comscore Green home rises from ashes

Green home rises from ashes

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    This Kailua home was rebuilt by Bossert Builders, Inc. after a fire destroyed the original structure. The new 3,600 square-foot home was built on its existing foundation and features eco-friendly material.
    Low flow fixtures will be installed into the home.
    Ecobatt insulation made from sand, recycled glass and a bio-based binder lines the cellar of the house.
    Nick Bossert holds reflective roof shingles that reduce heat.
    Electricans install wiring into the Mattos' family home for Energy Star qualified fixtures.
    The original structure of the Kailua home before a fire destroyed it.

A two-story family residence in Kailua that burned down last March has been rebuilt into an eco-friendly home.

The Keolu Hills house is on track to become the first in Hawaii to be certified as "green" by the National Association of Home Builders.

Contractor Bossert Builders is holding an open house Sunday to allow the public to get a closer look at the house’s sustainable features. At the same time, a raffle will be held to raise funds for Honolulu Habitat for Humanity.

While building green wasn’t initially the ultimate goal for the Mattos family, who lived in their home nearly 50 years before it was destroyed by flames that March evening, it became an option when the green features were offered at the same cost as standard construction.

"We were excited because we could get a green home for the same price and help the environment at the same time," said homeowner and retiree Elliot Mattos. "We also like the fact that you don’t have to be a millionaire to get a green home."

The home, rebuilt from the ground up except for some of the foundation that was salvaged, cost about $600,000 — the budget Mattos was able to afford based on his insurance coverage.


» When: 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday

» Where: 1435 Humuula St., Kailua

» Info: visit


Some green features that qualified the home for NAHB’s bronze-level certification include a solar water heater, rainwater catchment system (which will provide water for the lawn), low-E argon-insulated double-pane windows, wall insulation, solar reflective roof shingles and man-made lumber recycled from scrap wood left behind at mills.

The NAHB’s National Green Building Standard Program is similar to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program in that it is based on a point system.

The NAHB’s program, which targets builders and remodelers, provides points in categories such as energy and water efficiency. If the home has a solar hot water system, for example, it gets points for energy efficiency. A home oriented on the lot in such a way that takes advantage of natural sun and wind patterns also earns points.

Certification levels start at bronze, then go up to silver, gold and emerald. A third party issues the certification.

FROM THE EXTERIOR, the five-bedroom, three-bath home looks pretty similar to the original one built in 1963 but got an upgrade with sustainable materials and finishes.

Bossert said the home’s joists and beams are all made of man-made lumber (engineered from wood mill waste), which costs a little more but is more durable and is available from local distributors.

The ceilings have been insulated with Icynene Spray Foam — a soft foam that acts as a barrier to keep heat out. The walls are insulated with EcoBatt material made from nonpetroleum sources.

The interior layout was designed to provide extra storage and a laundry room in the back. An additional 600 square feet was built, for a total of 3,600 square feet.

Underneath the home, there is a crawl space that Mattos will be able to use as a workshop and for extra storage. Next to a stairwell, there is a generous closet.

Every room is outfitted with double-paned windows from Smart Sun designed to keep UV rays and heat out while allowing light in.

On the roof, solar roof shingles will help keep the non-air-conditioned home cool during the summer months. The shingles, available from RSI Roofing, have granules that reflect the sun’s heat, and come in colors including gray, brown, tan and red.

The home is outfitted with a 120-gallon solar water heater from Energy Pro Hawaii. Every bathroom has low-flow fixtures, and, of course, there are Energy Star appliances in the kitchen and laundry room, along with Energy Star ceiling fans in the bedrooms.

The homeowners will be able to get tax credits for the solar water heater and windows, which will add up to savings later on.

Most of the building materials and features were purchased locally, according to Bossert Builders, from various companies including Green Builders Depot, 808 Stone, Grabber Pacific and Hardware Hawaii.

Nick Bossert said he makes it a personal choice to support local distributors, but the advantage is that they develop strong relationships and, thus, try to keep prices competitive with the mainland.

Total time line for construction? About five months, with the finishing touches still being put on the home last week.

"It’s something every homeowner on the island can do," said Leanne Bossert, president of Bossert Builders. "It won’t cost more money. A lot of people just don’t know that."

Though this is the first certified home the Kailua-based company has built, Leanne hopes there will be many more to come.

"It’s a matter of creating more awareness," she said.

Most people think an eco-friendly home is a high-end luxury, she said, or that it’s always done in a contemporary design, but that’s not necessarily the case. Bossert sits down with clients and points out the green options and prices during the design process, then leaves it up to the client.

"I think everyone’s trying to go greener to save money," said Nick Bossert. "When you build sustainable, it’s going to save money in the long run. If we can build homes and help the environment at the same time, that’s a huge plus."


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