Monday, October 5, 2009

Cabinetry Shop Gains Acceptance in Industry Certification with Forest Stewardship Council

Walter Shea, Woodworking Manager of the Knickerbocker Group, is excited to announce that our cabinetry and millwork shop has earned acceptance into the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNF) and agreed to assume the exceptional accountability standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for projects involving FSC certified products.

As a member, Knickerbocker Group pledges to avoid unacceptable sources of wood, adhere to quality system, production control, record keeping, FSC label and documentation requirements. TCNF chain of custody system is designed to connect responsible forest management practices and products with consumers.

For more information on cabinetry, millwork and kitchen projects, contact Walter Shea at 207-633-2209.

About the Forest Stewardship Council:
The Forest Stewardship Council was created to change the dialogue about and the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. FSC sets forth principles, criteria, and standards that span economic, social, and environmental concerns. The FSC standards represent the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes. The FSC standards for forest management have now been applied in over 57 countries around the world.

In 1995, FSC-US, located in Washington, D.C., was established as the national “chapter” of FSC. Its purpose is to coordinate the development of forest management standards throughout the different biogeographic regions of the U.S., to provide public information about certification and FSC, and to work with certification organizations to promote FSC certification in the U.S.

Industry Certification in Building Construction and Performance

We are pleased to announce that Frederic Lilly, a construction manager at the Knickerbocker Group, has earned certification as a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP). The LEED green building certification is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.

This certification recognizes the completion of a program designed to demonstrate a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and the LEED Rating System. The U.S. Green Building Council established the LEED rating system to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. It is an internationally recognized certification providing third-party verification that a building or community was completed using strategies aimed at performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO 2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Please feel free to contact Fred at 207-633-3818 to discuss your construction or renovation project and how LEED standards can be applied.

About the U.S. Green Building Council:
The U.S. Green Building Council is a 501 c3 non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. For more information, visit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Knickerbocker Group... on the magazine stands!

From design consultations to award-winning kitchens to green building, we are very excited to share some of our recent publications:

  • Better Homes and Gardens: Kitchen Makeovers, Spring 2009 issue - the article "Map for Success" highlights how a do-it-yourself couple turned to an expert (Knickerbocker Group's Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer Elaine Murdoch) to give their old kitchen a new look on a budget.

  • American Builders Quarterly, Summer 2009 issue - the Custom Residential editorial profile of Knickerbocker Group includes an in-depth interview with members of our design-build team: architect Rick Nelson and construction manager Marcus Golding. They cite relationships and technology as two keys to our success, and also share insights and examples of our approach to building performance. View the article on-line at:
  • Maine Home + Design, May 2009 issue - "Now We're Cooking", highlights the transformation of unworkable kitchens into beautiful spaces with a photographic overview of winners in the "Ugly Kitchen Contest: Before & After." The article details Elaine Murdoch's design, which took the Grand Prize, Best Overall. The award-winning kitchen, which was part of a larger renovation project overseen by construction manager Fred Lilly, features the stunning custom cabinetry of Knickerbocker Group cabinetmaker Walter Shea. For more details and photographs, see the 2/26/09 post:
  • Maine Home + Design, July 2009 issue - "The Drawing Board" features architect Rick Nelson's green home Sonne Ledge. For construction photos and highlights of energy and material efficient features utilized in construction of the building envelope, visit the Sonne Ledge page:

Click on photo above to enlarge and read the article. If you would like to receive more information on any of these projects, please contact us at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maine Downtown Conference

On Friday, June 5, Knickerbocker Group attended the Maine Downtown Conference in Rockland. It was organized by the Maine Development Foundation and provided a day full of information, ideas and networking.

