Lake Norman Green Homes: Harvesting Your Rain Water

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Lake Norman Rain Barrel

The good news this week is that many towns around Lake Norman are loosening their water restrictions thanks to some much needed rain this past summer.  But, this doesn’t mean that we Lake Norman home owners shouldn’t conserve water.


Mooresville’s Rain Barrel

Harvesting rain is one of the easiest and most instantly rewarding efforts when creating a “green” home.  According to the Town of Mooresville who was selling these rain barrels last May , it takes just 1/4? of rain to fill this 80 gallon barrel!  (I’m not sure if they are still selling them but you can call them at 704.663.3800.  I will provide other resources below.)

The practice of rainwater harvesting, the process of collecting rainwater that falls naturally and storing it for the future goes back to the ancient civilizations.  But, thanks to modern technology, more homeowners, even in Lake Norman, are understanding the value of our environment and our water supplies and are creating water harvesting systems in their own yards.

The simplest and most common way to capture rain is by removing a downspout and postioning a water barrel on a flat, level surface to catch the rain as in the photo above.

More elavorate above ground systems designed by such companies as RainEscape can use up to 10,000 gallon portable water storage tanks.

1700 Gallon Underground Tank

According to Tom VanZeeland, President, Territory Executive for RainEscape their Aquaeras – Rainwater Harvesting System is like Rain Barrels on Steroids!  It includes:

1. On-Demand system – Turn on a faucet, flush a toilet, irrigation timer starts
2. Sold as a Turn Key Kit of tank(s) & Controls (starting at $3799 less freight)
3. Above or Below Ground potable rated Tanks, 20 gallons to 10,000 gallons
4. 20-30 gallons / minute output @ 50-80 psi
5. 175? maximum Head water
6. Centrifugal force filtering down to almost 50 microns – Won’t clog Misting systems
or Drip systems.  Easy backflow cleaning for easy maintenance.
7. Female air hose fitting for easy winterizing of Irrigation system to blow out water
in water lines outside.
8. Water can be made Potable by adding additional filters.

Magic Calculation:  For EACH 1,000 sq. ft. of collecting surface you have, you can estimate 600+ gallons for Each 1? of Rain!!! (ie:  3,000 sq. ft. = 1,800 gallons for 1? of rain)

On Extreme Makeover Home Edition in Charlotte this past August, they installed their Aquaeras automated rainwater collection system using this 1700 gallon underground tank.  The system included a tank, pump and controller which can actually pump water to your irrigation systems or even for indoor use.
In Charlotte, Lifewater is a new company that installs rain harvesting systems as well as designs waterfalls, streams and ponds using rainwater. According to their owner, Scott Barfield, typical uses for rain water are:
  • Landscape irrigation
  • Laundry
  • Toilet flushing
  • Car washing
  • Filling pools and fountains

Whether you merely want to collect rainwater from you downspouts or want to include a complete system while building a new home, any effort to save our precious Lake Norman water is a great way towards creating your “green” home!

Rainwater Harvesting Resources

Life Water Designs in Charlotte




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Lake Norman Green Homes: Budgeting for Your Green Home

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What is the typical budget for building a Green home?

By – Jennifer B. Pippin, CPBD, AIBD, CGP

There is basically no ‘typical’ budget for a green home. Green means different things to everyone. First you must determine what you consider to be the green features and options you would like in your green home. There are so many options to choose from when building green. You can start with creating a very light green home, to a very dark green home, or anywhere in between. Did you know that most of the new local Habitat for Humanity homes in our area are being built ‘Green’? Green homes can be created on a very small scale, as well as in larger homes.

There are many variables with the costs, depending on the finishes you choose, the green features you incorporate initially, as well as the ones you plan for adding in the future. Green homes can be built with no additional costs, by planning the home appropriately to the site it will be built on, working with the path of the sun across the property, using appropriately sized overhangs for the area, including water efficient plumbing fixtures, energy star rated appliances and using compact fluorescent light fixtures.

Also, it is important to make sure that anyone who makes a hole in the exterior walls, roof or floor of the building, seals them up. No holes should be left unsealed. Included in these homes should be universal design strategies as well, providing long term accessibility for all ages. These can include wider hallways and doors, one accessible bathroom, with a 5’ turning radius on the main floor and an exterior door with wheelchair access.


There are many upgrades, if your budget allows it, by including energy star rated windows, upgrading your insulation package in the entire house or at least in the attic, sealing your crawl space, increasing the SEER rating of your HVAC units, choosing Low and No VOC paints and cabinets with no formaldehyde. Then, you could add in readily renewable products, such as bamboo or cork flooring, tankless gas water heaters or solar panels for hot water or for generating electricity and rainwater harvesting.

The Importance of a HERS rater:

Consider having a HERS (Home Energy Rating Service) rater involved on your project. This service typically provides an energy analysis of your home. This includes things like conducting a blower door test, which provides data on how leaky your home is and where to seal it up, if there are holes to be sealed. They will also perform a duct blaster test, to determine how leaky the HVAC duct system is and how well the system provides the required air flow into the

individual rooms. The options are really endless.


The Pippin Green Home on Lake Norman

As you can see, there is a wide range of things to consider when building a green home. The most important features of a green home are  building it energy efficiently, meaning making sure the building envelop (walls, windows, roof and crawl space) are all of good quality and well sealed. Secondly, make sure the indoor air quality is as good as you can afford to make it, that your plumbing fixtures are water efficient and the appliances are energy efficient. This type of home can be built very cost effectively and also expensively, depending on your ‘Green’ goals and budget.


