With Concord Riverwalk project, Dan Gainsboro realizes dream

Long road to building sustainable neighborhood

When it comes to the Concord Riverwalk project, “energy efficient ” and “community” are not mere buzz words. They represent the dream of developer Dan Gainsboro to create a holistic, sustainable neighborhood in West Concord.  

Concord Riverwalk lets homeowners live a solar-powered “Net Zero” life without reliance on fossil fuels. The development consists of 13 two- and three-bedroom cottages and townhouses. Homeowners share gardens, walkways, parking, and sparkling views of the Assabet River. The project includes new construction, plus renovated units in the “White House,” an 1864 structure (formerly known as Damon House); and the “Blue House,” a 1950s cape. 

The development is set on 3.7 acres off Main Street. 

As much visionary as businessman, Gainsboro is a disciple of Ross Chapin, an architect whose Craftsman-style “pocket community” projects in Washington State first drew national attention in the late 1990s. Chapin’s goal was to recreate old-time neighborhoods in which people were involved in neighbors’ lives. (Chapin is part of the Riverwalk design team.) Riverwalk homes also feature ideas from Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big ® House: multi-use spaces, varied ceiling heights, diagonal interior views. 

Gainsboro built on Chapin and Susanka’s ideas by incorporating the latest green technology. Riverwalk homes are pre-wired for active solar heating and electricity generation. Units are super-insulated and outfitted with ultra high-efficiency mechanical systems. Reclaimed/recycled materials fit into the mix. And a storm water drainage system includes rainwater management and retention systems. 

A Concord resident, Gainsboro has served on the town’s School Building Committee, Planning Board, and its Comprehensive Sustainable Energy Committee. 

On a recent afternoon, Gainsboro sat down to talk about the final stages of the Riverwalk project—and where he hopes to take the sustainable living concept next.

Why did you keep original structures on the Riverwalk site instead of tearing them down?

It’s always more sustainable to work with what you have. We loved the history associated with the White House. We didn’t realize just how challenging it was going to be in terms of a renovation project. We knew we wanted to do a deep energy retrofit, which involves bringing the building back to the studs and then building it back up with state-of-the-art building systems. We wanted it to perform at a level that, if not equal to the new construction, was as close to it as was practical. 

And what we discovered—under the heading of ‘lesson learned’—we certainly underestimated just how much of a challenge it was going to represent. You may have heard about some of our travails in the local press.

When we started the project we did our due diligence and we were informed that it (Damon House) was not on the demolition delay bylaw.  Lo and behold, when we began the renovation, the building department referred to a list that showed it was on the demolition delay bylaw.  So our plan for doing a deep energy retrofit ran smack into the objectives of the Historical Commission. That played out over the course of several weeks. The town finally decided that it was actually not on the demolition delay bylaw. An error had been made by the town clerk…. 

We were able to move forward with our original plan after losing a lot of time and spending a good deal more than we anticipated trying to mitigate the unforeseen conditions. We always anticipated we would salvage as much of the building as practical, and unfortunately in this case it was a little bit like pulling a thread on a shirt, only to discover by the time you were done pulling there was nothing left. Not much left, I should say. It was frustrating… 

We did end up re-using portions of the building in other parts of the project. For example, we had to replace the foundation because it was a rubble foundation and it had a lot of problems with water infiltration. We used parts of the foundation to create a sundial element down in the lower court. The fireplaces and most of the traditional moldings inside, the doors and the trim, all had a lot of lead paint on them, so we decided not to reuse them. Unfortunately, most of the real charming details had been removed in earlier renovations. There was some asbestos inside when we started, and we had to take out an old boiler. 

What about the Blue House?

We fully expect to be able to salvage the majority of it. It was constructed much more recently, and has very good bones in terms of the structure. It, too, will go back to the studs. Then we are planning to replace all of the windows and change the character of the house so that it’s more in keeping with the new homes. 

What are the similarities and differences between the retrofitted units and the new construction?

The biggest difference is in the thermal and the air barriers.

As an aside, in our new homes we employed a framing approach known as advanced framing technologies. In this approach you sort of right-size your frame. In other words, you use the least amount of lumber that you absolutely need to meet the anticipated loads. This is not an economic play as much as it’s an energy efficiency play. The more lumber you have with direct contact from the inside to the outside, the greater the thermal bridges, which is a bad thing. So when you have the opportunity to reframe you can utilize this approach. We couldn’t do that in the older homes without basically tearing them down. So we tried to use as much of the frame as possible. 

