Dreaming Green: 8 Ways to Create an Eco-Home

Lisa Sharkey and Paul Gleicher transformed their Manhattan brownstone into an eco-smart, eco-fabulous home. They write about their renovating experience and highlight eight of their green improvements in this excerpt from their book Dreaming Green.

Being green, being stylish

This experience has been an incredible adventure for our whole family. Paul was able to educate himself about an entirely new way of building that he can feel good about, and he’s gone on to get his LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation. I love that we’ve been able to create a beautiful space for our family and that I don’t have to worry about the health hazards of anything in our home. As parents, we are so happy that our kids are really seeing firsthand what it means to care about the earth.

People say one person can’t make a difference, but we really disagree. One person makes a huge impact, and one family even greater impact. Many people are surprised to learn our house is green, and that’s exactly the compliment that we hoped for. We want our house to prove that being green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. You can create a beautiful home that takes little from the earth and gives back to you in countless ways.

8 ways we greened our home

1. Whole house water filtration system

All the water that enters our house is filtered via an EcoWater filtration system located in the cellar. The system removes at least 95 percent of the impurities in the water and softens it as well.

2. Green roof

Our green roof helps to keep the house cool in the summer, which reduces energy costs. It also increases the longevity of the roof below and absorbs 80 percent of the rainfall that otherwise ends up in the city sewage system.

3. Clay walls

Clay walls in the stairwells and on the ground floor are natural and nontoxic. They “breathe,” pulling in the humidity and keeping the house cool.

4. Lyptus floors

A hybrid of two eucalyptus trees, Lyptus is grown in managed forests in Brazil and matures in 14 to 16 years, compared to 80 years for many hardwoods. It has a strength and density similar to maple.

5. Icestone

IceStone is available in 27 colors. It is heat resistant, as strong as granite, and free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

6. Glass tile backsplash

Made from recycled glass bottles and silica sand, these square tiles are beautiful, durable and waterproof.

7. Recycled fabrics

Angela Adams’s colorful patterned fabrics in the kitchen and living room were made from 100 percent postindustrial recycled fabrics.

8. Sustainable furniture

All of the new furniture in the house was produced without formaldehyde, chemicals, dyes, polymers or toxins. Some pieces use reclaimed wood, while others use wood that is sustainably harvested.


Dreaming Green

From Dreaming Green: Eco-Fabulous Homes Designed to Inspire by Lisa Sharkey and Paul Gleicher. Copyright © 2008 Lisa Sharkey. Republished with permission.

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