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Oct 9, 2008 11:21 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Local builder taking strides in environmental efficency

Oct 9, 2008 11:21 AM

Southampton Town’s new green codes—building requirements meant to conserve energy and preserve the environment—were met with resistance by some developers who feared the added costs, but at least one Westhampton Beach builder says he sees shouldering the costs of building to a higher energy standard as an investment and he’s at forefront of green building west of the Shinnecock Canal.

A spec home currently under construction by Lawrence Citarelli, the owner of Lawrence III Corporation and Citron Holdings, Lawrence III’s financial branch, features water views, a pool and two master suites like any fine Hamptons home, but it also complies with Southampton Town’s new green codes and is on track to earn the gold standard in the LEED-Certification system.

“We’re giving back to the environment and the consumer with a superior product,” Mr. Citarelli said.

Construction on the home, situated on 1.25 acres in Remsenburg, began in September and is expected to be completed by Memorial Day. The 4,200-square-foot house—a figure that includes the deck and porch space—offers geothermal heating, a solar-heated pool and Energy Star-rated appliances, factors that help it comply with the Energy Star qualifications and will earn it LEED-Certification, explained Brian MacKinnon, the director of operations for The Green Nest, a consulting company that helps guide green construction.

The federal government created Energy Star, which is a stamp of approval for products, such as buildings and appliances, that have a minimal impact on the environment. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system specifically for buildings.

Mr. MacKinnon explained that because the house will be LEED-certified and Energy Star compliant, it will exceed the town’s green codes.

The Southampton Town green codes, which went into effect on October 1, mandate a four-tiered sliding scale of energy efficiency that newly built and substantially renovated homes must meet, in addition to other requirements.

Because the home on Godfrey Lane has a total of 3,500-square-feet of heatable space, the town green code’s sliding scale requires that it have a rating of at least 84 on the Home Energy Rating System, a system that scores how efficiently homes use energy. The builders, however, are attempting to earn the house a score of 90 on the HERS scale, said Lawrence Raynor, the managing partner of Lawrence III Corporation’s new Green Division.

The components of the home will save the home buyer money in the long run, Mr. Citarelli said. The heating system is one of those components. It will be heated and cooled with a geothermal heating system. A geothermal system features a well that draws in groundwater and runs it through ducts in the house, according to Mr. MacKinnon. The groundwater is kept at 58 degrees, a temperature that helps cool down the house in the summer and heat it in the winter, Mr. MacKinnon said. A propane heating system supplements the geothermal system in the winter, Mr. MacKinnon noted.

This system is designed to pay for itself within two and a half years.

Mr. Citarelli said a few people have expressed interest in buying the home, which is listed at about $2.3 million. Besides potential buyers, Mr. Citarelli said that Westhampton Beach village officials and town officials, as well as other local builders, have been checking it out.

“They’ve been buzzing the nest,” Mr. Citarelli said.

The components of the Godfrey Lane residence were bought through a Vermont-based panelized home company called Connor Homes, a factor that makes the home more environmentally efficient, Mr. MacKinnon explained. Connor Homes all but constructs the house in its Vermont factory: the company builds all of the components, then delivers them to the construction site in a series of tractor trailer shipments, Mr. MacKinnon explained.

The Green Nest is a local dealer for Connor products.

Mr. Citarelli explained that purchasing the components from the Connor factory in Vermont reduces the carbon footprint coming from the construction. Purchasing materials at local lumber yard comes at a high environmental cost, as the wood comes from mills as far afield as the midwest, with many stops and environmentally-damaging steps along the way toward the East End, he argued. Purchasing the building products from Connor means they come straight from the factory.

The components delivered to the home site are pre-cut and have only to be assembled “like a puzzle” on site. This, in turn, reduces waste.

“We don’t have five guys running chop saws and 17 generators running,” Mr. Citarelli said.

What waste is generated at the site will be recycled, Mr. MacKinnon said.

Traditionally, most green homes had a clean, modern look, with sharp lines, rows of windows, and a concrete-looking exterior, but Mr. Citarelli’s house could easily be mistaken for a Hamptons classic, complete with cedar-shake siding.

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