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A 'green' scene:
Sustainability Institute helps turn homes green

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Oak Terrace Preserve is sustainability heaven to Bryan Cordell, executive director of The Sustainability Institute, a North Charleston nonprofit organization that educates community residents about the benefits of having a healthy, energy-efficient, durable and comfortable home.

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The development’s houses will feature many of the homebuilding materials and appliances the institute touts: toilets that operate with less water, windows that reflect heat in summer and admit heat in winter, recyclable carpeting, ventilating systems that provide optimum air quality, airtight insulation made from reusable materials like cellulose paper, toxin-free flooring and a host of other sustainable products Cordell says help homeowners lower their medical and energy bills.

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Among other sustainable materials recommended by the institute include structured insulated panels, or SIPs, a strong, lightweight, insulated building material used for exterior walls.

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Verdi Building Systems, one of Oak Terrace Preserve’s homebuilders, makes SIPs. Hardiplank, a cement-fiber siding that looks like wood but is more durable, is another praised product.

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The Sustainability Institute operates from the Green House, an 840-square-foot house that is green in color as well as construction.

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“We focus on five areas: creating strong structures, moisture control, indoor air quality, energy conservation and sustainable landscaping,” said Cordell.

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The institute began giving sustainability workshops in 2003 and since then has served 950 participants and saved them a total of $188,840 in energy costs, according to Cordell.

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The institute will be holding its first workshop for homebuilders on Jan. 24. For more information, contact the institute’s Benjamin Leigh at 452-7610 or e-mail ben@sustainabilityinstitutesc.org.

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