Building with Green Materials and Protocols

What is Building Green?

Building green means utilizing all practices that reduce the negative impact of construction to create homes that are healthier and more efficient. At ECOterra DESIGN-BUILD, we strive to minimize waste. We use engineered wood products and recycled low or no VOC materials throughout the construction process in order to provide the most energy-efficient and healthy environment possible.

Building green is not a slogan, it’s a lifestyle that Kaye Marshall, General Contractor, Designer, Project Manager and the driving force behind ECOterra has embraced her entire life. “Coming from a family of engineers, you learn conservation is the primary focus of energy usage”, Marshall says. All of our energy-saving protocols have had rigorous testing and have stood the test of time.


Below are the myriad steps and techniques we use at ECOterra DESIGN-BUILD to make sure your home is as energy-efficient and high-quality as possible:

ECOterra Design-Build Energy Modeling and Analysis

Energy-efficiency and renewable energy are the cornerstone of ECOterra’s homebuilding process. After analyzing how you use energy in your current home, we model and translate that usage into the most energy-efficient home design fitting your lifestyle. Our strategies include the selection of innovative lighting, appliances and heating and cooling modes plus much more to achieve the least environmental impact while creating a home you will cherish at the same time.

ECOterra Custom Green Homes - Site Selection

​Site selection is an extremely important, base element of Green Building. At ECOterra, we strive to minimize our impact on the land and vegetation of the site in order to protect the environment around it. A required EPA Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) incorporates silt fencing, a concrete washout and a Rip Rap driveway to minimize erosion, and loss of material from the site.

ECOterra Design-Build Home Foundation

ECOterra prepares its foundations by establishing a reflective insulation/moisture barrier beneath its slabs which allows radiant heating systems to operate more effectively.

ECOterra Design-Build Radiant Floor Heating

With high-efficiency boilers (95-97% efficient), in-slab radiant heating is a clean, healthy and efficient way to heat your home. Coupled with insulation to enhance the hot water radiant heating system, solar thermal panels and a storage tank tied to your heating boiler can be incorporated, eliminating the need for a traditional water heaters. The solar thermal panels function as a water heating or pre-heating system which reduces the gas needed to operate the boiler.

ECOterra Design-Build Forest Management and Conservation

Utilization of composite materials such as engineered trusses, TJI’s, OSB and Microlam Beams, reduces wood consumption.

ECOterra’s predominant materials focus is to minimize waste thereby minimizing our impact on the forests and other natural resources.

ECOterra Custom Homes Tyvek Wrap Moisture Barrier

Prior to the final exterior finish, the entire house is wrapped with a 2 layer Home Wrap Moisture Barrier and drain plane to minimize air/moisture penetration. An additional 1” or 2” of rigid insulation wrapped around the home for a complete thermal break.

ECOterra Design-Build Air-Loss Control and Insulation

Caulking throughout the exterior walls of the home including under pressure-treated base plates minimizes air/dust infiltration which is the start of a hermetic home. Doors and windows are wrapped with window wrap and then sealed with expansion foam.

ECOterra Design-Build Drywall and Cooling Ducts

Drywall works as the interior portion of an air-gap. It is extremely important to caulk  or seal duct boots, electrical outlets and any other penetrations in the drywall in order to pass duct-blast tests and blower door tests which determine air leakage in the ducts and in the entire home.

ECOterra Custom Design-Build Exterior Finishes

Indigenous local materials such as concrete, gravel, wood  and stucco are used to minimize transportation costs and pollution. In addition, the stucco process is a finish coat with low or no VOC emissions.

ECOterra Custom Design-Build Home Interior Finishes

Interior finishes are an integral function of Building Green. Using low or no VOC-emitting finishes makes for a healthier environment. Low or no VOC paints, plaster finish walls, quartz countertops and tile walls and floors all minimize VOC’s. The use of “Green” or fast-growing woods like Liptus or Bamboo are additional components of Building Green. These fast-growing woods help greatly in reforestation efforts.

ECOterra Custom Design-Build Renewable Energy

New Mexico has a large number of sunlight days per year and with federal, state and PNM grid-tied incentives, solar photovoltaic systems are working their way into the mainstream. Grid-tied systems can generate between 3,000-20,000 kWh’s per year, reducing dangerous CO2 gases being released into the atmosphere by generating facilities using fossil fuels to run their plants. Coal is the number one fuel used to generate electricity in the world.

ECOterra Custom Design-Build Landscaping and Water Conservation

Protecting our natural resources is the basis for Building Green. Water is by far one of the most important resources in the world today. By designing drainage and ponding around the home, a well as adding cisterns, the xeriscaping (or natural landscaping) can thrive using runoff from the roof of the home. In our arid climate the addition of timed low water usage drip systems support the vegetation during dry seasons. The natural desert landscape is a kaleidoscope of colors when given even minimal water.

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