Chicago Magazine posts photos of LEED gut rehab

Chicago Magazine recently profiled a gut rehab home that achieved LEED Platinum certification, and included a photo tour of the Helenowski residence. The home “now energy-neutral or better, meaning it generates enough power to meet its own needs and to sell excess into the power grid.”

Also featured is an affordable green home remodel selling for $150,000.

View details and the photo tour at the Chicago Magazine online blog.

The Isabella MN Ecologically Balanced Building goes to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Imagine that every building maintained the ecological balance needed to sustain life on earth. Then, imagine all of humanity motivated to take action, to make this dream a reality. An immensely complicated goal? Maybe. But if we put our fears of failure at the back of the bus, we will maximize the possibility of success.

View & Download Project Profile Here

 

An immensely complicated goal?  Maybe.  But if we put our fears of failure at the back of the bus, we will maximize the possibility of success.

Nature has provided us with many examples of “buildings” that achieve an ecological balance.  If we follow her example, it is indeed realistic to believe we can prevail.

An Ecologically Balanced Building (EBB), then, is the most advanced building possible for our times because it strives to replicate the ecological balance found in nature.

An EBB incorporates a multitude of interrelated, smart design choices, resulting in a building that virtually lives and breathes, is beautifully balanced, aesthetically pleasing, and is socially responsible and sustainable.  It must meet the following criteria:

1.       Generate more clean energy than it uses.

2.       Sustainably manage the use of water.

3.       Waste nothing.

4.       Adapt to new conditions.

5.       Work symbiotically with all other living things.

6.       Eliminate toxins and pollutants.

7.       Add beauty & justice to our world

We have the technology and the building science to achieve these lofty imperatives.  Fortunately, we are also able to monitor, measure, and verify claims that a building actually accomplishes its intended goals.  If we can’t prove our claims, they are meaningless.

The Isabella EBB Project’s initial goal was to create the most environmentally conscious building possible.  It targeted integrating all seven design criteria listed above.  Additionally, each criterion is monitored, measured and verified to prove, we can indeed live in balance with nature.  Following is a description of how the Isabella EBB Project integrated the design criteria:

1.        The Isabella EBB Project was designed to consume an annual energy load of 4.5 kBTU/sq-ft. It achieved Passive House Certification, (HERS rating of 3), as the design method to achieve this extremely low energy use index. This is similar to having a 200 MPG car in lieu of our standard a 25 MPG car. There are 9,700 Heating Degree Days in this climate zone & 189 Cooling Degree Days.  This was accomplished through the design and construction of thermally broken/R 55 walls and R 90 roof, the use of high performance windows with glazing selected specifically to optimize the solar gain for each orientation and an air tightness of .5 air changes per hour.  Using BTU meters on the heating distribution system, the system is to telling us if the design loads are being met.

2.       Because extreme measures were taken to reduce the energy loads for this building, renewable energy generation produces more energy than is needed to operate the building.  An 11,000 kWH per year PV system/8.4 kw peak load and 92 solar heat collecting vacuum tubes averaging 172,500 BTUs per day collect renewable energy. An experimental long term solar storage area using 16 inches of EPS  insulation on all six sides contains both waste taconite from mines and sand.  Excess solar heat collection in the summer, fall and spring are stored in this solar storage containment area under the building.  The monitoriong system is gathering temperatures of the containment area, the Kwh generated and used  and kBTUs for the collection system.  We hope to prove that we are producing more clean energy than we use and that this solar storage system can be scaled down for use in other buildings.

3. Two additional areas used for solar storage: a 500 gallon water tank and an 80 gallon domestic hot water tank.  These are also being monitor and measured to tell us how hot they are and how many days of cloudy conditions depletes the stored energy supply.

4. A small electric boiler is used for backup energy should the building need it due to depletion of solar energy.  This boiler is also being monitor to tell us if it is being powered on.  This has already proven to be a great diagnostic tool, as it told us that the relays and sensors were not properly sequenced because the boiler was turning on whenever the domestic hot water dropped a few degrees.

