Mark Johnson Custom Homes, a new home builder in Wilmington, would like to share with our readers an article courtesy of regarding Progress Energy’s efforts to assist their customers in paying for charging stations for their electric cars.

Progress Energy is now offering North Carolina customers home charging stations for plug-in electric cars at little or no cost.

The Raleigh-based utility announced that it is accepting customer applications for grants that will cover up to $1,500 of the cost of purchasing and installing a charging system suitable for electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

“We anticipate the $1,500 will cover the full cost of the equipment and installation for the vast majority of customers,” said utility spokesman Scott Sutton.

Progress is providing the charging equipment under a federally funded research project designed to help it better understand how the 240-volt chargers will impact the electric grid. Charlotte-based Duke Energy launched a similar program earlier this year.

Progress customers who receive the charging equipment from the utility will have to pay for the electricity needed to charge their vehicle.

A total of 150 Progress Energy customers in North Carolina and  South Carolina will receive grants for the charging equipment. Progress Energy will own and maintain the equipment until the research project ends in April 2013. At the conclusion, the utility will transfer ownership to the customer.

Applications are being considered on a first-come, first-served basis. North Carolina customers of Progress Energy can apply online. The program will be open to South Carolina customers once it is approved by state requlators.

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Wilmington home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an interesting article, courtesy of, about the Empire State Building being awarded LEED Gold Certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally-recognized green building certification system that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in March 2000. LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

The Empire State Building has been awarded LEED Gold for Existing Buildings certification.

It is the tallest and almost certainly the best-known building in the U.S. to receive the award, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, the company that managed the retrofit.

Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle conducted the retrofit, and say the $20 million project is guaranteed to reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 38 percent and should save $4.4 million in energy costs annually. The improvements also reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 105,000 metric tons over 15 years.

In January 2011, the Empire State Building Company agreed to buy wind-based carbon offsets totaling 55 million kWh per year from Green Mountain Energy, making the Empire State Building carbon-neutral.

In March, the window technology used in the retrofitting of the building went on sale for commercial use. The iWindow is a thin material frame which is installed on the inside of existing windows. This then improves the thermal performance of single pane aluminum systems.

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Programmable Thermostats

January 17th, 2011

Wilmington Custom Home Builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers a helpful article about how the proper use of programmable thermostats during cold winter months can help save energy and money.

Did you know that the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills – nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling? Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings.

Did you know that properly using a programmable thermostat in your home is one of the easiest ways you can save energy, money, and help fight global warming? A programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save by offering four pre-programmed settings to regulate your home’s temperature in both summer and winter – when you are asleep or away.

  • The pre-programmed settings that come with programmable thermostats are intended to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort. Depending on your family’s schedule, you can see significant savings by sticking with those settings or adjust them as appropriate for your family.
  • The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don’t need as much. Use the programmable thermostat calculator to see what you can save with set-back temperatures that work for your family. The pre-programmed settings for a programmable thermostat are:
Programmable Thermostat Setpoint Times & Temperatures
Setting Time Setpoint Temperature (Heat) Setpoint Temperature (Cool)
Wake 6:00 a.m. ≤ 70° F ≥ 78° F
Day 8:00 a.m. Setback at least 8° F Setup at least 7° F
Evening 6:00 p.m. ≤ 70° F ≥ 78° F
Sleep 10:00 p.m. Setback at least 8° F Setup at least 4° F
  1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  3. Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you’re planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You’ll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.
  4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats, including ENERGY STAR qualified units, begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule — Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By “examining” the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
  5. Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you’ll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  6. If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

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New Hanover County, NC green home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an interesting article courtesy of

Concrete is a friend of the environment in all stages of its life span, from raw material production to demolition, making it a natural choice for sustainable home construction. Here are some of the reasons why, according to the Portland Cement Association and the Environmental Council of Concrete Organizations:

Resource efficiency. The predominant raw material for the cement in concrete is limestone, the most abundant mineral on earth. Concrete can also be made with fly ash, slag cement, and silica fume, all waste byproducts from power plants, steel mills, and other manufacturing facilities.

