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The Archer Group

For Paul Gardner and the Archer Group Inc., three elements make up the foundation of home construction: energy efficiency, environmental preservation and good indoor health.
The firm achieves these goals with Eco-Smart-designed homes, homes built for maximum ecological and economical efficiency, says Gardner, the firm’s president. Education and greater cost-efficiency are next in line.
Using passive and active solar energy is one way of promoting efficiency, he says. Passive uses raw solar energy to heat space; active combines solar energy with mechanical means to heat air and water, provide electricity or perform other tasks.
With local weather and sun exposure, Rochesterians can heat one-third of their homes–or heat their homes one-third of the year–with passive solar energy. Capabilities increase with active solar.
Keeping heat in and cold out, and vice versa in the summer, requires super-insulation and air-tight construction, Gardner says. Therefore, the material that goes into eco-homes needs to be environmentally sound to promote a healthful indoor environment.
The Archer Group uses many natural products like real woods, as well as low-toxic paints, glues, finishes and caulking.
The firm also uses recycled materials in insulation, tiles, decking and other aspects of the home, Gardner says. Superefficient heating and lighting systems are part of the mix, as are guards against air, water and noise pollution.
Gardner also works with Linda Foti of Your Gardening Angel Inc. to create natural landscaping around the eco-home.
“So we try to make a healthy, friendly, comfortable, efficient environment, inside and outside,” he says.
Gardner works with an architect and the home buyer to create a design, while subcontracting for the actual construction. Eco-Smart homes do not necessarilylook any different from other homes–they can be colonial, contemporary or any other style–but they are more efficient.
The Archer Group has received local and national attention for its Eco-Smart designs, Gardner says. The firm constructed homes for the last three area Homearamas and has won international awards for its designs.
The American Lung Association selected the Archer Group as one of three national builders to participate in the association’s indoor health educational campaign. The firm and the association also are working with Rochester Institute of Technology to offer a healthy-home-building course.
To help fulfill the educational mission of the Archer Group, Gardner founded the Eco-Learning Center, a non-profit education and research facility.
The organization’s board of directors and advisory board are overseeing the renovations of a historic two-room schoolhouse, known as the Fairport Grange. The center will have an exhibit hall, classroom and library for research and for the education of builders, health care professionals, students and other parties interested in responsible building.
The Archer Group is also exploring subdivision construction in Perinton and the village of Fairport, Gardner says. The projects would give the Archer Group a chance to apply eco-building on a neighborhood-wide basis.
Meanwhile, he says, interest in ecologically sound homes is building.

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