Energy Efficiency & Environmental Solutions for Today’s Economy

ReVision House™ and Vision House Show Off Belgard® Products

Are you remodeling or starting new construction? Are energy efficiency and environmental impacts a concern for your next project?

Belgard Hardscapes and Suretouch® Veneer Systems, two product lines of Oldcastle Architectural Products, were selected to play a major role in Greenbuider Magazine’s ReVision House and Vision House (Orlando) demonstration homes, and are available for your projects.

Belgard pavers and Suretouch masonry are integrated into the homes, which are built with site-specific solutions for key green building issues.

ReVision Home
The ReVISION House will feature Oldcastle’s Suretouch masonry on the outside and Belgard’s concrete patio pavers and driveway pavers from the Environmental Collection. Photo Courtesy of Green Builder Magazine.  

Suretouch Veneer System

The ReVision House will be retro-fitted with Oldcastle Masonry’s newest product, Suretouch. The patented veneering system, with an insulation factor of R-13.5, creates a more energy efficient and acoustically comfortable environment. The system’s simple installation process is available in both concrete masonry stone and clay brick options, creating a beautiful exterior in a fraction of the time.

Eco Dublin

Belgard Permeable Pavers


Belgard’s Environmental Collection products, Subterra and Eco Dublin, in driveway and patio pavers perform at more than five times 100-year storm standards. These concrete pavers are spaced to allow rainwater to absorb into the ground, thus reducing runoff, filtering impurities, and improving drainage.

These  natural looking concrete pavers are durable enough for vehicular traffic and attractive to use, giving your project the benefits of green without compromising beauty and style.

Home Tours

Home tours of both ultra-energy-efficient homes will be conducted at the upcoming NAHB International Builders’ Show to be held in Orlando January 12-15.

Shuttles start at 10am and depart the homes at the following times:

1/12 departs at 4pm; 1/13 departs at 3pm; 1/14 departs at 4pm; 1/15 departs at 1:30pm

About the Homes: The ReVision House project, a deep energy retrofit, remodels an existing home that is currently below current new-construction standards for energy efficiency to not only meet current standards, but to outperform them by a whopping 70%. The Vision House project is completely new construction with realistic, sustainable construction ideas. Both projects provide real, cost-effective, sustainable solutions that are appropriate for today’s economy. And Belgard plays a key role.

Outdoor Fireplaces, Fire Pits and Brick Oven Tips

Fireplaces, fire pits and brick ovens allow homeowners to extend their outdoor season by providing a warm place to gather during the colder months. To keep your outdoor fire features functioning properly through the winter season, follow these simple tips from our experts.

Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits

•    Install glass or stainless doors on fireplaces and use stainless covers for fire pits to protect these fire features from accumulating snow and ice. Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc., explains that slowly building a fire to dry out a fireplace or fire pit that has already accumulated snow and ice reduces the risk of cracking the refractory cement or firebrick.

•    If using ceramic gas log sets, it is critical to wrap those (if you don’t have a cover) with a tarp in the winter as these logs can deteriorate with excessive ice buildup – and are difficult if not impossible to light if the orifices are plugged with ice.

Outdoor Brick Ovens

•    Sweeping the flue once a year is recommended and is an easy do-it-yourself project.

•    If the outdoor temperature is cold or below freezing, take extra time to slowly heat your oven. You do not want to “shock” your oven by taking it from freezing to 600° F in a matter of minutes. Bill Paschen of Chicago Brick Oven recommends that the fire be built-up over at least one hour. Start with a small fire and carefully add more firewood to gradually bring up the temperature.

Stay tuned to our blog for more seasonal tips for making the most of your outdoor living space!

Holiday Nut Bread


Photo and recipe courtesy of dLife.

Prep time: 10 min. • Total time: 1 hour

1 cup all purpose flour, unbleached, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/8 cup sliced almonds, chopped
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1/8 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 medium egg, beaten
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp walnut oil
Cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray two small loaf pans with cooking spray.

2.Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, nuts, dry milk, whole wheat flour, raisins and orange zest in a bowl.

3.In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk and walnut oil. Combine with the flour mixture.

4.Transfer the batter into loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes.

Makes 12 servings

Introducing Belgard Design Studio

Landscape designers and contractors looking to increase their closure rate and boost profit margins have a new sales tool available at the click of a mouse.  The new Belgard Design Studio has completed testing of the pilot program, and the online studio is now available for open participation. Contractors who participated in the pilot program achieved an average closure rate of 85%, and jobs closed utilizing the Belgard Design Studio boasted higher margins and fewer complications than other projects. Bring your designs to life and help clients visualize how the Belgard and Harmony Elements product lines can transform their backyards.