Once you get past that the next biggest concern is the air barrier… Any time you introduce more complexity to the architecture or the massing, the more challenging it is to get a good air barrier. Each one of these intersections represents a potential air leak.

If you take that back to an existing home, unless you have conditions where you can reframe or change, it’s very difficult to get a good air barrier. For example, one of the places for big leaks in an existing home is where a foundation wall and the bottom plate—which is the first piece of wood that gets attached to the foundation—meet, that joint has been a huge source of leaks. Even in newer homes it remains a significant source of air leaks. So when you have an existing home, where the sill may or may not have all of its integrity—and they certainly didn’t have a product called “sill seal” back then, which basically creates a bond between those two materials—there’s a (potential) problem. Short of jacking the whole house up, it’s very difficult to get that good seal. It’s a big area of difference between new and old construction.

Will all Riverwalk units have the same heating and electrical system, and the same ability to install solar panels?

They all utilize the same mechanical systems for heating, cooling and electrical distribution.

In addition, all of the homes have the ability to install roof-mounted solar hot water and solar photovoltaic panels. The homes are designed to be run completely by electricity, because one of our goals at the outset of the project was to avoid fossil fuel consumption.

On the White House, which is our only two-unit building, the ridge runs north-south. That’s not ideal for solar panels. Ideally, the ridge would run east-west. In that building only, it’s north-south. But because it’s a relatively flat roof, we’re able to mitigate that by using a racking system that straddles the roof.

I should also mention that all our homes are outfitted with an energy monitoring device. This enables residents to know instantaneously how much energy they are consuming, and enables them to adjust their use patterns. It has been an amazing tool that has also identified when appliances were not working properly. In this case knowledge is truly power.

Out of the 13 units, you set aside one for a town employee. Did the town require that?

No. That was a choice. Believe it or not, we’re under the allowed density by about three units. We could have put three more units on the project but we felt like this was the right number. And I felt very strongly that I wanted to provide a moderate price unit. I’ve done a lot of work in the town, both as a volunteer and as a professional in my previous life. I think we’re very well served by the staff in this town. So it seemed like the right thing to do. I’m glad we were able to do it.

One unit is moderate price. That’s not by the state definition of affordable—we couldn’t get to that—but it’s affordable by the town’s definition. All of the units are moderate priced by Concord standards. 

How do you characterize Riverwalk buyers?

I will say right off the bat that I would be reluctant to put anyone in a box. Having said that, there are certainly some similar characteristics that I’ve seen. It’s a relatively diverse group of people in terms of age. We have empty nesters, single professionals, and most recently, three families with small children. 

That is consistent with what Ross (Chapin) found in Seattle. We have four educators/teachers in the community, and we have at least one, if not two, healthcare professionals.  I think that Ross said 90 percent of his residents worked in either the health care or education fields.

Not high tech?

No. It (Riverwalk) appeals to our residents because of the sense of community and security. If they take a vacation, they know someone else will be looking out for them.

One thing I have heard from several of the residents is that they all value being part of a micro-community, a community within a community. We have worked very hard to find the correct balance of community and privacy. I would also say concern for the environment and wanting to live a smaller energy footprint is a common theme. In addition, Concord Riverwalk residents are eager to pursue a simpler life. Since it’s an association, all the upkeep will be taken care of by others. And finally, all the residents love the walkability. They can walk to the train station, to shops. They are all very enamored with West Concord and what it has to offer. 

What are you planning in the way of sustainable landscaping?

All native species. All designed to require little or no irrigation. We’re managing storm water with something called a low-impact development technique, which means that instead of putting the storm water in catch basins or pipes, we use bio-retention swales (using vegetation for filtration of pollutants from storm runoff) for our storm water. The majority of the time these (swales) look like landscaped areas. When it’s raining, they look like brooks with plants in them. 

Some of the folks have mentioned that they want to put a rain barrel in because they want to use rainwater to water their gardens. All of the units have exclusive use areas they can plant and design the way they want, so they can use it for that. 

Are additional building projects in Concord and surrounding towns in the works?

Several. Now that we have demonstrated to ourselves that there is market interest, we’d like to try two at a time, then hopefully four. We are currently looking for sites on the North and South Shores, to help build awareness of the concept. We look for towns that have strong existing town centers and access to public transportation like trains or buses. Those are priorities for us. The projects typically need to be anywhere from eight to 16 units. Less than that and you don’t really have the critical mass required to create a community. More than that, it really becomes something else.  So, yes, there will be more in the future.

