Green Building

Extraordinary Designs - Unmatched Craftsmanship

It’s Easy Being Green!

You’re ready to custom design the home of your dreams, while being environmentally conscious.
Yes – you can have both. From cottage to colonial or somewhere between, our panelized
building systems use environmentally friendly materials, advanced building techniques with
less waste, and greater energy efficiency than traditional construction.

How green do you want your home to be?
Call Northern Design today to see how your dream home can be a green home.


  1. Less waste than stick built homes. In the factory, cut-offs and short lengths can be used to the maximum, which reduces waste.
  2. Engineered Wood Products such as: OSB, Trusses, I-Joist, etc.
  3. Sighting the house and designing with features to take advantage of solar energy and natural surroundings
  4. Panelizing in the shop reduces on site waste, so less goes to the landfill
  5. Less energy is used to construct a panelized home
  6. Wood is a renewable resource
  7. Hard to reach areas are insulated at the factory with rigid foam insulation
  8. Northern Design uses Energy Star products
  9. Because we provide detailed framing plans, material list & cut list, less onsite labor is required.
  10. Northern Design uses wood base products from sustainable forest.
  11. Post-consumer recycled-content building materials are used
  12. Because we are a Custom Designer & Manufacturer of panelized homes, your home can be as “Green” as your imagination and budget allows.

Building Systems Magazine | July/August 2001

Nina Anderson thinks the panel industry is missing out on a sizeable marketing opportunity. Anderson, S.P.N., president of The Building Analyst and an industry consultant on healthy homes, recognizes a growing need for homes constructed with nontoxic building and decorating materials.

"The housing search is difficult for clients with chemical sensitivities or people who just want to breathe healthy indoor air," says Anderson. "In my book (now out of print), Your Health and Your House, I told the story of a woman who developed life-threatening illnesses because she had her
carpets cleaned. It seems the plywood sub-flooring was defective and steam cleaning dissolved the glue, leaching formaldehyde into the air, which she constantly was breathing."

The woman was eventually diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome. "Building a new house was her only solution," says Anderson. "Things are getting better as we have more choices of nontoxic building and decorating materials. The Canadian Year 2000 program for energy-
efficiency, that was popular in the late 1980s, brought to light the need for HRVs (heat recovery ventilators) used to mitigate stale air within tight homes. This is extremely important for factory builders to consider as they adhere to energy-efficiency standards. Not only does it exchange the air, but it removes out-gassing toxins as well, making the air healthier. This is an absolute necessity for any builder to offer their clients who voice concern for super-insulated structures.

"We have been advising builders and customers regarding energy-efficient, nontoxic housing for some time. When we decided to build our model residence, we searched for companies that offered energy efficiency and nontoxic finishing products. Our intention was to provide factory housing for our clients that would support a healthy indoor environment and be energy efficient as well. We needed to offer a finished product that would be no more costly than units offering standard carpets (chemically based), glued (chemical) surfaces, plastic cabinets and molding (outgas chemicals), stains and varnishes (chemicals) and heavily insulated houses without a way to exchange the air. For the same price, we developed a unit that was truly a healthy house."

Northern Design & Building Associates (Hudson Falls, NY) was eager to work with Anderson to design and build such a model. "The house was a passive solar design that was one of their standard models," says Anderson. "Superior Walls supplied the foundation for the structure. By panelizing both below- and above- ground components, we scheduled a closed-in structure within four weeks from breaking ground. To ensure low heating bills, we required energy efficient, low toxicity, low flame-spread insulation. Our choice was an Icynene™ Insulation System that had no CFCs or formaldehyde and exhibited no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) after 30 days of aging. Not only was [our choice] a super-insulating, nontoxic foam sprayed on site, but it was extremely fire retardant. Before deciding on panelization, we asked many modular companies if they would allow us to use this type of insulation, but none would budge from standard fiberglass installation. Northern Design's panelization allowed us to use this super insulation, which is comparable to SIPs in performance.

"Northern worked with us on the finishing products as well. HardiPlank was used for siding, which gave us an additional fire-retardant layer of protection. This type of siding also contains no asbestos, glass fibers or formaldehyde. Finishing materials were selected for their low-chemical qualities. Drywall was used with low VOC paint. Unfinished hardwood flooring was stained and lacquered with Zero VOC products from AFM. All-wool carpet with no stain guard finishes (formaldehyde) was used in some areas along with ceramic tile. Kitchen cabinets were solid pine and countertops were tiled. An Acucraft fireplace system was used as the primary heat source, although for the record, we installed hot water baseboard.

"Many of our clients are concerned with the indoor air quality. Since there is more information being written about healthy houses, they are asking educated questions. We wanted to dispel the myth that a healthy house is an expensive house. With panelization and careful control of finishing products, we have shown that a factory house can be as healthy as a daily dose of vitamin C. Most builders associated with timber frame, log or panelized companies can offer nontoxic finishing applications as an opt ion. This not only gives them an edge on their competition, but may prevent clients from exercising their right to litigation, should they try to pin their illness on the sick-house syndrome.

"In this age. when marketing plays a big part of attracting buyers, nontoxic, energy-efficient models can help you stand out and get more press from your local media. In addition, your buyers will he healthier, happier and send you many more referrals."

If you've got a client in need of a healthy home, contact Anderson through Northern Design at 518-747-2200.