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Bluebird Hill Farm Owner Extends Essay Deadline

Aspiring farmers have until August 1 to vie for this small enterprise in North Carolina.



June 29, 2017 (Bennett, NC) — Norma Burns, the architect/farmer who intends to gift her 13-acre organic farm in Bennett, North Carolina, to another aspiring small farmer through a convincing essay, has extended the deadline for submissions to August 1. (Background information to follow.)

June 1 was the original deadline. As that date neared, however, Burns received a flood of questions and comments on the farm’s Facebook page from people who had only recently learned about “The Gift,” as she calls it. And because she has not yet received the number of submissions/entry fees needed to pay off her mortgage so she can gift it to another aspiring farmer, she decided to extend the deadline — in accordance with the rules set up on the website www.essaybluebirdhillfarm.com.

Norma Burns introduces a young visitor to freshly grown lavender.

“Preserving Bluebird Hill Farm is an important part of The Gift,” she said recently, noting that a general sale would not guarantee it. “I want to preserve this small farm for future farmers. I want to preserve the opportunity for those who dream of farming to obtain their dream.”

Through the Agricultural Conservation Easement that Burns just signed this month, she’s “also assuring that the natural resources, wildlife habitat, and scenic values of this property will be preserved.”

The rules and requirements for submitting a single-page essay that, along with other criteria, will determine Bluebird Hill Farm’s future owner,  are available at www.essaybluebirdhillfarm.com. Questions and comments may be directed only to the farm’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BluebirdHillFarmNC.

Aerial view of Bluebird Hill Farm from the farmhouse (top) to the bright red barn (bottom).

Background:

In January 2017, Norma Burns announced that she is inviting committed couples of any type who are also aspiring small farmers to submit an essay on “Why We Want to Own and Operate Bluebird Hill Farm.” Along with meeting certain other criteria (such as a resume indicating experience), a Selection Committee will determine the writers of the best essay who will receive her 13-acre farm in North Carolina’s bucolic Chatham County as a gift with title free and clear.

The farm and all its components is valued at around $450,000. Along with the land, The Gift includes outbuildings, equipment, and the farmhouse that Burns, as an architect, renovated years ago. Furnishings and accessories that are listed on the website also go with the house. Everything The Gift entails can be seen on the dedicated website: www.essaybluebirdhillfarm.com.

Burns chose to pass her beloved Bluebird Hill Farm on to a new owner in this manner because she wants to give aspiring small farmers who can’t afford to buy property the chance to have their own farm and to preserve and cherish it as much as she has.

“After nearly 18 years of work, love, and care, the farm has become what my late husband and I envisioned it to be when we bought it,” said Burns, who is ready to retire from the hard work of farming and enjoy a more urban lifestyle. “It would mean so much to me to see it in the care of someone committed to its continued improvement.”

She calls her effort to transfer ownership “A Gift of Good Land” in homage to American novelist, poet, and environmental activist Wendell Berry. For more information: www.essaybluebirdhillfarm.com

About Bluebird Hill Farm:

Owned and operated by Norma DeCamp Burns, Bluebird Hill Farm is a small farm that specializes in growing herbs, specialty vegetables, cut flowers, and native plants, along with value-added farm crafts and food products. The farm incorporates the principles of permaculture to maximize the use of space in its raised beds. Burns has grown many types of fruits and vegetables, emphasizing diversity and quality over quantity. The farm is located in Bennett, NC.

 


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UPDATE: Bluebird Hill Farm Essay Contest Eliminates Age Range for Entries, Defines What “The Farm” Includes

Aerial view of Bluebird Hill Farm.

Aerial view of Bluebird Hill Farm

February 13, 2017 (Bennett, NC) — After hearing concerns about the age-range stipulation in Bluebird Hill Farm’s Essay Contest (www.bluebirdhillfarmessaycontest.com) from otherwise qualified candidates, farm owner Norma Burns has decided to eliminate it entirely.

Previously, the Eligibility rules for the contest that Burns is holding to give away her 13-acre farm rather than sell it on the market, stated: “At least one member of the couple must be between the ages of 25 and 50 to ensure that the winning couple has the life experience and physical stamina that active farming requires.”