 

 

 

This enables residents to

This enables residents to know instantaneously how much energy they are consuming, and enables them to adjust their use patterns.

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5 easy actions to going

5 easy actions to going (almost) paperless

It's more than between me and my file cabinet. Six drawers full of dead trees. Complete excess weight: a gargantuan 194.7 pounds of paper. I cannot believe of any less useful way to utilize house office area, especially when most of the contents, as soon as filed, will never be touched again. Im also gearing up to move, and the thought of packing, unpacking, and refiling all that things made me even more keen to finish the partnership, pronto.

The innards of my submitting cabinets, before the Great Purge of 2013.

My goal wasnt necessarily to get rid of every scrap of paper (an impossibility in some instances, as Sick talk about), but at leastI wantedtoget it all down to a single file cabinet drawer. Here's how I did it, and you can, as well.

1. Sift and sort ruthlessly

Sifting via nearly two hundred lbs of paperwork is a Herculean task that took me the much better part of two complete afternoons. If youre embarking on a comparable quest, this first stage is easily the most difficult but also the most gratifying component of the process.

Say bye-bye to last a long time documents.

Here are some of the dead-tree gems from my personal archeological expedition:

  • Tale ideas I jotted down 10 many years in the past.
  • Writers agreements I signed in the 1990s.
  • FedEx shipping receipts from much more than 8 many years ago.
  • A nondisclosure agreement, expired in June 1991, to review a Toshiba Libretto laptop.
  • Story clips and tear sheets for items I wrote courting back to 1995. (While it was sad to toss this things out, it amounted to nearly ten pounds of ripped-out journal pages.)
  • Pay stubs from jobs long absent.
  • Limitless files complete of statements from banking institutions and investment firms. (Why do these usually have to be a minimum of five pages lengthy?)
  • Credit score card receipts galore.
  • A novel I wrote when I was a teenager.
  • The rejection letters for stated novel.
  • Many lbs really worth of item manuals, such as 1 for my long-gone VCR.

two. Recycle instantly

It astonished me how much of this things was utter trash. What's more, numerous of the important itemsincluding financial institution statements and utility billswere now available on-line, creating paper copies (and even scans) of them redundant. Most banks and monetary institutions conserve statements for at minimum a yr, and sometimes they maintain on to them for up to seven. I knew that something I was likely to need now I could accessibility on-line on demand, and if I did require something, it would be inside 12 months, for tax functions. The bottom line: I wouldnt need to conserve this thingsnorwould I require to scan it for posterity.

The towers of folders quickly shrank down to two tidy piles.

Considered pruning of every thing received my complete paper load down to about 30 pounds after just one round of sifting via information.

IRS

What remained was paperwork that could be scanned, but I questioned whether or not the work would be really worth it. Had been my taxes from 2006 some thing I would ever want to check once more? Or would maintaining this file for an additional yr until the mandatory seven-year rule expired be sufficient? I also had a large quantity of legal records that I understood I should retainconsidering all their official stamps, seals, and signaturesand which I've experienced to create in tangible type in the past. But none of this needed to fill up a drawer. I offloaded these kinds of paperwork to a storage box that could safely collect dust in the garage unless a true emergency arose.

A second spherical via the keepers still left me with just over 10 pounds of paperwork to deal with. These had been primarily medical information, documents printed on oversize paper, some financial information to which I did not have on-line accessibility, and paperwork related to real estate and automobile buys (which are frequently handed on in difficult duplicate to the subsequent owner). Then there was legal paperwork, including the posts of incorporation for my company and various business licenses (like these "THIS Notice Must BE PROMINENTLY Shown" certificates).

three. Now, its scanner time

Scanning was the subsequent stage, and I invested quite a whilst trying to strategize. Scanning paperwork to PDFs is the obvious choice (especially with OCR software program to help with looking), but then what? Numerous people like to shop their things in Evernote, but whilst Im a large Evernote fan, I didnt believe this would be a great option for these documents.

Initial, these werent documents I prepared on using on a regular basisor truly at any time at alland I didnt want to clutter up Evernote (which I use for daily notes and job administration). For me, I felt storing PDFs in folders on my hard drive would be just good and, more importantly, would free from any monthly charges that come with on-line services. (Cloud-primarily based doc administration services like eFileCabinet Online cost at least $20 a month.)

