Beautiful Illinois Home Uses Stone Veneer to Help Gain LEED Certification

Beautiful Illinois Home Uses Stone Veneer to Help Gain LEED Certification

eco-friendly-homes LEED Stone Veneer

Brick and stone veneer are nothing new to the world of architecture and construction. They are attractive, durable, and don’t come with the same hefty price tag as a traditional, full sized stone or brick.

And, in the instance of this beautiful new home in Evanston, Illinois, their use marks achieving a standard of sustainability measured by the popular certification program, LEED. These are no ordinary stone veneers. They are entirely man-made, which gives them several important qualities that do well to promote environmentally friendly design.

This article aims to examine this stunning work of residential construction, and answer a few fundamental questions about LEED. What is it? Why is it Important? And how do things like sourcing local, sustainable materials make an impact on the environment?

Leed Stone VeneerLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED isn’t the only sustainability certification program in the design and construction industry, but it’s become the most ubiquitous. It began development in 1993 by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as an avenue for setting green building standards for architects, engineers, builders, material suppliers, and developers.

Few things affect the health of our planet more than the things we build. From design and construction to maintenance and upkeep, the embedded energy in the constructed world contributes to a host of environmental issues that architects, engineers, and legislators are responsible for addressing in an attempt to slow our impact on the planet and preserve it for generations to come.

LEED was designed to do just that.

The program is in a constant state of development – always adjusting to our ever-changing understanding of environmental impact and protection. While the intricacies and details of the criteria are complex, projects can earn credits for such things as using low-VOC paints and materials, insulating past code requirements, specifying energy efficient HVAC systems and appliances, and other design related issues such as solar orientation and water conservation.

Depending on how many credits a project earns in accordance with the building type, it will be awarded a silver, gold, or platinum designation.

However, for everything LEED does to set a project up for environmental success, it’s still up to the design and construction team to focus those efforts into something that is beautiful, comfortable, and functional.

The LEED Home Made With Stone Veneer

That brings us to Evanston, Illinois first ever LEED Platinum certified home. The home, which is currently undergoing construction and knee-deep in the certification process, is as architecturally interesting as it is sustainable. It is organized as an ‘H’ shape in plan and wraps around several exterior courtyards. The design focuses on energy efficiency, water conservation, and utilizing materials that reinforce its commitment to sustainability.

One of those primary materials is an exterior stone veneer product that has several embedded qualities that help the project earn valuable LEED credits.

The stone veneer used in this project, our stone veneer,  is entirely man-made. Ironically, it’s this very fact that made it such an appropriate and sustainable stone siding material for this home. It’s manufactured using significantly less water than natural stone, which requires a massive amount for the cutting and shaping process. Furthermore, the manufacturing facility is located in the nearby northern Indiana, earning LEED credits for proximity to the job site.

Our stone veneer helps the project achieve its status as a leader in sustainability, yes, but it also gives the home a unique, natural look in places its applied. The stone veneer product can be applied to the exterior, where it will last as long as the structure does, or the interior as fireplace stone or perhaps an attractive accent wall.

The versatility of the stone veneer allows architects and builders to be creative with a product that is also inherently sustainable. And better yet, it comes with an affordable price tag that will ensure it doesn’t get value engineered out of the project.

The Future of Building Materials

The construction materials industry is currently undergoing a massive shift in the way products are manufactured, delivered, and even installed. People today are aware of how important protecting the environment has become, and value sustainability in home building more than ever.

And when clients and home-buyers universally begin to value something, the industry responds. Sustainably manufactured exterior stone veneers are just the beginning of a story that includes a wide variety of eco-friendly, ‘green’ products. They are not only getting more and more affordable, they are easy to source no matter where you happen to be building your new home.

And more than that, a responsibility has been bestowed upon architects and engineers to take sustainability into their own hands, in part by developing relationships with vendors and product manufacturers to get the most out of the material specifications for their jobs. And whether you’re cladding an entire building in exterior stone or simply renovating a stone fireplace, there are small choices to be made that can have a massive impact on the built world.

