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Friday, February 25, 2011

A Solid Foundation in Green Building

A Solid Foundation in Green Building:
SoNo’s Trillium Architects leads the way
By Mike Lauterborn
(For Mar/Apr Green Home supplement to Fairfield Magazine)

You would be hard pressed to find a more deeply passionate green-focused architect.

Elizabeth DiSalvo, 44, the founder/principal of Trillium Architects, LLC in South Norwalk, has always been mindful of building energy-efficient “green” houses. “Green is really simply about quality construction. We want to build houses that you would be proud to leave to your grandchildren,” she says.

DiSalvo was raised in Ridgefield, CT. She earned undergraduate and graduate architectural degrees from Rensselaer and Columbia University respectively.

She gained architectural experience in high school, college and later years working with a variety of high-end Fairfield County architects. Intervening years were spent learning to design modern, natural homes in Los Angeles and New York. Her experience in the early 90s in Colorado was particularly influential. “I lived and designed in a town that was ‘off the grid’. People built their own homes and even their own solar panels. It was very mind opening,” said DiSalvo.

She designed her first new green home in 1999 and, from then on, the “green” focus has been her priority.

“The first aspect that we look at with a green home design is the envelope – the roof, walls and basement,” she said. “We make these areas as well insulated and air-sealed as possible. We keep fresh tempered air flowing with a super high efficiency HVAC system. The better the envelope, the smaller the HVAC system required, which results in high-energy efficiency and monetary savings to the owner. We specify sustainable and natural materials that complete the package to create a long lasting, low maintenance home.”

Besides the technical areas of a home, Trillium focuses on creating unique and sophisticated designs that emphasize natural light, beauty, different levels of intimacy, and the specific needs of each homeowner.

DiSalvo’s theory is simple: The better you build the home, and the more truly special the experience of living in the home, the better the home will be cherished and cared for, and the longer it will last. A home that no one would dream of tearing down and throwing into a landfill is perhaps the greenest home you can build.

“Our distinction in this business is that we have been doing this for a long time,” said DiSalvo. “We’re building fine green homes wherein both the technical and spatial designs have been perfected. Our strong relationships with contractors and subcontractors that are truly experienced in green construction are a plus as well.”

Founded in 2004, Trillium focuses on residential work –from small renovations to complete new homes, working in various “shades” of green, throughout Fairfield and Westchester Counties and beyond.

“Last year, we completed four new homes and several additions,” noted DiSalvo. “Among the new homes was one that will likely receive LEED Platinum certification -- the highest LEED rating. LEED is a standard by which green houses are measured, created by the U.S. Green Building Council.”

DiSalvo said that the firm has another home in progress in Darien that will likely receive LEED Platinum.   

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