Going green

Whether building new or renewing a generations-old escape, take these steps to make it more eco-friendly.
WauKeNa Cottage
WauKeNa Cottage

Along with Melissa Adelaine-Supernault, partner in Adelaine Construction in Harbor Springs, Holland-based Cottage Home President Brian Bosgraaf and Doug Selby, president of Meadowlark Builders in Ann Arbor, share the following tips for greening up family gathering spots.

Light the cottage with energy-efficient lights. LED bulbs are the most efficient. CFL come next. Depending on how often you use your cottage, the bulbs can last a lifetime, Adelaine-Supernault says. “They cost more, but you’ll more than make up for it in energy savings in the long run.”

Use biodegradable soaps, detergents and chemicals. “You bought the place because of the water, why pollute it?” asks Selby.

Guiltinan Cottage
This open and airy screen porch on Lake Michigan designed by Cottage Home features a custom table made from recycled barn wood and handcrafted crate wood benches. The company’s signature lift-up awning window opens to the kitchen, making the most of Great Lake breezes.

Install low-flow showerheads, toilets and sink aerators. Adelaine-Supernault likes the Cimarron toilet by Kohler. It combines flushing with siphoning to empty the bowl using less water.

Nix the pesticides. “Recognize that you bought a cottage to be closer to nature,” Ann Arbor’s builder adds. “Leave the pesticides (behind) so they don’t poison the ground and water — or the cottage owners.”

Choose locally-made products. For example, maple floors milled close to home may be more eco-friendly than the current green, go-to of bamboo — even with its ability to quickly regrow and replenish, Adelaine-Supernault says.

Cottage GuiltinanConsider man-made. Adelaine-Supernault likes Cambria, a USA-made quartz countertop that is winning over clients. “It doesn’t deplete natural resources,” she says. “While it’s as strong as granite, it doesn’t have to be sealed, and it resists stains like red wine.” 

Add extra insulation to spaces behind and around plugs, outdoor light fixtures and hose bibs. This is something homeowners can hire out or do themselves by removing plug covers and light fixtures and filling in insulation around them.  

Opt for zoned HVAC in larger cottages. Zoned heating and cooling is a “great way to control energy use and costs,” Bosgraaf says. Zoning directs heat and air only to the parts of the cottage being used.

COT Nevins Lake House
Nevins Lake House – Photography courtesy Cottage Home Murdoch Marketing

Consider smart-home technology. Bosgraaf is seeing a growing interest in this arena as a way to control costs.“You’ve got systems that are controllable by iPhone or iPad so you can turn your heat up on your way to the cottage,” he notes. “There’s always been a certain level of automation, but nothing as nice as this…It’s an exciting time to be a cottage owner.”

Learn more at cottagehome.com, adelaineconstruction.com and meadowlarkbuilders.com.

— Kim North Shine, Michigan BLUE Magazine. 

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