Doxie One portable scanners

Many scannersincluding Doxie and Neatare particularly developed to make the archiving of documents simpler, but I also didnt feel I needed to reinvent the wheel here. The document-feeding system on my Epson WF-3540 functions nicely (and is something Doxie lacks), and there was no reason it wouldnt be up to the job of grinding via a few hundred pages of bills and statements.

As work tasks go, scanning documents is not exactly a thrilling way to invest a weekend. Its dull and unfulfilling, but watching your stack of paperwork gradually shrink to nothing tends to make it worthwhile.

I determined to scan documents in stacks of webpages related to every other. The Epson scans to PDF and will bundle multiple pages into a solitary file, so I could put a dozen insurance coverage bills in at as soon as and end up with a single file rather of 12 of them. As scans completed, I gave each file an appropriate name (blue defend expenses 2012) and dropped them into an appropriate folder on my hard generate. Once I received into a rhythm, it went pretty quicklyit took me just a few hrs to finish the scanning. If you do want to use Evernote to handle your documents, its easy to import every thing into Notebooks once youve completed the scans and the business component of the equation.

Following scanning, my last paper-file excess weight: four.9 poundsabout a ninety five percent financial savings in excess weight. Thats not literally paperless, but its close enough.

4. Kick the paper habit for great

The nextand easieststep of the procedure Batterie pour asus A41-A6 is to start paring down incoming paper that arrives via the U.S. mail. Just log in to your bank and utility services companies web sites, exactly where youll most likely find them begging you to signal up for digital assertion delivery or e-billing. Of program, you can also use your bank to spend your expenses electronically as well, removing an additional piece of paper from the equation.

Every companys e-billing or e-payment system is different, which is a little bit of a discomfort. (This is also a fantastic chance for an enterprising startup courageous sufficient to standardize a rather messy industry. Anyone?) Ultimately, although, this provides you a lot of versatility, as you really dont need to Batterie pour SONY VGP-BPS8 sign up with yet another third-celebration supplier to reduce out incoming paper statements and bills.

Once youve gone paperless, theres much more you can do to make certain youre reducing your incoming paper load going forward.

Every final shred I experienced is now both digitized or down to this one drawer.

To minimize junk mail, sign up to opt out of prescreened provides for credit playing cards and insurance coverage by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com, which is operate by the 3 big credit reporting agencies.DMAchoice and the National Do Not Mail Checklist can assist you get rid of unsolicited commercial mail. As with the Do Not Contact Registry, however, the usefulness of the Do Not Mail list will differ in accordance to callers compliance, and the impact is far from instant.

5. Snail-mail scanning solutions quit the paper cold

Earth Class Mailtakes issues one step further by virtualizing your whole bodily mailbox. You have your mail sent to the ECM service, and it sends you scans of everything. You determine what you want to maintain, trash, or have forwarded to you bodily. Packages can be forwarded to you as well. Developed for fairly small company functions, the Batterie pour ACER GRAPE34 service costs $20 a month for up to 50 items of mail, plus charges for overage on your items and for every bodily cargo you elect to receive.

Outbox is a comparable services thats designed for residential customers rather of companies mail is actually picked up directly from your existing mailbox 3 times a week. With Outbox, you can click to unsubscribe from junk mail and other undesirable stuff, and arrange mail into folders and to-do lists. As with Earth Course Mail, you can choose to have mail delivered to you physically on ask for. Outbox is just $five a thirty day period, but the service is availableonly in Austin and San Francisco at present.

What Batterie pour ACER TM00751 about all the notepads and Post-Its on your desk? Nicely, you can jettison these too, though this is more a matter of personal behavior retraining than a specialized repair. Note-using apps abound for phones, tablets, and PCs, and its right here that a tremendous-searchable tool like Evernote shines. Microsoft OneNote is also worthwhile, and Google Maintain offers simplicity if you dont need a lot of pizzazz.

A huge excess weight has been lifted

Within a few times, I would gone from almost 200 lbs of paper to about 2GB's really worth of scanned files, plus a brief stack of remaining documents that were effortlessly saved. I'd also minimized incoming paper by converting to on-line accounts where feasible and taking steps to ward off junk mail. Readily available scanning resources and some helpful Internet services have produced it easy to go paperless. Take a few weekend afternoons, and soon your submitting cabinet will be listed on Freecycle along with mine.


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