Durability. Concrete builds durable, long-lasting structures that will not rust, rot, or burn. Life spans for concrete building products can be double or triple those of other common building materials.

Thermal mass. Homes built with concrete walls, foundations, and floors are highly energy efficient because they take advantage of concretes inherent thermal massor ability to absorb and retain heat. This means homeowners can significantly cut their heating and cooling bills and install smaller-capacity HVAC equipment.

Concrete Batch Plant. Davis Colors.

Reflectivity. Concrete minimizes the effects that produce urban heat islands. Light-colored concrete pavements and roofs absorb less heat and reflect more solar radiation than dark-colored materials, such as asphalt, reducing air conditioning demands in the summer.

Ability to retain stormwater.Paved surfaces tend to be impervious and can block natural water infiltration into the soil. This creates an imbalance in the natural ecosystem and leads to problems such as erosion, flash floods, water table depletion, and pollution. Pervious concrete is a special type of structural concrete with a sponge-like network of voids that water passes through readily. When used for driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and other pavements, pervious concrete can help to retain stormwater runoff and replenish local water supplies.

This parking lot installed in 2001 at Bannister Park, Fair Oaks, Calif.,
is the first in the state to use pervious concrete. The Sacramento Cool
Communities program was a partner in the project, which used pervious
concrete for stormwater management and to reduce the urban heat-island
effect. In about 10 years, the trees will shade more than half the lot.

Minimal waste. Concrete can be produced in the quantities needed for each project, reducing waste. After a concrete structure has served its original purpose, the concrete can be crushed and recycled into aggregate for use in new concrete pavements or as backfill or road base.

Recycled Concrete Aggregate.
Photo Courtesy of Portland Cement Association.

Article Written By: Anne Balogh,

The Cypress Lane

October 5th, 2010

Wilmington, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with its readers The Cypress Lane house plan, courtesy of Sullivan Design Company.

Enjoy one-story living in this beautiful 3260 sf home. The plan includes 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and a private bonus room over the garage, perfect for guests. For more information, including the floor plan, visit the Mark Johnson Custom Homes inventory page.
All homes built by MJCH are energy efficient. This plan boasts a significant energy efficiency package which is estimated to be 25% more efficient than a code minimum home. These standard features include radiant barrier roof sheathing, a recirculating tankless water heater, bath fans with humidity sensors, 15 SEER Trane heat pump with programmable thermostat, R-23 blown-in-blanket insulation in 2×6 exterior walls, raised foundation slab construction and air barriers behind knee walls.

Energy Guide LabelThe EnergyGuide label gives you two important pieces of information you can use to compare different brands and models when shopping for a new appliance:
Estimated energy consumption on a scale showing a range for similar models

Estimated yearly operating cost based on the national average cost of electricity

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

The Primrose at Landfall built in Wilmington, NC by custom home builder and remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes was recently recognized as one of the Most Innovative Small Residential projects in the country. The honor was presented as part of the ICF Builder Awards, an international competition designed to showcase the advantages of building with Insulated Concrete Forms, commonly called ICFs. ICFs are hollow foam blocks which are stacked and then filled with steel-reinforced concrete. The finished structure combines the strength of concrete with the insulating properties of foam, which stays in place to insulate and protect the walls. This construction method can reduce energy bills by up to 70 percent, block exterior noise, and is extremely disaster resistant. As an additional benefit, it is one of the most popular ways to “build green” costing between 5 to 10 percent more than regular frame construction.

The Primrose at Landfall was named First Runner-Up in the Small Residential division. The presentation, witnessed by hundreds of construction professionals associated with the industry, took place last month at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ICF Builder Awards are given annually to projects that demonstrate outstanding innovation, quality, and craftsmanship in ICF construction. “The variety and scale of projects being built with ICFs is truly astounding,” said Clark Ricks, editor of ICF Builder magazine and organizer of the competition. “It’s time these outstanding projects received industry-wide recognition, and we feel privileged to take a leading role in that.”

