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Architects of Fine Green Homes


The Principals at Trillium Architects have been actively building green energy efficient buildings since 1992. Elizabeth Di Salvo and Eileen Crispell established Trillium Architects in 2004 after working separately as sole practitioners of residential architecture. They were introduced to each other by a local green builder and instantly connected over their mutual belief that green architecture should be available, enjoyable and beautiful.

Founding partner Elizabeth Di Salvo has over 20 years experience in architecture and construction. She grew up in the industry and has a five year professional degree in architecture from Rensselaer and a master’s degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University.

Elizabeth’s initial exposure to green building came from living in an ‘off-the-grid’ community in Colorado in 1992. There she learned a very grass roots approach to making shelter and incorporating local and environmentally sound products and technologies into buildings that occupants could fabricate themselves. This hands-on experience revealed the many possibilities of alternative construction methods, however it also revealed many limitations for their incorporation in the technologically evolving world of mainstream America.

Upon returning to the east coast, Elizabeth’s began to focus her practice on bringing green, energy efficient buildings to more mainstream clients. Over the years, Elizabeth and Trillium Architects have refined their approach to getting a green home built. In doing so they have also learned how to prioritize and meet clients expectations for creating a green home that is energy efficient but is also livable, affordable and enjoyable.

What makes a house green?

Green building encompasses both the design of the home and the products and methods used in its construction. A green home will usually last longer, have less impact on the environment, and require less money for heating and cooling in the long run. Our homes use enormous amounts energy, water and materials throughout their lives, and create a large amount of waste, Meeting these challenges requires a new awareness, new materials, and new ways of designing and constructing our homes.

Green building materials include healthy, non-toxic building products which do not cause discomfort or illness in either the occupant of the house or the contractors building the house. They include products that have low embodied energy- which means they do not require a great deal of energy to create, ship, install or demolish. They include products that can be recycled rather than demolished. They include products that are found and fabricated locally. They include natural products that are made from easily renewable resources as well as recycled building elements.

Green building practices include efficient building systems- such as modular construction or wall systems that incorporate smart framing and high r-value insulations and energy efficient windows for superior overall building envelope performance. They also include using very high efficiency HVAC equipment and when possible using alternative sources to power them (like passive solar design, bio-fuels, geo-thermal, solar, photo-voltaic and wind power.)

Why do aesthetics matter?

Across Fairfield County, we still see massive builder homes going up on small lots. Often these homes are oversized, under-insulated, and use products that are bad for our environment. These homes do not in any way fit the values of green architecture.

A truly green home would be oriented for passive solar design. Windows would be placed to take advantage of not only of solar as well as local breezes and best natural day-lighting, thus reducing energy needs for heating, cooling and lighting. A green home would be smaller, designed for right-sized spaces and efficient use. A green home would not use vinyl siding. The experience of touch would be of touching natural products. A green home would be in tune with nature and its seasons as the original shelters were- and promote feelings of peace and joy.

In summary a green home would feel appropriate and efficient; designed purposefully. A green home would feel natural.

Is green building affordable?

The building industry has been steadily evolving new technologies and construction practices that are environmentally sensitive since the 1970’s. They are readily available now. Some of them are affordable to the average consumer and cost no more than standard building technologies, some are much more expensive. As with most things- the more demand there is for a product the more the product is available and the lower the cost becomes. This is happening everyday in the green building industry. Green building is catching on across the country as a way to make buildings and communities more livable, sustainable, resource efficient and healthier.

Currently Trillium Architects provides full Architectural services –from design through construction- for residential and institutional clients throughout Fairfield and Westchester Counties and beyond. Clients come to Trillium with many needs and levels of interest in green renovation or construction. Some request energy efficient technologies be installed for economic reasons, others request green building practices because they are attempting to “live their values.” Some can afford to make their entire home ‘green’, others can afford only to incorporate a few green products into a modest renovation. Trillium provides solutions in every shade of green.