Best of Boston Home 2011

In our quest to compile the ultimate guide to design and construction, we did our research just the way you would—by polling trusted industry pros, checking and cross-checking references, and pounding the pavement.

Green


Building for the next generation requires rigorous research and creativity. These experts have the knowledge.

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Zero Energy Design created a vacation house in Truro in which many of the spaces could be “shut down” when not in use, dramatically reducing energy demand. (Photograph by Eric Roth)

Accessories 
‘G’ GREEN DESIGN CENTER

The hunt for earth-friendly goods—countertops, BPA-free water bottles, nontoxic paint—can be as exhausting as any home improvement project. Thankfully, Bostonians now have a one-stop showroom for all things eco-fabulous: interior designer Nicole Goldman’s ‘G’ Green Design Center. Goldman inspires confidence by taking a stand on “green,” and refusing to be bamboozled by false claims.

28 Bates Rd., North Market, Mashpee, 508-477-7988; 134 Washington St., Norwell, 781-561-1221; ggreendesign.com.

Architect
ZERO ENERGY DESIGN

Planning and building a home is one thing, but doing it with immaculate style, consideration for clients’ needs, and an expert understanding of environmental impact is where this end-to-end services firm really shines. The architects and engineers here are adept at integrating design, HVAC, technology, and plain-old common sense into one beautiful (and weather-tight) package. They’ll help you cut your energy bill in style, and if you want to go off-grid, they can make that happen, too.

348 Medford St., Ste. 1, Boston, 617-720-5002, zeroenergy.com.

Cleaning Service
ECOCLEAN

It’s not enough to have a home that’s built to be environmentally friendly. Being truly green also means giving up that chemical habit when it comes to cleaning. While most companies use potentially toxic brews, owner Joe Paiva and his specialists at EcoClean use only EPA-certified products (and some proprietary formulas). Plus, their HEPA-filter vacuums will leave your home virtually free from unwelcome particulates, so you can take a deep, healthy breath and enjoy the clean.

617-981-9294, ecocleanboston.com.

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A kitchen by Boston Green Building proves that eco-friendliness and high style are not mutually exclusive. (Photograph by Jerome Eno)

Contractor
BOSTON GREEN BUILDING

Brian Butler’s 27-plus years of experience in construction and green building, along with his team of seasoned pros, have made Boston Green Building a model for ecologically oriented builders everywhere. Renovations, remodels, new construction, solar and geothermal contracting, and deep-energy retrofits are among the many services the company offers. It also partners with several nonprofit organizations throughout the area that support and teach sustainability.

218 Lincoln St., Allston, 617-202-3777, bostongreenbuilding.com.

Energy Consultant
NEXT STEP LIVING

Next Step Living’s founder and CEO, Geoff Chapin, can help protect your home from winter’s chill. By pinpointing areas of heat loss, he fashions solutions big and small to reduce your energy consumption. Many of his services, including the initial assessment, are free to Boston homeowners. Even better, sizable rebates are available to cover the bulk of his weatherization recommendations.

25 Drydock Ave., Boston, 866-867-8729, nextsteplivinginc.com.

Geothermal
TJ’s PLUMBING AND HEATING

Tim Cutler and the crew at TJ’s provide practical, efficient turnkey heating and plumbing services. Cutler has also developed a rare expertise for integrating geothermal units into older homes—one of the most challenging jobs for an installer. He’s candid about a given site’s potential challenges, and works on every job—which is why his business has spread almost entirely through word of mouth.

Attleboro, 508-226-5514, tjsgeothermal.com.

Jack Mackin of Sterritt Lumber

“I’m passionate about home-building, providing shelter for people, and trying to find ways to make healthier houses. Educating people on what they’re putting in their house is vitally important.” —Jack Mackin, VP and COO, F. D. Sterritt Lumber (Photograph by Jarrod McCabe)

Lumber
F. D. STERRITT LUMBER

In 2006, F. D. Sterritt became New England’s first Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody–certified lumber retailer. Since then, the 169-year-old company has experienced record growth, and is now Boston’s recognized leader in green building materials. A full-service lumberyard with a newly refurbished kitchen showroom, Sterritt offers ecologically sound building products, including recycled sheetrock, formaldehyde- and urea-free plywood, and responsibly harvested hardwoods (even exotics like Brazilian cherry and Mayan mahogany).

110 Arlington St., Watertown; 138 Waltham St., Watertown; 617-923-1480, sterrittlumber.com.

Salvaged Materials
RESTORATION RESOURCES

The most eco-friendly way to build is to reuse materials. With a treasure trove of antique accessories, this 6,000-square-foot South End showroom makes it easy. From stained-glass windows to garden statues, you’ll find period pieces in stunning condition. If you’re looking for something specific—say, a Victorian doorknob to match the rest of your hardware—the savvy staffers at Restoration Resources can make recommendations based on style, or even hunt down the original pattern.

1946 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-3033, restorationresources.com.

Solar
SOLAR DESIGN ASSOCIATES

Steven Strong pretty much is solar power in this country. As founder of this 36-year-old energy-design firm, Strong has led the industry through every major milestone: He transformed ungainly solar panels into sleek and well-integrated photovoltaics, and he designed the first solar-powered home, then neighborhood, then Major League Baseball stadium. Even though his company dominates the solar scene, every SDA project receives individual attention and exceptional design care.

Harvard, 978-456-6855, solardesign.com.