This home in Evanston, Illinois provides a beacon that future residential projects can look to for eco-friendly inspiration. It masterfully blends architectural innovation with environmental engineering, wrapped in a package that expresses its most choice material specifications. It gives meaning to its place, and provides the home owners with a comfortable place to live that pays the ultimate respect to the environment. North Star Stone was proud to be a part of this LEED project, and looks forward to many more down the road. If you’re in the process of building a LEED certified home, stone veneer is a perfect choice for your home’s stone fireplace, siding and so many other parts of the home. Get a free, fast estimate for your stone veneer here.

What Donating Custom Stone Veneer Taught Our Company About Habitat for Humanity

What Donating Custom Stone Veneer Taught Our Company About Habitat for Humanity

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

At North Star Stone, we recently donated some of our fine custom stone veneer products to the Lake County chapter of Habitat for Humanity.  And although many readers have heard of this fine organization, some may be unaware of how exactly Habitat for Humanity operates in an effort to provide affordable and safe housing.  North Star Stone’s new partnership with Habitat has opened our eyes regarding the scope and impact of their efforts not only in the Chicagoland area, but around the world.  Now we’d like to share some of the information that we’ve learned along the way.

Habitat for Humanity’s History & Mission

Habitat for Humanity International is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that was started in 1976 by co-founders Millard and Linda Fuller.  Based in Americus, GA, the group’s mission is built upon the principle that every person deserves a decent place to live.  Since its inception, Habitat’s philosophy has been to engage in “partnership housing”, a concept focused on using teams of skilled volunteers working together in an effort to provide reliable and affordable shelter for families.  Habitat projects also include renovations, repairs and improvements to existing properties within a community.

Homes built by Habitat for Humanity’s thousands of volunteers and paid employees are done so without a profit motive.  In addition, the organization partners with mortgage lenders to obtain zero-interest loans for those they assist.  Habitat also operates The Fund for Humanity, which receives money from their ReStores, online merchandise sales, mortgage payments and cash donations to continuously finance more homes for those in need.  Today, houses built by the caring hands of Habitat volunteers provide shelter for nearly 10 million family members in 70 countries and 1400 communities worldwide.

How does a Habitat Home Get Built Using Stone Veneer?

There are several different factors that all come together to produce just one Habitat home.  For prospective new homeowners, there’s a non-discriminatory application process whereby the selection criteria varies from community to community.  It involves these steps:

  • The applicant must show a specific level of financial need.
  • An applicant must have a willingness to partner with Habitat.  This means devoting hundreds of hours of their own time to building their new home, while further participating in construction efforts on other Habitat projects in their area.
  • The ability to repay an affordable mortgage is a must. 
  • Applicants are screened and chosen based upon the above criteria by a local Habitat selection committee.

Volunteers partnering with Habitat include builders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, bricklayers, carpet installers, and more.  These individuals not only donate their valuable services locally, but sometimes travel to other communities where Habitat operates.  For example, when a natural disaster strikes teams from Habitat for Humanity oftentimes can be found in the impacted area helping the locals rebuild.  Habitat offices are currently located within all 50 states and in every Canadian province.  ReStores also exist in numerous U.S. cities and towns which, as aforementioned, serve to raise money for future home building and remodeling projects. 

Many construction and building suppliers also donate their goods to Habitat, much like North Star Stone began doing recently.   Tools, building materials, cleaning supplies, equipment, machinery, and even trucks are needed to fuel Habitat’s daily efforts.  Companies or individuals also contribute appliances, furniture and housewares to support Habitat endeavors.  Planning for building projects within a given locality is done under the watchful eye of paid Habitat coordinators.   At this point the organization is entering the final year of its Habitat for Humanity Strategic Plan 2014-2018 with its motto of: “a world where everyone has a decent place to live”.

How Our Stone Veneer is Beautifying Habitat Homes

Starting in November of 2017, North Star Stone proudly began donating some of our high-quality manufactured stone veneer products to the Habitat branch in Lake County, IL.  These faux stone products are typically used as decorative enhancements by residential and commercial property owners for applications from fireplaces to home exteriors.  We recognize that Habitat not only believes in everyone living in an affordable, safe and decent home, but further that they strive to build houses that are attractive, energy-efficient and accessible.  Our manufactured stone siding solutions work well to serve Habitat’s structural objectives.