Project: Live Green in Lake Norman

Pippin Home Designs

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Lake Norman Green Homes: VOC and House Paint

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Have you ever walked in a brand new home and felt…ahhh, it smells so new?

Well, what you may not know is that that “new” smell is most likely toxic.  That is because the majority of house paints have various levels of Volatile Organic Chemicals or VOCs.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Volatile organic compounds” are emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids.  VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects.”

The growing focus on “green housing” has resulted in the introduction of many brands of low-VOC or even no-VOC paints.  These paints, according to Greenfeet “release significantly fewer to no polluting toxins, and no-VOC paints are odor free.


While at the NC Home Builders Expo last week I discovered Mythic Paint which is a true “Non-Toxic” paint.

While many of the top paint companies have introduced or are planning to introduce low-VOC paints like Sherwyn William’s Harmony, Mythic Paint is the only one I have found that claims that it is 0% toxic with no toxins, low odor AND has the ability to mix any color.  This is important because many of the low-VOC paints currently on the market have limited or lesser quality colors.

Mythic Paint products include: Primers, Ceiling, Flat, Eggshell (flat but cleanable), Semi-Gloss, High Gloss and even exterior Satin and Semi-Gloss.  Price will be a bit higher than many brand-name paints.

Here is a list of other Low- and No-VOC Paints:

AFM (American Formulating and Manufacturing)

Benjamin Moore & Co. (Pristine® Eco-Spec® )

BioShield Paints

Devoe Paint

Duron Paints and Wallcoverings (Genesis Odor-Free products)

Home Depot

ICI Dulux Paints

Kelly Moore

Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company

Sherwin-Williams (HealthSpec® paints)

The Green Home is more than just energy efficienct, it is healthy and more comfortable.  Your desire to make every effort to eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds may start with using No-VOC Paint. We will discuss other sources of VOC/indoor air pollutants in upcoming articles.

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What IS a “Green” Home?

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Okay, so we almost all agree that  “Green” is Good”.

But, exactly what is the definition of “Green” when it comes to housing?  How do you know if your Lake Norman home is “Green”?  Can you make a home “Green” after it had been built?

These are all questions that will be addressed in many many different ways on this Lake Norman Green Homes blogsite.  In the future, we will go into great detail about:

  • What is an Energy Star home?
  • Energy Ratings and Raters
  • Energy-Efficient Home Mortgages
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Efficient Heating and Cooling Systems
  • Effective and Types of Insulation
  • High-Performance Windows
  • Tight Construction and Tight Ducts
  • Energy Efficient Appliances
  • The Importance of Building Orientation
  • Solar Technologies
  • VOC Paints
  • Energy Efficient Landscaping
  • Lake Norman “Green” Builders and Service Providers

Energy Star Logo

While there is no official rating or definition of the term “Green”, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (The EPA) has created “Energy Star“, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.  An entire home can have an Energy Star qualification.  In addition, there are over 40 types of products that earn the Energy Star for being energy efficient or offer features, quality and personal comfort related to energy efficiency.

Energy Star Homes = Savings, Comfort, Efficiency

As of February 14, 2008, the National Association of Home Builders published their first “Model Green Home Building Guidelines” which gives builders and consumers an additional resource/rating system as well.

But, how do you verify if a Lake Norman home is truly deserving of the Energy Star/Green Home certification or how do you find out how to improve your existing home’s energy efficiency?

As part of the national EPA program, our state of North Carolina has an accredited Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and provides a list of qualified third-party “raters” or “certified green professionals” who can inspect your Lake Norman home.  These inspections can determine whether your home is an Energy Star and/or provide you with a detailed analysis of your home with specific recommendations about how to attain the optimum energy efficiency and help you set realistic and attainable efficiency goals.

Southern Energy Management is one company that offers inspections and ratings here in the Lake Norman area.  For a complete list of raters in North Carolina go to: North Carolina Energy Star Raters.

Look for articles about specifics of the Energy Star program in the future.  In the meantime, here are some related links:

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It’s Here! “Think Green Recycle Service of Mooresville”

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I had no idea we had a private curbside recycling service in the greater Mooresville area until I received an email from Patrica Doak, who, with her husband, started the Think Green Recycle Service last December.

While we take loads to the Iredell County Transfer Station on HWY 150, it is great to know that we now have curbside pick up in Mooresville and its surrounding areas.

Think Green Recycle Service offers a weekly curbside pickup of the following:

  • Aluminum and Steel Cans
  • Glass bottles (ALL COLORS!)
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Plastics (ALL numbered 107!)

They do not accept:

  • Plastic bags or wrappers (Harris Teeter will take the bags)
  • Styrofoam products
  • Paper plates, napkins or towels
  • Paints, gas cans

Right now, according to Trish Doak, they already have one “Green School”, Lake Norman Elementary.   They recycle their paper and plastic.  What a great way to teach children about the importance of recycling and the environment!  I hope that more of our local schools get on board with this great program.

FYI, I purchased a wonderful plastic trash can on line that has a built-in aluminum can-crusher on top which is great for maximizing space.  You can get other recycling bins at Lowe’s Home Improvement.

For more information about Think Green Recycle Service in Mooresville call Trish at :704.799.1520

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