The real message of the day was “THIS PLACE MATTERS” and for all of us to consider, more often than not, supporting local businesses. One group presenting information provided the following thoughts on why we should do this:

  • Keep dollars in our community: For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the local economy, creating jobs and expanding our tax base.
  • Embrace what makes the Boothbay Region unique: Our one-of-a-kind shops, unique ‘neighborhoods,’ our maritime heritage and amazing artist community.
  • Foster local job creation: WE provide better wages and benefits than national chains!
  • Help the environment: Walkable neighborhood/business districts are a win-win. Leverage our ‘trails’ and think green.
  • Nurture Community: Our businesses contribute nearly DOUBLE that of chains to charitable causes, as a percentage of our revenues, and our owners and employees are so accessible for advocating causes.
  • Conserve our tax dollars: We require less public infrastructure-less sprawl requires less roadwork and police services.
  • Benefit from Local Owner’s Expertise: There is a knowledge, passion and pride for the products made or sold by a local owner that is unmatched by employees and managers of national chains. We also like to GET TO KNOW our customers.
  • Preserve entrepreneurship: Small businesses fuel the national economy and are a real-life inspiration to young people. Let’s show them they can and should STAY IN MAINE.
  • Ensure the Boothbay Region stands out from the crowd: Let’s continue to place a high value on our individuality and distinctive character!
For more information about the programs and initiative of the Maine Development Foundation, please visit

Expertise in Kitchen and Bath Design

We are pleased to announce that Elaine Murdoch of the Knickerbocker Group has earned certification as a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the leading trade association for the kitchen and bath industry. This is the highest level of achievement offered by the NKBA, and less than 200 designers across the country have attained this distinction.

The CMKBD certification recognizes a professional’s extraordinary achievement as an exemplary designer and utmost dedication to the kitchen and bath industry. The premiere hallmark for kitchen and bath professionals, NKBA Certification is based on written examinations and extensive industry experience. The CMKBD must possess both their Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) and Certified Bathroom Designer (CBD) certifications, as well as a minimum of 17 years of industry experience. Additionally, a CMKBD must successfully complete 100 NKBA Education hours and submit three examples of design excellence by third party endorsement.

This combination of experience and education ensures that Elaine is an authority on the design, planning and execution of residential kitchens and bathrooms, and possesses advanced knowledge of technical and personal communication skills required to succeed as a design specialist.

For more information, please contact Elaine Murdoch, CMKBD, at 207-633-3818.

About the National Kitchen & Bath Association

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a non-profit trade association that has educated and led the kitchen and bath industry since 1963. With over 40,000 members and growing, the NKBA owns the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference (K/BIS). The mission of the NKBA is to enhance member success and excellence, promote professionalism and ethical business practices and provide leadership and direction for the kitchen and bath industry.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Environmental Permitting News

Recent updates related to Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permitting:

Vernal Pools

It's that time of year again! There is a short window each year for verifying whether or not a vernal pool is "significant". The significance is partly determined by an egg mass count.

DEP recently released the 2009 dates for vernal pool egg mass counts in the southern Maine region, which includes the Boothbay area:

April 10 to April 25 for woodfrogs
April 20 to May 10 for salamanders

If you own a property with isolated forested wetlands, and are considering a subdivision or development at any time within the next year, you may want to consider a vernal pool inspection this spring. A significant vernal pool is protected and requires protection not only of the pool itself but of a large portion of the surrounding critical habitat.

For more information about State-regulated vernal pools:

GIS Mapping

The DEP is now offering selected data, geographically referenced, from a number of the department's databases to the public via Google Earth (you will need to have Google Earth installed to view this data).

The "Land & Water NRPA" links include mapped Significant Bird Habitats (including inland wading waterfowl, tidal wading waterfowl, shorebird feeding & roosting areas, and seabird nesting islands). There is also mapping for known Significant Vernal Pool locations.

After opening Google Earth, just type in your address and it will zoom in on your property, with significant bird habitats mapped in color bands along the shoreline and vernal pools noted by a green oval and ID number (note that vernal pools known to be
not significant are also mapped, with a red oval).

If you have any environmental permitting questions, or need assistance in navigating through the maze of local, State or Federal environmental laws, please contact Danielle Betts, P.E. at the Knickerbocker Group for assistance: or 207.633.6563.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cutting Edge Technology

Over the recent months, we have had the opportunity to utilize several new resources for accomplishing various tasks on our jobsites. Some of our current projects have presented us with unique challenges, for which we have had to pursue unique solutions.

On one project in particular, some of our extensive stonework required greater accuracy than what would be accomplished with the usual measuring and cutting methods; enter Funcpro. Funcpro is a small company that specializes in precision 3-D scanning; their equipment and software allow them to completely scan all sides of an object with an accuracy of about 1/8th of an inch for every 60’!

