Carson City builder putting up certified green homes

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Ben Smith thinks the time is right for going green.

Smith, president of BSA Construction, admits that it's a tough time to be creating a new residential project, but says the way the homes are built will make the difference.

Smith and his partner Ben Seljestad are looking to build City View Green Homes, eight green-certified homes in southwest Carson City. They feature highly efficient appliances and insulation, solar heating and renewable or recycled materials.

"It's kind of scary, but we think we have a good product and hope it sells as quick as we're thinking it will," Smith said.

Smith went through training by the Builders Association of Western Nevada and is now certified as a green builder by the National Association of Home Builders and Sierra Green.

"I had already been thinking about doing green building just because I saw the future of it," Smith said.

The first home should be completed within two weeks.

The hillside location on Voltaire Canyon Road allows for most of the homes to be partially embedded into the earth, making them more energy efficient. Window placement will make use of passive solar heating, and some of the homes will have solar panels.

The homes are tightly sealed and use insulated concrete forms to improve efficiency. Plans call for in-floor hydronic heating, which is the most efficient way to heat a home, according to Smith.

Fans are also used to moderate temperatures without using energy for additional heating and cooling.

"The mechanical system is very important, the heating and air conditioning, because it expends a ton of energy," Smith said.

Lighting was also an important factor in reducing the homes' energy usage. The homes use high-efficiency lighting, but in a smart way.

"The lighting in the house is placed where we have the minimum amount of lighting to get the maximum effect," Smith said. "The lights aren't just thrown in. We engineer it to get the maximum light out of the least amount of energy."

But saving money on utility bills is only a part of these homes. Another major factor is eliminating sources of indoor air pollution. They use paints that don't contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. They also don't use carpets, which can contain VOCs and trap dust and other pollutants.

The homes are built with an eye for a healthy planet. Renewable bamboo is used for floors. Countertops are made of recycled glass. And Smith said they look at how far products have to shipped in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

"We are grabbing as many products in this area so we don't expend a lot of energy transporting them from overseas," Smith said. "Every aspect is being thought of."

The architectural design of the homes has a modern flair. A rooftop deck takes maximum advantage of the views from the hillside properties.

"It's modern, but not ridiculously modern," Smith said.

The landscaping will also make use of native species to reduce water consumption and helping the homes blend into the environment.

The first home did not go as far as they wanted in terms of green construction, but the others will go farther.

"We can't do 100 percent of what we could because of the cost, but we've done quite a bit," Smith said.

Contact reporter Kirk Caraway at or (775) 881-1261.


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