Lightening the Load

Bozeman, once a sleepy little enclave without a Gap or Home Depot, focused on a single flashing blue light in the winter months, has morphed into a bustling and bursting mountain metropolis. Despite low incomes and high home prices, the building keeps on booming. And nailing. And cutting. And massively contributing to increased overall energy use.

Charles Mastny and Amy Purdie of Luminous Homes are building homes in the Gallatin Valley, too, but they’re building them green. Helping them out is the voluntary Montana Built Green program, which encourages builders to employ technologies, products, and practices that are both energy efficient and reduce pollution. A third party is required to inspect and certify the homes’ green status under guidelines for energy efficiency, use of sustainable materials, resource efficiency, water conservation, and health and safety features. Homes must receive a minimum of 120 points to certify. The Luminous home, located in the Alder Creek subdivision at 3269 Somerset Drive, earned 150 points.

Mastny and Purdie focused on energy efficiency and water conservation on their 2006 Parade of Homes featured home. The insulation installation involved several steps, starting with a foam spray that sealed up any cracks or holes left from the framing process. From there, traditional insulation was installed in the walls and ceilings. All of the duct systems were also sealed with low-toxic mastic sealant, and all air returns were fully ducted. These simple steps will save 10-20% on heating costs.

All of the appliances are Energy Star rated, and the hot water heater is a high-efficiency unit as well. All of the kitchen and bathroom faucets and showerheads are low-flow fixtures that can reduce the home’s water consumption by as much as 50%. Even the toilets are green: the dual-flush toilets have two options depending on needs. The small-flush and full-flush options average 1.1 gallons per flush, while a traditional toilet uses 2.9 gallons of water.

The home also saves electricity: 50% of the light fixtures have compact fluorescent bulbs, which use 66% less energy than a standard bulb and last up to 10 times longer.

The Luminous home won’t knock you over with that “new home smell” because none of the home’s paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are toxic and can remain within the home for years.

Also, the carpet in the main-floor master suite is wool, which is nontoxic, nonallergenic, and flame retardant. Wool carpets even purify indoor air of common contaminants by burying them deep within the core of the fiber for up to 30 years.

The landscaping is a continuation of the low water-consumption theme. “The plants and trees are drought tolerant, native species used to conserve water usage,” says Purdie. “Even the grass seed is water-conscious; it’s a fescue lawn that typically requires 50% less water than Kentucky bluegrass sod.” Fescue is an extremely hardy and versatile grass, with the ability to grow in clay, sandy soil, full sun, full shade, and even under pine trees.

Visit this “green” addition to the Alder Creek subdivision during the Parade of Homes this fall. Luminous Homes has installed signs throughout the home to provide a “green” self-guided tour, pointing out features invisible to the naked eye. Mastny and Purdue also have a second “green” home in the final stages of construction in the West Meadows subdivision, adjacent to the popular Sundance Springs area. For more information about Luminous Homes, contact Becky at 522-3942 or visit

Reduce, Reuse, and Relax
Suzy Hall Hoberecht, owner of Mountain Home Vacation Rentals, is greening up more than her client’s wallets. Her exceedingly popular rental agency, whose reservation specialist Lisa Orr was just voted one of the top villa rental agents in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, implemented a program earlier this year to promote green living in their rental homes. “The idea is we want to encourage our homeowners to make their properties sit a bit more gently on the land,” says Hoberecht.

In order to qualify and be listed as a “green home,” each homeowner must comply with three regulations: use gentler cleaning products; supply recycled-fiber, non-chlorine-bleached paper products; and offer recycling containers for guests to use. Mountain Home currently has six green homes listed on its website. In addition to promoting Earth-conscious living, Hoberecht is also a member of 1% For the Planet and is participating in the two-year training program “Uncommon Sense: Business Leadership for a Sustainable Future” through the Yellowstone Business Partnership. For more information call 586-4589 or visit