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A Green First

Author: Ray Holley
May, 2010 Issue

Eddinger Enterprises, a general contracting firm operating in Healdsburg since 1968, has been awarded the very first “Certificate of Compliance” for green building under the city’s Green Building Ordinance. The company, whose past projects include the Healdsburg Senior Center, Carson Warner Memorial Skate Park and Vintners Inn’s award-winning conference center, earned 168 points on Healdsburg’s Green Building Program checklist for incorporating energy-saving features into a remodel of an older home on Fitch Street.

Healdsburg uses the “GreenPoint Rated Checklist,” a program created by Build It Green, a well-respected organization that promotes health, energy and resource-efficient building practices in California. Fifty points on the GreenPoint Rated Checklist are required to be certified as a “green building” in Healdsburg, so 168 points demonstrates a serious commitment to green building principles. Healdsburg Building Official Scott Ward, who worked with Eddinger Enterprises to document the 168 points, praised the company for “walking its talk” when it came time to build green.

The GreenPoint Rated Checklist measures a building project’s green attributes in 16 areas that range from foundation to finishes. The Fitch Street remodel received points in every area covered by the checklist, including: renovating an existing dwelling; reusing framing and construction materials; installing energy-efficient appliances, lighting and plumbing fixtures; using recycled brick, concrete, insulation materials and nontoxic paint; and recycling or reusing more than 50 percent of construction waste (diverting waste from landfills).

Much of the wood used in the project is recycled or engineered lumber, which cuts down on the need for new wood. The new dimensional lumber that was used is primarily material certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to be sustainably harvested. Insulation is also a significant factor in the checklist. Controlling the loss of heated or cooled air can save a lot of energy, and the project is carefully designed to maximize these energy savings. Even the depth of the eaves counts—deeper eaves shelter the home from the sun and decrease the need for air conditioning. In this case, generous eaves act as a pleasing design feature while simultaneously saving energy.

The house uses high-efficiency heating and cooling techniques, along with energy-efficient, on-demand water heaters. Water pipes were also insulated, reducing energy loss. The checklist quantifies what’s outside the building as well. The project was awarded points for installing water-efficient landscaping that features native plants, including a large shade tree (saved from the original property) that will keep the house cool in the summer, and mulching planting areas that will save water.

In a walk-through of the house, Jerry Eddinger (who currently serves as one of Healdsburg’s planning commissioners and was a founding member of the Green City Committee) points out that most of the trim and many hardware fixtures in the house were stock he’d salvaged over many years. “We tried not to buy new trim when we had something we could reuse,” he says. “It saved us a little money…but it also saved on natural resources.”

According to Nancy Madarus, Eddinger Enterprises’ vice president and general manager, the project combined the company’s interests in community projects with the opportunity to embrace sustainable building ethics. “My parents [Jerry and Mary Lou Eddinger] knew the owner [of the house] and were excited about the opportunity to acquire and update it. We wanted to improve it but still keep it at a scale that respected the older neighborhood.” The Eddingers worked with a local architect to develop a plan that kept the house at one level and let them work with simple, classic materials and finishes, such as hardwood flooring, solid wooden doors and recycled brick.

The project benefits the environment in ways that don’t seem obvious when one thinks about trendy green building materials. The Fitch Street home is ideally suited for a low-impact lifestyle—it’s two short blocks from the Healdsburg Plaza and within walking distance of coffee shops, restaurants, pharmacies, churches, schools, the post office and local parks. By rehabilitating (recycling) an older home, the project benefits the Healdsburg community. A key concept in the principles of smart growth is to reuse existing buildings rather than build new ones. Also, the increase in property values of a recycled building helps pay for critical local services.

The Eddingers hired local subcontractors as well, recognizing that “shopping locally” for services is a key factor in sustainability. Eddinger Enterprises is a full-service general contractor and did much of the work itself, but local subcontractors handled concrete, roofing, drywall, flooring, electrical, landscaping, plastering, masonry and sheet metal work.

Madarus says the project is only part of Eddinger Enterprises’ intention to link sustainability and community service. “We recycle on every job site, monitor storm runoff and talk to our employees about eliminating waste and miles traveled. It may not seem obvious to some, but making sure our crews have everything they need when they load their trucks in the morning is a key green building practice. Reducing fossil fuels by eliminating extra trips to the lumber yard, and just being generally efficient keeps our business healthy, which in turn lets us give back to our community in other ways, which is very important to our family.”
Ray Holley is a freelance writer and regular contributor to NorthBay biz. For more information about Eddinger Enterprises, call (707) 433-5113 or visit




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