Head out down the twisting, spanish moss-draped streets of Callawassie Island, and you might come across a house tucked in the woods whose tin roof and simple lines look like many of the other beautiful homes in this island community.
But look under that roof, beneath the concrete floors, and you’ll find a world of difference in this house — you’ll see the high-tech system that harnesses the power of the planet to heat this home. You’ll see rainwater being triple filtered before it hits any waterway. And that’s just a couple of the cutting-edge eco-friendly enhancements you’ll find in the home of Be Green Packaging’s Marc Blitzer.
Blitzer’s Bosch geothermal heat pump adjusts as needed to cool or heat the 2,300-square-foot home. The system uses the nearly constant temperature of the earth to provide air conditioning, heat and hot water through a system of closed looped tubes buried to a depth of six feet and circulated through a heat pump, which Blitzer has in his attic.
The geothermal system is the first and so far only one on the island, said Stone.
Blitzer said that architect Gerry Cowhart, of the Cowhart Group Architects, and Todd Stone, owner of Stone Construction of the South, worked closely together to give him what he wanted.
Planning began with Cowhart examining the property before clearing.
“He came out, looked at the site and planned where to place the home so I have the most efficient use of the sun at certain times of the day,” Blitzer said. “I asked for energy efficiency and that’s what I have, inside and out.”
Reclaimed wood, a drip irrigation system, concrete floors, low flow toilets and LED lights are among the energy-efficient items installed.
Photos by Rob Kaufman. Click to enlarge.
“Those concrete floors add to the efficiency of the house because they’re cool in the summer,” said Stone. “We don’t have to heat them in winter.”
Blitzer also has a central vacuum system installed. If he needs to clean up tennis court clay or sand tracked into the house, he brings out the vacuum, plugs it into one of the wall outlets and turns it on. Otherwise, he sweeps the dirt near the floor-level automatic dustpan and flips the switch with his shoe. The system quickly draws the dirt into the hoses, dropping into the canister located in the attic.
The home is also a housekeeper’s joy. With the energy-efficient construction — from the floor to the windows — the home is air tight, making cleaning fast work.
“My whole idea was maintenance-free – a simple home,” Blitzer said. That included such details as placing sink fixtures in the wall so that cleanup is a quick sweep of the cloth.
The kitchen island top and the upstairs floors are made of reclaimed heart pine from a barn built in the late 1800s, said Stone.
“All of the wood, from the floors to the beams, was reclaimed,” he said. And all of it was used, much to Blitzer’s delight.
“One thing I noticed was the builder used every bit of wood – nothing was wasted. If I asked for another door, they took what they had and fashioned it out of the scraps,” he said.
The exterior received the same energy efficient consideration as the house.
“He used the natural layout of that lot. Marc wanted to keep everything as natural as possible. He didn’t change the grade very much,” said Stone. “He also used rain gardens. We installed two of them, one in front and one in back.”
A rain garden – or bioretention – is one of Beaufort County’s Best Management Practices recommendations to builders and home owners to help with stormwater runoff.
“What the county wants you to do when you build is keep 90-95 percent of the water on your lot before it drains into the water system,” said Stone.
He said both rain gardens were dug about 10 feet square and three feet deep, filled with gravel, then sand and topped with soil.
“It allows the water to filter and keeps it from overwhelming the local water system,” Stone said. “The soils here absorb water so well that there are very few spots where water stands for more than an hour even after a heavy rain.”
If rain is in short supply, Blitzer’s plants need not suffer. He uses a drip-irrigation system timed to drip water on each plant, eliminating evaporation from sprinklers and spray systems that may water the road as much as the foliage.
Even the tin roof has been given a high-efficiency upgrade, thanks to the thick closed-cell foam insulation within.
“It’s always comfortable in here and I hardly notice it when it rains heavily,” said Blitzer. He keeps the thermostat set between 70 and 72 degrees, averaging a $120 a month bill.
“With the foam, you don’t need to make it as thick as you would with other insulation,” said Stone.
Should a major storm blow through, neither the house nor the garage is likely to fly away. Both are anchored with steel cable tie-downs, the garage has a reinforced wind-rated door and the home’s windows are impact glass resistant, able to withstand 200 mph winds.
“People might look at this and say this is a cute little country design, but it was all done with energy efficiency,” said Blitzer. “It’s low maintenance and it’s different.”
Construction: Todd Stone
Architect: Gerry Cowhart
Landscaping: The Greenery
Cabinetry: Palm Bay Cabinet Company, LLC
Foam insulation: Ecofoam Insulation
Electric & lights installation:
All Phase Wiring LLC
Tile & countertops: Stone Works Inc.