Burns clarified that she never intended aspiring organic farmers to state their ages. “We assumed everyone entering would conform to the age range we indicated,” she said, “We have rescinded any mention of it in the rules since age, by itself, was never an issue or criterion; experience and capability are. Therefore, those entering the contest must not include their ages in any entry document. Only their names should appear on the entry form.”

For those who submitted essays before the change and did include mention of their age, Burns says they need to email the contest’s clerk, Kay Maddox, at ktbug74@gmail.com. “Kay will intercept those entries and return them unopened so the sender can eliminate mention of age,” she said.

Burns also noted some confusion concerning what’s included in the word “farm” — just the farmable land? the land and outbuildings? the farmhouse, too?

To clarify what we feel is expressed on the website, Bluebird Hill Farm includes the gardens, land, outbuildings, the equipment that’s named and shown on the website, and the house, as well as the furnishings named in the photos of its interior,” she said. “Miscellaneous tools and additional furnishings that are too numerous to name are also included. All of it is going to the winner of the essay contest.”

For more information on the Essay Contest, go to www.bluebirdhillfarmessaycontest.com and watch the farm’s Facebook page. Questions should be submitted via Facebook.

logoAbout Bluebird Hill Farm:

Owned and operated by Norma DeCamp Burns, Bluebird Hill is a small USDA Certified Organic farm that specializes in growing herbs, specialty vegetables, cut flowers, native plants, value-added farm crafts and food products. The farm incorporates the principles of permaculture to maximize the use of space in its raised beds. Burns grows many types of fruits and vegetables, emphasizing diversity and quality over quantity. The farm is located in Bennett, NC.


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Chapel Hill Architect and Builder Continue To Raise The Bar For Green Design and Construction

Arielle Condoret Schechter

Rendering, eastern elevation

After stealing the show during the 2015 Green Home Tour with “Happy Meadows,” the modern, net-zero passive house she designed in Pittsboro, NC, Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, now has another modern, net-zero, passive house-inspired home under construction – this time in Chapel Hill, and this time for the custom green homebuilder who helped her create Happy Meadows: Kevin Murphy of Newphire Building.

For the past decade, “greenwashing” has run rampant in the home building industry. Simply put, “greenwashing” occurs when an architect, contractor, or home builder spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing practices that minimize environmental impact.

Arielle Schechter and Kevin Murphy take environmental impact very seriously.

Arielle Condoret Schechter, Chapel Hill architect

Rendering, front elevation

According to Murphy, the 2950-square-foot house Schechter has designed for his family of four will be “a warm and functional family home as well as a showcase of cutting-edge green building techniques.”

Architecturally, the house effortlessly combines environmental stewardship with the simple volumes, flat rooflines, open floor plan, and indoor-outdoor living that define modern styling. The first floor will feature a spacious living/dining/kitchen area connected to a screen porch that will extend the living space outdoors. The master bedroom wing will be located on the first floor with the children’s suite – complete with a multipurpose music and entertainment room –  and home office upstairs. Typical of Schechter’s residential work, a private interior courtyard will link all spaces together.

The house is located on a 4.3-acre site at the end of a private gravel road that is very secluded yet only a seven-minute drive from Chapel Hill or Carrboro. Despite the size of the lot, stream buffers, setbacks to existing well and septic concerns, and a new leach field left Murphy with a surprisingly small area on which to build his house.

Rendering, rear corner at screened porch

Rendering, rear corner at screened porch

The site’s eastern line runs down to the branch of a small creek. Beyond the creek, dozens of acres of Triangle Land Conservancy property provides a lush buffer for wildlife. The screen porch faces the forest.

Far from “greenwashing,” the Murphy home will be “net zero/net positive,” meaning that it will produce as much energy as it uses and probably even more. “We anticipate a National Green Building Standard ‘Gold’ rating,” Murphy noted.

