Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Painting Party Time - 795 Edmund St.

We were fortunate to have a great crew and instructors for our painting party.

Painting Party volunteer crew and instructors

Paul Bergevin, Hirshfield's, helped teach us all we needed to know.

Paint the ceiling first

Then the walls

Can you see why floors are finished last?

Thanks Hirshfield's for supplying zero VOC paints, Wooster for brushes and supplies, and volunteers for inspired labor.

If you want to learn more about how paint is made, sign up for our tour of Hirshfield's on October 7.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Patio furniture build, volunteer training - 795 Edmund Street

August 22, 2014 was a patio furniture build. The goal was to boost confidence and ability of volunteers inexperienced using carpentry-based tools. They were taught how to use specific tools properly and instructed on patio furniture plans, which they used to create a raised planter, a picnic table with attached benches and an Adirondack chair. There were expert and experienced volunteer leaders on site to assist and guide the volunteers.

Our great Wells Fargo and USGBC-MN crew

Dave Christensen, True North Remodeling project manager,
and Kelly Bandman talking about tool safety and use

Sheri Brezinka, USGBC-MN executive director with
Paul Bergevin, Hirshfield's Paint Regional Sales Manager

Jen Lux, an art teacher and realtor, describing her experiences
building her own LEED gold certified home

Using a chop saw to turn lumber into picnic table pieces

Nailing an elevated planter

Picnic table top pieces being cut

Completed picnic table with benches and builders

The elevated planter and builders

Screwing the back of the Adirondack chair

The finished chair

Adirondack chair with builders

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rain Gardens: Day 2 - 795 Edmund Street

Braving the early morning Thunderstorms- 15 volunteers from Wells Fargo came out to the Edmund house to help with Rain Gardens.

The intrepid and undauntable Wells Fargo volunteers and USGBC-Mn crew

USGBC-Mn Members Mike Smoczyk and Jennifer Brundell from Kraus Anderson [on the right in the photo above] volunteered to help with breakfast and lead works teams throughout the day.

Jim Bergren, safety director at Kraus Anderson Construction [also on the right of the photo] gave our safety talk and got everyone stretched out before the heavy lifting began.

Intent listeners at the safety talk

Sam Geer, principal of ReGen Landscape Design, was our industry expert.

Sam taught the proper techniques and methods used in rain garden construction.

At lunch time, Becky from the Neighborhood Energy Connection briefed everyone on Green residential home certifications, before leading everyone on a tour of the home.

The pre-lunch briefing on Green home certifications

Inside- demo work continues. We expect windows to be installed in the next 2 weeks- before the siding goes on.

A "gut rehab" is down to the studs

Becky walks thru the use of a high-efficiency boiler with an indirect hot water tank-

Becky points to the hot water tank

a high performance solution for this home.

Highlighting the boiler and hot water controls

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rain Gardens: Day 1 - 795 Edmund Street

Thanks to our sponsors and partners last Friday, July 18, we got a lot done on the second Dynamic Green Home we're starting this year. For some background, see the Overview.

The Wells Fargo Green Team came out to 795 Edmund on Friday.

Marcie Weslock from Elan Design Lab taught the group
about Rain Garden design and installation.

Rick Cobbs from the Neighborhood Energy Connection told us
about the various "green" rating systems used on residential homes.
Ryan Companies sent their Safety Director Scott Beron (above) and
Assistant Superintendent Ryan Harstad to give us a safety talk
stretch everyone out for an injury free work-day.
Volunteers take their stretching seriously.
Rain gardens were filled with amended soil, shaped with berms
and covered with special erosion control blankets.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

All decked out Day 3 - 487 Mendota

On Saturday, July 12, 2014, 14 volunteers from the Accenture Eco_team helped us build a deck and finish up some rain garden work. The volunteers were led by Hands On Twin Cities, a local affiliate of a national non-profit that specializes in connecting volunteers, and volunteer teams, to meaningful projects in their community.

The Accenture Team

We also had on hand two Industry Experts: Christina Burk with Boise Cascade - Distributor of Trex Decking (available at Lowes) and Jim Loucks, Pro Desk Specialist at Lowes of Plymouth (store # 1955 763-367-9000).

Christina described to the group the sustainable features of the Trex decking product.
  • Trex is one of the largest recyclers in the US, processing over 400 million pounds of plastic and wood annually. 
  • Trex is 95% recycled wood and plastic. 
  • Trex contributes to LEED points
  • The average 500-square foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags. 