North Star Stone has so far donated over 1400 square feet of custom stone veneer that’s being used to beautify the exteriors and interiors of several Habitat-built properties around Chicago.  We’ve learned that since 1989 Habitat for Humanity Lake County has provided over 200 families with affordable and reliable housing outcomes.  North Star Stone will continue to partner with Habitat by providing our manufactured stone veneer products to support those efforts.  Get a free estimate or learn more about our custom stone veneer products here. 

Get Your Stone Fireplace Ready For Fall!

Get Your Stone Fireplace Ready For Fall!

Stone Fireplace

Fall is here and if you want to add some decor to your fireplace, you have a lot of different options available to you. The fireplace is an area of the home that is generally decorated with the current season in mind. Even if you do not decorate at all during the rest of the year, fall is the best time of year to do it because during the colder, winter months, your fireplace is a key focal point in your home. You may be enjoying several cozy nights by the fire in the next few months and you want your fireplace to look the best it can be all season long.

Incorporate Fall Colors

The easiest way you can decorate for fall is by using some traditional fall colors. You should look for decorations that feature some darker and muted oranges, yellow, red, and more. Essentially, fall colors are colors you would see on trees that are changing colors so you should look for items that feature these colors. It should not be very difficult during this time of year as decor featuring these colors will be everywhere you would normally shop for decor.

SHOPPING FOR FALL FIREPLACE DECOR

There’s tons of places you can find beautiful decor for your fireplace this fall. Some of our favorites are listed below:

Amazon! Of course! Amazon has some great deals right now on fireplace decor for the upcoming holidays.

World Market- They have some great finds from all over the world. Priced well, World Market has up to date styles, beautiful unique finds and so much more. If you look in the sidebar of this article, you’ll find a link with a 10% off coupon!

Home Goods – Always a good go-to for home decor items, HomeGoods has just about anything and everything you could ever need. If you don’t mind waiting in line for a while, you can save some serious dough on your new fireplace goodies!

And Last But Not Least:

At Home – There’s one in Schaumburg, and we swear- when you enter this massive home discount store, you will not want to leave. You’ll get sucked into the beautiful, discount vortex of AtHome, and never, ever want to leave. You name it, and they have it. Everything from flowers and floral decor to lighting and pictures, this store literally has everything you would ever need to make your stone fireplace beautiful. Good luck getting out of the store in less than an hour!

Focus on the Holidays

If you like to celebrate any holidays during the fall and early winter, you may want to try decorating specifically for these holidays. For example, if you celebrate Halloween or Diwali, you may want to put out some holiday specific items during this time. You can easily do this by adding a few small and subtle pumpkins for Halloween or even adding some fake spider webs. It does not have to be overwhelming unless you want it to be. Feel free to go all out if you want to or just add some basic fall colors, as mentioned before, and then a few items that hint towards the holiday.

Bring the Outside In

One of the best things about fall is that there are so many outdoor activities that you can do with your family. You may want to go to a pumpkin patch, through a corn maze, or simply on a nice fall walk through your local nature trails. You may spend a lot of great time in the crisp, fall air but that does not mean that your time outside has to end there. Many people actually bring some outside items inside their home for decoration. Not only is this inexpensive but it can also look great. Some examples of this would be bringing in some pine cones, gourds, pumpkins, and more. You also have options when it comes to these items. You can place them on your fireplace mantel for decoration as is or you can spray paint them a fall color or even a subtle gold for even more of a pop.

Don’t Forget the Stone Fireplace Hearth

When decorating your fireplace, it can be easy to only focus on the mantle at the top but you should not forget about the hearth. You can do something simple and elegant to bring the entire decoration idea together. Whether you want to put a fireplace screen that has some hints of fall design in front of the opening or you want to add some fall vases with plants, real or fake, you can really tie everything together in an elegant and classic fall way.

Your fireplace is a main focal point in your home, especially when the temperatures drop outside. Using these tips, you can ensure it is not an eyesore but an area of your home that you can be proud of.

Regardless of how you decide to decorate your stone fireplace, we can help you make it gorgeous with the addition of new stone veneer for your fireplace. With hundreds of styles and colors to choose from, our stone can breathe new life into your old fireplace. We can often update it in less than 3 days, with very little mess, and incredibly talented masons who will leave you with a gorgeous new fireplace that your friends and family will rave about. Get a free estimate today for updating your fireplace with our custom stone veneer and see how we can help you make your fireplace the focal point of the room it was meant to be!

