We often see articles about large projects which make use of "green" building methods, but what can you do on a smaller scale? I would like to describe some of what we did, though we certainly could have done more. We re cently raised our roof adding a loft space and extending our deck. Insulation was done with a new product made from recycle denim scraps with natural minerals to make it fireproof and insect proof. Our building crew sure appreciated not having to handle itchy fiberglass. We were able to get some recyled large dimension beams and some of our other lumber from Whole House Salvage in East Palo Alto; we also got a spiral staircase (We removed it from a home being torn down in Atherton a couple of years ago and it has been waiting for us to do this deck,), some of our windows were recycled as well as a four panel glass sliding door. We used various other pieces of recycled hardware. Our loft was floored with bamboo (bamboo being a fast growing grass, rather than wood) and our deck was decked with sustainably harvested wood. We hoped to use a product like Nexwood which we had used for our dock last year which is made from recycled plastic and rice straw, but because of support issues, had to go with the wood. The loft was added partially to give us more south facing roof so that we could add a solar PV system. Roof construction included bracing for that system which is being designed.

Insulation made from recyled blue jean scraps--no fiberglass to be handled by our crew. Owners worked with crew on most phases of construction. Slight slope on roof to match slope of building, fitted with roof jacks for planned PVC installation.

Some of the larger beams as well as recycled spiral staircase out of demolished house in Atherton from Whole House Building Salvage (removed by owners with the assistance of community members 2 years before this remodeling project)

A recycled old growth beam was sanded to show the beauty of its grain rather than covered with dry wall. Some windows and doors were recycled and the stairrail is from a dismantled staircase.

The stair case is in process, using cut-off end pieces from the deck and more recycled marble.


Most of the lamps were recycled...as was the furniture. Bamboo flooring was used.

Brian designed a unique doorway. Some people say it reminds them of a hobbit house.It leads into a sunroom. Reclaimed marble was used on the floor.


The sunroom leads out to the deck. An extention was added to connect both upper apartments and to make use of that spiral staircase for direct access to the gardens.


These are the orignial rooms: living room and kitchen. The living room has a new ceiling and part of it is open to the loft. Of course our furniture is "recycled" being purchased at garage sales, from Craigslist, or a local consignment store. Reclaimed marble was used for kitchen counters. One of my favorite "reused" items is the coffee table which was someone's throw away with a broken leg, which is now my wonder pot rack.