Green Up Your Valentine's Day

February 8th, 2010



Pender County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to wish all of our reader’s a Happy Valentine’s Day and share this very informative article courtesy of NC GreenPower that gives Green gift suggestions for this special day.

Flowers, cards, candy? GREEN up your Valentine’s Day with these ideas that both your significant other and the environment will appreciate!

  •  Instead of traditional flowers for Valentine’s day, give a beautiful, long-lasting potted plant from a local garden.
  • Cook a romantic meal using all organic ingredients from local markets.
  • Want to take your date to dinner? Then think about supporting a restaurant that uses locally-grown produce.
  • Around a billion valentines are sent each year globally, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. Those one billion cards laid end to end would stretch around the world 5 times! That’s a lot of trees. NOT including cards exchanged in classrooms between children, 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S. alone. So forget traditional paper Valentine’s Day cards! Instead send an e-card that will save paper and get to your Valentine right on time.
  • If you’re really splurging this year and want to get jewelry, find a jeweler who uses conflict-free diamonds, like Brilliant Earth uses Canadian diamonds and recycled gold, which means their sales never support slavery, child labor, or terrorism.
  • Take a green vacation with your loved one – visit our website to purchase carbon offsets for your trip.
  • Send your sweetheart organic fair trade chocolates this V-day.
  • If you want to get a really unique gift, check out Ten Thousand Villages. It’s not only a socially responsible business but also eco-friendly.
  • For a simple $24 tax-deductable donation, you can also give the gift of clean air with an NC GreenPower gift card!
  • Consider natural perfumes. Other fragrances are synthetic and often from toxic petrochemicals from crude oil.
  • Take a trip to your local park, aquarium or zoo. Or better yet, make a donation to the ASPCA or Humane Society.
  • If Valentine’s Day is an important day for you, show a bit of extra love for the environment by carefully considering what you buy.

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Brunswick County, NC Green home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an article that was released on January 20, during the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, NV.

Kohler, Marvin Windows and Doors and Whirlpool are three manufacturers ready with new lines of green and sustainable products for today’s new homes, company representatives said today at the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

But until lenders and appraisers learn to recognize the value of green innovation and the money it can save new home buyers, there is not enough incentive in the marketplace for large-scale implementation, said Bill Nolan, the Florida home building consultant who moderated the first of three press conferences in commemoration of Green Day at the Builders’ Show.

 Kohler’s water-saving toilets use an average of 39,000 fewer gallons of water per year for a family of four – a lifetime of drinking water for three people, said Shane Judd, senior marketing manager of water conservation for the company. New products will incorporate rainwater reuse and gray water – using the water draining from the shower stall to fill the washing machine, for example.

 Marvin emphasizes long-term sustainability rather than first-time costs and also pays close attention to green practices during the production process, said Brett Boyum, director of marketing. Each year, 8,500 tons of shavings and other wood waste are used to heat the company’s manufacturing plant.

 Ed Linder, division director, Whirlpool Corporation, said his company is manufacturing ranges that use 40 percent less energy and appliances that are “smart-grid” ready and is exploring shared-power technologies: for example, using the energy generated from a refrigerator condenser coil to heat the water in the dishwasher.

 For innovation to leap forward, it must be cost-effective, and that can’t happen until the additional first-time costs and long-term savings of most green technologies are appreciated by appraisers and bankers in the underwriting process, Nolan said.

 “We can’t get lenders to appreciate the value of the net costs, and if we can’t get the values recognized, [manufacturers] can’t justify moving these products forward,” he said, noting that NAHB is working to educate appraisers and lenders. “The goal should be long-term energy efficiency.”

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Selecting Green Paint

February 2nd, 2010

Wilmington, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an informative article from that explains things to look for when selecting Green paint. A new coat of paint can make a room feel fresh again, but it often has the opposite effect on the air quality in your home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paints, stains, and other architectural coatings produce about 9 percent of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from consumer and commercial products, making them the second-largest source of VOC emissions after after automobiles. For the complete article, click here

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New Hanover County, NC Green home builder, Mark Johnson Custom Homes enjoys the informative articles on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide website. One particular article outlines 15 Green home improvements, each under $500. Below is the list written by Jeanne Huber of This Old House and to read each one in more detail, click here!

  1. Build a clothesline Insulating Hot Water Pipes
  2. Add a tube-type skylight
  3. Put a recirculating pump under the sink
  4. Insulate hot-water pipes
  5. Plant deciduous trees
  6. Install a programmable thermostat
  7. Create a rain garden
  8. Install a smart ceiling fan
  9. Replace can lights
  10. Build a worm bin
  11. Install aerators on faucets         
  12. Clean your refrigerator coils         
  13. Replace weatherstripping         
  14. Reduce light pollution         
  15. Clean green  

Article Courtesy of: Photo Courtesy of: Rob Howard

St. James Plantation, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is featured in the October/November 2009 issue of Concrete Homes Magazine! The highlighted Green home in Wilmington, NC, which was framed using LOGIX Insulating Concrete Forms, is only the second LEED Platinum Home in North Carolina. (LEED Platinum is the highest attainable certification for Green-built homes from the U.S. Green Building Council.)

Below is an excerpt and to read the complete article, click here or pick up a copy of the latest issue on newsstands now!