Favorite Fall Stone Veneer Fireplaces:

Donations & Volunteer Work Help Hurricane Victims Rebuild

Donations & Volunteer Work Help Hurricane Victims Rebuild

Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Before hurricanes Harvey and Irma this summer, 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history according to CNN Money. Flooding and ripping up the Gulf Coast, CNN reports, Katrina created what would amount to $160 billion in damages today for America alone.

CNN Money notes that financial losses from Harvey and Irma may reach about $200-290 billion dollars. What part of that figure will flow from rebuilding homes, businesses and infrastructure is unknown.

All of us can help minimize damages through donations to charitable organizations helping Houston, the Gulf Coast, Florida and other southeastern states.

What to Give

The logistics of storing construction supplies or other goods — such as clothing, food and water — is challenging following a natural disaster. Relief experts and journalists who have covered many natural disasters say it is best to contribute money in the immediate aftermath of such events.

First-responder charities are on the ground immediately after a disaster. They provide basic emergency and rescue services, including medical care and evacuation. Charities that help with rebuilding structures will arrive later when it is possible to begin work.

If you do plan to donate construction materials or other goods, such as clothing or food, be sure to talk with the charity involved about what is needed. Many non-profits do not accept clothing or shoes because they often get an influx of them and often have a difficult time sorting, cleaning and storing these items. So always call ahead and ask what supplies a non-profit is collecting.

At North Star Stone, we are organizing a donation of stone veneer to Habitat for Humanity Lake County. These supplies will likely be used here in the Chicagoland area, but we are looking into other options for donating to help hurricane victims repair and rebuild their homes. Habitat will be able to use our stone veneer to update stone fireplaces and add stone siding on HFH homes locally.

Choosing a Helpful Charity

To make sure your contributions help where intended, access a charity rating service online. CharityWatch, GuideStar and Charity Navigator are organizations that evaluate the efficiency and helpfulness of many kinds of charities based on a wide array of factors. It’s easy to access ratings at the websites of all three.

Habitat for Humanity, SBP USA and All Hands Volunteers are examples of charities that have solid ratings on all three websites.

Habitat allows donors to designate where their cash contributions should be applied. You don’t need to be a construction professional to swing a hammer or help with other rebuilding tasks on Habitat projects. However, check with the branch where you hope to volunteer to find out what openings and skills are needed. Churches often form Habitat teams of including volunteers of varying skill levels. Check with local congregations to see which ones are planning construction mission trips to disaster areas.

All three organizations help train volunteers on the job. But don’t show up at one of their worksites without applying to volunteer and receiving an assignment. Self-deploying to a disaster area can be chaotic and dangerous. It may also slow work teams.

Rebuilding is a slow process. However, SBP USA, which cut its teeth on helping the Gulf Coast rebuild post-Katrina, learned how to speed up its projects from auto manufacturer Toyota. SBP has shared the process with other relief charities, including Habitat.

Lending a Hand Internationally

Late August through mid-September 2017 will be remembered as a time of unparalleled hurricane destruction internationally. Hurricane Irma created tremendous damage throughout the Caribbean before making landfall in Southwest Florida. Hurricane Katia almost simultaneously walloped the east coast of Mexico shortly after a massive earthquake. At publication time, we’re hoping Hurricane Jose will continue winding down away from land in the Atlantic.

Both Habitat and the UK-based All Hands Volunteers help rebuild communities worldwide following calamities as do all the charitable organizations listed in this 2016 ThoughtCo. article about disaster relief organizations. There are also many smaller non-profits that are helping Hurricane victims that may be accepting donations of money and supplies, as well as looking for volunteers to help rescue, clean and rebuild after these disasters. Stay tuned and we will be updating this post with local charities that need help and are providing help to hurricane victims.

So, lend a hand at home or lend a hand internationally. Together we can fix what is broken one nail, one stroke of paint and one piece of stone at a time.