Murphy said he will employ the techniques he’s learned while building Certified Passive Houses. His home will be super-insulated and extremely air tight, far beyond regular building code requirements. To provide the home with fresh air, Murphy and Schechter will utilize the cutting-edge Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV) that they used at the Happy Meadows home. The CERV filters, dehumidifies and tempers incoming fresh air before distributing it to the living area. The home will be heated and cooled by two tiny Fujitsu mini-split heat pumps and all of the windows will be high performance, European, triple-pane tilt and turn by Awilux. As a result, the house will need only a small array of photovoltaic (solar) panels to produce all the electricity the house will need.

To maximize both passive and active solar gain, the house’s axis run east to west, thereby capturing an abundance of southern sunlight.

According to its architect and builder/homeowner, this modern, high-performance house will be part of the 2016 Green Home Tour sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham counties.

For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter, visit www.acsarchitect.com. For more information on NewPhire Building: www.newphirebuilding.com.

About Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA:

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on passive houses, NET ZERO houses, and her new tiny house designs, Micropolis Houses™. She is a lifelong environmentalist and animal advocate who was riding on the green design train long before it became mainstream. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in a Modern house she designed. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com


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Restoring Cities and Nature: Raleigh Architect Frank Harmon To Address Seattle AIA

frank harmon postcard final

Raleigh architect and educator Frank Harmon, FAIA, will be the keynote speaker for the 2015 Residential Design Forum presented by the American Institute of Architects Seattle, WA., chapter (AIA Seattle) on Monday, June 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Harmon, principal and founder of the award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect PA, has designed sustainable modern buildings across the Southeast for 30 years. His work engages pressing contemporary issues such as place-less-ness, sustainability and restoring cities and nature.

His buildings recall the materials of their region, from using hurricane-felled cypress and rock from local quarries to connect the structure to its landscape. The airy breezeways, outdoor living spaces, deep overhangs, and wide lawns embody the romanticism of the South while maintaining a distinguished modernism.

A graduate of the Architectural Association in London, he is a Professor-in-Practice at the NC State University College of Design, he has taught at the Architectural Association, and he has been a visiting critic at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the Rural Studio at Auburn University.

n 2013, Harmon received the F. Carter Williams Gold Medal from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NC), the highest honor bestowed upon a North Carolina architect. He holds numerous awards recognizing his contributions to design and sustainability, and his firm has been included in Architect magazine’s “Top 50″ list three times.

As a noted writer and illustrator, his recent project, Native Places, uses hand-drawn sketches and mini-essays to examine the relationship between nature and built structures. He is a primary contributor to Activate 14, an AIA NC initiative to educate the public on the benefits of good design and sustainability through a series of summer events and design competitions.

Harmon’s presentation will take place at Exchange Building Suite 410, 821 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information: http://spacecityseattle.org/.

For more information on Frank Harmon, visit www.frankharmon.com.

Frank Harmon, FAIA

Frank Harmon, FAIA

About Frank Harmon:

Frank Harmon, FAIA, is principal of the multi-award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, NC, a Professor in Practice at NC State University’s College of Design, and the 2013 winner of AIA North Carolina’s F. Carter Williams Gold Medal, the highest honor presented by the Chapter to an AIA NC member to recognize a distinguished career and extraordinary accomplishments as an architect. In 2010 Harmon was included in Residential Architect’s inaugural “RA 50: The Short List of Architects We Love.” In 2013, his firm was ranked 21st among the top 50 firms in the nation by Architect Magazine. Frank Harmon is also the author and illustrator for NativePlaces.org, a series in which he uses hand-drawn sketches and mini-essays to examine the relationship between nature and built structures. For more information: www.frankharmon.com. Contact information: frank@frankharmon.com;919.829.9464; 14 East Peace Street, Raleigh, NC 27604.


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Two Net Zero Passive Houses Are State-Of-The-Art on the 2015 Green Home Tour

One of the two net zero homes: Happy Meadows Courtyard House.

One of the two net zero homes: Happy Meadows Courtyard House.

There’s “green,” and then there’s GREEN.

When the Home Buyers Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties presents its 10th annual Green Home Tour May 2-3 and 9-10, tour-goers will see several houses that are certified“green” because they use less energy, water and natural resources, create less waste, and are generally healthier environments than a traditionally designed and constructed house.

Two houses on the tour, however, are so green that even LEED Platinum structures pale in comparison. Designed by Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, homes “C6” and “C12”in the tour’s guidebook are “net zero passive houses.”