5. A Heat Recovery Ventilation System makes sure that the building and occupants are receiving the right amount of fresh air at the right temperature.  An innovative ground loop heat recovery system is connected to the HRV to preheat the outside air prior to being heated by the exhaust air from the building.  The success of preheating  the incoming sub zero temperature fresh air with heated water from the ground near the footings of the building is being gathered by the monitoring system.  We hope to discover a 10 to 15 degree preheating of temperature through this system.

6. A rain water collection system and vegetative roof assures that water continues to perform its job of replenishing the aquifers and supporting plants and animals that conversely support an ecologically balanced building.

7. Information being stored through the use of the monitoring system is allowing the building to be adapted to new conditions and future improvements. Security alarms, for example, are sent when power, pumps, temperatures or water levels are not performing as intended.  Historical data gives us the ability to adjust and improve the performance due to accessibility to baseline and historical data.

8. An extreme waste and material management system was incorporated in this EBB.  Sustainable & reclaimed wood products, fast growing bio-fiber products, repurposed materials (e.g., old doors for ceilings, old radiators fins for guard rails, old wine barrels for chairs, old chalk boards for sills, and reclaimed tile), contribute to achieving zero waste and low life cycle assessment values.

9. Two highly recognized environmental third party auditing/certifications (LEED and Passive House) were achieved for this project, certifying the project at it the highest level possible.  This achievement summarizes that there were many other features, to lengthy to describe for this entry, that make this project one of the most advanced ecologically balanced buildings of our times.

10. Social justice and beauty are parts of ecology that acknowledge the value of spiritually engaging people through art  while also supporting  the notion of providing equal access and opportunities to all people.  The Isabella EBB project embraced adding beauty through the creation of a place that is welcoming, educational, inspiring, healthful, intriguing and fun.  The importance of social justice was a goal that surfaced during the learning experiences of the project.  Consequently, the project will be willed to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, as an extension of their educational mission of teaching and influencing students the importance of living in balance with nature.

Isabella EBB Project Team

The critical success factors for the project team included:

1.    keeping the integrated design process alive and well throughout the entire projects development,

2.    checking  boiler plate designs at the door,

3.    if the project team achieved the goals stated above the points would follow and certification would provide the auditing needed to further validate our assumptions.

3.    understanding that everyone was on a ecological educational journey

4.    that fearless, open and honest communication  was mandatory, (typical passive/aggressive northern climate personality styles would keep innovation from reaching its potential).

 

Owner: John Eckfeldt eckfe001@umn.edu

Architect/Owner: Nancy Schultz, AIA LEED AP, nschultz@compassrose-inc.com

Energy Conservation Specialist:  Mikeal LeBeau, Conservation Technologies, Inc.  mlebeau@conservtech.com

Builder: Brad Holmes, Rod and Sons Carpentry, mooshed2@msn.com

Electrician/Designer: Justin Bartuss,  voltage@q.com

Mechanical Engineer: Bill Gausman PE, Monitoring and Verification System, bill.gausman@peopleselectric.com

HVAC & Plumbing Contractor: John Hill, Heating Plus,   heatplus@frontiernet.net

Landscape Architect: Gus Blumer, SEH,  gblumer@sehinc.com

Green Rater: Jimmie Sparks, The Neighborhood Energy Connection, jimmie@thenec.com

LEED Provider: Mike Holcomb, Green Home Institute, mike@homeinspectorgeneral.com

The Vineyard Project

Nestled in South Western Michigan’s wine country this home is located next to a vineyard in Paw Paw, Michigan, thus the project name. This home is a site specific, Passive Solar Prairie style home built with BuildBlock ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) from foundation to the roof. The exterior elevations of the home were designed with deeper roof overhangs, determined by using solar calculations, to both maximize and minimize the sun exposure based on the time of year. In addition, solar awnings on the lower level windows further shade the South-facing windows. The exterior used two of our favorite products CertainTeed FiberCement Siding and Andersen 400 series casement and awning windows. The interior of the home has stained concrete floor on all levels which makes for great thermal mass. The home was also designed with lifetime design principles and has zero step entries. Click here to view the project profile


art of the site specific design was to locate the garage to act as a wind break, to stop snow drifting from the northwest prevailing winds that we have here in Michigan. Part of the passive solar design is to have very little windows on the north side of the home, to keep heat from escaping through them. That is why this homes attention to detail is spent on the Southside of the home, where most of the homes windows face south. In the winter, the sun will warm the living space during the day and shine on the concrete floors on both levels which will store some of the heat gained, for gradual release. The roof overhang will shade the house from excessive solar heat gain in the summer, and west-facing glass is minimized to reduce cooling needs in the summer. ICF construction was perfect for this project because with ICF’s there are no concerns with noise and wind.

