Energy Star Certification

March 10th, 2011

Energy StarWilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes recently completed an Energy Star certified home in Landfall. The home received a 61 on the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index, meaning it is 39% more efficient than a code minimum home.

The estimated ANNUAL energy cost for the 3100 sf home is $1,897. After the final calculation, the homeowner stated, “Wow, we would have spent that amount in 4 months at our last home.”

Basically, being 39% more efficient than code for this home equals $700+ savings PER YEAR. MJCH’s standard framing techniques, insulation package and HVAC system not only accommodate, but exceed Energy Star requirements. The return on investment is less than 15 months. If the homeowner stays in the home for 15 years, that’s $10,500 in savings and as our energy costs rise (and they will), the savings will be even greater. This also results in a more marketable home when it comes time to sell.

At the end of construction, our Energy Rater, Above and Beyond Energy, removed the front door, added pressure to the house and calculated the air leakage. This test, along with various field visits, ensured a 5 STARS PLUS rating which is the highest level attainable.

Exposed Aggregate Driveways

February 3rd, 2011

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes recently installed a grey exposed aggregate driveway using recycled sea shells at a home being built in Landfall. Exposed aggregate with broadcast sea shells gives concrete the elegance and beauty of the old south. 


The process includes broadcasting and pressing recycled sea shells into concrete when wet, then removing the top surface when the concrete flashes (water evaporates) allowing the beautiful shells to appear.

Buckets of Shells

Adding the Aggregate to the Concrete:

The most commonly used method is to seed the decorative aggregate onto the slab surface immediately after the concrete has been placed, struck off, and bull floated. This involves sprinkling the aggregate by hand or shovel uniformly onto the surface and then embedding it with a bull float until it’s completely covered by a thin layer of cement paste.

Before Shells

Exposing the Aggregate:

There are several exposure methods contractors can choose from, depending on the look desired and size of the project. Only the top of the stone is exposed while the rest remains permanently embedded in the concrete. The general rule of thumb is to remove the surface concrete to a depth no more than one-third the diameter of the aggregate particle. Brushing and washing is the oldest method and the simplest because it doesn’t require chemical retarders or special tools. You just wash away the thin layer of surface concrete covering the aggregate by spraying with water and scrubbing with a broom until the aggregate is exposed to the desired depth. The timing of the operation is critical, however, so this method is often better suited for small jobs. The work should begin as soon as the surface concrete can be removed without overexposing or dislodging the aggregate. You can test this by lightly brushing away the surface mortar in a small area with a stiff nylon-bristle broom.

Sea Shell Driveway

Choosing Decorative Aggregate:

The color palette of an exposed aggregate surface is largely determined by the type of decorative stone that’s used. Aggregate selection can also have a big impact on the total cost of the project. Expensive aggregates are not always needed to achieve impressive results. You can also use manufactured materials such as recycled colored glass.


Brunswick County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an interesting article courtesy of EcoHome Magazine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) eagerly awaited WaterSense label for showerheads was finalized on March 4, and manufacturers can now submit products for testing.

Like WaterSense certifications for lav faucets and toilets, qualified showerheads must meet performance specifications as well as flow rates. Units receiving the label will have a flow rate of 2 gpm or less—20 percent lower than the current federal standard of 2.5 gpm—while also meeting performance-attribute requirements for flow rate across a range of pressures, spray force, and spray coverage, which the EPA has defined based on its consumer testing.

The specifications apply to showerheads and handheld showers, but not to bodysprays. Showerheads and handhelds must be tested by an EPA-licensed certifying body to qualify for WaterSense.

A number of manufacturers are already offering showerheads that combine lower flows with improved performance, which means buyers won’t have to wait long to purchase certified fixtures. The EPA told EcoHome it expects labeled products to hit shelves as early as mid-April.

Moen, for example, is anticipating certification for its 1.75-gpm single-function Eco-Performance showerheads and Envi three-function Eco-Performance showerheads, as does American Standard for its 1.5-gpm FloWise units and Kohler for its 1.75-gpm Purist and Forte showerheads and 2.0-gpm MasterShower.

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome. This article first appeared on

Landfall, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an article written by Stephani L. Miller of Custom Home Magazine regarding mandatory green building code for residential, commercial, and public projects in the state of California. 

Why does this matter to our readers on the East Coast? It’s because a lot of our building codes related to energy efficiency follow that of Western states that have experienced the Energy Crises in the past. Items like occupancy sensors which are mandatory in California will likely be mandatory for us someday soon.

The California Building Standards Commission has unanimously voted to adopt the nation’s first mandatory green building code for residential, commercial, and public projects.

