Partnerships for Sustainability
With the understanding that everything is interconnected, Inn Serendipity strives toward selecting building materials, technologies, and products that fall under an umbrella of energy conservation, the responsible stewardship of our natural resources, and bioregionalism (purchasing products as close to home as possible). We see things cumulatively and long-term; like most people, we recognize financial limitations and have moved forward with projects as they become financially viable. The adage--reduce, reuse, recycle--has been incorporated into our day-to-day operating decisions. Our decision to remodel, rather than build anew, reflects this philosophy.
The following companies (and products) have helped our journey toward living in a way that is more energy-conserving, sustainable, restorative, healthy and self-sufficient. Since beginning these changes in 1997, we have cut our annual energy use almost in half. As of March, 2001, Inn Serendipity uses 100-percent of its energy from renewable sources.
- Gaiam Real Goods
Serving as one of Real Goods' "demonstration homes," the Inn features a solar water heating system, compact fluorescent lights, halogen lamps (for spot lighting needs), fluorescent light fixtures (used in the renovated bathrooms), and low-energy nightlights. The Gaiam Real Goods, through the products they sell and their expert support staff, made our move to energy independence less daunting. From inverters to compact fluorescent bulbs, call (800-919-2400) their renewable energy experts about system questions or to locate energy efficient appliances you might not easily find locally.
- Kickapoo Woods Cooperative
Practicing ecologically-sound forestry -- or silviculture -- at our cabin property led us to joining the Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, a forest management cooperative that provides sustainable forestry education, management and marketing services to landowners like us who have woodlands in the Kickapoo Valley and neighboring watersheds. We're working with them on the sustainable harvest of timber as a part of our participation in the Management Forest Law of Wisconsin (private designation) and the American Tree Farm System.
- John Golke Construction
For our dairy barn and strawbale greenhouse replacement roofs, we added a durable (and recyclable) steel roof, custom-made by the experienced 4-person crew with John Gokle Construction. Included in their excellent work were the addition of eight clear skylights in the greenhouse. Their work is so great, we also hired John Golke Construction to fix and replace the roof at our cabin place, Inn Serendipity Woods. Finally, in 2012, John Golke Construction installed a metal roof on our farmhouse and detatched garage. All these metal roofs should outlast our son (age 11, in 2012). Based in Waupaca, Wisconsin; telephone: 608-258-8690.
- Kettle View Renewable Energy
If you want to put up a wind turbine or have maintenance issues that need attention on your turbine, Randy Faller, owner of Kettle View Renewable Energy, is your guy. Not only has he helped replace the blades and leading edge type on our 10kW Bergey Excel, he and his professional crew quickly trouble-shooted an issue we encountered after an extreme wind storm in 2012 and helped replace all three blades that Bergey Wind Company ended up covering under their warranty, currently the longest warranty in the industry.
- Alliant Energy
A leader in working with their utility customer base to achieve greater energy conservation, Alliant Energy has offered us numerous rebates and technical assistance through their "Bright Ideas" program, including a complimentary home energy audit. The Inn is an Earth Steward participant in the Alliant Energy Second Nature program, deriving 100-percent of its energy from renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and biomass.
- Energy Star Small Business
Inn Serendipity is among the nation's 2,500 small businesses that have joined EPA's ENERGY STAR Small Business, a free, voluntary program that helps small business owners cut their energy costs and reduce the impact that energy generation has on the environment. Energy Star designated Hewlett Packard LaserJet 2100M printer and Sony Trinitron monitor are both used in our home office. Inn Serendipity is the recipient of the Energy Star Small Business award in 2004.
- Artha Renewable Energy
Our three 4' by 8' solar water collectors were reused from the dismantled system at Packerland in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Bob Ramlow of Artha Renewable Energy, specializing in renewable energy systems and their design and construction, assisted us with the installation of the solar hot water heater system. "Super" Bob Ramlow and his wife now opeate Artha Sustainable Living Center in Amherst.
- Solar Rayes Services, LLC (formerly, Building Energy Controls, LLC)
In 2011, Thomas and Laura Raye, co-owner of Building Energy Controls (now called Solar Rayes Services, LLC and based on the Big Island of Hawaii) installed a 2.28kW photovoltaic system on the roof of our Inn Serendipity Woods cabin in Vernon County, including assistance with completing necessary cost-sharing paperwork for Focus on Energy and the USDA REAP grant program.