—————-

Sources:

https://www.thoughtco.com/after-disaster-they-rebuild-178385

http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-mexico-earthquake-20170909-story.html

Best Budget Stores For Home Renovation In Chicago

Best Budget Stores For Home Renovation In Chicago

Home Improvements Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

You don’t have to wear a tool belt to be a do-it-yourself home improvement artist. Being great at the logistics of locating discount materials is a crucial skill in completing projects at lower cost. And it leaves room in your budget for hiring pros whether carpenters or stone veneer masons.

Here are some useful local companies for budget renovation in metro Chicago communities. We’ve included store addresses and phone numbers to make shopping easier.

Flooring & Carpet

Home Owners Bargain Outlet

Crest Hill, 1693 South Plainfield Road, (815) 730-8340

Oak Lawn, 8716 South Cicero Avenue, (708) 423-4656

Waukegan, 2650 Belvedere Road, (847) 263-1612

Villa Park, 300 North Avenue, (630) 833-3200

HOBO’s outlet stores offer top deals on solid surface flooring, including tiles from ceramic to granite and hardwoods.  Persist and you can find a great deal.

 

Floor & Decor

Arlington Heights, 600 East Rand Road, (847) 704-7071

Aurora, 307 South Route 59, (630) 449-1255

Lombard, 1000 North Rohlwing Road, (630) 613-1597

Skokie, 3300 Oakton St, (847) 983-2987

Countryside, 1 Countryside Plaza, (708) 937-1325

Gurnee Mills, 6100 West Grand Avenue, (847) 672-2023

Looking for a discount on laminate or vinyl flooring? Do you want to consider good prices on hardwood or many kinds of tile and stone finishes? You’ll find lots of choices here.

 

Rexx Rug

Chicago, 3312 North Lincoln Avenue, (773) 281-8800

Discover area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting from berbers to plushes at Rexx Rug. Enjoy free cookies as well as hundreds of flooring choices at their warehouse sales. Rexx also sells engineered and solid hardwood flooring.

 

Cabinets

Home Owners Bargain Outlet

 

HOBO sells a broad range of discounted building supplies, including cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms. We listed all the locations above.

 

Builder Supply Outlet

 

Broadview, 2171 West Cermak Road, (708) 343-3900

In addition to in-stock kitchen cabinets at prices up to 60 percent off retail, Builder Supply sells a broad range of construction materials for DIYers, including countertops, doors, windows and flooring.

 

Furniture

Toms-Price

 

Bloomingdale, 279 Madsen Drive (the company’s outlet location), (630) 529-7600

Lincolnshire, 725 Milwaukee Avenue, (847) 478-1900

Old Orchard, 4999 Old Orchard Center, (847) 675-9400

South Barrington, 100 West Higgins Road, (847) 783-1500

Wheaton, 303 East Front Street, (630) 668-7878

Toms-Price sells furniture at discount for all rooms in your home and for all tastes.

 

Nadeau

 

Chicago, 4433 North Ravenswood Avenue, (773) 728-3497

Nadeau’s motto is “furniture with a soul.” If you are searching for unique tables, seating, shelving and storage from around the world, this is the location for great deals.

 

Décor

 

CB2

Chicago (Lincoln Park), 800 West North Avenue, (312) 787-8329

If you want a hip, modern look at affordable prices, try Crate and Barrel’s CB2. You’ll find everything that is sleek and simple — from tubular outdoor furniture to minimalist dishware designs.

 

Lighting

 

Fox Lighting Galleries

 

Chicago, 4240 West Lawrence Avenue, (773) 282-6300

Whether you’re looking for chandeliers, lighted ceiling fans or floor lamps Fox offers a broad array of choices at budget prices. The company’s website provides prices as well as product details for all its lighting.

 

Stone Veneer

 

North Star Stone

 

Libertyville, 1840 Industrial Drive, (847) 996-6850

Are you in the market for a new stone fireplace or a fireplace update? We offer well-priced materials and installation at North Star Stone, and invite you to make an appointment to visit our Libertyville showrooms. If you want to add distinguished looking stone exterior siding options to your Chicago metro home — from façade to garden walls — we can help you achieve the look you want within a reasonable budget. Contact NorthStar today for the kind of fireplace renovation Chicago residents love or any kind of stone siding project.

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