Net zero means that these houses produce as much energy as they use. “Passive” refers to their ability to maintain indoor temperature with minimal dependence on active HVAC systems.

“Of course, passive houses work well in tandem with active systems like solar panels if the goal is to reach net zero,” Schechter pointed out. “And we did indeed reach net zero and beyond on both of these houses.”

And, unlike traditionally built houses, these net zero passive houses do not emit any greenhouse gases into the environment.

In Chapel Hill, “C6” is the 2289-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home of Phil and Velma Helfaer, which they have named the “Happy Meadows Courtyard House” because it also features one of Schechter’s signature design elements: a private courtyard.

“I love courtyards because they also add warmth and grace wherever they’re located,” she notes.“They expand living spaces and extend sight lines. And, yes, they’re wonderful places to dine, lounge, and entertain outdoors with complete privacy.  At their most primal level, courtyards provide“sanctuary” and “calm” as an antidote to our overcomplicated world.”

Kevin Murphy, the owner of Newphire Building and a Certified Passive House Builder, built Happy Meadows. “We wanted to create a home that combined the application of the most up-to-date energy modeling and building science with an artful, modern aesthetic,” he says.

A longtime animal advocate, Schechter’s favorite feature just might be the creation of the wildlife habitat in the pond and water feature. “We always try to include a place for wildlife in our designs. The Happy Meadows water gardens provide homes for frogs and other species, which are in critical decline as they suffer from more and more habitat loss from development.”

Designed to be net positive with the addition of more solar panels in the future, the house will produce enough excess energy to charge an electric car.  It’s even third-party certified to the most rigorous energy efficiency standard in the country — Passive House Plus – and follows every EPA recommendation for indoor air quality. For more details on this house: http://www.acsarchitect.com/#!happy-meadows-courtyard-house/c246b.

The "Modern Farmhouse" in PIttsboro

The “Modern Farmhouse” in PIttsboro

“C12,” in Pittsboro’s Laughing Brook subdivision, is the home of Pam and Aaron Fleischauer and their young son, Jack. At 1790 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths, this net zero “modern farmhouse” features ultra-low-maintenance concrete exterior walls, 20 solar panels, a tiny HVAC system, and on-demand hot water, among a host of other net zero and passive house elements and details. Bright in the winter and cool and shady in the summer, it was built by Anchorage Building Corp.

“We are in the house and it is wonderful,” Aaron Fleischauer told the Chapel Hill News in August. “It is so beautiful. I am amazed how clean the air feels.”

The Green Home Tour features a diverse group of newly built or remodeled green-certified homes, giving the public an opportunity to see first-hand the renewable energy and advanced green building practices in home design in the three counties. For more information on the tour, go to hbadoc.com.

For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and the green homes she designs, visit www.acsarchitect.com.

About Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Architect:

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on passive houses, NET ZERO houses, and her new tiny house designs, Micropolis Houses™. She is a lifelong environmentalist and animal advocate who was riding on the green design train long before it became mainstream. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in a Modern house she designed. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.


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Architect Robby Johnston Joins GTSD Awards Jury

Recognizing sustainable development in the Triangle region.

The Raleigh Architecture Co.

Robby Johnston, AIA

 

Raleigh architect Robby Johnston, AIA, partner and founding principal of The Raleigh Architecture Company, will serve on the Judges’ Panel for the 2015 Greater Triangle Stewardship Development (GTSD) Awards program honoring sustainable developments in the Triangle region.

Johnston’s expertise in sustainable design and construction and his experience in managing LEED projects were noted as the reasons for inviting him to join the Judges Panel.

The GTSD Awards program recognizes residential, commercial, and public land developments that demonstrate outstanding environmental stewardship through protection, conservation, improvement, and appreciation of the region’s natural resources.

The Judges Panel includes professionals in engineering, natural resources sciences, planning, architecture, landscaping, and others. Johnston’s fellow jurors are: Katherine Baer, Triangle Land Conservancy; Becky Smith, HydroStructures; Megan Bolejack, Pittsboro Parks & Recreation Board; Robert Patterson, Town of Morrisville; Mitch Woodward, NC Cooperative Extension; Scott Pohlman, NC Natural Heritage Program; Nancy Guthrie, Clean Water Management Trust Fund; and Roger Henderson, Moffatt & Nichol.

