Totally Green (And So Much More)

The Panaros’ new home is built with environmentally friendly materials and processes in a way that will allow them to age in place. Thinking ahead is green.

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The first floor includes two bedrooms. Photograph by Jared CastaldiThe second floor is accessed by a wide staircase. But if the Panaros ever need it, there’s a three-story shaft, from the basement to the second floor, for an elevator.

“And if we don’t need it, we have even more closet space,” Tony says.

An elegant bath is open to the bedroom. There are no doors on the oversized shower. A floor of river rock provides a natural, no-slip surface. The Panaros meticulously researched toilets before settling on a water-saving unit. “We know more about toilets than we ever thought possible,” Julie says.

The house is heated and cooled through geothermal power, which taps energy from the Earth.

So how much more expensive is it to build a home that is both green and accessible?

Costs vary widely, according to the size, amenities and finishes in the home, Tony notes. On average, expect to pay $125 per square foot for a standard single-family home. The price tag for a home that is friendly to both the environment and the people who live there would cost $223 per square foot, before factoring in energy savings.

Then there’s the intangible benefit of doing the right thing for the planet.

“After living in a green home, we never want to live anywhere else,” Julie says.