How many plastic bags in this Trex deck?
  • Reclaimed wood that would otherwise end up in a landfill finds its way into Trex high-performance composite decks. By using reclaimed sawdust, we never have to cut down a tree to make our products. Ever!
  • The recycled wood in Trex decks is combined with recycled plastic from a variety of sources ranging from the overwrap on paper towels to dry cleaner bags, sandwich bags, newspaper sleeves, and grocery and shopping bags. 
  • Trex’s proprietary, eco-friendly processing method eliminates the use of smoke stacks. Also, their factory runoff and refuse are recycled back into the manufacturing line. Their trailers even run on vegetable-based oil hydraulics.
Jim started by teaching everyone about a quality deck build. The deck frame was already complete, so everyone got an up-close view of the hardware, design and structure of a quality deck frame.

Jim is the one in the blue cap

The deck was only out of square by ½” over the 14 ft length. Jim showed us how to compensate over the course of 30 boards for the slightly out of square deck.

He also showed us how to use the Trex Hidden Fastener system to lay the deck boards, and how to square each course as we went.

Fasteners, boards, and squaring

Our volunteers broke into two teams, rotating between deck building and working on the rain gardens and other landscaping. As one team was working on deck, cycling thru positions so everyone got a chance to measure, cut, place and fasten boards, the other team leveled the rain garden and tacked in place special landscape fabric to prevent erosion.

FInishing up the south rain garden

By mid afternoon we had completed the top of the deck, most of the stairs, and the rain garden. The garden was mulched just in time before the afternoon rains shut things down. Around 2 pm, all of the holes from the fence post removals were filled, all the week’s construction debris was sorted and placed in piles for removal.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rain garden? Day 2 - 487 Mendota

Rainy days on Fridays never get us down, at least not where our damp but undaunted Wells Fargo volunteers were concerned. We were impressed by their dedication and thankful, again, for their help. If we had been able to finish the rain gardens prior to our volunteer day on Friday, July 11, we would have had near perfect conditions to test their functioning (the rain gardens, not the volunteers).

The Big Question: will the rain stop so we can work outside?
Photo by J. Harrington

Our intrepid volunteers had managed to get the site prepared by removing the old fence posts and getting the planting beds dug and prepared. Here's a site plan to give you a sense of what we're working toward. A rain garden goes in each of the top corners. The north garden is on the left and the south garden, naturally, is then on the right.

Plans developed by: Capital Region Watershed District
& Ramsey Conservation District

Details of the plantings at each location are shown in the following two figures.

North garden

Here is a list of what will be planted in the
North rain garden
Qty: Scientific Name: Common Name: Size: Spacing: Native
3 Amelanchier laevis Serviceberry 1 Gal
7 Aronia melanocarpa Black Chokeberry 1 Gal
18 Asclepias incarnata Swamp Milkweed 3.5" Pot
18"-24" o.c.
15 Carex vulpinoidea Fox sedge 3.5" Pot
18"-24" o.c.
9 Iris versicolor Blue Flag Iris 3.5" Pot
18"-24" o.c.
14 Liatris aspera Rough Blazing Star 3.5" Pot
18"-24" o.c.

South garden

Wells Fargo volunteer crew ready for work

The south garden, visible in the top photo between the sign and the truck, will have the same plants as listed for the North site, but not as many. Before the North garden could be planted, however, a notable stump needed to be dug out so the contractor can pull it later in the week.

digging in to dig out a stump

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rain Garden: Day 1 - 487 Mendota

The day started with registration and coffee
The day started with registration and coffee    
Photo by J. Harrington
Then an overview from Stephen Burk, USGBC MN staff
Then an overview from Stephen Burk, USGBC MN staff  

Photo by J. Harrington
A welcome from Kurt Schultz,
USGBC MN board member, City of St. Paul staff   
Photo by J. Harrington
A "Thank You!" from Patty Lammers,
Greater Frogtown CDC Lending Programs Manager      

Photo by J. Harrington
A safety briefing from Chris Tschida,
Regional Safety DIrector, Mortenson Construction      

Photo by J. Harrington
That included some warm up muscle loosening exercises

Photo by J. Harrington
Followed by an explanation of construction / demolition waste recycling
by Russ Reger VP Roll-Off Operations of Veit        

Photo by J. Harrington
Finally, Sam Geer, landscape architect with reGEN Land Design
explained the work to be done by our Wells Fargo Volunteers    
Photo by J. Harrington
Old concrete-set steel fence posts
get loaded for recycling at Veit    

Photo by J. Harrington
Rain gardens are built at each East corner of the property    

Photo by J. Harrington
After the sod is removed    

Photo by J. Harrington