Wednesday, April 14, 2021

How to Build a Green Home

Visit the Hennell’s green model home at 316 Bald Eagle Drive.

Visit the Hennell’s green model home at 316 Bald Eagle Drive.

By Natalie Strom

What makes a good home? Sturdy walls, hurricane rated windows, fine and fancy appliances. These are all things we either have or probably desire in a dream home. But what makes a smart home? One that can utilize simple concepts and smart technology while actually saving the homeowner money. That’s a smart home. How is it possible? Through the implementation of “green” features, and that is exactly what Steven A. Hennell Inc. and Endless Summers Realty hope to give their clients when working with them to create the home of their dreams.

Steve Hennell has been building homes for 28 years. Originally from Massachusetts, he learned a thing or two from his father, also a builder. But for the last 13 years, Hennell has been building homes in Florida – designed for Florida. “I wanted to take the high road,” he explains of his change over to ‘thinking green’ when building a home. In an uncertain economy where the housing industry was hit hard, Hennell realized he didn’t want to use low-ball techniques, but he still wanted to offer a home that would be solid and affordable. “I started researching more about green housing techniques, and I became fascinated,” he states.

What did he find in his research? “You’ll start saving money the minute you move in,” he says. “These houses are 33 percent more efficient than standard building codes require. They are 45 percent more efficient on your electric bill.” Consider a summer-time electric bill and imagine its price tag cut in half. This is what Hennell wants to offer his clients. Along with his wife Linda and Endless Summers Real Estate Broker, Elizabeth Summers, Hennell is making it happen.

What exactly makes his homes “green?” Where do we start? “One of the

The best of both worlds: luxury at less of an expense.

The best of both worlds: luxury at less of an expense.

biggest features is how we envelope the homes,” Hennell states. “We completely seal out the heat using insulation products, windows that deflect light, insulated doors and different sealing techniques.”

Once buttoned up so tight, the inside of the home offers just as many green features. Cabinets are only built from sustainable hard wood. It’s a “cut down a tree, plant a tree” kind of thing. Paints and stains used contain zero volatile organic compounds, and no formaldehyde is used in any of the glues.

Along with using green products, “we want to make it as healthy as possible.” this is where the A/C filtration system comes in. “It filters the air coming in,” adds Elizabeth Summers. “One of its features is to keep out mold.”

“It even keeps out the common cold,” adds Linda Hennell, all thanks to a purifier that treats the air before it comes into the home.

From health to heat; “One of the main issues in Florida is keeping the heat out of your home,” explains Hennell. By placing a membrane over the roof and under the ceiling tiles, the sun is reflected off of the house rather than penetrating through, costing those high electric bills.

A 500-gallon gas tank buried underground again cuts down on electricity. It runs the pool, stove top, dryer and hot water heater. The two hot water heaters in the home are tankless and provide instant hot water. LED lighting is used throughout the home. Canister lights feature lighting diodes rather than an actual screw-in bulb; they last for 30 years.

On to the outdoor offerings. Florida Friendly Landscaping is a must for Hennell and his team. All plants are native and drought tolerant. The sprinkler system uses drip irrigation to ensure minimal water usage and utilizes smart technology to

A gas powered grill and Star Energy rated ceiling  fan will instantly lower an  electric bill. PHOTOS BY ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIALISTS

A gas powered grill and Star Energy rated ceiling fan will instantly lower an electric bill. PHOTOS BY ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIALISTS

know when to water and when to stop.

Want a butterfly garden in your yard? They can make that happen too.

The pool uses salt instead of chlorine. The salt filters through a system which makes its own sodium chloride, Summers explains, adding that it is easier to maintain as well as healthier. “It won’t dry out your skin, damage your hair or fade your bathing suit,” she adds.

Touching the tip of the iceberg as features are concerned, Hennell continues to learn and implement more as he educates himself further. As a Certified Green Builder, he made sure his model home at 316 Bald Eagle Drive would be Florida Green Building Certified. Every home he builds – he has eight in the works right now – will also receive the same certification.

Dead set on being the best green certified builder he can be, Hennell even took the course to be a Florida Green Building Certified Inspector – just to learn. He has no intention of becoming an actual inspector, but he knows what to expect.

Summers is doing her part too. A realtor on Marco for 15 years, she has decided to work exclusively with the Hennells to sell a greener paradise. Currently in the middle of a three-prong program, Summers will soon receive a Certified Green Designation by the National Association of Realtors.

Keeping up with the latest in green technology, Hennell has completely changed his home building philosophy. He only builds green homes. No exceptions. “It’s just the way we do it.” And they do it right.

Visit the Florida Green Building Certified Model Home at 316 Bald Eagle Drive between 10 AM and 4 PM Monday through Saturday, or contact Elizabeth Summers at 239-269-4230 or at You may also visit to learn more about the company’s philosophy.

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