The “Vineyard Project” is a Zero Energy Home (ZEH) thanks to the Passive Solar Design, 3.3 kW of Photovoltaic, Solar Hot Water and the Geo-Thermal heating and cooling system. The home is also pre-wired for future installation of a Wind Generator. This home only uses about 600 kWh of electricity per month and has been generating a minimum of 20 kWh of electricity per day with many days’ net-metering backwards since the home was completed. The home was built for $134.00 per square foot (before the 30% rebates from the Solar Hot Water, Photovoltaic and Geo-thermal systems) making it more affordable for the general public.

Besides the pending LEED for Homes “Platinum” certification this home received 5+ Energy Star certification and a HERS score of 34. This is the lowest score every tested in the State of Michigan making it the most energy efficient house in Michigan. This home will be 66% more efficient than typical construction of a similar home of this size. In addition this homes toilets, faucets and shower heads are super low-flow for superior water efficiency. The home also has low-VOC paints, adhesives and finishes and uses recycled content for the flooring, decking, foundation and siding.

Click here for more information and project profile.

Helenowski Net Zero home in Chicago

Helenowski LEED Platinum Gut Rehab showcases urban zero energy

Chicago’s Yannell residence has gained a lot of notoriety as the first “net-zero” home in the city – capable of producing as much energy as it consumes. Yet another home on Chicago’s far northwest side, the Helenowski Residence, has joined the prestigious ranks of ultra-green LEED Platinum homes. In fact, it’s one of the highest overall point totals ever achieved for a LEED-certified home.

Helenowski Residence - Chicago Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home

Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home – Zukas Photography

This incredibly energy-efficient home was actually a gut-rehab of Helenowski Residence Scorecard a 1950’s brick split-level home, with a major addition, resulting in 3,300 total square feet. The owner has done an incredible amount of work focusing on the Materials and Resources as well as Energy and Atmosphere areas of the home. Some of the sample strategies include:

  • All drywall was recycled-content (for a $1 per sheet premium)
  • Salvaged douglas fir from 1800’s fire-damaged building for ceiling
  • Reuse or salvage for all new interior framing members
  • Diversion of +90% construction debris
  • Reclaimed copper for roofing and gutters
The home also has some exemplary energy characteristics that helped achieve a remarkable HERS score of 13, meaning the home uses 87% less energy than a new home built to code.
The remarkable energy performance was achieved by using soy-based spray foam insulation and a meticulous attention to air sealing in the project. The technical data is quite impressive. The blower door testing gave a result of 604 CFM at 50 Pascals.  With an estimated volume of 37,725 cubic feet of volume in the house, the air changes per hour at 50 Pa was 1.02, and the air changes per hour at natural pressure is .07. In other words, the home is very tight.
Other strategies contributing to the home’s energy performance include:
  • Triple-paned Pella windows with FSC-certified lumber.
  • Geothermal ground source heat pump for HVAC.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels and a vertical-axis wind turbine to generate electricity.
  • Motorized blinds control solar heat gain on west-facing (front) windows.
  • Extremely efficient cold-cathode lighting, up to six times more efficient than LEDs.
  • Roof is partially reflective white and part vegetative green roof.
The is truly a remarkable addition to the Chicago area’s growing green building inventory and offers many lessons for other builders in the area.  Detailed strategies with photos are available at the project’s web site, www.leedhomeliving.com, as well as by downloading the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile that has assembled.
Download the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile

First LEED certified home in Grand Traverse County.

This home received 5+ Energy Star certification and a HERS score of 52. This home will be 48% more efficient than typical construction of a similar home of this size. In addition this homes toilets, faucets and shower heads are super low-flow for superior water efficiency. The home also has low-VOC paints, adhesives and finishes and uses recycled content for the flooring, decking, foundation and siding. Every possible piece of residual material used in construction was recycled. Click here to view project profile.

