2024 Homestead Magazine


Homestead Magazine


Tips for Building Green in Jackson Hole

Local contractors B&B Builders give Homestead some input.

Founded by brothers Ben and Brent Johnson in 1999, B&B Builders has had its hands (or tools) in many local projects over the intervening 15 years. Involved in building custom homes for the luxury and vacation markets in Jackson Hole and other areas of the Intermountain West, years of experience have honed the partners’ knowledge of local homeowner concerns and desires.Cowboy 2 05

Among these is a concern for green homebuilding. Always an eco-conscious pocket of the West, many Jackson Hole homeowners bring the same conscientiousness to their building plans when approaching a home or remodeling project. However, green building in Jackson Hole is not without its challenges. How to adequately heat a home in our harsh winters? What about the preference for facing buildings away from the sun and towards the Tetons? The views are, quite rightfully, the building focus of many local residences.

Ben Johnson of B&B Builders

Ben Johnson of B&B Builders

Ben Johnson, the Vice President of B&B Builders, agrees that “extreme winter conditions can be a challenge” for homeowners hoping to go green, although the trifecta of a good “architect, builder, and subcontractors” can go a long way in ameliorating these challenges. Energy efficient buildings are cited as money-savers, but Johnson cautions that prospective homeowners should educate themselves as to the cost upfront. An informative sit-down with your architect and builder beforehand may help mitigate any possible cases of sticker shock.

“Some ‘green’ building practices can also be cost efficient,” he says “however, many can result in much higher expenses, which should be considered. We often have clients interested in going “green” who are extremely disappointed when they see the cost difference.”

Striking the correct balance between desired sustainability and efficiency with building costs and homeowner needs can indeed be tricky. What else should homeowners consider when dreaming up the ideal green home or remodel?

Get Familiar with LEED
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This rigorous certification system was put in place by the U.S. Green Building Council, and surveys homes on 8 different factors before granting a rating. Browsing the USGBC rating system can be an effective way to discover green building avenues, even without the need to attain accreditation.

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As a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council themselves, B&B Builders is quite informed on the topic of constructing with energy efficiency.

Arranging a Site
Situational concerns are especially significant in Jackson Hole, where homes are often constructed on bluffs or in areas that also constitute wildlife migration corridors. Considering these factors when choosing how to situate a home is key, as is taking into account the possible impacts of erosion. One way to combat this problem is to landscape with native plants that don’t require extensive watering. As forest fire danger is also a perennial concern for local homeowners, fire-safe landscaping presents a proactive approach to safeguarding home and hearth.

Exterior of a home constructed by B&B Builders.

Exterior of a home constructed by B&B Builders.

Check the Source
The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit that oversees the sustainability of the wood that is used in building projects. As wood construction is a foundation of local construction, paying attention to where timber is sourced can certainly mean a greener home. Reclaimed, local, or certified woods all meet the LEED standards. Many local builders and sub-contractors use Douglas Fir, as well as reclaimed hardwoods to construct everything from floors to window frames. Sealed concrete and even bamboo can also meet the criteria for greenness.

Lowering Consumption
Homes constructed to utilize energy-saving lightbulbs in kitchens, or outfitted with low-flow showerheads and toilets in bathrooms are less wasteful of energy and water—this is also one of the simplest, most cost-effective ways to go green. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can include these greener substitutions. In the case of an extensive renovation, however, Johnson urges “if possible” to “arrange to live somewhere else during the remodel.”

Hansen 16The Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project has some tips of its own for local residents and prospective residents.

Clean Air
Living in a green home isn’t simply about how your builders build or how you and your household creatively think through ways to cut down on usage. It’s also about the air you breathe. LEED certified buildings must meet certain standards of non-toxicity, which comes down to painting and finishing with water-based stains, paints, and sealers. Natural vs. synthetic carpets also contribute to low toxicity around the home, as do proper ventilation and the usage of air filters. As Jackson Hole’s climate is already so dry, mold and the moisture levels of indoor areas are of lesser concern than they are in other regions of the United States.

Cowboy 2 04Ben Johnson affirms that while classic “rustic mountain” styles remain a mainstay of local home projects, “rustic contemporary” is gaining a foothold. As local homeowners hope to embrace green building practices and modern modes of construction, a team of expert builders, architects, and designers is key to outline the project, address the scope of the home, and highlight the newest innovations of the practice.

More than a temporary trend, green building is here to stay in the valley.

(all images provided by B&B Builders)