Projects considered for a GTSD award must be located in Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Orange, or Wake counties. The Judges Panel will conduct site visits on February 4 and the awards will be presented during a banquet on April 29.

For more information on the GTSD Awards, go to trianglestewardship.org.

For more information on Johnston and The Raleigh Architecture Company, visit www.raleigh-architecture.com.

Raleigh Architecture

About The Raleigh Architecture Company:

The Raleigh Architecture Company is an award-winning design-build firm specializing in Modern sustainable architecture, and craftsman-quality construction. As licensed architects and general contractors, we consider designing and building to be one integrated process. This streamlined approach empowers us to meet our clients’ economic expectations and to seamlessly execute high quality details, both small and large. Our office and shop are located under one roof in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District at 502 S. West Street. For more information visit www.raleigh-architecture.com, call 919-831-2995, or email: info@raleigh-architecture.com.


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Duke University’s Ocean Conservation Center Achieves LEED Platinum

The highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Duke University Ocean Conservation Center

Duke’s Ocean Conservation Center in Beaufort, NC.

Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA, recently learned that the Ocean Conservation Center (OCC) his firm designed in Beaufort, NC, for Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment Marine Laboratory has achieved LEED Platinum certification.

Platinum is the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) awards.

Located on Piver’s Island at the head of the Beaufort Inlet, the OCC provides state-of-the-art teaching facilities for the Duke Marine Lab while identifying and demonstrating innovative, environmentally sound design and construction technology.

Duke University Ocean Conservation Center

The OCC’s glass-enclosed common area.

The 5000-square-foot building’s angular design responds directly to the site along the edge of the island. The shape defers to prevailing southwest breezes blowing in from the channel and allows natural illumination to serve as primary task lighting in every interior space. It also creates a very natural open, inner courtyard for the campus.

The channel side of the building features a large, wooden porch just outside of a glass-enclosed common area, which provides panoramic views of the natural surroundings. The wood-shingled exterior complements the coastal context and the roof’s deep overhang protects the interior from the hot summer sun.

The building is designed and engineered to resist hurricane-force winds in excess of 125 mph — a very real threat in Beaufort, NC. Building materials include wood, wood shingles, glass, and cement panels. The fully designed wood frame is comprised of Atlantic white cedar, recycled wood, and Southern yellow pine. State-of-the-art green features include photovoltaic rooftop panels for converting sunlight into electricity, a solar hot water system, a vegetated roof and rain water collection cistern, and high-efficiency ground-coupled heat pumps. Recycled and local materials were used wherever possible.

Landscaping includes a large, new dune that directs the wind over the building, rather than directly at it, and protects other all-native landscaping features.

Earning LEED Platinum certification is a comprehensive process. A project must meet all requirements during a rigorous evaluation of building system efficiency, sustainability, water efficiency, materials used for construction, and environmental quality. Architect and client must be fully committed to sustainability and the process.

LEED certification is recognized across the globe as the premier mark of achievement in green building. For more information: www.usgbc.org/leed.

For more information on the OCC and Frank Harmon Architect PA, visit www.frankharmon.com.

About Frank Harmon, FAIA:

Frank Harmon, FAIA, is principal of the multi-award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, NC, a Professor in Practice at NC State University’s College of Design, and the 2013 winner of AIA North Carolina’s F. Carter Williams Gold Medal, the highest honor presented by the Chapter to an AIA NC member to recognize a distinguished career and extraordinary accomplishments as an architect. In 2010 Harmon was included in Residential Architect’s inaugural “RA 50: The Short List of Architects We Love.” In 2013, his firm was ranked 21st among the top 50 firms in the nation by Architect Magazine. Frank Harmon is also the author and illustrator for NativePlaces.org, a series in which he uses hand-drawn sketches and mini-essays to examine the relationship between nature and built structures. For more information: www.frankharmon.com. Contact information: frank@frankharmon.com; 919.829.9464; 14 East Peace Street, Raleigh, NC 27604.