“Up to 50 percent of LOGIX blocks, by weight, are made from recycled materials, and the ICF product produces minimal waste, which can then be fully recycled. LOGIX foam panels are made from 10 percent recycled expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. LOGIX webs, which hold rebar within the form, are made of 100 percent recycled polypropylene.

Building with the LOGIX ICF delivered the first 26 LEED points by itself.

[Kevin] Johnson said the exterior walls are a foot thick: 6 inches of concrete sandwiched by 2 3/4 inches of LOGIX foam panels on each side, providing an R-50 insulation standard.   

The 114 cubic yards of concrete used to fill the ICFs was provided by Hughes Ready Mixed Co. in Wilmington, and was a 30 percent fly ash mix.

‘If I were building a home for myself, I certainly would build it with ICFs, especially in this coastal region where we know we are going to get hurricanes and other storms.'”

Going Green Cover (Small)Jacksonville, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ LEED Platinum home was recently featured on the cover of Cape Fear’s Going Green magazine. The issue also included a re-cap of the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance’s 5th Annual Solar and Green Building Tour, which Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ LEED Platinum home in Wilmington, NC was featured in. Below is the complete article and for more information, visit Going Green’s website!

Going Green Article

UNCW-ColorJacksonville, NC home builder is proud to share that local our university, UNC Wilmington, met the state deadline for reducing energy consumption over eight months early! Per Senate Bill 668, all North Carolina agencies, including universities, were mandated to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by July 2010. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington announced this month that it dropped its usage by 28 percent over the past six years, and 11 percent in 2009 alone.

“As a university, we’ve done well in reducing our energy consumption and costs,” said Tom Freshwater, physical plant director for UNC Wilmington. “We’ve cut our energy costs by almost one-third over the past six years, which is a significant savings in both energy and dollars.”

UNCW met their energy savings goal by:
• Building temperature setbacks at night and during weekends and holidays
• Improving the heating/air conditioning controls at the Center for Marine Science
• Standardizing a uniform temperature in buildings across campus
• Replacing/upgrading HVAC equipment and controls in Kenan Auditorium, Dobo Hall, Cameron Hall and Friday Hall on the main campus
• Installing high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) heat pumps in residence halls

For more information, visit the UNCW News & Events Website!

ecomaginationSt. James Plantation builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes enjoyed attending the CFGBA’s Green Living Expo and Conference yesterday in historic downtown Wilmington, NC! A particular highlight was hearing GE’s Ecomagination Executive Director Katharine Brass explain GE’s initiatives to find new solutions for energy resources. Below is an excerpt from a Greater Wilmington Business Journal article by Josh Spilker and to read the complete article, click here!

“’We are at the forefront and continue to be thought leaders in how everyone can survive and thrive in a resource-starved world,’ Brass said about GE. She explained how the company that Thomas Edison founded would continue to innovate and develop new technology.

‘We look at what society needs going forward,’ Brass said. ‘You develop what is truly needed.’ And what is needed is new ways of consuming energy. In a set of compelling graphs, Brass explained that if the burgeoning Chinese and Indian populations develop modern conveniences in the same way Americans have, the rate of growth and the provision of energy is not sustainable.”

Mark Johnson Custom Homes invites local Wilmington, NC government officials to learn about sustainable building techniques

IMGP3632_r02 (Small)Brunswick County, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes was recently featured in the Greater Wilmington Business Journal highlighting an open house for their Energy Star Home in Wilmington, NC. Local Wilmington, NC government officials were invited to learn more about sustainable energy and Green technologies in hopes to generate the building of more Green homes in New Hanover County. Below is an excerpt from the article by Alison Satake and Valerie Carr, and to read the complete article, click here!

“After attaining the highest LEED ranking for Green building, the new Birkdale home in Landfall may set a precedent for more Green building incentives.

…Local representatives from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, and New Hanover County commissioners [were] invited to the new home to hear how incentives, such as a rebate on permits for Green homes, could spur Green building in the area.

In June, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 52, which allows all North Carolina cities and counties to develop incentives for buildings that reduce energy consumption. Wilmington and the surrounding counties met last week to discuss preliminarily what would work here.”

In a previous blog post, Jacksonville, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes introduced our readers to The Energy Detective and explained its role in tracking the energy efficiencies of our LEED Platinum home in Landfall in Wilmington, NC. Now information technology giant Google has signed up with Energy Inc, the maker of The Energy Detective, to make tracking the energy usage of your home even easier. Below is an excerpt from a recent article on and to read the complete article, click here. To get The Energy Detective installed in your own home in Southeastern North Carolina, contact Electronics 2 You, Coastal Carolina’s finest home audio establishment, at (910) 397-0953 or visit their website!

“Aimed at consumers, the TED 5000 home energy usage monitoring device uses a gateway device that connects and stores energy usage data from a residential electrical panel. This data can then be beamed wirelessly to a display that can be carried around by the user, providing individuals with a constant reminder of how much energy they are using.

The system can also connect to a network, so that its data is also transmissible to Google’s servers. Google PowerMeter can then display a residence’s energy usage using a chronological chart, while also rating the house against other residences, so that users can tell how well they are doing compared to the average PowerMeter user.”

TED in Kitchen