The home was designed by Eric A. Hughes of Image Design LLC, a national awarding winning sustainable residential design firm based out of Grand Rapids Michigan and built by the national award winning builder Joel Diotte of Frontier Construction based out of Maple City, Michigan. This home is one of 86 Michigan projects that have been certified under the LEED for Homes program, the 27th home to receive LEED “Gold” certification and the first LEED certified home in Grand Traverse County.

It was built on a pristine 60 acre parcel in Kingsley Michigan, with the home situated in the middle of a 40 acre field next to a hill of granite boulders, thus giving it the project name. This home is a site specific, Passive Solar Arts & Craft style home built with BuildBlock ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) for all of the bearing walls. The exterior elevations of the home were designed with deeper roof overhangs, determined by using solar calculations, to both maximize and minimize the sun exposure based on the time of year. The exterior used two of our favorite products James Hardie FiberCement Siding and Andersen 400 series double-hung and awning windows. The interior of the home has stained concrete floor and re-claimed tile on main level of the home which makes for great thermal mass. The home was also designed with lifetime design principles and has zero step entries. Click Here to View Project Profile

Part of the site specific design was to locate the future detached garage/barn to act as a wind break, to stop snow drifting from the northwest prevailing winds that we have here in Michigan. Part of the passive solar design of this home was to pay close attention to detail on the south side of the home, where most of the homes windows face south. In the winter, the sun will warm the living space during the day and shine on the concrete floors on the main levels which will store some of the heat gained, for gradual release. The roof overhang will shade the house from excessive solar heat gain in the summer, and west-facing glass is minimized to reduce cooling needs in the summer. ICF construction was perfect for this project because of its exposed building location.

The project is designed to be Zero Energy Home (ZEH), Net Zero and a Carbon Neutral Home thanks to the Passive Solar Design, Tulikivi Masonary Unit Heater, Solar Hot Water, the future installation of Photovoltaic’s and a Wind Generator that the home is pre-wired for. The home has no mechanical heating or cooling system. Passive solar heating is complemented with the Tulikivi masonry unit heater (That also has a bake oven) and baseboard electric heat, resulting in a Zero Carbon Emissions Home that does not rely on any fossil fuels. The Tulikivi fireplace is its healthy radiant heat output and use of a local, renewable, carbon neutral fuel – wood. Tulikivi fireplaces supersede the strictest air quality standards in the world. Typical wood-burning

fireplaces send the majority of their heat up the chimney; not so with a Tulikivi. The soapstone soaks up the fire’s heat as it burns, stores it and then gently and steadily releases it for 12-24 hours even after the fire is out. Tulikivi is recognized by the Finnish Allergy and Asthma Federation as a heating option for those households where asthma or allergies are a key concern, due to the extremely low particle and helping our project earn points toward its LEED certification.

Notable Highlights:
Rain Permeable Gravel Driveway. Property (60 acres) is managed for wildlife habitat and water quality. Lifetime Design (Barrier Free) Zero step entries. Energy Star Andersen 400 Series Windows. Energy Star LED & CFL lighting. Energy Star Ceiling Fans. Energy Star Appliances. Energy Star rated Kasselwood metal roof shingle (with 30% recycled material) Soy Based Open Cell Wall & Attic Insulation. Advanced Framing (Studs @ 24” o.c.) BuildBlock ICF Construction (with 40% Fly-Ash) James Hardie FiberCement siding Concrete Countertops Locally Harvested Hardwood Floors Re-Use Tile Floors Concrete Floors (Stained) No-VOC Paints and primers. Low-VOC caulks and sealants. Finger Jointed Studs on all interior walls. FSC certified woods. FSC certified Kitchen Cabinets. Duel-Flush toilet by TOTO. Re-Use Tub & Sink Low flow shower heads and faucets. Pex Plumbing. Radon Venting. SunTouch® electric radiant heated floor mats ERV (energy recovery ventilator) Tulikivi Masonry Unit Heater (30% Tax Rebate for 75% Efficient Bio-mass Burning Stoves) Passive Solar Design. Solar Hot Water. (30% Tax Rebate) Pre-wired for future Photovoltaic’s Pre-wired for a future Wind Generator.

Click here to view/download project profile.