- Pauline Phillips Reupholstering Furniture
We're big on the re-use economy, looking to reapolster or renew, not throw out and buy new. Often, the older items we own are made with better quality materials and workmanship. Entrepreneur Pauline Phillips has masterfully reupholstered the seats of our antique oak dining room chairs as well as our love seat couch. Contact Pauline Phillips at 608-325-7354 (W7340 County Road B, Monroe WI 53566). We also love that we're keeping more of our money local.
- Evergreen Repreve Fabric used for the love seat couch from Douglass Fabric
For the couch, we used Douglass Frolic Evergreen eco-friendly Repreve recycled polyester fabric, made, in part, from recycled PET water and soda bottles. We're also keen on buying products made from recycled material and supporting companies that support the restoration economy by using renewable energy. Douglass Industries uses energy from wind turbines to power their Absecon Mills where our fabric was woven.
- Urban Renewal
Urban Renewal's owner, Paul Urban, doesn't mince words when discussing options that reflect quality workmanship and stunning end results. His guidance, care and fine wood craftmanship has helped us remodel bathrooms, add a woodstove, tile floors with recycled tile, finish off a super-energy-efficient attic space, lay FSC-certified hardwood kitchen floor, upgrade our windows--among numerous other smaller projects. He's also been our eyes and ears for the procurement of the area's abandoned materials (including windows, a storm door, and dimensional lumber). Working out of Monroe, Wisconsin, Paul can be contacted at 715-824-3463, usually in the early evenings. Cookies (and other home-made goodies) help energize his efforts.
Fast, great to work with on our new .7 kW Suntech - Sunnyboy PV system and, increasingly rare these days, Tom DeBates, owner of Habi-Tek, sticks by his bid (i.e., no "miscellaneous hardware" add-on charges) and does a great job, including assistance with completing necessary cost-sharing paperwork. Habi-Tek designs, sells, installs and services renewable energy systems, covering a territory from central Illinois to central Wisconsin and northeast Indiana to Eastern Iowa. Tom doesn't sleep much.
- Lopi Endeavor Woodstove
Independently rated as America's No.1 Woodstove, our Lopi Endeavor (installed Fall, 1998) offers the cleanest non-catalytic burn, high efficiency and uses a renewable resource, wood (biomass), to help us heat our home during the chilly winter months. Our chimney system was designed by the expert staff at SnowBelt Fireplace & Stove Shop, 1200A Wildwood Dr., Stevens Point WI 54481, tel: 715-341-4328; fax 715-341-4573; ask for Adrian Albrecht. In 2002, a similar woodstove liner, a Lopi Revere, was added to the Inn Serendipity Woods cabin in Vernon County.
- Green Design Center: Providing products for non-toxic environments.
The E.P.A. estimates that indoor air pollution kills 11,400 people each year; of the 50,000 most common chemicals, there's NO toxicity data for 4 out of every 5 of them. Why gamble with your life, when you have safe choices. So, for our renovated kitchen floor, we selected a no-volatile organic compound (no-VOC) stain and sealer. For our wood stain, we used AFM Safecoat Durostain, following it with AFM's Lock-In Wood Sealer, and for a beautiful, durable finish, our incredibly talented contractor, Paul Urban of Urban Renewal, applied two coats of gloss and one coat of satin (best to mask stratches) Safecoat Polyureseal BP to protect the stained wood. It's magnificent. Ask for Andy Pace (800-697-5371) at Green Design Center (formerly Safe Building Solutions). After all, it's a lot cheaper then spending your golden years in the hospital from bio-accumulated toxins.
- Sustainable Woods Cooperative
Both Inn Serendipity and Inn Serendipity Woods feature beautiful hardwood flooring (Red Oak and Red Elm) from the Sustainable Woods Cooperative, the nation's first cooperative to offer FSC-certified, sustainably harvested wood and wood products.
- Native Earth Construction
The straw bale greenhouse on the farm was guided by Matt Sterling, owner of Native Earth Construction. Whether for energy conservation or for using up a waste material in an environmentally-responsible way, straw bale construction is viable, local and beautiful.
- Andersen Windows
For our attic remodeling, super energy-efficient casement Andersen Windows were selected. The High-Performance, Low emissivity (Low E), gas-filled windows are designed to allow light in (for daylighting of the attic) and retain solar heat gain (low U-factor and high Solar Heat Gain Coefficient). In 2001, we replaced our leaky single-pane windows throughout the house with similar "low E" windows ("glazing" is the term construction folks call them).