4 Levels of Service Available:

  • FREE: Download each of 12 free backyard design plans from our online design library. Each design includes 3-D animated fly-throughs, 2-D photorealistic screen shots from various views, project dimensions, and materials lists.
  • BASIC SERVICE: Already have a design in mind? Send us your 2-D drawings, and we’ll convert the image to 3-D renderings. Cost: Starting at $99.
  • DELUXE SERVICE: Basic service plus 3 photorealistic screen shots, project dimensions, and materials list. Cost: Starting at $199.
  • PREMIER SERVICE: Deluxe service plus fly-through animation and a jump drive. Cost: Starting at $299.

“The purpose of this program is to help contractors save time and sell more by allowing clients to get a real vision of how they will live in the space,” says Belgard V.P. of Marketing, Ken O’Neill. “Two-dimensional drawings really only show specs, they are flat and lifeless. 3-D renderings and animation allow the homeowner to visually walk through the space and account for traffic flow, outdoor furnishings, landscaping, lighting, colors, and a host of other factors. They can also get a better idea of how to phase out their dream scenario, which creates a long-term relationship between the contractor and the homeowner, ensuring not only a higher probability of closing this sale, but also future sales down the road.”

Participants in the pilot program agree. “Belgard’s 3-D renderings really got the client’s attention,” says Derek Harwood of Lee’s Landscaping & Design of Minneapolis, MN. “Access to the Design Studio gives me a competitive edge over others bidding for the job. And, I can pick and choose the projects that I know will benefit from a 3-D rendering.”

Additional designs are currently in development for the free online design library. Basic, Deluxe, and Premier services are 3-D conversion services for your existing 2-D designs. Custom design services are not available at this time. Turn-around time on 3-D conversion services varies depending on the scope of the project.

For additional information, please visit

Belgard Joins Holmes Magazine 2010 Tour

The Holmes Magazine, the Magazine to Make It Right, 2010 Tour featuring Mike Holmes, host of Holmes On Homes® on HGTV, takes off this week and Belgard Hardscapes will be there every mile of the way.

The 2010 tour kicks off in Nashville on Nov. 18, then heads south to Atlanta (11/19) before bussing up the east coast to Charlotte (11/20), Richmond (11/21) and New York City (11/22). A pre-Thanksgiving stop in Pittsburgh (11/24) precedes its final stop in Chicago for a Black Friday event on Nov. 26.

Holmes is best known as host of Holmes on Homes® on HGTV where he helps rescue homeowners from repair and renovation disasters. The Holmes Magazine Tour is the promotional launch of the new consumer magazine being offered in the US.

Mike Holmes will be present at each tour location to sign autographs and meet fans, while Belgard representatives will be in attendance to interact with event goers and handout giveaways.

“This is a great opportunity to interact in a fun way with our customers and to make more homeowners aware of the benefits of adding an outdoor living space to their home,” says Ken O’Neill, vice-president of marketing for Belgard.

While Holmes primarily concentrates on home repairs, Belgard sees the tour as an opportunity to connect with homeowners who may also be interested in adding value and enjoyment through a new or renovated outdoor living space. And as the country’s premier outdoor hardscapes provider, Belgard is ready to assist homeowners however they may need it.

Catch daily updates and follow The Holmes Magazine 2010 Tour online through the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook page. For additional information on the tour, visit

Greenbuild 2010

Join Belgard® Hardscapes and Oldcastle® Architectural at the U.S. Green Building Council® 2010 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. This three-day event is the largest gathering of representatives from all sectors of the green building movement and will take place November 17-19 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, Illinois. This showcase of the latest in green building innovation will feature over 100 education sessions and workshops, over 1800 exhibit booths, and an array of inspiring speakers—including a keynote address from retired four-star general, Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.).

Oldcastle® Architectural Booth #167
Oldcastle® is committed to the green building movement and provides a wide range of green building products for both residential and commercial use. Our booth will feature the following green product lines:

Belgard® Hardscapes Environmental Collection: Subterra & Aqua-Roc
These permeable pavers can be used in both residential and commercial applications to vastly improve drainage or as part of a self-contained irrigation system.

Trenwyth® Architectural Masonry: Verastone® & PRAIRIE Stone
Leaders in the commercial construction industry, Trenwyth’s green products provide numerous opportunities for obtaining LEED® credits and certification.

Suretouch® Masonry System
This groundbreaking patented cladding system offers the beauty of natural stone or brick with quicker installation than traditional masonry, all while improving the look, value, durability and energy efficiency of any home or commercial property.

Quik-Brik Structural Veneer
Increase energy efficiency and decrease commercial construction time and costs with the look of brick and the strength and efficiency of concrete.

Oldcastle® Green Block
Produced by Chicago’s own Northfield-Bend, this commercial block is produced with 20% post-consumer recycled glass aggregate, the equivalent of eight glass bottles per block.

Special guest, Mark Wilhelm of Green Ideas will be presenting Green Options in the Oldcastle Architectural booth #167 at 11am on Wednesday and at 10am and 2pm on Thursday.

For more information on the expo visit