For more information about the ICF Builder Awards, go to

Wilmington, NC Green builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes understands the importance of recycling and would like to share the following information about recycling paper, courtesy of

  • Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees compared to paper made from virgin materials.
  • Instead of using a new piece of paper for rough work, turn over a used copy and write on the other side.
  • Junk mail is more than an annoyance. It clogs landfills as well as your mailbox, and costs millions of trees and tax dollars every year.
  • 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually.
  • The average U.S. household receives unsolicited junk mail equal to 1.5 trees each year—That’s more than 100 million trees for all households combined.
  • 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (33 percent) is recycled.
  • Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that doesn’t get recycled.
  • On average, Americans spend 8 months opening junk mail in the course of their lives.
  • Start by registering with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It won’t guarantee you a life free of junk mail, but it can help.
  • You can also go to, which can enable you to remove your name from lists that mortgage, credit card and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations.
  • One option is to use the Stop the Junk Mail Kit developed by the Consumer Research Institute.
  • The website provides further guidelines for reducing junk mail and other intrusions, from unwanted e-mail (Spam) to telemarketing.
  • Pay your bills online! Eliminate your paper trail as well as the energy used to transport paper bills.
  • Go digital. If only 10 million people in the US change Mon-Fri newspapers to online, we could save almost 50,000 trees each year!
  • Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires substantially less energy and natural resources than products from virgin materials.
  • You may think that a lot of paper gets recycled, but according to the National Recycling Coalition, Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 13-foot-high wall of paper from New York to Seattle.
  • Do your part – recycle!

Low E Argon Windows

February 23rd, 2010

Pender County, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is preparing to break ground on our second Insulated Concrete Form home. The owner of the home being built in Currie, NC has chosen to add Argon gas to the standard Low E windows. What’s the benefit of using Argon gas in addition to the Low E glass? Read below to find out!

Today, more than ever, the environment is a major concern. With the effects of global warming almost universally recognized, and the problems with climate change becoming gradually more apparent, the time to act is most certainly now. Add to that the weight of increasing energy bills, and you have got yourself a real incentive to save energy and the world in which we live.

By making simple decisions around the home, we can increase our insulating properties and require less energy to heat our homes, which can help the earth and our wallets. One such way is through installing low E argon windows. In this article, we will look at the benefits of low E windows, and why they should be a realistic consideration for anyone looking to update their household windows.

What does Low E Argon Mean

Regular windows lose heat through four recognizable processes; namely convection, conduction, radiation and leakages. Convection is where warmer air is cooled by exterior air and as a result moves in a downwards direction, thus creating a draft. Conduction is the loss of heat directly through the window.

Air leakage is the physical gaps within the window and its frame, which is another means by which heat is lost. Finally, radiation is the loss of heat in the form of infrared energies through the window. This process is obviously inefficient and costly, in terms of the wasted energy.

What is more, this means that we aren’t getting the most from the energy we are producing, which means we need more energy, which is subsequently more harmful to our environment. However, low E argon windows can change all that.

Low E argon windows work primarily by reflecting heat which would otherwise be wasted back into the room in question. Because it contains argon, the window is significantly better at reflecting heat rather than conducting heat, and consequently keeps the heat in, and keeps the unwanted heat out. This results in a massive energy saving, which is reflected in the first instance when the bill arrives at the end of the month.

Why Low E Argon

Low E argon windows should be a very important factor when it comes to replacing windows. One thing you may notice in the first instance is that low E argon windows are more expensive. This is due to the more technologically advanced manufacturing process, which is also more labor intensive. Having said that, it is estimated that the average household could save $240 every single year through installing low E argon windows, a massive saving over its lifetime. By making the initial investment, the windows will generate a tangible saving, year on year, whilst also going a long way towards saving our planet.

Low E argon windows are becoming increasingly popular and it is easy to see why. With society’s greener conscience, and a determination to cut down on energy bills, there has never been a better time to install low E argon windows in your home.

With that minimal initial investment, you can rest, safe in the knowledge that you are increasing your energy efficiency and doing your bit to protect our volatile environment in these crucial environmental times. Alongside household recycling, maximizing energy efficiency is one of the easiest tangible things you can do, and with such an enormous saving, it is hard to justify not making the transition.

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