- Maytag Neptune & LG Clothes Washer
The Maytag Neptune clothes washer was added in 2000 to help conserve water and minimize our hot water waste. The front-loading Neptune also received the EPA's Energy Star for energy efficiency. This washer operated wonderfully until 2012; it was replaced by a front-loading LG clothes washer. We've exclusively line-dried our laundry.
- Arctic Glass & Window Outlet
For our south-facing greenhouse windows, tempered insulated stock clear double pane glass was purchased from family-owned Arctic Glass. Offering dizzyingly reasonable prices on stock glass, Artic Glass is worth a call for their latest pricing at 800-428-9276. Based in Hammond, Wisconsin.
- The Glidden Company/ICI Paints
Lifemaster 2000 (Spred 2000), a high quality paint with no VOCs, low odor and nearly no solvents from The Glidden Company was used throughout the house.
- Stoneware Tile Company, Terra Green Technologies
Procured locally through Zersen Flooring, Inc. the remodeled bathrooms are tiled with Traffic Tile made from about seventy percent recycled automobile windshield glass, manufactured by the Stoneware Tile Company.
- Wildrose Farm
Some of our organic guestroom towels come from Wildrose Farm in Breezy Point, Minnesota.
- Satara: Home and Baby Store
Satara in Madison, Wisconsin celebrates our planet by offering earth-friendly alternatives for the bedroom, bathroom and nursery.
- Phil's Granite Pieced-together Countertops
Leave it to our B&B guests, Dave and Karen, to help beautify the Inn. Working with a granite specialist, named Phil, and our guests, we were able to upgrade our old farmhouse Formica countertop with a magnificent granite one, pieced together with ... well, we'll let you see if you can count the various pieces. Like with our metal barn roofs and other projects, we strive to do it well and make it last. Dave, a tile-man by profession, is happy to explore other "pieced together" jobs. Contact the Inn for a referral. Our granite countertop cost as much as a new Formica one, using scavenged scraps from larger jobs.
- Sun-Mar Composting Toilet
The Sun-Mar Excel Composting Toilet was added in 2004 to help conserve water and minimize our waste (it is used personally by us). UL listed.
- Verlo Mattress Company, Inc.
The mattresses at the Inn are comfortable, high quality sets individually crafted at a nearby factory outlet of the Verlo Mattress Company. Verlo collects old mattresses and tries to find a new home for them other than in the landfill.
- Other Products
- * Citristrip, citrus-based furniture refinisher (non-toxic) used on our reused ash dining room table and chairs as well as our antique lawyer's bookcase.
- * Water faucet aerators.
- * Hot water heater wrap and pipe insulation.
- * Window sealers, as well as paintable caulks for sealing cracks around our windows.
- * Reusable coffee filters.
- * Kapak Pillows or Eco Pure pillows made from 100% recycled content (35% post-consumer waste); they're also hypo-allergenic.
- * Coyuchi 100% organic cotton bed linens. Frenchtex towels and Fieldcrest linens made from all-natural, unbleached cottons. Satara in Madison, WI, retails many of these socially and environmentally responsible products.
- * Seventh Generation or Trader Joe's toilet paper, dishwasher and clothes washer detergent (we dry our clothes in the sun...and breeze)
- * Recycled paper for all printed materials; 100% post-consumer waste when possible. Most of our printing, however, is made on the back side of scrap paper collected from various sources.
- * Under the counter compost bin, with charcoal filter to prevent odors.
- * Lawn Boy and Yardworks, rechargeable electric lawn mowers, recharged using an off-grid .5 kW PV system.
Inn Serendipity is a member of the Green America (formerly Co-op America) and was featured by Co-op America as "One of 15 Green Businesses Every Community Needs." Green America is a national non-profit organization offering information to people on how to use their buying power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. They produce the National Green Pages--the Yellow Pages for People and the Planet.
In 1998, Inn Serendipity was a Wisconsin sponsor of America Recycles Day.
A percentage of profits are earmarked for various non-profit organizations including the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Cooperative Enterprise Program with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, Sierra Club, Gathering Waters and the Green County Conservation League (from which we get our seedlings that we plant every spring).