The California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen), which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, provides guidance on the implementation of energy efficient and environmentally responsible building methods and aims to reduce the water consumption of all new buildings in the state by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills, and improve the overall indoor environmental quality of all buildings. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the mandatory codes will reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons in 2020. It also will help the state achieve its goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020 as well as help mitigate global climate change. More stringent voluntary provisions also are part of CALGreen, which the state’s government hopes communities will pursue.

Mandatory residential construction measures under CALGreen address nearly every aspect of the process, from site selection and development, reuse of pre-existing structures, energy efficiency, and indoor and outdoor water use to materials conservation, resource efficiency, and indoor environmental quality and comfort.

Courtesy of:

Custom Home in Wilmington, NC

Landfall custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages our readers to view recently uploaded photos of our projects, both past and present, on our Flickr and Facebook Fan pages. View our Photo Sets on Flickr and Facebook, including our luxury homes in Wilmington and Hampstead, NC. For more detailed information on these homes and available lots in Wilmington, NC visit our Inventory Page!

Landfall luxury home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an informative article from on how to design and what elements to include for the ideal outdoor living area for your home. Below are the ways to use concrete to build your perfect outdoor space and for more information on each, click here!

“Decorative Concrete Surfaces
Start by installing stamped, stenciled or stained concrete patios and walkways to establish the basic floor plan and design scheme for your outdoor room. You can even pattern your outdoor floor with a permanent, weatherproof rug that adds visual interest and helps define dining and conversation areas.

Something to cook with, such as a barbecue grill or wood-fired pizza oven, and countertops for food preparation and serving are key elements in a well-designed outdoor kitchen. Concrete countertops offer the advantages of weather resistance and versatility, since they can be formed into any shape you desire to suit the space. A coat of sealer will simplify cleanup by protecting your countertop from stains. Other amenities, such as concrete bartops and outdoor sinks with plumbing, can expand your entertainment options.

Wood-burning or gas fireplaces, firepits, chimineas and portable patio heaters extend the enjoyment of outdoor living well into the evening while creating a cozy conversation area for people to gather around.

No outdoor room is complete without ample furniture for dining and lounging. Attractive high-quality outdoor furniture also provides a smooth transition from the indoors to the outdoors and helps define the space as an extension of your home. Concrete seat walls and cast concrete couches or chaises, softened with pillows or cushions, can be used as permanent, weatherproof outdoor seating.

Water features
If space and budget allow, installing a concrete swimming pool, spa, waterfall or pond can provide beauty, relaxation and tranquil sounds.

Architectural accents
Add elegance and character to your outdoor room with decorative details such as concrete statuary, fountains, landscape borders and cast stone columns.

Use pathway and landscape lighting to add ambience, accentuate key architectural features, and extend outdoor enjoyment well into the evening.”

Information and Photo Courtesy of:

Landfall custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages those in the area this Valentine’s Day to take advantage of all that the Cape Fear area has to offer! The Wilmington/Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau released a press release this morning detailing how you can celebrate in the Wilmington, NC area. Below is a list and for more information, click here!


Landfall builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share a recent article from Professional Remodeler’s Editor in Chief, Jonathan Sweet, on the Home Star, or “Cash for Caulkers”, program. Sweet outlined the five issues below on what will hopefully boost energy efficiency and jobs, and to read each in more detail, click here!






Previously, Landfall custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes introduced our readers to two series of Energy Star certified Bosch Appliances – the 800 Plus Series Dishwasher and Vision Washer and Dryer. Now we’d like to highlight the Evolution 800 Series Refrigerator. Complete with a door alarm to notify you if the door was accidentally left ajar, the Evolution has external temperature controls which allow you to make adjustments (such as changing the temperature, locking the icemaker, etc.) without having to open the door. This ensures the inside of your refrigerator maintains a constant temperature and keeps food fresher longer. And because it’s Energy Star Qualified you are guaranteed that it will minimize energy use and maximize efficiency, which will reduce energy bills and help protect the environment. Visit their website for more informaton on the Evolution and other energy-efficient appliances!

Energy Star Bosch Appliances were used in our LEED Platinum Green home in Wilmington, NC. Click here to watch an HD video on the home and learn about its Green features!

Landfall luxury builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes has experience with Energy Star Appliances – we used them in our Energy Star Certified home in Wilmington, NC! And we’d like to keep our readers informed on the latest developments for Energy Star windows, doors and skylights. As of January 4th, 2010 they will need to meet new performance levels. It will still be easy to find these high-efficiency products: just look for the ENERGY STAR label. And remember, Energy Star qualified windows, doors and skylights reduce energy bills by about 7-24 percent, increase comfort, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to achieve precisely the look you’re after. For more information on the new requirements, product benefits, federal tax credits, FAQ’s and more, visit their website!