So we were faced with a somewhat complex pool shape, the photo below gives you an idea of what we had to work with:

The design calls for long pieces of stone along the top of the pool walls that follow the curves; so to measure those curves, the guys at Funcpro placed reflective dots along the sides and top of the walls:

then used a laser scanner to pick up each point along the wall.

Their computer software turns these points into a 3-D CAD line drawing of what was just scanned, and this data can then be used by CNC machines in millwork shops, metal shops, and, in this case, stoneyards. Because the slabs will be somewhat thin, the folks over at J.C. Stone in Jefferson will be able to cut the curves directly from the drawings using a water jet.

This is a close up of where the top o
f the pool's south entry area meets a taller sidewall.

This is the whole top step of the south entry area. All the holes and jagged edges were places lacking reflectors; if necessary, they would have been able to go back and fill them in.

A screen shot.

One other place on-site where we found this to be essential was in the templating for the edge stones in an octagon shaped room:

The uses for this technology are pretty diverse, and we hope to be able to continue using it in different ways on future projects.

For more information, feel free to contact us at 207-633-3818 or; Kevan Cole with Funcpro at 207-557-2056 or; J.C. Stone at 207-549-4729. Pool layout design by Gates, Leighton & Associates,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

The recently enacted "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (Stimulus act) includes a package of tax incentives to encourage investments in renewable energy projects and technologies. In trying to sort out what this means for builders and consumers, we have found the EPA Energy Star website has a great overview of "Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency":

The Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP) website also provides guidance on federal income tax incentives, starting with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and subsequent amendments, and includes updated information from the Stimulus Act:

Peter Callnan, from CPA firm Honeck O'Toole has supplied us with an overview of some of these credits, for consumers and businesses:

Business energy credit. The new law enhances the business energy credit by eliminating the cap on small wind property and repealing the basis reduction requirement for subsidized energy financing.

Energy-efficient existing homes. The new law extends the tax credit for improvements to energy-efficient existing homes through 2010. For 2009 and 2010, the amount of the tax credit is increased from 10% to 30% of the amount paid or incurred by the taxpayer for qualified energy efficiency improvements during the tax year. The property-by-property dollar caps on the tax credit are also eliminated, and an aggregate $1,500 cap applies to all property qualifying for the credit.

Residential energy property. The new law removes the dollar limitations on certain energy credits, e.g, for qualified small wind energy property ($4,000 cap); for qualified solar water heating property ($2,000 cap); and qualified geothermal heat pumps ($2,000).

Grants in lieu of electricity production credit and energy credit. Under current law, taxpayers are allowed to claim a production tax credit for electricity produced by certain renewable energy facilities and an investment tax credit for certain renewable energy property. These tax credits help attract private capital to invest in renewable energy projects. Current economic conditions have severely undermined the effectiveness of these tax credits. As a result, the new law allows taxpayers to receive a grant from the Treasury Department in lieu of tax credits. Most facilities are eligible for a 30% grant, but some (geothermal, qualified microturbine, combined heat and power, and geothermal heat pump) qualify only for a smaller, 10% grant. To earn a grant, the facility must be placed in service in 2009 or 2010, or construction must begin in either of those years and must be completed prior to the termination of the credit.

Finally, John Logan, B.Sc., Ph.D. of Water Energy Distributors, Inc. has also shared this link, which specifically addresses the tax credit for homeowners who install geothermal heat pump systems in 2009 or later:

This information has been helpful to us in sorting through the new tax credits but please check with your accountant for more detailed information.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs)

This past fall, Knickerbocker Group architect Rick Nelson had Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) installed at his Sonne Ledge site. Please check out a series of exciting construction photos under the Sonne Ledge link.

What are ICFs?

Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) are a system of concrete forms made from insulating foam and connecting ties that stay in place after the reinforcing bars are set and the concrete is poured.
ICFs are primarily considered a green product for their energy efficiency, durability, sustainability and air quality aspects. They may also contain some recycled materials.

Click on the link below for a more technical discussion of ICFs including the benefits, drawbacks and a comparison to traditional concrete foundations:

Additional Information on ICFs

Feel free to contact us for more information at 207-633-3818 or