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,, as well as by downloading the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile that has assembled.
Download the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile

Chicago to Welcome its First Prefab Green Home

The Green Home Institute () announces an exciting new addition to its LEED Homes roster in Illinois: the first prefabricated “green” home to be built in Chicago, which will earn the prestigious LEED Platinum certification upon completion. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes certification provides third-party assurance that a home complies with rigorous technical requirements for energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, non-toxic materials, and environmental performance. Square Root Architecture, along with Helios Design/Build and Indiana Building Systems, will be installing the prefabricated green home, a single-family residence in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood.

C3 Prefab in Chicago

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LEED ND and LEED for Homes

NEW LEED for Neighborhood Development launch event in Chicago on Thursday, April 29.

Since 2000, USGBC has been working to transform the built environment – one building at a time. During this time, the green building movement has experienced a surge so great that no longer can we only focus on single buildings. Expanding upon the promise of a more prosperous future through green building, USGBC, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) have partnered together to make green communities a core focus. Read more

Tour: Chicago LEED Home built with ICFs

Attention: April Tour

Our april tour information is listed HERE.

February tour:

Ever wonder what goes into making a LEED home? Now is your chance to tour a home going through the LEED for Homes program that is substantially complete, pending final testing and verification. And best of all, the tour is free, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27.

Illinois LEED for Homes project targeting LEED Silver Read more

Tour a LEED for Homes Project on Dec 12

Ever wonder what goes into making a LEED Platinum candidate home? Now is your chance to tour a home going through the LEED for Homes program that is substantially complete. And best of all, the tour is free. Read more

Seminar on Dec. 1: Demystifying LEED for Homes

A number of building professionals have questions about LEED for Homes. How feasible is it for single-family homes? Why certify through this rating system instead of through other LEED systems?  How difficult is the documentation? What are the soft and hard costs associated with LEED for Homes?

To answer these questions and more, the Green Home Institute has put together a two and a half hour seminar to help builders, architects, real estate developers, and other professionals to learn about the LEED for Homes rating system. The first seminar offering will be Tuesday, December 1, 2009 in Chicago.  Read more