panels with built-in protetive outer layers)

♦ Nichiha fiber cement siding that uses fly ash not silica and is non-combustible, rot resistant, impervious to terminites and has a real woodgrain finish and look

♦ Bryant 4-ton 18.3 SEER HVAC sytem including a variable speed compressor

♦ Propane for fireplaces, cooking and an 20 Kwh emergency generator

♦ Retractable awning over the sun deck shielding the greatroom windows during the peak summer months, and allowing the sun in during the cold winters

♦ Independently scored Home Energy Rating of 27 out of max score of 150 (the lower the better)

♦ Toto DualMax - Dual Flush Low Flow Toilets

♦ Two Panasonic Energy Recovery Ventilation Units

So where are those "staycation" features you ask? Well besides the lake location our home's features include:

♦ 4,000 square feet of heated living space - four bedrooms / four baths

♦ Ranch "style" home with a full finished walk-out terrace

♦ Far infrared sauna, steam room and hot tub

♦ Clear and uninterrupted views of the lake

♦ Living features including entertainment room, wine area, gourmet kitchen, workout room, screened porch, sun deck and dry below, and an outdoor fire-ring