Your Home and the Best Materials and Methods for Sustainability

It’s interesting to read and understand the sustainable methods and technologies available for construction, but it is quite different when you implement the “know-hows”. The team at Silent Rivers Design+Build work to move forward and use numerous sustainable approaches in all our designs and construction practices. Here are a few sustainability methods, along with some examples of the projects we used them in.


LED lighting in a modern kitchen design by Silent Rivers Design+Build

LED Lighting

This is probably one of the simplest and easiest solutions to energy savings, lowering the energy needed to power light fixture and lowering energy costs over time. 100% of recessed lighting installed for all Silent Rivers renovations and new construction projects are LED can lights. The decorative fixtures can be somewhat of a challenge because of aesthetic requirements and availability, but with a little research and effort we managed to achieve all lighting to have high-efficient LED units for the modern kitchen design and remodeling project pictured above.


Home Automation and Home Control Systems

Home automation systems and controls are methods not only for introducing flexibility, luxury, and comfort, but they can also reduce utility bills and energy use. Typically home automation products are not as commonly thought of to use in small renovation projects like a bathroom, for example. But simple occupancy sensors, dimmable lighting and programmable thermostats can be a significant step in the direction of sustainability. We live in a time when everything is accessible through our mobile phones, even controlling the window shades on a hot day, from a remote location.


Close Cell vs. Open Cell Insulation

Attic insulationWhen it comes to insulation for your home, there are so many options in types of insulation that it’s important to have a professional evaluate your specific needs. There is simply no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to insulation. Be educated by working with someone who has the expertise to assess your specific insulation needs. Using the right product for the right application is extremely important and significantly impacts many sustainability factors in your home, including energy efficiency. Hiring an expert and making sure all your home’s insulation requirements are detailed and the installation is completed per manufacturer’s instructions is vital.


Indoor Air Quality and Environment

Using low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) or no-VOC paints and coatings is a prerequisite for Silent Rivers projects. We pay close attention to the material specification data and make sure that even when tinted with the desired color, the coatings still meet our requirements on the amount of Volatile Organic Compound.


Repurposed and Renewable Resources

Marmoleum flooring in contemporary kitchen design by Silent Rivers Design+BuildFloor Covering

Silent Rivers is a big fan of Marmoleum flooring. This is a natural floor made from 97% natural raw materials, 70% of which are rapidly renewable, along with a 43% recycled content. According to the manufacturer of Marmoleum, “the key raw materials used in its production include linseed oil, which comes from the flax plant seeds, wood flour as production waste from controlled forestry plantations and jute, a crop whose fibers provide the material for the membrane onto which the linoleum is calendared.”

Why do we use it? Because it is durable, low maintenance, attractive and easy to install. These features allowed us to create with ease a unique floor design with Marmoleum for this contemporary kitchen renovation.


Repurposed Materials

Our designers, cabinetmakers and field crews always look for ways to reuse and repurpose where possible, eliminating burden to the landfill. The Silent Rivers cabinet shop has a dedicated space for leftover materials which always sparks creative ideas about a future use. Here are some examples of repurposing materials:

Leftover birch plywood used as a sink enclosure by Silent Rivers Design+Build

We needed to enclose the plumbing of this wall mounted sink, so used leftover birch plywood to create this one-of-a-kind sink enclosure.


Corrugated steel on bar front designed by Silent Rivers Design+Build

Corrugated sheet metal removed from the renovation of our front office was repurposed for the facelift of this island as well as door panels for the built-in entertainment center pictured below.


Reclaimed barn wood doors on an entertainment center design by Silent Rivers Design+Build

Barn wood is an excellent repurposed material, especially when you have the opportunity to incorporate it into a home with an already established style and desire for the weathered look.


Old steel cabinets incorporated into a modern kitchen design by Silent Rivers Design+Build

In this extensive kitchen renovation the owners had old steel cabinets. The majority of them were reused in the pantry, and one special unit was incorporated into the new layout of the kitchen. We made sure it is distinguished – note the white base amongst the new birch cabinets.


Old lath is salvaged and repurposed as an intriguing wall covering by Silent Rivers Design+Build

Lath from the old plastered walls was salvaged, cleaned and will be re-used for wall and ceiling cladding on a small commercial renovation we are working on. Stay tuned for images of the finished space.


Plyboo Cabinets

Plyboo custom cabinet design by Silent Rivers Design+BuildPlyboo is a formaldehyde-free bamboo plywood with a hardness, density and range of aesthetics that allow it to be used for cabinets, flooring, furniture, wall coverings and more. As stated on their website, “In essence it is plywood made entirely of bamboo, a rapidly renewable source.” It is such an interesting material, and the Silent Rivers artisans have used it in a variety of ways in our clients’ homes. The core and the face layers of Plyboo are made in such a way that even the edge is an element we played with and exposed in the recent kitchen design pictured here.



PaperStone Countertops

PaperStone countertop finishing in the Silent Rivers workshopPaperStone® is another material that has a high rank and use in our practice. Used by Silent Rivers most often for countertops and custom cabinets, this strong material is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC Mixed and FSC Recycled). Made of post-consumer recycled paper that has been saturated with PaperStone’s proprietary resins and selected natural pigments, it offers a non-porous surface that is stain resistant and absorbs virtually no water.



Even the smallest effort can substantiate impact. The changes may seem a bit daunting at the beginning, but the payoff is huge at the end.



Learn more about how Silent Rivers incorporates sustainable materials and methods into our finished projects by visiting these areas of our expertise:


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